I watched Freddy in the shower today; he is packed and moving out tomorrow. I think he is relieved. I watched him soap up, closely, measuring his shoulders among other features. I handed him a towel and wanted to dry him off myself, which he hates. I feel like he’s going off to a war zone. I thought I would be relieved too, but I am very sad. I don’t know what it is we are saying goodbye to–I don’t know who he is anymore. I’m sad that we once shared our dreams with each other, and then did not fight together to keep them alive.
The truth is, the separation is going to be easier for him, and even beneficial. He will be relieved of my corrosive criticism. Everyone thinks I’ll be just fine except they are worried that I’m going to be totally broke. My ten-year-old daughter said “Mom, how are you going to pay rent without Dad? I think you’re being naive.”
I’ve been a terror to live with, I’ve been tyrannically selfish. He blames me for most everything going to shit, and of course that cannot be the case completely, but it’s true I’ve done little to help him on his journey. I should have shown tenderness. I should have taken care of him. I should have given him the sense that I was on his side. I should have been loyal.
One consistent problem of the past eight years has been my impatience with his grueling work schedule–the alarms of two different cell phones going off at 1 or 2 am every morning, and Freddy setting off to put in his ten hours at Blankfleet Inc. I was angry that he wouldn’t fight for himself, that he would just stick with this job and look for no others. For someone who still tells everyone that he is a painter, though he’s had no time or energy to lift a brush for years, to sign away bits of his soul, and more obviously, important bits of his physical health, was an every day tragedy. (He would be angry at my conceit of claiming to know what he’s been doing with his soul. He would say that all the paintings are being painted in his head and just waiting. That could be true, but how is the world supposed to appreciate that?) He had nothing left in him day after day. He drank and handed the kids the iPad while I went to work. On some rare weekends, when he was able to sleep more than five or six hours, the light would come back, and I would feel like we were in the same space. This was rare. He never wanted to come out with the kids and I, and I felt alone.
We might have a few hours of reprieve, after sex, and then we would go back to bitching at each other; no argument can be won against me, not because I’m right (I can usually see later that I’m not right) but because I will fight to the death. I think what he wanted was for me to use my temper to fight for him, to slay all his obstacles, and I wasn’t up to it. He wanted me when I was strong and egoistic. He wanted me even more when I cheated on him. When I was vulnerable or submissive, I turned him off.
In the past couple of months, I’ve been manic. I’ve been taking on project after project, and going out on weekends, and leaving Freddy with the children while I hustle. I come home after midnight. The children aren’t stupid. I’ve been either practicing for hours, writing for hours, composing for hours, or catting around town; I’m so fucking afraid of being old and alone. I tore down the suspended ceiling in the living room instead of taking the kids to the beach. What kind of mother does this? Did my mother do this to me? (Actually, I wish she had–she was far too stifling and ever-present. Maybe if she had left, I would have had a chance at becoming a nice person.)
Last weekend I went to Connecticut for a night. Beach club. Wasp heaven. The boys with their pink shorts and yacht belts, and the girls conspiring out on the pier. The parents rubbing sunscreen on their babies, and a D.J. playing big band music. So-and-so introduced me to Mr. Henry Thoroughbred the 12th, I shit you not, yeah the name is fake, but not the number. They were all fine. They were all nice and quiet. I was lost without my children, I drank a couple of glasses of wine. I woke up at five the next morning and wanted to go home, but had to endure a kayak trip first. They were so beautiful, Daisy and Soren, when I came home. Soren was running around without his pants on, and Daisy has been trying to look like Ellen Degeneres, got her hair chopped, wears converse and boy clothes. I asked Freddy if he thinks I am a bad person. He said that I am a psychopath.