There were things I did in my marriage, in our daily lives, that were so ingrained in me that I just *did* them, without a second thought.
I got up in the morning and made his coffee. He could (would) not get out of bed and get ready for work if I didn’t bring him his coffee exactly the way he liked it: a splash of 2 % and 3 squeezes of Hershey’s syrup. Every day.
I packed his lunch every night while cleaning the kitchen after dinner. It was so routine I could do it with my eyes closed. Clear table, package leftovers, put leftovers in lunch box, wash dishes, clean counters. Every day.
I kept the water pitcher in the fridge full. As soon as it was halfway empty, I’d take it out and fill it and put it back. He liked his water cold and he liked his pitcher full.
That last bit is probably the most interesting of all.
He liked his pitcher full.
Every day, multiple times per day, for twelve years, I was embroiled in this constant cycle of pouring out the pitcher and refilling. Pour and refill. Pour and refill. Pour and refill.
In a way this is an appropriate metaphor for my marriage. I poured out to fill him up, over and over again, every day. He needed to be as full, emotionally, as the pitcher needed to be with water.
And, just like the pitcher, that job fell to me and me alone.
And then a funny thing happened.
When I left my ex husband, I began to pour out into my children instead. Their souls were parched because of the filling I’d done of his pitcher.
I had neglected their well being in favor of his. My God it hurts to even write that. It hurts because it’s true.
From the day I got married until the day I left, my entire life was centered around doing whatever needed to be done to keep my husband filled up. To keep him happy. Because every day he was happy, every day I’d filled up the damn pitcher, was a day I might not get beat.
And when the center of our universe had combusted (I don’t know science so forgive my terminology) I re-centered.
For the last almost four years, I have, as if to make up for the years that had gone before, poured my heart and my soul and everything I am made of into my children.
I gave my children every ounce of me I had to give. We discovered each other, and moreso we discovered that we *like* each other. And so I gave all of me to all of them. They became my world, they became my soul, my heart became joined to each of theirs.
And that is not a bad thing.
Except when it is.
Hear me out.
I was 21 years old when I met my ex husband. Arguably, I was an adult, but 21 is still very, very young, and very little adulting has been done by that point. And what that means is that for my entire adult life (and I am now 40 years old), I have given of myself to other people, daily, 100 % of the time.
I have been constantly refilling damn pitchers (literally and otherwise) for my *entire* adult life.
And I have done so, as it was pointed out to me today as I sobbed on the phone to…one of the few people that I will allow myself to sob on the phone to…I have done so in fight or flight mode.
I have lived my *entire* adult life in fight or flight mode.
I fought for my marriage for twelve years. There was not one day of my married life that I was not fighting for it. Which is not to say it should not be that way, but there is not one day of my married life that was not a bad day. It was all bad. Every single day. And I fought through that like hell until I couldn’t fight anymore. (Some might read that “until I gave up.” Tomayto, tomahto.)
And then when that fight was over, the seemingly never-ending custody battle came in with a vengeance, and I fought for my children nonstop for almost two years.
When you live your entire adult life in fight or flight mode, something funny happens.
You stop fighting, but you do not fly.
I have stopped fighting. But I am so far from flying. I cannot fly because my wings, like the rest of me, have given out.
We–and by we I mean all of me–are beyond tired. We are beyond exhausted. We are beyond coherence.
We are beyond words. I am a writer and I don’t have words to describe the state of my mind at this moment. That strikes me as kind of fucked up.
I have, since the summer of 1998 when I first met the man who would suck my soul dry, poured every ounce of myself into first that man and then into his–into my–children.
I have poured and poured and poured and poured until there is literally nothing left to pour.
The pitcher has been poured out *and* the well has run dry.
And what that leaves is a pretty damn desperate situation.
My soul is dry.
My being is parched.
And I don’t know what that means.
I don’t know what’s next.
I do know that I have literally nothing to give to anyone and I may not for quite some time.
There’s a strange dichotomy of my soul being literally bled dry but the dam that I’ve been holding back for 20 years has burst.
So there is water everywhere–everywhere!!!–yet I am still thirsty. And more than that, there is water everywhere and I don’t know how to swim.
I am quite literally drowning in the ocean of all the tears I’ve held back for 20 years.
I don’t know that there are lifeguards around.
I don’t know that I want there to be.
And I need to either find a way to swim myself out of this clusterfuck or I’m going to drown.
And I guess that’s a choice I need to make.