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The Transcendent Familiar 5: Down Comes the Night

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 3.1 (except it’s less of a part and more of an interlude)
Part 4
However, maybe you didn’t read those, and maybe you want to read one post and not 5. Fair enough. Here’s what you need to know: Robert was my first husband. We married in May of 1993 and our son Jacob was born in December of that same year. We were both very young and our relationship was always chaotic and difficult.

Listen to the wind blow, watch the sun rise
Run in the shadows, damn your love, damn your lies.

January 2, 1994

When Robert and I married, we moved into a house with an adorable green-and-white tiled kitchen. I rented it, hell-and-gone though it was from the part of Albuquerque in which we had always lived, because it was not an apartment, a word Robert said as if it tasted like curdled milk. It wasn’t a house, either. Not precisely. I suppose it could have been called a row house if you stretched the definition.

For Robert, what we lived in was far more important than where we lived, and where we lived was damn scary. In the three years we lived in that neighborhood (first in the row house, then in an actual house a few blocks away), we were robbed 3 times, our house was set on fire, and someone threw a large rock through a bedroom window and into the baby crib just minutes after I had gotten Jacob out of it. Once, as I pushed the stroller into the house, I heard POP POP POP and the squeal of tires. The drive-by shooting killed one boy and seriously injured another. My babies had smiled and waved at those boys when we walked past them less than 90 seconds earlier.

But all of that was in the future on the second day of 1994. The world was a haze of milk and dampishness and overzealous hormones. I knew that having a baby would be an emotional experience; that I would be exhausted, weepy, and maybe even depressed. I knew that I would love my baby. What I could not have comprehended was how deeply I would feel all of those things. I could not have imagined that falling in love with Jacob would be my first real encounter with divinity.

Over everything, there was a veil. I was me, but not quite me. More instinctual; more animal. Some kind of hormonal magic made me feel as if I was one step removed from everything and everyone except Jacob. He and I were learning to dance together, moving to primal rhythms in our slow, warm bubble.

On that Sunday evening that was the second day of 1994, Jacob was asleep in his bassinet and I was drying off after a shower. The derelict water heater provided hot water for approximately 4 minutes, or tepid water for about 6, so in the winter I finished every shower shivering since I could never manage to get the conditioner entirely rinsed out of my hair before the water ran cold. I stepped out, towel wrapped around my head, intent on dashing to the bed and huddling there under the blankets until I was warm, but Robert was standing in the bathroom door.

“Jackie called,” he said. I recognized the name of his high school girlfriend. “She was calling to talk to me about my son. I have a seven year old son.”

“You told me Jackie had a miscarriage.” I wasn’t shivering anymore. I felt like a dead tree, rooted in place but lifeless.

“I guess she lied. Jackie’s crazy.”

“What’s his name?”

Robert looked around the bathroom as if someone may have written his son’s name there somewhere. “I don’t know.”

A few days later, an envelope full of pictures arrived in our mailbox. They left me with no doubt that the child in the pictures was Robert’s son.

His name is Anthony.

And if you don’t love me now, you will never love me again
I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain.

May 9, 2011

I was at Robert’s apartment, chatting with Abbie while we waited for Jacob to come home so the three of us could go shopping, when I saw a picture on the wall of a girl about Abbie’s age who l I didn’t know but who was, somehow, familiar.

“Who’s that?”

Abbie shrugged. “Casey. I guess she’s my sister.”

I recoiled and caught myself. Trying not to let anything but curiosity show on my face I said, “She looks about the same age as you. Have you met her?”

“Oh, that’s an old picture. She’s 20, I think. Or maybe 21. She doesn’t want to talk to us. Dad just found out about her last summer.”

“Do you want to meet her? Are you curious?”

“Nah. I don’t care, really.”

Robert and Jacob got home. “Abbie told me that’s your daughter.” I gestured toward the photo. “She’s Amy’s, right? You always said that wasn’t your baby.” I remembered Amy, a wisp of a girl with a blond baby on her hip, from the early years of my relationship with Robert. We ran in loosely-connected social circles but none of my friends was close with Amy.

“Yeah, whatever. Amy’s crazy. Neither of them will talk to me.”

“Have you talked to Anthony lately?” I asked.

“No,” he said, “but hey, do you know his last name? Maybe I can find him on Facebook.”

Listen to the wind blow, down comes the night
Run in the shadows, damn your love, damn your lies
Break the silence – damn the dark, damn the light.

Part 6

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20 comments to The Transcendent Familiar 5: Down Comes the Night

  • Hoooe–leeee-cccrap.
    That’s a huge deal. Wow.
    He’s, like, a super breeder.
    I’m not sure how I would react to that. I’m still processing it…

    • Heh. Yeah, I’m still processing it, too.

      I can think of at least four kids and two other moms who have an even bigger chunk of reality to process than I do, and my chunk seems plenty large.

  • Wow. While those kind of reveals make for great fiction–not so easy to swallow in real life. You are strong woman for dealing with this with such grace, and humor.

  • I agree with every word Heather said. You are strong and brave for sure. That’s crazy that the kids names are Casey and Anthony.

  • thepixiechick

    Wow. Classy guy. props to you for not tearing off his penis and supergluing it to his forehead as a warning to others.

  • ZOMG.

    I can’t breathe. So I can only imagine. How you … feel.

    Here’s the thing that really gets me. “She’s crazy, she’s crazy” and, based on some of your earlier blog writing this year, “you’re crazy”. So says he. Seeing a pattern here?

    Maybe, just maybe, the only one who is crazy is the one who flings that sticky crap around and can’t see what’s in the mirror. Oh, I am in tears I am so enraged by this (and I don’t enrage all *that* easily. Maybe because I see this, I see this stuff in guys who can’t take responsibility.

    But they pass it on, they say it to others, they might even say it to their young and impressionable kids, when their kids are looking for validation for something they are struggling with. Shit. Feel free to not post this comment, if it touches a nerve or is too much for here, but I am really, really pissed. And so glad you wrote this.

    You see, I think this, this IS your story, as much as it is anyone else’s. You have every right to tell it. And I’m hopping mad. And not even on your behalf, but on all of our behalves, when the pots call the kettles and don’t clean their own kitchens. I feel pretty bad for that next wife of his, even if she’s not nice (I seem to remember).

    I’m sending you love and hugs.

    Sorry(ish). I hope this falls within the guidelines for your blog. Obviously (I hope) I mean this with full and complete regard and respect for you.

    • Heh…pretty much the only guidelines here are we don’t call each other nasty names, so you’re well within.

      And yeah, the crazy crazy crazy thing is more than a theme. It’s like a mantra. A worldview. A whole paradigm. Took me a long time (3 years? 5?) to shake it off, but I’m still susceptible to it. I still have to put on my mental kevlar to talk to him. There’s something so captivating about being with a judgmental person when YOU are on the inside, when YOU are the acceptable one. It creates this poisonous specialness and I couldn’t stop chasing after it.

      Wow. Just now, writing that, I understood it for the first time.

      Obviously, I decided I was OK with telling this story, just what happened as I remember it, because this is what has happened and the secrets are what have damaged all of us. I want to be cautious, but honestly, I mostly see people driven to their knees by secrets, not truth.

      And what I know now is this: I am not crazy, but if I was? I would still not deserve to be treated poorly, and neither did Amy and Jackie, and Anthony and Casey deserved vastly better than they got.

      So the damage goes on in another generation. I hope someday that Jacob and Abbie will tell me what they think and how they feel about all of this. So far, they don’t want to talk about it at all.

      • I love you so hard right now. I have a narcissistic father, perhaps you read at The Band? I have had to let him go. But I’m tired of being wrong, bad, draining, unimportant … maybe that’s why I am so mad. Different man, same idea.

        Thanks for writing this, thanks for accepting my comment (I usually try to be a bit less strident, and much less angry.) Thanks even more for the conversation, it is likely as important to me as it is to you. I hope your kids find a way to talk about it and trust you more. I have watched my niece and nephews grow into adults and it is a yummy experience. My first-born nephew (when I was 14) struggled with stuff around my father and rejected him long before I did. It was amazing for me to talk to them, adult to adult, about a year or two about all that.

        I think probably you (unfortunately) have to be that uberstrong nonjudgmental person (who can healthily express things like being hurt when appropriate) and wait for them to hit a new age of reason. I’m certain that, with your patience, they will come back to sharing and being easy (and even amazed) with you. xox

  • Adrienne,

    I am just so happy you escaped this man and your marriage. I remember my ex husband’s first ex wife emailing me to warn me about him…..he told me she was crazy too.

    I think that is what he tells people about me now. When he is the one who cheated and used drugs and abused me, still in his mind it was ME who wronged him.

    I found it very difficult to crawl out from under all those mind control ways of his.

    I am glad you are telling your story here. Over on my blog I often feel I need to be “light” and “positive” like I owe it to my readers to be that way…

    sigh

    that is all

  • Bakingmomma

    Wow. So glad you are with someone who treats you better than he did. He sounds like a real treat. Makes you wonder if there are any more crazy lady babies running around!

  • […] *By the way, you will only meet three of those brothers here. She and Jacob have a much older half-brother, their dad’s eldest son. […]

  • Jill

    What a douchebag! He’s not even attractive in the old photos. Just a narcissistic loser. I’ll bet his mother was a piece of work.

  • […] Jackie and Amy were the lucky ones. The smart ones. […]

  • […] here is the terrible truth: no matter what he did, no matter how terrible it was, he […]

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