I gripped the steering wheel as if it was my one and only lifeline. Hot, angry, hurt tears made trails on my cheeks as I watched the radio clock tick another minute.
Midnight. 12 a.m.
It was a new day, but I felt as though it was a night that was going to linger endlessly and never take the pain away. Our one year old son (our only child at the time) slept peacefully in his car seat, clueless of what was going on.
Clueless. Oh, how I wanted to be clueless of the man my husband had become. I wanted to be clueless of the fact that the man who returned from Afghanistan was not the same man I had tearfully kissed goodbye several months back.
I noticed it that ride home after our initially joyful reunion. The man sitting next to me had changed. He had become a stranger, despite the countless letters we wrote during the deployment.
As the months went by, I noticed how different he’d become. He struggled with his belief in God. He became angry and distant. He grew stressed. His fuse drew shorter and shorter, and he became all too familiar with the taste of alcohol.
I found myself praying every morning; praying that we would have a good day that day. That I would be able to reach through the shell of the man I had married.
He never became abusive. He was just angry . . . all the time. He said things I knew he didn’t truly mean. But, I was weary. I watched the man I loved so much deteriorate before my eyes. I felt as though I didn’t even know him anymore.
Then, we found out we were pregnant with our second baby. I was terrified. I did not want to bring another baby into this. I did not want our children to suffer with a father who was slowly becoming an alcoholic.
I released the grip of the steering wheel to pick up my cell phone. I paused as I listened for the voice of my mother-in-law.
“Mom? I can’t. I can’t do this anymore. Evan got drunk again and we fought, and it was awful. I left. I have Ian in the car, and we’re sitting in the Walmart parking lot. I’m prepared to just drive right now and leave. We might be at your house tomorrow.”
I was serious. I was ready to leave without even saying goodbye. I wasn’t thinking divorce. I just wanted to get away; for us to take a break from each other. My husband needed help, but I didn’t know how to help him.
Then, my mother-in-law surprised me.
“Lydia, you know that dad and I will be here to welcome you with open arms if you decide to leave. But, is this really what you want? Are you sure you’re ready to throw in the towel just yet? Leaving might make him wake up to what he’s doing, but it also might not be the best solution. If you can work through it, don’t give up just yet.”
I cried. No, sobbed. I didn’t want to leave, but I also didn’t want to stay. I didn’t want another night of alcohol, another night of fighting that would just leave me full of hurt and praying for the man I originally married to come back.
I put the car into drive and found myself on the dimly lit road back to our home. Continue reading