This is getting more difficult to write, but here goes...
So, I officially made the break. Moved out. Free, sorta.
I found out later that Michael went on a drinking binge
that lasted several days. If his job at the time had not
been with such a shit company, he would have been
unemployed again. Lucky for me, I guess.
I started making phone calls to family and friends to let
them know the situation. The most common reaction was
shock and surprise. Why? Because, I had avoided "airing
our dirty laundry in public". Very, very few people had
any idea that there were problems in our marriage.
I did a pretty thorough job of covering that up, and Michael
was quite content with the status quo... until the last year
when I became very distant. Preparing to leave.
It was easy to keep up a front because all of my family lived
almost a thousand miles away. Visiting was infrequent. And,
they were always polite and rarely questioned my explanations
of his frequent job changes.
As far as my friends... I almost never socialized outside of work.
Michael was uncomfortable with my friends, calling them
"white-collar", "above" him, "out of his class".
The real truth was, they didn't drink like he did and that made
him uncomfortable. Very common for alcoholics to prefer to
only be around other people who like to drink a lot. Of course.
It wasn't until after he died that people he worked with let me
know how well they knew Michael... and, how surprised they
were that the marriage lasted as long as it did.
I honestly believed that I was the only one who saw him as he
really was. Co-dependants really do live in their own world...
a self-made world in their head.
After I got settled in my apartment, one of the first things I did
was to buy myself tickets to attend a series of concerts
by the London Symphony Orchestra. They perform here every
other year. In 1997, they would be in Daytona from the end of July
through the beginning of August. Remember this for later.
Michael found my phone number and address by calling the phone
company. (Thank you, Ma Bell.)
He started calling and leaving drunken rants on my answering
machine while I was at work. Let's say he was angry.
Let's also say that the few times we did speak, in those first two
weeks, the conversations did not go well.
Eventually, he became outwardly rational enough to attempt a
somewhat normal conversation. Unfortunately, those conversations
mostly revolved around him asking me to come back.
I told him I would never consider coming back unless he quit
I, of course, knew that would never happen.
At first, he did promise to quit drinking. He was lying. I knew it.
He would ask me to come to the house to watch a race with
him on a weekend. I knew he was lonely. I agreed.
He swore that he had not had a drink in (fill in the blank) days.
He was drinking soda. He reeked of stale beer.
I called him on it. He got angry. He would say he would quit
drinking when I came back.
Talk about your pissing contest.
I would never have left in the first place if I thought there might
have been a chance that things could have improved.
After a couple of months, I went to the courthouse and purchased
the do-it-yourself divorce packet. I made a copy for Michael.
I took the papers to him in person and asked him to read through
them. We had no children. I wanted nothing. It could be simple.
Michael refused to even look at the papers, let alone read them.
I believe that might have been the first time he realized that
I was completely... definitely... serious about ending the
marriage. Never coming back. His drinking got worse.
Neighbors told me he was having parties at the house.
I really didn't care.
I could include many more details of our relationship during
the months after I moved out. However, the redundancy
would probably become boring. And... I'm really not writing
this as a public whipping for him or a request for martyrdom
for me. No one is easy to live with. Me included.
This is my way of purging and flushing and healing.
Once.and.for.all. I hope.
Moving ahead to the end of July/beginning of August 1997...
I had tickets to three of the major LSO concerts.
The first two were wonderful. I attended alone.
I was in heaven.
The final performance was scheduled for August 9.
Because I purchased a "package", I also had a few
tickets to some of the mini-concerts in the series.
The last one of those was also scheduled for August 9,
in the afternoon. It was a Saturday.
I awoke that morning with tears sliding down my face.
I vaguely remembered dreaming, but had no memory of
any of the details. But, I woke up feeling sad... depressed.
I felt so heavy in this sadness that I almost decided not to
go to the afternoon concert. I finally dragged myself out of
bed and to the shower somewhere around eleven-thirty
that morning. My mood was terribly puzzling.
As I was getting out of the shower, I heard the phone ring.
Thinking it might be Michael, I decided to let the answering
machine pick up the call. It wasn't Michael.
I recognized the voice of a neighbor, and she was asking me
to pick up the phone. When I did, she said I needed to come
to the house. She said there was an ambulance and Sherriff's
cars parked in front. She said she didn't know what happened.
She did. She just didn't want to tell me over the phone.
(I'm starting to shake as I write this.)
I told her I'd be right there and I finished dressing.
Some kind of numbing feeling took over.
Michael had been diagnosed with severe asthma about seven
years before. He continued to smoke about three packs of
cigarettes a day. He told me after I moved out that he stopped
taking his medication because he couldn't afford it, even though
I kept him on my insurance through my employer.
More self-destructive behavior? Certainly.
My thought, as I was driving to the house, was that Michael
was dead from an asthma attack. That's what I expected to
be told. I was only partly right.
I had to park in my neighbor's driveway because there were
so many official vehicles in front of our house.
Most of the neighbors were gathered in the street.
There was a female deputy walking toward me.
Before I could say anything, she asked me if I was Mrs. ______.
I nodded and asked what happened.
She replied, "I'm sorry, ma'am. Mr. ______ is dead."
I remember asking, "How?"
She lifted her right hand to her temple, and with her index finger,
pointed and imitated the act of pulling a trigger.
I remember screaming.
She put her arm around my shoulder and walked me back to
the neighbor's house. I tried to turn around to go back to the
house. She stopped me, but that is when I saw all the yellow
Crime Scene tape on the fence around the yard.
Three or four other deputies and men in suits were standing
in front of the gate at the end of the driveway. Looking at me.
I guess there's going to be a Part 5. Sorry.