There is a thunderstorm in the hollow, and the house is shaking.
My little rescue dog, Teddy is quivering by my feet. My new rescue cat, Bob, is confused by Teddy’s shaking and panting.
I like to rescue things.
My best friend recently told me that I need to stop rescuing men.
Teddy was a gift to me from Caleb.
Teddy was an apology after Caleb beat me.
Last night, I was talking to a guy in my program about dating after divorce. I had to tell him that I haven’t really dated. He is a blunt guy. He said, how long have you been divorced?
I was too embarrassed to answer.
I told another friend from my program that I will be here in Athens all summer and child-free.
She said, “I hope that you get a make-out session this summer!”
I said, “I hope that I get lots of make-out sessions!”
Then, “But all with the same person.”
Then, “That might be the most Capricorn thing I’ve ever said.”
I am inherently monogamous. I know this about myself, and in many ways, it makes my life hard. My ingrained monogamy propels me to try and rescue men rather than move on to someone else.
Right now, I am monogamous with myself.
Caleb gave me Teddy at a time when I was thinking of leaving.
Reed was six.
When Reed was four, and I almost left Caleb for real, we had this moment where we thought that we should have a baby.
We started having unprotected sex and just waited to see what would happen.
Nothing happened, thank god, but when that baby didn’t manifest, I had Teddy, my cuddly pup, to curl up in my lap.
At the end of my marriage, Caleb and I were having sex daily. It was intense, abuse sex, and it was cathartic and made me feel bonded to him, but it was also unprotected.
I remember laying in bed when my period was late, holding my hands on my stomach, and thinking, If I am pregnant with his child, I will cut this baby out myself.
Tonight, I picked up Reed at his after school program.
“Do I really have to go to my dad’s?” he asked.
I drove Reed to the 7-11 in Richie County, West Virginia. I accelerated to 70 when I hit the West Virginia border.
A huge truck that had a bumper sticker in the back window that read SPOILED OILFIELD WIFE still blew by me.
I pulled into the 7-11. I saw that Caleb had trimmed his beard.
I got out of the car, but Reed didn’t. He piddled in the backseat. He finally got out, and I hugged him, kissed him on his head, and said, “It will be okay.”
Last night, I made Reed dinner, and I’m going to be honest in that it was a pretty shitty dinner. I said, “I am going to make you mac and cheese.”
He responded, “Kraft, or the organic stuff?”
“The organic stuff,” I said (it’s almost always the organic stuff).
I had a random, left-over hot dog in the fridge, so I said, “Do you want a hot dog in it?
(I am not a junk food eater, and this kind of stuff isn’t common for me.)
He replied, “Yes!”
But then, as I was carrying the hot bowl to him, it slipped out of my hands, and I lost much of it, including most of the hot dog.
“There goes your hot dog,” I said. Teddy and Bob immediately pounced on what I had dropped.
Reed asked, “Are you going to let them eat that?”
I said, “Sure, let them clean it up!”
And then he responded, “If my dad did that, he would yell at me to clean it up, but if my stepmom did that, then she would clean it up herself.”
I was tired tonight and didn’t want to cook, so I ordered some take-out from my favorite place in Parkersburg, which is where Caleb’s family lives.
On my way, I saw a really sad looking convenience store that’s in a house, and I thought, “I have been in that place.”
But I haven’t.
I have felt so much sadness. While I was with Caleb, my sadness defined me. It was cloying.
Every time I enter West Virginia, I feel sick.
The same sadness always settles into my chest when I enter those broken mountains.
West Virginia wasn’t good to me.
I talked to a friend recently who mentioned my “love for life,” and it’s true. I am a person who loves and enjoys life.
When I look back at my marriage, it was defined by sadness, but I was young. I could handle the sadness then.
I can’t handle that kind of sadness now.
I still feel sad so often. I felt sad today, and yesterday, and the day before. But I cannot let my fear of sadness ruin me.
I was going to write, “All I can do is keep waking up,” but I realized that I’m doing way more than waking up.
I am engaging with human beings, supporting survivors of gender violence, writing a book that will, hopefully, help others, and still trying to be a good mother and friend.
I am dealing with my sadness in the most productive ways that I can.
Sometimes, I feel sad, and sadness hurts, but I am learning to allow that sadness.
Sadness, like all emotions, is transient.
It is okay to be sad.