Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

“You’re going to have to pay child support for 4 children,” my sister J said.

She was trying to be helpful and give me a heads up on what to expect, after I let her, A and M know that my marriage would probably be ending after a year or so.

She was grimly blunt. The courts would decide the amount. They would garnish wages.

And just like that, hope drained out of me.

I don’t get to control my life. I don’t get to choose. Other people and other systems will continue to push me into a life that looks a particular way, just like they always have. I don’t get to control my destiny. I don’t get to be independent.

The only life I have keeps ticking away. I’ll be just about to turn 49 by the time my last child turns 18. It must be nice to be the kind of person that believes having procreated means their life had purpose.

When I was 22 I made a choice out of love, faith, and trust, and I paid for that choice with my life’s dreams and my happiness and will continue to do so.

I cracked a joke about how I’d have to move to plan B – figure out who I was running over and then just live out my years in prison. The gallows humor didn’t help.

J and A, still trying to be helpful, also said I’d need to live respectably for the next year, just in case things went south – I was out as bi and nonbinary, after all. I wouldn’t want my husband to have anything to use against me if he changed his mind about being cooperative.

I don’t know what the fuck they thought the next year was going to look like for me. I can get anxiety about visiting the library. AJ gone wild wasn’t exactly on the table to begin with.

I’ve been researching graveyards I could visit when I get out of the house and want to go somewhere. I’ve liked old graveyards since I was a child playing among the tombstones of a small, abandoned cemetery in rural Nebraska.

Also, dead people don’t scare me, only the living.

A few years ago, my dreams for my future had been reduced to a hope that some day we’d be able to afford a place with an extra room, and then that extra room could be mine.

I suppose if I can afford a studio apartment on my own I’ll get a bathroom and a kitchen to myself as well. I guess 3 rooms instead of 1 is some kind of progression. Living the dream, upgraded.

I’d been downstairs but I took my laptop and went back to my bedroom and then I couldn’t stop crying, even though I didn’t want to cry.

My husband saw that I’d been crying and wanted to know what was going on, so I told him.

He said he thought we’d be able to petition the courts to essentially waive child support. They’ll be the ones to decide, though. Indiana has a lot of conservative Christians, and when they find out I’ll be handing primary custody to my husband, they could decide I’m a trash person (what kind of mother would do that, after all?) and refuse to waive the child support.

My husband would almost certainly make sure the money made its way back to me. He makes enough that he won’t need child support, especially with one less person to support.

That still leaves me dependent on him. I didn’t want to be put in a position where I’m reliant on anyone’s kindness, not my husband, or my family, or my friends.

I just wanted to be independent again, exercise whatever small power I could gather to shape my life as I saw fit.

I guess it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to people that something like this could instantly devastate me, but it did.

We had tickets to see Spiderman: Homecoming, so I did my best to pull myself together before we went. The kids were excited and unobservant towards me, which worked in my favor.

I enjoyed the movie as much as I could with the river of despair running underneath.

After we got home, I tried listening to music, then decided I’d take a walk instead, even though it was sprinkling. I’ve got an umbrella and I’m not afraid of damp feet. I wanted to get to one of the pavilions in the park and cry, alone and out of sight.

It was after 10pm. There had been a colossal downpour while we were in the theater and the trail had water pouring along it. I took my shoes and socks off and went wading.

There didn’t seem to be any reason to care about what might be in the water. I may as well make what tiny choices I can and do what I want, when I can.

The fireflies were out in spite of the sprinkling of rain. I wasn’t so far gone that I couldn’t appreciate their beauty, making the fields and trees near me spark.

I decided not to try getting to the other side of the park to the pavilions after all, though. Instead I sloshed out of the watery part of the trail, put my shoes and socks back on and took a small walk on the sidewalk beside the road leading away from the rear of our complex.

When I turned onto the next road I looked ahead and saw the bridge over the train tracks. There’s still a voice in the back of my head trying to help where and when it can. Don’t go to the bridge, it said. Just in case.

I don’t experience suicidal ideation all that often, and when I do, it’s controllable. In 2015, my worst year, I didn’t fantasize about killing myself or dying, I fantasized about waking up and finding out that every single person on earth was gone and that I was alone, with no fear of anyone else’s expectations or needs.

I went home and showered and went to bed, hoping a night’s sleep would restore some happy chemicals and that I’d wake up feeling differently.

My husband told me, before I went to sleep, that he saw me as a strong person. Even if I didn’t believe it.

I think people mistake a forceful personality and an inability to stop trying to survive for strength.

I didn’t feel differently when I woke up.

I made a choice to live a life I hated – a choice made because of faith, love and trust. I believed that I was unacceptable, tarnished, corrupt – and that the life I was embarking on would make me a good person.

I wanted to be a good person.

This is the result.

I know, logically, that things aren’t as bleak as they feel. That it’s okay to accept kindness when needed.

Right now, though, it feels like there’s no path to happiness for me, ever.

I visited Earth and all I got was this lousy despair.

Today is my therapy appointment. I’ll keep listening to music and writing and walking and taking care of myself and hope my brain has enough juice to jolt me out of this.

If it doesn’t, well, I’ve walked this road before. I can do the zombie shuffle, one foot in front of another.

I’ll keep moving. I can’t stop myself.

My apologies for the melodrama. Sometimes letting myself wallow brings me to the point I can laugh at myself.

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