I don’t often write when I’m mad. First of all, too many emotions converge upon my brain from all directions, bottlenecking at my fingertips where thoughts must flow in a neat, linear fashion in order to be placed upon a page. Second of all, what would come out wouldn’t be very nice.
And, I was taught that if you can’t say anything nice, you’d better not put it down on paper for it to haunt you, blackmail you or otherwise cause you great regret. Your own not-so-nice words will turn on you like that. Private journals are precisely kept for this purpose. They lock up our fiercest feelings so no one else will find them. To me, words are to communicate. Holding them private defeats their purpose. So to be polite – and safe – I’ve kept my published words in line, behaving nicely for the most part.
Until now. I’m mad.
Unfortunately, I am mad at the very person who usually brings me a sense of belonging, the best grilled steaks in the world and warm feet in bed. Any other time, you’d hear me even utter words like “soul mate” and “kismet.” But not today. He’s the person I’m stuck with, for better or for worse, and today is for the worse.
Stop! I tell myself. Stop writing! Log out of this word document before you say something utterly mean and unretractable. What if he reads this? What is your mother-in-law reads this? What if you read it and believe it and then have to face some of the repressed truths you feel but never admit?
I shall spare you the sordid and petty details of what brought me to this. Suffice it to say that it had something to do with, of all things, a burrito. But of course as with all marital spats, it represented so much more. After arguing on and on, leaping from one seemingly unrelated grudge to another unresolved grudge, our accusations aired our frustrations, disappointments and disillusionments about each other. Then, we realized that this blasted burrito represented serious fundamental differences and soon, our 23-year marriage seemed as brittle as Tijuana pottery.
“Are you taking your Prozac?” he asked, derisively. The tone was the insult. It is true that I do take prescribed antidepressants with no shame. But because I do, any time I disagree with his godly opinions, he thinks I must be off my medication.
“Why?” I said. My own tone dared him to say one more offensive thing. Go ahead, knock off this Prozac tablet off my shoulder.
“It’s just that I become such an a-hole to you when you’re not taking your medication.”
“You are an a-hole,” I replied. “It’s just that my medication allows me to tolerate you better.” There was some truth to this snide remark. He did engage in a-hole-like behavior while I often referred to Prozac as my Stepford wife pill. It mellowed me into nice wifely compliance. Anything you say, dear. Anything you want, dear. He loved that.
“Maybe you should just give them to me and I’ll take them,” he said. I couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic.
“Maybe you should.”
What would he be like if he were on Prozac? Compliant? Unselfish? A Stepford husband? I slept on the sofa that night, feeling relieved for some personal space away from his stifling presence. No tug-of-war with the blankets. No 24-hour glow of the television set that he likes. Dark. Silent. Peaceful. It felt good to be alone. I fell into a deep sleep and dreamt of my new life without him which had a thousand possibilities. Nearly all of them were good. Only one had any sort of violence in it.
Maybe I’m older or just plain old too tired for jealousy, anger and vindictiveness but my mind craves peace. So my ultimate dream had us moving onto new relationships with nice people. It seemed strange to start over, building a new history with someone else that didn’t include milestones like first apartments, new careers and children. We were cordial to each other’s new partner and even went on joint vacations together. We had become friends. What was irritating to me was just fine with his new mate. She brought out the better man in ways I could not. And with my new partner, I did not require medication. With him, there was peace and sanity.
But then I woke up. Working at marriage, enduring, tolerating, growing, learning, whatever euphemism you use to keep at it…it’s all so mind-blowingly, soul-erodingly exhausting. Walking away could be so much easier. Quicker. Instant relief.
My sister reminds me of the happy times I share with my husband. “You love each other,” she says. I shrug, too mad to value that truth.
“Does it make up for all the other crap?” I sneer. Anger makes one think, do and say stupid things.
“It does.” Older sisters are wise, although we don’t admit it when we’re young or when we’re angry. Her advice at least keeps me from a rash decision and over the next two days, my husband and I fall back onto the habits and traits that molded compatibly together over the course of 25 years. It wasn’t all bad or even all that bad. The anger was gone. My love for him was back. My sister was right: it did make up for all the other crap.
I still wonder why I have to be medicated in order to stay happily married. But for now, I’m grateful for Prozac. For growth opportunities. And most of all, for the delete button.