First of all, there was A~, stopping by my apartment on Friday, chipper and smiling, to collect one more box, write one more check, and to go over the few remaining details of our divorce. "I can't do this," I told him, breaking into tears just a few minutes after his arrival. "I can't have a chatty, superficial friendship with you. It's painful for me that the same person who was my husband a few months ago is now the one saying, a week after the fact, 'So how did the surgery go?'"
He sat awkwardly while I cried.
"You didn't plan this, did you?" he asked, meaning, had I planned to cry.
This is not a new question with us. Early in our relationship, I would break down emotionally during intimate moments so frequently that he thought I only appeared to be interested in sex because I wanted his attention for an emotional release. I didn't know why it was happening, didn't want it to be happening. But it happened, and if I tried to ignore the feelings, I'd panic. He refused to be sexual with me unless I could promise not to have to interrupt the act. "Maybe we should work on our friendship," I said then. We abstained for nine months.
I sighed, and assured him that I had not planned these tears either. "I can't tell if you're just sitting through this to get your stuff, or if you actually care and want to be there for me until I get to the point where I could actually be friends with you."
"Well," he answered, "Do you think that if I did sit through it, you would actually get to that point?"
I laughed, which came out more like a splutter. And shook my head, at a loss for words.
There was a time when I would have explained to him that I used the expression "sit through it" sarcastically, derisively. I would've defined derisively. That he just didn't get it would've mattered less than the fact that he was clearly trying, doing his best.
But I was the one who didn't get it, because I thought that doing his best was the same thing as caring. Since his best these days involves causing me great pain and only a conditional willingness to "sit through" my expression of it, I realize that he simply doesn't know how to care, never really did. The tears were still coming.
"Would it help if I sat closer to you?" he asked.
"No!" I laughed. I had taught him this - getting closer used to help. "Thank you," I added, because I recognized that he was, as always, doing his best.
That evening, while J~ drove home from work, reporting rain so torrential, people were pulling over to wait it out, I was still leaking tears.
Saturday found me lying on my living room floor, on the phone with J~ again, crying some more. It was raining, and my period had begun. I don't care how poor the timing would have been for me to be pregnant this month, or how unlikely, or how encouraged I am to be having a very normal, 28-day cycle, it still makes me sad whenever this time of the month rolls around.
I drove to J~'s through a series of torrential downpours, in the grips of monster menstrual cramps. I arrived to find B~, having graduated sixth grade and finished elementary school just the day before, acting blue and antisocial. J~, feeling the weight of his son's struggle, and also, keenly, the fact of their family unit's dissolution, reported a heavy heart of his own. It wasn't until we were in the basement on Sunday, sitting on a couch destined for the Salvation Army, that his tears finally came.
In the afternoon, we took B~ to a friend's house for an overnight visit, and ourselves to a hardware store to buy spackle and other painting supplies. Back at the house, we abandoned speculative plans for housework or the gym in favor of breaking in our new, very fluffy and spacious couch with a make-out session and a nap. We woke to find the rain had not let up, but the sadness had.
It's day three of my period. My cramps have subsided. J~ is at work, B~ is still with his friend. The rain, which until moments ago was still coming down, appears to be over, at least for now. In fact, the sun is breaking through as I write.
Meltdown Weekend is officially over.