Today’s Breaking Point stories are about endings. They’re about having to let go of “the way things were.” If there’s one thing we can count on…it’s change. Sometimes that’s good news. Sometimes that’s heartbreaking news. We want to cling to the past, to the myths that society spins about where our safety lies. I have learned that our only real safety comes from within and I think that is excellent news: because it means that we can feel safe no matter what’s going on in our lives. Especially when we recieve the present moment rather than resist it, and learn to breathe into its groundlessness. yrs. Laura
Both of these are about the end of marriages, the first from the perspective of a child…
Submitted by: Stefanie A. Shilling who blogs here.
It would be the last time the four of us crawled into my parents’ bed. It could have been the first time, for all I know, because that was also the day that my childhood not only ended but was erased. I have virtually no memory of my life before that day.
I was 9 years old.
I don’t remember the words leading up to the only word I really remember. I’m sure they told us they loved us. I’m sure they told us that it wasn’t our fault. I’m sure it was probably hard for them.
But they weren’t 9.
They saw it coming. They were witness to their arguments. They felt the unhappiness. They knew long before the day they told us.
I remember feeling completely shocked. I don’t remember ever seeing them argue in front of us. But I guess I don’t remember seeing them hug or be affectionate with each other either.
I don’t remember how, or even if, my brother reacted. His childhood had just exploded, too. He was 13. I’ve only known him to process things internally. I don’t know if he cried much before that day but I’ve only seen him cry a few times since that day.
I don’t know which one of them said the word, but I know the word that I kept yelling:
NO! NO! NO!
No! No! No!
no. no. no.
Of course it didn’t matter. It was another reminder that it often doesn’t matter when a child says no. It wouldn’t be the last time in my life that I said that word…but it was the first time that I remember.
…And the next Breaking Point story is from the perspective of an adult.
Submitted by: Gracie
It was last August and my husband was screaming yet again at the top of his lungs. About how we were separated (even though we lived in the same house), that he could do anything he wanted, that he didn’t have to consult with me about anything, that everything was over and why wouldn’t I just get it?
I was silent in the face of his blasting furnace of anger and pain. He was a far cry, at that moment, from the man I had loved and been devoted to for 8 years, for whom I had left a husband and a life on another coast, 3,000 miles away from this home of ours in the woods. As I stayed silent and looked at his red face, his clenched hands, his rigid body, I saw that he was completely broken and that it was time for D. and I to go. I could not fix him, I could not reason with him, I could not make him see. He had problems that required the help of experts and professionals, far beyond anything either he or I could do, separately or together. But there was no explaining that to him. He just couldn’t hear me, so I left a few weeks later and took our 3 year old son with me. It was time now to protect him, more than anything else.
I had fought the idea of separating for more than a year. During that time, I forgave (I know people say they do but I truly did) a digital transgression of many months, the existence of which I thought explained a lot of the difficult and painful behaviors happening in our house. But that wasn’t all of it. Not by a long shot. There was more to come, Another 8 months of screaming rages, smashing pans and dishes in the kitchen, hateful invective, and lots of cursing. It hurts even remembering the unrelenting, seemingly inexhaustible tide of anger that rolled through our house. I did not scream in response. Having grown up in a house with a dad who was a crazy screamer, I actually hate screaming, doing it or being on the receiving end of it.
For months, I waited out the rages thinking: soon he’ll find the right meds and feel better. The rage will subside, he will be ok again. But it never came, at least not while we lived there. He cycled through a stack of prescriptions and medical and therapy appointments but nothing worked, until it finally did, after we were gone.
I don’t know why the screaming fit in August was the one that did it. It was no worse than any of the others. It was certainly not anything I hadn’t heard before either. But during this one, as I looked at my husband, I really saw him and I realized in his current state, he was beyond my reach and I was finally done.