I was never huge on Valentine’s Day. I always thought it an excuse to either exclude single people or make your spouse (usually the husband) try to top whatever romantic thing he did last year. You can’t do something nice for your love just any ol’ time, such as when the restaurants and movie theaters aren’t packed? But, I used to participate anyway. It was just harmless fun.
Then Gail’s daughter died the day before Valentine’s Day, right around the time I had begun to suspect my ex-husband was cheating on me.
Then, three days after the following Valentine’s Day, my divorce was finalized.
Fuck Valentine’s Day.
There’s nothing to make you apprecieate being single like your Divorciversary and looking back. So in honor of Valentine’s Day, I post the top five ways he broke me. Keep in mind these are only the top five. The other day I almost threw out my only glass baking dish… because he once touched it.
1. I am a food hoarder.
It’s true. After spending the summer of 2010 eating free movie theater popcorn and explaining to the neighbors that I didn’t know why my dog’s ribs were showing, I will never go to bed hungry and neither will my beagle. I’ll never know for a fact that there is literally nothing to eat in my home. I have a framed receipt for corndogs on my bedroom wall, because corndogs were $4.95 for a box of 16 and it was the most food I could get for $5. It’s a reminder of how far I’ve come. It’s symbolic. Duh. My ex-husband constantly complained that it’s all we had, though he still wouldn’t get a job. I had to start carrying unperishables around in my car, so he wouldn’t eat them, leaving me nothing. I will never go back to that. As a result, my kitchen looks like that of a mom of three… or a doomsday prepper. I take care to buy canned and frozen items, because they won’t go bad before I get the chance to eat them and throw out anything that does. At the time of writing this, though, I had:
3 pounds of chicken
2 pounds of turkey franks
2 pounds of ground turkey
1 pound of breakfast sausage
3 pounds of turkey lil’ smokies
1 pound of ham, two pounds of cheese
2 dozen eggs
8 bags of frozen vegetables
1 container of fresh spinach
4 cans of soup
4 cans of spaghetti O’s
4 boxes of cereal
2 loaves of bread
2 bags of frozen fries
1 bag of oranges
1 pound of grapes
5 cans of fruit
4 cans of tuna
2 cans of beans
I. Live. Alone.
2. I panic whenever someone is at the door.
From the time I graduated high school in 2006 until I moved to this apartment in 2011, I moved 10 times. Literally. Nine of them were in only three years. Once, I just came home to a housefire and his suspicious lack of tears. Though he swore he was paying the rent, I had an anxiety attack every time the doorbell rang and would have my ex-husband answer. Ocassionally, it was someone telling us to get the hell out… now. I never knew where we’d go. Once, it was his mother’s house, for several months. Then, it was a motel room for a month and a half. We lived below a registered sex offender, who’d committed offenses against children. I was far away from my Gramma and Gail. I cried myself to sleep at night or drowned myself in fiction and alcohol. It was bad. Though I’ve been settled and able to pay my rent for about two years now, my heart still jumps into my throat whenever I hear a knock at the door. A part of me will always be unsettled.
3. I can’t even masturbate without crying.
Psh. I won’t even tell my therapist the details of this one. I’m kidding, of course. I don’t believe in that voodoo crap. Feelings and animal entrails gross me out equally. I just talk to Gail, who majored in that Black Magic for 9 days.* Regardless of the cause, however, the result is the same. I can’t do anything sexual without crying most of the time. I’ve yet to try it with a man, but explaining that sexual hang-up should be haaaaawt.
*I believe in therapy plenty, which is the precise reason I’m not letting anyone crack my head open and take a shit inside.
4. I cannot sleep without my wallet.
During the last year of my marriage, a lot of things went missing, such as my iPod, that cherished bracelet my Gramma bought me, the video camera I bought my senior year, my guitar, $600 in cash, a jar of pickles from my car. Incidentally, the XBOX never disappeared. On the night of my four year anniversary, the car even vanished, just before I sliced my hand open on a broken candle. I was alone and bleeding and had no way to get to the E.R. He didn’t return until morning. I began stuffing my keys in my pillowcase at night and leaving any valuables in the car. I forgot once and noticed my wallet wasn’t in my bag, where I left it, and realized the last $15 I had for gas and food had disappeared. I called my Gramma screaming and crying as if someone had died. She couldn’t even understand me and immediately promised to give me $25 once I “quit yelling.” Then I threw up from crying so hard. It was glorious. Soooo, after that, I began keeping the keys and the wallet in my pillowcase every night and to this day cannot sleep without my wallet in reach.
5. Sometimes, I sleep with my gun.
I was defenseless when I was married. I never will be again. Some nights, I wake in a panic or in tears. The next night, I sleep with Cecile, my guard issued Smith and Wesson 681 revolver in its bright pink gun sock, with home defense bullets in the side pocket, which were personally reloaded by my daddy. The gun’s not loaded. But if anyone ever threatens me or my puppy again, it will be. I’m damned accurate with Cecile and with .357 home defense rounds, it wouldn’t matter if I wasn’t.
Time may heal most wounds, but in some ways, I will always be the frightened 23-year-old driving around with her Gramma’s jewlery in the car. The perfect Valentine’s Day gift is a giant Reese heart, an equally disproportionate box of ammo, and respect for the fact that I don’t fucking do Valentine’s Day.