Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Discord and Honesty

I was not trying to be an alarmist in my last post. I was feeling very alarmed, so that probably was evident.
And, completely justifiable.

I had just had a near miss head-on collision, lost the driver's side front wheel off my vehicle, and come home to someone who was silent and sullen, as opposed the the guys at the tire station, who were all praising my luck that I survived such a risky situation, and patting me on the shoulder consolingly.

Just a couple of weeks ago, dh changed all the wheels on the car. You see, this was cheaper than buying a new tire for the other set. I do not pretend to know anything about cars or the changing of their wheels, so I rely on him for this sort of thing. Sexist? Not so much. More of an issue of, 'I don't want to keep track of this and it's not my area of expertise, so I would rather pay someone or - oh you can do it? - okay, or trust my partner to do this.
On Saturday, I drove Supergirl to her holiday parade downtown and the car was making this horrible knocking noise. I pulled right into a tire place and asked them to please look at it.
When I came back a few hours later, they asked for $20, told me it was not a safety issue, but I should get it into a transmission place on Monday to be looked at.
I drove home, and when I got home, asked dh if he was sure he had put the new wheels on correctly, and he was insulted that I would ask such a thing - especially after the tire place had already seen it.
I asked him to drive the car and he refused. Probably out of sheer laziness and defiance, but this decision had drastic consequences for him later on.
I drove back to town (25 miles; 10 of them on steep winding mountain roads) on Monday for a meeting. When I got to town, the noise was horrible - it started to jiggle my steering wheel; seeming far less innocuous than before. By the time I found parking, it was creaking and knocking beyond any safe zone. I made it to my meeting, calling dh on the way to beg him to find me a transmission place very nearby to my meeting location.
He called back and told me to take it back to the tire place. I was exasperated and late, told him that the car was not going to make it anywhere at all and to come get me because I would probably call AAA and have it towed somewhere, sighed heavily and went to my meeting.
Two hours later, I emerged, remembered my dilemma, and crossed my fingers as I looked across the street and saw the tire place two blocks away.
Knock-knock-knock-KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK...got louder.
I called dh - "Take it to the transmission place! Or wait until Wednesday when our own mechanic can see it!" he chirped back.
OH..........KAAAAAAY!! Clearly the man was not on my planet.

I had to make it one more block, and snap! the steering went and I veered into oncoming traffic. The oncoming car was going about 30 and I was going about 3 mph, so he was able to stop in time, but not without a lot of screeching and cussing and honking and screaming at me to follow. I was trembling, knees shaking, and pulled (knock, knock, knock, knock, KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK) into the tire shop, where they looked at my ashen face and they again told me to take it to a transmission shop - it was only 1/2 block away! I was utterly confused at this point, and so I went back to the car, reversed about 2 feet, and - snap! clunk! - a sickening thud brought me to a halt. As I opened up the door to see what was going on, three guys came running out of the tire shop.
"STOP!" They all shouted at once.
"Don't go anywhere!"

"I'm not!!" I cried back, climbed out of the car, and saw my tire at a 90 degree angle to my car. Three guys ran out of the garage, and one guy reached for the tire and spun it. It came right off.

I thought about the 14% grade I had just driven down to get to town. I thought of the drive on Saturday with both children in the car. I thought of the cliffs oh-so-close to the road on my way to town. I thought of my propensity to speed.
I burst into tears. Heaving, sick to my stomach, sniffling.
"Do you need a few minutes?" one of the guys asked me, patting my shoulder.
I nodded.
A minute later, the guys from the shop came out, one by one, and as they looked at my car and the wheel lying next to it, each one told me I was lucky to be alive. One asked me where I lived, and I said that I had just driven down from my mountain community. He looked at me with an expression that nearly mirrored my own.
The manager of the shop came out and said that whoever it was who changed the tires, was not capable of protecting me and I needed to know how to do it myself. Fair enough.
Still trembling, I left the car there to be fixed and called home, sobbing, "I....need.......a......ride......wheel.....off......car......"
The response I got was, "Well Bubbles is sleeping, what do you want me to do?"
Walking downtown towards a place with wi-fi - any place - it was dark and cold already, I was shaking and sniffling. I had called him two hours before to tell him I could not drive home.
I hung up and called a friend, who immediately came down the mountain to drive me back up the mountain.
When she came to pick me up, she hugged me, and said, "I am so glad you are okay! That is so scary! Are you okay? Are you?"
I was wondering at this point why dh wouldn't drive the car when I asked him to. The whole way home, she calmly convinced me that of course this was not sabotage - it was grossly irresponsible, but really, calm down, not sabotage... And by the time we arrived at my house, I believed her. She dropped me off, I walked into the house, and dh ignored me. Not one word. No apology. No concern. No 'oh I am so glad you are okay'.
Nothing. Wouldn't even look at me.
So, then I started thinking....well....I don't really have any reason to believe otherwise, do I?
When I said 'Just wondering...' I was just wondering. There was no hidden meaning in my question. It was just 'what would you think?'.

Between us remained silence and hostility; he was angry with the tire place, and I was angry with him. There was nothing. And frankly, I deserved more in that situation.

On Tuesday, new information came about. When I went to pick up the car (having had to borrow money to pay for it myself), the manager let something slip.
Seems they had not actually checked the tire or wheels on Saturday because they could not get it off - couldn't find the wheel lock! But never told me this. Until I picked up the car the second time. On Tuesday. After they charged me nearly $200.

Can you say gobsmacked?

This information made me feel like I was a teeny tiny baby spinning helplessly in a black hole. But I am not a baby, I am an adult who can only chastise herself for trusting someone who did not have their back. Twice. In one week.

Dh saw this as his vindication, when it really would have taken so little effort on his part to clear this up before it happened. He also saw this as an acceptable excuse from apologizing for being grossly irresponsible.
It would be an understatement to say that this serious situation was handled poorly, and it would be an unreasonable expectation to believe that I would come out of this situation feeling calm and or safe.

It is interesting to me that it would be fine for most people to read about statistics of families who break up after losing a child. That would be an acceptable read, because it is far enough removed from most readers' immediate reality and seems like a story about someone else. And sensational. And supported by statistics and books who warned us this would happen.
Or it would be fine to post about how we beat statistics, leaving out all the pain and anquish and unlikely endings as I stumbled forward to the part where we succeeded! We beat out all the statistics! Behold our awesomeness.

I have always tried to prioritize the protection of family members over my need to share. Sometimes we are faced with decisions that are difficult. Sometimes that line is hard to determine. But when I am knotted up, my stomach a pretzel and my mind terrified for what could have been, and I am alone....I must go somewhere to remind myself that I am here.

Do I want my family to remain intact and unbroken?
That would be my preference.
Will it come at the cost of safety, care, and respect?
No it will not.

Everyone has discord in their relationships; some of it is shared with friends, some of it is shared with those who care to hear about it. Our discord is no different from yours, yet it is worlds apart. Our discord is tinged with anger and regret and resentment and so is yours. Our discord carries with it the experience of parenting a child whose life is now over. Our discord represents a failure to survive that tragedy.
And yours?

28 comments:

Squid said...

I'm glad you're okay (with air quotes around that last word).

I am sorry about the terrifying trauma.

It is clear who has your back and who doesn't.

I wish things were different for you. But your kids are very fortunate to have you as their mama.

Anonymous said...

After reading about his complete lack of concern for you or the kids in that car I would be referring to him as "jerk" and not DH! What kind of man would have that attitude? Not a real man that's for sure. Sorry, but that's how it seems.

Anonymous said...

Awww G I love ya girl. What can I do?
Denise

The Turtle and the Monkey said...

I am sorry to say that mine is a failure to survive the tragedy. Everyone judges relationships, but no one can understand the damage that comes along with losing a child. It shatters everything that was before and makes it almost impossible to put back together.

I am so sorry that you seem to be in these trenches with me. You are not alone.

You are in my thoughts.

Julia said...

I am sorry. This was indeed terrifying, and the treatment at home not nearly what it should've been. I am sorry.
And I am here and listening, for what it's worth...

wrongshoes said...

Oh, man, I'm so sorry. That sounds awful.

I wish I could give you a hug.

And I don't think the tire place should have charged you anything the second time.

Ginn said...

Honey, I'm so sorry. I'm tearing up!

I don't know WHAT to say. Love from the other side of the country-
Ginn.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. Do you still think Dh tried to kill you or did you change your mind? Just confused.

MFA Mama said...

"Our" discord? Well, there is no more us, and I would have to say that while we were not the bestest match ever, The Mystery of the youngest child's health brought us to our knees, me getting MRSA knocked us onto our face, and the MPS-scare dealt the deathblow. Once you and your spouse have come down on opposite sides of the question of whether you would consider a hypothetical bone-marrow transplant, it puts you in a place of contempt that the most well-matched couple would have a hard time climbing out of, I think. The growth-hormone argument didn't help either (whooo boy that was a bloody one). Nor did the fact that one of us is in denial about our children's medical issues and one of us is not. But the main contributing factor in the demise of my marriage is that I married an asshole. I think a better man would have held it together at least as well as I have, because I don't see myself as any sort of shining example of How To Cope with such things, but I didn't see the non-coping as an option, so much.

sarah said...

I have been thinking a lot about you. So glad you made it down that mountain safely, relieved the kids are ok, and feel sad for how scared you must have been. That experience would have been very hard for me to digest. Thinking about you and your adorable kid!

Headless Mom said...

Oh G. I don't really know what to say, except that I'm sending big hugs, a glass of wine, and lots of prayers. You've gone through so much-I hate to hear that it's only continuing.

Sophie said...

I can absolutely imagine my husband doing exactly the same thing. He's not a bad person, though sometimes he can be an insensitive, thoughtless jerk. Eventually he comes around and realises how poorly he has behaved and that is his saving grace.

What pisses me off though is that I have to do all the groundwork to get him to that realisation. I have to hold his hand, chastise him and walk him back through what has happened and then wait for his 'ah ha' moment.

After losing Jordan, seriously, I don't have the energy for that anymore.

Anyway, I am completely with you on this. He deserved a sound thrashing and you absolutely need a proper apology.

jennyalice said...

I'm so glad you are alive, and I am so sorry you do not feel taken care of (is that an understatement or what?)
thinking of you...and of checking my tires in the morning.

xoxoxo

mamadaisy said...

I'm sorry, honey. I hope it gets better for you. Insenstive assholic behavior from the one you trust, when you need him most in a crisis, is disappointing and painful to say the least. I hope your family can stay together -- safe, kind, loving, and togther.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

It has been a while since I read a post that made me gasp out loud.

I am so sorry.

Anonymous said...

I think when you don't feel loved, it's easy to see how the whole world can be against you. We've all felt it at times, none of us are exempt from this state.

RoseRedHoofbeats said...

Uhm... my husband can be a Grade A Dickface sometimes, but if he EVER did anything that could have hurt me or our baby, he'd be falling all over himself to make it up to me.

Our discord is mainly that he's depressed and has three chronic illnesses (IBS, asthma, arthritis) that cause him a lot of pain and unpleasantness, and he won't get off his butt and DO anything about any of it, and I end up dragging him to the doctor and being the bitch who makes him take his meds, not letting him eat things he shouldn't, oh, and the bitch who makes him save money and not eat out all the time and actually, you know, not pretend we aren't having a complete economic meltdown and he could lose his job at any given time.

*hugs* It sucks to have to deal with husbands sometimes. I don't know what I would do if my husband failed to realize that his lack of diligence nearly killed me.

Anonymous said...

A lot of times this rant is seen as husband bashing. Just another way to make women feel even more guilty. As good as men are, the majority of the time, we carry them. We are the backbone of the family. And should we have any complaints, any sorrows that we wish only to talk about (because that's what women do) we are seen as completed bitches.

I don't believe in feminism, so don't think I am one. I'm simply saying that men in general need to wake up and see when their woman is hurting. I sometimes wish I were a lebian!

Anonymous said...

"Lesbian" was meant for "lebian". I don't mean lybian!

RoseRedHoofbeats said...

For the record, I just asked my husband what he thought of this and he said your husband needed a good ass-kicking. If that helps any.

RuthWells said...

Um. Is therapy an option for Hubby? Because he is either living in serious denial, or is suicidally depressed. Not that either option would be, you know, that far-fetched, but seriously -- there is a huge disconnect in his (lack of) reaction to how much danger you and the kids were in.

I don't think this is a safe situation for any of you.

Shannon and Carey said...

I'm sorry Gwendomama. I was in a marriage once where I felt this way. It wasn't over tires and we hadn't lost a child........makes you wonder why the hell we couldn't get it together, huh? It is so true....everyone has discord. I wish everyone could have a compassionate husband like my husband. I'm gonna thank my husband again tonight and that I appreciate him. And yes, sad but true, statistic are high on couples who lose children. Alot of people don't know this. You would think it would bring you closer (and with some people, it does)
Lots of hugs your way and you have alot of friend on here who are listening :)
-Shannon in Austin

Mama Deb said...

I feel like I'm worlds away since I haven't seen you much as of late.
Decided to stay in TX a few more days. Good for the soul.
Wish you had a place to refresh and think for a little while too. Maybe it's time to plan that 'camping light' overnighter at the place between S.C. and HMB? I'll bring the wine. Be well, Gwendo Mama.

Tricia said...

Damn Gwendomama...

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Anonymous said...

So glad that the babies and you are okay. All people make mistakes but some people have a hard time admitting to mistakes. You are okay. Yay, so glad that everyone is OK!

Focus on what IS, not what could have been. We are sending our love and good thoughts.

(Sorry to be a coward & be anonymous. Pero I love your raw, real and emotional writing...I think you are amazing!)

For the Long Haul said...

Wow, I can't even imagine how scary that was. The reaction that you received when you returned home is just insane and completely unacceptable. Although the silence says it all.

I am just so sorry for what you're going through. My relationship broke up over "parenting" a child rather than losing one and it was excrutiating. I can't even imagine your position. Just know those of us reading are here for you and are sending you the best thoughts possible that you will make it through with what is best for YOU and your children.

Rosehaven Cottage said...

I am thinking similar thoughts as Ruth...

What concerns me most about your account is that the thought that your husband had deliberately sabotaged actually crossed your mind, was spoken out loud to a friend, and still hovers somewhere in the back of your mind. That thought shouldn't cross your mind AT ALL unless there's something in your core telling you that things are not safe for you in this relationship. That's a BIG warning sign, and you need to pay attention to it. A power greater than you protected you as you went down the mountain--it wasn't just luck. But you must look at the warning signs and feelings you're having and address them... NOW. There has been a lot in your life that has numbed you so you can survive. If this incident is breaking through that numbness, than you need to pay attention. For the good of yourself and your children, call a professional therapist/counselor today and tell them what you've shared here. Call your clergy. Call a parent or a close friend. This shouldn't be overlooked.

Cindy

Rachel Inbar said...

Therapy. I think the key is respect. If you respect each other you can make it. If you've lost that forever, there may be no hope.

Rachel
(divorced after 13 years of marriage)