He listened to his wife scream the words “Fuck you!” into the phone. His mother was on the other end.

His mother had come over earlier asking to take her granddaughter for a walk to the local mall. She had taken the stroller and toddler and off they went. This had all happened before the Pagan boy had arrived home from work.

Since his arrival home, his mother had returned with the child, all with smiles. All seemed well except that the wife picked up on that lovely odor that sometimes arises from the diaper. His mother mentioned noticing the smell as they left the mall, but deciding to wait the fifteen minutes until she brought the child home to change her.

The Pagan boy had no problem with this. He took the giggling little girl in his arms up to her room and lay her on the change table.

His wife, however, did. She blew up at his mother and accused her of being mean to the child by waiting. She swore many times.

By the time he returned down the stairs with the child, his mother had escaped the onslaught. Unfortunately, his wife was still unhappy and was ranting about how bad his mother was to their child.

He tried to calm her. He was concerned knowing that his wife was now expecting their second child. They had not yet announced it to any of the grandparents.

She had not been right since the night he came home and found out she was pregnant again. She was in tears and had their daughter on the change table as she told him. She was furious as she did not yet want a second child.

She was also protective over their first child to the point it was very rare she would let others even hold her. She would repeat, almost like a mantra, that it was “my child” and how dare they want to do anything with the child.

The second child, another daughter, was born in December of 2000. The birth, much like her sister’s, seemed much too simple. However, there he sat at his wife’s parents on Christmas morning with a toddler asleep on one arm and a two week old baby asleep on the other. His parents had, once again, celebrated the night before.

The next two years were spent with his wife attempting to cut family contact off from his parents. She would come home from choir with stories about his mother from people who would gossip with her and would not accept his demands that she stop. The daughters would only get to see their grandparents when he would take them over on a Saturday morning. He would also take them to church on Sunday and they would have lunch with his parents.

This was when the yelling started. She would come home and find that he had done laundry wrong, or cooked the steaks incorrectly and she would blast him verbally. Swearing and even once throwing a basket of laundry at him…years later that seemed funny. She would then start to put demands on him to try and stop him from taking the daughters to see his family.

In the fall of 2001 he came home to find his wife sitting quietly in the living room holding what looked like a bill. The girls were playing in the playpen giggling softly. The bill was his credit card bill that she had accidentally opened. She was furious for him not telling her about it.

The Pagan boy tried to justify it. He had hinted at it early on, but had stopped. He wondered how it was that she thought a simple guy in his job could afford some of the things that they did.

In retrospect, she made more money than he and always had an air of superiority that might cause her not to even think about his wages not affording things. Plus, down the road the Pagan boy realized that he should have bluntly explained the situation much earlier. He had hinted but then allowed his shame of not being able to manage money to shut down him from asking for help. He tore up the credit cards and they refinanced the home to cover the debts. He no longer was allowed to spend anything.

He saw this as his own fault for not being more upfront. The depression began to set in and this caused him to put on a lot of weight. Her screaming at him for other things got worse and pushed him down deeper as well.

In 2002 they spent their traditional Christmas Eve at his parents. Christmas Day was now a foregone conclusion that it was to be spent with her family. All the food was eaten and presents were opened. The Pagan boy and his father were in the basement with the daughters as they helped assemble a doll house the girls had received. His mother and his wife were having a very nice civil chat as they had descended to the depths.

After about twenty minutes, his wife came down the stairs with an odd look on her face. She had just finished telling his mother that the wife would never trust her with the daughters. On finding out what had happened, it was the only time the Pagan boy ever heard his father yell at someone when he told the Pagan boy’s wife to get out.

His mother was sobbing in the bathroom as he quickly bundled the children up. His wife even asked him if he wanted to stay. The Pagan boy was confused, and packed the children in the car. He then drove them all home. He called his parents and was told to come pick up the Christmas gifts that the Pagan and his wife had given them. On finding out that the Pagan boy’s wife had nothing to do with the gifts, that was recanted.

For weeks the Pagan boy would ask spirits for guidance using his Tarot and Candle Magick. No answers were given.

The Pagan boy and his wife began attending counseling sessions in the spring. A man who would sit, listen, jot a few notes and then offer homework that would attempt to get the couple dating again. It worked…

…for about six months.

In August of 2003, one week after the massive blackout that shut down most of the power along the east coast of North America, the Pagan boy told his wife he was leaving. He would no longer pretend being happy as she would regularly verbally abuse him on all his failures. He packed a bag, loaded a few things into the car, and drove over to his parents. He then returned the car and walked back.

During the fall of that year, the Pagan boy returned to the same counselor that they had seen as a couple, but on his own. The counselor made one mistake, the Pagan boy felt, when the counselor admitted that he did not think the Pagan boy should have been with her after their earlier sessions. He believed they had only delayed the inevitable.

The mistake was not that the Pagan boy felt the counselor was wrong…just that he felt he should not have said that.

The divorce would run his credit back up. This was mostly because his self confidence was beat up and bleeding badly. He dabbled in attempts to make himself feel alive again with quick fixes, none of which would give the lasting result he required.

He had not, however, found the rock bottom just yet.

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