Authors: Olivia Reid
IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU
Copyright © 2014 by Olivia P. Reid
All rights reserved.
DRUNKEN UNICORN PRESS
Cover Design Copyright © 2014 Design by Drunken Unicorn Press
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely fictional. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
To my daughter,
whose laughter and smile make all the bad things go away.
A woman's self portrait never matches reality. Sometimes that's good, like when our self portrait resembles the Michelin Man and our reality is a shapely size 9. Or our self portrait sees a mousey brunette when in reality there lurks a vibrant redhead.
And then there's
reality, which reads more like one of those elevator pitches for a new block buster movie. Michelin Man meets Orca. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You can't watch it even if you try!
Years of being the good wife, or in
mind the good wife, co-mingled with raising a precocious redhead left me with fatigue, peri-menopause and way-past-blaming-pregnancy baby fat. My inner self was thin and haggard and in need of pampering.
But when the mirror of fact broad sided me like a two-by-four to the head to reveal the elevator pitch
reality…I fell into a deep depression which lasted all of ten minutes.
Because I don't have time for pity-parties. No newly single mom at my age does.
My name's Grace Murphy and I'm a new divorcé. What that means in laymen's terms is, I finally got the hell out. And once I did, I had no delusions that my life was suddenly going to be all better. No bandaid was going to instantly heal the scars of being married to a controlling nincompoop of a narcissist. Even the price of a divorce.
Which, I might add, took up the bulk of my savings. The other part that wasn't bulky was continuously drained by my daughter, a newly minted freshman in college. The divorce finalized in her second semester in the dead of Winter.
So there I was. Mom. Single. Alone. Divorced.
It's odd how we have to put labels on ourselves. Single. Dating. Married. Separated. Divorced. Even sites like FaceBook have titles like this. And for a while I'd flipped mine to Divorced, even though I'd never bothered turning it to Married even when I was Married.
And as Spring kicked in and the emails and calls from the daughter slowed down due to her third semester class schedule, I finally considered that title and flipped it to Choose One.
And that's where I had an apostrophe (yes, I know it's epiphany, but I've never been able to say epiphany since my daughter at the age of six told me she had an apostrophe while watching Rainbow Bright. Sort of like me calling nipples, nippers. It just is what it is.).
Those two little words forever framed in a white, blue shaded button on the laptop screen taunted me. The choices were as listed above. But none of them really applied to me anymore. I wasn't…I didn't…I couldn't…
Before the divorce and my present apostrophe, I was a graphic artist, working in a sign shop, clicking out advertising for local businesses with little or no thought to how or why I did it. I liked my boss. And I liked a few of the people. One of them I didn't.
We'll call him Brain. Brain believed he knew everything. He schmoozed with the owner, liked to comment on every one's job performance, and readily considered himself a pay grade or two above everyone else.
His thing was getting rid of people if they didn't appeal to his inner fiefdom. And to be honest…I had a jerk like that at home. I called him husband. Why in the hell would I want to bow and be abused by some short, fat, double-chinned little guy with a small penis (I didn't know if he had a small penis…I just like thinking he did).
So after a year or so working to pay for our child's private school tuition, my days of skirting the fiefdom were over and I was 'let go.' My boss told me this with air quotes. What does that mean? Air quotes? I thought hooking one's fingers in the air like that was used to indicate what you said meant something else. Like a lie. Like when the neighbor isn't parking in his driveway anymore and his wife says he's (air quotes) working late (end air quotes).
Was that supposed to mean I was fired but we were couching it in being (AQ)
(/AQ)? The boss I liked and admired waited until the end of the day to tell me this. Just…pulled me in his little office with his science experiments on his desk and me wondering if his wife was wondering where that Tupperware went…and said I was let go for not giving 110 percent.
I sat and stared at him, and had one of those really cool moments of recalling a TV show where the good guy grabs the bad guy by the ears and yanks him forward, effectively slamming the bad guy's nose and forehead into the desk. Blood gushes everywhere and the good guy looks all cool as he gets up and leaves. No questions asked.
I'd Choose that, but action heroine had never been one of the choices.
But then my now former supervisor's phone rang and I was no longer part of the party. I took my small box of things and headed home.
I ate ice cream for dinner and listened to the husband rail on about his job and the miscreants and people who didn't respect him. The daughter had retired to her bedroom to read.
Husband was a scientist—or liked to be called that often. He'd studied one thing but because he chose academia over commercial work, he got a job in a local college and started studying and working and teaching something else. What—I have no idea. Honestly I'd stopped caring two jobs ago as my own career began its downward spiral.
This had been my life for eight years. Listening to him complain.
That's all he did. He'd come home and complain about work. Complain about her school. Complain about the house. Complain about politicians. Complain about the government, local and nationwide. Complain about how he could have made more out of his life if he'd stayed at Harvard.
And as monotonous as this became, I was that good wife, remember?
I listened. I filed it away. I made note of the people he mentioned like characters in a radio show. Personalities with no faces. All of them the antagonists working against the husband, the protagonist and hero of the world. The Champion of all that is Science!
And when I turned to him with expectations that he would fulfill his husbandly duties and listen as I opened my mouth to alleviate
stress—he had to go back into work.
He was too tired.
Or—and this was my favorite—he would interrupt with another something that ticked him off that day, and prove to me time and again, he wasn't listening.
Eventually thoughts of expectation for him disappeared. He was the top dog. The banana in the cabana. The one that mattered. Because as I went from job to job and seemed to make less money, he made it his duty to let me know every month that he paid the bills.
He made the decisions.
He was the king.
He was never physical about letting me know where my place was. Always verbal. Always the call and the constant accusations I was having an affair because honestly…I hated having sex with him.
I could say for certainty that
one had a tiny penis.
But didn't all tyrants?
When he was "let go" from his job, with excuses made that he needed a place to expand his horizons (IE, they were sick of him too), he took a job in Massachusetts.
We lived in Georgia.
He, went to Massachusetts.
At first I wasn't sure what to do. The house was in my name. I had a steady job again working for a church designing brochures and the weekly program for Sunday services (no I don't go to church but thank you for trying Reverend…now can you remove your hand from my knee so I can find God on my own?) and our daughter had friends and loved her school.
We decided on a trial year—that he'd take this job at a college there and see how it went.
One year stretched into three.
And three into five.
And when my best friend Linda passed away, the one woman who held me together in more ways than I could count, the bastard insisted on driving down for the wake and then did what I knew he would do. He started an argument with me afterward when I was a little too inebriated on some home made Sangria. And what was the argument about?
Him. What else? It was how I was over reacting about Linda's death because
felt much worse than I could. It was how
met her first and introduced us. It was about how
and Linda were much better friends.
I let it go and had a good drunk laugh with the ghost of my best friend because honestly, she thought he was an asshole too.
And then he made a fool of himself at Christmas later that same year and accused me of having an affair with my dead best friend's widower.
After fourteen years of steady verbal passive aggressive comments, crank texts, accusations of having affairs, emails, angry messages—I did Choose.
I chose divorce.
Luckily he agreed. After all, he'd been calling me every three months in one of his bi-polar fits to tell me he was tired of this and my cheating on him (which never happened but you know…the king's always right) and I would dutifully pull his ass back into the house and metaphorically give him warm milk and a bed time story.
He'd call several times a week to tell me about the ass-hats he worked with in this new place, and they seemed to be the same characters he'd used in his previous radio drama. It was always the same.
Husband was the victim, and the world hated him.
And I just couldn't be a part of that drama anymore.
I chose not to listen.
So I didn't pull his ass back in the house. The milk had soured, and all the bedtime stories were too afraid of the monster under the bed.