True Strength

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My husband and I made a momentous move from northern Californian wine country to Maine last March. He had found a well paying job there and it would be less stress for him.

The last couple of months leading up to the move were extremely stressful for us. We were coordinating with the movers and the auto-transport company as well as doing some last minute improvements to the house so that it would sell more quickly. We had a new roof put on and new hardwood floors put in. I worked from the home as a medical transcriptionist where concentration is tantamount to the job. Needless to say, it didn’t pan out too well with all the hammering and banging that was going on at my house all day while I am trying to listen to the dictaphone and type up the notes. I felt like I was going crazy.

My husband also had his own set of stressors, leaving behind a thriving medical practice with patients upset about his leaving. We lived in a small town and he was the town doctor. After seven years there he had built up a very loyal following of patients and an excellent reputation as a caring, kind physician. I didn’t realize it at the time how difficult the whole process of selling a house would be until it was too late and the house was on the market. This was in the beginning of the housing market crash and I do not wish having two mortgages on anyone. It has really strained us financially.

The day before we were to board the plane to the east coast, we sat in our empty home and ate Thai food takeout and drank some wine. My husband drank a little more than usual and that was when the nightmare began. We started arguing and I told him that he needed to get to sleep because we had to get up at 4 a.m. to make the two-hour drive to the airport in order to make our 7:30 a.m. flight. He had taken a sleeping pill but had an adverse reaction and was slurring his words and saying things that made no sense. I was scared and upset and called my mother. We had been going through a rough patch for the last few months and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I wrongly thought that moving across the country and starting over would help our marriage. I was wrong. It only amplifies the problems that you already have.

As I was on the phone with my mother he started following me around the house and getting in my face saying that I was “acting crazy.” He even took the phone away from me and spoke to my mother and told her that I was being psycho. She later told me that it was the worst that she had ever heard him. He was so drunk and groggy from the sleeping pill that he had taken. I finally got the phone away from him and locked myself in the guest bedroom crying on the phone and feeling so overwhelmed. It felt like an endless nightmare. I did not recognize my husband anymore. He has never done anything like this. It was frightening. He started banging on the door trying to talk to me. I was afraid that he would break the door down and that would have been a disaster, considering we were trying to sell the house and were moving out of state. I finally came out of the bedroom, as I could not take it anymore, and came into the master bedroom and grabbed my suitcase. He came at me again and I had to shove him to get him out of the way and in his drunken stupor he fell against the door and broke the jamb. It was cracked and splintered apart. I told him that I could not take it anymore and that I was leaving. He was so out of it that I don’t think that he realized what was going on. He grabbed my arm pretty hard and called me names.

I went out the door with my one suitcase and got into the rental car we had and drove to a nearby friend’s house. Fortunately, they were home and after getting my bearings and calming down a little I booked the next flight out of Sacramento at 6 a.m. It was a two-hour drive to get there. I tried lying down and getting some rest but I was in survival mode. I had to be alert and think about what I was going to do next. It felt like an out-of-body experience. I was fleeing to safety. I didn’t know what else to do but I knew that I could not have stayed there. I doubt that they would have let him on the plane in the condition he was in. I left my friend’s house at 2:30 a.m. and drove the two hours to the airport. I called my parents on the phone and told them my plans and if they could please pick me up at the Cedar Rapids airport at 1:30 p.m. that day. My mother told me that it took a lot of strength to be able to leave by myself and travel in the middle of the night to the airport to get away from a bad situation. She was proud of me.

When I was at Chicago O’Hare on layover I was trying my best to be stoic and not bawl my eyes out in front of everyone. I was filled with sadness and uncertainty over what I would do next. I had reached my breaking point and that was it for me. My husband awoke later that morning at 7 a.m. and with no recollection of what had occurred the night before. He was in a panic because he did not know where I was. He called my mother’s house and left messages on her machine looking for me. He drove to friend’s houses and cried on their shoulder because he was afraid that he might have done something horrible to cause this to happen.

It was in this gut-wrenching ordeal that I found my true strength and what I am made of. I realized my resourcefulness and that should the axe fall I would be okay and able to handle it. I think that we surprise ourselves with what we can really do. My husband called me the next day at my parents’ house and we cried together on the phone. He apologized and we talked about what we should do next. He realized that what he did was wrong and that could we start over again? I knew that I still loved him dearly but I was so confused. Maybe spending a week apart was the best thing to happen to us, to take a break and gain some perspective on the situation. He rented a car and drove across the country to Maine instead of flying. I stayed at my parents for a week and then flew out and joined him.

My mother has often told me that out of something bad comes something good. Even though the circumstances were stressful and upsetting, it was the best thing to happen to us. We realized how the other would feel if either of us left. A lot of married couples go through tremendously stressful periods where the question arises, Is it worth staying? There are no hard and fast rules. You go with your gut. My husband and I decided to start over and the next week he met me at the Portland airport with tears in his eyes and his arms wide open. Our marriage is stronger now because of it. It may not be perfect but who wants perfection? I think that it is overrated. Thank you for letting me share my story with you.


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