It was a tumultuous relationship. Despite past experience I once again thought my love could stitch together another’s broken seams. But this time wariness kept one foot out the door, ready to bolt – a caution that would hover for years to come. Our love grew despite both of our need to protect our hearts from pain. We each had our own weapons. Mine was anger. When enough hurts burned inside I hurled threats and screams at whatever tender spots he had laid bare. His was moving away from reality, into a world softened by alcohol and drugs. After three years of multiple partings and reunitings the increasing desire for a family finally pulled us to the altar. We danced to the music of two steps forward and two steps back right up until the day our vows were voiced in front of witnesses. One of my close friends walked away – forever – because she could not support my decision. Wagers were taken at our wedding on how long it would last. The outlook was less than bright.
Drinking was an ongoing issue that plagued our nights. He was often gone until early morning hours and I was often pacing the floors and cursing. I was oblivious to the degree that drugs were still in use – until I found his stash. Once again, the depth of my love could not heal wounds inflicted long before my entrance to the story. As the birth of our son neared I became less and less willing to take care of a grown man, the father to be. The looming responsibility of caring for an infant shifted my energy and attention. I needed someone to share the parenting, not detract from it. One evening, late in the pregnancy, he returned in the early hours of the morning even more wasted than usual. He got up in the middle of the night, in what I would later understand to be a blackout, and began urinating in the corner of the bedroom. As I tried to stop him he pushed me away and I landed sprawled on the bed. I left immediately, fearing for my safety. Next day he had no memory of the incident. He move out at my insistence and we obtained a legal separation. The prospect of being a single parent stared me in the face. I did not want to acknowledge the fear I saw when I stared back.
Next step in the prescribed order of events: buy a house. We found a row house on a street full of nearly identical homes. It was over 150 years old and carried the character of its age: hardwood floors, ceilings 12 feet high, marble fireplaces, and intricate moldings. We both loved the house and worked on several renovations to make it meet our needs. Its location in the downtown area was also walking distance to his work. A basement rental apartment helped pay part of the mortgage. I paid the rest, despite the fact that my paycheck was a fraction of his, to allow him to pay off large credit card debt accumulated before we met. The ups and downs continued through our first year, but on our anniversary we decided to start that family we both so wanted. It didn’t take long before a pregnancy was confirmed. It was not smooth sailing, but we were a bit more settled and both looked forward to the arrival of our son.