The 1,763-Day Weekend
Part 14 — The Slow Motion Derailment
I suddenly found myself driving to Montréal, not saying a word. I think we might have been about an hour from Halifax, near Truro, when NowEx asked me the same question he’d asked in our room that last night in Vallerta: “What? Is it going to be like this for the rest of the trip?” Except that, by this time, my newfound pair had finally dropped and I didn’t hesitate to answer, “Maybe… I’m sorry, but I’m in no mood to talk to you right now, not after that little stunt!”
He immediately objected to my use of the word “stunt,” but I just tuned him out. Instead, I could only hear my inner voice repeating, “It’s broken. It’s over. It’s broken. Simplify. It’s broken.”
At the same time, I was trying to decide what to do once back in Montréal. Even though it turned Cleopatrick into collateral damage, I was going to ask him to leave, although not to make more room for NowEx, for I was also imagining a conversation with him where I would ask him to leave as well. Logistically speaking, I only had to fork out another fifty bucks or so to Air Canada to change the return date on his ticket, just as I had done a few days before to officially postpone his return to December. That was the easy part.
So this is how much it took for the compulsive rescuer in me to finally admit defeat. This is what it took… But I hadn’t quite reached bottom yet. That would take me another two weeks.
I don’t know why, but somewhere between Moncton and Fredericton, I started to talk. Maybe it’s because I thought I was being as puerile as he’s too easily given to be. Just as long as we didn’t talk about why we were on the road to Montréal all of a sudden…
In fact, I’ll never comprehend why, but I turned “nice” again. We were nearing Hartland when we decided it was time to stop for some supper, but instead of just stopping anywhere along the road, I actually did the detour into the town so that I could show him the longest covered bridge in the world. I think I was pretty certain in my mind he would never have another opportunity to see it, but why I even cared can probably only be explained with, “That’s just the way I am.”
We had to stop several times after that because I was getting tired, for I hadn’t rested properly for this long drive. Meanwhile, you would think that someone like NowEx, after pulling that stunt that he did, would have been on his best behaviour the whole way. But, of course, that would have been too much to hope for.
It was about 4:00 am, still dark and about an hour from Montréal when it started to rain a bit, making the lines on the road hard to see for someone who was exhausted. But after we had turned off to continue on Autoroute 20 at Sainte-Julie, from where the Montréal skyline is in sight, Mister NowEx asked that I stop so that he could pee. I knew (and told him) we had less than 15 minutes to go, but he wouldn’t hear of it. So, I found myself driving slowly on the far-right lane so that I could better read the road signs and look for an indication of a gas station. “What, are you lost again?” he clipped, to which I should have told him to shut up and tie a knot in it, …but I didn’t and eventually found a gas station. (The insulting part of the “are you lost again” clip was that I never, EVER got lost while driving with him, but when the rain had started, tired as I was, I was not driving with my normal assurance, and he obviously felt that.)
The worst part is he showed no shame when we reached home exactly 10 minutes later. Instead, as we were about to get out of the car, he put on that fake face feigning sincerity and said, “Thank you for bringing me back from that place, I just couldn’t……”
“Get out of the car so that I can park it” is all I said, cutting him off.
The next day after a few hours’ sleep, Cleopatrick and I went to the Java U down the street so we could talk. It wasn’t so much a conversation as a monologue, where I told him much of what had transpired in the last week up to the pivotal event that explained our early return.
I won’t deny I was misty-eyed through much of my retelling, but it’s when I reached the part about bringing back the keys to The Queen and finding her in tears at the bottom of her stairs that the floodgate really opened. It wasn’t that I felt ashamed; it’s that I knew how broken-hearted and worried she was for me.
I then made my request that he move out. “It’s not because he bullied me into it, but because I want you to.” That wasn’t a lie, and he knew I was planning to give NowEx his marching orders next; rather, it was part of the “Simplify” I kept hearing my inner voice saying while on the road the day before. I assured him he could take whatever time he needed — a month or two — but within less than a week, he’d found a place and moved out.
It’s too bad it didn’t work out as well with NowEx. Now don’t get me wrong: that night we did talk for hours in the living room back home. I even said at one point, “It’s over and I want out of this,” but it’s as if neither of us heard me say that. The next day, I sent him off to the downtown YMCA for his first day of the conversational French course in which I’d registered him before our trip.
I think it had started before the trip, but definitely every morning after the trip, while I was in the shower, I wanted to cry. Anything he said, anything he did, even his mere presence bothered me. Yet I didn’t rekindle the conversation and repeat that I wanted out. On the contrary, I “made nice,” took him out to eat, and tried to hold things together. Maybe I was thinking that he might as well finish the damn French course since it was already paid for? Beats me! All I know is that I was guilty of sending him mixed signals. Maybe, even though I truly didn’t believe he had it in him, I was scared (again) that he might get physically violent…
Then came Pride weekend in Montréal for which La Chelita, the Queen’s daughter, had planned months in advance to attend with Hong, a member of her “Asian posse.” That turned out to be the most bizarre weekend because it seemed everybody except NowEx knew that his days in Canada — moreover the days of us — were counted. He simply couldn’t repress his need to control everything and everyone, which pushed me to have quick huddles with the gurlz during which I would roll my eyes and report to them what was to be their expected behaviour and they would cluck back the perfect response each time. It even provoked La Chelita at one point to purchase a five-pound bag of almonds at Marché Jean-Talon as if to prove that no, she wasn’t wandering off aimlessly, she wanted some almonds! Ah, good times… Each time La Chelita retold this story, the bag of almonds grew to reach 1,000 pounds at last count.
Then again, in hindsight, he probably did sense we were all against him, as that’s in the very nature of someone with BPD — stigma about terminology be damned! One time when we’d all come back home together, I’d called dibs on the bathroom while we were in the elevator because I needed to pee like a racehorse, but he protested “NO, *I* need to go first!” The annoyance on my face must have been killing because he retracted and let me go first. However, after he went after me, he came to the living room where I was sitting with Hong — La Chelita had slipped next to the bathroom — and he chewed me out about how it wasn’t fair because he hadn’t known what “dibs” meant, and then he stormed off to the bedroom, slamming the door.
I trust that you’re noting the escalation, gentle readers. He went from chewing me out privately, to chewing me out within earshot of friends, to chewing me out in front of my friends as if they weren’t there. I simply had to admit to myself that the way I’d let him get away with so much had emboldened him to believe that there was no limit to what I would take from him. Except that’s where he was wrong: he had passed the limit by so much already that I didn’t care anymore about salvaging our marriage, let alone seeking help for him as I had thought back in Toronto when I realized he had a far more serious problem than anger management issues.
I just looked at Hong who was sitting facing me and shook my head and rolled my eyes. Which was it: did he or didn’t he know what “dibs” meant? He certainly seemed to know in the elevator… But of course that was a rhetorical question that I didn’t even bother verbalizing, since I knew that the problem was a simple case of him not having gotten precisely what he’d wanted — in this case, first go at the bathroom.
The night the gurlz were leaving, NowEx attended the rave being held for the closing of Pride at Parc-Émelie-Gamelin. I didn’t go and I wouldn’t have gone even if things had been going well between us. It’s just not my scene, but, again, even if things had been okay, I would have encouraged him to go on his own because he loves such events. He’d already decided he’d skip class the next day and would probably stay at a friend’s, MexiGoth, who lived in the Village.
So, after dropping him off at the rave, I drove the gurlz to Trudeau for their flight back to Halifax. But then — and I’ve never told this to anyone until right now — once I saw online that the gurlz‘ flight had taken off, I went to the tubs.
I didn’t stay long. Just long enough to get a little bit of what I didn’t get at home anymore. Besides, I had to work the next day. I just needed to do something that, even if only in my mind, would give me license to bring up again the conversation I needed to bring up.
NowEx crawled home late the next morning, hungover like hell. He slept all day in the living room to get as far away as possible from the construction noise in the alleyway. (Of course he came to my office to complain about the noise, but I just looked at him and said, “What do you expect me to do? It’s bothering me for my work, too, you know…”) Early that evening, around 7:00, seeing that he was still hung over, I declared that I had a few errands to run and left.
I did run some errands. But I also drove to Hudson to sit by the riverbank and then to a park on the Plateau that offers a breathtaking view of the city — in fact, the same park where NowEx, Cleopatrick and I had ended that day-trip to Montréal in August ’07, after I had just met NowEx. I simply wanted to be by myself; I simply wanted to cry. Here I was in this city I’d spent nearly a decade wishing I was in, and I’d fucked it all up by marrying NowEx. I would be turning 44 two days later, and I had never, ever, been so unhappy in my adult life.
I’d finally reached bottom.
I got home well after midnight to find that NowEx had put the chain on the door, so he had to unlatch it so that I could come in. (No comment.) Once in, I went directly to the fridge to put away the few items I had bought, and as I was doing so, with him sitting in a chair at the kitchen table, he said, “I feel so abandoned…”
“If the shoe fits…” I clipped back, and went to the bathroom.
I, too, sat in a chair at the kitchen table when I came back from the john. At first we said very little until I finally explained what I meant with my clip: “I feel so unhappy, NowEx, I can’t go on like this. And no, I didn’t want you with me tonight.”
I told him the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about where I’d been the whole evening, even admitting that I didn’t know where I was going until I got there, and that I would have stayed in that park all night if it hadn’t been for the fact that I knew he’d be worried about where I was. (When I thought back a few years later about having said that, I wondered, perhaps ungenerously, if he had in fact worried that I might have been in an accident, for he didn’t mention it that night.)
It was he who said it first. “Do you want me to go back to Mexico?”
I paused a little, then said, “Yes…” Tears started filling his eyes — real tears, not forced. That made me regress a bit. “Maybe just for a cooling off period…”
I hated myself instantly for having put that card on the table.
The next four days, including my 44th birthday, remain a blur to me to this day.
There was a power failure in the neighbourhood the next day, and when it didn’t seem to come to an end and I couldn’t work, we decided to go to Oka Beach. When we got back home that evening, I asked him about his preferred date to go back to Mexico. “Tomorrow if I could,” he responded testily, but I knew that probably wouldn’t be possible.
I went to use the phone in the office to call Air Canada, and just as I was beginning to speak to an agent, he looked at me from the edge of the office and asked very loudly, “We’re really doing this?” I put the agent on hold for a second and turned to look at him. I didn’t answer back; I just shrugged my shoulders and looked at him as if to say, “Whatdayathink?” When I’d finished the call that resulted in amending his departure to the following Saturday, he came back to the office and sarcastically said, “Well! That was easy, wasn’t it?” and he whisked back into the living room.
That’s when I realized that he really thought he had nine lives, that he really believed I didn’t have a limit, that he thought I was bluffing about having him go back to Mexico.
But he still could play me like a fiddle, and he did in the remaining three days. He had me considering going ahead with getting his Canadian PR papers as if we were a happily married couple, guilting me on the Thursday morning with, “Do you realize what you’re sending me back to?” Funny how Canada suddenly became so much better than Mexico, huh?
Still, he knew how guilty I felt about that fact and about how, in my mind, he was here all because of me. He never heard me say that I had married him to rescue him from himself, for I hadn’t yet admitted it to myself at that point, but he knew somehow that was all part of my sense of guilt. *I* had dragged him into this, but now here I was, as he wrote to me once back in Mexico, simply sending him back like an unwanted dog.
On his last night as he was packing, he asked me if and what I would be telling my friends and my family. Moreover, he assumed but specifically asked if and what I would be telling The Queen. I replied honestly that I would certainly be “talking to her,” which prompted him to say, bitterly, “Sure, of course… And don’t say hi to her for me.” And I just thought to myself, “How charming…” and felt in that moment that his plane couldn’t leave soon enough.
Finally, the Saturday morning arrived — Saturday, August 22, 2009 — and I drove him to Trudeau. In the following days and weeks, we spoke only once on Skype and e-mailed each other only once. But that was enough. After September 14, we became completely estranged.
In the immediate days after he was gone, all my closest friends and work colleagues where there for me. Yes, dare I say it: they came to my rescue! Isn’t that rich? The (recovering compulsive) rescuer being rescued…
Except for a few who shall remain nameless but whose identity you can probably guess, most didn’t come right out and tell me not to go ahead with NowEx’s PR papers. Instead, they made me do some research and asked me to call them back with my findings. By Labour Day, or even sooner, they all in their own way made me realize not only that I was the worst liar in the world who would be incapable of posing as happily married to NowEx before an immigration board, but that I would be engaging in fraud which would throw me out on the street on my ass with nothin’, most especially my job at the bank…
And for what? For NowEx?
Regardless of the fact I married him for the wrong reason, if he hadn’t treated me as he did, maybe…
But he did treat me as he did. It had been too much to simply forgive and forget. The only hint of guilt I had — and still have to a lesser degree — is that he did so in good part because he’s not well.
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