The Last Straw

The last straw was my husband's 44th birthday.

I had written him a long card, and we had gone on an actual date, and we laughed about parenting and we talked about life a little and we ate sweet potato fries and chicken wings, but things had been strained.

We were trying.

Maybe only I was trying.

The next night he wanted to go out to celebrate his birthday again with his friend who also drank too much and also liked to go gambling and was mean when drunk. My husband told me he was going out 20 minutes before he left the house and left me with the kids for the night.

I asked him to be responsible. I asked him to not drink too much, to get a ride home if he did, to not spend our daycare money at the casino, to let me know if he was going to be home really late so I wouldn't worry. He said ok, ok, ok, ok, ok.

He stopped answering my texts at 10 pm.

I stayed up until 2 am, and then I cried and fell asleep.

I did that a lot. I was used to it.

At 5:30 a.m. I woke up with a start, the way spouses wake when their bodies sense it is morning and their minds know their husbands or wives may or may not have returned home the night before.

My husband was not upstairs. Not in his bed, not in a chair, not on a floor.

I stepped down the stairs quietly, careful to not wake the children. My husband was not in the kitchen, he was not in the living room, he was not in the dining room, he was not in the den.

I stepped down the stairs to the basement.

My husband was stumbling between the pillars. He couldn't stand on his own. He was holding onto things, and squinting his eyes, and trying like hell to focus on the stable objects in front of him so he could navigate a step or two.

My stomach was ill. I asked if he was ok or if I should get him water or advil or maybe take him to a hospital.

I did that a lot. I was used to it.

My baby cried upstairs. I had to go take care of our baby.

When I got back downstairs, with our one year old in my arms, my husband had locked himself in the bathroom. I talked to him through the locked door. He would not speak back to me. My husband would not answer when I said his name. There was dead silence.

I pulled a chair up outside in our backyard so I could peer into the bathroom through its window. When I stood on my toes, with my baby still in my arms, I could see he was sitting on the bathroom floor, with his head against the sink cabinet. I could see he was breathing.

My husband stayed in the bathroom, on the floor, for seven hours. I checked on him every ten minutes for the first few hours.

Then my children woke up and asked where their father was. I told them he was in the bathroom.

My children asked if they could use the bathroom downstairs. I told them they had to use the upstairs bathroom. They asked why. I said daddy is sleeping in the downstairs bathroom. They laughed, and then they worried.

I took my children out of the house. I took them to the playground, so they could be kids, and not kids with a father who had fallen asleep in the bathroom. I took them to lunch. I took them on a walk.

My daughter kept asking if daddy was awake yet. I said I don't know, I don't know.

I did that a lot. I was used to it.

When we got back to the house my husband was awake, but hardly. My daughter was relieved.

My husband told me he had spent two months worth of mortgage payments.

I gave my children food and toys, and quietly told my husband that I couldn't do it anymore. I told him it was hard enough to parent three children on my own. I told him I did not want my kids to grow up with a mother who stayed up crying at night, and a father who disappears and drinks and spends our daycare money and then comes home and locks himself in the bathroom. I told him this was not the love I had ever wanted. This was worry and loneliness and crying.

I did that a lot. I had said it so many times before. I was used to saying these words. But that time it was the final straw.


  1. My heart hurts for you. I followed you on Twitter for the Trump-hate, but now I am moved by your posts about real life and suffering. Thank you for sharing your sorrows and story. I am no longer religious so I will not pray, but I am thinking of you and your children.

  2. Through the harsh, dry emptiness of grinding heartbreak you discovered your ability to write? Maybe you knew always. In any case I'm sorry for the burdens you carried and I admire your strength. Your children have been blessed with a strong, loving mother. They say kids do well if they know there is one person in their lives who loves them unconditionally. Your gift to them.

  3. I, too, tapped over from the politics on Twitter just out of curiosity. Wow. What a voice. I once was more like your husband than I like to admit but was able to pull myself out of the spiral. Keep talking, keep writing. Thank you.

  4. allergies keep moistening my eyes while reading your posts

  5. If you ever want a really good pizza from a wood oven drive to montreal and my wife and I will take you for dinner. with or without gremlisn.


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