A cat’s claws sink into my heart

My heart is a songbird in the paws of a cat. Pawed, batted and pawed again until the neck snaps and the song dies.

Today, while helping Rosie in the shower, I hear the front door open. I dash to the landing and peer down, expecting to see Ben slumped against the wall or staring up wide-eyed from the bottom of the staircase.

I haven’t seen Ben for some six or seven weeks, but the slap of the latch against the door jamb slits open my chest, leaving my heart vulnerable to a malicious and predatory cat. Left, right and up, my heart is pinched between its claws for an interminable 30 seconds.

I look down the stairwell. There is no one there. (Paws relax, my heart is my own again.) The door had been blown open after I’d inadvertently left it unlocked.

This is not the first time this has happened. You will recall, several days back, how I went into a panic just because I couldn’t get through to Ben at the rehab centre. And last night, I thought he’d left the centre and come home (false alarm again; it was the neighbours).

Ben is free to go out on his own from the day after tomorrow, I think. Realistically, that must mean weekends. I don’t know because no one there will tell me anything. The only advice I have been given so far is to attend a family group at 9.40 on a Saturday morning. Given Rosie has a music class at just that time, and given it takes us 2 hours to get to the centre, the family group is not really viable for us. Centre staff have not bothered to offer an alternative.

I have reiterated to Ben that I don’t want him to visit us at home. I can’t face him coming up those stairs again. I can’t actually face having him in this flat. At least, not yet.

Rosie is struck by her own worries. ‘When will daddy come back?’ she continually asks me, before saying, ‘But he might start drinking “coffee” again.’ She is just as anxious about him returning as I am.

Any illusion I might have been spinning for myself about resuming a relationship with Ben is just that. As soon as the familiar signs of his possible return announce themselves unexpectedly, I recoil. I panic.

The answer to this whole mess seems so obvious. But obvious though it may be, it is also a tricky answer, an answer fraught with difficulty.

I have one week before I see him again. Ironically, the day we are meeting just happens to be our wedding anniversary. He has not remarked on it and neither will I. I have never been good at remembering our anniversary. I think this one is our sixth.

Anyway, next Saturday, we meet for the first time in about two months. It is bound to be awkward. I imagine I’ll be holding my breath, holding on to Rosie, ready to side-step that sharp-nailed cat.

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10 thoughts on “A cat’s claws sink into my heart

  1. Your anxiety at the mere thought of him back at home is telling you a very big NO. You’ve got to listen to your body and eventually act upon what it’s telling you. Maybe not right now, but eventually. Stay strong!

  2. Hi. You are just not willing to go ‘back there’ in time again! Protecting yourself from doing so is good to do. Have you changed the locks on your doors? I would strongly advise you to do so. Change them, and tell Ben that you have changed them.
    I am thinking that you really don’t want to do the ‘family group’ thing…If you did, you would say to hell with Rosie’s dance lessons…and you would tell yourself that the family group meeting is more important….Rosie young, she would get over missing a dance class, right? I am reading between your lines and am reading that you just don’t want to/aren’t ready to/ can’t bear to start working things out. This is okay in my books. I for one, am not judging you. I get it! Do whatever you need to do in your own time, if and when you are ready! Go ahead and just say, “I am not prepared to do that at this time.” It’s more empowering to just say that rather than ‘hiding’ behind dance classes. You don’t have to make excuses. You have been the one that has had to pick of the pieces for so long…it’s your turn to start dishing out how it’s going to be. You go, girl.

    • Thank you, Shelley. In the words of Owl (Winnie the Pooh): you are an “Astute and Helpful Bear”. You’ve read accurately between the lines there. True, I’m just not willing to compromise on Rosie’s care for Ben’s sake any more. I did it for too long. Yes, I know I’m not ready. I’m hoping to see him in a neutral space, see how that goes for a bit, before letting him come here (if I let him in at all). I keep thinking of changing the locks, but I don’t know. Btw, the dance classes didn’t work out for Rosie. She cried! Turns out, after pestering me for a year about wanting to go to ballet class, the only things she likes about ballet are the skirt and the shoes. Apparently, the class itself was: ‘a little bit boring’. !

      • I guess you will be off to the store to purchase a sweet little tutu and some pink slippers for Rosie! (There are some great tutorials online for making inexpensive tutus where you just cut tuiling and tie it onto a waistband ribbon.) Then she can dance up a storm!
        You will always be worried about Ben walking into your home if you don’t change the locks. Not a good feeling. But I do understand that changing the locks is a big statement to both yourself, and to Ben, about where your relationship is at right now….a hard decision to make, for sure and not one to be taken lightly. Take care. Try to do a ‘little dancing’ yourself if you get a chance.

      • Thanks, Shelley. She is, as I type, dressing up in her ‘princess’ clothes and doing her own ballet. And yes, I’ll be off to buy a skirt and ballet slippers. Sigh. It will pass, right? As for Ben, I’m still full of trepidation. Changing the locks… I’ve got to really give that some thought.

  3. I was holding my breath for you while I read it. I remember those feelings so vividly. I would wake up in the middle of the night and realize that he never came home. My heart would pound with worry about whether or not he was in an accident. Eventually, my thoughts would turn to anger and I would think, “He’d better have been in an accident to be out so late.” I would finally talk myself into going back to sleep when I would hear the front door, and my heart would pound.
    Later after we separated, I found myself holding my breath as I turned the car onto our street. I would search for his truck in the driveway, knowing that it wouldn’t be there, but hoping and then dreading.
    You are right. Although the answer seems simple, it is far from easy. Hang in there.

    • Hey StrongerMe, that heart pounding sensation – I know it well. Isn’t it funny? In the beginning, they made our hearts pound for all the best reasons. By the end, they made our hearts pound with terror. I’m hanging, by the very tips of my fingers, I think.

      • Yes they did. Everything about my husband was exciting to me. He was fun and carefree, where I was always grounded and responsible. I thought that we balanced each other out. It was true, but in order to balance out the scale, I had to give up all of my fun and handle all of the responsibility. That wasn’t what I had in mind.

  4. Pingback: Et oui, c’est le fil! | married to an alcoholic

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