A couple of weeks ago in yoga class, I was flat on my back for shavasana, and my mind wandered to a traumatic event in my marriage. I found myself crying there on the mat as I breathed through the memory. I suddenly realized with great certainty that my marriage did not end because of Mr. N/A’s infidelities.
It was the summer of 2003, and he had purchased a St. Martin vacation for our family at a charity fund-raiser at his company, presumably to impress the partner whose child’s disease was the focus of the auction, because he rarely took us anywhere.
Our accommodations were provided by a co-worker; the apartment was in a fairly remote area overlooking a rocky beach. The space was nice, but it didn’t seem very secure and there was no telephone, which was a bit concerning to me. Next door was the local bar and restaurant, if you could call it that. Mr. N/A quickly befriended the owner and enjoyed sharing drinks with him.
One afternoon, the restaurant was having a barbeque, and we took the children over for lunch. Mr. N/A began drinking with the owner while the kids ran around. Joey was only 2, so someone (me) had to supervise. Hours later, as darkness fell, the conversation with the bar owner turned to the catastrophe at the World Trade Center. My husband, after 6 or 7 drinks, suddenly became enraged. Born in Brooklyn, he had a love for New York and felt very passionate about what had happened there.
The kids were tired, and he was out of control. Somehow, I managed to get him to leave with us. By that time, we were all hungry again; the original plan was to go out to dinner. Obviously that was now out of the question, as it was dark, he was drunk, and I wasn’t comfortable driving the rental on this crazy, hilly area of the island. So, I begrudgingly fed the kids pop-tarts and grumbled about not being able to go out.
A huge fight ensued. He threw his wedding band across the room in front of the kids. I sent the girls to their upstairs room and held onto my son for dear life. Then Mr. N/A decided he wanted to take the boy for a walk. In his condition? No fucking way. That was not going to happen. He tried to grab our son from my arms, and I ran for the downstairs bedroom and tried to close the door. He threw his weight against the door to get in, and the edge of it caught me in the face and threw me backwards onto the floor. I dropped my son and hit my head on the bed.
I don’t remember how I finally got him out the front door, but I think I yelled out the window for help and the groundskeeper came up. A crowd had gathered downstairs, and I remember wishing they would do something. I asked someone to call the police. The groundskeeper strongly advised against it, saying, “You’re not in America. He could end up in jail for 3 months here.” Of course I didn’t want to cause a huge issue for my husband, but I had to get him out of our apartment.
The groundskeeper convinced him to stay outside, and supposedly settled him in down by the pool for the night. He came back up and assured me my husband was going to pass out quickly and not bother anyone. He promised me that he was within yelling distance if I needed anything.
I called my girls downstairs and had all the kids pile into bed with me. It wasn’t long before I heard the groundskeeper take off with some friends in a car, and then Mr. N/A was at the front door, trying to get in.
I don’t know how long we lay there, listening to his crazy ranting. He rattled the windows and door and tried to find a way in. He sneered in a crazy voice, “I know you’re in there…” He threatened to kill me, and I honestly thought he would. I hoped he wouldn’t hurt the kids and that they wouldn’t see it. They were crying and scared to death – we were all scared to death.
Eventually, he wandered away, and I’m pretty sure I never really went to sleep that night.
He came back in the morning with an apology. My face was shining with purple and green evidence of the brawl. Somehow we made it through the rest of the vacation, but it was strained, to say the very least.
When I got home, I avoided my mother-in-law’s phone calls. She has a sixth sense, and I wasn’t ready to talk about the St. Martin trauma. When I ran into her in Sam’s Club later that week, she was shopping for booze for the 40th birthday party she was planning for her daughter, who was coming in from California (a recovering alcoholic). She saw my face and looked worried. I decided to come clean and tell her the story.
She listened. At the end of it, she finished her shopping, and I finished mine.
When I arrived at the house later for the party, I was sitting with my sister-in-law at the kitchen table when my father-in-law came in. By that time, my bruise was getting easier to hide with makeup. He kissed me, looked at my jaw, and whispered in my ear not to worry – that we would discuss this later.
But we never did.
Read Part II here.