June 29th, 2013
"Why don't we begin by exchanging names."
Those were the words my court appointed psychologist chose to begin our relationship. As jumping off points go, it wasn't half bad. I saw the glint of fear in his eyes, and that kept me for going for one of his eyes right off the bat.
Fear is good. Fear breeds respect. While he didn't need my respect, it was good that he felt the need to try for it. That was going to make this easier. The fear wasn't of me attacking him from the opposite side of the table, at any rate. No, the half inch think chains and case hardened handcuffs lashing me to the table would prevent that.
He was fearful because of what he knew. What I knew. Being a psychologist, he prided himself on always knowing more about manipulation and social profiling than his patients. At this point in his career, he had seen alot, dealt with alot of sick and twisted individuals. He thought he knew just about all he needed to, and even if he came across a conversation that strayed into the unknown for him, he could always just fall back in the tried and true prop questions of asking about how something made the patient feel, or any other of a hundred inane questions designed to shift control of the conversation a hundred and eighty degrees.
In short, when you're used to being the smartest person in the room, it's unnerving when you come across someone more intelligent, and as I sat there in silence, I could see it sink into the shrinks eyes. He knew he wouldn't be able to lie to me if he needed to. And at some point, everybody needs to.
They always count on the first few weeks of prison to do their dirty work. That's why they don't meet you at the front door. They want the fear to break you, or another one of the inmates if that doesn't work. By the time your first session rolls around, they expect any shreds of confidence and fight you had coming in to your incarceration to be gone. They expect you to be compliant, helpful, and most of all happy to be safe from sexual assault for your weekly half our talk with the shrink.
I took care of all that on the first day. The other inmates don't bother me anymore, because I hardly ever see any of them. I was placed in solitary confinement less than 24 hours after my arrival here. I'm writing this all down so that they will know. Know why I did what I did. Know why they couldn't break me. And know that they brought it all on themselves.
I started off a happy, normal guy, just trying to live the american dream. I had a wife, a son, and a house. I had a job, a car, and every other little life accessory that society tells us we need to be happy. I had no way of knowing that it wouldn't last, so I had placed all of my eggs in that basket, doubled down, and committed until death do us part.
And look at me now.
Two years ago to the day is when everything started downhill. Like I said, I was happy, or had at least deluded myself into thinking I was. I fawned over my wife, She never had to put gas in her own car, she never had to clean the snow off of it or enter it cold during the winter. I took care of all that. I loved her enough to be her cushion from the real world, I loved her enough to be that buffer she needed. My wife was not someone used to doing things for herself, because I made sure that she didn't have to. I thought that was what love was, to spend every waking moment of your life trying to improve the quality of theirs.
I placed her above myself, and when our son was born, I placed him right beside her. I loved them both, and as long as I had them, it didn't matter if I was overqualified for my job at the garage that I worked at, I had what I needed to be happy. I did, my son did, but she didn't. I know that now, because two years ago she left me. I did not see it coming. I know that's hard to believe, but it was like a light switch being thrown in the dark. Overnight, her personality changed. She had always been ambitious, always wanted more no matter what we had, and always expected me to provide it.
If there was something she wanted, it was my job to get it for her. Me, being the love struck fool that I was, did everything I could to make it happen. At our sons 8th birthday party, she had been acting strangely distant. I tried to include her in the festivities, but there was something reluctant about her. The rest of the family didn't notice it, but I chalk that up to the din of the bowling alley and sensory overload. Maybe I'm fooling myself, maybe they did see it. They didn't say anything though, not then, and not for the year of emotional torture that would follow.
They never really cared for her, but they cared so much for me that they kept us both under the same umbrella. Again, love blinded everyone to the truth. She was going to leave me. There are always better deals to be had, higher rungs on the ladder of success to strive for, and my rung just wasn't ascending fast enough for her. That entire party, I could feel the disappointment in me through her gaze. By then, it was a look I knew well. I was always disappointing her in some fashion.
I decided to give her her space that afternoon, after the party. I didn't want to be that husband that is always trying to make a crisis out of a bad day, but the entire next day at work it ate at me. I pride myself on my ability to read people. Indeed, as soon as the psychologist sat down, I read the uncertainty in his body language. If you can pull a persons intent from their demeanor, your conversational IQ jumps 30 points immediately with them, and I had this psychologist pegged just as clearly as I knew there was something wrong with my wife.
I came home, gave her a hug and a kiss just like I did every day, and the feeling deepened. You can't spend 13 years with someone and not know the way they do things inside and out, and the kiss and hug that I received had much more in common with the awkward sensation of the birthday party than the previous 13 years.
"Okay, you've been acting a little weird ever since the birthday party. I know there's something wrong, I just don't know what it is. Can we go upstairs and talk about it? Whatever it is, I'll try to fix it."
I was always trying to fix things. It was my job as the man of the house, right? If something wasn't working, I fix it. This time, however, she was taking it upon herself to fix something that had broken.
As I followed her upstairs, this coldness started growing in my stomach. We spoke often upstairs, by ourselves, when our son was playing video games on the downstairs television. He was old enough to left alone for periods like that, and most times didn't even seem to notice. I kissed him on the head, told him we would be right back down, and went after my wife.
She asked me to close the door to our bedroom when we were both insde, and I did, giving it that extra shove that was always necessary to close it all the way. It was an old house, and the combination of decades of paint layers and the settling of the structure had made it stick. By the time I had closed it, the coldness in my stomach had radiated from my kidneys, up my back, and was making my scalp tingle. The only sensation I've ever felt that came close to that feeling was that shitty version of Head and Shoulders that had menthol in it. It felt like washing your hair with liniment.
I sat down, looked her in the eye, and asked again.
"Baby, whats wrong?"
Her eyes started to shake slightly. I've seen that in anime characters before, but never in a human being.
"Whatever it is, we will work it out. We always do."
She took an uneven breath and answered.
"I want a divorce."
My smile lasted a full three seconds before I realized she wasn't joking.