Saturday, September 13, 2014

Support system failure...

If anyone ever asked, and sometimes they did, she could tell them the exact moment she knew she wanted a divorce. Truthfully it had been building for years but there was a tipping point moment for sure. The point where the words formed in her head and she knew there was no turning back.

Sitting at a table in a ballroom surrounded by people there to honor the best of the best. Awards being given. Speeches made. Accolades lauded. And as she sat in her gorgeous dress, smiling her best public smile, listening to her husband on the stage saying, "...and I could have never done this without you. Because of you I could fly higher than an eagle. You are the wind beneath my wings..." she knew. It was over. She was done.

And when she told people this they looked at her completely horrified. How could this be the moment? When he was talking  about how grateful he was for you? Really? That was the moment? It didn't make sense.

And she would just smile, not her public smile, but the smaller one that meant she was really smiling, yes that was the moment. 

The only person who got it was her best friend. She had called Janelle that evening to tell her about the speech and about her decision.

"He did not quote Wind Beneath My Wings!"

"He did. He really did. And he gave me the beatific smile. With the head tilt and the faintest possibility of a tear in his eye."

"Well, you know how he is."

"I do. And he's never going to change. So I've decided. I'm leaving him. He's downstairs right now finding a place for his latest award. When he comes upstairs I am going to tell him. I just can't do it anymore."

"Do you need me to come over? Do you want to come over here?"

"No, it will be fine. He won't believe me. It will take awhile to convince him that I really am going. I will let him keep the house. After all everything in here is something he picked out. I think a small studio downtown would suit me just fine. Oh! That is something you can do. Will you send me the name of your Realtor? I don't have one."

After she had gotten her I'm so sorry and good luck wishes from Janelle she waited for him to come upstairs. She picked up a book from the side table to read and knocked the magazine resting under it off the table. It fell open to the article that had been read at least 20 times. She looked at the picture, her public smile beaming at him while he looked out at their ocean view..."they say behind every successful man is a good woman. Craig Lawrence goes farther than that and says, 'She is my hero. She's everything I wish I could be. I get all of the glory, but she has all of the strength...' I know that journalistic integrity should make me impartial, but I'm not ashamed to say I swooned just a touch." 

She swooned just a touch but never realized he was quoting song lyrics. When Janelle read the article she had called and sang to her. She had laughed. What was she going to do? The supportive wife was her part. Her perfectly placed piece in his puzzle. But she had told Craig that she thought it was a horribly condescending song. Hated it in fact. The whole message, "I know I am awesome, but I could never have gotten here without you behind me. Being slightly less awesome. But you are awesome in your own way because you made me awesome." It wasn't a song about a strong partnership, it was a song about a star and a support system. Horrible.

And yet there he stood on stage tonight doing it again. Because it had caused the reporter to swoon. Because wives and girlfriends all over the audience sighed and smiled and maybe looked a little disgustedly at their own partners for not being oh so romantic. The show, it was always all about the show. And how grateful she should be to have him as her own. But he wasn't hers. He never had been.

When they had met he had said he liked that she was so independent. So strong. And then he had set out to take away every bit of independence and strength that she had. All in the guise of giving her everything. Addition by subtraction. First her job, then her little house, then most of her friends. All so she could be available for him. And she did it all willingly. At least at first. Until she met Annabella and Jules. They were married to men just as successful as Craig. In fact they were his "friendly" competition out there in the world. They had all gone to dinner and she had watched them with their husbands. Annabella smiling with the big grin that didn't quite reach her eyes. Jules not giving an inch to her husband. If he said something ridiculous she called him on it. Good naturedly but still, she called him on it. 

And there was no difference in their lives. All three were unemployed. Running households. Jules called herself a one woman support system. Running schedules, keeping the house going, plans made. The same as her and Annabella. But her smile reached her eyes. Her husband didn't quote condescending song lyrics at her. Every time she had a wild idea about something fun to do he smiled his patient smile and said, "whatever you want, let's try it."  When Jules heard she had walked away from her legal practice to support Craig in his dreams she was full of questions, "Do you miss it? That's a lot of school and time to just walk away. I've never figured out what I want to be but law always seemed so interesting! You have to tell me all about it." 

And while she asked question after question and Annabella sat quietly over to the side with her mouth only smile plastered on her face the realization started to pour over her...

She wasn't a Jules. She was an Annabella. A prop in Craig's life. Not a partner. She might as well have been another trophy he could pull off of a shelf to show to company.

That's when the restlessness started. 

And so that night, while he stood and looked out at her and quoted that damn song, that was the moment. That was when she knew. 

And so she left. She had used enough wind on someone else's wings. 

Janelle got it.
Jules got it.
Annabella just smiled her mouth only smile and very quietly said, "Fly."

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