It’s a peaceful morning here, as usual. Miss Cocoa has taken up a spot in the litter box and the girls are outside rolling around and playing in the sunshine. As for me, I’m just smoking and waiting for my pain pills to work so I can clean the kitchen.
I haven’t cleaned since Bennie passed. I keep putting it off, thinking that, if I take his cup off the table by his chair, he’ll be gone for good. But he’s already long gone and I’m being silly. In the back seat of my truck are two large plastic bags, full of the work clothes he took with him when he left for his last job. My brother loaded them up for me when I came home two weeks ago. I need to bring them in and hang them up, wash what needs to be washed, and find someone who could use them. They’re all fire retardant and are very expensive to buy. I know there’s a young hand out there needing work clothes and feel terrible about keeping them. I just don’t want to bring them in. I don’t want to touch them. And I don’t know why.
Life with Bennie was difficult, to say the least. He made sure of it. He cheated on me before our first anniversary, and never stopped. He seemed to enjoy ‘accidentally’ letting me find out. It hurt so much, at first. I thought I’d die, honestly. But, I was busy raising our boys and they worshiped their father, as he did them. I could never justify hurting them by taking them away. I even asked Bennie if he’d keep the boys and let me go. He said there was no way he’d do that. So, I stopped taking his cheating personally and went on with life.
I think what I hated more, much more, than his cheating was his bullying. He hit me a few times over the years, shoved me around, spit in my face. Just bully shit. Once, he got a butcher knife out and I figured I was about to get it. He had it raised over his head and I was just staring at it. I knew that, coming downward that way, it was gonna hurt like a motherfucker. I saw his arm start to move and shut my eyes, but, instead of stabbing me, he brought the knife down and stuck it into the kitchen table. When he did, his hand slid down and it cut the shit out of his hand. I was shocked. He was shocked, too. I grabbed the first aid kit and wrapped his hand up for him. Things were very quiet after that and, a few hours later, we went to his mother’s house for gumbo. The boys were already there, as they spent most weekends with his mother. His whole family was there, as well. They thought the cut was a defensive wound and they were very outspoken about it, even in front of my boys. I couldn’t tell them the truth, so I left.
Looking back, our relationship was very abusive. He knew I loved him with all of my heart, and he used that as a weapon against me. Eventually, I just stopped feeling a lot of things. It’s funny…the things you can get used to just to get by. I really hated the screaming. Bennie would get so angry that his face would turn red and he’d shake. He’d get right in my face, almost touching nose to nose, and he’d scream at the top of his lungs calling me every name he could think of. I was raised in a violent home, so it probably never bothered me as much as it should have. I had no natural fear of violence…still don’t…so I’d just sit perfectly still and zone out while he screamed. Spitting in my face was always the grand finale. I knew that, if I had moved an inch, he would have beaten my ass, so I almost feel fortunate that I was raised the way I was.
There is so much more to recall about that man. Things I don’t want to recall. I guess that I need to accept that he never loved me like I loved him, even in the end. One of the last text messages he sent was to a woman who he’d been seeing off and on throughout our marriage, long before we were separated. She wanted him to leave me and be with her. He told her that he couldn’t, or I’d get half of everything. The thing is, we were going to hire surveyors to split this land in half after he got off of this job, but I told him that I’d be fine with the back eight acres and a tiny house. That parcel is on a separate deed and he could just do a family sale to me. Done deal. That was the plan. He got everything but just one little bit. He’d have lost virtually nothing.
Bennie passed on a Friday, so it was the following business day, Monday, before I could do anything like an obituary. I went on his FB and let his friends and relations know what had happened. The next day, I checked his FB and the woman I mentioned had posted some pretty harsh things about me not caring enough to get an obit done. I messaged her, reminding her that I couldn’t take care of that over the weekend, but that I was getting it done that day. She messaged me back telling me how miserable Bennie was and that is why he died. She said he worried too much about supporting me and, were it not for that, he’d be alive. I told her that wasn’t true, but she wouldn’t hear of it. She said she knew A LOT about our marriage. I informed her that she knew what he wanted her to know. I also let her know that for five years, he’d been free to live with her, date her, whatever he wanted, without any reprisal from me because we’d been separated all of that time. Yep…I guess ol Bennie failed to mention that to her. I haven’t heard from her since then. Score!
Well, I’m gonna wrap up this lil walk down Memory Lane. I don’t like to speak ill of the dead, but I really need to get some perspective on who I’m crying over. Bennie was my own personal pain machine. It ran all the time. I went dry inside keeping it fueled. That’s the man I have been married to for the last twenty years. That’s why I feel empty inside. Not because he’s gone, but because the part of me he killed off left a hole inside of me that is no longer filled by the daily pain of living with him. I always say he was my best friend. In many ways, he was. But in more ways than that, he was anything but a friend. Maybe I need to remember THAT.