November 3, 2020
Refresh the screen over and over again, as if the answer will appear in the next moment and I’ll know, and I can stop wondering and waiting and frantically imagining the worst. I’ll know the answer. It’s all I ever want.
“Just stop checking,” M tells me. “There’s no point. There’s no way to know until it’s over.”
I keep dragging my thumb down on the screen, letting go, watching the wheel spin, the same answer appear, still hoping it might be different this time. I’ve done this before, many times, staring at the screen alone, my stomach dropping, flattening, twisting, watching the small icon of M’s face move across the map, or, even worse and more likely during those times, the message “Location unavailable” or “Last updated 32 minutes ago” and his face frozen on the screen.
Over and over again, the same answer: no answer. And with no answer, I didn’t know how to move forward, how to react. There was no evidence, no proof, no truth to shove in his face and say, “I know you are using, I know you are lying, now stop it.” As if knowing made a difference and actually got him to stop.
As if knowing tonight’s election results right now will change anything for me tonight. I will still go downstairs in a few minutes, where M and m are playing video games, and tell little m it’s time for bed. I will still follow him up the stairs, carrying his ice cold water, and give him a kiss and hug after he brushes his teeth, and rub Vaseline on his lips and shut the door behind me, while M starts the bedtime story in the silly voice m loves. I will still make coffee tonight for tomorrow morning, and watch an episode of The Sopranos while eating black cherry chip ice cream from the pint M brought home tonight, and I will try not to fall asleep on the couch. Tomorrow I will wake up early and open the blinds in the kitchen, let light in, pour a cup of coffee and shuffle to my seat in the living room with my Al-Anon books and workbooks and journals, and I will read and write and stare off into space.
All that will still be the same whether I know the answer or not. This election has a lot of people anxious, myself included, but it’s nothing compared to the anxiety of living with someone with an active addiction. Not knowing where my husband was or what he was doing, or knowing what he was doing but having no answers to prove it, to stop it, to control it. When I didn’t have those answers, everything else seemed uncertain, too. My evenings would not, could not, be the same. Instead, wrapped up in the unknown, the what-ifs. I thought the what-ifs could protect me, prepare me for the heartbreak to come. I felt alone, scared, stuck in a dark place with no light to show me the way out.
Searching for false truth in the what-ifs disrupts my actual truth: the present moment.