Week Four - A Day in the Life - Gathering Clouds
What a week! Everything had been going on as usual until Friday, when Paul sent me a text: “Lost job. Will talk 2nite.” I was at work, struggling with a situation that had been driving me crazy for the past two weeks. At first I did not get it: Paul had a VERY SAFE job. He could not have lost it just like that! There had not been any indication his position was in jeopardy. His boss loved him and his company was doing quite well, thank you, when everybody else was struggling. In fact, his job security had been a key factor in our decision to get married this year, rather than wait a little longer and feel more financially secure. This is also why we decided to buy our house a few months ago, when the prices for homes became very attractive to first buyers like us.
This weekend we were going to celebrate our first “anniversary’: one month since we got married. And now? This sucks!
I was panicking in my office, right there where I am supposed to keep it all together and look in charge. I wanted to leave, to get to a place where I could call Paul and ask for more details, but I could not. I had three conference calls that afternoon, scheduled back to back. There was no way I could avoid them. No excuse, no matter how big, would justify my cancelling at the last minute. There was too much at stake… But my life was at stake! How was Paul doing right now? Did he need me? Should I be with him? Should I just go and then think of a reason to explain why I left later on? Could I fake sudden illness? An emergency? After all, what is more important, my job performance or my marriage?
I told myself to calm down, that there was nothing I could do at this point anyway. What happened happened, I could not change that. I texted Paul that I would try and get home as soon as I could. For the rest of the day I could not think of anything else.
On the way home, I kept reminding myself that I needed to be calm, that I tend to catastrophize, instead of staying in the present and wait until I have the whole picture. When I got to the house, Paul’s car was already in the driveway… I got inside and he was sitting at the kitchen table, with a glass of wine in his hand. I hugged him and asked him to tell me all the details about what happened. He was distraught. The news had surprised him too, as he said he had no idea this was in the pipeline. He was still in shock, repeating what happened over and over as though he was trying to absorb the news and see it as real. I don’t now, actually, how much of his repeating the story of the day had to do with his attempt to come to terms with the enormity of it, and how much had to do with the wine. While he wasn’t noticing, I checked the garbage. There was an empty bottle of wine there, and he was on his second one.
I wanted to reassure him, to tell him that everything would be all right, that we would find a way of getting through this; that he would find another job, for sure… but I found it difficult to come up with the right words. I wanted to be consoling but I was terrified myself. Paul had always been the rock in our relationship; the calm one who could reassure me and make me realistic. I have a tendency to exaggerate, to worry, to anticipate disaster and Paul had always been the one to calm me down. Now that the roles were reversed, I could not get into role of being the soother and comforter. I still needed him to tell me that everything would be all right, but of course he couldn’t. As my anxiety was increasing, I was frantically repeating to myself over and over, in my mind, to calm down and be there for Paul.
Yesterday we went about doing our usual chores, and both of us avoided talking about what happened the day before. It is amazing how life can look normal even when it is not. I wanted to comfort and reassure him on the one hand. On the other I was mad he did not give us a chance to talk because he had been drinking. The drinking is another story, which I don’t want to get into right now. It will require an entire blog of its own. One issue at a time, I always tell myself. Beside, I could not bring up the drinking right now, in the midst of this crisis. But I don’t know how to separate the two in my mind. So, I did not say anything about either of them, and neither did Paul.
I am sure Paul think I let him down at a crucial moment in his life. I feel like I failed him.