Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to take . . . .” only it was not a prayer, it was a plea. My twenty-fifth birthday left me in tears. Still working retail jobs after graduating college and my marriage not turning out the way I thought it should have, I was indeed how God promised I would be—miserable.
Living in Spokane, Washington wasn’t easy for me, so when Steve was accepted into the Air Force and we were moving to Tampa, Florida I was ecstatic. What a dream come true for someone who always wanted to travel and who loved the ocean!
For six days we drove with two dogs in carriers and all the clothes we could stuff into the car. I devoured the sights as we traveled through states I only knew on a map and saw famous attractions such as the Elvis Presley estate and the U.S.S. Alabama.
Before Steve left for Officer’s School, we purchased our first house. Oh, it was so beautiful, with a lush landscaped yard and pool. I felt blessed; even our marriage seemed better. Steve was so affectionate at first, but soon he lost interest in me again. But now I had my castle to preoccupy my loneliness. If living in paradise was worth the price of being ignored, I bought the entire parcel. Being allowed to buy anything I wanted in place of intimacy, I filled my house with material love. These objects, over time, would mean more to me than any relationship.
Shortly after moving, I became ill. I would watch the veins in my hands disappear, then nearly black out. Doctors kept misdiagnosing my symptoms as panic attacks and low blood sugar. I only began panicking after the symptoms, and that was to force myself to breathe and keep from fainting. It was so bad I feared I was having a heart attack.
Steve was understanding to the point where he agreed I needed a new diagnosis, but didn’t offer me the emotional support during my episodes. Yet, with his help I did get the right doctor, and it was discovered my scoliosis and stress were causing my muscles to constrict so tightly it was cutting off my blood supply and my oxygen. Given muscle relaxers, I never experienced it again.
When I was injured in an auto accident, however, he had no compassion. I suffered from dizzy spells and nausea due to whiplash and sought treatment for nearly six months. Although the x-rays proved my injury, my husband didn’t believe me. My boss didn’t either, and it was a trying time for me as I slowly healed.
The letter arrived from his ex-wife like an apple dipped in poison. Spells of enchantment were woven into each line to her lost lover. Curious, I opened it, read the letter and looked at the pictures of her and her children. This time I didn’t let it bother me. Somewhere over time I no longer considered her a threat. Maybe it was because Steve brought me with him to Tampa; maybe it was because he hadn’t mentioned her name for a long time.
I let him know she wrote him when he came home from work. Scooping up the letter and the pictures, he said I would never have to deal with it again. Yes, he did instruct her not to send anything to the house. Instead, he secretly opened another e-mail account.
Divorce was threatened by Steve several times over the years, but in the end he always apologized. There were times I wanted to leave him, but love and fear held me prisoner. Most of our fights stemmed from the fact that I didn’t make enough money or from my unhappiness.
Four and a half years later Steve got orders, and I had to relinquish my home in paradise. Hopeful of orders to San Antonio, we were the lucky winners of a new life in a place we didn’t want to move to, but marriage is about supporting the other person, and I did fully. My life was him and all about him. We had a great life, and it came with being uprooted to places we didn’t want to go.
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