While in Tulsa this week I received a voice mail about a utility sink I had posted on Craigslist. The caller left her full name and it was someone that I was in college with in 2002. During the time in school, we became close friends but over the years have drifted apart and have merely become Facebook acquaintances. I grappled with the decision to call her back or not. She did not recognize my voice on my outgoing voice mail message which was obvious by the message she left about the sink so it would have been very easy to ignore the message and she would never know any different.
I decided to call her. I knew she had gotten divorced a few years ago and I had not spoken to her since to say anything to her about it. I told her I was sorry to hear about her divorce and hoped she was doing ok. She shared with me some things that led to the demise of her marriage. I shared with her that I know how hard marriage can be and that I had moved out. I shared that Matt and I had reconciled, albeit too soon as things are still not great, and that we were still trying to work things out. I expressed that one of the issues in our marriage is the repeated loss of Matt’s jobs. She asked why he kept losing them and I pointedly told her that he usually gets fired for one reason or another, typically for not doing as his superiors said or for some indiscretion on his part.
Then, she shared with me a story about the last time she spoke to Matt. It was 2004, a decade ago at a loan closing. She told the story as if it happened yesterday. At the time, she and her husband Karl were real estate agents and Matt was a mortgage lender.
Prior to the loan closing there was a concern that the home may not appraise high enough for what the borrower needed. She recalled that Matt told her he could get an appraiser to appraise it for the amount they needed. She argued that she absolutely did not want that to happen, as the home price would then be inflated and may affect the sales price when the owners tried to sell in the future. She said that Matt told her, “Well, I guess I’ll just tell the customers that their real estate agent doesn’t want the deal to go through”.
She was enraged. She said she could not believe the things he was saying to her.
Before her buyer signed the paperwork she said she had some questions. Matt said to her, “do you need me to get Karl down here and explain it to you?”
She was flabbergasted. As the primary owner and lead agent in their real estate agency she felt quite capable. She said her blood was boiling and that she had never been that mad in a business setting.
After the closing she was in her car getting ready to leave and Matt walked over to her car and wanted to apologize and said that he hoped there were no hard feelings. She was still extremely angry at this point and told him that she would never recommend him to anyone. His reply, “that’s not very Christian-like”.
That comment only fueled her anger. She said, “oh I am being a Christian by not running over you with this car because it’s taking everything I have not to do that to you”.
Why did God place this situation in my life at this moment given the explosion at home on Sunday? Is this the clarity that I’ve been praying for to show me that after a decade Matt is still hurling insults and put downs and that he may not ever change?
Is this yet more validation that I am not ‘formulating all this stuff in my mind’ as Matt tells me that I am? On a Sunday when I told him that I felt that his actions are selfish when he prepares food for himself but not for the kids he got extremely defensive and turned the wrong on me by faulting me for ‘formulating these false opinions in my mind about him and that I am deceived to believe those voices in my head; I take one situation as form the blanket statement that Matt is selfish based on ONE situation’. Once again, I find myself in the situation where I am made to feel like I am losing my mind when trying to confront him a about a behavior that I don’t like.
I am often remorseful for the friendships that I no longer have that I used to have. How many more stories are out there like this that my friend told me about? Are stories like this a contributor of the reason that those friendships no longer exist?
On Sunday I had a moment when I felt something different. It was indescribable. It was as if I was a million miles away yet I was on my sidewalk in front of our house.
I left to remove myself from a toxic situation and when I returned home Matt was still angry. I arrived home in just enough time to pick up the kids for play practice. As I was leaving to take them he was demanding that I go to Menard’s…
“Are you going to go to Menard’s? I need a valve for the sink.”
I replied that I was not going to go because I didn’t know exactly what was needed plus I needed to finish the trim I had started painting earlier. That should have been the end of the conversation but yet he continued to insist:
“It’s just like the last valve you bought.”
“You have a picture of it on your phone. Do you ever delete your pictures? Give me your phone and I’ll find it.” (He snatches my phone away from me and looks for it. It’s not there, as I not feel it important to retain photos of plumbing valves on my cameras roll.)
“My truck battery is dead and I need you to go to Menard’s.”
As I walked out of the house with tears welling up in my eyes, he is standing at the door still repeating these statements like a broken record:
“So are you going to go to Meanard’s for me?
I need that plumbing valve.
You know what kind it is. It’s just like the one I bought last time.
I need you to go to Menard’s.”
I stopped as I got halfway down the sidewalk and just stood there. He was still yelling from the doorway with the storm door wide open. His voice was getting louder. I paused and this is when I felt this odd feeling come over me. I looked around the neighborhood. No one was around. Everyone was nestled inside on this cold rainy afternoon. I thought to myself that I wish someone, anyone, was outside with me to see how crazy this sounded for this man to be getting so angry over a trip to Menard’s. I wanted someone to see my crushed spirit. I wanted someone to hear the tone in which he was speaking. I wanted someone to see a glimpse of the behavior that had spilled over to the outside of this home but is commonplace inside this home.
This odd feeling…what did it mean? I’m on the outside looking in and seeing how insane this must seem to someone if they were to witness this. Did me being outside looking in mean that I need to once again come “Out in the Open” like the article I read one year ago? I know there was a reason for this surreal feeling. It was a defining moment but I’m just not sure of its significance.