The cell phone rang at 5:24 a.m. -- its Blue October song bursting forth in the still-dark morning. I was awake but lying in bed. I rolled from the bed, grasped the phone and walked out the bedroom door. The number wasn't one I knew, but the area code was the same as my best friend's.
"Hello," I said quietly, looking for a place where I could talk without waking people. I passed the bedroom door where the two teenage girls slept. In the living room, my 13-year-old was spread out on the couch. I walked out the back door and sat on the red rocking chair, watching the vines of the morning glories intertwine.
"Were you sleeping?" my best friend asked.
"I was awake," I continued the pleasantries. Then she burst out.
"He left me."
I felt my stomach drop and soar as if on a series of roller coaster hills.
He, the odious husband who made most days a misery, had left her? It seemed like a dream come true, a perfect outcome, but she sounded upset. I contained my glee and asked for the story.
After she went to bed the night before, he found her phone and went through her text messages. Apparently, she had sent a message to an old college boyfriend that said she was shopping for bras. Her husband found that inappropriate. There were others that he questioned even though the men live states away from her. He was convinced she was cheating on him. He kept the phone, refusing to give it back. I guess he planned to use it as evidence of her infidelity.
I tried to be supportive before I said, "This is like a gift."
"But he thinks I'm cheating. He's making me feel slutty."
For the record, she hasn't cheated on him. I'm not sure why. He's the most self-centered person I've ever met. When she was pregnant with their son and her father was dying of cancer, he scheduled eye-corrective surgery and demanded a ride. Then he told her she was ruining this very special day for him.
He takes no responsibility for anything. The other night he sat watching baseball with his now-five-year-old son beside him then yelled at my bestfriend that the boy didn't get a bath.
My best friend has children from a previous marriage. The very savvy teenage daughter asked her mom, "If I learn to make martinis, will you divorce him?" I love that girl.
If I knew this man as a person, I wouldn't hate him. He's just a man who can be polite for a little while but he can't keep up the charade for long. He wants things done his way, but he isn't willing to actually do anything about it but complain.
The reason I hate him is that he makes my best friend miserable. She rushes to clean the kitchen or insists the kids rake the lawn on the one day they are with her to appease him. And guess what? It doesn't make him happy. Nothing can make him happy.
I can't imagine living like that.
This morning he demanded she print off all of her emails since January. When I talked to her this morning, she said she was going to do it, to prove nothing was going on. But she warned him that could be the end of their marriage.
"Why isn't the question be the end of the marriage?" I asked. If someone demanded that of me, I'd say, "Screw you. I don't have to prove anything."
By this afternoon, she was pissed. Pissed that he'd made so many demands, pissed that he'd held her phone hostage, pissed that he threatened to tell the children he was sleeping on the couch because Mommy cheated on him.
She went to talk with her 11-year-old and said, "He's really angry right not and you should try to just stay away from him."
"That's okay," the blond, curly-headed boy said. "He's pretty mean anyway."
That made me so sad. How can you stay with someone who is mean to your kids?
I've pondered the whole cheating thing. Why is he intent on this? My best friend doesn't have a spare minute to herself, much less to cheat. Her husband's first wife cheated, or he says she did, so maybe that's why he's obsessed with it.
This afternoon, I decided he wants to think she cheated. He's as unhappy as she is. He wants out of the marriage, but it can't be his fault. He has to find a way to blame someone else. Cheating seems like the easiest solution.
Let him think that she cheated, as long as he leaves and she can find some peace.
Of course, if she stays with him to work on the marriage, I will still be there for her, hoping he'll turn into someone who can love and nurture her the way she deserves.
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