Part I of this story below.
After I hugged her, she started to sob uncontrollably. When we finally pulled apart, she said, “How do I explain the unexplainable? I couldn’t think about it anymore. I had to stop myself from thinking, thinking, thinking. He’s never going to forgive me.” With that statement in mind, I had to put to paper the anguish that I felt within my sister that day and the struggle I had witnessed these past years. I was trying to answer her question, to explain the unexplainable.
To my sister:
“How do I explain the unexplainable?” The final eviction notice came. Fear gripped me and I just hid. I have carried this secret for so long, I hid things from my husband and my kids. My sisters couldn’t understand why I didn’t come to them and tell them of the terrible fears and hurt I was holding in. I couldn’t ask them for help; I couldn’t make myself do it. I promised I wouldn’t. We agreed to keep our financial problems to ourselves. I couldn’t think about it anymore. I had to stop myself from thinking, thinking, thinking. I hid by reading my books, finding work to do outside of the home, anything that could be a distraction. I wish I didn’t have this perpetual migraine, this headache that’s been with me the last six years, and the mother of all stress headaches these last six months, starting in March when we were informed that the house no longer belonged to us.
I would cringe when the mail came, knowing I would have to hide the letters from the taxman, the mortgage company, the school, and the insurance company. I kept negotiating, trying to work things out, hoping to save us.
Everything is on my shoulders. I must shoulder all. I shoulder all of it. All the responsibility will be placed on my shoulders. My perceived inept attempts to make a single paycheck stretch, I stretched it until it was paper-thin. Then holes and rips started to appear. I would run from one end to another trying to patch the rips that were getting bigger and bigger until the only thing left was to stop. I had to stop myself from thinking, thinking, thinking.
A wall of debt stretched high above me. I was constantly under its shadow. The shadow was with me always. I could only wait until it decided to fall under its own weight. The wall was holding back the floodwaters of secrets, pride, shame, worry, anger and failure behind it. Slowly, the cracks appeared and the water started to push through. Even though he knew it might come, I didn’t tell him that it was finally upon us, that we needed to get out. I chose to ignore it. I chose to hide from it. Finally, the trickle became a river, washing my home, belongings, and secrets away. I was at the same time in crisis and in relief.
Responsibility was the one thing I was given so that no responsibility or liability fell on anyone else. He didn’t want anyone to know about our situation. I couldn’t ask anyone in the family for help. He didn’t really want to know what I knew. He kept saying where is all the money going? I tried to explain, to lay it all out. As long as it was an abstract idea and no hard facts or figures came his way, he could go on. If a hint of it touched him, he would fall into such a depression and anger that it made it very difficult for me to broach the subject again. Clues such as garnishment of his wages, avoiding calls from collectors, or attempts at the ATM all brought his frustrations, temper tantrums, and accusations of my ineptitude. He ignored the lawyer’s advice. But the inevitable was still going to happen. Long ago, he refused to sell the one thing that could have averted this tragedy. I chose not to argue. That maybe was my biggest mistake.
It became impossible for me to bring the subject of our finances up any longer. He didn’t want to know. He never wanted to know the score. I was to keep all unpleasantness from his view and when I couldn’t he would shake his head and find other things to do or wallow in self-pity. I was supposed to fix it. I was supposed to fix everything. It is my job to make all of their lives easier. I knew then that I was alone. I would be the one to hold the brunt of the responsibility no matter what happened because no one else wanted to share it.
So alone, after years of struggle, I will forever be the fall guy. It was me that did this. It will always be my fault. Why didn’t I do this, why didn’t I do that? Consequently the debt is gone, and the credit that was for so long non-existent remains so. But the secrets, the inner turmoil, the thing that no longer needed saving is gone. I am finally free of the many millstones around my neck. How can I explain the unexplainable? I don't know how. My children and family supports me still; they don’t sit in judgment of me, sans one. I await his verdict.