By: Stacey Waltzer
Blowing out my birthday candles, I made the same silent wish I’d made for several years. Looking up, I had hoped to see him staring back at me. He was looking elsewhere, so I smiled to hide my pain.
My friends laughed and talked as we cut the cake to pass around. They had been planning this outing for weeks. Surrounded by so many I loved and yet because of one person, I never felt so alone.
My boyfriend and I walked slowly to the car carrying all of my flowers, balloons, and presents. He made a couple of remarks about how he gave up whatever previous plans he had to be with me that night. Getting into the car, I was silent. In my head, my voice kept pleading with me to finally end this nightmare.
I fiddled with things on my lap while he started the car. He was talking about the present he wanted to give me. He said he’d spent all of his money, money he didn’t have, and that I was going to love it. He swore that none of the gifts I had in that car would be as good as his. The car was cold and I shivered.
My mind flashed pictures like a reel. I remembered how he kept calling to get me to go out with him. I did go out with him and I fell in love. Isn’t that how so many stories go? Then we end up happily ever after and tell our kids all about it? The ones I had already named?
What did happen is I turned blind. I couldn’t see the excuses that didn’t make sense. I turned deaf. I pretended to not hear the phone keep ringing and ringing on the many nights I tried to call him, only to be sent to voice mail. I turned mute because I couldn’t speak up for myself when the cheating began.
I became worthless.
I remembered all the nights I cried so hard at night into my pillow for hours before finally falling into a disturbed, restless sleep. Waking up, I would be surrounded by tissues and this hole in my heart that kept growing. Everything hurt.
As all these memories flooded through my mind, I didn’t realize we were still in the car and he was speaking. Clearly annoyed, he wanted to know something only I didn’t have a clue what. His hands clutched the wheel. I felt the panic set it when my phone started to ring.
Holding the phone up, I didn’t turn it to the side fast enough. He saw the name flash and yelled at me to answer it. With a shaky voice, I heard a cheerful happy birthday song coming through the line. Before I could give a warning, he wanted to know if I got the special present he dropped off at work. He ripped the phone out of my hand and without warning pulled the car over. Yelling and threatening, he spoke terrifying words. Something got ahold of me and I started fighting for my phone back. The phone disconnected as I clutched it to my chest.
Then, this scream, this awful, awful scream that started from deep down just kept going. I let it all out. Every emotion I had been saving. All the wrong that was done to me came out. It felt wild and out of control. He started to move the car. Beating the dashboard with my keys and my fists, I demanded that he pull over. And he did. He called me a “crazy bitch”. I took my flowers, presents, and balloons and walked the streets back to my house crying. I didn’t bother to hide my tears as I walked by strangers.
Back home, I looked in the mirror to see blood falling down my face. I clutched a stuffed animal that someone had left for me at work that day. I vowed to get strong.
It’s never too late to repeat a wish on your birthday.
My name is Stacey and I blog at 40wishesandcounting.com. I am a wife, mom, and teacher trying to keep the “in” out of what little sanity I have left. Most of the time you can find me hiding somewhere and eating that last piece of cake. Some of my work has been featured on The Good Mother Project, In The Powder Room, Mom Babble, Sammiches & Psych Meds, Blunt Moms, and The Mighty.