Today's topic: A story about a time you were very afraid.
Well....here is one, where the time I was actually afraid in the pure sense of "afraid" only lasted about five minutes, but none the less, I was afraid.
Shortly after my daughter was born, my husband lost his shit. Like totally snapped, began doing things that most sane people would be like, "What in the freaking world is going on in his head?". This went on for well over a year.
There is a lot of crap that contributed to his behavior, but ultimately he was making some very bad choices. He held a lot of anger towards the circumstances around Vera's birth. He never planned on having children, although had always told me that he would (as I wanted to have them). And we had struggled in our marriage at one point on whether we would move forward together because I was pushing for children NOW and he was finding every reason not to.
Ultimately, we moved forward in having children. Enter Vera. Her fragile status at birth, the unpredictable course that was ahead of us as parents, and his deep rooted fears of being a father had culminated into chaos for him. So he began drinking, doing drugs (narcotics, benzodiapines, and bath salts), and generally behaving like a slovenly fool. Mind you, none of this was out in the open, and what was presented was just this absolute asshole who never went to bed, never interacted with his family, and at times disappeared overnight. Or passed out in his car and pissed his pants. Or something along these lines. Despite this, he did manage to go to work every day.
When Vera was about 4 months old, it became obvious exactly what he was up to. At the same time I was struggling with severe postpartum depression and anxiety (without knowing it, but my mom certainly knew) and was barely able to take care of Vera and myself on a day to day basis. My mom could see things were not right, and like the wonderful mom she is (despite her outer hard shell), swooped in and helped me.
Over the course of a few weeks I did end up seeking help with my own postpartum depression and anxiety, and started to be able to see things more clearly. I knew that things would not be able to move forward with my husband if he didn't get his act together. But in the meantime I was doing the best I could for my daughter and I.
One of those things was making sure we got plenty of good night time sleep. We both have white noise machines, and slept with the doors closed. This was because my husband would come home (or inside from the garage) at god-awful hours of the night and decide to play with the dog. It was noisy.
My tricks of keeping out the noise worked really well. So well, in fact, that one night early that winter I hadn't heard my phone ringing for the previous 30 minutes. And I didn't hear the banging on my front door for the first 10 minutes. For the next 5 minutes of being awake and listening to the banging on the front door (oh, did I mention that this was at 2 AM?) and getting myself in quite a tizzy of anger at my husband because I couldn't believe that he would have the gall to bang on our front door at this time. He knew, after my many threats of "If you dare wake up the baby" speeches, that if he forgot his house key he was shit out of luck and would have to sleep in the car, that he'd be messing with a very angry woman. And previously, he knew I wasn't kidding and HAD slept in the car on those nights he forgot his keys.
So as I laid in bed listening to the banging getting louder and louder, I think steam started coming out of my ears. And then I decided I better go down and let him in before Vera did wake.
I got to the top of the stairs and angrily stomped down a few stairs before I noticed out the porthole window in the stairwell that there was a police car in front of my house. My heart stopped. I couldn't take a breath.
This is it, I thought. He's dead. He either killed himself willingly or accidentally, but he's dead. With his current behavior, it was the only logical explanation of why the police were at my house in the middle of the night. I was so afraid of opening that door.
And as this fear came fully awake within my head, I realized my phone was ringing nonstop as well. I made it to the bottom of the stairs and cracked open the front door. I was only in a tank top and my underwear, so I told the cop that I needed my robe. I'd be right back. But I let him in.
When I wobbled back down stairs, because at this point I was shaking quite a bit, wondering how was I going to hear how my husband had died, and should I call my mother now or wait until I knew she'd be awake?
I sat down before the cop started talking. I was taking deep, gulping breaths, bracing myself for the news.
"It's about your husband," the cop said. He was young. Maybe 10 years younger than me. I remember thinking he seemed composed for such a young cop about to deliver terrible news.
I looked up at him, and he continued. "He's been arrested for drinking and driving."
Suddenly all that fear, all that terrible shaking, breath gulping, and terror....gone.
"Oh, why are you here to tell me?" Because really, I was so pissed now, and did anyone really think I was going to bail him out at this time, with a 5 month old baby in tow? At two in the morning?
Turns out that he was arrested with the dog. They wanted me to get the dog. I said no. The dog can go to doggy jail for being his accomplice for all I cared, and I would pick her up when I was good in ready in the morning. As far as my husband, he could bail himself out and walk home. And yes, I said this to the cop.
I also told him to make sure they searched the car very well. I was told that they did, but didn't find anything illegal.
Obviously, my anger well overtook any fear I had, but this was very much the biggest fear I'd felt in recent times.
And, as an aside- a friend of my husband's picked up the dog and dropped her off that night. One thing I remember clearly that night was watching them pull in the driveway; Freida (my dog) was sitting in the passenger seat of the truck, her eyes quite relieved to see her house.
My husband walked home from the police station.