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...over-educated and under-experienced, or so they say...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Night Watch

A new couple moved in downstairs from us this past weekend.  It was a silent move in.  I didn't even notice they had come until I pulled into the garage and found a car parked on the other side.  I met the man the following morning when I was out with the dog.  He seemed nice enough, introduced himself like a gentleman, and I walked away from that thinking, "Well, at least it looks like they're going to be good solid neighbors."  But around 2 in the morning I woke up to the sound of things being thrown, doors being slammed, a hysterical woman's voice screaming, and an ominously domineering man's voice yelling to keep her in her place.

I just laid there, in my bed, listening, with the phone in my hand because this was an all too familiar sound and I swore the minute I heard the woman get hit was the same minute I was calling the police.  I listened to two hours of painful verbal abuse.  It went in waves: 20 minutes of screaming, 10 - 20 minutes of silence, followed by more screaming and banging and things being thrown.  And it went like that until about 4 in the morning.  By the time 5 rolled around, I put my phone down and tried to relax.  I eventually returned to sleep only to wake up with the sun at 8 and realize I had slept through my alarm and I was going to be late for work and my daughter was going to be late for school.

When I went to wake up Hope she asked what happened, and when I explained it to her she said, "So you were on night watch last night.  You haven't had to do that in a while, have you?"  I laughed a bit when she said that, but I did realize, at that point, that not only does she know her mother very well but she is well aware how many times I've paid attention to the darkness that has happened around us in the various apartments that we've lived in. (living in an apartment is like living in a glass house -- people see and hear everything, so it might behoove you to keep your mess to yourself)

The woman apparently left that day, she hasn't been home since that night anyway, and things have been quiet, but I've been haunted by that moment.

I have a bit of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when it comes to domestic violence.  And I suspect the woman will be back this weekend sometime, as I have since made small talk with the man and he told me his wife and daughter will be coming with the rest of the furniture this weekend, but... I'm dreading it a bit.  I am willing to say, maybe they just had a horribly bad night, but experience tells me what I heard was far more than just a bad night and indicative of more bad nights to come.  And please... can someone explain to me why it is so hard to just love your spouse and treat that person with respect, even in the midst of an argument?  Is it really that hard?

Why get married if you're just going to create Hell between you?  Life is hard enough as it is, so why choose to make it worse for yourselves?  When you get married, you are supposed to be tying the knot with the one who is going to build you up, not destroy you, and you are to build that person up in return.  So... how is it that you end up spending your time destroying your partner?  And... how is it that the one who is destroyed keeps returning for more?  Because of the "for worse" part?  Really???  In my mind, when you take the vow to stay in even through the "for worse" part, the agreement is that "for worse" can be worked out, that "for worse" will eventually have a resolution and return to "for better," but that takes work and cooperation from both people involved -- that takes a mutual agreement to recognize that this part of your lives is shit, and you're going to work TOGETHER to turn it into something beautiful.  

If Life were my husband, I'd have to say that in my 37 years of being alive, Life and I have experienced a multitude of "for worse" moments, some of them I brought upon myself and some of them Life sorta threw at me, but to divorce Life means suicide and..well... I've made a commitment to Life to see this through until Death comes to claim me naturally.  So when "for worse" hits Life and I, we look at each other and say, "But there are so many good things here to experience together, there are so many beautiful reasons to keep going, and we do have a ton of good memories, even in the midst of dark times."  And so... Life and I work together to get through the shit and find ourselves riding out the "for worse" and happily embracing the "for better."  The problem with this example is, Life isn't a human being, it isn't my partner, I've made a commitment to myself alone to go through life, for better or for worse, and love myself all the way through to the end.  But... it would be so much better to experience life with a true friend and partner, don't you think?

The point I'm trying to make is simple: if two partners were to stop and face Life together, instead of Face Off with each other, something different and beautiful would happen.  They would learn to realize that once they walk out that door to face the day, they have stress at work, and they have stress on the road, and they have stress in their bank account, and they have stress with their health, and they have stress raising the children, but... when they come home, they should come home knowing that their partner had similar stresses and what they need to do is come together and create a sanctuary between them, they need to be each other's guardian, each other's defender, each other's lover and each other's friend because ... who else in this world is willing to do that for them?  And isn't that the idea behind the rings on their fingers in the first place?  But no... they choose to come home and bring Hell with them because they just can't get enough of it outside that door.

And yes, I will keep the night watch.  I've done it for myself, I've done it for my daughter, I've done it for the neighbor who was too oblivious to notice her toddler was wandering out into the street at 3 in the morning because she was too wrapped up in battle, I've done it for friends who need little more than a strong positive presence like mine to make the negative one finally disappear calling me bitch every step of the way toward the door, and I will do it for whomever needs it to be done.  But damn it, people... how hard is it... just... to LOVE...?

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