Another super fun thing that I get to look forward to is these endless Skype calls. Twice a week. Forever. Being forced to hear the voice and see the face of the person my body responds to as ‘husband’. I hear his voice, and feel that terrible, wonderful recognition of a place that I ache for, but can never go back to.
It feels like home.
It feels as though somehow, his warm tones will wake me from this terrible, 11 month long nightmare, and the man and the home my heart have been aching for is right there in front of me.
My mind knows that no such place exists anymore. Not the man, not the building, and not the concept. There is no more safe haven. And thinking about it now, it occurs to me there never really was. But my heart is pierced through anyway by its recognition of the cool, shadowy porch and the welcoming front door of a place that is no more.
It makes me feel like a person in the desert dying of thirst that sees a mirage of an endless oasis, replete with glimmering pools of cool, clear water. It’s another cruelty for the cruelty pile, I guess. I’m amassing quite a collection. Can I turn my cruelty chips in for, like, a dinner at the buffet at least? No? Damn.
It’s quite a thing to ponder the specter of love that lingers there without my permission.
It’s quite another to have to hold the camera so he can watch the babies he bailed on through a cold, lifeless plexiglass screen.
I don’t care what the modern wisdom is. I don’t care what anyone thinks. Skype is not something that should be seen as a replacement for a legitimate parenting relationship with children. He’s trying to normalize something that should never have to be normalized for them. This is nothing more than a lazy, weak man who just wants to have his cake and eat his stripper, too. There’s no easy button, Honey. LOVE SHOWS UP. And you’re nowhere to be found.
I’m ‘raising’ you via a couple Skype calls a week. You’re ok with that, right, Little Buddy? Oh, good! Thanks, little bro. I’m so glad you understand that this was so important for daddy. I mean, yah, you won’t have a dad present for, well, any part of your day to day life….or you know, have one of your parents ACTUALLY raising you, but this is cool, huh? It’s cool that I moved across the country to follow my desires, right? Because as a daddy, I know the most important thing is that my kids consider my feelings, and stuff their own needs down like adults are supposed to do. This is just what you do as a kid, buddy! You man up to be there in support of your daddy. Wait, I think I may have that backward…
When I feel like I’m losing my composure during a Skype, I try to talk myself through each minute of it until it’s over. I soothe myself with kind words, like a mother to a child. It’s all I can do to hang on through these torture sessions. So I tell myself…
It’s not real, babygirl.
That’s not your husband.
He’s a phony, ok?
Just don’t look over.
Try to tune out his voice.
Don’t you dare.
It’s for the kids, babygirl. They have the right to know their father.
I’m so sorry this is your father, babies. I’d never say that you, but I am just so deeply sorry that he is this person. I thought he was a different person. I thought he was a good person. I really did.
I’m so sorry that this is our life now, my loves.
Just a few more minutes now.
Take a deep breath.
Try to just focus on the kids and act like you don’t give a good goddamn about his existence. Ok?
You’re doing great.
I’m sure it’ll be over soon, and then you have 5 more days before you have to do this again, ok sweety?
You can make it 5 more minutes, can’t you?
Make a fist.
Dig your nails into your palms.
Just get through one more painful humiliation of holding the camera in servitude to this imposter…
And this is how I get through each and every Skype call without calmly delivering a series of expletives about the kind of man he is into the camera and throwing it against the wall to shatter into a million shards of sweet relief. I’ve come close. Very close. But the babies, they see everything. And I cannot show them this. So I take a ball of pain and rage the size of a 747 and I fold and bend it and stuff it down until it fits inside my torso, and I hold the damn camera, and I silently pray for life to stop hurting so much that I can’t see straight.