Home » A Wasted Life » Screaming “I’m Sorry” Is Not An Apology

Screaming “I’m Sorry” Is Not An Apology

J*** was not going to be forthcoming with any information on his own.  When I pressed him for answers, I was met with “I don’t know” or the usual throwing up his hands and screaming “I’m sorry.”  I must have heard him scream that phrase a hundred times.
I had suffered with those terrible Herpes outbreaks for eighteen years when I found out.  He knew he had given it to me and just let me continue to think I was dirty.
I wondered if Dr. B**** thought I was some kind of tramp when he kept telling me to be careful who I was having sex with.  How could he not?  I wondered if he would have said the same thing to J***.
I was out in the garage one day, looking for something and a small envelope caught my eye.  On the outside was L*****s’ name which had been struck through and H*** had been written below it.  I took out the card and it was one of those cards that accompany flowers.
It was from J*** to L*****.  He wrote “Happy Valentines’ Day.”
She had returned it with the message “H***, what can I say that hasn’t already been said?”
He had sent her flowers.  He had never sent me flowers for Valentines’ Day.  Maybe he had professed his undying love for her.  Maybe she had responded that there were no more words to express her undying love for him, that hadn’t already been said.  Or maybe it was the tearful “goodbye” that had to be said when he had discussed with her his decision not to desert us.
I asked him what her message meant and he said his standard “I don’t know.”  When I pushed him, he said that he had “probably yelled at her or something.”  That was a perfectly believable response…if I had just fallen off the back of a turnip truck.
If he had given me flowers every time he yelled at me, I could have rivaled the Biltmore House gardens.
He tried to take the card away from me but I told him I was going to hold onto it.  I kept it in my wallet for ten years.  Why I kept it, I don’t know.  Maybe because it would be a subliminal reminder should I ever think that I could trust him again.  I refused to celebrate Valentines’ Day for years.
I had gone back to work.  Nothing as far as my frame of mind had changed.  I just couldn’t do it.  My heart wasn’t in it and I didn’t know what to say when people asked me what had happened.  I finished my shift and then called my boss and told her that I couldn’t do it.  She told me that if I changed my mind, there would be a place for me.
I never went back and I have resented that loss until this day.  It was something that was mine and not simply an echo of J***.  It was something that I had worked for.  It was something that I was proud of……..and it was something else that he had taken away from me.
D*** basketball season had started and J*** had a chance to go see a game.  We drove up to his mama and daddys’ house.  Our son and his then girlfriend and J***s’ brother and his wife drove up.  R*** and I weren’t going so we stayed behind.
R*** was actually sober when we got there and I was impressed.  We chatted a while.  She said that they hadn’t discussed what was going on with me and J*** with anybody and they never would.  Of course not.  She couldn’t have the family thinking that he had done anything wrong.  I’m sure she let everybody form their own opinion and blame me just like they had blamed me for “breaking up the family nucleus” rather than admit that she was a drunk.
J*** had told me, with a disgusted tone, that he had to tell his brother….on the telephone.
His brother didn’t care what he had done.  My sister-in-law said  “as a woman, I am outraged” yet when she saw J***, there were big hugs and kisses for him.  There were none for me but there was a snide, behind the back comment about R***.
R*** had  gotten drunk and fallen down a few weeks earlier.  She had split the whole side of her face open and she looked sort of like Mrs. Frankenstein.  My sister-in-law, who sucked up to R*** and really knew how to play the game, whispered to me with repulsion, “you know she was drunk.”  Then she turned around and had hugs and kisses for R***.
Everybody was gone for several hours.  R*** and I talked and I was telling her a story that J*** had told me just a few days ago.  It was a story that I had never heard.  He said that when he was in the first grade, another student had a pen he liked so he took it.  He got caught and lied to his teacher.  He told her that his grandpa had given it to him.  It was interesting hearing J*** recount that story, considering he was anointed the golden child from the minute he was born and was certainly given anything he wanted.
R*** turned around and said “you make up the craziest stories.”  In other words, I was lying.  Her precious son would NEVER steal.
She asked me if we were going to stay together.  I asked her what she would do if she found out that J***s’ daddy had cheated on her and given her a disease.  She said “I guess we’d reconcile.”  I told her I didn’t know what was going to happen.
Then she said “well, J**** won’t be alone for very long.  All the women love J***. ”  Yep, they sure did……..and he loved them right back.
After the game, J***s’ daddy took me in his office and we talked.  I was surprised at his candor.  The first thing he said to me was “P**, I’ve been married to a drunk for forty years.”  I couldn’t believe that he was admitting it.  He was talking about the fall she had just taken.  He said that he tried to make sure she had her Vodka under the kitchen sink and that way he’d be able to maybe play golf and not have to worry about her driving while she was drinking.  He said this wasn’t the first time he had come home and found her on the floor, bleeding.  He was almost indifferent when he said “one day, I’ll come home and she’ll be lying on the floor….dead.”
He talked a little about what J*** had done.  Then, he told me about a woman.  He said they had “done some things that they shouldn’t ought to have done.”  I asked him if he told R*** and he said “no.”  He said he had done what J*** had done….just held his breath and hoped she didn’t find out.
He dismissed the Herpes as something that I could get drugs for.  Obviously it was no big deal to him.  What he told me didn’t ease the disappointment or sadness I felt.  If anything, it voided the credibility of the statement that J*** had made when I first met him…”I would be willing to bet money that my daddy has never even looked at another woman.”  He did more than look.  Like father, like son, I guess.
J*** actually started talking to me about things a little more.  One of the stories he told me was gut-wrenching for me and I can’t imagine what it did to him.
He referred to D***** as “Hell.”  That’s when L***** was playing him against her former lover and that lover had made J*** his target.
He told me about a man who was running for office and his reporters had found a skeleton in his closet.  It was a pretty significant skeleton and the man didn’t want it made public.
He called J*** and begged and pleaded with him not to print it.  I asked J*** if he ran the story.  He said he didn’t.  He said instead, he ran another story……..about the man killing himself.
That happened twenty years earlier and he was just now telling me about it.  I could see the anguish in his face and in my protective mode, I wanted to comfort him.
He never chose to tell me much of anything and he hardly ever chose to tell me the truth about much of anything.
He seemed to be trying now, even though he would still regularly talk to me like I was less than an animal.
My philosophy had always been full disclosure.  His philosophy had always been “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
He continued his search for a job.  He got a bite in A****** and they flew him out there.  When he came back, I think he knew it wasn’t going to go anywhere.  He said he told the guy “you’re eventually going to have to either hire me or somebody just like me.”  I guess they hired somebody just like him.
Then there was the woman in M***** B**** who he had known for several years.  I think he thought something might shake loose with her.  After several communications, she told him that he had to face the fact that there were people out there who were better than he was.  I think that comment really bruised his ego.  Again, in my protective mode, it pissed me off.
He came upstairs to my sewing room one morning and started crying.  He said “I can’t believe I did this to us.”
He went downstairs and sat down at the dining room table.  I foolishly went over and hugged him.  I told him we could work it out.
He didn’t turn around.  He didn’t say anything.  He didn’t get up and hug me.  He didn’t even look at me.
Inside of an hour, he was again talking to me like I was less than an animal.
That was the pattern. He would give me the feeling I had some significance for a while and then completely destroy it with his vitriolic hostility.

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