The tipping point

crying woman

Silence can be terrifying. The void opens and, though the span looks like something she can jump, the darkness below seems to be waiting. Breathing.

She knew she was in love with Drew, and yet it was the one thing she couldn’t say to Jake. She could tell him she wasn’t having an affair. Others might argue the semantics. She had crossed lines. But she hadn’t passed the sign that says no turning back.

She couldn’t tell Jake what she could barely tell herself. She was in love in the most disastrous way possible with someone with more scars and bigger fears than her own. She was willing to risk everything that was safe and recognizably good about her life for the uncertainty and martyrdom of Drew, an idea so humiliating and immature, it embarrassed her. This need to believe in a soulmate, a pre-destined tragedy, this pain was undoing her. But it had reached the tipping point. The place where emotion weighs more than logic and takes over the argument.

In a rare moment of courage, she asked Jake for a separation. She waited until the idea was no longer a shock to either of them, until Jake had grown weary enough to think it might be his own idea. Jake said he felt relieved, that at least they could move forward. If not with her, then without.

But reality set in quickly, logic rushing in with the kinds of questions you should be able to answer when you’ve made up your mind. Instead of feeling emboldened, her heart sank. She had expected to know, to feel certain, to be propelled out of the house, out of their life. But she wasn’t sure.

How could she move out? There was no money for separate lives. She needed to be close to still be a daily fixture in the girl’s lives, at least if she didn’t want to start a fight. If she wanted to keep them in their school, among their friends, in the upper middle class neighborhood she could hardly afford on her own, she’d have to stay. And Jake couldn’t keep the house on his own for long. He’d have to sell.

The uncertainty was overwhelming. So she started with the easy things, the things she could change without really leaving. She told her closest friends. She separated their phones, and she changed her email address. She began to look at the cost of renting an apartment. She told her mother, who listened and tried so hard not to fret aloud, it was palpable. She considered moving to the guest bedroom but Jake objected. He didn’t want to have to explain it to the kids until there was a real plan in place. He told his parents, who were furious with her. And when Jake told them he hadn’t given up, they were mad at him too.

And then she cried.

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