The Woman Who Played With Matches

Tuesday was a big day. The Blackberry – now dubbed BB4, because I’ve determined I’ve doomed any inanimate (and potentially animate) object I name, arrived. And I struggled at every step getting the damn information transferred.

A compulsion dragged me into two different pharmacies in town, in search of a replacement Sharpie pen. I obsessed about it. I couldn’t continue writing in my journal without it. The writing wouldn’t look right. I saw the hideous tag of $9 and change for two. And I decided that day that my sanity had a price.

I continued with my regression therapy experiment by listening to The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails. The album as a whole. Still nothing but lyrics. I can’t ever remember where I put my phone and my cigarettes. But, I’ll never forget a single lyric from any of those 14 songs.

All day, obsessions. These obsessive, intrusive thoughts snagged and snapped at me.

You lose everything remotely important. Check your bag for your pens. Your cigarettes. Your phone. Check again and make sure you see it. Did you put it back in there? Check again.

The world whizzed by me. And the music blared:

“Need you.

Dream you.

Find you.

Taste you.

Fuck you.

Use you.

Scar you.

Break you.”


C L I C K .

– – – – –
“Fine-ally!” I seriously thought my bladder was going to literally burst inside of me. I pulled myself to sitting on the beige bench seat, all the way in the back. My heavy sandal fell off of my foot and landed directly on my copy of The Downward Spiral. I plummeted at freefall speeds. And upon impact, BANG! I was fiercely sobbing, van door open to a busy, boiling hot highway.

I rustled myself out of that van, and into that rest stop. I lit up a cigarette in a stall (back when you could smoke almost everywhere), and continued to sob.

“What the hell are you causing so much fuss about?” I heard from the stall next to me, “Me and your dad will buy you a new one when we get there.”
– – – – –

My father wouldn’t let me have anything that held any value. I didn’t even carry a wallet until I was 18. I didn’t carry a purse until I was 21. Why have these things without valuables. He insisted that I’d lose it.

When I did lose something, I’d never hear the end of it. Things I’ve come to realize can be easily replaced. A pen. A hat. The trouble is that these things never were replaced. If I lost something, and I loved it, it was gone forever.

Gone forever.

“Everyone I know, goes away, in the end.” Trent purred.

I was eager to get the key into the lock. I couldn’t remember the last time I had to go so urgently. I threw my bags on the sofa as I rushed through. I shedded my coat onto a kitchen chair and turned the corner to the bathroom. I walked up to the toilet and –

The seat was up.

Why was the seat up? I was the last one in the house.

A cloud descended upon me. A dark, nasty, vile cloud filled my head with heavy, smokey noise. It seemed a man had been in my house. And seeing as how only two men have a key to this house, and know the odd work hours I keep, that narrowed it down.

I take my father at his word. The man doesn’t lie. He would just avoid the subject.

That knocks it down to one.

“Confront him.”

“Wait! Don’t! Confronting a potential liar gets you nothing but more lies. Provoke him into exposing himself.”

I fired off a text, “Someone is busted.”

Normally, there is a lag time between fifteen minutes to three hours between texts. “I’m just so busy with everything going on! I’ll go to text you back and something will come up.”

More excuses. I don’t expect to take precedence every day. Just one day would be enough.

Immediately, a call shot to my cell. I nonchalantly answered the phone. At first, he carefully poked around. “Who? What do you mean? What happened?”

We didn’t speak while he was coming home. Unusual. He was only quiet when he was either alienating someone or plotting. I had him cornered.

When he arrived home, he put on a great show. He anxiously scoured the house looking for clues. In paranoia, he wedged himself between the fridge and the wall to boost himself above the drop ceiling. It was quite the farce.

He made a mistake. My husband, a man who is not guilty of anything and deeply crippled by anxiety, would not have given up so easily.

He was chipper when asking, “Would you like to take a walk over to the store for freezer pizza?”

I was bitter and suspicious. He hadn’t regarded me in that way in nearly a month. Each revision of behaviors became more noticeable. He eagerly set up the stroller. He made a pass of the exterior of the house for good measure. Only a pass. It was anything but thorough.

“So who do you think it could have been?” he uneasily questioned me.



“Like who.”

“Everyone and anyone who could gain access to our house. Whether it be by force or key.”

Some more silence.

He rattled off a few very unlikely people. Forced. Any shift away from focusing on him. The insinuation was nowhere near vague. If there was something to hide, I’d find out. I made that unmistakably clear.

He trotted through the store. Suddenly, necessary items considered to be superfluous became important. I begged him for toothpaste when I had thrush. I knew it would clear faster. But, though we had just gotten paid, there was no money available.

He was overly enthusiastic about everything. At one point, he went to the Digiorno pizzas, and exclaimed what a great price they were. I had done so three months ago, and was shot down, claims they were still “too expensive'”, and returned to the same nasty, three, overcooked Tombstones.

Fake. Appeasing me. Buying my distractions.

I glared as he rushed through our taxes without complaint. We have never done our taxes so late. Never down to the wire like this.

Irresponsible. Careless. Uncharacteristic.

I fished through his cell phone for clues. He’s clever. He would have erased any tracks. He’s too paranoid to let anything revealing slip.

I have my reasons.

30 thoughts on “The Woman Who Played With Matches

    • Yes. Why, I don’t know. It would be different if something had happened, but as far as I could tell, nothing has changed. Only this.

      You know, at this point, I don’t even know if I want to address it anymore. I get sick to my stomach when I think about it. He’s texting me, and I just have nothing to say. He just sent me a random text that said, “For some reason, my phone isn’t alerting me to your texts.”

      I haven’t texted all day. There was nothing to talk about. I’m not encouraged to text anyway. He often doesn’t receive them, and when he does, he’s made the admission that he glances at the message and forgets about it.


      • I would be suspicious like you… otherwise why is he putting so much effort and attention into things… unless he can simply feel that things are shaky right now. Don’t mean to sound paranoid but I do understand where your suspicions come from. That is how my mind thinks as well…

        • I’ve been duped before. They were some extreme con men. He knows my first ex. He lived with him. He loathes him. And that ex conned me off and on for almost seven years.

          He has had one serious ex. She never actually cheated on him by conventional definition. But we both agree she emotionally cheated. We both agree that is a serious violation worthy of condemning a person.

          So, we are very much on the same page about that.

          I know it’s paranoid. Even saying it sometimes sounds ludicrous. But, I start to think about how easy it would be for him. I start to think of all of the sane, rational girls in the world who wouldn’t give him such a hard time.

          The idea makes me sick with fear. I find myself going back and forth. Bad psychological times doesn’t put a finger on it. I feel like it’s poking all around the truth, but not quite there.

          I’m not daft. He’s hiding something. But, as for what he’s hiding, I can’t know for sure. Is he hiding a physical illness that he doesn’t want to face? Because he knows I’d make him go to the doctor and get medicine. Is he masking some symptoms of something even bigger? Has he grown restless and regretful of his family life?

          Even if he regrets me, how could he possibly regret our son? I know he’s difficult, but it doesn’t make me love him less. In fact, it might actually make me love him more. How could someone regret their child?

          It’s not like him. He’s always been a rock. He doesn’t make decisions lightly, and they are always heavily calculated and precise. To say he’s having second thoughts about our marriage, to say he’s cheating, and to be correct – well, I’d weigh in on his psych evaluation in a year or two.

          So, I think to myself, what if he did just lose it and go off the deep end? What then? I know I couldn’t go on being with him, but I don’t know if I could turn my back on him, knowing full and well that it was a psychotic break.

          Let’s hope it doesn’t come to any of this.

          • I hope it doesn’t come to any of this and maybe he has just felt the tension over the weeks… and is over compensating. Maybe he does have some mental shit going on… we can certainly relate to that. ♥

            • True. But, the mental shit doesn’t add up. This magnitude, it would have had to have been an action. If it were just a thought, he’d be a little pissy and isolated. This feels like subterfuge. He isn’t retreating from me. He was pushing me away. Sometimes physically.

              I say was. The balance shifted last night. We’ll see.

      • god, it is weird to explain. I kinda know because I have dating many women. But I’ll try explain. A man will give attention to a woman and idolize her because he wants to attain her . He means to be that way always because he loves her. But inside a man is the neeed to hunt. He is bored when he knows he has got his prey. he unintentually starts to take her for granted. He has captured her, no need to woo her anymore. So he gets interested in other competitive things but he wants you to praise him for all his good plays, good promotions, and success. This is your job now. When he needs sex, he looks to you. But he may not be as there as you think he is all the time. He still may be daydreaming the hunt. The more a woman needs of him, the more he feels trapped. He wants to be in control of when and how often he does something special for her. If she brings it up all the time, it makes him put it off and it frustrates him. He has emotional times, but not as often as a woman does. So out of nowhere, He will occasionally become vulnerable and curl up in your arms and want to be held. That is when he is needing his mommy. He just gets to where he takes all of it for granted. The wife, the kid, all the things that are done for him. It is just normal life. No big deal. The only way to get his attention is to stir up some kind of insecurity that his way of life is going to change in a big way. But if he is threatened with this over and over again, even that will lose its effect. If I was your husband, that is where I’d be right now. If you told me you weren’t going to put up with it anymore, or you were going to live your own life and not have anything to do with me. It wouldn’t mean anything but maybe a couple days with no arguement. But when you breakdown and cry. I would make promises that I won’t keep even though I think I will at the time. But if all of a sudden, I was left sitting in the house by myself, my ego would keep me company for a few weeks maybe. But I would have to realize all the things that were missing. Then I would have to admit how I took you for granted. I would have to really decide whether I could change enough for you to be happy. I can’t predict what will happen next

        • I’ve made the obvious step already to go on living my life free of him. I am becoming harder to reach. Emails and texts are going unresponded. Not so much intentionally. Partially. Partially because I really have nothing to say.

          When I felt we were in good favor, I’d make all kinds of ridiculous comments and side conversation. But, idle chit chat should not be hogging up the entire dialogue. Not everything that can be said to one another has been said. The love that I have for him couldn’t be expressed in enough phrases throughout a lifetime.

          But, that’s not what he wants.

          If he wants a good chase, I’ll give him a good chase. You’ve probably hit a nail right on the head there. This year has been my most controlled bipolar year. The rest, well, I was up in the air in terms of emotions and reactions. He has come to expect.

          Expect nothing. I’ve always advised this when people start coming around me. When a person starts expecting something from me, they’ll walk away empty handed every time. And I should have applied that to all people (excluding my son) in my life.

          • I hope you were not offended by anything I said. Im sorry if I did. But yeah, the more scarce you are the better. If none of this works. Im afraid he must not want it to work at all.

            • Thanks for talking with me. And no, I’m not offended. This is not the first time I’ve heard this. I want to make myself scarce. It seems to be working, sort of. This afternoon, he was practically acting like a little boy. “Look at me! Look at me!” I guess if he wants the attention that bad, then he must still want me. But, I was dismissive. I didn’t look at his email. I kind of grunted in conversation and didn’t really offer much. I acted like him. I wanted him to feel what I feel.

              I realized that in my interactions with him, I’m very open and giving. I am eager to lend support and offer opinions. I caught myself doing it. I realized that I am missing that. And, I want him to know how it feels to be on the other end of a conversation with someone generally disinterested in what they have to say.

            • Im glad you aren’t mad at me. I felt I went too far in my “man” thinking lol. I know being scarce isn’t gona be fun for you after a bit. You want tiem with him. But I hope he comes hunting you soon so eventually he can catch you, for a wile lol

            • Actually, it has been kind of fun. I woke up in the middle of the night and checked all of the records. Not fun.

              But, then I went downstairs and started to update my personal journal. I slept on the sofa. Not the best sleep, but I found I was more relaxed because I wasn’t worried about encroaching his side of the bed.

              I woke up early and went for a walk to the store. I decided I want to try drinking a little coffee to replace one of my daily sodas. That will cut some calories. The walk was freeing. Alone, out of the house, even though it’s 50 and raining here.

              They have a lot of classes at work afterward because it’s a rec center too. I thought about asking a co-worker friend if she wants to take one with me. I don’t know how much they cost. Money is really tight around here. I know the yoga instructor from working with her in the children’s classes. Maybe she’ll cut me some kind of deal or let me pay as I go or something.

            • yeah take advantage of what there is being offered that you would enjoy and that would relieve your stress. I sleep on my couch half the time lol. I don’t know, it is somekind of emotional thing lol. I have a big queen sized bed to sleep on but sometimes that is just too big for one person lol. anyway, keep it up girl!

            • I’m testing the waters right now. I made a kind gesture by getting him coffee and cigarettes from the store. I surprised kissed him, and he didn’t pull back. So, we’ll see where this goes.

              I’m opening doors. If anything goes amiss, I’m shutting them for a long while.

            • It went well. A nice little ride to get bread. A little breakfast tickle and grab ass, y’know? He’s still in the business of attempting to procure me things I like.

              I noticed that with men. I know with certain insects, the men will all go out and get the queen a gift. They hope to get her the best gift so that she’ll mate with them. My son brings me gifts. He thinks money, food, and blankets are the way to go.

              My husband thinks taking me to the store to get me food and drink I like is the best way. He bought “us” a bottle of tequila with the worm still in it. (That’s rare here. Our liquor control board doesn’t seem to enjoy that.) He praned it back to the car and excitedly told me to look at the bottle.

              He drove me clear back to the neighborhood I work in during the week to buy me the four dollar bread I like.

              So, I get it, a little. He’s finally speaking some kind of affection language I understand. He might do this all of the time, but I see getting food and drink as a necessity in life.

              Hopefully, this will all unravel soon.

            • yeah I had gotten into bed and had to get back up because it dawned on me that I had given you the wrong advice. You have to reward him when he is good. Remind him of what he has got. Plus I figured you needed a little rewarding yourself after being distant and not being close to him and being satisfied through his touch and making him feel good.

    • I did. I didn’t find anything useful. The only thing I don’t have access to is his work email.

      I considered it. There’s a single girl our age. She’s pretty, but in an athletic sort of way. He’s not athletic. I wouldn’t think that he’d be interested in that.

      But, I considered it some more. No, it would be unlikely that he wouldn’t have a phone trace. Unless he had a second phone, which I would have seen. And I know no woman can go without her man for long. Especially if they were newly together.

      But, there’s Facebook for a phone. But his phone is old and decrepit – first generation smartphone. First andriod platform.

      I’d probably notice if he spent an unusual amount of time poking at his phone. UGH! Wait! I started going to bed way before him! So I could get up earlier! FML!

      Still… You’d think there would be a phone trace. Unless he’s using mine while I’m asleep. Yeah, I’d never think to check those records.

      Ugh. I hate myself. For either being so stupid or so paranoid.

        • There’s a number of reasons.

          He did something I’d completely disapprove of, and now he’s hiding it.

          (I have to wonder if he’s been using vacation days – like half days, and hides out at home while I’m at work. Park the car up the street, and wait until no one was around. You know, I wouldn’t be pissed. I’d be more pissed that he lied about his whereabouts.

          It makes me wonder. He just forwarded me an email from payroll about “missing hours” – apparently a time clock malfunction. I’m going to check his next paystub.)

          He did something to violate the sanctity of our marriage.

          He did something I’d be ashamed of him doing.

          He did something illegal and he doesn’t want me to know, because he doesn’t want me to get involved.

          He’s gay.

          (I have seriously had to stop and wonder. His best friend is a bachelor who can’t make a long term relationship with a woman work. And I’ve told him multiple times that if we came to find that was the case, then I’d only ask that he still loves me. Two people can have love for each other and not have sex or be in a relationship. Would I be jealous of that man? Yes. Would I interfere? No.)

          He did something he’s embarrassed about.

          He spent too much money, and now he’s trying to hide it. (He does the bills.)

          Or he feels strongly about something in a different direction than I do. Topics we don’t discuss – math, higher education, physical health, mostly no mental health related to us, etc.

          Or, he could be sneaking out of work to go to therapy. Why he would hide that, I don’t know. You know, I’d be happy that there was someone in this world he could feel comfortable bitching about me to.

          Other than that, I don’t know. I’d be completely blindsided by it.

  1. I wouldn’t say that you are being stupid. I would consider alternatives to your fears. Maybe there’s something ELSE going on – other than another woman. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but you cannot always tell. When I first got married, I found out my husband had an addiction to fetish pornography (of the female bodybuilder variety – now I will never be compared to one of those). I ended up having a mixed episode and landed in the hospital. He lavished me with attention and gifts, but he’s appreciated me in a way that I cannot describe since.

    I really hope all is well. Keep an open-mind. Even if something is wrong, it may not be what it seems. *HUGS*

    • I’ve advised him in the past not to think that it’s impossible to drive me to madness and a complete psychotic break. I don’t believe I’ve ever had one. But, I don’t think it’s out of the realm of feasible.

      I don’t want him to give me attention because he worries what the lack of it will do. And I already know about the fetish thing. I’m fine with it, most of the time. Sometimes, I wonder if he finds me or the uniform attractive, right?

      TMI alert:

      Maybe I should insist on a c*ck ring? We used to mess around with that stuff when we were first married. I had just gotten out of a very bizarre sexual situation with an ex. I guess he thought I came to expect that stuff as the norm. (Umm, no. When I finally sobered up, I was absolutely disgusted).

      I’m not trying to be manipulative. I’m attempting to be demonstrative. I’d like to see if he wonders, or feels like, it is potentially demeaning.

      Right now, I’m establishing that I am more than capable of independent thought and action. That I would act without consulting him. I’m sorry we had to lose that trust beam in our marriage. But, he already broke that a long time ago. Like, when he bought an expensive stereo for his birthday when I wasn’t there.

      And to think, I’ve consulted with him on every last detail, right down to what we eat for dinner.

      So, now I know. When I’m asked “What do you want?” I should always have an answer ready. It’s not up for negotiation anymore. I’m ready to pull my chips out of the pile, but I’m not cashing out yet.

      We’ll see how this unfolds.

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