The Area Rug

Dec 09, 2009

  Target, my favorite store, was out of stock of the red and khaki area rug we had traveled to York to buy. Only a few minutes had passed since we exited the store when I uttered those four words. They were words that had escaped my lips hundreds of times, but never with such determination and confidence as that day. It seemed that I spoke that phrase without thinking about it at all, even though memories of past years and images of my future years had flashed before my eyes.

“I want a divorce,” I said calmly.
“What? You don’t know what you are talking about!”
Again I said, “I want a divorce.”

I had spent the best part of ten years feeling worthless. I was always being yelled at and berated. Nothing I ever did or said was good enough. I felt like one of those goldfish children win at carnivals. I was stuck in a bowl, swimming in the same space, looking at the same scenery, and bullied by the same kid who would randomly poke you or thump the glass just because they could. Fear overcoming you because as you saw that person approaching, you have no idea if they were going to feed and nurture you, or torment you. Swimming around, always hoping for the best scenario even though it was rarely the case. That goldfish was how I felt and I was watching the world go by through a glass bowl and never felt like I was able to jump out into that world.

On a particular Saturday in March, the morning began quite uneventful. After working overtime on night shift, I arrived home. My overweight and clumsy Bassett Hound, Blossom, heard me enter through the door and she trotted her short legs towards me as fast as she could. She was always happy to see me. This morning was no exception. Since I always worked night shifts, it was a routine for me to give her a treat and take her out each morning when I arrived home. However, in the midst of jumping up to greet me, her claw snagged the area rug she was napping on and she made it the entire length of the house and into the kitchen with tan and red string still attached to her front, right paw. She must have unraveled almost half of my new carpet. I had to laugh. She kept tugging on her paw, trying to figure out why she felt slightly restrained. I crouched down, got on my hands and knees, and worked on getting her paw untangled.

Moments later, my husband startled Blossom and I with a loud burst of cursing. He had seen the damage and was not happy. I knew the wrath of his anger and prepared myself for the lecture that was sure to follow. I tuned out all the yelling until it was just background noise and continued to free Blossom from the long strand. The rug ended up looking like a nappy floor covering so I went ahead and rolled it up, knowing it wasn’t worth keeping.  I disposed of the carpet by placing it next to the outside garbage cans; I walked in the living room and suggested that we take a drive to Target in York to purchase a new one. After all, it was just an area rug and it was just an accident.

The ride to the store went quite well. The yelling was over for now.  In the ten years of our marriage, I had learned how to coddle my husband and diffuse a situation. I would even be confident enough to state that I was an expert at dealing with his rage and anger. I knew what to say, how to act and what to do, every time he behaved this way. In the beginning, I would cry because I felt hurt and wounded by his actions and words. Time changed me. I no longer cried. I had almost become emotionless and heartless. My skills that I used to calm him were not even to help him or assist him in his emotions. I was purely selfish in my efforts. I desperately needed and wanted my sanity. Essentially, I did what ever it took to shut him up.

Completely clueless that I would soon be making a life altering statement, we entered the store and found our way to the Home Décor aisle. We searched high and low to no avail. I found an associate to check if there were any that had not been placed on the floor yet. Still, there was nothing. I sighed. We had just refinished the living room a month before and that rug matched perfectly with the red microfiber couch I saved up to buy. Determined to find something similar or better, I mentioned running to a few other stores to look around. He did not want to hear that. He lost his temper right there in the middle of the aisle. He was loud. He was cursing. He screamed at me. He threatened to go home and get rid of Blossom because of what she did.

Not one word came out of my mouth. I turned around and began a swift walk to the exit doors. Spotting the car, I sprinted through the parking lot. He was close behind me, and still angry. He was used to me talking him through situations like this and I was ignoring him. I crawled in the car with a magnitude of embarrassment. I was ashamed of his words. I was ashamed of his actions. Most of all, I was ashamed of myself. How could I live like this? He climbed in the car with his face as red as a ripe tomato. The yelling and cursing continued and I didn’t speak a word. My thoughts were racing through my mind and I just stared straight ahead. I could not bring myself to look at him or make eye contact. This man suddenly felt like a stranger and a complete monster. All of this commotion and all of this anger was because they didn’t have a carpet in stock?

In essence, because Target did not have an area rug, I confidently confirmed my thoughts and emotions by declaring one simple statement.

“I want a divorce.”  

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Gettysburg, PA
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Jan 03, 2005
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