Finding a Reason
“It’s not that I don’t love you anymore, I’m serious, that’s not it. I didn’t mean it that way. It’s just… I’m not the same. I don’t feel anything the same.”
Kelsie stared at me, dark eyes burning like coals in the lamplight. I gazed around for a moment, trying to take in the room she’d arranged just so, the kind right out of a magazine that made it feel so cozy. The lamp she’d gotten from her mother after our wedding stood jauntily on a low-end table, something we’d picked out together and I’d assembled. The same couch we’d first made love on my dad gave to me after I told him.
None of it felt like home anymore.
“Why don’t you tell me just what it was you did mean?” she said carefully, not meeting my eyes.
I stared up, searching for the words.
“If I had to say, I’d say that the Jacob you knew is gone. I don’t know where he went. He used to smile and laugh all the time and treat you like the queen you are. He used to be here, with a full heart and want to go where we’re going, do what we’re doing. He used to love his job and his life, and nothing was wrong.”
Kelsie shook her head, dark curls swirling, “That doesn’t make any sense, there’s got to be some reason. Maybe- maybe you’re just depressed or something-”
I shook my head, interrupting her, “That’s not it-”
“Then what is it, Jake!?” she cried, leaping to her feet. Her beautiful tear strewn face loomed close to mine, a closed fist softly tapping against my chest. I breathed her in, the scent of jasmine mixing with her favorite cherry shampoo.
“You’ve only told me what it’s not, but you haven’t told me what it is. You’ve kept saying it’s not me, that you’ve changed, that you’re different but why? People don’t just wake up one day and throw their marriage away because they feel a little different. You don’t just throw me away like I’m trash…” she said, her voice breaking.
For the first time since I’d gotten home and tried to explain how I felt without the right words I felt my heart truly breaking.
I gripped her by the shoulders and pulled her head close to my chest, her tears wetting my shirt. Ugly sobs wracked her, and silent tears flowed down my cheeks as the scent intoxicated me. I waited what felt like years until her sobbing relented, becoming only an occasional sniffle.
I took a deep breathe and tried again, “Sometimes, something inside people snaps. It’s like my soul was a healthy little tree, growing up with yours and intertwining its tiny branches. It got enough sun and water, enough love. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be withering. There’s no good damn reason why it shouldn’t keep growing,” I said, my voice choked.
Kelsie pulled away and gazed up into my eyes, searching desperately as I continued, “But I just can’t. I’ve been withering for a long time, now, my roots are rotted, and I can’t stand up straight. I’m pulling you down, dragging your soul into the mud to the point where it’ll break. And I can’t break you, Kelsie.” The last part came out as a cry that morphed into a sob and suddenly, I was the one being comforted.
Grief I still didn’t understand filled up my head, pushing out all the other thoughts. Somewhere, some deep part of me knew I was wrong, that I should stop all this and tell her I love her, make everything right. Another buried part of my mind cried out desperately, telling me not to do the thing I was dying to do.
“I don’t know what to do,” I moaned, Kelsie’s body fitting perfectly into mine.
She guided me onto the couch like a blind man and knelt in front of me. I couldn’t look away from her big dark eyes, reflecting the glow of the lamp. I could’ve been fooled into thinking that Kelsie’s eyes were all there was, the pinprick of light a sun that lit up a galaxy. That’s how Kelsie was.
She was brave, way smarter than me, gorgeous and all the other positive adjectives in every language because that’s just who she was. My stomach churned, reveling against me and the pain I was causing her and a hundred thoughts a minute flew through my mind before I realized she was speaking.
“Stay here, with me. Stay here, and we’ll figure this out. Stay here and talk to me and help me understand what’s going on, then if you still want to go, you can. But I need to understand, Jake. I need you to make me understand.”
I leapt up, upsetting her. This beautiful woman fell ungracefully backwards, sprawling across the floor with her mouth a perfect ‘o’.
I hated myself more than ever then and cried, “Kelsie, I’m no good, don’t you see! I’m no damned good and I don’t deserve to be here!”
In a flash she was on her feet, drawing from some inner strength I didn’t know she was capable but the existence of which only proved how little I truly knew.
I saw but didn’t understand her hand draw back and knew more than felt that she’d slapped me. My cheek stung after a moment and I stared, wild-eyed at the person I had thought was my wife.
“If you get to change, then I get to change too. I found the note, Jake. I found it this morning after you left for work,” she said and dug through her pocket. Sure enough, she pulled out the folded piece of notebook paper I’d left neatly under her pillow.
The longer I lived the dumber I felt. Life always had a way of taking your plans and twisting them in such a way you couldn’t recognize them, even when they were about death.
“I’m calling the police and telling them about it unless you sit down right now and talk to me and let us figure this shit out, Jake!” She was screaming, all pretense of weakness dissipated. I had a fleeting thought that I hadn’t ever seen her more passionate, but then again, what did I know?
“I didn’t mean for you to see that yet,” I said meekly, the fight draining out of me.
Suddenly, Kelsie was calm too. She straightened her shirt and took a deep breath, one hand on her hip and another on her forehead.
“I’ll talk about it, Kelsie. I’ll tell you everything as I understand it, what little I do. I’m so sorry to do this to you,” I said, feeling every ounce of guilt and remorse all forming into a brick that sat in my stomach and made me want to throw up.
“You were going to kill yourself, Jake.” It wasn’t a question.
There was no reason to hide it now. A little voice cried heavily in my mind, relief leading immediately to a drowsiness I couldn’t shake. I stood up and paced, rubbing both eyes to fight it off.
Thinking I was leaving Kelsie leapt in front of the door blocking it with her body.
“I’m not trying to go anywhere, baby, I’m just tired all of a sudden.”
“You were going to kill yourself,” she said again, voice just a hair higher.
“I’m so sorry,” I said, dropping back to the couch with my head in my hands.
“Why?” she breathed, nestling beside me with an arm up for comfort.
“I don’t know all the reasons myself, but I suddenly find it incredibly difficult to live in this world. I’m not good enough for you, the incredible woman that you are. I’m not doing as well as I thought I would be after college. I mean, who would look at their career and say, ‘I want to be stuck at an entry level sales job for five years!’ Nobody, that’s who. And friends? Who have I got that would even give me the time of day, besides you, the most fantastic woman I know whom I don’t deserve and feel like I’m dragging down?”
“Baby, you don’t drag me down. You’re my other half. My soul is entwined with yours.”
I sat back on the couch, mind reeling but somehow blank at the same time. Kelsie gripped my hand tightly in both of hers and we sat like that for longer than I will ever know, the two of us clinging desperately to whatever slip of hope holds anyone and everyone together.
“I think I need help,” I said.
“Then we will get you help. We’ll get you help right now,” Kelsie said, pulling out her cell phone.
Thus, my story began.