“That’s what I’m talking about! To make that happen it means that our lives are going to be forever changed. This isn’t a phase or something short lived. Dammit! I thought you were taking birth control?”
I nodded. “I am. Sometimes it isn’t always a hundred percent effective. And it’s possible that I missed one, or we made love when I ran out and hadn’t had a chance to refill it. That’s happened a few times. Things happen. I think this is a beautiful thing.”
“Oh, you think it’s beautiful. That’s rich. That is rich…I’ll tell you one thing Mrs. Proud Mommy; you’d better not let those babies make you fat or my eyes might just start to wander. You keep that in mind the next time you think it is no big deal that you didn’t take your birth control and now we have rug rats on the way.”
Ted stormed out of the kitchen and out the front door. A moment later I heard his motorcycle start and he was gone.
I stood there watching him for several minutes with tears rolling down my face. The words he spoke still stung my ears. I felt sick to my stomach and I had to hold the table in front of me to steady myself. I was terrified and I felt like I was about to start breaking down. The stress of it all was too much to take.
I called Penny and she came over as quickly as she could. I didn’t even know if Ted would be coming back home tonight.
“I feel stupid crying like this,” I said. “But I just can’t stop. How could he say those horrible things to me?”
Penny rubbed my hand. “It’s ok,” she said. “He is just upset. You know there are things he’s going through. I think it’s just the shock of it all and after he’s had time to calm down and adjust to the news he will be fine. I bet he comes back home bearing gifts and apologizing.”
“I’m not sure I’d care if he did,” I said.
“You don’t mean that.”
“I do. I’ve been so patient waiting for him to shape up and be the man I married, to get his stuff sorted out. And I’m over it. I…I don’t think he loves me anymore. I’m starting to wonder if he ever did.”
“You don’t mean that,” Penny said. “Every couple fights and has disagreements, usually when big news happens. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love you.”
“I wish I could believe that,” I said. “I just don’t know what to think. I’m so confused. I don’t want our kids to grow up without a father, but I just don’t know how much longer I can stand this.”
“Are you sure the pregnancy hormones aren’t playing into things here a bit? You need to relax. Being upset is very bad for the babies. Whatever you go through, so do they.”
Penny was right. I tried to calm down. Having her there was helping a lot.
“Any idea where Ted might have gone?” Penny asked grabbing me another ginger ale from the fridge.
“I’m not sure,” I said. “He just leaves every now and then. He goes off somewhere; I have no idea where. When he comes back he doesn’t say anything about it.”
“And when you question him?”
I shook my head. “I stopped questioning him about anything. Every time I do he yells at me and he’s threatened me a few times.”
“What?” Penny asked.
I almost wished I hadn’t told her that, but I was feeling so vulnerable and scared. I had to tell someone. There were times when I feared for my safety around Ted. I couldn’t believe that I felt that way, that things had actually gotten that bad with us.
“It’s ok,” I said trying to dismiss it.
“What do you mean? What type of threats?”
“I shouldn’t have told you.”
“Has he ever hit you?”
“No,” I answered quickly. “No, he never has. I’d kick his ass out the moment he did.”
I meant it.
“Well, threatening isn’t far off. I’ve read about this. These sorts of things have a pattern.”
“Why are you reading about that stuff?” I asked.
Penny sighed. “When I was in high school, I had an abusive boyfriend for a few months. I know what it’s like.”
“I’m so sorry. But Ted is not abusive. At least not physically, and I don’t want to blame him for the way he’s been acting. I don’t know that it is really his fault. Like you said, with all of the stress he has gone through recently it would be strange if he wasn’t having some issues.”
“That’s all well and good,” Penny said. “But when is it enough? When does it cross a line?”
I nodded. She was right. I wasn’t sure when that line would be crossed or if it would be, but I was scared.
Penny stayed with me for most of the evening and then she left. I waited up for Ted but he never showed that night. He often took off for a few days without any warning. I had no idea where he was or what he was doing (or with who) but it worried me sick.