I got up early this morning despite being home all day so I can be available for my virtual court hearing.
I went in the kitchen to start coffee so it would be ready by the time I finished feeding and taking the dogs outside.
When I came back inside, I pulled a cup out of the cupboard and, as I do most days, picked the cup I felt summarized my feelings at that moment.
I’m feeling pretty good about today. Which might be the first sign that I should be worried, but I don’t think so. I’m really hoping that the judge will say a more dignified version of what’s on my morning cup, but even if not, I’ll be ok.
I slept ok last night. I was prepared to not. But I did.
As I reached for my cup, I remembered something I hadn’t thought about in almost a year. Not since the x lived here.
I pulled out a spoon and put a heaping spoonful of brown sugar in my oversized cup. I poured the coffee in and stirred.
Every morning, for years, the x would comment on how much sugar I put in my cup.
The guy who ate candy bars for lunch. Who drank soda like water some days. Who thought pan dulce was a health food.
It used to confuse me. It always annoyed me.
But as these things do while happening, it seemed too small to make a big deal about. He made sure to let me know it was too small a thing to make a big deal about.
Asking him not to do that might mean a spiral of words that resulted in a days long rift between us. So expertly spun that I wouldn’t even realize my simple request was the reason for it.
Even now, I want to defend the sugar. I’m a self-described coffee snob, but I still enjoy coffee best with milk and sugar.
I used to taste black coffee and tell you the country it was grown in. I can cup coffee and appreciate the notes. I’m educated about coffee.
Still, on my own time, I love a well-doctored cup of really good coffee.
Judge me. Go ahead.
Part of being out of this madness is not justifying things like that. We have to retrain ourselves to not explain or defend things that don’t need defending.
It’s such a hard habit to break after years of someone covertly showing you that they would try to control everything so well that you thought you were making your own choices to let that go because it’s not a big deal.
Every morning. For years and years.
And it was only this morning that I saw that ritual for what it was: a reminder that I could never count on him to just love me, to just support me, to just let things be.
To not take every opportunity to unmoor me so I wouldn’t see the truth.
The same guy who gave (gives) our daughter cookies on the way to school in the morning, would huff loudly that I was giving our daughter too big a lump of sugar as I’d fish a brown sugar rock out of the bowl and place it in her palm after she asked, each morning as we made our coffee, for just a little bit, mama?
Dis-regulate. Confuse. Judge so softly that to call attention to it makes you look petty (because that’s what he’ll call you – that and too sensitive and nitpicky).
The layers of things that were done, daily, to keep me on edge still surprise me sometimes.
They don’t make my chest ache anymore. They don’t hurt in that way that realizing someone you love is hurting you on purpose hurts.
They just surprise me, momentarily, until they fall perfectly into place now that I understand what was happening.
I might have put a little too much sugar in my second cup of coffee this morning. I thought there was more left in the pot to pour into my cup and that spoon really was heaping, but also: fuck him.
I like a little coffee with my milk and sugar.
No matter what happens with court today, I’ve got this.
Where there was once constant poking, there’s now only the poking he can do from afar (or from the porch, as he seems to do every time he can now).
Afar always beats in your face.
My daughter and I will continue to start each day with a quiet kitchen – just the sounds of the coffee brewing and the dogs underfoot hoping for more food than they need and my spoon swirling against the ceramic.
Whatever happens, I’ve got this.
Me and my coffee.