Years ago, I read about a woman who snapped. By all accounts, she was a good person. She had no prior record. One day, she found out her husband was cheating on her and she confronted him. They got in a huge argument and, with a child in the car, she ran him over, killing him.
I never understood how someone could ever get so angry that they would do the unthinkable. Things had to be really bad and, honestly, nothing had ever really been that bad for me. Until I married “Rob.”
While I never resorted to physical violence, I was once pushed to that brink. It was the lowest point of my marriage. It was the moment when I stopped liking my husband. It was my point of no return. I remember is all too well.
The day I almost snapped was on a Sunday over President’s weekend. I was home with our two young daughters while my husband went to a Charger’s football game with his brother. We ended up getting into a heated argument via text over his refusal to help around the house. I could tell by his texts that he was drunk and getting mean. I called up the local Marriott and made a hotel reservation. The girls didn’t have school the next day and I couldn’t fathom being around when my husband eventually came home, even drunker and meaner than ever.
I texted him: Enjoy the house to yourself the rest of the weekend. The girls and I are leaving.
With that, I ran upstairs and started packing a suitcase. My hands were shaking and my heart was pounding. Somewhere deep inside, I knew I needed to get out of the house and fast. The football game wasn’t over for a few more hours, but I had a terrible, dark feeling. Not wanting to alarm the girls, I tried to make it a fun announcement.
“Hey girls, guess what?” I said, all smiles. I even started clapping my hands. “We are going to a hotel tonight. Yay! We are going to go swimming, order pizza and watch movies all night!”
“What about Dad?” Morgan, my then eight-year-old daughter asked.
“He’s at the game. We’ll see him tomorrow, though.”
I gathered them into the car and was putting the suitcase in my trunk when I looked down the street. My heart stopped. There was Rob, racing up to the house in his car. He had left the game early. This wasn’t good. No, it wasn’t good at all. I slammed the trunk shut and rushed into the car. Rob jumped out of his car and started running towards my door. I locked all the doors just in time. He tried to open my car door but he was too late. I turned on the ignition, barely able to do it because my hands were shaking so hard. The girls were silent, taking it all in, confused.
Undeterred, Rob started pounding on my windshield, screaming. “Have fun! Mom is so boring maybe she’ll actually have fun tonight!” he screamed, as he pounded my windshield again and again and again.
At this point, everything started happening in slow motion. I looked at the girls. Morgan, who was sitting in the front seat, was looking at Rob with tears in her eyes. Siena, who was just five years old at the time, was sitting in the back seat. Her eyes were enormous as she started laughing in a nervous way. She wasn’t sure how she should be reacting. I turned around and looked back at Rob. He has beautiful blue eyes that, when he’s mean drunk, turn almost navy in color. They get glassy and the pupils get huge. He looks like a monster—the true personification of Satan himself. Our eyes met and at that moment, I hated him like I’ve hated no one ever. He started banging on my windshield again. “Just leave! Have fun!”
And in that instant, as I reached for my gear, I thought very rationally, “I could put my car in drive and run him over.” And it seemed so rational. So right. So good. Perfectly logical. While the entire episode took maybe a few seconds, it seemed like a lifetime. And then it was almost like my guardian angel physically slapped me and screamed, “Leave!” It knocked me out of a near-trance. I blinked narrowed my eyes at him, and put my car in reverse, pulling out of the driveway, and droving slowly down the street.
It wasn’t until we were a block away that my hands started shaking more than they ever had. Hard uncontrollable shaking. And I understood. I saw how sometimes arguments get so ugly and so out of control that when someone opens their eyes, they’ve done something so terrible and irreversible. I didn’t “go there” by the grace of God, but things could have gone the other way very easily.
I went to our marriage counselor a few days later and told her my experience.
“You’ve hit your bottom,” she said.
Yes I had. But then Rob became more contrite than ever. He promised to get into alcohol treatment and this time he really meant it, he said. And I stayed for two more years. Nothing got better. His alcohol treatment efforts never lasted more than a week or two. His lies about drinking were almost laughable, except nothing is funny about life with an alcoholic, especially when you have children to protect.