July 21, 2008.
Five days after my 32nd birthday. The Monday after a long weekend of silence at my house.
Do you know how miserable it to receive the silent treatment for nearly three days from your husband? To speak to him, and he doesn't respond. To anything. Silence. After a while, you ignore it outwardly, but inside, you're begging for just one word, a smile, or an acknowledgement that you at least exist in the same house. The silent treatment is one of the most passive-aggressive things I can think of to torture someone you love. It's just plain mean.
He broke the silence that July 21. By telling me he didn't want to be married anymore.
No matter how bad things were, it still felt like a punch in the stomach. The first time I heard those words, in late 2005, I went to the half-bathroom, sat on the toilet lid and wailed for what seemed like hours. But this time, the second time, there wasn't a deluge of tears or outburst of emotion.
The second time, I exhaled. Relief.
There were arguments to follow, and tears, and packing of boxes and sleepless nights. But on that July 21, I received my freedom, a late birthday gift, a chance to start over and maybe get it right.