She is quiet. Driving. Staring straight ahead with the intensity of an Everest ascend.
I am quiet, too. My eyes are wandering aimlessly between the windshield and the rear-view mirror as if I could see in pitch-black darkness. Nothing to let on that just a minute ago, a screaming fight raged within the confines of this car.
The cause? Insignificant enough that I can’t recall.
I had come home from teaching to find my wife dealing with a string of venomous emails from her alienating ex about another fabricated crisis. A decade in, my wife reacts to alienation acts physically: she gets a raging headache, her body itches, she feels lethargic or sweats through restless sleep. Yes, these are allergic reactions; the body’s rejection of what is not only foreign, but also toxic. Because parental alienation is.
The energy of engaging the minds of tweens that morning had carried me over for a few hours, but I crashed shortly after the lunch that we forgot to have, before we had to drive out to some commitment. We had gotten none of our planned work done; neither of us had even had enough water.
We hit, my own diagnosis, the state of parental alienation-induced hyper-vigilant stupor. Some negligible flicker set of an argument. And we fought. We kicked. We attacked like cornered animals.
Drained of energy, of hope, of the will to complete this day, we didn’t fight each other. After five years of having the other’s backs against the onslaught of alienation, we were fighting the helplessness, the futility, the waste that the alienator makes of our lives. We were screaming at the top of our lungs to hear our own voices, otherwise muted by our circumstances.
Some times, we fall asleep at weird times, like mid-morning if at all. Occasionally, we cannot remember whether we have fed the dog, or whether we have even eaten that day. But we know we have become mere shells of our selves when we cannot remember why we fought. So we hold each other, gripping silence tightly, and let regret and angst seep out of us to make room for who we still are; despite it all.