Sunday, February 9, 2014

I'm still here

Still alive. Doing well. We came to a sort of peaceful arrangement after everything, though he still sees no future for us as a couple. I don't know if I do or not, but for now, he's with her. He has been seeing a therapist and finally managed to hold down a job for a while, trying to save enough money to set out on his own. He lives in the guest room now. He helps around the house and things are fine. He goes out to see her, but he never mentions her name.

Sometimes I still want to just scream and lash out and demand an answer for his behavior, but I know there is none. I'm focusing on my own life and my own future.

Thanks to everyone for your support here. I don't know if I'll be posting anymore, but it was a crucial exercise in working through the ugliness.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Big yellow taxi

It’s odd, really, how much Joni Mitchell has been swirling around in my head lately.

The house is quiet. At the risk of sounding cliche, it’s too quiet. Every time I hear a slight noise, my heart jumps in my chest. Even though I’m sitting here with a big window leading out to the only entrance he could come to, every time I hear a zipper clang against the side of the dryer, I think it’s the sound of him unlocking the front door. Coming back to me.

I wish I had the ability that some have, to let my anger take over so that I feel nothing but white-hot rage when I think about him. Really, I’m not sure if anyone actually does this - maybe it just seems that way sometimes.

Earlier, a taxi pulled onto my street. My heart stopped for a moment, until it turned off into another cul de sac. 

So far this morning I have managed to refill the coolant in the car, start a load of laundry, run the dishwasher, and pack up a few more of his things. If I didn’t have to take the dog out, I doubt I would have gotten out of bed in the first place. But I’m here. I’m awake, after a few hours of fitful sleep. There’s a hole in my chest, a knot in my stomach, but I’m alive. I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, because what else is there to do?


My sister in law called again, and we talked for hours. It was so incredibly nice to be able to just speak about it openly, to not have to keep the secret anymore. He is going home to his parents, alone. He still hasn’t contacted me, not even to let me know that he’s safe. That he’s left the state. I don’t know who this person is, and neither does she. “This isn’t my brother. He’s a shell.” Those were her exact words.

She told me that in a period of ten minutes, talking to her, he said of me: “I just want her to hate me.” No less than five times. 

I guess that would be the easy way out for him, but even now, I don’t hate him. If he turns his back on me, that will be his choice. Not mine. I won’t take his bait to be the villain.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

How it ends

And just like that - he left.

He wants someone who will be "nicer" to him. I hope he finds her.

Before and after

I can’t think of a poetic way to put this, but I wanted to share something that’s been helpful to me in the last few days. I’ve stumbled across little things, again and again, that remind me of how things were “before.” Which is to say, before I found out. Before the affair, too, but what comfort is that when I’m left wondering what I was doing wrong back then, to eventually drive him out of my arms?

I’ve started realizing - consciously - every time I see an old photograph or a Facebook update or a forum post or ANYTHING that reminds me of “before,” I tell myself it’s an artificial distinction. He was the same person back then, who was doing everything that I know about now. Not to try and poison the past, but to be realistic. And it’s a strangely comforting thought.

I have this tendency to try and escape into invented realities. I remember, a long time ago, back when I was working a retail job I hated - “before” - he once expressed surprise that I had to work the next morning. “I thought you had the day off,” he said. I replied: “man, I wish I lived in your reality!” Like it would do me any good. But that was what ran through my head - if only I lived in that nonexistent world where I don’t have to work tomorrow.

This is just more of the same. There’s no reality where he doesn’t cheat on me. That world doesn’t exist. It’s happened, it was happening while other things also happened, there’s no use in trying to escape back into a comforting lie. 

His mother’s gone back home. It was a strain, trying to pretend like everything was normal…but at the same time, it’s what we’re doing anyway. No one with a hidden camera in the house would guess that our marriage is falling apart.

I wanted to tell her, but she is sick with worry over James’ sister already, her anxiety and depression reaching another fever pitch that is interfering with her life, and nothing makes a mother feel more helpless than that. James’ mom isn’t the dramatic type, but I heard her cry on the phone to her daughter the other night. She is worried and hurting, unable to alleviate her daughter’s suffering. I can’t burden her any further, even if it means taking more of a burden on myself. I know that’s not fair, but it’s also not fair that she should carry it.

And yes, I know I didn’t create this burden. All the same, I don’t feel I can pass it on to someone already struggling. 

I’ve successfully withdrawn as much as I can at this point. Trying to “get out and live my life” as much as possible. Might go to the library to work tomorrow, just to prove (to both of us) that I can do something on my own. Since we moved here, I’ve hardly left the house on my own. Just being able to say “I’ll be gone for a while, bye” will feel like a small triumph. I’ve signed up for a beginner’s yoga class as well. Might join up with a local gym - a different one from his. He’s gone to his gym with HER. I’ll never set foot in that place.

And so far, he’s simply falling in line. Doesn’t try to kiss or touch me anymore. Didn’t say “I love you” when I got out of the car this morning for my therapist appointment. He is still acting as interested and engaged in our life together as ever, planning dinner and starting conversations about everything BUT our marriage. I don’t know what this means. I didn’t expect him to start chasing after me immediately, but I also don’t know how long I can go on like this. I need him to show some intention of doing SOMETHING.

I guess there’s nothing to do but wait.

Monday, November 11, 2013

We can't return, we can only look behind from where we came

yesterday, a child came out to wander
caught a dragonfly inside a jar
fearful when the sky was full of thunder
and tearful at the falling of a star

I was running. Running hard, as fast as my little legs could carry me, to catch up. I was following my mother’s voice. 

Like many mothers of her generation, I imagine, she fell back on the music of her young adulthood during those late nights, rocking me to sleep. And even as I grew older, old enough to start to really remember things, some of them kept on. Other songs, I forgot. It took me many years, and many times of hearing it later on, before I realized that “All My Loving” by the Beatles was in her rocking chair rotation. 

But “The Circle Game,” by Joni Mitchell, was a perennial favorite. My earliest memories of it, I think, harken back to when I was just old enough to go on the quarter-mile walk down our street under my own power. On the way back, I’d start to grow tired, and she’d bribe me by telling me that if I made it to the big rock in front of a neighbor’s house, I could climb on her back and she’d carry me the rest of the way home. Up our long, winding driveway, which seemed insurmountable.

sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
cartwheels turn to car wheels through the town
and they tell him: take your time, it won’t be long now
before you drag your heels to slow the circle down

I don’t know why, but I always had trouble remembering that second verse, the one about when the boy’s ten and everyone tells him “when you’re older.” I suppose I was looking forward to cartwheels turning to car wheels through the town, even if that didn’t happen for me until well over the age of sixteen. 

My freedom came much later, and at great cost.

In recent weeks I’ve acutely felt the loss of my family, more than I ever have in the past. Meeting James was the catalyst that pulled me away from them, and caused me to cut off contact. Now, objectively, it needed to be done. They are poisonous people. But one still loves one’s parents, I suppose, no matter what.

Until now I’ve never felt deprived. I had James. I had his family. And while they’re flawed in their own way, of course, like every family, they try. They care for each other. The deep, abiding bitterness and hostility that I knew in my family of origin is foreign to them. But now, I face the possibility of losing everything. Him. Them. Everyone.

Because of James, I am geographically and emotionally separated from everyone with whom I grew up. In some cases that’s good. In others, a bit more ambivalent. But I’m feeling a kind of homesickness now that I never knew before, even when I felt sadness and longing for something a little more familiar. Now, I am feeling the kind of homesickness that comes with knowing your home is gone.

Not just distant, but gone.

I guess, in a way, that’s true of everyone. Once you’re not a child anymore, the concept of “home” that you once had can never exist again. But now I’m left feeling like I took a sledgehammer to something that…well, all right, it wasn’t GOOD, it wasn’t HEALTHY, but it was something. Turning to my parents in a time like this would be the worst thing I could possibly do. I know that. But not even having the option? It’s a terrifying thought.

Once again, like the affair, this is a situation I did not create - I could only react to it. Will I be able to react with the same surety, the same sense of rightness now? And what will happen years from now? 

What will I regret?

so the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
there’ll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
before the last revolving year is through

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The further

Some days, it feels like the heartache will eat me alive.

It’s been a difficult realization for me, and one I am still struggling with. I’m drinking too much these days, nothing dangerous, nothing horribly out of character, but I know the sadness is driving me to it. I’ve never been a problem drinker before and I wouldn’t classify myself that way now. But there’s no denying that it helps to smooth the rough edges. At the same time, it makes me cry harder. Earlier, after a drink or two, I found myself on the verge of grabbing him and holding onto him as tightly as I could.

But right now, I don’t think I can do that. We’re not officially “reconciling” until he commits to this 100%. The last time we talked about it, after my therapy session, he told me once more that while he still loves me, he loves her, too. His heart is split in half. If I can’t have all of him, he can’t have all of me, either. 

It’s horribly unfair that it has to be this way. I shouldn’t be trapped in a marriage with someone I can’t trust, who only half wants to be here, someone with whom I must separate emotionally so he understands that I’m not to be taken for granted. Where am I supposed to turn? He still has her. I have no one.

But that’s the way things are. 

We’re not reconciling, but we’re not separating, either. His mother’s visiting next week. After she’s gone, I’m going to consult with a lawyer and make sure that James knows that I’m doing it. I’m going to explain to him that I want to reconcile, and if we do, if he commits to it, I will put 100% of my effort into being the best wife I can possibly be, and meeting all his needs. But until then, I can’t. I have to focus on taking care of myself.

If nothing’s changed after the holidays, I will ask him to take steps towards independence. Getting a job, moving into the spare bedroom, whatever it takes to make him understand I am serious.

Whatever happens, I know I’ll never be able to forget what he’s capable of. And that’s the deepest cut of all. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Chasing pavements

I’m starting to learn to let go.

I’m letting go of the delusion that I can control what he feels.

I’m letting go of the delusion that I can control what he does.

I’m letting go of the assumption that there is, or should be, any logic involved in his decision-making (as I see it). 

I am preparing myself for every eventuality. I’m accepting that the future is unclear. That his choices are his to make, and I am similarly free to pursue my own happiness.


Last night, I shared the letter that I put in my last post. It went badly enough that I’m no longer sure of the future of our relationship. Based on conversations we’d had before, I thought we were on the road to recovery. I was starting to feel safe again, in a small way. But it might have been wishful thinking, or maybe I talked him into saying things he didn’t mean. Or maybe he meant them then, but doesn’t now. I don’t know.

At the moment I am following the advice in the book Not Just Friends, and not making any rash decisions so soon after finding out. But today, I feel much readier to leave - if necessary - than I did the day before. I’m feeling that strange of sense of relief that comes when the unthinkable happens. When your worst nightmare comes to pass, but you come out the other side and discover you’re still alive. Worse for the wear, certainly, but you survived. And if you can survive that, you can survive anything.