June has had some emotional episodes, as both of us tried to internalize some of the realizations that we have made about our relationship. One of the things I had asked for when J told me about sleeping with someone else was that we go to marriage counseling, and so June opened with our first marriage counseling session. I was extremely apprehensive for the entire weekend before the appointment, although I don’t really know why – perhaps because when we tried this eighteen years ago, it was such a fiasco. Also, we seem to be doing really well, and I didn’t want anything to interfere with the progress. I was afraid that if J either freaked out or refused to talk, that we would definitely see backward motion. The appointment went really well, J opened up, and the counselor actually seemed amazed at how far along the path to recovery we actually are.
Then the next week opened with the news that Al and Tipper Gore were splitting up after 40 years of what had appeared to be ridiculously happy marriage. It seemed amicable enough, so it was not an issue, but of course the media couldn’t help but draw parallels and rehash the John Edwards affair. I made the mistake of reading articles about his affair, how his wife found out, the lies he told, her struggle with breast cancer, and the mistresses point of view – etc. etc etc….and it was just too much and I cried and cried, and J was obviously upset because I was so upset – he really didn’t see any parallel or understand why I continued to be upset.
This is also the month that I finally dealt with the fact that I needed to be tested for STDs to make sure that my health had not been affected by J’s loss of mind. The tests all came back clear, which was a great relief, but just having to explain the situation to my doctor was unbelievably hard and humiliating, since I have never done anything to warrant this type of experience. This doctor’s visit and the wait for results that followed caused a certain level of emotionalism as well.
I also had a another mini freakout when I realized that new activities had been added to OUR sex life that may have originated with that other experience. I tried really hard to put the idea aside, but squishing it just made it worse. I finally talked to him about it and he seemed genuinely confused….and I have managed to work through it, but it was hard. By the middle of the month, J was tired of talking “all of the time” about problems, issues, or even solutions, especially since I really was starting to question what I had done to be seen as the cause for his angst, resulting in his disconnection and his affair. He insisted that I had done nothing, that the cause was all of the chaos in his life that he had not been able to sort out. I had difficulty accepting this because I don’t understand why he would not have turned to me if I had not alienated him in some way.
I felt no anxiety about our second counseling appointment until the morning of the appointment, when J started in about how heavy his workload was and how much of a strain taking time out of his morning to go to counseling was. He kept up the dialog after we both got to work, and then had a mini fit after I picked him up in the wrong place, and then proceeded to rant about how crazy his morning had been and that it was a really bad time for him to be leaving – enough that I stopped the car and tried to make him get out. He was immediately hostile once we were in with the counselor, even when he was trying to be nice – for example, about him needing to have the ability to do more than just stick around the house or my worrying about his feelings. Both of us ended up upset and hostile; he was yelling and agitated, and I was crying and hysterical. I did call him a selfish son of a bitch and insist that I was not living with this constant emotional turmoil caused by his job(s). I also expressed my hurt that working through the issues we have – both from the affair and for the distance that seemed to have caused it, are at the top of my priority list, but don’t appear to be on J’s list at all. I didn’t leave him when he finally told me the truth, and so he is settling back in to his routine without really making any effort to figure out what happened or why I feel the way I do. The counselor encouraged us to try to say nice things to one another regularly, and for us to both come back. She also advised me to come back alone this week since I was in such distress.
Unlike other emotional episodes in this process, I didn’t feel any relief, but I did feel very calm and determined. I had lunch with my best friend and was distracted enough to calm down and go back to work, although I went home a little early. As I went to pull in the driveway, I just couldn’t do it, so I drove around for a little over an hour trying to figure out what I really wanted out of my life.
When I got home, I tried to explain what I was feeling, and we did make some reconnection. J agreed that he had not been thinking about problems in our relationship and their causes, nor had he been making any effort to analyze anything that was not prompted by me – a request, an article, or a fit. While he has been saying that he will support me in anything I need to do to find my balance, and that I can take as long as I need to take, in reality his behavior has indicated that if I don’t get it together fast, he may leave. His attitude really seemed to be that if I was still having trouble dealing with anything, that I hadn’t really forgiven him and there was no hope for us.
After the big fuss in the counselor’s office, he did go back and look over some of the articles that I have sent him, and ordered some books on Amazon so that he could read about what I was feeling in an attempt to be more empathetic. On Saturday morning, he got up before I did and seemed to have spent time genuinely thinking about our situation which gave us a chance to discuss things a little, and then the books arrived from Amazon. He started reading one, and fell apart a little – and promised to be more empathetic.
Sunday was hard because he was working on a report for work, but took out a short period of time to tell me how he was feeling. When he started reading one of the surviving an affair books, he had the crushing realization that he didn’t need a book to know how I was feeling, he knew because it had happened to him. He said that the first week after he had been to Dallas, he was flooded with the emotions that he felt when his first marriage blew up and also with horror that he was going to cause me to feel those same emotions. He then explained that when S had contacted him, everything else was washed away in a wave of fear that she was going to post something on Facebook or call me. He then went straight back to work, without allowing me time to respond, discuss, or even process.
I spent eight and a half hours at the “Ask A Librarian” desk trying unsuccessfully not to cry, wondering if I was ever going to be able to work through all of the confusion and achieve any kind of clarity. By the time I got home I was so emotional that I really had no intention of going to individual counseling because I could not see any point…I didn’t know what to say and couldn’t really see how anything the counselor could say that would help me in any way. J listened and affirmed that he loves me and understands why I am upset, and encouraged me to keep my appointment. By the next morning, I was much calmer, and had a reasonably productive meeting with the counselor, who insists that I need to stop trying to fix things for other people.