As I said earlier, I didn’t just stop posting in January, I stopped writing altogether. I would open a page and then just be unable to face actually organizing my thoughts enough to put them into words. I was just unable to face the confusion and renewed hurt. I have actually missed more work in the last two months over this mess than at anytime in the last two and a half years. I’m just tired. My therapist was insistent at my appointment last week that I start writing again, and I decided that if I was going to write, I might as well share it with a community that has some similar experiences. Please forgive the verbal vomit. If anyone has any insight, please jump in and pass it on to me.
After the disaster that was Sunday and Monday morning, I went to work at 8:00 and worked until 9:00 p.m., since it was my turn at the Ask-A-Librarian desk. I was busy all day with work and with statistics homework, which I didn’t finish until almost midnight, so J and I had no time to talk. I have discovered that a real downside for me in concentrating on statistics is that it must use a part of my brain that I usually ignore, because while I am concentrating on the math, the rest of my brain is in overdrive without my even being aware of it. By the time I finished my coursework, emailed it off to my professor, and took a few moments to relax before I went to bed, I realized that I wanted out. I wanted out of the confusion, I wanted out of the turmoil, I wanted out of not knowing what was going to happen next. I didn’t want a divorce, I wanted off the roller coaster – at least for long enough to catch my breath.
So far, I haven’t mentioned the elephant or 800 lb gorilla (or whatever your preferred metaphor is) in the room. Several months ago, our therapist talked to both of us about M having bipolar disorder. He did a little reading and rejected it immediately – quibbling about symptoms, avoiding discussions, and mostly rejecting the diagnosis because he rejected possible treatments. Since he agreed to lifestyle changes and committed to continuing therapy, I let it go and our therapist agreed to help him work on issues around the gorilla – negative thoughts, handling stress, dealing with issues openly. The lying related to the STD testing indicated that none of that was working.
The next morning, with coffee, I asked M for a separation – not permanently, but just to be able to catch my breath and recenter and for him to be able to figure out what he really wanted and to find a clear spot within himself where we could really work on our marriage. Guess what I forgot….it was Valentine’s Day. And because the big romantic gesture has never been his strong suit, M had decided to go all out…and instead I asked him to move out. VERY BAD TIMING!
I didn’t hear from him during the day, left work early and went home, still heard nothing about his plans for a place to stay, or whether he had picked up clothes and the other things he would need, but just decided that I really had no right to expect that, so I had pizza for dinner, watched a little TV, and felt fairly calm. And then I realized around 8:30 that I had not heard from my daughter, which was a little weird, because she usually calls on her way home from work. I searched for the phone and found it hidden in a chair with a dead battery, and discovered that my cell phone was dead too – so I plugged in everything so I would be reconnected with the outside world…and then J arrived home with a vase of Valentine’s flowers and candy. He had arranged for them to be delivered to my work, and when I didn’t call to say thank you, he had called the florist, they freaked out and delivered them to him, and he brought them to me. He had made no plans about where to stay, had not eaten, and so we agreed he could stay in the spare room until we figured out our next step.When I got to work the next morning, I found an identical vase of flowers waiting for me there.
Fast forward – counseling for us, counseling for him, counseling for us again on the next Saturday, reconnection, an agreement to put all thought of a separation on hold, positive discussions and progress, and voilà, he came up with a copy of his STD test results – which occurred on the same day that I went to see the doctor about the very bad infection. At that point, his production of the STD results muddied the water rather than clarifying it, since I could not understand why he had not just produced them sooner and saved a lot of drama and pain. I let it go because we seemed to be moving in a positive direction. That only lasted until Sunday then on Sunday afternoon I asked him to find the marriage counseling books he had purchased and that we had read and discussed WHILE HE WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE AFFAIR ON THE RECOMMENDATION OF HIS AFFAIR PARTNER. I honestly was not trying to start a fight, I have been trying to put together a bibliography of the books, articles, blogs, etc. that I have found most useful during this disaster, and while I find the idea that his mistress recommended books intended to help him heal his marriage at the same time that they were exchanging passionate emails and having phone sex to be beyond ironic (and incredibly nauseating), the books themselves were by reputable therapists and full of good advice that we had actually used, and so they needed to be on the list. Plus, he had hidden them after he confessed, and although I had asked him for them before, he had always stalled and evaded. As a part of his pledge to be open and honest, retrieving the books seemed like a fairly non-threatening way to begin. I did not expect what happened. He freaked out and it started to look like a replay of the Sunday before – yelling, hurtful words, accusations….It seemed like there must be something in the books that he didn’t want me to see…had she actually sent them? Did they have some sort of inscription? Before I reacted and the whole thing blew up, I was able to catch myself, stay calm enough to call a halt and redirect the discussion – to express curiosity at the reaction rather than anger or pain. It turns out that even thinking about the books created panic in him, and touching them brought back a flood of angst that he really couldn’t deal with. He retrieved the books he had collected during the affair, and I discovered that there were more than I had seen – five on marriage and several on religion and the Bible.
At his request, I removed them from the house and then didn’t know what to do with them. While I am usually not superstitious, the irony behind their purchase and use, and the amount of negative energy and angst connected to them, made me doubtful about just passing them on, but I also do not believe in destroying books, especially books that some one in similar circumstances might find useful. Two friends from work came up with a solution. One of them smudged them with sage smoke and the other sprinkled them with holy water that her priest had used to bless her new house. While I do not belong to either tradition that uses these rituals, just the support of my friends, and their laughter at my dilemma, did make me feel better – and free to pass the material on to my therapist who has a lending library of resources.
So, not such a disaster, but definitely an issue that we planned to follow up in counseling. Why the panic associated with the affair? It was over two and a half years ago – why is he having so much more difficulty with it than I am?
And then there was C….