So – from “please move out” through a week of counseling, and a belief that we had turned a corner, to the book incident, followed by C’s surgery, followed by individual counseling for each of us at the end of the next week – three weeks. It was a horrendous three weeks is some ways, but I thought we were both reaching clarification about some of the lingering issues. One of the break through realizations for me was that our ups and downs had been more frequent and more severe since January, and I really thought that it was because of me – that because I had reached a breaking point last fall and asked for a divorce or at least a separation, I was now having trouble recommitting to the permanence of our relationship. The last several incidents, however, were so close together that I was able to see a pattern I had not recognized before – the blowups were not originating with me. Instead, whenever we were feeling especially close or if we had a disagreement, M’s reaction was completely over the top. We really talked about it and then discussed it individually with our therapist. Any discussion about the affair, any really positive interactions between us, or any hint of unhappiness were still putting M in a state of absolute panic – with the full fight or flight response. Since he had been dealing with those feelings of panic and guilt by avoidance for most of the last two years, and he had made a serious commitment in December to STOP avoiding, he was left with the fight response and so here we were.
The problem, of course, is that he is still in full fight or flight mode after more than 2 1/3 years. Why???? He seemed relieved to recognize the problem, had no answer about why, but we committed to working through it and discussed wearing our wedding rings again, especially since our 30th wedding anniversary was coming up at the end of the month. We had a week – just a week – of basically positive, forward progress, and then on the first Sunday morning in March, we started a followup discussion about …I don’t even know what, I really don’t, but it went downhill quickly. We both made a conscious effort to pull back and smooth it over, watched a movie, and went on with our day – which in my case meant doing my statistics homework. We were fine, everything was fine, and then in the middle of the afternoon, in the middle of Statistics, I realized that half of my brain was trying to find a way to convince my daughter that she would be fine without me – I actually was trying out dialogue in my head to find the right words to make the unthinkable seem reasonable. Somehow, the part of my brain not being used by my homework had come to the conclusion that I really couldn’t stand it anymore – emotional ups and downs without rhyme or reason, a failure to address or even recognize medical issues, a lack of progress at recapturing and moving forward with our lives. Love, anger, desire, grief, hope, fear, admiration, intimacy, sympathy, panic, joy, avoidance, sadness, amusement, shame, generosity, shock, delight – all rolling through in no discernible order. When I recognized the level of despair I felt, and when I realized what that despair was leading me to consider, I fell apart and cried off and on for several hours. M did his best to comfort me, including promising me that the roller coaster ride was over when I tried to explain what was wrong, but I really could not see a way to change anything. Recognizing how I felt scared me, but also relieved pressure that I must have been suppressing.