I think of all the what ifs that I’ve had in my life. What if I had of gone home with the guy from the bar one night when I was still a teenager? What if I had of let him take me to his place and spend the night doing lord knows what to me? My life would be very different today, I think. I’m starting to feel like I should have done more before I settled down in a relationship with my husband. I want things that I didn’t want before. Sometimes I think I want freedom and then others I can’t bear to imagine my life without him. I’ve loved him for so long that I don’t know how to say goodbye and walk away from that part of my life. What if I did walk away? I’m afraid he’ll forget that he’s a father and he’ll lose his kids. They love him I know, but they know what I’ve done for him and our family and they are appalled at the way he’s treated me. I believe I was a good wife and mother. I did everything I could to keep us together. My love was not enough. I feel like I failed, and I hate failing. I know I can’t look back on our life or go back to before I knew about his affairs. Sometimes I wish I had of ignored his phone the night it lit up late at night. That turns into a whole string of what ifs. My head is constantly reeling even two years later. I don’t understand, can’t comprehend and there are no answers that I can find to help me. Do we spend time apart and see if that’s what works for us? I don’t know. He’s left me with all the hard questions to answer. The kids look to me for guidance and I’m not sure I’m the best person to help them. I have been very careful with my words and showing my feelings around my kids but my heart aches for them. He’s screwing it up and blaming his stupid mistakes on me. That they must be reacting to him the way that they are because of something I have said or done. I told him he needed to talk to them before he moved out, and tell them his plans but he didn’t, he just left. Packed his stuff and left. Then he expected that they would contact him, and is upset that they don’t. They feel he moved out without telling them so it’s all on him if he wants a relationship with them. I think I led them down the path towards forgiveness when I stayed with him and he’s fucking it up when he pulls stupid shit like moving out without a conversation with them. They don’t think he respects them or their feelings. They love me, I feel their love. My pain is their pain, and I know it shouldn’t be but their whole lives I’ve been their whole world. He worked and worked, missing out on so much of our lives to make more money. I don’t know why he figured making more money would make him happier. He was always chasing a bigger yearly income. He often asked me what did I gross last year, and honestly I had no idea. He was happy when we were first together, he enjoyed his job and the people he worked with. Most of them are still friends today. I wonder how he’s going to feel when he has to tell them we aren’t together anymore. We’ve been so good at faking it for the last two years our friends and family will scratch their heads. Many of them will cut him from their lives, because him hurting me will hurt them deeply. They welcomed him 25 years ago into their lives and now he’s left.
Ann has become the person I trust the most. She’s the only person I trust. She doesn’t offer her opinion on how I’m choosing to deal with this mess that is my life. She listens, she watches my body language and she asks me to explain what I’m feeling when she notices my foot and crossed leg start to move as I’m talking about recent events. Sometimes I wish I could ask her for a hug but I’m not sure if that is part of her job description and it probably crosses a line between patients and therapists.
A lot has happened since the first time Dave and I sat on her couch. Now it’s just me. Last week was the first time in months since I had seen her and I felt so much relief when she opened the door to her beautiful new home and welcomed me into it. It feels like a home. It is a place where I feel safe. I know that I can laugh or cry, be angry or whatever I need for that hour. She listens, observes and then asks if she can make a suggestion or can we try something. I’m here, I will do anything at all if it will make me feel even the tiniest bit better.
Ann knows my biggest secret. She knows that Dave and I have separated. In January this year he dropped out on me like a few times before and I knew he was with his girlfriend. He denied it and said he just needed space on his own. I told him it was time to try therapy, I felt we needed some sort of intervention to help us sort out if we should stay together or be apart. During our sessions he was there but I could tell he wasn’t really there. I was pretty sure that he didn’t end his relationship with his online girlfriend like he promised he had. When it comes to reading Dave, I’m really good at it. The only problem is as a cheater he is also a very good liar who makes me second guess my instincts. I should never doubt myself, because every time I’ve had a feeling of disconnect, my feelings have been correct.
In July, he disconnected. I asked him what was going on, he said nothing was wrong and carried on. The problem is I knew something was going on because my anxiety was back and so were the sleepless nights. In July his online girlfriend moved to the city, our city, where we live. Only instead of telling me the truth he let me feel crazy, again.
Ann calls it “Crazy Making” and it does make a person feel a little crazy when someone acts like they love you and want to be with you but then they do things to push you away. I can deal with a girlfriend but I cannot deal with lies and deceit. Tell me the truth, leave me and be with your girlfriend but don’t try and hang on to me while you are out enjoying your freedom.
A few days before Thanksgiving I find out through Facebook that she has moved from Georgia and now lives here. My whole body is vibrating, I want the truth, all of it and now. By the time Dave arrives at the house to talk, I suggest we need to go out because I’m not sure he wants to have this conversation where our boys can hear us. I’m almost certain I will not be able to keep my voice down or hide the shame I feel for trusting him and letting him do this to us again. He promised it was over, never to happen again. Lies. All lies. Being blindsided sucks.
Ann wants to know what I want out of my sessions with her, what do I expect? I tell her, I’m not sure. I don’t know if I just need a safe place to vent, and have someone listen to this insanity or if I need her to actually fix whatever is broke in me that keeps allowing him back into my life, so that he can bulldoze it again, when I start to feel like I’ve built a little bit of security again. I tell her I wish someone could just tell me what to do, tell me if what I do is right or wrong or build me a flow chart to guide me. Yes, go in this direction. No, go in that direction. She laughs a little and says “Yeah, wouldn’t that be nice”
Life is all about choices. I need help to make choices now because I thought I was making all the right ones but I still ended up in this spot where my husband had an affair. I have to retrain my brain, though because the poor choices were his not mine, but somehow I’m left wondering where I went wrong? I felt like I was a good wife, and mother so why did he make it all feel like everything I did meant nothing. I have to quit giving him so much control over my happiness. I should be very happy with the type of mother and wife I am. I am very proud when people compliment me on how wonderful my kids are, and I like to think that all that credit falls to me for being a stay at home mom their whole lives. I have to give credit to Dave too though because he worked so hard so that we could make that happen. It was very important that our kids were safe and being raised by us. I love him for that.
The problem is that we’ve been a team for so long that I don’t know how we will make out being apart for good. We’ve been separated for two months now and it’s very hard. I want to cut him out of my life completely and he won’t let it happen. I’m willing to talk about the kids and come up with a schedule for our youngest son to see him but right now I just want space until he can do what he says he wants to do. He says he wants to make things right and come home to his family. What does he have to do to make that happen? I tell him what he would need to do and he “says” he would be okay with it but when it comes right down to it will he be?
I can’t worry about what he needs right now. I need to worry about what I need and how I can get my feeling of strength and independence back. I don’t need him. I love him and I know that I will never have this kind of relationship with anyone else, I don’t even want to.
Eventually, I will move on. I have set a boundary and a deadline of how long I am prepared to wait after that, I begin removing him from my life for good. He will go into the mental box that I have, the one that I keep people in who’ve hurt me. They don’t get out of the box, they get put there because there is no room left for them in my life. It might be a sad way to live but it is a method of protection for me.
Ann knows I had things happen to me as a child and I wonder if they’ve contributed to how I perceive things now. She wanted me to think how far back I could remember the feeling of anxiety. I tell her I think it might go back as far as grade one and having to carpool with this teacher who was mean to me. Seriously? What kind of teacher or person even is unkind to a six year old? I remember trying so hard to not be scared or crying when she finally came to pick me up, so that she wouldn’t call me a baby in front of the other girl who we carpooled with. I hated every minute I had to be in that car. To this day, I even remember how it smelled.
Ann wants to know about that six year old me and I don’t like to talk about her and the experiences she had. I feel scared when I think about the things that happened. Even at six I knew they were wrong, but had no power to control them. I wonder if that teacher ever thinks about that time and those mean things she said and did to me. It makes me wish I could go back and make that little girl feel safe and protect her from that woman.
Most of this was in a very short hour this afternoon with Ann. She makes me feel stronger. I think she knows that deep down, I have the answers to all of these doubts that I have. I just need to find the courage to say what I need, out loud.