Thursday, July 10, 2008

middle ground

I think it was a sixty minute phone conversation. And it changed my life. Forever.

I asked all the questions I had wanted to ask for months. I repeated questions I had asked but never had answered. I got to say quite a few of the things that had been keeping me up at night. At the start of the talk, I was still foaming at the mouth, itching for a fight. By the end of it I was feeling something completely unexpected.

I came out with both barrels, convinced that I had been put through all of this because of another woman, positive that the whole "I'm not happy" bit was a deliberate cover-up of an already made decision. It's not even that the idea of someone else was a shocker. I've always considered that as the most likely scenario, since a man who loves his strokes is unlikely to walk away without a safety net. What pissed me off was the fear that I'd spent months jumping through hoops trying to save my marriage while he was doing the marital equivalent of dispassionately trading in an old battered car for a new shiny one. What pissed me off was the thought that he'd known all along why he was doing what he was doing but simply wouldn't, for whatever reason, "man up" to it. What pissed me off, basically, was the idea that I had been lied to. I called him on every last bit of it.

And for the first time in months, he started talking. For the first time in months, he was talking about what was really going on with us, what really had gone on with us. He wasn't hiding behind psycho babble, he wasn't playing the revisionist history game that had driven me half insane, he wasn't trying to score points off of me. For the first time in months I felt like I was hearing the truth. For the first time in months I felt like I was hearing the authentic voice of the man I've spent twenty three years of my life with. It took me a while to recognize it. It had been a while since I'd heard it.

As it turned out, it had been longer than I thought. What I heard was basically the story of a man who realized quite a while ago that he was no longer in love with his wife. A man who realized quite a while ago that the life he was in was not the life he wanted to be living. A man who was so scared of what he was feeling and thinking that he tried as hard as he could to bury it deep in his soul so no one would know. And there it festered, growing more and more toxic until one day it just burst, and had to be dealt with one way or another. There's a thin line between depression and anger. We had crossed that line this year.

He violently denied the other woman theory, and based on some of the things he said and the way he said them, I'm choosing to believe that. Now, this is not to say that he hasn't done some stupid things (like the one that triggered this whole other woman fury to start with), but I'm giving him a pass on this one. Maybe it's more for me than for him, I don't know. All I know is that at this time it feels like the right thing to do. The story he told me sounds more than plausible. It sounds like the truth.

So I guess I can cross Other Woman off of my original list. Could I be wrong? Sure. No question. For all I know he and his sweetie are curled up in bed reading this blog right now and chuckling at my gullibility. (Analyze that). But I don't think so. I think I can also remove Nervous Breakdown from the pack, although it was a real front runner there for a while. However, I reserve the right to move Whoop Ass Midlife Crisis to the top of the list. Hey, it's my list. I can arrange it however I want to. I'm sure he has lists of his own.

He didn't love me anymore, but he didn't want to hurt me. And in trying not to hurt me, he hurt me worse. In being afraid to tell me the truth, he ripped huge holes in my trust. I've lost my respect for him this year, but listening to him finally talk I felt a little trickle of it coming back. In theory it's easy to tell the truth. In reality it can sometimes suck. He may have been a whole bunch of months late, but he was finally stepping up to the plate. Sometimes you've gotta take what you can get.

At the end of the conversation I had something I hadn't had all year. Closure. Peace. Absolute and total calm. I was finally okay with this entire thing. I was better than okay, to tell the truth. Because I've done a whole lot of soul searching myself, and I've realized some things that haven't been easy to look at too closely. I've put myself under the microscope too, and not particularly liked what I've seen.

Twenty one years ago, a good, decent, lovable man and a good, decent, lovable woman stood at an altar and exchanged vows. And neither one of them had a clue that they were marrying the wrong person.


Anonymous said...

I am so glad that you had an honest conversation. The truth can be painful to hear, but the not knowing and making assumptions are worse. The truth does give you the closure you need to move on. It is a process, as you know, much like grieving, but it is movement in the right direction. Being stuck is so much worse.

Again, I am sorry that you have to go through this. Wish I had some great words of wisdom to make it easier, except lean on your friends and family right now. This includes your blogger friends. I'm here if you need anything. I mean it.

WT said...

You're taking it better than I would, he's still an asshole. So he didn't get the fairytale life he wanted, oh boo fucking hoo! Grow some ball and deal with it.

You know, I think I could be a marriage counsellor.

Carolyn said...

I'm happy for your closure and peace. I hope those feelings last for you.

(And once again, LOL at WT. I think I should always wait to comment after WT...)

the planet of janet said...

wow. i'm glad you can see things for what they are now.

that should help you. and i hope it sticks.

Amy said...

Ditto, WT.

That story has red flags all over it.

Of course, something was clearly making you squirm, too, or you wouldn't have moved so far from the beach and Abba Zabbas.

Maggie May said...

RC...... It still isn't easy to accept that theory, but at least you are not kept wondering. That in itself must bring peace. I am glad that it is more amiable now.
Things never have that fairy tale ending though and some times a compromise is better.

belle said...

Sounds like a really helpful conversation whether it's entirely truthful or not. I'm glad he finally talked. I'm sorry for the crap you've had to endure. I hope it marks a new chapter.

The Dotterel said...

Blokes might be notoriously reticent when it comes to talking (especially about feelings) but we're not all serial shaggers and adulters. I hope, for your sake, yours wasn't. As you say, you could be wrong, but what you've got sounds like a reasonable (and tragic) explanation. Why do we do these things to ourselves?

Frances said...

Life is complicated - middle-age sucks - Hope his honesty has helped you and that you can get real closure on this for the kids' sakes. Nothing worse than long-term bitterness and wrangling for their well-being. Glad you were able to speak so openly to each other.

softinthehead said...

Well so much for the "obvious" theory. Glad you had this conversation and it is helping you. Stay strong. Aren't you glad WT is in your corner?! :)

Rose said...

I'm so glad you got to have that conversation. I've been divorced for 6 years and haven't had it yet, which means I probably never will. But I know I worked hard to find peace with it all because if you don't, everyone loses, you most of all. I've had friends who divorced 10 years ago who were unable to move on and it's a shame. Be proud of your behavior.

Rudee said...

It isn't easy to be honest or to hear someone tell us the entire relationship was built on nothing. The truth is, nobody has a fairy tale marriage. Some, if lucky, find a friend they can grow old with and enjoy life's offerings. Perhaps he'll find what he thinks he needs, more likely, its been under his nose the whole time.

I don't know what it means to be in a midlife crisis. What is that? Is it a sudden realization that your life isn't what Hollywood says it should be? A crisis is an emergency, growing old is not an emergent event requiring immediate treatment.

LCM said...

I have to agree with the Hollywood comment. How many of us would 'realize' we were dissatisfied with our lives if Hollywood wasn't telling us we should be skinnier, have more things, have sex with more people more often. Most of the drugs they are pushing are toxic and it's tough when someone you love buys into that crap.

laurie said...

sometimes the simplest answer is the right one: he wasn't happy. tried to hide it. couldnt. time to move on.

i've done that, but not after 21 years. it usually only takes me a few months.

sorry it took him so long, but you have three wonderful sons out of it....and the house of your dreams. that, and peace & closure, ain't bad.

(though if doug ever tries to fuck me over, i'm dragging him to WT, Marriage Counselor.)

aims said...

Imagine marrying the wrong person and not knowing it for 21 years.

I can't.

For myself? I would probably 'grow to love' that person over all those years instead of doing the opposite.

Strange what a mid-life crisis will do to your brain.

Jettied said...

peopl change...sad part about it!! 20 or so years ago you were both different people!! Iam glad you feel better and i hope you always have ~WT~ in your corner and if I ever end up in this spot iam calling WT!!!!

Happy in the Abyss said...

I am glad that when the silence broke that you didn't. You have always had that tremendous ability to be calm even though you are in the eye of the storm. I hope that you can keep that peaceful feeling with you.


Akelamalu said...

At least when you know what it is you can deal with it.

Swearing Mother said...

That conversation was the thing that will hopefully enable you to have a fresh start.

It's a conversations lots of people should have but are too scared to, too comfortable or just in denial.

Better out than in!

Kaytabug said...

Um, I feel like an ass for my comment yesterday...sorry.

This was a beautiful post. It is very scary that this happens, and it happens quite a bit.

Hold onto the feelings girl. I really think you are a truly amazing person. A beautiful soul. Hugs to you!

Hey It's Di said...

You should write a book seriously. I find myself glued to your posts!

Nearlydawn said...

Hmm, looks like no mob is needed.

I'm proud of you. For listening when he was ready to talk. Some people would have written him off with only the assumptions to back up their position. That would have left you bitter and mean when you had to deal with him.

I am so glad for you, and your kids, that you were able to talk it out.

Peace. A wonderful thing.