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.