Ramble, aka Letter To My Husband
Timing. An interesting concept. I recall being a dancer and waiting in the wings for my musical queue. How my heart would pound, hands would sweat but as soon as I made the first step on stage, it went away. It seemed to only be the nervous anticipation of the start. Even if I slipped, or missed a beat, recovery was easy. The jitters went away once the lights were in my eyes.
At the end of this month, October, will make two years of being separated. It would be a bold-faced lie to say it doesn’t pain me, everyday, out of fear of what it is and could do to the boys. But, countering that is our happiness. Each other’s happiness.
For the last year or so, there has been a distinct timeline in my life. Around December is when I realized the forward motion is the only way to go to cultivate happiness. I recalled how so many times, so so many times, how easy it could be for us to overcome the bullshit and be kind to each other and look in each others eyes and see and understand and care. Yet, all this time and all these opportunities of me reaching, your hand wasn’t there to grab.
I took steps. Small ones at first but doing all I could to not go back into the wings. I told you that I was exhausted making all the attempts and that I needed you to make an effort. A phone call to meet during lunch, before work—something, but I wasn’t going to keep chasing. It didn’t happen without my prodding. Nothing ever seemed to happen which made me feel you didn’t want to work for us.
Christmas 2011 and conversations and arguments that happened over the period of weeks confirmed my suspicions that you weren’t going to take the initiative. So, my next move was to tell you that I would be looking for a job—since the one I had for the past year wouldn’t cover my living expenses as we file for divorce. I said the “D”-word. You replied, “I told you so” meaning you knew that job couldn’t pay me enough to live on. Your emotions seemed to always be financial. I took the job to help so you wouldn’t have to pay my expenses as we figured things out, living separately. I knew I couldn’t completely make it on my own on that wage but when I took the job the “D”-word wasn’t on the table. In fact, if we were to stay married, I would have kept that job. It was fun and for what it was, paid well.
I told my boss in January that I would be looking for a better paying job. He was crushed. I cried. I knew I meant so much to the business and I loved it. But, I had to support myself and the boys. How? In this economy, small town, without a degree and over 40 years old—odds were stacked against me.
February: I met with a paralegal friend to draft the paperwork for the divorce. Second step I made: still waiting for you to say “what the fuck?! We can work this out!” Nothing.
March and April were months that I started reevaluating myself and my health. I started running again (especially due to the gorgeous weather). My mind became clearer and stronger. I was standing up tall. Still, looking back to see if you were following/joining me. You weren’t there.
End of April/May: I filed for divorce. It was surreal. Luckily, I was distracted by a job advertisement which sounded too good to be true. I applied. After only sending five resumes and two interviews, here it was! Back in the legal field, three-minute walk from home and good pay with benefits. I felt like one hundred dollars (for you Jonathan Safran Foer readers). I accepted the offer of employment in May, to start in mid-June. Doors are opening. Big doors.
May: We had that friendly conversation about “dating in a small town”. Please, let us give each other enough respect to let the other know before hand if you’re going on a date. Even if it’s just a quick text, painful or not, just so we don’t have to hear it from another source. Although we laughed about it, it was important to me. Especially after all the history.
June: I wrapped things up at my beloved job, grabbed the boys for a wild-right-out-from-school-for-the-summer-before-I-start-my-new-job road trip. San Francisco Giants’ game, Santa Barbara, Carpenteria, Disneyland and back home only to start my new job the next day! But, what happened? While we were gone, you went on a date. Did I care that you went on a date? No, actually I was hoping you would so we could finally start moving out of the purgatory we’ve been in for the past years. But, could you give me the respect of letting me know? Apparently not. Even when I specifically asked you—true to form—denial. I had to literally spell it out: Did you plan to drive almost 2 hours to see her? (yes) Did you pay for her meal? (yes) That’s a DATE. You enjoyed each other’s company—that’s a DATE. You can’t respect me enough to just say: I went on a date (I would have preferred: I’m going on a date—but whatever). I can’t believe in you.
July: For weeks my job goes along just fine. Great, actually. I scraped up enough money and traded in my falling-apart car for a newer one. All by myself. Still, you weren’t there other to throw in some criticism of how to buy/what to buy (which, yes, I understand are comments out of concern but remember I’m desperate to have kindness).
I’m running more. Spending a lot of time with friends (with and without the boys). And then, I get the longing to have conversation and the attention of a man. So, a friend I started getting to know a bit asked to take me out to celebrate my new job. We set a date. I was nervous to tell you but I had almost a week to do so. But, as it turned out, we ended up going out days earlier for a drink. I called or texted to tell you so. I don’t recall you saying anything that would make me think that it bothered you so I felt alright on that level. Terrified to be seen with anyone, especially since I didn’t really know him. Anyway, as we both know, that really didn’t work out but it sure was nice to have someone’s attention and conversation. Really nice.
Weeks later, after many conversations with close friends, I decided to try the on-line thing. (Yep, I said it.) I had big concerns of privacy for the boys and me. I live IN town in a very small town. I have a job in a high-profile office. I’ve lived here for 21 years. I posted a few photos with my face pixelated. After the first 8-10 hours, I was ready to take it down. It was so stressful with all the emails and pop-up messages. I saw men I knew or knew of and I crossed my fingers that they wouldn’t recognize me. One did (the one I went on a date with earlier—which was funny. He sent me a message “I won’t tell if you won’t! He actually gave me a little advice here and there). But, I recognized one man from around town. I was shocked that he would be on such a site. The first night, I went to bed excited and nervous (mostly nervous about “getting caught” by someone who knew me). I woke to find the one guy “winked” at me. I decided to give it some time and not be so anxious and gave it until the next evening before I winked back. He emailed me—something about “Hi Neighbor” and so it went from there. He was heading out of town so we couldn’t meet/have a date for at least a week. Well, that week, we texted and talked on the phone. It was so fun. Our date was two days after he came back to town. Seeing each other in person was really nice. Our date: I went into town with friends and met up with others while he was an emcee at an event. We met at the after party with lots of each others’ friends. However, he made me the center of his attention. We danced, we talked, we drank, he introduced me with no hesitation as his date—someone special. He held my hand.
As you know, I must back up a bit. My date with him was on a Saturday. The Monday before, you found out that I “advertised” myself on an on-line site (I took it down). You called me and we talked for hours that night and other nights that week. Calls from 1 am - 3 am when I wake up at 5:45 a.m. to run/get ready for work. You were distraught, you were angry, you went through phases of loss/death in a manner of days. I tried to keep up with the flooding of the tsunami. I knew your pain and I didn’t want you to go through it alone like I had, so many times. Yet, I was the cause of the pain and after all that had gone on, I couldn’t stop my moves forward in life when you are seemingly finding emotion. Jealously. That’s what fueled your realization that you love me and that you don’t want this to happen. You told me how this guy is better looking than you, cooler so the boys will think he’s great … all kinds of crazy things when I hadn’t even seen him in person since we started this text/phone relationship. You practically had us engaged the way your mind was working. (By the way, the other guy/date didn’t bother you since you said he was a “tool” and therefore, no threat.) Still, I saw/felt your pain and stuck with you as much as I could. Even sacrificing my ability to think clearly at work so I could talk with you into the early morning hours.
You started going through more stages. Some were very beautiful: making amends with your sister, mother, brothers, my parents and most importantly—your daughter. I had to draw the line and not be sucked into the moment. I had cleared all possibilities of this and told myself it would be understood and forgiven to find someone to spend time with; that I have room in my life and my heart to share. There were parts of me that wanted to believe and some that just wanted to flush the sound of crap. It was all kinds of confusing.
During this highly emotional time, I was being a mom, working, “breaking” things off with the one guy and training for a triathlon, among other things. There were times that I just wanted you to “go away” and you prodded and poked and sounded pathetic with your “why” and reading into every little thing I said. I couldn’t stand it. My head was exploding and I just wanted to be. Be: in the world that I made without your help. My proud standing on my own feet. Finally finding Home. Somehow, I had to act normal towards the boys and at work. I was so thankful I had to train. Every weekend, boys or no boys, I went to the lake to swim, read, sleep—where the cell phone service usually didn’t work.
Three days after the Triathlon, I had, for lack of a better term, a breakdown. I called on you and my best friend. You were both there for me. I didn’t make any sense that day. It was like an out-of-body experience. You tried to soothe me. You tried to make appointments for me to see someone. I just wanted to be left alone and have someone there at the same time. It took me days to realize that it was the collision of all these things that sent me into outer space that day.
I learned shortly after that I had to draw a clearer line of our relationship. I did everything I could to help you through your emotions of your epiphany that started with jealousy and turned into this great need to fix relationships with family and hopefully me. It was all very confusing and as much as I wanted to believe you as my friend, I couldn’t believe you as my husband. The time that has followed has been ups and downs. Nice conversations and shouting matches. Compliments and mud slinging. I don’t want and will not tolerate the negative any longer. I choose not to sink back. I want kindness, respect, happiness. I get that from myself and the boys. I can’t say “maybe someday” as that gives grey area. We have to be black and white. Unfortunately, that means to go forward with the black and white of the divorce and not try to “fix” things on the basis of jealousy, anger and hurt.
I’ve finally had the time and opportunity to think, specifically on my trip with the boys (my birthday weekend) down to Santa Barbara/Carpenteria. In fact, it was a hint in favor of saving our marriage. Being on the beach and experiencing what I experience with them on all the road trips and things I do with them—I’ve always only wanted you to be a family with us and do these things. You never did. Other than the 4+/- trips to Disneyland, we hardly did a thing together as a family, let alone a married couple. Again, it was always wrought with criticisms. When I was driving home this time, I allowed myself to think about how to bring it back around. But, sadly, being back in town smeared those thoughts. More ups and downs kept it down.
And so, timing, like partnering in dance, has to be just right—it makes or breaks us. I will go back to what I’ve said months ago: we are great parents to the greatest boys and have always been great friends. For that part, the timing was right. I’ve been letting the light shine on me and holding my head up, the stage fright has dissipated, my music has started.