I saw my therapist this morning and told her all I wanted was to be on the same page – admitting we weren’t in love anymore, both working toward separating, and civil. So, when he came into the bedroom where I was surfing the net and said, “I need to get this off my chest. This isn’t working and I think you feel the same way. I’m uncomfortable and I think you are too. We need to figure out how to separate…” my wish was granted. I marveled at the swiftness of the response of the universe.
For now, I’m counting the Sound of Music audition as the “official” beginning of the end, although it could have been our 15th wedding anniversary when we fought so irreparably we couldn’t honor our dinner reservation. Sure, for years now we each threatened to call it quits, but this was different. I went out and auditioned for a play for the first time — ever — in our marriage. I used to do theater a lot. Why couldn’t I do it now? My kids weren’t in diapers. I didn’t routinely bring work home. I wasn’t even the nightly cook in our house. But I’ll tell you: I couldn’t do it because I didn’t have anyone’s permission; not my daughter’s, who auditioned, too, and didn’t get cast, and not my husband’s. You may think that sounds absurd (I do) but you have to try to get into the thinking that’d been going on. We had agreed for roughly 15 years that he was the king. The buck stopped with him. If any permission was to be granted in the family, it was his. Reasons for that were various: I modeled what I saw growing up, I figured his way of doing things had to be better than mine, and…(fill in your own delusion here).
I was encouraged to be seen (preferably accommodating someone or facilitating something), and not heard. No sharing of worries, or burdens, or ideas, or thinking outside the box, were welcome. My ideas were naïve. My friends were “crazy.” My methods of accomplishing everything from grocery shopping to getting a hysterectomy were inferior to…well…everyone. Praise for family members was tolerated, if uttered at a convenient time. If not, those could just as well be kept to myself, no biggie.
It’s like I was in that groggy, after-nap state, watching myself reduced to only being able to take direction, when I finally said, “Just what the hell’s been going on around here?” All that’s left of my life is to chisel the year I stop breathing on my gravestone. How did things get so out of control? I’m a highly educated, middle-aged wife of a lawyer and mother to two kids. But, I’ve found out from my therapist that, apparently, I’m in good company. What’s wrong with me and those like me? I can imagine seeing and solving this problem so clearly in other people’s lives.
And what do we tell people? Everyone loves him…he’s a great guy! People like me too. We’re hard-working, good parents, giving, community-oriented people with the above-average children of Lake Wobegon. What do we tell the kids? Dad’s a bad guy? Mom’s crazy? I haven’t figured that one out yet. The only thing I can come up with is that we absolutely bring out the worst in each other.
Present day: I finally feel like I’ve escaped the cult after two months or so. That’s not hyperbole. I promise now to try to find myself and then love all over her. She’s been through so much…