And Things Just Get Weirder
The past week has been one of the biggest emotional roller coasters of my life. So here is the rundown:
Monday: Jack and I went to couple’s therapy. It was awful. I vented, he retreated. There was nothing constructive about it. The therapist, who seems like a nice man, was oblivious to the fact that his approach was not working. He wanted us to “tend the garden” that is our marriage together. I hate gardening metaphors. Every plant I’ve ever cared for has had an untimely, sad death. My husband and I both left the office more angry than we were when we arrived.
There was more yelling in the car. He was angry that he didn’t get to say what he wanted to say because I could not stop talking. When we got home he asked me if my friends (i.e., the women in the neighborhood) knew about our situation. I told him, yes! Of course they do! That’s why people have friends. Friends support you and talk to you and let you act a little crazy from time to time. Jack was SO angry about that. I told him that if he had any friends he would understand. I was cruel.
I took the babysitter home, and then went into my office, where I was planning to sleep. Jack came into the room and asked if we could talk. I said yes, and that I wanted a divorce. He hurled more accusations at me… how could I be so selfish? How could I do this to him and his family? How could I do this to our kids? I told him that I did not see any other way because he was not willing to change and the status quo would kill me slowly. He left the room and went into our bedroom, adjacent to my office.
I laid awake all night, listening to him sob in the next room. I was shocked and horrified. Truly, I thought he wanted a divorce, too. I thought he was going to force me be the one to pull the trigger so that he could be the victim. The idea that he wanted to keep our family together ran completely counter to his behavior over the last several years. Never have I felt like such a shithead. I wanted to go to him and comfort him, but I also wanted him to feel pain. I have been in pain for years and he needed to understand that I was serious about ending our marriage.
Tuesday: He looked so awful when he woke up. He could not stop crying, and when I went to try to comfort him, he told me to get away from him and asked why I was torturing him. I tried to get him to call in sick to work, but he had a meeting and said he had to go. In the end, he broke down in his meeting and they sent him home. He could not keep it together.
While he was at work I drafted a letter detailing what I thought would be the best way to dissolve our marriage and what to do about kids, property, etc. I gave it to him to read and he took it outside and sat down. When he was finished reading the letter, he came back inside, said that all of my terms seemed fair, but he wanted to talk to me again. I told him that I am finished fighting, so if he wanted to argue, I would walk away. We sat down out of earshot of the kids to talk.
Jack asked me to stay, and asked me what it would take to convince me to stay. I told him that I could not promise to stay, but that if he would agree to a few things I would at least stay a bit longer while we worked on our marriage. First, I told him that he had to go to a psychiatrist immediately to deal with his depression and his anxiety. Second, I told him that from here on out, I will live my life as I see fit. No more guilt about doing things that make me happy, and no more goading me into getting a job that would make me miserable. Third, I told him that he can no longer “check out” when he was home and that the childcare and the housework had to be equitable. Along those lines, he has to give up on living in a sparkling clean house. I am not a neat freak, and I do not want to be pressured into becoming a neat freak.
Jack agreed to all my requests. I did not think that he would follow through on any of them, but he said he would. I did not have much hope for us, but at least I provided him with a path he could choose if he really wants to stay together.
Wednesday: Jack went to work, and I ran around all day with the kids. I had a writing class that evening, so I went out for the evening. I don’t think that I was intentionally testing Jack’s resolve, but I stayed at a friend’s house for several hours after the class and got home around five am. NOTHING was said, just good morning. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I went to bed, and did not wake up until 11 am. Jack cleaned up the kitchen, fed the kids and the dog, and did laundry while I slept. I was impressed but still very skeptical.
Later that day, Jack went for his first visit with a psychiatrist. They gave him Adderall, some sort of anti-depression medication, and Xanax to help him sleep. Ironically, that’s pretty much exactly what I take for my ADHD and anxiety. He loved the Adderall immediately; he wanted to talk about everything and anything and felt great.
Thursday: An actual good day! Jack worked at home, the kids were happy, I had my acting class in the evening (which has been a huge part of saving my sanity over the past months). Looking hopeful.
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday: All good days! Jack is taking his meds, and we haven’t talked so much in years.
Jack is gone for the week for work, and I am kind of glad, even though we’ve had a good past few days. I don’t know what to think. I do not want to be right back in this situation in six months. We’ve done this dance before, but this is the first time he’s committed to working on his issues. And his first time on meds.
I know in my heart that you have to be happy with yourself before you can be happy with someone else. No one can make you happy if you don’t do the work on yourself. Seems obvious, but this simple truth has eluded both of us for a long time.