Day 10: Saturation point
(This post is part of ongoing series which I am writing daily, as my new, uncertain life as a jilted wife unfolds. There may be typos, etc. Please excuse the lack of proper editing.)
I remember mixing powders and liquids in my chemistry lab in college. We slowly added the powder, stirred continuously, and it would dissolve into the liquid until it reached its saturation point.
I had a rough night. I went to bed after 9, I think, and he wasn’t home yet. I managed to fall asleep but I was woken a little after 11 by violent heart pounding. My heart has done this a lot lately, but it’s never woken me up. It wasn’t like a nightmare, where you wake up scared and the pounding resides in a minute. And it wasn’t a panic attack (which I’ve had), although I’m sure it’s stress-related. This was incessant pounding and it wouldn’t stop. So I got up and snuck downstairs because I wasn’t sure if he was in the guest room or not and I didn’t want to wake him. I walked from room to room with my hand over my heart, as if that might soothe it, and put my head down on my arms on the cool kitchen counter. I wanted to know if he was home. It felt like he wasn’t — neither his keys or backpack were in the usual places.
So I came back to my room (our room?) and eventually the pounding slowed and I managed to get back to sleep until about 2:30. I still hadn’t heard him come home. Did he stay at friend’s house from work? Male or female? Might he have gone to a bar? To a music show? Was he in a dive bar bathroom with some drunk chick? It’s nothing I’d ever would have considered from him before, but…
I got up again. Went downstairs. Didn’t see his things. In our house, there is no window looking out on the driveway so I couldn’t see if his car was there. I went out to the garage, opened the side door, opened the gate and where I expected empty space was his car.
I made a cup of herbal tea. Sat, drank. Went back to sleep.
I dreamed about him, a good dream, a dream where we found an intense reconnection. I only recall pieces, but I was somewhere with people and I was with a new man, but the spouse was there too, somewhere. As I was interacting with this other man, the way you do with someone you’ve been dating for a while, I found him irritating and at some point I turned to someone and told them, “I liked the first one better.” And then the spouse appeared and he was happy to see me. I showed him my online journal. And then we sort of ripped into each other and had sex. I don’t know how it ended but I have a brief recollection of feeling very close to him, intimate, like we once were, maybe even better.
So, waking up kind of totally sucked. (Literally, a rude awakening.)
It occurs to me that for years when I’ve had sex dreams, they’ve all been about him. So even while we’ve not been having sex, I very much wanted to be.
There are so many things I want to say to him and I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to say them all. I have to be in the right mental space. I have to be able to remember everything. He has to be willing to listen. And he has to be able to say what he needs to say, too.
I know that in the past days when he says he’s trying to give me space, what he means is that he needs space. This is torturous for me, having this limited amount of time each day when we’re both in the house behind our own closed doors. I don’t know which is worse — him being so close and also so far, or being alone waiting for this sliver of him to be nearby again.
So I’m trying, as has become normal, not to burden him with my concerns/needs/feelings because right now, I think it will push him away. I’m trying so hard when I interact with him to keep a neutral expression, to hide my emotions, to be pleasant and respectful, neither upbeat nor downbeat, but sometimes, even if through sheer will I’m able to prevent tears from forming, my facial muscles betray me. I find myself uncontrollably frowning.
I know that I keep people at arm’s length. Although I have a deep need for meaningful friendships, I’m averse to allowing people into my life. And I’m not very good at maintaining the few friendships I’ve managed to make. Part of it is the work that people require and part of it is the fear of rejection or disagreement. And new people… Ugh. It takes so long to get comfortable with new people, to trust them. I’m really self-conscious and it is exhausting. My social autopilot requires constant monitoring. I am naturally an introvert so people drain me anyway.
But the one person in the world who I’ve not held at arm’s length, who I’ve been my whole self with, is my spouse. I’ve held on to him for dear life, frankly. I’ve built my whole life around him and mostly excluded others. So now, when I sign up for a gym membership and I need an emergency contact, he’s the only person within 600 miles that I have to put down.
I know it it can never go back to the way it was, nor should it.
I refuse to apologize for my feelings. I can try to stuff them for appearances sake, but if they surface despite my best effort, I will not apologize.
As destroyed as I am — in the lowest, most painful place of my life — I wonder if I’m in a healthier place than him.
…Am I repeating myself yet? I’m writing so much down that I can’t remember what I’ve thought versus what I’ve written.
I must be really twisted because sometimes in the midst of these brief, meaningless (but huge) conversations in which we say very little to each other verbally — with I-don’t-know-what going on in the space behind and between our eyes — I find myself having strong sexual urges towards him. Intense, like when we first dated. Maybe it’s all this honesty and communication (well the 2 conversations, anyway). There’s been more openness and vulnerability between us in the past week than there has been in years.
Still, considering the circumstances… And for someone who has struggled with low libido for many years, this is really fucking odd. And confusing. And probably really sad.
Maybe I should turn this into a comic book. That’s probably the only way he would ever read it.
I made myself go to a yoga class this morning. When the super confident, adorable instructor introduced herself, I smiled and shook her hand and introduced myself, like a normal person. Afterwards, I went into the pool and sort of swam and then sat in the sauna.
My second goal for today is to get the cover letter I’ve been working on submitted.
I’m also searching for a therapist for individual counseling for myself. I had intended to go to the marriage counselor we saw this week alone next week, but I’m thinking I’d like to save her for marriage counseling in case we end up following through on that. I just don’t think it’s a good idea to see her on my own in case the spouse decides he wants to join again. But I don’t want to cancel the appointment in case he’s decided, in the past few days, that he does want to go.
I go to grab a sweatshirt off the back of the bedroom door where we hang them and I can’t help myself. I sniff his sweatshirt, looking for his scent. If I can’t feel him hold me, this seems like the closest I can get. I don’t find it, so I go into the guest room and smell the sheets.
I don’t know what my problem is. I’m pretty sure horny is not one of the five stages of grief. Although “horny” does not quite do the sensation justice; it’s a tingly, pulsing, soul-stirring, ravenous hunger to feel him inside me, feel his breath in my face, his skin, his eyes seeing me like they used to.
We’ve agreed to talk tonight. We’d planned to wait for the weekend, but I needed to know what to do about the couple’s counseling appointment on Monday and I need to know in time to cancel tomorrow.
Before he comes home, I go for a walk. I shower, shave my legs, put on lotion and pull a pair of slinky undies from a hiding place in the back corner of the underwear drawer behind all the everyday cotton underwear. I want to be ready in case he’s having the same urges I am.
So we eat a sad dinner of warmed-up, leftover sausage and plain tomato salad while watching a crappy crime drama, I turn the TV off and take a deep breath.
I start by saying we both have mental health issues we need to deal with and he agrees and says he’s working on seeing someone. We agree on this. We both need to work on ourselves. I tell him that I think couples counseling would be beneficial, even if we go into it without a specific end goal in mind, but I also recognize he may not be in a place to do that. He agrees — he’s not willing to do the couples counseling (right now?).
He tells me again, that though he knows it’s hard for me to hear, he just thinks he’d be happier on his own.
He’s right- this is really hard to hear. I am convinced that he feels this way only because he’s clinically depressed.
He says he feels like a failure, like he failed me, failed his family.
We talk for a while, about how we got here. We are dealing with so much at once — his work life has been atrocious, mine has been non-existent, we’re having mid-life existential crises, we both have depression, I have social anxiety and on top of all that, we’ve been disconnected and haven’t truly communicated for a long time. On top of that, we have no social life, no family here for support or general familial activities.
I tell him that I know I leaned on him for too long, that I tried to get all my needs met by him. I told him how I feel like I’ve become like our needy, pest-y cat and he agreed. That was hard to hear.
I remind him how when we met, I had my own house, I’d installed my own sprinkler system, I was standing tall on my own two feet and he tells me I‘m not that person anymore. When he says this, he looks at me intensely, like a punctuation point.
In a way, it’s true. But if I’ve slipped from there to a needier place, if I’ve let my weaknesses and fears construct the life I’ve been living, he enabled it.
So if I’ve given him my whole self — all the sides — the best and worst, and my faults are the thing that has causes him to reject me, it makes me wonder if he ever loved me. In sickness and health… For better or worse… These vows meant something to me. Were they just words to him? The task at hand for the moment?
He always, always takes the easy route. Whatever way the wind blows. His whole life is a result of whatever direction current influences happen to be pointing. (Whatever whore sends a drunken Facebook message needing her ego stroked when he’s at a low point.) I knew this about him and I loved him anyway. I tried never to take advantage of this — his faults.
He always takes the lesser portion. He chooses it and then what? Adds a tick mark to the resentment column? The entire time we’ve been married, he’s asked my permission for things. We’d go to the grocery store and he’d ask me if he could get beer. The money from his job is paying for the groceries and he’s asking my permission for beer. Drives me crazy. I hated this about him. This meekness. The martyrdom… The one thing I’ve said probably a thousand times to him is that he didn’t need to ask for my permission.
I saw his weaknesses and loved him despite of them. He saw mine and stopped loving me because of them. That hurts. It’s as if our dynamic changed at some point. I think it started a couple years back when he went through yoga teacher training (which I encouraged and supported) and for the first time in his life, he did something significant that was his own and a bit off the beaten path of what was expected. His physique changed and he looked even better than he did when I met him. His ass changed from flat and flabby to firm.
He took moved up the totem pole at the same time that I moved down. I admired him more and he admired me less. I wonder if in this diminished version of me he recognized something he hates in himself.
He tells me he feels like he’s lost himself.
We both cry at times.
I tell him about my sensations, how there are moments I want him so much, even though I know it won’t change anything. He’s not amenable.
I need so much to be held. I need a hug. I ask him, “so, are hugs off limits?”
He replies that he doesn’t want to give me the wrong idea.
This is looking bleak. I had hoped that he would tell me something positive tonight, give me some shred of maybe to hold on to. I’d really thought that when I brought up the couple’s counseling he would warm and agree to come.
Something substantial has switched in him and it terrifies me. That part of him that used to come around after a disagreement and soften — it’s not there. His warmth, his sweetness, I don’t understand where they went.
I tell him I don’t understand — we were still spooning almost every morning right up to the point of this happening. He spooned me like he meant it, like he loved me. Where did that come from?
He says he knows we did, but he doesn’t explain.
I tell him I thought about moving out for a while, to a furnished sublet. He says he has also, but there are very few. I tell him I’ve read conflicting things about whether this is beneficial. After thinking about it, I feel like it’s not a good idea because it seems like it would be a step towards a final decision.
At some point, he tells me he doesn’t hate me. He doesn’t hate me? I never thought he did. This statement kind of sounds like he does hate me. I don’t ask the question that comes to mind because I can’t bear the answer: Does that mean you don’t love me anymore?
He tells me that when I left last week and he didn’t know where I was he worried about me. He wants me to be safe. This is his way of saying that he cares but he carefully avoids the word, love.
I think he could maybe really be done. I refuse to believe this. I am not able to believe that this is definitely over. I need a shred of hope to hold onto in order to survive right now.
I have to believe that if I work on myself and he works on himself, that in time, we can look at working on our marriage.
“This is hard enough,” he says. “I don’t want to fight, I don’t want things to get ugly.” We agree that we will keep talking.
I tell him that there is no reason to rush into a final decision. I ask him if he’s willing to hold off for a few months, so we can go to our separate corners, lick our wounds and then decide when we’re in a better place. Maybe then we can try marriage counseling.
He doesn’t want things to go back to the way they were. Of course. They can’t. Even I won’t accept going back to what we had the past few months, as desperate as I am to hold on right now. I deserve better. I want more. I want the fairy tale I thought we had.
“I think we’re just in different places,” he says. What does this mean? What place am I in? What place is he in?
We agree that we will work on maintaining our friendship over the next few months, while we work ourselves.
I don’t know what to do. It’s so hard for him to be so close and not be able to get close to him. I feel like I’m missing a limb. When he came home from work tonight and walked past I almost put my hand out and touched his belly. It’s such a habit. The little affections. Even if we didn’t have sex, we always had that.
I don’t know what to do.
Should I move out? If he’s convinced he’d be happier alone, maybe I should let him be alone. Let him come home to an empty house and make his own dinner. Live on pizza and chunky soup again. Maybe he’d be exactly the same amount of unhappy and realize it’s not me. He said I’m his best friend. Maybe he’d miss me?
I get undressed for bed and toss the slinky undies into the dirty hamper.