I finally escape my daughter’s room after she took a good hour to go down to sleep.
My energy has shifted to mostly absent and preoccupied. She picked up on it immediately, hence her anxiety, and more difficult bedtimes for both of us.
I cross the hall to the master bedroom to drop into bed myself, exhausted, when the vision of my husband stops me cold at our door.
I lean wearily against the door jam and watch him while I feel my sleep deprived bones course and awaken with rage. I’m barely 95 pounds now since I found out my husband had an affair, yet feel as if my body is carrying the heaviness of an elephant. I’d give anything to crumble under its weight onto the floor, never to get up again, and have the nervous breakdown I deserve.
This is my breaking point.
I stand in the doorway for minutes that click by like hours. He sees me but doesn’t acknowledge my presence.
For the past four months he looks right through me. The only vital role I have is caretaker to his daughter.
A video camera is set up on a tripod directly in front of him, at the end of our bed.
Wearing a tight “hip” vintage t-shirt and jeans, he sits cross-legged, strumming his acoustic guitar and passionately belting out “Hey Soul Sister” by Train, on our bed, batting his big blue eyes directly at the camera, and making a fool out of himself and a sham of our marriage.
“You Are My Sunshine” is still running on a continuous loop in my brain from the 20 times I just sang it to our daughter. My throat is parched and dry, I’m both thirsty and tired, and not in the mood to deal with another one of his midlife meltdowns.
I lean casually against our bedroom door; my body language masking my rage, and watch his latest buffoonery from the sidelines.
Just for kicks, I ask him what he is doing and he is immediately annoyed by my question. He really wants to “get this done.” He is short with me. When he talks he grunts in an abrasive tone, as if I’m interrupting some brilliant stroke of genius in progress, instead of what he is really doing, covering a less than average song for a less than average woman.
He will not look me in the eye.
Nearly frantic, he readjusts the video camera to get the correct angle for the look he is trying to achieve. He is up off the bed every few seconds, flustered, as he tries to get it right.
No matter how many times he adjusts the camera, he can’t make his 41-year-old face look 30, nor can he make his abs appear flat through his hipster tee. He is so high-strung and neurotic about getting this video filmed that for a split second I think to ask him if he needs help. Then I realize I don’t want to be a co-conspirator in making a music video for the woman who fucked my husband.
I stand there stoically as he sings “Hey Soul Sister” 10…12…15 times in a row, to another woman, as the camera rolls. I’m nauseated after hearing “Your lipstick stains on the front part of my left side brains” over and over and over again.
The nasally twang of my husband’s voice makes the Train song even more sappy and annoying than Train does, which I wasn’t sure was possible.
I hated the song the first time I heard it. Now it’s unbearable to my ears, not just because he is singing to his mistress callously while I am in the same room — that duplicity is bad enough — but to then have to witness him so unsure of himself and self-conscious while he nervously runs around our bedroom fine tuning his infidelities right before my eyes, and then, to see him turn around and project an air of confidence and self-possession for the camera, when he is anything but.
My rage turns to sadness as I realize how broken and uncertain of himself this man is.
Since he met this woman over five months ago, I have been watching the unraveling of a man, giving his decisions and opinions over to her so easily and making really bad choices with only her in mind. I’m not just thinking about myself, or the repercussions for my life: how do you give so much power to someone you barely know, negating your own self worth and the value you have for your child?
I keep thinking of the sweet five-year-old in the next room who is now sleeping soundly, oblivious to her father’s selfishness and lack of character. His insufficient foundation of who he is.
How desperate he appears, re-adjusting the camera over and over again to project the perfect man through a YouTube video.
I watch him swoon to the camera like a lovesick puppy dog.
Any love I still have for him fades with each trite word sung out of his false mouth.
Jessica is a writer, an online entrepreneur, and a recovering perfectionist. She lives in Los Angeles with her extrovert daughter, two dogs, and two cats.