To reiterate: Yes, I cleared it with Brian before I started writing this story and sharing it with the internet. I got a weird email from some weirdo just now, so I feel I must address Mr. McWhackjob. Brian has been skimming some of it and skipping other parts entirely. He didn’t want to read it at all at first and did so only at my request. I feel like he’s the only other person who I can fact-check with and the main opinion I care about with how I tell this story. This actually happened to us and it wasn’t fun and I’m not trying to make light of it. But having a sense of humor is one of the things that got us both through it in the first place, so if I’ve offended anyone by acting like it wasn’t a big deal…I’m sorry but you don’t know me or us, so shut it, Wingnut. Besides my dad dying, this was by far the most traumatic event I’ve ever gone through. And not that it matters, but these two things happened almost six-months apart from each other to the day, my marital crisis being the first. I don’t look back at the end of 2001/beginning of 2002 with fondness, but I’m entitled to my dark sense of humor, just like you’re entitled to your no sense of humor.
Okay! Back to the Flux Capacitor, set to September 2001.
A few people made the excellent point after reading the last post that DUH – of course he felt happy and loved with the Other; the relationship was brand new! Which I didn’t address in the last post but I most certainly said to him at the time. Um, hello idiot – remember our first six weeks together? Pretty fun, right? Yeah. Well now it’s been five and a half years; excuse me if I no longer have that new car smell. What a strange metaphor. But seriously. You’re not exactly Mr. Excitement yourself these days. He acknowledged that. It didn’t matter by then. He was well on his way past infatuation, which was pretty hard to believe.
When it was all over he admitted that in his head he’d already messed up so badly that he didn’t think there’d be any way to turn back. He’d hurt me, felt like he let our families and friends down and pretty much felt like an all-around fuck-up. I add that in case someone ever thinks it’s too late. If you’re still alive and above ground, it’s never too late. You can get a divorce and get married again; it’s never too late. For some people that’s what it takes. For us we went to the brink a couple of times, but never crossed it – which is the economical way to do it if you ask me.
But of course that took a long time; almost a year. The first month or so of this was not a very pleasant time, as you may imagine. It’s one thing to learn about your husband and another woman and quite another to see it in action. While we were in the first few days of trying to live with this, it started to become apparent they were seeing each other almost every day. One night in particular, he actually told me he was going to see her, but that it would just be a little while. I knew it was coming, but that didn’t mean as soon as he closed the door behind him I didn’t break down into a hysterical, fetal snot-choking, vomit-inducing hour-long cryfest on the floor. When 2:00 in the a.m. rolled around, and he still wasn’t home, I couldn’t stand to be inside our house any longer and was out walking with the dog around the neighborhood, crying and dry-heaving in my pajamas, I decided this was unacceptable. That was one of the worst fights, when he got home that night. Things got broken, including our big framed wedding photo, a ceramic pedestal I’d gotten a great deal on at my favorite pottery store and my only pair of (very necessary) glasses. The dog, not used to us screaming at each other, quietly slipped out the door while we weren’t looking. Thinking about that one still makes me very sad.
So. I decided instead of watching the affair unfold before my eyes and seeing him visibly torturing himself, it was time for me to make a decision. I told him to go to her. I didn’t want him to leave, but it was better than being a witness to this madness. For my own sanity I knew it had to happen. Things were going nowhere like this. And logically I’d figured out the more time they spent together, the quicker the honeymoon phase would wear off and more than likely some problems would set in. I wasn’t wrong.
Here’s the part where I tell you a little about her. From what I knew at the time, she had recently moved down to that little shit-hole of a town to live with her sister and her three kids. She’d just broken up with the father of her youngest child, a six-month old baby boy. Her other two boys were both under the age of six and as previously mentioned both had different fathers. She liked to party and though I won’t get into specifics, a lot of partying was done in that house with the two sisters, the six kids, my husband and my friend Jody. She didn’t work and lived off of child support and her parents. She was a few years younger than me. That part always hurts, right? But she wasn’t real smart, based on a couple of love letters I’d found in his jeans pockets and she didn’t like to read. That part made me happy – books and reading was our thing. He told me he wasn’t allowed to bring me up at all; that she told him he talked about me so much, why didn’t he just go back to me. Bitch. She, however, enjoyed flirting openly in front of him with their biker neighbor. Curious. My amateur opinion? Not only was she a run-of-the-mill whore, she was also somewhat of an attention whore. But hey. She wasn’t the married one and I don’t give two shits about her personality traits. Now, anyway.
I would later learn she was very tall, skinny and had light brown waist-length hair. Up close her face wasn’t the greatest, but it was passable. The only flaw I immediately noticed was her eyes – slightly small and beady and even a little crossed. The funny part, and by funny I mean sick, was that before I saw her, I was actually picturing someone who looked similar to me! What the hell – ego much? Believe me, my insecurities are many and have never been as prevalent as right then, but I seriously pictured a short-ish, kind of big-boobed brunette. I never have liked tall women and this certainly didn’t do anything to endear them to me (no offense – if you’re tall and don’t fuck my husband, I don’t have anything against you now) You can change many things about your appearance but as far as I know, height isn’t one of them. Her appearance really doesn’t matter, but I’m female – of course I wanted to know every last detail to take apart and analyze and torture myself with. It didn’t help; it didn’t hurt.
Okay, in the interest of keeping this story moving along and this post under 5,000 words, let me quickly sum up the next couple of weeks. I somehow managed to function enough to go to work (almost) every day. I wasn’t ready to tell anyone yet – I didn’t even know what I’d say. So this was definitely a dark time for me, dealing with it alone. Some of the weird things I did during this time:
- I became almost completely incapable of keeping food down. It was hard enough forcing myself to eat on the rare occasion I actually felt hungry, because my mouth was always completely dry, making it difficult to swallow. Two things I was able to consume I bought at the gas station every morning – vanilla Cappuccino and those rectangle Keebler crispy wafer cookies. Don’t believe them on The Biggest Loser when they say you have to eat to lose weight – I’ve never found a more effective diet than this 300- calorie-per-day-plus-vomit plan. I eventually bottomed out at 104 and while it was interesting to fit into size 0 jeans, my boobs disappeared and I looked like I’d traded necks with a chicken. I miss those size 0’s, but I’m much happier being a size 8 – 10, knowing my husband loves only me now. Well, me and football.
- I could no longer listen to music of any kind or watch TV. The only form of entertainment I could stomach became talk radio. Very, very weird. Except not really, because that’s what Brian always listened to, so I guess that was one way of keeping something normal? I don’t know, but it became a permanent habit for me. Luckily my love for music eventually came back. Sadly so did my love for TV.
- Always a book lover, I found it hard to concentrate on reading anything more challenging than a magazine. Until I decided to start the Harry Potter series. I give a lot of credit to J.K. Rowling for helping me keep my sanity during that time, though she doesn’t know it. Tip: when real life goes to hell in a hand basket, Sci-fi/Fantasy children’s books really do the trick.
Brian still checked in regularly with me by phone because I told him it was easier for me not to see him. One night though he called to ask if he could come by and get some clothes and books and I said sure. This is a big example of how much I was on auto-pilot: After he got there, I started picking out and folding his clothes for him to get ready to take. When we both realized what I was doing, we began to laugh like lunatics. I said, “What a great wife I am – I’m getting your laundry ready for you to take over to your girlfriend’s house!” I was still laughing about it, but right then he stopped laughing, got really serious and said, “What the hell am I doing?” I said, “I don’t know. But it’s probably about time for you to go.” And before I could get too emotional (I’d already done all the crying I planned to do in front of him), I sent him on his merry (sad) way.
I’m not sure if it was luck, fate or God was just feeling sorry for me, but mere minutes after Brian left, I got a phone call. It just so happened to be my guy “friend.” He wasn’t aware of anything strange going on with me; it had just been awhile since we’d talked and he decided to call and see how I was doing. I had to make a big decision right then and there. Do the morally correct thing and not jeopardize my marriage further…or tell him I had some free time on my hands in case he wanted to hang out. Guess which one I picked.