Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tale from the dark side

What an awesome response I got from yesterday's post; I was humbled by it. Not only did people say some very nice things in the comments, I also got a couple of emails that made me laugh, cry and pretty much get a healthy renewed faith in humankind. I think sometimes all it takes is having someone say, "I know what you're feeling; I went through the same thing." Relating and connecting with another person who knows exactly how you feel. It's like how I feel with people who've had a parent pass away, in my case a parent I was extremely close with. Unless you've gone through it, you can't come close to imagining how it feels.

That last phrase is something I said a lot during the Bad Time in our marriage. For about eight months there, we didn't know what the hell we were doing or feeling. We were both with other people, yet neither of us wanted to take the final step and divorce. Certainly there were times when I felt close; don't get me wrong. It wasn't exactly shits and giggles during those months. There were some serious knock-down drag-outs, to be sure. Navigating the emotional roller coaster in a situation like that is pretty effing treacherous to say the least, and at times it felt like I was in a day-to-day, sometimes hour-to-hour survival mode. It is not for the weak, I can assure you.

An example: One day while driving through the main road of the small town we lived in at the time (I like to call it Hell's Portal) and was enjoying a rare moment of actual peace. Singing along with the radio, windows down, sunroof open - I was feelin' fine. I stopped at a red light and happened to glance over to the car that was stopped next to me on my left. Wouldn't you know it - there was Brian and the other woman, She Who Shall Not Be Named. You may choose to believe this or not but I have no reason to lie. My first reaction? I started laughing. Which believe me, when I think about it now, all these years later, I still can't believe it sometimes. But I think I understand why. For one thing, I was obviously a little in shock. I'm sure I was thinking something like "There is my husband. With a woman in the passenger seat who isn't me. This might actually be one of the top ten worst moments of my life. And seriously, God? Did you think I was having too decent of a day or something? Had to put me back in check? Because that's some messed up shit right there."

I remember Brian had the weirdest expression; he was looking at me with this sickly smile that I think was a combination of shock, sadness, guilt...and irony. We both have a healthy appreciation for dark humor and it really doesn't get much darker than that. She on the other hand, was looking at me with pure unadulterated hate. Because I was with her husband or something? Because I was married to her boyfriend? I don't know. But I think that was the part that actually kicked in the laughing.

Our friends of course knew what was going on with us, and they were way more informed about everything than our families were. I mean, we'd only been married two years at that point; isn't it called the Seven Year Itch? We were five years early on that. And as we started to reconcile, you better believe some of my family members were full-to-burstin' with well-meaning advice. There were those who said divorce, period. No looking back. This is ridiculous - how could you ever trust each other again? There were some who said don't even think about getting back together unless you go to counseling. You need to find out why this happened and prevent it from ever happening again. Then, there was a select few (VERY few) who offered their support no matter what I decided. I still remember quite clearly who said what, trust me.

And I repeat: Have YOU ever been in an almost brand-new marriage and separated but still in love with your husband? Guilty of the same thing he's doing? No? Well, then I'm sorry but you don't understand. Not only do you not understand, you have NO IDEA. So while I appreciate all your unsolicited advice, kindly shut yer piehole. I am very careful now with offering relationship advice. I myself went through a crisis and luckily came out on the other side with a much healthier and stronger relationship for it. That certainly wouldn't work for everyone and I'm still by no means an expert on the subject. Nor would I ever claim to be.


Anonymous said...

I rarely, rarely hand out advice to others in person for this very reason. Who the hell am I to judge no knowing the experience of it?
Good luck with the IVF!

Anonymous said...

my mother is one of the strongest people i've ever met, period. she and my father went through a really rough patch for a while in the very beginning of my life, and she's told me stories of getting up and walking out of therapist's offices because they sat there telling her to "just leave him."

she tells me, "you can't just walk away from your soul mate when you are going through a rough patch... that's why i WENT to therapy."
she and my dad have been together almost 35 years.

when i call her and bitch about stupid things between mike and i, she listens, and then she always says, "you know, your father drives me nuts too sometimes, but there are going to be things that drive you crazy about ANYONE..."

mike and i have only been together about half as long as you guys have, and our shit's been different shit, but i think i kind of know where you're coming from. instead of "other people" it was drug addictions and the half-truths and stupid behavior that came along with that. not a single friend of mine supported our relationship during that time, but even with all the bs, i still couldn't walk away. he's my best-freakin-friend, and i knew that even when i was furious with him, i still loved him more than anything.

you know what they call people who bail out at the first (or 21st) sign of trouble? "fair-weather (girl)friends."
you know what we are in our relationships?
not that.

Kim said...

shmode - I completely agree and thanks for the good wishes!

buoy - It took a long time for me to talk about "the dark period" with people who didn't already know about it because I was embarrassed and felt like either a loser, a failure or a dumbass. Once I started opening up about it to people, I was amazed to find out how many other long-term relationships suffered a serious hiccup here or there. Something that's worth fighting for is NEVER fucking easy! And anyone who acts like their relationship is all sunshine and roses is a fraud.

Whiskeymarie said...

We had a similar "bump" (really, more like a mountain) in the road at five years, but...ahem, only one of us (points finger at self) with another person. The other one was patient and understanding enough to see the situation for what it was, know that it took BOTH of us to get into the situation in the first place, and wait it out. It was a dark, emotionally-charged, strange and uncomfortable time for us both, and it was very personal.
Boy oh boy did I get advice then- some of it I asked for from very close friends, most of it came from people who had no fuc*ing idea what the real story was as to what was going on, but man they knew what I should or shouldn't have been doing. They loved to prop themselves up on that pedestal and pass judgment at the drop of a hat. The way I see it, I learned who my real friends were during that time, and for that I'm grateful.

These days, if someone asks me for advice, I'll give it.
But...I don't sugarcoat and I usually don't tell them exactly what they want to hear. Sometimes they get pissed, but I could care less- if you ask, be prepared for an honest answer. If they know anything about me, they know I don't beat around the bush- I don't see the point.

But unsolicited advice?
Nope. Never, ever. Uh-uh.
Don't want it, won't give it. Period.

And, as per your last post- I crossed my everything and did a fertility dance with the kitties in your honor. You deserve this to work out, toots.
I'm rooting for you.

Anonymous said...

There is such a big different between support and advice. People, many times, seem to WANT to be THE one to help instead of actually concerning themselves with helping the person who needs the assistance.

Kim said...

Whiskey - Yeah, I think once we got to the point where we stopped placing blame and realized it took both of us getting to the place where we got, we started back on the road to fixing it. Pride is a hard thing to overcome though and it took awhile. And yes; I lost friendships over it and I also found out who was worth keeping around for the long haul.

MTAE - Yes, it was amazing who became an "expert" on my marriage at the time. Dummies.

Taoist Biker said...

While I don't have a T-shirt from that exact place, I have one from the next town over. I don't talk about our Rough Patch publicly because it's not just my story to tell - my wife blogs too, and most of my readers know her, and so I don't go airing our dirty laundry because the person I'd be talking about isn't a stranger to them.

We acknowledge that it happened (on our blogs, but few of our friends know and nobody in our families, pretty much because we didn't want those same sort of lines drawn that you discuss), but we've never discussed details anywhere. Maybe someday? I dunno, I kinda doubt it.

Anyways, uh, yeah, it's a wholly surreal and fucked up experience that I cannot describe and wouldn't wish on anybody. But in the end, fucking life sucks, any other human being on earth will also drive you crazy, and learning to deal with some seriously bad shit can bring you closer together. If you let it.

Kim said...

TB - Yeah, it's a fine line between writing and sharing for therapy and saying too much. The man reads my blog so I run anything potentially damning by him before ever hitting "publish."