The Secret

Once we become adults it’s amazing how much clarity we have about situations that happened to us long ago, sometimes decades in the past.  When we are children we are at the mercy of adults, who we rely on to keep us safe and meet our emotional needs.  The lines get a bit blurred with siblings as they can be older, and although sometimes close to adulthood, elder siblings are often guilty of bad judgement.  They’re more responsible than a child, yet not quite “ready for prime time” of adulthood and the decisions that accompany it.

In the case of my brother and sister, I was oblivious to this growing up. I trusted them completely and at seven and nine years older they just seemed like cooler, more unpredictable versions of most of the adults I knew. I think my life was probably in danger more times than I knew when they were supposed to be looking after me.

When I was ten years old my older sister Robin was eighteen and newly married with a baby.  Her husband David was twenty one, had been in jail for theft at least once and was not on a good path in life. One summer day we walked the railroad tracks (trespassing on railroad property) picking up coal that fell from train cars. He and his friends planned to sell it. Robin and David often argued about his greasy friends hanging out at their apartment smoking joints in the living room while I was there.  I don’t remember any of them having a job. My sister worried that I would report back to my parents about what I saw, so they often whispered around me.  I never told my parents anything I heard or saw there.

My parents disapproved of the match, but had been unsuccessful at preventing the marriage.  They fretted about my sister and her baby girl and desperately wanted more for Robin than to be a high school dropout and new wife and mother at eighteen.

Visiting my sister at her apartment was great fun for me.  My niece was a happy baby and I loved helping to take care of her.  I remember the first time Robin let me take her out in the stroller alone. I was very careful to keep the baby happy and most of all to pick up the toys as they fell, keep her from kicking the blanket to the ground, and to just keep moving so she would stay content.  When we arrived back at the apartment my sister had started dinner and we sat down to eat eat together.   Sometimes I would spend the night at the apartment if it got late and I’d sleep on the couch in the living room.

My sister was trying hard to make this new life work and she was a good mother and wife, but her husband was the wrong man. She had no idea how wrong.

One summer night when I had stayed over at the apartment I woke up on the living room couch with the sensation that I was being touched. I recall slowly waking up, not sure what was happening, if I was dreaming or awake.  I kept my eyes closed as I  began to fully realized what was happening. David was touching me between my legs, rubbing me.  I froze, trying to stay in the exact same position I been when I awoke.  In my ten year old mind I knew this was wrong.  I wanted him to go away but I was terrified to let him know I had woken up.  I shifted my hips sideways, trying to make it look as if I was moving in my sleep, just enough so that his hand would not have such easy access. His hand became still for a moment, then he pulled his hand away.  I didn’t open my eyes, but I think he knew I was awake.  The only light was coming from street lights outside the windows, but I’m fairly certain it was too dark for him to see my face.  I lay still for a long time, afraid to open my eyes.  He sat there awhile.  I had no idea what he would do next.  I was ten, but I knew what pedophilia was and I knew I wasn’t safe.  Then he walked away.  It never happened again.  He never spoke to me about it.  They divorced two years later after she got tired of him beating her.  I never told anyone about the incident until I was in high school.  I was twenty when I finally got the courage to tell my sister and I did so only because I was concerned that he might be abusing my niece as well.  He wasn’t.  Her reaction was distant and without emotion or empathy. Then it was never mentioned again. I never told my parents. It never felt necessary.

I reflect back on this night sometimes and wonder, why didn’t I scream? Why didn’t I tell my sister or my parents?  I could have told the school counselor and utterly caused a shit storm, but I kept the secret, the secret he had not even asked me to keep, but I kept anyway, because I felt shame.  I felt I had caused the incident by being nice to him, by not being covered up on the couch that night. It was a hot night and I had kicked off the covers.

I worried that I would cause trouble in our family if I told my parents.  I worried I’d make my sister mad if I spoke up, that my parents would have more reason not to like David. I didn’t want to be the reason her marriage didn’t work out.  I didn’t want to inconvenience everyone.  So I swept it under the rug, but it refused to stay.  It resurfaced as sexual promiscuity, insecurity, self doubt, and experimenting with drugs and alcohol when I was thirteen. And although I didn’t realize it at the time, my relationship with my sister became tainted as well. She was my protector and she did not protect me.

One effect of this experience is that once I had my own children, I was overprotective about where my kids spent the night and with whom.  My daughter’s friend down the street invited to her sleep over and I remember asking her a million questions about the mom’s new boyfriend and where he slept, etc.  I never fully trusted that my kids were safe when they were away from home. Some of this made me a better mother, but mostly it just stole my peace of mind and made me constantly on guard that my kids would be molested by anyone, anywhere, anytime.

I know that when we know better, we do better.  David was a broken person and on a self destructive path.  He did not break me, but I felt tarnished because of the incident. I kept the secret and it felt dark and dirty and still does.   I knew I’d done no wrong, but because of where he had touched me, I knew I’d never tell.  I hated having this secret and hated that I was protecting this scumbag from what he deserved.  I did it for my sister, but mostly I did it because I did not have the courage to do anything different.

Thank God we live these times and that I have a much different relationship with my kids than my parents had with me.  I don’t know for sure if my kids would tell me if they were abused, but they know that when they are struggling that I will listen and believe them and we will work through any problem they bring to me.   And hopefully, that is enough.


Ex Meditating

Years ago I had an ex boyfriend Aaron from high school whose wife was battling lung cancer and I was feeling very bad for him and didn’t know how to help.  We had dated for over three years on and off and we were very close.  When I heard about Aaron’s wife I found myself worrying about his family.  They had a daughter about the same age as my daughter who was four.  At the time I had been experimenting with meditation and decided to send him some love during my meditation for a few days.  The meditation made me feel better and I soon moved on to other things.  A few weeks later I had a strange dream that I saw my ex-boyfriend and he was telling me about his dad having a car accident and passing away.  I remember his words, “It was an accident, but it wasn’t an accident.”  I recall standing in the kitchen making coffee the morning I had the dream.  I was so puzzled by it.  I hadn’t dreamed of Aaron in years and why did I get this bad news? The next morning I got a phone call from a friend that said  Aaron’s father had been in a car accident on an icy highway while on business in another city and had slammed into a semi and had died instantly.  Later it was determined that he had a heart attack prior to his losing control of the car and was already deceased when the car hit the semi.  I practically felt the ground shift under my feet at the realization that I dreamed about the incident before it had happened.  “It was an accident.” Semi. “But it wasn’t an accident.” Heart attack.  This taught me about the power of mediation and how it can not only make us feel good, but can reach out into the ether to people we feel connected to or whom we have been connected to in the past.  I don’t have any explanation at all, all I know is that it was real.  I will admit I need to tighten up the screws a bit as the effect wasn’t at all a part of my intentions.  I guess I need to put much more practice into this meditation practice.

Lately I’ve been trying to “exorcize” e-husband  out of my thoughts and heart.  I remembered this powerful mediation experience from several years ago and decided to give it a try.  I started by  lying down and closing my eyes and focusing on my breath.  I’ve never had good results sitting to meditate.  I think they tell you to sit so that you don’t fall asleep, but I’ve never had that problem. I began by generating a flaming hot ball of love from my abdomen in my mind.  I made it spin and expand and flow out of me and into the ether.  I imagined it floating above me and out of my room, outside and across town and to ex-husbands house.  Then I envision it speeding up and flying full force and pummeling him in the head,  knocking him off his feet and flat on his back.  Then the flaming ball of love enters in to his chest with red hot heat and making him scream out in pain as the ball fills his body with fiery love. I suppose I could imagine it in a kinder, compassionate way, but I gotta do this gradually.  He’s lucky to be getting any love at all from me, so he can lump it.  Eventually,  the love flows through him and heals him and relaxes him and realizes he’s doing everything wrong and changes his ignorant ways.  That’s the nice version. In other versions his head explodes and he lays writhing on the ground bleeding out his eyeballs and begging for forgiveness.  Divorce is tough stuff, folks, definitely not for sissies.

In a meditation podcast today I heard a meditation on “cutting the cord” to free yourself of a broken relationship with a loved one you cannot stop thinking about.  I imagine he’s an astronaut in space and I cut his oxygen cord/lifeline and he floats off into black space with his face becoming red and gasping for air.  Bye-bye, bad husband.  See ya!

I find these visualizations extremely helpful and healing.  I know there’s a bit of cruelty and even violence in them, but my goal is to let go of whatever anger and resentments I’m feeling.  Eventually, I think I will be able to honestly send him the love without the blood and torture.  Maybe.  Until then I’ll enjoy my scenarios because really, if it makes me feel better that’s what matters.  It doesn’t matter if it’s real or not and the beauty of it is that I CONTROL IT ALL. He can beg forgiveness and I can laugh and laugh, or he can apologize sincerely, we can embrace and our hearts connect for a brief moment before I wish him well, cut the cord and sent him off on his journey  speeding toward the sun,  at a five hundred miles per hour.  Where he bursts into flames upon impact.  Honestly, I could do this all day.

Talking to Angels

I recently had a chance to have an “angel reading” at a new age store downtown with Lara Steffensmeier of Fort Madison.  I have had a few psychic readings over the years and usually feel like the person really didn’t tell me anything particular to me and that they weren’t all they were cracked up to be.  This time was different.  Two of my close friends had their appointment before mine and when I walked in I could tell they both had been crying.  They said, “Brace yourself. She’s REALLY good.” I wasn’t convinced yet. I approached her table and introduced myself and she stood up and gave me a warm hug.  She said immediately, “Your mom and grandma are with you and you are surrounded with love.” I asked if it was my mom’s mom or my dad’s mom and she put her head down, closed her eyes and focused and was silent.  Then she said it was my mom’s mom.  She said there was another woman present and it seemed like my husband’s mother. “I’m not sure if you’re married?” she said.  I said I was divorced and that it did make sense that Donna’s spirit was present. Lara said she can sense living and deceased spirits.  Then she said that my husband was present.  She said “he’s right HERE” and she waved her hands in the space between us next to the table. “He’s standing with his back turned to you and he’s crying.”  “Good,” I said.  She told me that he wants to be happy, to move on and for me to be happy. That he could not open himself to me although he had tried through the years, but although it was easy for me, that’s not who he was.  He knew I was an open person but he could not be.  “He wants you to accept him for who he is because he isn’t capable of anything else.” (basically I take this to mean stop asking him to be a better human, to let him suck at compassion and empathy with the kids and let him move on in his selfish turd way.) I said I suspected he had been unfaithful two years before our marriage ended from some evidence I had found and asked her if this was true.  She put her head down again and closed her eyes and became quiet. “I am told that yes, you can trust your intuition on this.” About my mom she said she was being very quiet. “Was she a serious person?” she asked. No, she wasn’t. “My dad was a serious person and my mom was weighed down by him.  Is she at peace and happy now?”  She said yes, she is full of joy.  I asked if it was her time when she died or if it was a choice and told her what mom said in the hospital about “going to be with Lois” and told her of the circumstances of her death.  She said that mom saw her angels and the portal open up and knew she would die soon.  She said it was not a choice.  She said a few other things like that we are in people’s lives to learn lessons from them and to teach them lessons.  She said Dickhead and I had our time together and it was over. THANK GOD, because later Missy told me that Lara told her that she and K are soul mates and must stay together. I’d shoot myself.  I can’t imagine how I’d have tortured myself if she’d told me that.  She also told me to let the guilt go by finding compassion.  she said I need to forgive myself because I did the best I could.  True.  She said things aren’t working in his new relationship and it won’t last because he is still closed up.  And because he hasn’t learned, he will continue to make the same mistakes over and over in his life.  She also told me that the kids need to choose about their dad and I need to stop passing judgement because it’s harming them.  She said she she sees Stella with tears down her cheeks and i need to work harder on compassion for the situation and less judgement of everything.  She asked if I had someone special in my life and I said yes.  She said he doesn’t think he’s good enough for you, but he is. “I can’t see him well because he seems a bit on the outside of things.”  She said he needs to be more involved and we both need to embrace the kids with love-both of us.  She said she sees that we hold back in front of them and it needs to be more real. she said they might not like it at first, but that’s real love to show affection to each other and they need it in order for you to be a healthy family.” At the end of the session she hugged me again and I left.  As I walked to my car she followed me out and said, “I just wanted to tell you that I saw that rose quartz can help you.  It can be a necklace you buy here or amazon, but I think it can really help you.”

I’m not sure what to make of it.  I did feel that she feel and see things that I did not tell her.  Whether she felt it from me or truly from angels, I don’t know.  I would like to think if my mom were really there she would have said something.  I’m puzzled by that.  I have a feeling that she might have been trying to tell me something bad that will happen soon like maybe dad dying or maybe she’s unhappy that Robin and I aren’t speaking.   I have felt her with me all along and I know that she is here always.  I think the other woman there that she said was Dickhead’s mom was indeed Donna or maybe it was Linda.  If it was Donna I have a feeling she isn’t happy.  I’m shocked that Lara got that much out of Dickhead, which might mean he really does want to communicate at some point.  Who knows. She was right on a few things: he was a closed up mess, his life is a still a mess and always will be, and I tried my best and I need to get past the guilt.  Such a wise woman.

Since the reading two days ago I’ve been crying off and on and ruminating about all of it.   I thought maybe it was because she stirred it all up for me and opened old wounds.  But now I wonder if she opened up a little portal and I can feel it all more now for this brief time and it will slowly close again.  I feel raw and I’ve been obsessing over the divorce and all my shortcomings in all of it.  A woman at my church once told a story of seeing her husband’s dead mother one day in her kitchen.  She said although she was in a fine mood at the time, she instantly started crying for no reason the second she saw her mother in law. She said it was the strangest thing.  I think it must be a weird side effect of being close to your dead loved ones.

Today I started a new book on judgement.  I’ve meditated today and worked out.  I am striving every day to be my best self, but I do not know what to do with him having an affair two years before I left him.  I cannot deal with him not being open with me about how he was feeling.  I cannot deal with him blaming me and allowing others to think that I caused the marriage to fail by being with Chase.  I cannot deal with his inability to discuss any of this because I have no closure.  He is a broken lost man and I just do not know what to do with it.  I failed to help him.  I failed myself.  I failed my family.   Onward.


An Exercise in Journaling

A study was referenced in a book that I read call emotional agility -about psychology and how journaling every day for 20 minutes can increase happiness and help you find a resolution to your troubles. This is my attempt at journaling. The rules are that you cannot worry about punctuation spelling, Etc., and you have to set a timer for 20 minutes and just let the words flow. The most important rule of all is to destroy your work when you’re done, but seeing that no one here ever reads what I write, I don’t think I’ll have to worry about that.

So earlier this week I had a nightmare about being at a family gathering with the ex-husband in attendance and he had brought his new girlfriend who is about to be his wife in real life. The family gathering was my extended family, aunts uncles nieces and nephews etc. and my siblings and parents. So I was upset and in the dream and I became very vocal about the situation  him being there with her at my family gathering. Everyone said I was being ridiculous and that we were all just going to get along and have a good time and accused me of being petty and unreasonable. I used to read a books about dreams and how it’s not what you dreamed that tells you something about your mental state, it’s how you felt while you were dreaming that is telling. In this dream I Felt bullied and felt like an outsider in my own family. I felt like there was no loyalty and that they would not ever understand me or what I was going through. The interestingThing about this dream is that so similar to what I’ve been going through with my sister and how she brings her best friend to our family gatherings and has no regard to my feelings about it. This has destroyed our relationship through the years that I have allowed it to happen. Everyone in my family acted like it was normal. They accepted it to the point that I would joke that I didn’t recall my mother giving birth to my sister’s friend yet here she was as if she was one of the family. After the dream I woke up a bit haunted by my feelings of being a bullied and being treated like my feelings were unimportant. It took me several days to get myself back in line with the dream behind me.

Although it’s been almost 2 1/2 years since the divorce I still have days where my brain stuck ruminating and I can not make it stop. I mull over The events that led up to my moving out and his reaction to my emotions and pleas  for counseling my complaints about his lack of emotion, bad financial decisions, and control issues. I don’t dream very much anymore about him but I have had a few dreams were im violent beating him up or his girlfriend and he stands there and lets it happen. I’m not really sure what these dreams mean except that I’m asserting control at  last and finally taking control of my life. The issues of him and my sister are essentially one in the same.  I have eliminated these people from my life after years of being controlled and following their expectations of how I should behave when I wasn’t getting what I needed from the relationships . And when I told them what I need it or how I felt I was told that the problem was mine and nothing needed to change.  I’ve always felt blessed that I’ve had dreams where I am working things out. I have had dreams where I am hiding from my sister because I want nothing more to do with her. I know this is my brain trying to find resolution and peace. I do not have dreams about it. Or that I am on good terms of my sister. I have dreams where I go back to my old house and everything is different and I wake sad and anxious. I have dreams where I am worried about confronting my sister and that we are in the same placeand I’m avoiding her, terrified  that we are going to have a confrontation.

Some people tell me that I need to try to repair the relationship my sister but to them I say there wasn’t much relationship to start. And I’m OK with that. I finally have peace with these two broken relationships, because I did the best I could with these two people who really could not love me the way I needed to be, and I’m sorry Mom, but I finally have peace.  And it’s a good place to be. Maybe things will change someday, but as long as she is who she is and I’m who I am, peace is beautiful .

Exit, Stage Right

Not a day goes by that I don’t spend time trying to make sense of the past three years of my life.  I mull over the events, ruminating all the gory details, and pick apart the moments when I could have made better choices.

It began about about six years ago as a little voice in the back of my mind saying, “REALLY? THIS is all there is in life? And you are content with THIS?”  At this point I’d been married to the father of my children for fifteen years and our children were ten, seven and five years old.  I pushed the thoughts from my mind with new hobbies, this blog and more time with girlfriends complaining about my frustrating marriage.   Occasionally my thoughts would wander to fantasies of being a single mom and making decisions on my own, closets all to myself and sprawling in my own bed alone every night.  I even let myself wonder if I could survive on my income plus child support.    I decided that after this many years of marriage and three kids, surely I’d get enough child support to make a decent home for us.   Then I’d push the thoughts to the corner of my mind again and go back to being a supportive wife and mother, part-time tutor of learning disabled college kids, and avid reader and knitter.  This continued for about three years until March 2013 our fourteen year old son got arrested at school for selling four Concerta prescription pills prescribed by his doctor for ADD.  I felt everything spinning out of control.  I watched helpless as my son was handcuffed and put in a police car.  Because it was a Friday afternoon and no judge could sign off on the paperwork to release him to our custody after a one night stay, our son spent three nights in juvenile detention.  He was devastated as well, and although he needed to learn a lesson, three nights was terribly excessive.  He cried, prayed and watched trains on the nearby train tracks from his small cell he later told us.  My heart was broken for him and our family.  I felt like a failure as a mother.  Surely, if I’d done my job right this wouldn’t have happened.  My husband said I was being selfish.  “This isn’t about YOU.” He blurted out to me one day after I shared my feelings with him for the umpteenth time.  He didn’t understand me.  Maybe he never had.

I stop short of saying that our son’s arrest caused me to want a divorce, but in a way it did.  It just as easily could have been a car accident, serious illness, death of a loved one, a job loss, or a natural disaster.  I used to tell my girlfriends that our marriage didn’t feel like it could weather any serious storms.  It felt like we were one catastrophic event away from marital disaster. And indeed, we were.  About three weeks after the arrest I started talking to my doctor about antidepressants. I tried thr over a three month period and none gave me the relief I needed. I did; however, get hives that lasted almost a year.  I asked husband for marriage counseling one day in the car.  He said nothing and changed the subject.  This was probably the fifth or sixth time in our marriage that I told him I thought counseling would help us.  I tried to weather the storm.  I truly did.  I said the right things.  I did the right things.  But I couldn’t do it alone. And then I got very tired.

I didn’t realize it until late in our marriage, but this man had very little capacity for empathy.  He had the mind of a scientist and saw the world in black and white.  He reacted to events and situations from a place of analytical reason and could not understand displays of emotion, especially mine.  I learned to save my emotional side for my girlfriends’ coffee dates and just keep things mainly on the surface with him.  We talked about the kids, upcoming events, holidays, work, and car and home repair projects.  I suppose I did vent my frustrations about some relationships with friends and relatives with him, but he only listened and never offered any support or suggestions.  I accepted this as normal and thought if he doesn’t need to be intimate with me and show his true self, then I guess I don’t need that either, so I began to share less and less with him.  He had a sweet side and was very cuddly and affectionate, but there was no emotion behind it.  It felt empty and I began to resent his need for it.  For me, our marriage began to feel like a watered down lemonade.  Slightly tart, slightly sweet, enough liquid to quench my thirst, but not truly satisfying.

I began trying in earnest to get him to connect with me in the months after our son’s arrest.  I was testing him to see if there was any hope left for us. We felt worlds apart and I could not get him to put down his walls to talk to me from his heart.  One day on a walk in the park near our home I asked about his past before I met him and we got into an argument because once again he refused to share anything with me.  I felt shut out and frustrated.  He couldn’t understand why it was important to me, and I couldn’t understand why he resisted so much.   That was the first watershed moment for me.  This is truly all he was capable of and I realized that I had to accept it or leave the marriage. In the weeks that fo I began slipping away and it felt there was nothing to be done about it.

One evening around we were in the yard at dusk cleaning up the yard of garden hoses, kids abandoned balls, bicycles, and yard tools and found ourself arguing over nothing.  The unspoken root of the argument was that we had drifted apart and were becoming strangers and neither of us knew what to do about it.  He was about two hundred yards away when his annoyance at me turned into action. He picked up a baseball from the yard and hurled it toward me.  I was standing in the doorway of the garage when I saw it coming toward me.  I was stunned.  I quickly hopped out of the way as the ball sunk to the ground and bounced at my feet.  Had he meant to hit me?  Months later he claimed he did not truly mean to hit me, and that he had let his frustration get the best of him.  But of course, we didn’t discuss it in the moment.  He went his way and I went mine.  We acted like it had never happened as we did most confrontations in our marriage.

Also during this time his parents moved from our town to their dream retirement spot, Estes Park,Colorado, fourteen hours away.  They had put my husband in charge of last minute details in selling their home, the home which has been his childhood home.  As I often did during our marriage, I gave him opportunity to open up to me to discuss how he felt. I said, “How do you feel about your parents moving to Colorado?”  He bristled a bit and replied, “I DON’T feel about it.”  And there it was.  I. Don’t. Feel.   I was shocked he actually put into words what I had long suspected.  This was the moment that I knew there was no hope.  I felt sick.  I was not okay living like this and this was probably as good as it would ever be.   I was exhausted from the struggle.  I was tired of wishing he would change.  It was over and I was horrified and scared of what I knew I had to do.

In the following two months I cried in the shower and in the middle of the night when no one would hear,  I talked to friends, I confided in my mother, I researched divorce online, I mourned the loss of my husband as if he was dead.  After all, he was dead.  He was not capable of any emotional connection with me, so he really was dead to me and probably had been all along, but I was too busy raising children and taking care of a home and working to notice. I did not discuss any of this with him. Why?  What purpose would it served?  I couldn’t move out, he couldn’t change, and now that the veil was torn away from our sham marriage I couldn’t put it back.  And so I moved on.  Looking back now, what I did was unconscionable, but I could not live in this dead, lonely marriage any longer.  Our debt was a looming mountain and I knew divorce was a financial impossibility  and he would not let me go easily.  Besides, he was content.

I always joked with my friends how easy it is to keep most men happy: occasional sex, good meals, someone to cuddle and do their laundry and a little effort spent on perfume, clothes and make up, be agreeable and happy around him.  Smile and flirt and make him feel wanted.  Easy peasy.  It’s much harder for a man to keep a woman happy.  We have emotional needs and are complicated creatures and have high expectations.  Did you shave today? Are you wearing that to the party? You should read more. I think that shirt has a stain. You need to trim your nails. Have you called your mother this week?  Hard stuff, indeed.

I found dating sites.  That’s the stupid truth.  I was lost and didn’t know what to do next, but I knew I couldn’t live the rest of my life alone in this marriage and not being heard. I knew I deserved more than the dead existence I’d been living for years.  He was the last person I could talk to about it, so I found others online who would listen, and some were going through the same thing I was.  I found that the world is full of lonely miserable married men and a staggering number of them are on dating sites. I was honest from the beginning that I was married.  And then to my shock, I still had many men interested in me.  There were many times along the way I should have been horrified by my actions, like the time I nearly met a man from Chicago at a hotel room, or a cop from L.A. who nearly flew to a town a hundred miles to meet me.   I forged ahead, hoping that happiness lay in a secret relationship hidden behind screens and keyboards with someone I may or may not ever meet in person.  Maybe THAT could make me happy enough to stay in a  lonely marriage. Maybe I would grow old with a secret life and a happy marriage. But is that happiness? I tried to find out.

Day by day I felt myself slipping away from our life together.  I avoided him.  I did what I needed to do for the children, but I was dying inside.  I did not want to be divorced, I really only want change; I wanted a different kind of marriage he wasn’t able to be a part of- a compassionate, caring, intimate marriage where we let each other in to our hopes and dreams and secrets.  I began reading books about marriage. I read a book about monogamy and for a brief time believed that I could stay married if only I could get my emotional needs met elsewhere.  I tried  foolishly to discuss this with husband.  He decided then that I had indeed lost my mind.  He was against anything untraditional, even if it might save our marriage or give us a starting point.  I continued talking to men online and ultimately decided that I probably would have an actual affair.  And it felt like I was saving myself.

When I look back at those bleak days I remember feeling like I had no idea what I was doing, but that connecting with those men and having real emotional discussions about our lives made me feel good.  I felt alive.  I know I should have been having those discussions with husband, but he was a closed up mess.  It just wasn’t possible. In the end we had lived together for eighteen and a half years and I wasn’t any closer to reaching him then than I had been earlier on.  He was emotionally unavailable and always would be, at least with me.

One day in mid August I was home alone folding towels – the worn, sad towels we had received as a wedding gift.  The realization set in that I did not want this life anymore:  not these towels, not this house, not this man, not this disappointment over and over again. I had to tell him. It was becoming unbearable.

It was the end of August 2013 when we were alone in the car after dropping our son off at cross country practice.  I said, “I don’t know if I want to be married anymore.”  I don’t remember any of the conversation except that later that night he cried and wanted to hold me and could not look at him.  I was already gone.  I didn’t care about our marriage anymore.  I left to drive around and get some air.  I texted one of the men I had met online about what was happening and about what I would do about it.  I ignored husband’s calls.  There was nothing that would change my mind. I had seen enough, been through enough. After about an hour or so I drove home.  About a month later he found out I spent time out of town with a man I met online.  And then a funny thing happened.  He wanted to go to marriage counseling with me.

From fairly early in our marriage we had some rocky times.  I had felt all along that we could benefit from counseling in order to learn to work better together and listen to each other.   He wanted no part of counseling and had refused repeatedly until this day he agreed, but now it was too late for me.  I was done.

There is no sadder thing than a failed marriage. It is the death of dreams. And yet, it is also the birth of dreams. I cried on my divorce papers the day I signed them. The following day I took a bakery cake and flowers to work to celebrate my independence. It was sweet relief to have the eighteen month custody battle over. I was free.