My Wife Cheated – Am I OK or Just Numb?

My family and friends seem to want me to be more angry than I appear. They want me to be upset about having to keep the dog for a few months, or possibly storing some boxes for a while. They’re angry enough to want to make a fight out of that. They think they’re angrier than me because i’m not interested in having that fight. The truth is that my anger, sadness, and pain is much, so very much, deeper than inconvenience and frustration. That’s what I tell them. Even as I say it though, I don’t really feel it. I believe it, I’m not lying, I just don’t really feel it. I’ve read about people feeling numb and I wonder if this is what I’m experiencing.

Still I worry… Why don’t I feel it? I am angry! Aren’t I? The two stories I’ve written below illustrate how I came to understand the numbness and my true feelings.


Just a Glimpse

I was pulling out of the parking lot of a department store on my way to meet up with a friend. In general I was feeling normal, even good, for most of the day. As I was advancing in the line to make a left turn an unremarkable SUV passed by. In it sat a man and a woman, each seemed to be about 5-10 years older than me. In the back sat a young teen-aged boy, maybe about 14 years old.  The couple in the front was smiling in a casual sort of way and the boy had his head down looking at a phone or ipad or something. All-in-all a typical suburban family. Suddenly and only for the tiniest moment a thought entered my mind:

This will be what we look like someday.

But faster than this thought could connect with my mouth and cause a smile, it was overtaken by the lightning fast, massive force of reality. Before I could even complete my turn, just seconds after passing the SUV, I was in tears. Real tears! Not sobbing or crying out loud, I just felt the tears streaming. Even as I felt surprised at how quickly this deep sadness welled up and overcame me, it continued to hack away at my illusion of composure. My face twisted up in agony and there it was. I couldn’t stop it. I’d been overrun by grief. It got me. Just that fast. And all it took was the briefest glimpse of the life that should have been. This thought had been merely a vestigial fantasy, a tendril curling out into my mind from a source that had been brutally and sloppily torn out. The wound is still fresh and this poor, lonely, small thought had been left behind to rot. How many others like it are there I wondered? I suppose I will find them all eventually.

As the moment passed, another feeling surprised me. I was relieved. I was actually relieved at the realization that I’m fucked up enough to get emotional and lose it so easily and suddenly and without control. Why? Well, for the most part I had been feeling OK. I was actually worried because I wasn’t feeling much at all. Was I OK with her betrayal and abandonment of our family? No. Now I know that I am most definitely not OK. This means that I did love her, that I will miss her, our life together, and the life we were supposed to have. I know now that I am normal because this really is fucking me up.


 

Suffering While I Sleep

For about two weeks I had been waking up cold and sweaty. Not every night but nearly. Early on I thought I was sick. Then I thought something might be wrong with my air conditioner. I tried sleeping without the fan on, fan off, more blankets, no blankets, setting the thermostat higher, then lower. I tried drinking more water, less water, eating earlier, I even tried going to bed drunk once. Nothing helped. Then one night I awoke in the same sweating and shivering state. This time was different though; I remembered something. It was slipping away quickly right then and by the time I could write this I only remembered one thing. It was her. I’d had a nightmare about my soon-to-be ex-wife. That’s all I can recall now, but holy shit. I’ve never had a recurring dream that caused me to wake up in cold sweats, not ever. As I sat up in bed and made my way to the bathroom, I chuckled at that particular realization. I actually felt better when I realized that I’m dealing with some deep seeded and fucked up feelings. Relief. No shit. That was unexpected.

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“Your Decision”

Not much of a blog post but just thought I’d share since the posts I’m currently working on are taking a while.

This song came across randomly last night. Beautiful song and very apropos…


Alice in Chains – Your Decision

Time to change has come and gone
Watched your fears become your God
It’s your decision
It’s your decision

Overwhelmed, you chose to run
Apathetic to the stunned
It’s your decision
It’s your decision

You feed the fire that burned us all
When you lie
To feel the pain that spurs you on
Black inside

No one plans to take the path that brings you lower
And here you stand before us all and say it’s over
It’s over

It might seem an afterthought
Yes, it hurts to know you’re bought
It’s your decision
It’s your decision

You feed the fire that burned us all
When you lie
To feel the pain that spurs you on
Black inside

It’s your decision
It’s your decision

No one plans to take the path that brings you lower
And here you stand before us all and say it’s over
It’s over

First Experience as a Divorced Dad: The First Exchange

“There she is”, I say.
“Mommy!”

He’s excited to see her. That’s ok. He’s 3. He should be, right?

Here she comes, walking toward the car now. It’s strange how I just recognize her. I know very well who she is and what she looks like. She’s only been gone for 6 days after all. Still the strange feeling of mere recognition, familiarity without feeling, is all that registers for this person who is far from a stranger to me. Shit. Things really are changing.

This is my wife. Well, only technically, and only for now. I found out she had been cheating a few weeks ago. She still is actually but she has absolutely no shame about it now. I guess it only took her a few weeks to get over 6 years of marriage. Wish I could do that.

She still lives in my house because she’s an airline pilot so she has no money and, well, she’s never been much of a planner. I didn’t want to force her to move hundreds of miles to live with her family for fear she would try to take our son or something. Not that she could, at least not easily. Also I guess I didn’t want her to be on the street. I’m rethinking that now.

We’re not home more than 5 minutes before she gets a call from him. She answers the phone with a tender, soft “hey”. The sound of it is so familiar. So sweet. It’s the voice that’s caring and tender and happy to hear from you and says I love you all at once. That used to be the voice she would use to answer my calls, say good morning, or goodnight. I can still hear it. “Hey babe”. That was just 2 months ago, maybe less. Mere weeks out of 6 years of marriage.

“Can I call you back in a few minutes? I just got Parker. Ya. Ok.”

I’m stunned at her bold disrespect and sickened by the pain simultaneously. I go numb. I can’t look at her. I finish my conversation with our son, hug him, and go upstairs to wait for them to leave.

She quickly follows me up to what used to be our bedroom, but stops short of walking in.
“Is there anything I need to know?” she asks.

“He’s been napping nearer to the middle of the day and going to bed on time.” I managed to reply, barely.

“Anything else?”
“No.”
“On time for bed… What time is that?”

My head suddenly aches and my face flashes with heat. And oooohhh how badly I want to scream at her!
“You stupid selfish bitch!!! How can you possibly not know that!?!”

Almost… but I can’t. I just can’t.

An extra second or two passes and, still without looking at her, I again manage to speak.
“Around 8:30.”

“That’s it?” She says, slightly amused and incredulous.

She acts as if she expects us to talk, to have a polite little conversation. She damn well knows that I’d like to say more but won’t because I’m afraid it could cause trouble in our looming custody negotiations. She seems to enjoy that I’m ignoring her, that I’m frustrated. She, the cheater, the betrayer, the person who I trusted most and then destroyed our family, has total freedom to torture me with her passive-aggressive taunting.

“That’s it.”

I can’t look, but I can feel it. I know her. Her eyes are rolling and her twisted smile is widening. This is how she fights, always has been. Low. Dirty. Mean. Never seeking to reconcile just to hurt. So many times in the past I faced her down and got her to snap out of it. Then things would be fine, better really… until the next time. Those fights were few and far between. I loved her, and so I could fix it. But not now. No. Now I hate her. What would I do now? I don’t know. I don’t know what I would do if I turned to face her.

It takes longer than it should, but she finally gets Parker’s stuff together and leaves.

This is my life now. I fucking hate my life now.