Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Land Mines Everywhere

HOB popped off that pesky wedding ring the minute he backed out of the driveway in his mid-life crisis car and drove off into his new life.

He refuses to tell me his new address though I have assured him I will not become psycho/stalking wife and scrawl curse words upon his door in squirrel’s blood. I told him it would be nice to know where he is living. He tells me he can’t "live the kind of life" he wants to live if he gives me his address. (I have no idea what that means.) He tells me I have his phone number and that’s good enough.

Though he refuses to reveal the location of his Super Secret Bat Cave, he did tell me the name of the nearby town in which it is located. (How generous!) Knowing HOB, he bought all new, very expensive furniture and moved into a swanky new apartment, one with a garage for his ego machine.

I am sure everyone there views him as the new, mysterious single guy without a past who just moved in. He shops in new stores, drives new streets and has very little chance of running into someone he knows.

Me? I am in the town we settled in twenty-four years ago, in house we bought together, in the neighborhood we loved.

I see our neighbors every day, go to the same stores, and see people we have known throughout our kids’ school years. Our close friends know the situation of course, and the rumor mill being what it is in our town, I am sure lots of other people do as well. Still, when I venture out somewhere, I scan my surroundings and hope I do not see someone who does not know, someone who will ask how my “wonderful” husband is doing. In the early weeks, I stayed home, rarely venturing out. I did not want to see anyone who did not know.

However, life called and I had to go to work, had to get out and shop. I had to go to the dentist’s office, had to go to the local bookstore. At each of these places were people who associate me with HOB and vice-versa.

It was up to me to tell our neighbors who missed seeing HOB with me on our nightly walk. For the first couple of weeks, I wore my headphones and kept my head down as I walked quickly past.

For weeks, I avoided going to stores and when I had to do so, I looked ahead to every aisle, ready to turn around if I saw anyone familiar. My heart beat fast if I saw someone I might have to tell. I could not trust my emotions. I was afraid of losing it completely. My heart raced until I could get to my car. My car was my refuge. If I could get to it, I was safe. I could lose it there. I could drive away and hide at home.

Good friends gave me choice phrases for how to tell people, using some words about HOB that I’ve only seen on bathroom walls. I thanked them, but I knew, generally, what to say. (And no, I didn’t use those potty words. Though I might have gagged on the phrase “he needed to be ‘free.’”) It was a matter of getting the words out without having my voice breaking or cracking, without the tears coming.

div>What was even worse then was dealing with the looks of shock and disbelief on the faces of people. Me being me, I immediately felt like I should take care of their emotional needs when I could barely take care of my own. HOB and I were the couple that were supposed to stay together forever. We were the stable, reliable parents who lived in the Happy House. When I had to tell someone, I could see the hurt and disappointment in the faces of our friends. I felt like “we” had failed everyone.

I have talked to a few people that HOB did tell and they all tell me that when he told them, there was little or no emotion involved.

I believe them.

All through this process, he has been matter-of-fact about our separation and divorce. He acts as though he is canceling a somewhat complicated phone or cable contract instead of a thirty-year marriage. All business. No emotion. Let’s just get this inconvenient life interruption all wrapped up and move on quickly.

Before Sonny Boy and his girlfriend left for Virginia, we stood together as a family and posed for our annual Christmas picture. I look at those pictures and stare into the smiling face of my husband, searching for a trace of remorse. I wonder if he knew, even as he posed for our last family picture together that he soon leave, that we would never actually use any of the shots. I think ahead to Christmas and wonder how to sign my cards this year to people who do not know we are no longer a couple. It seems contradictory to warmly greet people at Christmas time, wish them happiness and joy and then tell them such news. My single signature will invite questions that I will need to answer.

Looking back, I see I did most of the work in our marriage. For years, I cleaned up messes I did not make. I guess I should have suspected I would need to do the same with our divorce.

HOB sits in his new kingdom, among his new possessions, hidden away from the mess of informing people, away from the hassle, away from dealing with the aftermath of his decision. He is creating a new, neat life, free from the messiness of grief and the untidiness of intense emotion.

There are times I envy him and his ability to shut off his emotions. However, I think this kind of event forces everyone to deal with his or her inner demons and complexities--even a person like HOB who denies they even exist or are a problem. HOB thinks he can escape into a new life, but Dr. Betty suspects the emotional ramifications of denying his pain and delaying the process of grief will be damaging to his future relationships.

My pain came out immediately and forcefully. (It still does at times.)

It wasn’t pretty. Just ask those dear friends and family members who supplied Kleenexes and hugs, who listened to me sob on the phone.

However, it was real pain and I couldn't hold back.

I am not embarrassed about it. I didn’t deny it. I felt it completely.

It was hideous.

It was horrible.

It was scary.

It was necessary.

Someday, I’ll live more fully because of it.


Joanna Jenkins said...

Big sigh, Betty. There really are no words other than to say I'm cheering you on and glad to see you are dealing with your emotions rather than hiding in a different town. Hang in there. jj

Macy said...

Betty! I hardly ever comment here, but don't think I don't read your blog. And reading this my heart goes out to you.
He's being an arse Betty, an complete arse.
As I'm sure you have many many friends telling you.

Nothing braver than getting on with life.

Shan said...

I have a stack of Christmas photo cards that did not get sent out last year after the whole deal with Corey. Couldn't send them and can't seem to throw them (the majority) away. There's got to be a better plan.

Hugs and love.

Out on the prairie said...

Sounds like you need a Xmas letter simply stating you are no longer together and leave it at that.Glam up your life and tell stories about the boys. I went to one friends and the family pic had duct tape over the husbands photo. I laughed and thought how he did like to fix everything he could with it.

Crystal Cook said...

I know I haven't visited your blog in a looooong time but I just had to after I saw this post pop up in my dashboard. Betty I'm so sorry for your pain. And I'm amazed at your ability to be a warm and honest person and the courage you show in fighting this. *Big hugs* I'll be thinking and praying about you.

jenny_o said...

Life without emotions is very bleak.

You are on the right road, Betty.

Gigi said...

Rats. Is something wrong with the comments? I KNOW I posted a comment here yesterday!

ladydazy said...

Wow! Well said. You are stronger than him and he knows it. You will succeed in life because you dealt with your emotions and are still dealing with them.

When my mother died - I have 4 sisters - 2 of us went to grief counseling ready to deal with are grief - 2 of my other sisters didn't go. They still are dealing with their grief. We as humans can only remain numb for only so long until wam! we gotta deal with our emotions.

I love the way you write. You have such a gift. :)

Cheryl Kohan said...

Well, as I see it, you have hundreds of friends who are more than happy to be a support for you. He has nothing. It'll get to him after awhile...I'm pretty sure of that. xxoo

LittleSilkDress said...

The way you are allowing yourself to feel and work through all of this will make you so much stronger. Proud of you, Betty.

Alexandra said...

You're right, Betty.

He can't go around it, he must go through it.

I've seen it with my two older sisters.

that's all I need to say here.