Sunday, December 31, 2006
A very interesting thing happened the other night. I had a very painful conversation with my wife. It wasn't easy, and at one point she actually used the words "it's over". I resolved myself to accept the situation as it is, and live my life based on that. Right now, she is gone. Period. She isn't coming back, and I cannot sit out on the porch gazing over the horizon waiting to see her silhouette come walking down the road.
It's possible that she may find what she's looking for, and decide to come back. It's also possible that some rich relative I've never met will leave me a large inheritance, but I cannot make my decisions based upon either possibility. Time waits for no man, and I have to go on. If she has a change of heart in the future, the burden will be on her to win me back - not the other way around.
After I made the decision, I cried. When I finished, I accepted reality. That night, I slept the whole night through without waking up shivering in a puddle of sweat for the first time in a month. Sure, I have down moments during the day, but I'm trying to focus on the positive, and I managed to make it through the whole night again last night.
I've dropped about 17 pounds, and I've started to work out again. I'm feeling better both physically, and emotionally. It's not too surprising given that studies have shown exercise to help reduce stress. Admittedly, she looks great too. That's not so easy for me to accept, but again, it's reality.
I really appreciate the outpouring of support I've gotten. Thank you for continuing to watch me heal.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Sometimes I find myself feeling down, and it's really frustrating for me. I know I need to let go, but I just can't seem to do it. Then I get a little angry at myself for being weak, and yes, even a bit pathetic.
For now, I'm content that the lows are no longer quite so crushing, and the highs are a little more frequent. As with any roller coaster ride, the scariest part is the first drop.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
This morning, a good friend of mine observed: "I think a lot of your trepidation with her leaving has more to do with your own feelings on your ability to be in control of your life." While I don't know that I necessarily agree 100% with that statement, it does have elements of truth. Part of this may indeed be a control thing for me. But, it's a funny thing about control, sometimes not being in control can be a good thing too.
When I was promoted to Sergeant in the Army, one of the first things I said was "You know, there's a lot to be said for being a Private." My reasoning was that as a Private, you really don't have any problems. If a problem comes up, you tell your Sergeant and now it's his problem. As a Sergeant, however, not only do you have to deal with all your own problems, you also have to take care of your subordinates and look out for their well-being.
In this situation, I don't have any control. That also means I cannot be held accountable -- especially to myself. I have done everything I can, and I can do no more. It's time to focus on things I can control.
I still love my wife, and I still want her back. No matter what happens, I always will. Still, it's nice to not feel so black.
Ironically, while I'm feeling better emotionally, I'm feeling worse physically. I'm one of those people who very rarely gets sick, and when I do, my immune system knocks it out quickly. Unfortunately, stress takes its toll even on me. I'm achy and I have a scratchy nasal passage and throat. Also, my knee is killing me today (7 years as a Paratrooper also takes a toll). But I know the knee will feel better in a day or so, and I'll probably just end up with a mild cold.
Perhaps one reason for my optimism is because things went well for my daughter's birthday last night. I picked up an ice cream cake for her (as requested), and cooked her favorite meal. The meal turned out great, she loved the cake, and she was ecstatic with the birthday presents (jewelry).
My kids have been my island of sanity through this. We seem to share each other's pain. I grieve when they do, and they hurt for me as much as themselves. I think seeing them a bit more happy perks me up, and I hope my new found optimism will have the same effect on them.
Another thing that has really helped me through this is my parents. I call them 5 or 6 times a day, and they are always willing to listen. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I complain, sometimes I rejoice. Regardless of the reason, they're always willing to share it with me and to offer some kind words and hope. I love you, mom & dad.
Although this is anonymous so I can't really give the credit deserved, it's worth mentioning that I also have a few close friends who have really stepped forward. You know who you are. All I can say is thank you for telling me when the sun is shining.
Finally, I think writing helps. I've always been an emotional creature. Unlike a lot of men, I prefer to talk about my feelings. I'm generally the one who wants to talk things out. Also, I like show tunes and theater - but don't tell anyone. ;-)
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
"Most things break, including hearts. The lessons of life amount not to wisdom, but to scar tissue and callus."
- Wallace Stegner
My wife just called. She's going to look at an apartment. Although I've been expecting this moment, I now find that I'm not prepared.
I'm a zombie. I walk through the office and smile at the people I pass by, but they don't know that I'm dying inside. I want to go somewhere and cry, but I can't.
I know I have to let her go. I know that if there's any way she'll ever come back, she has to find what she's looking for. For me, it is the all-consuming question, and I'm terrified of the answer. I can't remember when I've ever been this alone or afraid.
I'll see her tonight for my daughter's birthday, and when I do, I'll do my best to put on that same smiling face that greets my new coworkers. Later tonight, when the kids are in bed, and she is gone, I'll listen to some music, reflect, and try to cry it out. Tomorrow is another day.
Today is my daughter's 15th birthday. My wife is supposed to be coming over tonight to wish her a happy birthday and share some cake. With a little luck, she may also decide to stay for dinner. My daughter asked me to make Chicken Parmesan for her birthday, and while it's a lot of work, I think I do a pretty good job of it.
Since the kids are out of school all week, I'm going home to for lunch to see them. Generally, I find that I need to get away from the office a little each day, and seeing my kids is a great bonus.
As I mentioned before, my wife and I went to the movies on Saturday afternoon. It felt really awkward for both of us, and she left without having dinner. Maybe it's still too soon for things like that.
The next day was Christmas Eve, and initially, she really didn't feel like coming over (or doing anything, for that matter). I vented a bit on her (perhaps unfair, but even terse communication is communication), and ultimately told her that maybe it would be best if she didn't come. For some reason, after that she decided to come and spend the night.
While wrapping Christmas presents for the kids, I explained to her that I was going to forget everything for one night and just enjoy her company and be happy. I explained that I'd like to just pretend things were normal, and in return, the next day we could sit down, finish our business (splitting the finances, etc.) , and go on.
Even though I knew I'd have to deal with it later, I just wanted a small break from the torment. I wanted to have my wife back for a night -- even if only temporary. I wanted us to be a family again for Christmas. In many regards, I approached it like the end of the movie Artificial Intelligence: AI. Even though I knew it would only be one night, I needed it so badly I was willing to accept the implications.
As we wrapped presents, I jokingly told my wife that there were two things I wanted for Christmas that we couldn't put under the tree: I wanted her to help me with a quest in an online game we both play, and then take me to bed. "I think that can be accommodated", she told me with a grin. And she did.
Christmas morning we got up with the kids and did our unwrapping. I think this was the first time we didn't open a single gift on Christmas Eve. The kids seemed happy with what they got, which I think pleased both my wife and me.
Later in the day we sat down for the unpleasant task of dividing our debts. Admittedly, I cried a little, and she showed me a softness and understanding that I haven't seen from her in a while. I tried to steel myself against the upset, and we continued.
In October, we moved into a somewhat expensive place ($2,450 a month) so my daughter could go to a very good school. My son's school is right next door, and is equally impressive.
Let me tell you what kind of person my wife is. After we equitably divided debts, it began to look as though I were going to have a pretty tough time. She juggled some numbers around, and then insisted that she pay $500 a month of the rent so the kids wouldn't have to change schools or be disrupted.
I'm really torn by that. On one hand, my machismo is killing me because I have an ingrained sense of chivalry. True, I don't get any child support for the kids, but that's not my wife's fault (they're from a previous marriage). Still, I feel like I should be the one being the hero to the rescue - not the other way around. Then I realize that perhaps that is one of the problems that caused this outcome to begin with, and I commit myself to not let pride interfere. This is something she wants to do, and I'm going to let her. In either case, I appreciate the help, but even more, what it represents.
I'm still holding on to hope. Hope is one of the things that makes us human. Hope motivates us to strive for greatness, and sees us through the struggles in life. Hope can also be maddening. I'm coming to realize that hope fits naturally with love and passion - that in order for something to be wonderful, it also has to have a dark side.
Thank you for reading this. I promise that if you keep reading, I'll keep writing. Together we'll make this journey, and one day, maybe someone else will be able to use the map we create.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
I think part of the way I feel has to do with the holidays. Holidays are a family event, so I'm surrounded by constant reminders of what's happened.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
While I sincerely appreciate all of the well wishes and support, I think it's important to prevent the perception that I am the "innocent victim" here (e.g. the good guy). Clearly things would be easier if we could write this off as one of those things that is all her fault. Meanwhile, back in the real world, things are never that cut and dry.
First, understand that you're only getting one side of the story here -- mine. Even at that, you're only getting the things I feel like blogging about. You won't read, for example, that I didn't get my wife anything for her birthday this year (even though I deeply regret it). Yes, I planned on getting her something, but at the end of the day, I failed.
I would also point out that we each took risks when we got together that we knew were risks. She was exceptionally young. I knew it, I knew it was a risk, and I knew that this was potentially one of the outcomes. I accepted the risk, which means I must also accept the consequences. Furthermore, I was not young, and I had the benefit of experience. If you burn your hand on a hot stove, most people don't blame the manufacturer. It's a stove - it's supposed to be hot!
For the record, my wife was always and continues to be very caring, supportive, and concerned for my well-being. It's one of the things that I love about her. She didn't leave me for another man, and she didn't denigrate me as she went out the door. As I understand it, she merely felt like she needed room to grow.
Sometimes it's easy to forget that apart from the couple entity, a marriage also consists of two individuals. As 1/2 of a couple, I'm extremely hurt by all of this. But, as an individual, I support her decision. 20 years from now, we may look back on this as something that preserved our marriage (the fact that we were allowed to grow individually, as well as together), or we may look back as friends, and decide that it was a good decision for the friendship.
In any event, I don't think this is a situation where assigning blame is productive or deserved. I haven't, and you shouldn't either.
PS: As odd as it may seem, we have a date today. She should be here in about 45 minutes. Please wish me well.
Friday, December 22, 2006
I talked to her candidly this morning, and I told her that I felt like she wanted me to wait while she went off and did her own thing, and if she didn't like it she'd be back, but if she did, well, it was fun while it lasted. She confessed that in a way, that was exactly what she was asking. Then we began discussions on how to separate our finances.
Honestly, I think not knowing is worse than anything else. At least if I know it's over, I can begin the healing process.
When I was a kid, we had a mangy old black tom cat who would go out, roam around, get in trouble and come home all torn up. He was a mass of scars, yet he never seemed to give up his perpetual fight. I remember one time my mom had to doctor him with peroxide, and it bleached his fur. He looked ridiculous, but still carried himself with a a level of arrogance known only to cats. Now it's time for me to put peroxide on my wounds. My ears are torn, I'm in pain, and I'm tired from years of the same, but I must continue the fight.
They say if you love something you should let it go. There is no question in my mind that I love her. Amazingly, after 8 years, my heart still skips a beat when I see her. But when you love someone, you have to do the right thing. So now I let her go. I sincerely hope she finds what she's looking for - she deserves to be happy.
I don't know what the future holds. I don't know what my life will be in 3 months, or 6 months, or a year. Maybe she'll go out and realize that the grass isn't really as green as it looks from here. Conversely, it's equally possible she'll discover that she's happier on her own.
In either event, I know you can never go back. If she changes her mind, and if I feel the same, we can go forward together perhaps, but nobody can ever go back. No matter what happens, though, she is my friend, and I love her. Goodbye, by wife.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
The plan was that she would meet me after work so we could wrap up some Christmas shopping for the kids. I stopped on the way and picked up a single red rose, and a card. I wrote a short note in the card explaining I was empty without her, and put the handwritten poem, neatly folded, inside for her to find.
She waited for me in the driveway, and when I got in the car with her, I gave her the rose and said "I thought I'd show this rose what something really beautiful looks like." Then I handed her the card.
Honestly, I'm not sure what her reaction was. It was a little awkward, but she was gracious and appreciative. Anyway, here's what the poem says:
Today seems better than yesterday,
Although she is still gone, and I
Kind of worry that I'll have to live
Every day without her from now on.
My kids love her, I love her, and
Everyone says we're perfect together.
But no matter how much I try, it
Always seems to be in vein. I
Can't seem to make her want my
Kisses the way she used to.
Perhaps she'll realize that I
Love her more than anything,
Except I worry that maybe she
Already knows, and the problem is
She hasn't decided that she loves me
Endlessly like I do her.
Now the kicker. There is a hidden message in this poem. Can you find it? Here's a hint: use the first letter of each line, and read from top to bottom.
My wife is exceptionally smart, and very good at puzzles. I told her there was a hidden message, and she found it without needing a hint. Somehow, I knew she would.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
"Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane."
- The character Red in The Shawshank Redemption
I had a better night last night. My wife came over to help get my son ready for a choral concert, and then we attended the concert as a family. Things almost felt normal for a while, and it was a welcome respite from the suffering. Even temporary relief is relief.
I did make one slip up: I showed her this blog. I knew it was a risk, but I decided to take it. She felt like it was an attempt on my part to make her feel guilty. Actually, she was part right. It was an attempt on my part to influence her feelings, but guilt wasn't a factor in what I had in mind. I guess I keep hoping for one of those great movie moments where the wife has the dawning realization that her husband loves her, and she loves him. Guess what, movie buffs-- things don't work that way in real life (or so I'm finding out).
After my faux pas, and based on what she perceived as an unfavorable reception from the kids, she was inclined to leave before the concert. I convinced her to go along, and agreed that she wouldn't have to stay for dinner after if she were uncomfortable. As it turns out, she opted to stay (even if briefly).
We talked a little, and I was reminded of the friendship aspect of our relationship. The simple truth is that I really do enjoy her company. She has a great sense of humor, and we have literally hundreds of inside jokes that nobody else would understand.
Which brings me back to hope. She agreed to go to some counseling with me after things calm down a bit. We also tentatively have a date to go to the movies this weekend, and we're playing it by ear to see how it goes for Christmas.
Hope keeps me going, but it also scares the hell out of me because I'm afraid it will cloud my judgement. Will I be able to see a problem, or will I be a damn fool and ignore the truth merely because it's not what I hope will happen? Is it reasonable of me to hope I can win her back, or is she merely being nice to me out of respect because she's a good person?
She is a good person, but I'm hoping that she's not just being nice. That's not to say I want her to be mean, it's merely a question of me hoping that there is some deeper meaning in how she treats me.
I slept a little better last night. I only woke up shivering and soaked in sweat twice. That may sound like a lot, but it was a vast improvement from the night before. Also, although I woke about every hour or two, I still got more sleep. Things always seem better with a hot meal and a night's sleep.
I hope the rest of the day goes as well. Her and I are supposed to goChristmas shopping for the kids tonight.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
I wouldn't say I was/am a bad husband. I'm not husband of the year or anything, but I don't think I was bad. I mean, I suffer from the laziness common to a lot of men in the United States. I didn't clean up after myself, I didn't help with the housework, and I was generally unappreciative. It all seems so silly to me now. I'd happily do every bit of housework until the wee hours of the night if I could then crawl in bed beside her. (Men take note!)
Perhaps foolishly, I still hold out hope. It's still not too late to go back. In my heart, I'm hoping that she'll "come to her senses". After all, she is still struggling to get equilibrium with her thyroid hormone levels.
In early summer, she was diagnosed with Grave's Disease, and in concert with her Endocrinologist, we decided to pursue the radioactive iodine treatment to kill her thyroid. I hope that she'll get her thyroid levels under control (as of last week, they were extremely high), see what life is like outside our little family, and decide that it's worth it to work things out.
Maybe even more foolishly, I saw a shooting star a few days ago, and I made a wish. I think you know what I wished for. So far, no luck - but tomorrow is another day.
I can't stop playing that over in my head, and each time it hurts as much as the first time. Over and over again and again she tells me. Logically, I expect I'll probably go through this until I begin to numb from it, and I no longer feel quite a profound stab in my heart at the implications. Emotionally, I wonder how long that will take...
My daughter turns 15 in about a week, and my son 13 a week after that. They are both exceptionally smart, and very empathetic. Last night, when we had to tell them their step mom (who, by the way, I've been with more than twice as long as I was with their mother, and who has also been an important figure in their lives) was moving out, it broke my heart. Unbelievably, these two kids, who clearly have their own pain to deal with, were more concerned with my well-being than anything else.
Demonstrative of this point, at about midnight last night, my daughter slipped a note into my room. It was neatly folded, and on the outside was written "Sleep well, Daddy!". The inside makes me cry every time I read it. Here's what it says:
I love you so much!!! To me, you are the bravest person in the world. Tonight is probably going to be the toughest night on you probably in your whole life, but I just want you to know that I feel your pain, too, and I will be here for you all night if you need me. You're the only person I've got to lean on. you're my only friend closer than 2,000 miles. I know things will turn out better, no matter what happens. Things couldn't get much worse than what has happened. If you're there for me, I'll be there for you. I love you! [heart]
I shared the commute to work with my wife, and on the drive, she dropped a bomb. She told me she was starting to feel like she married too young. We discussed things, and she explained she was unhappy. It was upsetting for me, and embarassingly, I stopped and puked in a garbage can in the parking garage on my way to the office.
Continuing my bad luck, later that afternoon I was summoned by the CEO. The bottom line: much like my wife, he was unhappy too. His recourse: you're fired. (Termination is always painful, but when you're a Director in the company and making $125K, it's even more so.) What a day!
Although there are many more details, I can only write so much at a time. My hope is that the whole picture will eventually be painted, and I can fill in more detail later.
When things started getting bad, I wrote an open email to my wife. That later became more of a journel. In either case, this seems like a more appropriate venue, so I'll share it with you.
Supposedly, writing about your feelings is supposed to help. I don't know that I'll ever work up the nerve to send this to you, but I thought that perhaps it might be beneficial for me to share my feelings with you.
I expect this may be a process of discovery for me as much as you. Sometimes when I used to write blog posts, I'd find that it helped me focus my opinions, and indeed learn a little about myself in the process.
If I do manage to send this, I'll update it as I have new things to write about. With that, I'll begin this first installment.
You may have noticed over the course of our relationship that I've been reluctant to put my feelings in writing. Admittedly, doing so now makes me a bit uncomfortable. The invariable question I expect people to have is wondering why I would be uncomfortable. It's a little difficult to answer. I think it's about the risk. In putting things in writing, I risk being ridiculed (strange though it may seem), or having my very words used against me later. I don't think you would ever hurt me with my words - at least not consciously - but the nervousness remains. I now endeaver to trust you (and perhaps myself) by attempting to verbalize the way I feel.
I know I say it frequently, but but I mean every word when I say that I love you. In fact, it's more than that. Sadly, the English language has but one word for love. They say the Eskimos have something like 30 different words for snow, yet we have only one very broad, very general term for something that can be so profound. With that in mind, it certainly appears that the challenge is articulating exactly how I feel about you with any degree of accuracy.
I am a realist. Realistically, I know that if you left me, my life would continue. It simply has to. There is no alternative -- at least not one I'd like to entertain. Emotionally, however, I cannot imagine having a life without you in it. The very thought of it makes me physically ill. I don't know if I've ever felt quite as empty and lonely as I have since we started having problems.
I want you to know that I consider you my best friend. You're someone who knows me perhaps even better than I know myself.The issues I didn't get to yet, that I still would like to write about are:
- Taking things for granted / courting
- Controlling nature
(Note: my wife was out of town over night on a business trip when I wrote the next entries)
This was a bad night for me. One of the worst I can remember. Oddly enough, I think it was rough on me in part because of some of my undiscussed items from last time.
Right now I feel:
- out of control
As I contemplate these things, I'm coming to the realization that I'm probably not in the right frame of mind right now, so it would probably be better if I waited until tomorrow. It's amazing how different things can look with the benefit of a nights sleep.
I expect I'll struggle with sleep (too much on my mind), but if I set my mind to it, I'll grab some Z's and be able to talk to you in 4 and a half hours.
I love you now and forever...
Here's another quick thought: Yesterday was a good day. When you called me (without prompting) and sent me email, it really made me feel loved.
Another update:After getting in bed and cuddling up to your shirt, I realize you do love me. You left a small part of yourself here with me. Sure, it's only a dirty shirt, but you chose to do it, and the symbolism is striking. It means more than you could know. Thank you, honey.
Now I know why people equate passion to love. My god, I love you so much...
12/12/2006 1:40 PM
Blood Pressure: a bit high
I've decided to turn this into more of a journal than an open letter. Maybe one day I'll look back on it and wonder what the hell I was thinking, or maybe I'll be able to look back and know exactly what I was thinking because I documented it. In either case, I'm climbing the walls, so I need to do something to get it out.
I can't seem to focus. It worries me, because I'm starting that new job tomorrow, and I know I'll have to focus. I sure hope I can.
In struggling with this, I'm realizing that I'm a fixer. Looking back, it's been a habitual problem for me. I always want to fix things. This is evident from the fact that I keep letting [my brother] borrow money, to the way I've dealt with [my first wife]. Even when my own parents divorced, I held out hope that I, the oldest son, would somehow be able to fix things and get them back the way they were. What it means to me today is that I feel like there's something that needs fixing, but I just don't know what I can do.
I feel like my life is slipping away, and that my sense of reality is a little distorted right now. Mentally, I've been replaying our marriage. The problem is that it's hard not to create a scorecard -- a checklist, as it were, for everything that is wonderful about my wife that I'm lucky to have, and I feel like I'm losing.
Individual items on my mental list aren't entirely uncommon. The sum of them in one person, however, is exceedingly rare. For example, I really want to be with someone who is smart. Now, there are a lot of smart people in the world, but is there someone who is smart, does not want children but is good with kids, is an Atheist, loves to travel, doesn't mind my corny sense of humor, has an appreciation for books, can approach life's problems seriously but still have a sense of humor, and perhaps most importantly, will love me? This far in life, I've only met one: [wife's name].
That thought terrifies me. I find myself struggling with the classic depression symptom: feeling like I'll never be happy again. Intellectually, I know this isn't true. I've had hard spots in life before, and the sun always rose the next day. Emotionally is quite another story, though. Emotionally, I feel like I just can't go on. Then I'm reminded that I don't have a choice. I have to perservere for the kids. I can't crack up (or worse) because they need me. Frankly, although I love them very much, the thought is exhausting.
The Zoloft doesn't seem to be doing its job anymore. I've been in a perpetual anxiety attack all day, even though I've taken my pill meticulously, so my levels of the medication should be what was prescribed. I may have to go see the doctor to get a higher dosage, or something else to help me through the valleys. That in itself makes me feel weak.
On that subject, I feel like I've [explitive deleted] up royally, to use the vernacular. I feel like only if I had done this, or maybe if I would have known that, everything would be okay now instead of where it is. Again, logically I tell myself that some things are beyond the realm of a man's control. Once again, logic is trumped by emotion and pain.
Sometimes, I think about giving [my wife] little hints to reassure me that she loves me and she wants to work things out. Often, I stop short because I'm so afraid of what the reality might be. I'm afraid if I press the issue, she might just say "you know what, I don't really love you anymore". Even as I write this, that thought makes me cry. But I have to be strong. I HAVE to be, because I feel like if I show too much weakness, it will be an extra burden on [wife's name] and provide yet more incentive for her to seek peace elsewhere.
I'm still holding out hope that if I can gut out the next few months, things will get better. In a sense, that helps get me through. I've often said I can take just about anything for a finite period of time. The problem here is that nothing is defined. In Philadelphia, I had a sense of when it would end. Here, I have no idea. I can only speculate and hope.
[My wife] is going back to [her home state] to visit this weekend. It's childish, but part of me hopes that it will remind her of where we came from, and make her feel like she needs/wants me. Then I'm also reminded that I get along pretty well with a lot of her family, and I wonder what will become of those relationships if she decides to leave. That makes me think about the kids again, and what this might do to them. I go back to [my 14-year-old daughter's] comment about not being able to imagine me without [wife's name], about the two of us being like Peanut Butter and Jelly. Right now, I feel more like liver and onions. (2:15 PM)
In a time when there is a new blog created about every second, why create another? In plainest terms, the answer to that is to preserve my sanity. I'm struggling right now, and writing has been shown to be therapeutic. Furthermore, this blog will provide me with a venue to share with close friends and family.
I actually have several other blogs, however they are all traceable to my name. But, because I don't want potential employers, exwives, enemies, or other nogoodnicks finding this, I opted to do it anonymously. Well, as anonymously as is possible these days. At times, the reading may be a bit awkward as I mask names to protect my privacy, and that of others involved. That said, I'll do my best to make this a good read while still getting my feelings out.
In any event, if you happen to know my real name, please refrain from using it here. Also please don't post any information that might be used to identify me. I have comments turned on, and I do appreciate any feedback I get, but I also need to maintain a modicum of privacy in this very personal matter.