Thursday, June 30, 2011

Time wasted in things that don't matter

Today a close girlfriend of mine discovered that her husband was having an affair. She found out in an inconsequential way -- mistakenly picking up his phone which is identical to her own, and seeing a text message right up there on the screen with something like "I miss you baby" on it.  Intrigued, because the text appeared to be from a man, she scrolled up and found many such texts and pictures and the woman's real name.  Let's call her Sal.  Rubbing her eyes in disbelief, feeling a little woozy, she re-read some of the messages thinking it might be a prank (her husband has a crass friend who sends him NSFW messages and silly texts) but no, it appeared to be real.  Her voice quavering, her heart pounding, her mouth dry, she confronted her husband once she'd safely sequestered him in the bathroom, away from the children. "Who is Sal?" she asked. Her husband sat on the edge of the bathtub looking panicked. "Oh I didn't want you to find out this way" he said, weakly. Remaining very calm, she asked him whether he loved the woman (as he had professed to on the texts). He replied that he didn't know.  Did he want to marry her? He replied in the negative.  How long had it been going on? Oh about a year.  I must remain calm, she thought. I must not show him that this is a big deal to me. 

She picked up her keys, got into her car and drove to my house.  When she arrived, she was shaking and she could hardly speak because her mouth was so dry.  She was strangely calm however.  She didn't scream or cry, nor did she raise her voice.  In her bare feet, she paced my kitchen floor and asked me quietly what I thought she should do.  "Perhaps you should ask him to sleep on the sofa" I offered.  None of us could muster the words they use in movies.  No-one said "the bastard" or "men are pigs."  I gave her water and listened as she walked and talked.  Her husband is a good man. She has always trusted him.  He is a good father to their children.  He says he loves her. But he has not been paying her any attention lately, blaming it on stress and work and a new hobby.  And so she has been working hard to figure out how to make their marriage better, going to counselling and digging deep into her own psyche to work out "issues" that might be hurting them. She tells her friends "You should really try marital therapy; it's quite wonderful. When you've been married for as long as we have, everything gets so knotted up, so intricately woven together, that sometimes it needs to be picked apart and given some sunlight."  She has everyone believing this because she has an infectious, cheerleader personality.

But lately she has been suffering from depression which she hasn't told anyone about.  She hides when she feels down, doesn't reach out to friends, is ashamed by it.  Finally, she found a psycho-pharmacologist and was described a low dose of wellbutrin and she tells me that her mood has lifted.  She has been getting up in the morning with renewed vigor, laughs more with her kids, is sunny when her husband is grumpy, feels excited about her work again, has regained her sense of humor. She loves the warm weather. She says she feels sexy again.

She emailed me late this evening to tell me that she thinks she's still in shock. Her hands and feet are cold, her lips are blue, and she has thrown up four times. She has an extra blanket on her to keep her warm and is tucked into bed.  Her husband has not been banished to the sofa. She is worried that if she tells him to leave, he will run to the other woman. But she has told him that he must cut off all contact with the woman he is sleeping with.  She is proud that she has remained composed, proud that she hasn't screamed or cried or behaved like a fishwife, but inside she is wounded, and embarrassed and she wonders whether she will ever be able to trust him again. All her self-esteem has evaporated.

"It's not the sex per se" she writes "but the fact that another woman is giving him pleasure that he doesn't seem to want from me any more.  She has the power over him and I feel as if I've lost mine. The carpet, which was so pretty, has been pulled out from underneath me and I'm falling into the void of the unknown."

Another friend, W, who came over this evening to write, said "it's hard to leave something that's comfortable even if it isn't the right fit." We were discussing a piece one of our group had written. She'd just watched and had been moved by this Ted-talks film by Ric Elias: 3 things I learned when my plane crashed. It's really worth watching.
“I regretted the time I wasted in things that did not matter with people that mattered” -- Ric Elias
Call your friends and loved ones and tell them how you feel.  You know, shower the people and all that. It is our basic human need to feel loved and wanted.

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Wzzy said...

How heartbreaking. What an emotional earthquake, made exponentially greater in magnitude because there are children involved (regardless their age). I love you, Miss W., and the fact that you are there, with loving wisdom and warmth, for your friends.

Anonymous said...

I think it's sad, the husband has just gone and destroyed everything, he was careless and reckless. Its obvious he wanted to get caught, its obvious he is thoughtless to all, for you know he is playing the I'm miserable in my marriage line to the other woman and lying in therapy to make his wife miserable. He is masocistic!