When the Dark Cloud Lifts and the Truth Shines Through

I’ve covered a lot of ground in these blog posts already but there are gaps in the timeline. There’s over 6 years of a marriage breaking down under my nose. There were many great memories in that time and a handful of bad ones. Ones that made me think, this marriage is doomed. Do I want to, or need to cover that period in detail? I don’t know. Maybe today I’ll just post some thoughts without trying to follow a timeline.

Six years was a big stretch of time during which Carol had convinced herself she wasn’t happy with me. You know when the cheater gets caught and they tell you they haven’t been happy in a long time? Then you reply with, “What about when we did x?” They might reply that yes, they were happy then and their argument has already begun to fall apart. Or they may reply ‘no’, and you have to accept that they’ve been putting on an Oscar worthy performance, pretending to be happy with you all this time. No, the truth is, the cheater needs to believe they were unhappy in their marriage all this time in order cope with their actions. Or at least, that’s what’s been my experience.

Carol had become unhappy in general. That unhappiness was all put on me at some point. It didn’t work all the time, we still had many moments of genuine happiness together. However, a few months before the incident, she wanted a divorce. She took it back the next day, but she was past the point of no return. She was in a place that maybe had to get this bad before she could realize the true source of her misery: Rick.

The period between the incident and officially getting back together was roughly two months long. It began with a first month of separation and certainty that the marriage had ended. The second month was a period of beginning to toy with the idea then test the waters of being a couple again. I’ve covered a lot of the second month and beyond but much of the first month I’ve not written about.

The first month started with a lot of false beliefs about Rick, the man I had warned her about many years ago. She was no innocent victim in this. She did play her part and is fully responsible for her actions but still, she was very naive about his motives and in her desire to please, she forgave him far too quickly for his constant poor treatment of her. When, shortly after the incident, she referred to him as ‘a very good friend,’ I knew she was far gone in a world that didn’t match her reality. He’s been an absolute poison in Carol’s life, chipping away at her happiness for years.

I knew it wasn’t just my bias towards him speaking when the illusion started breaking down during that first month. Carol would say something positive about him but would begin to question it when I provided my point of view. She would open up more about their relationship and I’d learn that her relationship with him was far more messed up than I could imagine before. She’d withheld information about him from me over the years because she didn’t want me to like him less than I already did. But Carol, opening up about it and hearing her own words, began to realize how absurd it was. He was not ‘a very good friend’.

After the incident, she saw him with new eyes. He took weeks off of work while she picked up the slack again, just like he did to her years ago when she was pregnant. Here she was again working for two for her ‘good friend’ to have all the time away he needed while her world had been destroyed by her actions with him. She began to see the pattern. Whenever he needed something, she was there, but when she was struggling, he would abandon her and leave his work with her. When he was around her, he’d complain about his life, he’d control the conversation by switching between ‘friend’ mode ‘boss’ mode unpredictably, he’d engage in screaming matches with her.

With time away from him, Carol saw the relationship for what it was: toxic. He was a terribly unhappy person due to his own life choices and his idea of friendship with a woman was bringing her down to his level. He wanted to cheat on his wife and that was always a potential goal for him when forming ‘friendships’ with women. Rick was fine with using Carol for that purpose. He was fine with destroying her marriage and family while remaining in his bizarre marriage of cheating, verbal abuse, hard drug use, and suicide threats. He wanted her to sacrifice it all to be his side piece. He was devastated to learn that she is working on her marriage.

Stepping back and looking at this, Carol could clearly see that this was no friendship at all. That she had downplayed in her mind how poorly he has treated her over the years. And when he abandoned her post-incident, she was wise to the game and saw how only when he wanted something did he appear to be helpful. Helpful at work only, not supportive at all to Carol regarding her life.

All the while, I was trying be supportive to Carol in spite of how she completely betrayed me. Through this all, I had deep conversations with her, encouraged her and pushed her to seek therapy. I also gave her plenty of hell too. I did not sugar coat what I thought of her. Only once did she try to throw it back at me and my righteous fury was so intense, she took it back quickly. No, her screaming matches with her ‘friend’ were not healthy and daring to engage in one with me was not somewhere she ever wants to go, she quickly realized.

So Carol had a comparison here. The person who got what he wanted, who was in such a messed up marriage that his wife forgave him immediately, left Carol to suffer alone and do his job as on top of hers. The man she betrayed, though hurt and quite willing to let her have it, was still there for her. Still guiding her to self improvement and happiness. Her husband was in her corner. She was wrong about Rick and she was wrong about Jack.

Rick was not her support while she suffered in a bad marriage, Rick was the source of the majority of her misery. She’d bring that misery home to her husband. She would push me away as she became convinced that I was the problem. She went from crying on my shoulder about a terrible person to resenting me for not liking the terrible person that was now her friend. He tried to go out with her alone as a ‘friend’ under a flimsy premise and I would be insulted that Carol would even dare ask if she could. “I’ve had it with him! I need to look for a new job!” She’d say one day and the next day, he’d do just enough to keep her from leaving and all the sudden I was the asshole for hating to see my wife suffer from this abuse.

No, I couldn’t get her to see. I’d try to get her to see.

“He’s trying to go on a date with you,” I’d say.

“No, he’s just a friend. Besides, he’s gross.”

“He’s only doing this because you lost it on him and threatened to quit.”

“Well, he’s been doing really good lately. He’s so helpful now.”

“A good friend? This is the guy who ruined your pregnancy by being an incompetent asshole!”

“He did not, you’re exaggerating!”

“I was there! You’ve cried to me about him so many times over the years. You’ve practically had nervous breakdowns while I held you!”

“Well, I don’t tell you about all the times when he’s really nice.”

Without him in her life, she has become a much happier, more confident person. I’ve encouraged her to go to counseling because I was certain she would see, with guidance, that Rick was in fact, the most toxic person in her life. It became clear that the guidance couldn’t come from me, as she just refused to believe when it came from me, her husband. I wonder if Rick feared the idea of her seeing a counselor because he knew the truth too?

The tumor has been removed now but the treatment is not over.

“He’s going to try to gain your sympathy now. Be on your toes, it could get nasty,” I say, thinking about his latest suicide threat, considering that it may have been intended to get Carol’s attention.

“I know, I’m staying as far away as I can under the circumstances,” she says, fully understanding now.

We are hopeful that his parents, seeing just how unstable he has become, will have to remove him from his position. In the meantime, Carol has been looking for other jobs.

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