The Following Night

When I came home from work on Friday, Carol was lying on the couch. We were both tired from the late night Q&A, but her face showed pure misery. I can’t stand to see her upset. After all she has done, I care for her far too much.

She reached for me but before we embraced, she confessed, “I smoked today.”

It’s a habit she has been trying to hide from me for I don’t know how long. It was only since we moved into our new house a year ago that I became suspicious. I’d smell it on her when she’d get home from time to time. I’d tell her she smelled like smoke and she’d blame it on her smoking friend or just deny it completely. While we were separated, I decided to try a new approach. I simply asked in a hushed tone, “How long have you been smoking?” She cried and came clean about it. She was a mess and was smoking heavily after being told to leave our home.

On Friday, she was clearly stressed so she had a cigarette before coming home. She now knows that I can tell when she’s been smoking.

“That’s okay, honey. I don’t mind,” I replied.

Carol was showing that she understood my comments on trust from the previous night. If you tell the person first, rather than let them find out on their own, it is much better for re-establishing trust.

A few weeks ago, she kissed me and I said, “Smoked today, huh?”

“How can you even tell,” she exclaimed, “That was hours ago!”

“It’s smoke. It gets everywhere. It was in your mouth and nose, that’s not going to go away easily.”

And I don’t mind. As long as she can go for days without smoking, it’s no big deal. I acknowledge I would’ve judged her more harshly about it before the affair came to light, but now it’s more important that she feels comfortable sharing everything with me.

“You didn’t want me to know,” I laughed.

“Well I prefer not to make an announcement about it by stinking,” she said, embarrassed.

“Carol, it’s okay. I don’t mind the smell and taste. I did smoke before, remember?”

It’s been over ten years since I’ve smoked a cigarette. June 2007.

Back to Friday, we embraced on the couch. Our hugs since our reconciliation are genuine. They last a long time. They last even longer when one of us is hurting inside.

“I had a talk with Phil again about Rick coming back to work. He said we would not have to have any contact. I told him that’s how it would be at first but what happens when he and Janice step away from the business? Rick takes over. I told him I will not work there if Rick is there at all. I made it as clear as I could but it was hard to talk, I was crying so hard.”

In my opinion, Carol crying like that to the owner shows just how serious this is to her. She is not prone to breaking down over anything at work. She wasn’t done talking though. She had more to say to Phil about his son.

“I told him if Rick goes back to work, it’s just a matter of time before he gets reported. I told him he harasses women at work. I told him he did that to me. I told him that I let him get into my head so fucking much, that I left my husband. That my marriage was almost ruined. I said I’m still to blame for my part. I didn’t do what I should’ve, and I even encouraged it at times…”

A few of these comments made me angry but I set that aside for the moment. Before I could even ask the first question, she was already answering it.

“He doesn’t know exactly what happened between us, about how far it went. But (another manager) already told Phil that Rick was harassing employees. I told him it’s surprising that Rick hasn’t already been reported.”

I asked her for details about other rumoured harassment. There were two employees, one of which had already left before Carol started her job.

“Okay, there’s a little to go with there,” I said.

“I don’t want it to get nasty. He’ll try to drag my name through the mud.”

“With what? He was the boss. It was his inappropriate conduct. He has a history of it. The rest of your managers (all women) hate him and don’t want to work with him. Your story is believable. It’s got people behind it,” I said.

“Yeah but he can spin it that I was going after his job and slept my way up.”

“He can try, but everyone will know that’s absurd. Your track record at work versus his will prove that. He was already removed from his job once. Even if you say at some points you “encouraged it”, the fact remains that he is a man who was a boss over you and you weren’t the only one. I’m glad you accept responsibility for your actions but he used his position and frequent proximity to you to get something from you. He intended to wear you down and do what he did. You are responsible for your actions but you are also a victim in this, whether you accept that or not,” I said.

Carol doesn’t want to be seen as a victim but Rick’s goal was to sleep with her. Carol was eventually a willing participant in an affair and she owns that, but the man used deceit and manipulation to get her to that point. I told Carol how I’ve come to realize that Rick has the same social qualities of his father but he uses those skills for manipulation. Carol responded by giving examples of bizarre things Rick had done at work.

I was able to see through Rick’s bullshit because I was on the outside of it, seeing how he made Carol feel over the years. I was always suspicious of him and so he wasn’t able to charm me in person. This is a guy who can talk his way out of the hospital within hours of a suicide attempt. He’s dangerous that way. It is quite possible that Rick is telling his therapist all the right things to get out of therapy and continue forward.

Carol believes that Rick actually thinks things have blown over in the course of a month away and there’s no reason in his mind why there should be any issues between him and Carol or anyone else at work. According to her, Rick has announced to anyone who would listen that he was diagnosed bipolar. Phil says that this is untrue. I think there is a major mental health issue here but I’m no expert and couldn’t even guess. Allegedly he had suffered multiple concussions over the years. One reason I have not punched him is the fear that I may kill him.

Finally, for a guy who’s making more money than Carol, he sure needs to borrow a lot from his parents. His wife recently discovered where all the money’s been going. His parents are aware too.

“Phil and Janice are going to have to face the fact that their dream of their son taking over the business is gone. Dead. When I’m gone, he’ll have the business burned to the ground within 5 years.”

“They’re willing to sacrifice it all for their loser son,” I said. “Is it his mom that can’t let go? Does he charm her?”

“She is the one pushing for him to stay, but he abuses her more than anyone. He blames her for everything wrong in his life. They’re afraid of what would happen to him, and their grandchildren, if they just cut the cord.”

“There are options for those problems. Options that don’t involve destroying their business,” I said.

I reassured Carol that we are a team and anytime she needs to talk, I’m here. If she ever needs me to accompany her to any meetings with the owners, with or without Rick involved, I will be there.

I did at one point bring up an issue with one of her comments.

“Why do you keep saying you left me? If that were the case, we’d be in a completely different situation,” I said.

“Sorry, I know that’s not accurate. I should say I broke up our marriage over it.”

That’s a better way to put it. She doesn’t have to outright say I kicked her ass out.

We don’t know what’s going to happen with Carol’s job but she thinks it will be determined this week. Phil had offered to discuss it with her and Rick today but Carol made it clear that she refuses to be in a room with him. Phil expressed regret over her having to see Rick on Thursday night at the store. He wasn’t aware that he’d be coming.

I asked Carol if she had any questions for me. She replied that she didn’t think hearing the details of my incident would be helpful. She doesn’t like that it happened but she doesn’t believe she has the right to feel anything about it. I think it’s okay that it upsets her and she doesn’t have to think that just because she did way worse, she can’t have valid feelings about it. I asked if she minded that I blog about my life. She said, “It’s a very you thing to do.” I recommended that she writes about her life too, especially if she’s worried about memory issues as she ages. She’s just not into the idea, unfortunately.

One final thing, Carol told me that before I got home, she was watching a show where a wife was having a crisis and the husband immediately flew home to help her.

“I started to cry because I want that in my life.”

“Carol, you have that. You know I’d stop what I was doing to come and be your support anytime. It’s part of being a team.”

“I know. I was crying because this is what I want.”

“And it’s what you got.”

Treat me like I’m your partner, and I will be there by your side whenever you need it. You just have to talk to me so I know what’s going on.

I told Carol while we were separated, “I’m not your enemy. I was never your enemy.”

Does she finally understand?

3 thoughts on “The Following Night

  1. I really like that you clarify her comments in a way to make her see what has really happened, instead of letting her rationalize. It sounds to me like you BOTH are communicating in a very healthy, way which is incredible.

    How are you feeling about the answers to your questions last week? Have you been able to let them go?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not obsessing over the questions I’ve had answered so I’m not as angry. I still feel that I’ve not gotten full disclosure as I had to pull some answers out of her. The “inappropriate hugging” line of questions went on too long. I’m now triggered by all the nude photos she has let me take of her, knowing that she had sent a photo or photos to that piece of shit. I don’t have much trust for her so I believe she is keeping things to herself still. I will find out eventually.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes the photos would be triggering, I understand that for sure. There are things Mr. P admitted to doing that I’m quite sure I won’t ever allow him to do to me ever again. Although I’ve said that about other things and I’ve slowly allowed them again, with a much less or no trigger.

        I guess my point is that over time, what may trigger you today, may not in a year or 2. Hang in there, it’s a roller coaster ride with highs and lows, but I believe your love for each other will last long after the ride is over.

        Liked by 1 person

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