Yesterday, after the counselling session, I continued working through the huge back up of jobs to do at my work, while pausing every so often to expand on a point or two that I had jotted down immediately following the session. I didn’t have much time to dwell on anything, just work and write.
By the end of the day, I had my post ready and a satisfactory amount of work done. Meanwhile, Carol had sent me a Snap just to say “hi”. She likes that we maintain some visual contact throughout the day, and I do too, so Snapchat is a regular part of our relationship now. She looked worn out and sad. I told her so and she replied that she was tired.
When I got home, Carol was making dinner and I went to the bedroom to do some online shopping for a few minutes while lying on the bed. Within moments, Carol was in bed too, lying on top of me, crying into my neck.
“I’m just so done with life,” she said.
“With life? I know work is stressing you out, but you’re okay when you’re here. You have nothing to stress about with me. We’re good”
“I just need to get away,” she replied.
“‘Get away’? From us too?”
“No, with you. I want to get away with you and the kids.”
“You will. Very soon. Don’t let the fact that it’s coming up so soon drive you crazy at work. I know when vacation is really close, it can make work seem almost unbearable.”
Carol sat up, “It’s not just that.”
I could see her struggling with something inside.
“I don’t like… I just don’t want to be seen as a victim. I don’t want any excuses for what I did. I don’t know if it makes sense…”
“Carol, I know it’s not easy. There’s no good way through this.” I tried to find a way to explain this again, but now I struggled too. “What we were saying is that there was a… situation going on. The way it went down… if it happened another way, we’d have to handle it differently. But, in getting an understanding about it, well, it may not be easy to accept, but…”
“It was an abusive relationship,” she admitted. “He was abusive. I know that. He yelled at me, he made me do things I didn’t want to do. All the time. To be on his side, to do his dirty work and talk to his family for him, to vouch for him when he wasn’t doing his job. He’d say, ‘Carol, you’re such a great friend’ and he’d use me.
I just feel so used. But I hate to be a victim. I hate everyone else’s drama and I think they’re stupid when they stay with abusive assholes. Jennifer is stupid because she stays with him. But I was used and I feel so stupid. It’s just so typical. I should’ve been smarter.”
“Typical? Like cliché? I know you hate clichés. What about this one? Coming home to see your wife banging her boss. How cliché is that?” I asked.
“I’ve always considered myself to be a good person, and I’d help people out when needed. He used that against me. He made me care and he used me.”
“Yes, that’s what we’re saying. It was not something you would have done otherwise without years of manipulation. To destroy your marriage, your family, your job? For God’s sake, he introduced himself to you by ruining your pregnancy. You know it wouldn’t have gone down like that if it weren’t for him. He yelled then acted nice when he wanted something from you. He was manipulating you the whole time, working to gain your sympathy…”
“But was that his plan all along?” She asked.
“Maybe. Or maybe he eventually saw an opportunity. Maybe at one point he thought it was a genuine thing between you two.”
“I don’t want to make excuses for me and I don’t want to hear excuses for him either!” Carol shouted as she turned to leave the room.
“Trust me, I’m not making excuses for him. I don’t give a shit what he thought or thinks, he should be buried for what he did.”
I walked past her to get to the stove before her. I knew too much time had passed.
“Honey, the dinner is burnt,” I said.
Carol began to cry again. I wrapped my arms around her.
“It’s okay, it’s just a little problem. It’s fixable. You’re having a really rough time today, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” she cried.
“I’m going to go out and grab some take out. Don’t worry about it,” I said.
I kissed Carol then let go of her and went to pick up dinner.
When I came back, the kids were excited for some fast food on a Wednesday night.
“Daddy went out and picked us up some food because he’s the best husband,” Carol said to the kids.
“Nah, I’m just doing what any husband should do. It’s no big deal.”
In bed, I reread my latest marriage counseling post and became irritated again about how Carol could be so stupid. How many warnings did she need? There was practically a flashing sign above his head saying, CREEP WHO WANTS TO FUCK YOU. I called it years ago but she didn’t listen. I doubt she’ll ever question my judgement on other men ever again.
I really should read up on predatory men. As a man who has never been deceitful to sleep with a woman, maybe I really don’t get it. The thing is, I’ve known creeps my whole life. Men who are just trying to get in women’s pants, and will lie to do that. Guys who appear to be your friend but are lying about you to your girlfriend to try to steal her away. I’ve experienced this but it was always so painfully obvious to me about who they were and what their motivations were. It never took me by surprise.
So maybe it was obvious to her, but since he was her boss, she just felt that she had to grin and bear it at first. In spite of knowing he was a creep from the beginning and trying to handle it as best as she could, he had 40 hours a week for 6-8 years to chip away at her.
Carol has said on a number of occasions, “I let him get in my head.”
If it was an abusive, manipulative relationship, am I victim blaming by still thinking she was stupid and should’ve known better? For being angry and unable to forgive her? Can someone be both a victim and responsible for their part in it?
I woke up suddenly in the middle of the night. I hugged and kissed Carol and told her I loved her. She groggily reached for me and mumbled, “I love you too.”