What I Want

I have to face the fact that everyone I know wants updates on my life. When they ask how things are going with me, they really mean, “How are things with Carol?”

I went out twice this weekend. First, I saw my friend, Brad. He wouldn’t accept any vague answers, he needed to know how I’m really feeling. “What do you want?” was asked a few dozen times over a few hours. None of my answers seemed acceptable to him. “I don’t know”, “to take it day by day and see what happens”, “to see if I can learn to forgive”, “to see if she has really changed”. No, he kept on asking what I want.

Finally, I said, “I want to not have to be dealing with this, that’s what I want! But I can’t change that so I’m stuck in this shitty situation. No choice is easy, okay? Staying isn’t easy. Leaving isn’t, either. I want to try and see if it works. We’re trying.”

Brad said I’m a better man than him because if that ever happened to him, it would be over. No second chances. I told him I thought the same thing, but that changed.

Finally, I able to steer the conversation to his own relationship. It’s not going well for him. He doesn’t know what her problem is. I told him the solution could be simple, all they have to do is talk. He doesn’t want to.

The next morning, I talked to Carol a bit about the conversation with Brad. That led into more discussion about the affair.

I told her I wasn’t interested in the shit talking they did about me and I let her know that I sure said a whole lot of nasty things about her to the people we know.

I questioned what it would’ve been like if the roles were reversed, if I had cheated and we were working things out. I believe our friends and families would be a lot less forgiving of me. I think that they are accepting of my relationship partially because they respect my choices but I also think there’s the thought that since she’s a woman, there’s more going on behind her infidelity where if it was me, I’d be seen as just another guy who can’t control his urges.

I told Carol that throughout my conversation, I didn’t get a feel for what Brad thinks of her now.

“Well, he’s your friend first, so of course he’s going to have your back. Just like Kelly has mine,” Carol said.

“Wait, Kelly agrees with what you did?”

“No! I mean, she’s my friend so she’s there for my support.”

“Does Kelly not feel bad for me, for what you did?”

“Of course she does! She loves you. She felt terrible for you. She is so glad we’re together, working it out.”

I told her that I still have questions, particularly about how she felt throughout it all. That is if there is nothing left to tell about what happened. She promised that I had all the information. Again, she said it was only with him and only those two times.

Carol continues to have a difficult time explaining her mindset. Here are the things I recall her saying, in no particular order. She was angry, but at everything, not just me in particular. She felt like her thoughts weren’t even her own. She didn’t think she’d ever cheat. She thought doing it would make her feel better, but it made her feel worse (duh). When I probed about times when she might have felt guilt or disgust, she spoke again of just feeling angry at everyone and everything and can’t recall what she thought at the specific times I enquired about. She felt like she wanted to destroy everything in her life. She felt like she hit absolute rock bottom. She needed time away to realize what she wanted and wished it could’ve happened without her cheating. She will never ever do that to me again.

None of that makes me feel any better. In some ways it makes me feel worse. Did she really not come home feeling sick to her stomach over what she did? Was she just angry and therefore feeling entitled to what she did? Is it all just a haze and she really can’t recall how she felt at different points? The questions will keep coming until I’m satisfied that I have the whole picture. Maybe that will never happen. Maybe after enough talking, my need to understand the irrational will burn itself out.

The tears kept rolling out of her eyes as she lay on the bed, trying to express what was happening in her mind. I felt I needed to explain my absence of tears again.

“I just feel angry a lot of the time still. That’s how it comes out. It doesn’t come out in tears. I do still get angry at you, when I’m at work or you’re asleep. When were together and talking, I don’t feel so bad. But I feel a lot of anger at him. I’ve hurt him so many ways in my mind and it feels good to imagine that. It makes me happy. I wasn’t like this before. The thought of anyone suffering never brought a smile to my face, but it does now. He needs to pay for what he’s done but I think, in time, he’ll just bury himself.”

“He will,” Carol agreed.

One more thing to note, following up from a conversation before, I asked her how being a better wife was hard work. She said that when she has rough days at work, like this past week in particular, she has to remind herself that the kids and I are not to blame and she makes the effort not to take it out on us. It’s a struggle but she definitely sees the benefits of this.

The next night, I had dinner with my mother and brother. My brother asked me how things were going in general. My mother decided to specifically ask how things were between Carol and I. I decided to be honest but not share too much.

“She’s being a better wife to me than she ever has, even when we were first married. She treats me well, like she should’ve been doing. She’s a lot happier now, and I like that. She goes to counselling, and we see a marriage counsellor every several weeks. It helps some.”

Neither of them had follow up questions to that. It was the truth but it was missing my feelings about it, my constant struggle. That went unnoticed. My mother got what she wanted to hear, that things are good.

Last night, Carol held onto me and resisted letting me leave the room to get ready for bed. I loved that. This morning we held each other more and she told me that she’ll miss me when she’s gone shopping on the weekend. I loved that too.

Before I left for work, I saw Carol watching a show about people dating.

“I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with dating,” she said to me, happy to be my partner.

This is something we shared with each other before, in the dark days. I could feel the anger starting to creep up on me but I kept it at bay.

“Well, it’s a good thing we’re together,” I said.

What do I want?

I want a woman to grow old with. A partner by my side over the decades. Someone to share my life with, all of it. To love and hold and support. To be loved and held and supported by. I want that to be the same person who carried our children in her womb. The person I already spent half my life with through the ups and downs.

Is that too much to ask?

2 thoughts on “What I Want

  1. No, that is not too much to ask. The good thing about your life? It’s YOUR life. You get to choose how and with whom you live it with, without explanation.

    It’s your script, and you get to write it and re-write it as many damn times as you want.

    Liked by 1 person

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