As I’ve mentioned a few times before, Carol and I had an argument early last year regarding her desire to go on vacation sans husband or kids. I fought against it, and Carol responded by telling me she wanted a divorce. Then she cried and blah blah blah, no such separation occurred until I told her to get the fuck out of my house three or so months later.
In the time between her wanting the divorce and me discovering her with the vertically challenged, greasy loser, Carol came up to me one day and said, “It’s a good thing I didn’t go on that trip because my friend’s having a destination wedding at the same place and we’re invited!”
“When?” I asked.
“Sometime early next year!” Carol exclaimed, joyfully.
“Okay, so you and your friends are all going?” I asked, assuming that this had nothing to do with me.
“Yes, and we’re going. You and me!”
“Oh, okay,” was all I could say at first.
My mind was going to many different places. Firstly, she reminded me of that awful argument where she said she wanted a divorce. Secondly, she was including me this time around, so I figured maybe things were turning back around to good again (my idea of ‘good’ back then was still a long shot from the ‘good’ I deserved). Thirdly, money was an issue and I felt the pain of having to make two major vacations work financially, but I immediately decided that both a family Disney vacation and a friend’s wedding were necessary and I would borrow from the bank to ensure both happened. Fourthly, I’ve never been big on the idea of going to a resort for vacation but now that I had reason to go, I figured I might as well give it a try. Besides, Carol’s excitement was becoming a little contagious.
“Yeah… yeah. That sounds great. Let’s do this!”
I spent some time learning about the country in question. Although we’d be on a resort and everyone would be speaking English, I figured it would be fun to learn a bit of the local language anyway. It was my way of finding enjoyment in a place that is about fun in the sun, something I’m not able to partake in for health reasons.
The details came in and the trip was to take place a little later than originally expected, which was fine, it just gave me more time to come up with the balance. So, at some point in the first half of last year, I put in my deposit for two for Carol’s friend’s wedding in May 2019. I did include cancellation insurance, just in case. I like to cover my ass.
So, by May of 2018, I had put down deposits on two vacations: Carol’s friend’s wedding which would be a fun, adult time, and our Disney trip, which would be a great time for the whole family. This wasn’t a common occurrence in any sense. Usually, we’d only get away for a few days here and there and not too far from home. Now we had two full vacations booked, one of them being the family trip of all family trips: Disney, a place where neither Carol nor I have ever set foot before.
And it was then, then of all times, that the atomic bomb went off in my life. I learned that there was no hope nor joy to be had in planning ahead. Planning means disappointment. The bigger the plans, the greater the devastation.
Well, the friend’s wedding trip was easy to sort out. It’s Carol’s friend, so I would not be going.
“I was starting to really look forward to that trip,” I told my estranged wife.
“Do you want to come still?” Carol asked.
“Yeah, right. Share a room with you as what? Friends?” I scoffed.
Although I had purchased the cancellation insurance and would be getting most of my deposit back, I took my sweet time canceling my part of the booking. Eventually, I didn’t need to anymore as Carol came back home to be my wife again.
Don’t think it didn’t cross my mind to hold onto that reservation right up until it was nearly time to go, and cancel it all right under Carol’s nose. I thought it would be poetic. After Carol decided not to be married to me half our marriage ago but let me still believe that we were so I would continue to take care of all the financials amongst other things, it would only be fitting that her money handler would become her ex-money handler in a spectacularly disruptive way. That would never happen even if we went ahead with divorce anyway, because I’d use my better judgment and decide that, for our children’s sakes, Carol and I would need to develop and maintain a good working relationship. Still, it crossed my mind, as with many other forms of revenge, from petty to extreme. Hey, it’s how you cope with wounded pride, so feel free to fantasize away.
The family trip, on the other hand, was more complicated.
On the day of the incident, as I sat on the stairs to the bedrooms trying to process all that took place, I received a phone call from Carol. I answered immediately, happy for an opportunity to give her another verbal lashing.
“Yes?” I asked with the conceit of a man who has just been handed the power to destroy two other lives.
“Um, I’m back at work but my car keys are at home…” Carol said.
“How did you even get back to work?” I asked. I had kicked her out maybe a half hour ago and sent her walking up the street, alone.
“Uh, I called Rick to pick me up.” He had driven away from our house a few minutes prior to me throwing Carol out.
“How sweet of him,” I replied sarcastically. Her knight in shitty armour. “Why don’t you get your lover to bring you back here to get them. He can drop you off down the street. He better not come anywhere near my house and he’s certainly not pulling into my driveway.”
“He dropped me off and went straight home to tell Jennifer what happened.”
“No, he did. He said he was going to come clean to her.”
“Bullshit, but don’t worry, I’ll make sure she knows all about it,” I said.
“Okay, but, uh, can you maybe, uh, bring my keys to me?”
“Absolutely not. Are you kidding? There’s people with cars at your work. Get one of them to drive you.”
“I guess I can get someone to.” She paused. “Do you want to go somewhere for a bit while I come back to get my keys and some clothes?”
“I ain’t going anywhere.”
“Okay, I just thought… so you don’t have to see me.”
“Don’t worry, I can handle it,” I said then it was my turn to pause for a moment. “Carol?”
“This is really fucked up.”
“What am I going to do about our Disney trip?”
“I… I don’t know.”
“I can’t cancel it,” I said. I wasn’t talking about cancellation insurance, which I had on this trip as well. I was talking about the fact that the kids already knew about the trip so there was no chance in hell I was going to take that away from them now. Even if it put me into debt forever, they were going.
“I know,” she replied.
“Maybe I’ll bring my mom instead,” I suggested, instead of bringing my ex-wife.
“Okay,” Carol said shakily.
There was another long pause.
“I’m going to come get my keys now,” Carol said.
“Alright, see you in a bit,” I said then hung up.
A few days later, a different thought occurred to me. Although I found Carol to be a disgusting, awful person, the kids did not feel the same. To them, she was still their mother, and they were expecting to share the trip with the both of us.
While Carol was folding laundry at the house before heading back to her parents’ for the night, I took a moment to talk to her.
“I hope we can take care of the kids equally. They deserve both their dad and their mom. They also deserve to go on a family vacation as a family. And we both deserve to take them there as their parents,” I said.
Carol just hung her head and cried.
“So, uh, okay,” I said and quickly left the room.
After that, I had floated the idea of spending more money to have separate rooms. I figured I could make that happen with a little help from my understanding parents, if necessary. I was genuinely confused when Carol shot that idea down. I certainly wasn’t looking forward to sharing a room with her and I couldn’t imagine her wanting to share a room with me, considering the great lengths she went to destroy her marriage to me. But again, her behaviours made no sense then and I still don’t understand them today: you love someone but you’re not in love with him but you want to be with him but you don’t want to be with him but you fuck a piece of shit but you wish you didn’t but you did it for years but he was your friend but you hated him but you weren’t ‘thinking’ but… but… but…
That Disney trip was a great source of frustration. We were seven months away from our family vacation and there was no way around it, we were all going. Before long, I’d want to meet someone new, and I knew I wasn’t going to wait seven months to start dating again. Ideally, I wanted to be divorced before going out into the dating world, but realistically, that wasn’t going to happen.
The next best thing was an official separation, and with that in mind, I began pushing Carol to work on a separation agreement with me. I did most of the work beforehand, determining the value of our assets, drafting some custody arrangement options, discussing my housing situation with my father, and booking an appointment for Carol and I to talk to our mortgage specialist. Carol asked me what the rush was and I told her that I wanted to go out and date soon and being married still wasn’t a good look.
Still, even if we became officially separated, we were still going on a family vacation together in December. Who the hell is going to be understanding about that? I could just imagine starting to date then having to say, “Oh, by the way, I’m heading off to vacation with my ex-wife for a week. See you later, honey!” I tried to convince myself that if I really hit it off with a woman, and told her a bit about the situation I had come to be in, she’d understand, but then maybe she’d just see the baggage I’m bringing into the relationship and decide it’s not worth it.
I hated to be put in this situation. I hated Carol for that. It happened that we decided to give it another go together and we didn’t have to go to Disney as exes anyway. I didn’t need to formalize our separation and start looking for love all over again.
Those issues were resolved, but not in my heart. I’m still working through them. So when I received a text from a friend on the weekend, telling me that he got lucky with a new lady, I zoned out. I imagined the excitement and fear of getting sexual with someone new, and, same as many times before over the years when such things cross my mind, I felt the relief of being in my marriage and not out playing the dating game. Then I thought that, because of Carol, I was about to have to go out and play that game again in my late 30’s. Then I thought, in her own fucked up way, Carol played the game right under my nose.
Carol kicked at me playfully. I barely noticed.
“What are you doing?” She asked.
“Huh? Oh, thinking,” I said absently as I crawled into my mind, hiding from the world and the anger.
“What are you thinking about?” Carol asked from somewhere far away.
“Just life and stuff,” is what came out. I really didn’t want to deal with her and this. Do I ever?
Carol wrapped her arms around me. I decided to hug back in an attempt to appear normal to avoid further questioning. I wasn’t convincing enough.
“Tell me what’s wrong,” Carol whispered as she held me.
“Why do we have to be dealing with this?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said, sadly.
I was in no mood for a confrontation but that answer was not good enough.
“Why? Why destroy everything? Your family? Even if you believed I was awful and you regretted having a family with me-”
“I didn’t,” she interjected.
“-but your job that you loved so much? Why destroy that? Why destroy everything?”
“I wasn’t trying to destroy everything.”
“But that’s what you did. That’s what you were doing.”
“I was in a dark place. I went too far and didn’t know how to get out.”
“With him though? Everyone knows he’s a piece of shit. You knew it. If you played it right, his ass would be gone, long gone,” I stopped and thought for a moment. “Why did you come back?” I asked.
“I need you. You’re good to me. I can’t…” Carol began to cry, “I can’t function without you.”
“Why do you need a man to have power over you?”
“What?” She asked, maybe she was a little surprised at the new question.
“You were above him, you were better than him, then you just handed him power and control over you. You gave him something to hold over you permanently. Then you come back to me and it’s the same situation: now I have power over you because of where you sank yourself to while I remained above it. Why? Is that what keeps you with me now?”
“No, I don’t want people to have control over me,” Carol said then thought about it. “I don’t think I do. I don’t know. I was just so confused and depressed, I lost sight of who I was and what was good in my life.”
“Four years is a long time to go on without thinking, ‘hey, wait a minute , this is terrible, he’s terrible and now I’m being a terrible person’.”
“I was confused, and I was fooled. I’m just so, so embarrassed that I let him get to me.”
Carol cried for a while. Then she asked, “Is it wrong that I need you?”
“It’s not wrong to need someone to care for and to care for you. We all need people to share our lives with. Nobody’s really a lone wolf. But you have to have balance. You have to know that you are strong on your own too, that you’re not going to fall apart just because I’m not around for a few days,” I said.
The conversation moved to how Carol feels nervous around men in general and how some men at her work make her feel more nervous than others. I told her I learned to mistrust a long time ago and I’m always suspicious of other people’s motives. I told her I’m glad she’s hyper vigilant right now and that I hope it settles down to a more reasonable level as she becomes more confident in her ability to stand up for herself and be strong. I told her to think about how with a person like Rick, it was in his best interest that Carol was unhappy. That’s the state an abusive person needs their object of desire to be in and remain in. We also talked about past events in Carol’s life that I shall not share here. I will say that she had her own traumas that went unresolved for many years which may have had a hand in taking her down that dark path.
With another conversation out of the way, keeping the anger monster at bay, I look forward to our trip next week, the final of the two big events I had put money down on a long time ago, in another life, in another marriage.
I made sure to book one more session with HT this week to help me keep my mind on fun and off the past as my mind needs a vacation too.