At the beginning of the month, I took Carol out to celebrate our anniversary. The night before I took her out, I asked her if she remembered what happened on that day a year ago. Of course, she didn’t. She doesn’t write things down so she won’t remember significant dates outside of birthdays and whatnot. I told her that it was the day she said she wanted to stay home and be my wife. I remember the day precisely due to my post about it. Thanks, blog!
When I took Carol out to dinner, I informed her we were celebrating our new anniversary.
“It’s not our anniversary yet, silly,” Carol replied.
“Yes it is. It’s our new anniversary,” I informed her.
There was no more conversation about it.
Last week, we received a card in the mail from my parents. It said “Happy Anniversary 2019”. I can’t help but think they added the current year instead of the number because they feel it would be a lie too. I sent a simple “thank you” text to them in response.
On the weekend, both Carol’s parents and grandparents came by for a visit. Her grandparents brought us a card. I gave them a “thank you” but the conversation continued. I sat silently as they all spoke of why they remember the date of our and other family members’ anniversaries, as Carol’s parents were teased about forgetting but having one more day to remember since it wasn’t our actual anniversary yet, and as someone (I think it may have been Carol) mentioned that it was our thirteenth anniversary.
I was annoyed. Maybe Carol’s parents don’t want to acknowledge the anniversary either. After all, it has come and gone now with no word from them. Her grandparents, on the other hand, have hardly any of the details of what happened between us. I’m unsure if I had written down the conversation about them that Carol and I had while we were separated, so here goes:
“What do your grandparents know?” I asked Carol.
“Nothing. I just told them that I left you,” she replied.
“Excuse me? You left me? That’s not at all what happened. Now they will like me even less, thinking that you left.”
“Well, they are old and religious. They don’t need to know the details.”
“We’ll see about that,” I threatened.
When we were back together and in need of child care so we could go to counselling, her grandmother volunteered and told us, “Of course, anything to help your marriage.”
Today, I wonder if they still believe that Carol left and all the implications that come with that phrasing. I wonder if the card was innocent or if there was more like, “Happy anniversary. You actually made it another year, no thanks to you, Jack.” It makes me want to tell them, “Just to clarify, your granddaughter did not leave me. I kicked her out and let’s leave it at that.”
The conversation moved on from anniversaries and somehow got to her parents inquiring about us giving the bed in their basement to my son. That’s exactly what I didn’t need to hear about. That bed needs to be destroyed but I don’t know how to go about it. I have to get it out of their house and take it somewhere to burn it or destroy it some other way. It’s something I have to figure out and there will steps I will need to take and other people will have to be involved, while I have my strong desire to not have to talk to anybody about it. I don’t know what to do, but I want it gone so I never hear about it again.
People just don’t realized how much Carol has ruined. They have no idea. And I certainly don’t want to fill anyone in on what hurts and why. I’m fucking stuck.
So, after that, our actual (former) anniversary day came and went. Last year, Carol wished me a happy anniversary with one of those stupid Facebook videos, and it received very few ‘likes’, unlike previous years. This year, Facebook had their generated video ready for me to share or edit and I immediately hit ‘show fewer posts like this’. Carol shared no video either. No one posted on our walls or messaged us. Carol never even wished me a happy anniversary in person. I never heard from her parents who were teased that they had one more day to remember. Aside from those two cards beforehand, I got my wish. The old anniversary was erased.
I got what I wanted and as a result, I feel heart broken all over again. I never wanted my life to be like this. I want to be able to share the stupid video on Facebook and say, “Wow, I can’t believe it’s been thirteen years!” and thank all the people for their well wishes, but I don’t have that anymore. It’s gone and I hate it. I hate her for it. It’s just all been ruined and for what?
Last night, as we lay together, not acknowledging a formerly significant date, we were watching a show where the main character was going through a health crisis. First, he was arguing with the doctor about what he was initially told when diagnosed. I could relate to that. In January 2010, when the doctor dropped the bomb on me, I could hardly remember what I was told.
“Fucking doctors,” I said to Carol. “You give people the shock of their lives and you expect them to be able to process everything you say!” I shouted at the TV doctor.
Next, it was the day before the character’s surgery. He broke down and cried, “I don’t want to go!” It sure reminded me of my breakdown, where I felt the overwhelming urge to jump right out of my body. It had failed me and I needed out. I kept crying and repeating, “I can’t do this.”
Then the character lay on the gurney in a hospital hallway as he waited to be transported to surgery. That’s where you get to lay in terror for a little longer, I recalled. It’s when you’re nearly past the point of no return. You’ve been prepped and now you have a little wait and maybe a visit from the anesthesiologist, where he/she will tell you what they’re going to do and how there’s a chance you can die, so sign the form. Or maybe that form is already signed before. I don’t remember.
And finally, the character is in surgery and is asked to count backwards from ten.
“They don’t make you count,” Carol said.
“They did for me,” I replied. “I don’t think I made it past seven.”
“Oh, well they didn’t for my back surgery,” Carol replied.
Before my brain was able to process what was going to come out of my mouth, I muttered, “I can’t do this anymore.”
The character made it to ‘six’ and was out. The screen began to fade, and all that could be heard was his breathing. I shut off the show.
“Sorry, I can’t. It’s too familiar,” I said as I fought the tears. Carol looked up at me. “I just need a moment,” I said as I tried to calm myself with deep breaths.
Carol kissed me, “I love you,” she said.
“I love you too,” I replied. “I just need a moment. Too many reminders of that awful time. Can you believe that it was almost ten years ago? I thought I was a dead man.” I paused for a moment, reflecting, then said, “I’m still here.”
“You’re still here. I love you,” she said again.
“I love you too,” I replied again. I was now angry at myself for showing weakness. I was glad that at least I didn’t say “I love you” first. I only do that in reply now. Never first, not anymore.
I turned the show back on and we finished it. I was dismissive as possible about my reaction to the surgery scene, doing damage control.
Never show weakness.
Never let anyone believe you need them.
The motto of the betrayed.
But in those moments, I felt like I was with my life partner. Today, all it took was some Twitter posts about kids knowing about their parents’ affairs that got me angry again, got me believing that can’t stay in a marriage with someone who had done what she did. She gave our kids a memory of their parents separating. She destroyed everything for that thing. Sure he was a manipulative sexual predator, but he was bad at it, like a poker player holding his cards the wrong way. He can say he has a flush all he wants, but everyone can see it’s just a whole lot of nothing in his hands. Carol chose to ignore that with Olympic level mental gymnastics.
Yeah, I’ve said it all and thought it all before. But when something makes no sense, it makes no sense. It’s like watching someone saw off their arm to realize that life is a little more difficult with only one arm. No shit, it’s no secret that sawing off your arm is a terrible, destructive, irreversible decision but you did it anyway. You don’t make any fucking sense.
I have a vague memory of Carol saying something along the lines of, “I honestly didn’t think you’d even be too upset,” early on, regarding our separation and maybe even my discovery. How divorced from reality do you have to be to think something like that? Is there any hope of reconciliation when the betrayer can go to such lengths to justify their terrible actions in their mind?
This is where my mind goes still. Not every day, but any number of things can trigger it. Reminders are everywhere: the anniversary, the bed, the betrayed on WordPress and Twitter. Then there’s just when Carol irritates me, my mind will go to all the horrible things she has done as it tries to convince me to leave.
They say it takes 2-5 years to recover from infidelity, or something along those lines. I’ve made it one year, and now I’m trying to get to the two year mark. I’m still picking those flower petals every day: I love her, I love her not, I love her, I…