This is going to be a long post, because it's important to get this right. Hang in there.
Of course last night I could not let it go. I asked him, ok, so can you give me a preview of tomorrow. He says, well, our counselor agrees with me that what this relationship needs is some space.
What. The. Hell.
This leads into a long discussion - I'm just so sick of him hiding behind excuses. Our counselor thinks we need space? Or HE thinks HE needs space? Because I do not need space. I need him. Our daughter needs him. He says it's going to be hard, because my parents are planning to visit for Christmas, to be supportive of me, and they stay here, and "for everyone" he should move out - to a hotel - while they are here. My brother lives in this area, but my parents prefer to stay here as we have a spare room - a spare room he is staying in now. Again, I call him on what HE wants, versus hiding behind another excuse. Does he want to be here for Christmas for him, for our daughter, or does HE want to move out? We talk about counseling. The counselor had strongly suggested we go see the Tyler Perry movie about relationships this weekend - and he said he would go see it by himself.
I finally say, that's it, I'm not going to counseling. What am I getting out of joint counseling, except steamrolled by him (and our counselor, too)? When do I get to say what I want, and when does that matter? I want a grown up husband, who accepts responsibility and steps up to life as a fully realized adult.
Our daughter starts coughing. And I say I would DIE for her, if I had to, and I guess the bottom line is you're saying you won't. Because life here is crushing you, and you deserve better, you can do better, and so you won't put her needs above your own.
I am frustrated. I say for her, I am taking all this. If not for her, this would be over. But for her, I am just taking every crappy thing he dishes out. Letting him have his space. Letting him do what he wants, when he wants. I am starting to think, I say, that maybe it is better for her to have a mother who shows self-respect than to have two parents who love each other and work it out.
I say that last night he had said, the thing is I really want to talk to...my friend M about all this - and at his pause, I had honestly thought he was going to say he wanted to talk to me. Because I wanted to talk this through with him. He was my best friend, and I desperately missed my best friend.
We talk again about this relationships are work thing. He says it just shouldn't be that way. I say you'll never know, if you walk away, what could have happened. You walk away, it's done. You stay and "work" and who knows. But if you walk, you'll never know, you're guaranteeing a specific outcome.
He says please go to counseling. I finally say I will if he agrees to go to the movie with me. He agrees.
I go to bed angry. I wake up angry. I don't want to go to counseling. I resolve to go, and not cry, to disassociate. What is the point of participating, after all? What ever happens there? (To be fair, movement has been made. At our first session he was ready to move 20 miles away. A session later he was thinking 6. Now he's been looking within a mile or so. But still, it's all about him.)
He and I drive separately, and I leave the house first. In our urban area, there are plenty of options for how to get there. It's snowing, and I choose a route that's slow. I'm still angry, and I think, as I often do, of his grandparents. His grandfather passed a year ago, his grandmother just this past August. They were married 62 years, and his grandmother passed just weeks before what would have been their 63rd anniversary. The refrain at the funeral was that they had spent those 62 years together, and now would spend the 63rd together, as well.
I loved them very much, from the first time I met them. I've never really gotten his parents - they are foreign beasts to me. But I got his grandparents, and they got me. His grandparents could have been either set of my grandparents, similar backgrounds, and sensibilities, and values. His grandfather was a classic curmudgeon, the patriarch, ruling over his family with his judgments and pronouncements and strong sense of right and wrong, and no fear of saying anything. I loved him. One time, he leaned over and said to me, I've never been with another woman other than her. I've never wanted to, she's everything to me. The rest of the family was horrified he said this to me (and I'll admit it was a little, um, kooky), but it was him. Speaking his mind.
So I pull up to the left hand turn light - the one I'll have to sit three cycles through (city living at its finest), and a car pulls in front of me. I sit there, thinking about his grandparents, and how I wish his grandfather was alive to knock some sense into my husband. And I slowly focus on a sticker on this car in front of me. OLOL. My skin starts tingling, and I look closer - under OLOL is "Our Lady of Lourdes." Their church. The church my husband's father and uncle went to Catholic school. The church they attended their whole lives, that was a center of their life. Where I cried through both their funeral masses.
I start to cry. I've been praying for a sign, for any sign. For help. For grace. For strength. And now his grandfather has sent me a sign. I look at this sticker for 5 minutes, through 3 cycles of the light, and know I have to go to counseling, and I have to keep doing whatever I can do. And that his grandparents are still there for me.
(I live in the Mid-Atlantic. My husband's grandparent's church is in upper NJ. And this car in front of me has ALASKA plates. I ponder for a second what message the Alaska plates might be, and decide to just accept the sign I was given).
I'm late to the session. 5 minutes. My husband's car was in parking garage, so he had taken another way and beat me. I get to the waiting room and it is empty. I sit down, and my cell rings, the counselor, asking if I was coming. I say I'm in the waiting room, I'm here, and she buzzes me back.
I walk in and sit down, and don't look at my husband. The counselor says he's told her about our conversation last night, and she wants me to know she can't make this work. I say I know. She says she's not conspiring with him against me and what I want. I say I know. She says what do I need, and I shake my head. It's all just too hurtful.
I say the thing is, there's ambivalence here, and uncertainty. And why can't we explore that, instead of talking about moving out? If there's ambivalence and uncertainty, why can't we do the RIGHT thing, and not the wrong thing?
My husband responds, but what's right and what's wrong?
I say I've been thinking a lot about his grandparents. And their 62 years together, and his grandfather's constancy. As a young GI in WWII, away from his wife for years, a good looking American, when he probably had ample opportunity to sample all that Europe had to offer, he stayed constant and true. That's the right thing. And I say the only thing my husband shares with his grandfather is his last name. He has none of the core values, the moral integrity, the center that his grandfather had. And then I tell the story of the sticker. I'm close to sobbing as I say OLOL, Our Lady of Lourdes.
The counselor says that's very powerful. And asks my husband to react. He says he's been thinking a lot about his grandparents too. I finally look at him and realize he's crying. He says on the drive there, he was thinking of exactly the same story - his grandfather telling me he had only ever been with his wife. He says he's been thinking for so long how he needs to cry, to get out what's inside of him, and for the first time, on the drive to the counselors, at the light where you sit through three cycles to turn left, he felt his grandfather's presence so strongly, he just broke down.
The counselor asks what his grandfather would say if he was here, and my husband says how often his parents would talk divorce in front of him and his brother and sister, and how his grandfather would counsel them to stay together, to make it work. He says how his parents are not helpful, how they think he's on this path to divorce and they're just not saying anything. And how his grandfather would have much to say.
They go back and forth on this a bit.
My husband is crying hard. And he says, I know what I need to do. I need to stay and try to work this out.
I look up to heaven and say a small prayer, thank you grandpa.
The counselor catches my eye - my husband is crying, she wants me to reach out to him. I know this is hard on him, and he doesn't want me to. I touch his leg and he pulls away.
He says there are no guarantees, it still might not work out, but he knows we need to give it a shot. The counselor asks if there is anything I could do for him to make this less painful. He says, he can't ask for anything from me right now. Eventually he can, and will, but right now it's him - he has to try to make this work. I say I don't want this to be too much for him. He says, no, he knows what he has to do.
The counselor says it's remarkable we're on the same wavelength. That he had told her yesterday that I was his best friend. That there were times he thought he could kill me, but overall there was no one who understood him as I did.
The counselor says she feels like she's just witnesses something very powerful. He agrees, as do I. It's time to wrap things up. She asks for parting thoughts. I don't know what to say. He's still crying. I say, I feel very blessed his grandfather sent me a sign today. He agrees, as does she. We agree to a next session on Monday.
We walk out silently. We ride the elevator silently. We walk out into the snow. He says now that he's started, he can't stop crying. We walk to our cars. He's still crying. I try to hug him, to comfort him, and he says no. He says he feels like he's just experienced a miracle, and he doesn't deserve it. He says when he got there - knowing I had left before him - and I wasn't there, he thought I might not come and that is really was over, and he didn't want that. But he knew I would come. He says when I start in on the story of what I had experienced on the drive, he knows what he needs to do, and when I relayed the OLOL sticker, it became so clear to him. I say part of me feels like his grandfather should have visited him, but that I needed that sign. He said he didn't need the sign, I did. He cries more and says he's finally gotten the clarity he's needed.
I say it hurts me to see him so hurt - that I don't want him to hurt, that I want to help him. He says I can't, and that he needs to continue to see our counselor himself. He says he knows I think we should now do something together, go to lunch, talk, something, but that he needs some time alone. I say I know. He says he's going to need time alone. I say I know.
We get in our cars and drive away.
5 days ago