Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Harder than I expected

This business trip of my husband's has been harder than I expected it would be. I wasn't looking forward to it, and neither was he, but the reality of it hit hard last night.

Initially, he suggested my daughter and I go with him - to diffuse exactly this tension of him traveling. It didn't work out, for legit reasons, and I was fine with that. The few days leading up to the trip he bent over backwards to plans things so the week would be easier for me. For example, he makes a chicken casserole that my daughter likes a lot, so he suggested he'd make that before he left, so dinners would be easier. OK, good. Sunday night he put it all together, and then started to make rice. I said why are you making the rice now? Well, so you won't have to. Um, I'm capable of making rice, and it's better fresh. Calm down. Oh, I put the non overproof lid on the casserole dish, and forgot to put aluminum foil - I interrupted him. I am capable of putting the foil on the dish before baking it.

I have a hard time when he's being overly thoughtful, actually, because I can't tell if he's doing it because he wants to take care of us, or if he's hovering because he feels obligated. And when he does things because he's obligated, that only leads to frustration on his part, because I generally hate to be "mothered" or hovered over.

Here's the thing. Last year, in October, he had a 4 day business trip to Portland. Which he extended to 5 days, because the meeting was extended. Except it wasn't. He and his then-flirtation both extended their trip, so they could consummate their relationship. I helped him pack, and asked why he was taking his bathing suit. He explained several times
how the trip had been extended. We had a long talk before he left about our relationship, me knowing something was going on, but not knowing what. Our talk was mostly about the pregnancy loss, and how hard it still impacted me. I thought he understood.

Our normal practice when traveling is to call home around 6:30, 7, or dinner time, to talk with or daughter, and then to call later in the evening to catch up with each other. The first night he was away, he made both calls. On the later call, he asked me about my then job search and I started in on the latest, but pulled back. I remember telling him that I needed to protect myself from him a little bit and not depend on him to be my sounding board. I think we continued to talk twice a night for the rest of the week, though.

I found out later - through an e-mail exchange I found - that he and fling (I've asked this before of you all - not sure what the hell to call this stupid girl) spent the last day tooling around Portland, a beautiful city (I had several great business trips there myself, always wanted to show my husband that city). They took pictures, and both had them on their computers. My husband has deleted the pictures, I've never seen them. (I've never seen this girl, either in person or via picture, part of the mystery for me). They consummated the relationship the last day. I don't think they spent the entire night together, but I am probably wrong. Maybe not through, they were traveling with other work people so might have not risked it. My husband insists it was the only time they were together. I don't know if I believe him. He says he had to turn her down "many" times throughout the fall. I once asked why, and he said he knew it wasn't right and knew the physical stuff had to be put on hold til he resolved his marriage. Again, not sure I believe him, though when he so kindly explained the girl's frustration with him it sounded believable.

My daughter really missed him on that trip. She didn't - still doesn't - usually notice our absences that much - too young to get the passage of time. But that trip was different for her. I was putting her to bed when he came home - she sprang from my lap in the rocking chair and RAN down the hall to the stairs, jumping with glee to get a hug from him. He came the rest of the way up the stairs and gave me a big, what seemed heartfelt hug, and handed me a box of chocolates. I said she really missed you. He said I missed her. I missed you. I missed you both.

He was distant that night once she was in bed, and that Saturday distant again. We just hung around home, doing small chores and errands. His coworker called him at one point, he looked at me startled, went into the other room and they had what sounded like a work conversation. He took my daughter for a couple of walks. That night, he said he wanted to do the bedtime routine, since he had been away, and I stayed downstairs while he bathed her and got her ready. His phone chirped with text messages, so I picked it up. "What are you doing now?" from his co-worker. Nothing big, but certainly odd from a coworker on a Saturday night. I looked at the history. A full day of exchanges between them. Her generally, needily, asking what he was doing. "Taking daughter for a walk. She likes acorns, has a discerning eye." "I'm not surprised., she takes after her dad." Later, "watching football - I'd give anything to be watching with you." Aha. The smoking gun.

I walked upstairs, told him on a stone cold voice I would finish putting her to bed. He obviously had better things to do. What do you mean, he asked. I said I saw the messages. He shot downstairs. I finished prayers and tucking in, and walked down.

He said what's wrong, what do you mean you saw the messages. His eyes searched my face. "I'd give anything to be with you? what's that mean?" He said nothing, searching, searching my face. I said, give it up. He said nothing. I said "get out. Go stay with your friend. You can see daughter every other weekend and one evening a week." I turned away. He said grabbed my arm. "I want more time with our daughter." I was speechless and numb. Not the response I expected.

Somehow, we ended up talking long into the night. I started what turned into my line all last fall - you don't just up and end a 12 year relationship with an affair, you have to earn your way out, try to resolve this, give us another shot. The night ended with him saying nothing had happened on his trip, and he would end the budding relationship.

And that, dear friends, is the week before I started this blog. Sunday my parents called and told me my dad was having heart surgery on Wednesday. Tuesday I started the blog. Tuesday night/Wednesday morning I had my first middle of the night wakeup/panic attack. Wednesday we went to our first counseling session. Wednesday my dad's simple heart stent turned into triple bypass. By Saturday the text messages started up again, I discovered them again, and it all blew up. I could put a link to every sentence I just typed, but it turns my stomach to think of going back and rereading those posts.

So yeah, this trip is hard. Really really fucking hard. His flight was early Monday morning. He called me/us from the plane. He called when he landed. He called at dinner. He called at night. Each time he says I love you, I miss you. He just called a few minutes ago.

I spent a lot of last night thinking - what was supposed to happen? In my husband's mind, what was supposed to happen? Was he intentionally careless and stupid so I would find out and hopefully kick him out, making it easier on him to leave? Was he going to string it along? For how long? What was he thinking? I know he wasn't, really, thinking at all. But what was supposed to happen?

At one point this spring, when we had a joint counseling session (so weird - me, him, my counselor, his counselor, all together), his counselor said it almost seems like WhichBox is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. I have PTSD because my husband cheated on me a year ago.

I've typed this a lot lately. I know, I absolutely know, believe me I get it, that either I need counseling or we need counseling, or maybe both. Picking up the phone and making the first call is the hardest part. I have names of marriage counselors who take our insurance. I've had this list for months saved on my desktop. Because laying in bed, in the dark, reliving every emotion from 10 months ago is not healthy. Not for me, for the baby growing inside, or for the marriage, and so ultimately not for our daughter, either. I wish there was such a thing as closure. But you and I both know there is not. I'm actually out, at the library, now. Needed a change of scenery from the house. My pledge to me is to call counselors tomorrow. Because if this work trip caused this much grief, if I'm already dreading seeing acorns on the ground, this fall is going to be one rough, rough ride.


Tash said...

Just want to say I'm so sorry. I'm thinking of you. And thank you for blogging.

k@lakly said...

Counseling seems like a wise thing now, for all of you. Wish I had more to offer in assvice but I don't. Sounds like he is trying to earn the trust back but how that works...or how long it takes for both of you, no idea.

CLC said...

I am so sorry Which Box. I wish I could say something better but I got nothing. Except that what you write seems very normal to me, and I think that your emotions aren't unusual.

Antigone said...

This post has left me crying at my desk (at home thankfully), selfishly. The e-mails, the trips, the phone calls...all so familiar. My relationship was only five years though - and we never even made it to a counselor.