@sarahklugman (1st December 2011)
I won’t be beat, that’s not my style. I just need to lick my wounds for a while…
I spent hours talking with my father. His down to earth male perspective was honest and filled with empathy. He knew the pain I was feeling, for he had felt a similar pain himself in a time gone by. He also loved my husband as a son; warts and all. All of my family did. I heard my father’s words, but to be honest, I wasn’t really listening; I did not want to accept that my father knew my marriage was over, that my husband had already made his decision. My mind was totally quiet, silenced by a deep, sad pain. I was unable to join the dots and make sense of the speed of his actions.
Then we spoke. I had to hear his voice and hiding in my room, I called him. He said that he had spoken with his Consultant, who was very concerned about his mental health, as a result of the dose of his steroids. The Consultant, he said, had told him in no uncertain terms, that he should not make any life changing decisions until he had completely finished the course of drugs, which would take a further four to six months. I am not sure that my husband totally heeded that advice; or perhaps he did, albeit very short-lived.
My husband said that he felt like he was living life on speed or cocaine; he felt totally invincible. He admitted that he had been feeling manic and that traveling helped him maintain the high of feeling separate from everything in his life, and he admitted that he was not in touch, or even within the perimeter, with his emotions. He was living at the epicentre of the storm currently engulfing his head. He said he was so very sorry and that all he wanted was to come and collect me, take me home and spend time alone with me. I will honestly admit that I was so relieved to hear those words, that I failed to ask any pertinent questions. I told my parents that he was coming to collect me and that everything was going to be okay. I was stronger now and would be clear about my own intentions and needs. I would hold him accountable for his actions and ensure that he explained himself and was completely honest from here on in.
When he arrived at my parent’s house, he hugged me like we hadn’t seen each other for years. I held him close, taking in his familiar essence and felt safe and complete. My parents insisted that we stay for dinner; they wanted to understand what was going on in his mind and be sure that my heart would be safe. He spoke eloquently, appearing to take responsibility for the pain he had caused and promised my parents that he would do whatever it took to make our marriage work and that what had happened was a mere blip, a temporary loss of sanity.
We left my parent’s home an hour later, and he drove the whole way with one hand on the wheel, the other in my lap. We collapsed into bed as soon as we arrived home and held each other close that night. In the morning, we awoke lazily and spent the day relaxing back into each others company. By the evening however, I could feel the energy charged with unsaid words and I think that I already knew what was coming, before the words had formed a sentence in his mind. “I slept with another woman in Berlin”, he blurted out, “it was a huge mistake and I regret it; a moment of temporary insanity”, were his exact words. Then he said that he had done this woman, whoever she was, a real disservice. No mention of the disservice he had done me… Oh hindsight, dear hindsight…
I asked if this had been the same woman who had turned his head a few months earlier. “Yes”, he replied. ‘But you said you had not been in contact with her since she turned your head’. “I hadn’t”, he said, “she emailed me out of the blue when I was in Berlin and we just happened to meet up”. ‘So none of this was planned’, I asked naively. “No, of course it wasn’t. There had been a connection between us, but on an intellectual level, I was not physically attracted to her. It was a huge a mistake and I am so very, very sorry”.
You must know, that at this time, I was in fact falling in love with my husband all over again. Believing we could create something truly wonderful, now I was becoming more aware of myself and my emotions. More than that, I wanted to fight for my marriage, fight to keep my husband. I told him what I thought about this woman, this woman who had knowingly slept with a man with a wedding ring on his finger. In my mind, you just do not do that, not if you have any integrity or respect for other women. Yet I still told him that I loved him, loved him very deeply and that we could work through this, so long as he was completely honest with me.
So I asked if it had just been the one time? “Yes it had”, he replied. ‘ Did you use a condom?’ I asked, “Of course I did!”, he said. ‘Will you be in contact with her again?’ “No”, he said, “it’s over with her, it was a huge mistake”. ‘Okay’, I said, ‘okay…’ and after a long pause I asked if he loved me. “Yes I do, I love you very much and I really want to make our marriage work. I promise.”
I knew that I was prepared to accept what he had done, providing there was remorse. The thing was, it soon became apparent that he wasn’t remorseful. He wasn’t in fact displaying anything that could be remotely identified as a remorseful emotion. He didn’t appear to have any empathy or compassion for me. He didn’t recognise the enormity of the situation, in terms of the broken trust. It was all about him and what he wanted. On the one hand he would be drawing sketches of how we were going to refurbish our bedroom and then on the other hand, he couldn’t even commit to where he would be next week. He was starting to enter his fight or flight phase.
I wanted to understand what he was so scared of; I wanted to be given a chance, for our marriage to be given a chance.
We carefully skirted the big issues and the depth of eggshells on the ground, deepened daily. I could see that he had no idea where the hell he wanted to be and appeared to be waiting for a eureka moment, when he would fall ‘back in love’ with me and then everything could and would be fixed.
I don’t know what was worse… The thought that he was with me, but slowly slipping away, or the dawning reality that this was nothing to do with me and that there was absolutely nothing I could do to fix it. I was feeling strong, beginning to feel grounded in myself, yet at the same time I was living in the twilight zone.
So we made plans to go away for Christmas, to find a quiet space to talk everything through. He booked a cottage, deep in the Scottish Highlands, the plan being to escape everyone and spend time reconnecting. The problem was, he wasn’t talking and as the date for us to leave drew closer, he withdrew into himself more and more. I had to start every conversation, pushing him to open up and be honest with me about his feelings, yet all the while he sat there oscillating. Terrified of saying the wrong thing.
So the reality was, he was back with me, Christmas was looming and I had been hurled into limbo land. He wouldn’t talk. Couldn’t verbalise anything, well not to me anyway. He didn’t really need to say anything, it was obvious; there was an enormous bloody elephant in the room. I saw it. He saw it. Everyone around us saw it. But I would damned if he was going to make me take the lead, make this be my decision. This was his process and he would have to utter the unutterable. I was really clear with myself about that. Despite my pain, I knew that I did not want to be with someone who didn’t love me, but he would have to say those words, take responsibility for his actions, explain why he was unable to make good on the promises he had made.
I started to see clearly that all that was keeping him in the house was a sense of duty to be with me. I was so disappointed, disappointed that he had stopped caring about our marriage, whenever it actually was that he had stopped caring and disappointed that he had kept that such a big secret. As far as I was concerned, yes, people fall out of love, but don’t be a coward. Have some integrity and don’t be unnecessarily cruel out of nothing more than pure indecision. You cannot have your cake and eat it.
So just a fortnight after he had come to collect me from my parent’s house, declaring that he loved me and would do anything to make it work, he was now saying that he was feeling pressured by everyone to make a decision and that he needed some space to work out what he wanted.
By now my heart had been totally wrung out and I found myself writing the same words over and over again in my journal. ‘I am present. I am safe. My heart will heal. I will become whole. I must remain grounded. I know I will be okay’. I filled page upon page. Along with reminders of what he had done, in an attempt to stop myself projecting a love onto someone who clearly no longer loved me. I started expressing my pain and awareness of my situation through poetry, finding solace in the rhymes, as I tried to make sense of my situation and mend my broken heart.
Untitled (18th December 2011)
You held me back; I know it too
Whilst I kept you safe, whilst you alone grew
I’ve seen your soul; I’ve seen your pain
To see us now, it’s a crying shame
You’ve packed and left to find your heart
It seems our paths for this moment must part
I ache for your body, your feel and your touch
But know it’s not safe to think of that too much
You’re a good man; it’s true, like the words of the song
Reconnect with your heart, heal and grow strong
I’ll miss you and cry for what was and could be
And keep a space in my heart for you to come back to me