10:34 PM

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I lay awake in the bed we’ve shared for close to 14 years now. I can’t sleep. For nearly two years, I haven’t been able to. His snoring keeps me awake. It’s like water torture–but worse. He sounds like a wounded black grizzly bear, or what I imagine one might sound like if I ever got near enough to hear it.

It’s my own fault I’m tossing and turning. I seem to be a sucker for punishment. Always have been. Every night, I’ll come to bed with him, hoping…knowing full well that the only fireworks going off tonight, or any other night, will be the ones the neighbors have been obnoxiously setting off of late, which also hasn’t helped. We’ve been intimate a few times since the incident but it’s been awkward. Like we’ve never been inside one another, like we’re strangers. On the rare occasions we are intimate (three times in the last three years) I absorb whatever guilt or shame he feels, like a grief eater. Because I have needs (and I still desire him), I tell him (and myself) that I can detach emotionally, I just want to feel good. I need to be wanted.

Credit: http://www.yalsa.ala.org

I stand naked in front of the mirror scrutinizing myself, picking apart my graying hair, squeezing my chest muscles in an effort to lift my drooping breasts, squeezing the folds along my waist. I disgust myself. Certainly, I disgust him. More frequently than I care to admit, I stand in front of the mirror obsessing over what she looks like. He can’t stand to look at me, he must prefer what he sees in her. I’ve asked him what she looks like, he refuses to tell me. He claims it has nothing to do with her and that I just don’t get it.

I don’t. Especially since he refuses to talk to me about the incident. When I mention it he tells me it’s not what I think. I don’t know what to think. Every time he leaves the house, I think he’s gone to be with her, but he comes back sooner than I expect. In fact, he’s always here. Physically at least. The boundaries are blurred, especially since there has been no physical separation between us. We sleep in the same bed. We walk around each other nude, we eat, laugh and play together as a family. We even take family trips. Sometimes I feel guilty about my need to know what happened. He’s here-and he’s trying. I should try too, right?

********************************************************************************************

He hates that I’d have the audacity to accuse him of something as vile as gaslighting, but him constantly telling me I don’t get it-it’s not what you think, without telling me the truth-and denying that I saw what I saw, leads me down that rabbit hole. Maybe I’m over-reacting? Maybe I’m not.

Let me take you back to Mother’s Day. The day before, he told me he was going to order dinner from the Italian restaurant where we had our first date and shared our first kiss. I told him that he didn’t have to. I didn’t want him to, in fact I thought it was cruel, considering. I didn’t need him doing anything for me out of obligation. He insisted.

“You’re an incredible mother to our boys. You deserve to be celebrated.”

I felt a twinge of hope. Was this an attempt at reconciliation?

That Sunday, I awoke to a “Happy Mother’s Day” text. I wandered into the kitchen, expecting breakfast or something…the kids were already seated, finishing their breakfast. They looked at me as if it were any other day. I wondered if they remembered it was Mother’s Day.

“This is for you.” He said, tossing a greasy plain bagel with butter and cream cheese from Dunkin’ Donuts at me. There was a card on the table with “mom” written on the envelope, that he slid towards me. He didn’t even have the kids give it to me. Ever since the incident, he’s gone out of his way to purchase cards that do not acknowledge that I’m his wife. I opened the card, which he clearly picked up with no thought behind it. The kids had written what they write every year: “thanks for keeping me safe.” I took a bite of the greasy bagel, threw the rest in the garbage-it was disgusting. I was insulted. When had he ever known me to order a bagel with butter and cream cheese? It was as if he was going out of his way to hurt me, but what could I say? He was “thinking” of me on Mother’s Day. I moped around the house, vowing that when Father’s day rolled around I would return the favor. He pretty much ignored me until it was time to get dinner, by which time I was angry. And drunk.

What were you expecting?” He spat the words at me. “Flowers? Candy? It’s not like that! And look at you!” He shook his head in disgust. “Predictable.”

I was just a mother to his children. I meant nothing to him. That hurt.

I know exactly when I conceived. It is the most precious memory I have. We went to Montreal a few days later on vacation. I knew I was pregnant, which thrilled and terrified me. I didn’t know what we were in for, but we were in it together and I looked forward to the beautiful struggle.

I called a lawyer the day after Mother’s Day. I wasn’t going to live like this.

“You think divorce is the right move? That’s what will make you happy?” He said.

“Years ago, you told me you refused to be in a sexless marriage. Why should I languish in one?”

“So you want a divorce because you need someone between your legs.”

“What choice do I have? I have needs too.” I said.

“You just don’t get it.” He said. He’s right. How could he throw 13 years away? Especially now when he had so much to lose?

************************************************************************************************

Our latest attempt at intimacy proved disastrous.

“It’s her isn’t it?” I said.

He shook his head and he had that disgusted look on his face that I’d become accustomed to.

“It’s your drinking.” He sighed. It knocked the wind out of me.

“My drinking?” He was using it as a crutch. Did he want to be with her that bad to throw that in my face?

Full disclosure, we’d almost broken up over it several times…but we didn’t. I drank too much back then, I can admit. But, when he met me I was a drinker. We both drank. Our first dates involved lots of drinks. I am today, who I was when he met me. He continued to date me. In fact, the worst of my drinking was when we were dating. Yet, he married me, and we had kids together. We still drink together, every weekend. Yet, he knew that if he mentioned drinking as the reason he found me unattractive, I’d feel guilty, and I’d back off, which I did. He was right to be disgusted with me. I apologized-again and again. It was my fault. I ruined us.

He brings me coffee and a muffin, which is a sweet gesture, considering. “Stop apologizing.” He said, patting my leg. What’s say later on we take a drive out to Stew Leonard’s for ice-cream?

A Woman Scorned

I noticed my husband slipping away, but I attributed it to his mother being ill, and the stress we were under. We both worked full-time, I was in graduate school at the time and we were raising our boys, who were very young at the time-with no help. When he was caring for his mother, I was working on assignments and taking care of the boy. There wasn’t any time at the end of the day for us. However, never in a million years would I suspect him of having an affair. Yet, our relationship had become so strained, with us experiencing the first of what would be several bouts of sexual droughts that I had to ask if he was seeing someone. He never answered me. That should have been my first clue. If that wasn’t enough, the way he flung my arm off of his chest as if it was radioactive one night, should have confirmed it. I just didn’t think he would have the nerve to cheat on me…especially after what we’d gone through together.

We kept going through the motions and we grew further apart. It’s no excuse to abuse alcohol, but I drank more than usual because it fulfilled a need. It gave me the pleasure I desired. The pleasure he would no longer give me.

After his mother passed, I found the proof of what I’d known all along.

We’d just dropped the kids off at school one morning, and on our way to get breakfast when I asked him why he’d lied.

“What happened…What did I do?” I asked

“I don’t know.” He said. “It wasn’t just you. My feelings just changed. I don’t want this anymore.”

Neither did I…

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Credit: http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk

I forced him to pull over and I jumped out of the car. I just started walking-wherever I saw the car, I’d turn the opposite direction. He saw fit to abandon me before, why didn’t he just leave me alone now? I had to get as far away from him, and “home” as physically possible.

How could he stop loving me so suddenly? How could I have let this happen? I kept walking, with no idea where was I going.

Do I want this? Where am I going?

I kept walking…

**********************************************************************************************

The weather’s supposed to be beautiful tomorrow-hot, but not too humid. He wants to take the family on a road trip. The kids love the fish and chips at SoNo seafood fish market in Connecticut.

It’s 1:20 AM. I can live with the snoring. My mind’s on lobster rolls now. I know I’ve got to get some sleep. We’ll need to make an early start tomorrow.

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