Tough times

Today is far too beautiful of a day for things to be so crappy. It’s one of those gorgeous spring days we get in this part of the country where the skies are totally clear, all the haze is gone, and you can see the mountains in the distance as if they were right next to you, crystal clear and extremely vivid. Maybe it’s befitting that, on a day like today, my wife should formally move out.

I woke up very early, a bit before 6:00 a.m. I went to bed quite late, and then couldn’t really sleep very well. I realized that, after my eyes popped open, I’d probably do best just to check my email and then engage in my morning spiritual practice. I did this, and then went out to our favorite bakery to buy some pastries. I figured that, if my wife really were going to go through with her plans, I might as well at least offer a bit of sweetness before she goes.

I got home from the bakery around 8:30 and she still wasn’t home. I took a shower and then made some coffee. Time ticked on, slowly. I was beginning to think that maybe she had changed her mind and postponed the movers, since she absolutely wasn’t ready for them yet. But then, there she came, rounding the bend and up through the yard, right about 9:30. I told her I’d made some coffee, and offered her some. She agreed to join me, and had a rhubarb danish. I had already finished my croissant, which was a good thing, as I knew things would get emotional.

I asked her if we could talk a bit, and she assented. I started with some logistics: we have to meet to figure out our taxes, so we set aside a date for that. I asked her about the dog, and how we’d manage “custody” of her; she said that she’d take the dog, but we’d figure something out, maybe a week with me and a week with her, alternating like that. That sounded okay to me. Then I told her that I wanted to just talk about my feelings, and she was okay listening to me. I told her that things were very hard for me right now, and she said that it was hard for her too. I told her that the happiest day of my life was the day when I proposed to her and she agreed to marry me. Then I told her that today was the saddest day of my life thus far. I told her, quite honestly, that over the past five and a half months I had felt as if my heart had been ripped out and shattered into a million pieces, and that this had happened over and over and over. She could understand that. I told her that I understood she felt the need to do all the things she was doing, and that I could be respectful of her process. I explained that we all have a process to go through, and that in a marriage both partners have processes that never really coincide. Part of the secret to successful marriages is being mindful of that fact. I told her that I felt responsible for initially withdrawing from her some years ago; I was working a stressful job that took up a lot of my time, and I just became unavailable. Things only got worse for me after I’d lost that job and I went through a fairly existential crisis. I explained that, once we disengaged from each other, the system that is our marriage began to break down. I also told her that I didn’t feel that in any way it meant that things were over between us. I told her that I still believe in us and in our marriage, and that there is always hope. I further said that hope never dies, because true hope has its basis in love. Hope can only die if you kill it. I did use those words, not to be harsh, but to express something I feel to be an experiential fact. I finally told her that, while I’d been struggling with the fine line between attachment and compassion, I felt that by this point I had nothing left to be attached to, even though that did not mean I was not giving up on our marriage. (What I did not express was that I am not attached to the outcome of my actions, but that my actions would continue because I feel it to be the right thing to do.) I also told her that I simply could not be at home while she continued to pack, and especially not when the movers showed up. It was just too painful for me to watch. She did agree to let me have the dog this weekend. This crisis has been very difficult on the dog. She does not like being dragged all over the place and having her routine interrupted. Dogs never like that. Every time she comes home it seems like she’s relieved to be back, she hangs out by me a lot, and then she sleeps a lot and very deeply. Not normal sleep, but flat-line, exhaustion sleep. I feel very sorry for her being subjected to all this.

She eventually got a bit defensive, and started giving me her typical rationalizations and words of caution. She would not be coming back. There is no hope. I am attached and need to give that up. Then, after telling me several of my faults which were mostly no longer operative, and to some extent were just her projecting onto me, she then told me of all my positive attributes. It was a long list. According to her, I’m honest, faithful, sensitive, intelligent, caring, generous, and maybe a dozen other things. It kind of makes you wonder why someone would want to leave you when they see all these things in you that seem so inherently positive. But that’s what adultery does to people. They go crazy, actually, and cannot think rationally about what they are doing. Their judgment is totally clouded by the fog of the affair. They do patently stupid things like spend hundreds of dollars to hire movers, and then hundreds if not thousands more on apartment rental that they cannot afford, they obliterate relationships, deny their own fixings, and generally begin a spiral down into self-destruction. This pretty much always happens. Adulterers are deeply unhappy people, and they cover over the existential emptiness of their souls with the flimsy band-aids of adulterous trysts.

So that was pretty much it for our discussion. She went back to packing. Rush, rush, rush, pack, pack, pack. The movers were going to be showing up in a couple of hours, and she was nowhere near ready. At some point we ended up in the bedroom together. I showed her a new mala I had bought, a really beautiful one made from lapis lazuli. (You can see a picture of it if you click the link above.) I then somehow asked her for a hug. I don’t know why, but I did, and she agreed to give me one. Right after we hugged I was overcome with emotion. I told her, “I hope you don’t mind if I cry.” There was somehow just space for this to arise, and it did. She said it was okay. And I cried. Hard. I cried for maybe 3-4 minutes or so, and it was a deep, visceral kind of crying, in a way, the kind that babies do. I had no agenda, no story line, it was just pure pent-up emotion that needed to come out.

Then, just as suddenly as it started, it went away. I said, “okay, that’s it, that’s enough.” She was shocked that I could cry so hard, and then suddenly be done. I told her that, if your heart is truly open and you don’t have any attachment to your emotions or story lines running with them, that emotions just come and go like the passing clouds. They show up on the scene, have their own life, put on a display, which in a way can be quite beautiful and pure, and then they go. That’s exactly how it was. After that, I felt pretty much okay, like I could just let go. It was almost like I’d released 5 months’ worth of pain. That’s not really true, there’s still pain there, but somehow a lot of it just went — poof, gone.

I had bought my wife a card yesterday, and spent a couple of minutes writing some final thoughts. I left the card on her computer, said goodbye, and left.

Then I went and joined the new gym that opened nearby. That’s how I roll. Yes, I feel like shit, but life does go on. I cannot hold on to someone who is in the midst of a crisis that is being caused by outright craziness. That craziness has to run its course, which, I’ve been advised, it will. All affairs run their course. While the partners are still in the fog, as my wife clearly still is, they simply cannot see reality as it is. They try to convince you that their reality is real, and not some sort of weird cognition that is totally clouded by dopamine addiction. But the addiction does and will pass. After it passes, the adulterer feels shame, remorse, guilt, embarrassment, and humiliation. They go through the motions of realizing the gravity of their errors, and state that they cannot believe the kind of person they had become. They say that it doesn’t seem real in retrospect. And, if you’re still around and have worked on yourself, they see you with a whole new set of eyes and come back to you, very motivated to reconcile.

That’s what I’m waiting for. The affair has to run its course and I simply can’t interferer with that. Interference just makes it worse. Once it’s over, then I’ll have my opening to truly reconnect. That might then become the happiest day of my life.