Off the Grid

I’ve been off the grid for a while, due mainly to a retreat I went on recently. It was a 10-day retreat (yep, a Buddhist thingie) that I did locally; I still had work obligations, so there were a few days I missed, but otherwise the retreat had me occupied for about 15 hours at a stretch.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience and, while exhausting, a great way to recharge the batteries of the heart, mind, and soul. I learned a lot. Most of all, though, I learned the value of letting go.

You see, my thoughts and energy surrounding my marital crisis have been, for a long time now, really pretty “tight.” If you’ve read many of my posts, you’ll probably get a sense of that. In fact, I’ve had comments, some via this blog and others via private email, that have said as much. This retreat forced me to loosen that energy, and at the same time it dialed me into the sense that there is much more richness to life than what one can have if one focuses too tightly on any one thing.

So what does “letting go” mean, really? Does it mean quitting? No, not at all. Instead, it means just being okay with whatever happens.

I’ve reached the point at which I truly feel that I’ve done just about all that I can to attempt to bring my marriage to the point of beginning a reconciliation. I’ve learned the relationship skills and have worked tirelessly on bettering myself. It has been, and still is, exhausting at times. But it has been a truly transformative journey. I know that my wife will see and appreciate those changes; right now, she chooses to avoid seeing them.

I had a chat with my marriage “coach” today, the first one I’ve had in about 6 months. I really haven’t needed much advice, since there isn’t much to work with when you’re being stonewalled. His assessment is that I’m pretty much doing all that I can, and that 90% of what I need to do at this point is just to wait. That seems hard, but there really aren’t any other sensible alternatives.

I do keep in mind the statistics that indicate that 24 months is the typical end point by which the vast majority of affairs will have ended. This would mean that my wife has about 5 more months to run on this situation, tops. I do extend hope that this will hold true, but I would be foolish to try to predict the future. However, as we enter summer there are a couple things that are different now than they were last summer at this time, and these could be key in shaking that situation apart once and for all.

First, her concert season has wrapped up, and she has no reason to come into town at all—that is, unless she joins the adulterer on some of his work sites, and I know that she does this. (How often, though, is anyone’s guess; I’m thinking it could be nearly daily, as I think he keeps her on a short leash.) Second, she has filed dissolution papers. These two things added together put her on an island of her own making—an island with the adulterer, a place where she gets to see if this really is something she wants for the rest of her life. I seriously doubt that she does; from what little I have seen and heard, that life and relationship are as juvenile and superficial as ever. It is still a fantasy-land, but reality inexorably does seep into this and any other kind of fantasy. Moreover, it is an island that is surrounded by a sea of dreck that she has created. It is probably the wish to avoid dealing with that dreck—the detritus of spoiled relationships and ruined friendships—that keeps her marooned on that island of immorality. However, the tide of dreck cannot be stopped, and will eventually choke them both off that island and back into the sea of, well, reality, which includes all that dreck that has been produced over the past year and a half.

So, I basically go on living my life; I reach out as I always have, and then I let it go. At night I can sleep well because I have a clear conscience. During the day I can live my life fully, because I have an open heart. She is welcome to join me at any time.

Putting On/In Appearances

I saw my wife over the weekend. Not because she wanted to, but rather because I choose to set the agenda, rather than to simply comply with hers. She had a concert on Sunday—a big, public event—so I went. I had no plan other than to be there and to support her, and maybe to say hello.

I arrived a bit early, and went for a walk in a nearby park. I have lived in this city for nearly 20 years, yet I never even knew that this park existed, right in the middle of the city, and right next to, and also atop, a busy freeway. It was an odd sort of urban oasis, so I just strolled around there for a bit, and then went back toward the concert venue.

As I was arriving at the venue, I could see the adulterer walking down the street perpendicular to mine. He was with his brother, whom you may remember from this post was the one who served me those horrid papers. Yes, they are quite the pair, the adulterer and his brother. They did not see me.

I arrived at the venue about a minute after they did, and as I entered, I saw them talking to my wife. Their backs were facing the door, so they did not see me; my wife was facing the door, so she could not avoid being seen by me. But she tried! Seriously. I smiled and waved to her, and she moved to her left in an attempt to “hide” behind the adulterer’s brother. He did not know what was going on, just that my wife shifted position. I headed down toward the restrooms to wash up a bit (I had to put air in my tires at the gas station, so my hands were rather dirty), and, as I passed by, I smiled and waved again. And, once again, she shifted her position to try to “hide,” but this time both the adulterer and his brother saw me.

As I came back up into the lobby a couple of minutes later, I had to walk right past them to get to the ticket booth. There was no avoiding them, but I did not engage them at all. I just went up to buy my ticket. Then, as I turned around, my wife was still with them, so I gave them wide berth and looked around the lobby. I turned back around to find my wife leaving to go backstage, and the adulterer and his brother were entering the hall. The adulterer and his brother were pretending as though they had not been seen.

I entered the hall about ten minute later; the hall itself is a converted church with very uncomfortable seats, so I simply did not feel like sitting in there any longer than necessary. I took a decent seat toward the middle of the hall, and discovered that the adulterer and his brother were about ten rows away; the hall has semi-circular seating, and they were nearly perpendicular to me, meaning that they could see me very easily the whole time they were in the hall. I basically ignored their presence.

Well, mostly. When my wife came out on stage, I just noticed the expression on the adulterer’s face, which was this smarmy kind of look of infatuation, as if the fog still lingers for him. My wife did not look so fogged out, then or earlier in the lobby. Actually, she looked kind of sick, in an odd sort of way. Her eyes seemed to be ringed in black somehow; although she was wearing eye makeup, there was something else about her eyes that gave them this appearance. It was the same look about her eyes that I had seen in a couple of photos, a look that is difficult to describe, sort of present but sick, disconnected from reality but appearing nonetheless. They are not the eyes that I know, but rather the eyes of a deeply unhappy and very tormented soul.

After the concert wrapped up, I went to the reception area to see if I could at least say hello to my wife. I expected she would not appear there, but would rather wait in the hall for a while and then exit from the hall itself. I was right: she did not show up at the reception at all, but did emerge a few minutes later from the staircase to the hall, which was located upstairs. She was flanked by the adulterer and his brother, and was carrying a bouquet of flowers someone (not the adulterer, as he had none) had given her. She looked troubled, preoccupied, and unhappy. I caught her eye briefly; the adulterer averted his, and the brother peeked around surreptitiously with a rather guilty visage as they tried to slip out of the building unnoticed.

They were not unnoticed, but I did not attempt to engage them.

I left shortly after they did, and saw them at the end of the street. I actually had to go down that same street to get to my car, and considered walking down to the corner to cross the street. There, I could have easily said something to my wife. I was thinking to myself if this would be courageous, or if it would rather just be awkward. I simply did not want to do anything to feed her story (or the adulterer’s), so I left well enough alone, again giving them wide berth by jaywalking to get across the street on my way to the next street where my car was parked. The adulterer did look back, in a somewhat paranoid way, to see if I were behind them somewhere; I was already heading up a different street and clearly had a very different agenda: to get to my car.

So that was that.

I guess I felt a bit disappointed, or that I should have put myself out there a bit more, but really I don’t think there was much more I could have (or should have) done. My mere presence at that event spoke volumes. This is what taking a principled stand is about. The adulterer is and will ultimately be a flash-in-the-pan and, judging from my wife’s expression, could soon get canned out of her life.

More on Love

I guess you could say the title of this post is a play on words.

It’s been a slow news week on the relationship front, but things could heat up fast. My wife has a concert tomorrow, and I’ll be there. Who knows, sparks may fly; stay posted.

Until then, I thought I’d post a link to another article by a former adulterer who reconciled his marriage, and who reports from the “other side.” Here’s a snippet to whet your appetite:

Let’s get right to it shall we? Real love is never about “falling” into anything, has nothing to do with “finding a soul mate,” and actually has less to do with “getting” anything in particular you deem either necessary or [of which you feel] deserving…

So, here’s the problem: Relationships fail because we don’t know what love is or what is required to actually love someone. Most see the main problem of love as that of “being loved;” that is finding the “right” person, missing completely the real problem, namely, our capacity to love another, which is no small task…

What most of us call “love” is not love; it is a self-absorbed, conditional quid pro quo [in which] you invest something only if a return of some sort is realized on a self-determined time line… Here, “love” is actually a relational bartering system justified by our self-obsession with presumed entitlement to get needs met […], as if a relationship were some egalitarian utopia, rather than the mysterious and demanding encounter it is [—a place] where you really can only expect [returns] in proportion to what you contribute, an idea foreign to most who claim to “love.”

You can read the whole article here.