Monday, November 22, 2004

A portion of a telephone conversation with Wife earlier today:

Wife: “I don’t want this to happen.” (this being divorce)

Me: “Let’s look at it realistically. Our marriage is broken.”

W: “I don’t agree. It has lots of problems but others have worse and they stick it out”.

M: “C’mon. We haven’t slept in the same bedroom for a year and a half. I tell that to people and to my therapist and they are shocked.”

W: “I tell that to my friends and they are jealous.”

M: “We barely had sex once a month! This is not normal”

W: “Other’s have worse and they keep trying.”

M: “Well I feel sorry for them”

Is it just me? This is crazy. Why would anybody want to stay in a marriage when their spouse has moved out of the marital bedroom and sex has basically ended? I am 41, not 81. It is not normal to stop having sex this soon. I just don’t understand why she thinks the situation was preferable to what the future offers, which is being on your own, with at least the potential to find somebody that is a better match.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

A remarkable thing happened about a week ago. Like a veil lifting from my eyes, the depression that had been laying on me for the past four years lifted. Just like that, the gray wet blanket that had been lying on my head was gone. What is left? Feelings of deep sadness and fatigue mostly, but also an ability to feel much more keenly than had been allowed to me over the past several years. The business I started with a partner five years ago has been doing well, remarkably so in some areas, but I have had no joy from seeing the results of my hard labor. Why? The depression sucked the life out of everything. And what caused this funk? Being with Wife.

The sadness is much sharper now. I felt myself seizing up with tears the other day, all from thinking about the end of the marriage. Not because I was missing Wife or anything, just from the fact of the ending. This was the first time I had felt this particular emotion in any kind of intensity. In a perverse way, the sharpness of it felt good.

And I am tired. I try to sleep as much as possible, clearing the morning calendar on weekdays, frequently not getting to work until ten, but I am just beat. It is going to take time to recharge the emotional batteries. I would love to go somewhere warm for a while and roast on a beach, but I don’t want to go by myself. And I don’t want to miss any time with Child right now.

BUT, and this is a big but, I am also feeling good about things. Starting to enjoy the fact of the professional success. Enjoying time spent with daughter. Enjoyed the long walk in the woods last Sunday. Enjoying the fact that I can feel sad.

Went to see the Therapist last Tuesday night and she basically tossed me out. I had started with her when Wife and I split just before Labor Day. The goal wasn’t deep Freudian analysis, rather just to help me through this period, learn things about myself, help me develop some tools so I can be better in future relationships, and help me get out from under the grinding depression.

She thought that I had gotten to a better place, and in that last session, I was wondering why I was there. The net of it all was that the Therapist was very helpful for which I am grateful, and best of all, intuitively knew when it was time for me to fly on my own.

On other fronts, Wife and I will meet with a Divorce Mediator right after Thanksgiving. So far, we are moving along, though there have been a lot of tears from Wife, particularly when she has to deal with the fact that I signed a contract to buy an apartment. But we are moving on, and so far, continuing to deal amicably and with respect.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

We finally did it. Broke the news to Child. Sunday morning, sat Child down on the coach next to the favorite stuffed animal, and broke the news. The second worst day of my life, only bested (?) by the day my father died from an aggressive cancer at the ripe old age of 54, and a day that I am sure that will live in Childs memory in fine detail for decades to come.

Wife and I had scripted what we were going to say, with Wife wanting to do most of the talking. There was no finger pointing, expressed anger, talk of falling out of love; rather it was of the “daddy is going to be living in another apartment and we are going to be a different kind of family from now on” type of speech, all of which was refined by input from several specialists in family separation issues.

In the past few months, Child has developed a less than totally charming habit of expressing intense frustration by making a short animal like grunt when confronted with a confounding situation. Late morning, we ask Child to sit with us on the coach, Wife starts with the telling. Tears start streaming down her face and Child rolls face down into a pillow, grunting louder and louder, almost screaming but with an intense animal like sound, legs kicking wildly with Wife as the target, clearly an effort to make the words start coming. I see the image in my minds eye several times a day and my stomach drops each time the memory kicks.

Finally the telling stops, no questions from child, many assertions of love are made to Child by both parents, and then Wife asks Child about playing with some toys. I volunteer to play trains, and Child jumps off the coach, heads to the train tracks where we then spend a very busy hour disassembling and reassembling a complex set of tracks. Spend the rest of the day doing typical father-child activities, some bike riding, etc. Towards the end of the day, I tell Child I will be leaving soon, before dinner, and Child asks where I am going. My response was to ask whether Child remembered the conversation earlier that day, and after the affirmative response, I tell Child that I am going to my apartment and will be back in the morning to have breakfast with Child. I visit again on Wednesday night for dinner and will back on Saturday. The repeat visits certainly help me and I think are good for Child.

Now for the interesting part. Child starts processing the new horrible information and starts making connections. Asks Wife “Do you think Daddy was traveling so much lately to get us used to this?” Wow.

On Monday Child decides to write a book, dictated in a very precise manner to Wife and illustrated by Child called “The Daddy Separated Family Book by __” which consisted of a dozen pages of heartbreak and ending with several illustrated pages showing my apartment building next to the house with people representing each family person in the appropriate places. Wife told me that the making of this book, a time consuming project, was cathartic to Child and has allowed for the opening of a floodgate of questions. Child has asked and I have promised to give a tour of my apartment on Saturday. Child has asked whether we can still ride the train to work together and have office visits like we typically do several times per year (the answer of course yes). Child wants to know if I will get a dog or cat (the answer is no and is met with disappointment). Child explicitly expressing gratitude that teachers at school were told so that extra hugs could be asked for when needed. The new reality is being figured out; the boundaries of the new playing field are being determined.

Of course, now it is out in the open. When people at the school know, have to figure the whole community will know soon enough. Which is a relief on many levels, now I can stop sneaking around, lying to everybody I know, and start living my life.

Monday morning woke up exhausted and feeling like I was coming down with a cold. Spent the day feeling bedraggled. Towards the end of the day, cleaned out the calendar for the next couple of days, left early, got to the apartment and went to bed without setting the alarm clock. Woke up 9.5 hours later feeling like a human being.

Next step, starting the formal process of divorce. We are going to try to do a mediated divorce with minimal involvement by lawyers. We want the same things, agree on most major issues, and are both acting rationally. Why spend all that money and emotional capital if we can get through this in a civil and amicable manner? Even got an email from Wife, the text of which is as follows:

“Just a note to tell you how much I appreciate your integrity and respect during this horrible time. As hard as it is, I do know that it could be a lot worse. I am grateful to you for acting so responsibly. And I do think that you are a great dad.”

For the record and to be fair, Wife is devastated, weepy all the time, not sleeping and not eating. But as bad as this is for all of us, it could be a lot lot worse. We are going to make it.

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