My second epiphany hit me like a freight train.
Macs (now Richard - his given name) and I seemed to have different lives. Richard had his own things going on - softball games, hanging out with his friends, all-night poker games, drinking, playing pool. I was so self-involved I didn’t know we were drifting far away from one another; not that we had ever really had a terribly close relationship. We never really consciously discussed our relationship. It was just there. We were married. We had children. We took care of our day-to-day tasks with no awareness that a relationship existed. We just were.
Then it happened. The phone rang.
Her name was Michelle. She sounded like a child; a cruel child trying to hurt me.
“Who do you think Richard spent his time with when he was hurting about his Father’s death?” “Where do you think Richard was when he was gone all night?” “He was with me!” “I’m carrying his baby!!” “I need money for an abortion.”
The air left my body. Something was reaching into my chest and wrenching out all that was inside. It was surreal. I was watching it happen to myself from above somehow. It was such a powerful moment that when I think back I relive the feeling. It was the same feeling I had when I read my father’s letter but so much stronger.
Out of body. Be back in five minutes.
My first thought was not to strike out but internal. Questions bombarded me. “What had I done wrong to cause Richard to want someone else?!” “Why doesn’t anyone love me?!”“WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME??!!”
I rushed right back to the ‘Poor Me!’
I felt like my entire world was crashing in. Many women would have left their husband without another thought. Ending relationships was certainly the road I had learned about in my life. By then my mother had ended her second marriage. But there was something tugging at me inside. I was torn. I wanted to make a stand; to let him know he couldn’t treat me this way. But, I didn’t want Richard to go. I wanted him to love me. I was faced with two roads. I could go down the path that I knew and that my mother had taken; end the marriage, admit defeat’, protect myself from pain. Or I could go down a path I knew nothing about; examine the relationship. Recognize what love really is and allow myself to be vulnerable.
This was my wake-up call. I forced myself to take a long detached look at our relationship for the first time. What I discovered was that we didn’t really have what I’d call a real relationship. We both did our own thing and lived in the same house. Once again I had to tell myself “This is your situation. If you want it to be different, fix it.” But I realized I needed help. I needed help to identify my own behavior. I needed help to fix at least what I had certainly caused to happen. I couldn’t figure this one out on my own; I didn’t have the skill, knowledge or training. This is not to say that Richard held none of the responsibility for what happened but I couldn’t control his behavior; only my own. I had to realize that if he was happy and felt loved he would not have sought love elsewhere.
THE LESSON: Look inward. Be critical of oneself. Identify what part of the problem you have some control to change. We don’t have all the answers so don’t be afraid to ask for help wherever you can find it. When you find help continue to be critical of yourself and fully commit to the process to improve the situation.