My day to day work is in politics (No, we are not ALL heartless scumbags. Please don’t hold it against me, I am a good person!) and often we use the quote “Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste*” to capture a moment, a feeling, to launch a campaign or a committee. In my work and personal life it has always served as a way for me to take a negative, absorb the ‘hit’ and turn it around into something that advances our agenda or our candidate or my own goal or project. For me, as a person, who works constantly trying to ‘fix things’ it’s helped me figure out how to frame arguments, dissect opposition and set the stage to basically run over the opposition with the very ‘power’ or ‘abuse’ that ‘they’ have used against us.
My recent health scare has had me looking at my husband’s affair in a whole new light. Thinking about how I might have to make a decision to live my life in a more positive and purposeful manner if I came down with a terminal diagnosis really knocked me out of my affair fog aka betrayed spouse fog, not permanently, but for a good long moment of clarity. I realized that even though I am no where near forgiving Green I cannot live my life looking only for the dark side of my life after his affair. I resolved, again, that I have to learn to find ways to control the triggers, lessen the effects of the trauma on me and my family (Green is not included he has to heal himself.) while remembering to take care of myself. I don’t want to be known as the woman who was so devastated by her husbands affair that she stopped living back in January of 2012.
This shift started when I saw how Green reacted to my diagnosis with the STD. Frankly I was very surprised that he actually cared. We had just had such a terrible fight a few days before and his coldness that he resorts to when he feels threatened or hurt was so pronounced that I saw no future for us. The friend that I had counted on for so many years, at that time, was clearly gone, he had been disintegrated along with the parts of our marriage that had been devastated by his infidelity.
When I got the news I was furious and that anger manifested itself in tears. The poor Doctor after finishing the biopsy was concerned and asked, “Are you crying because it hurt? Are you in pain?” She meant the procedure, of course, and I laughed in spite of my tears. I answered, “Yes I am hurt but you didn’t do it. You have been great. My husband is hurting me.” She knew about Green’s unfaithfulness and empathized with me about why I should suffer the consequences of his health choices when I was not an informed nor willing participant. She patted my hand, “You’re right, ” she said “He’s the one who should be here with his butt on a cold table and having his insides scraped out.” I laughed out loud. Maybe it wasn’t medically professional but she made me feel human, connected, and less crazy in that moment. Leaving the doctors I told myself I would not call Green. I would not share anything with him. I was done being vulnerable. If he could do this to me, and live in his own remorseless hell about it, then I decided that I was done with him. Loving him or not, I deserved to be with someone who was going to take care of me NOW.
A few minutes after leaving the medical center out of the blue and on his own, Green called me. Initially I clicked the call off and didn’t answer my phone. I didn’t want to talk to him. I suck at the 180 but perhaps this was a point where I would finally be firm. But then he text-ed and he called again. I text-ed him back that I was very angry with my bad results and that I could not talk to him right then. Green text ed for me to call him. I did not. A few minutes later he called and finally I answered. Fine I would be composed I assured myself. BE COOL I chanted… BE COOL. Yeah right, I sobbed. I told him what the doctor had told me, the explanation of how it had been transmitted, what it means to my health and how yes that he had given it to me. Green was quiet for a moment and then said, via a soft whisper,
“I’m sorry for all the pain I have caused you. I understand if you don’t want to be with me anymore but I do love you and we will get you through this.”
Perhaps its the hallmark of the abused to be swayed by the words of the abuser. But this wasn’t him asking me to stay quiet, to yield to his demands or to make me swallow my pride and just shut up. This was my husband, the man I had counted on to be there for me, being there for me again. Letting me sob and letting me cry. To my credit I didn’t say anything bitchy, as I’ve mentioned before and especially at that moment, I am just too tired to continue the berate him with verbal abuse to make him feel bad. What’s most tragic? It’s tragic to admit that I have not heard that commitment nor ardent dedication in Green’s voice to me in a very very long time. I miss that Green, that kind of security and the feeling of being profoundly and completely loved that his voice on the line had in the past demonstrated to me.
Was Green’s admission real? Is he being real? I don’t know. I still don’t trust him. So now the feelings of doubt, mistrust and hurt creep back in. How do I quiet my negative mind and accept the positive moments we are sharing? This crisis of health could be an opportunity to bond and trust again! Instead the negative thoughts of doubt and resentment eat at what should be moments of comfort and love.
Green and I had a relatively peaceful weekend – not the best but not the worst given that last year at this time he’d had me arrested for slapping him! We puttered around the house, more gardening, and getting some pool time with the kiddos now that our spring has turned so warm. All of the joint work around the house, family events and time with kiddos kept me focused on the bigger picture. What if I wasn’t around to see these lovely girls grow up? What if I never got to plant another set of vegetables with them or watch them dress up to do a princess fashion show? I didn’t want them to remember a grouchy or sad mommy – I want them to remember a fun, loving and connected mommy. I had my moments of triggers but I tried to shift my attention from them or just walk away for a minute to let them come and then let them go. I know Green noticed me get distracted by the triggers but he didn’t call me out on them or express his frustration as he has in the past. Maybe its baby steps… does time really heal all things? I don’t think time heals everything but perhaps the time away from the hurt, the perspective that other crises will come along and that I have to rise up to meet them, will temper the pain that I have found myself stuck in.
I am not sure that Green and I are back to US yet. In fact I know we are not. The doctor told me I can’t have sex for 2 weeks. I laughed… as if we were having sex anyway! Clearly we have a long way to go. I hope that Green’s growing back into the man I used to love. I hope he really meant those words because I need someone else to be the strong one now.
I am positive that my health is not in eminent danger. I’m not planning my wake anytime soon. But the STD diagnosis did remind me that I am mortal and that my time here is not promised to me. If I only have a short time or if I have 50 more years… who do I want to be? I don’t want to be permanently negative and consumed by this pain. I want to be known as the person who survived, thrived and loved in spite of it.