“The cruelest lies are often told in silence.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
Continued from Missing Pieces
Nothing was ever resolved from the medical tests that had consumed my early winter. The cardiologist concluded that I had a healthy heart; a near perfect echocardiogram confirmed it. The dizziness and manic pulse had calmed down a bit but still interrupted my day from time to time. Occasionally, for no apparent reason, I would have a mild ‘freak out’ physiologically speaking. My body was attempting to tell me… something.
It’s interesting to live life in a way that finds you questioning most things you know. There were so many pieces of the ‘puzzle’ of my life that didn’t register as logical or plausible and almost all of them related to Hubby and inconsistencies that I was experiencing at least weekly, if not daily. I interpreted something based on what I saw, heard, and encountered and yet when confronted, there was an absence of validation – in any regard for how I perceived a situation. I felt as if I was crazy at times. Didn’t I know what I know? How did I misconstrue so many things? I began to experience a depleted sense of self, of confidence, of morale. I questioned so many things that even the things that looked like facts with blatant evidence, I would simply pass over and discount as nothing.
Some of what I had begun to consider seemed like madness, ridiculous. The thought occurred to me that there was too strong of a connection between Hubby and Abee; it looked that way. Abee was so deeply involved in our lives that I feared she could simply ‘step-in’ and replace me at any given moment. Would I be missed? My family would barely skip a beat… My children loved her, she was instrumental in our business; knowing all the nooks and crannies there, and my husband seemed enthralled. I asked him over and over – “what is going on” – only to be brushed off and deferred. Eventually, I stopped asking because I knew what he would say. I mentioned something to mom but like me, she thought it was an absurd consideration. Abee’s behavior hadn’t changed, she wasn’t any different with me… I never brought it up to her because there wasn’t any evidence on her part to support an accusation. I felt ashamed and guilty even considering it. I basically sat on the information, the lack of substantiation and my confusion in silence because to consider the ludicrous notion that my sister would entertain any kind of relationship with my husband beyond what would be typical of an in-law – well, that didn’t register.
I don’t recall the specific time frame of this event, but the details of the moment are another that is deeply embedded in my mind. There was a storm of some kind, perhaps a Nor’easter – common to the mid-Atlantic area. We were all at our house, Mom, Abee, Hubby and the girls when a phone call notified us that the alarm system at the office had been activated. The police had been called but we should also check it out. Hubby turned to Abee and asked her to ride along in case he needed help. Under normal circumstances, this may not have activated any internal alarms but things were not ‘normal’ for us. I was right there and couldn’t comprehend why he didn’t ask me – a co-owner – and his wife – to go with him. I challenged it but again, my rationale was contested and a half dozen reasons why I needed to stay at home with mom and the girls ensued. It always took too much effort to argue and with other people right there, I fumed, but relented. The office was thirty minutes away and it was uneventful – the wind had blown open the front door, tripping the signal. I stayed angry.
Hubby and I were in critical mode. Most of our discussions were negative and ended up with us each yelling or me crying. The distance between us was farther than we could bridge on our own and so we started marriage counseling again with the therapist that I credited with saving our marriage from infidelity eight years previous. It started out rough and I realized that I had been suppressing much more than I ever realized. I was withholding so much feeling that much of what came out of my mouth was tainted with its flavor. Instead of speaking about what I was thinking and feeling (mostly because I thought it was frequently dismissed), I became passive aggressive.
Passive aggressive behavior is frequently the result of someone who experiences a constant abuse of their inability to say no. People who do things even though they don’t want to will ‘fight back’ passively by using sarcasm or ‘digs’ whenever they can; indirectly expressing negativity. My vocabulary was heavily weighted with PA remarks such as “I’m not mad”, “Whatever”, “Sure if that’s what you want”, “I thought you would know”, etc… words that imply discontent without actually saying ‘hey, this isn’t working for me’. This defense mechanism is created when we perceive that our feelings were an inconvenience, problematic, or cumbersome on someone. With Hubby, I had grown to believe that my feelings were inconsequential and so, they came out – but in a completely unproductive and ultimately – unhealthy way; both for me and my relationship.
I learned a lot about expressing myself and I would try to practice what I learned at home. I used “I” statements to the best of my ability (no one is ever perfect in this regard) and tried to make sure that feeling words dominated my vocabulary when we were speaking so that I didn’t elicit his defense mechanisms. This communication style takes patience, practice, and determination. It also takes the cooperation of BOTH contributors to the conversation. I’m not sure we were both on the same page each time we attempted to exchange our thoughts. It was slow going and I was wearing out.
By early March it felt as though we were ‘stuck’. Things weren’t changing much and the frustrations continued to manifest and collect – at least on my part. Regardless of how many times he denied it, I could tell something was different. We weren’t connecting – our emotional intimacy seemed impossible to reestablish no matter our effort. There was a strong stirring in my spirit – a provoking sense of familiarity that I was unwilling to acknowledge yet it stayed there, constantly knocking on my heart – that someone else was in the picture. My unwillingness to look in that direction, to confirm my worst fears, was conspicuous.
During a routine weekly counseling session, my frustrations were accentuated and our impasse felt impenetrable. I was crying. Our therapist, also appearing frustrated made the statement “you need to tell her, I’m not willing to keep this secret any longer” and looked directly at Hubby. I looked at him with inquiring eyes and momentarily stopped breathing. My body felt heavy and the air in the room became suddenly thick. Everything except his face blurred out of focus and I concentrated on the sound of his voice as he hesitated and then said slowly and quietly…
“I’m in love with Abee.”