Giving Up the GhostPosted: May 15, 2015
Have you ever had a job that you went to, faithfully, every single day, until that one day when you said screw it, I’m done with this?
Have you ever had that letter, that phone number, that photograph that you carted around with you everywhere until that one day when you said screw it, I don’t need to ever hear from this person again?
Have you ever carted around emotional baggage from a traumatic event until that one day when you said this doesn’t define who I am anymore?
I have, as you may have guessed.
It sucks to find out your husband cheated on you. It sucks more to find out he knocked her up when no amount of trying is going to knock you up. Maybe some amount of trying–I still have that shred of hope, you see.
A few years ago, I wrote:
Oh, it takes two to five years to recover from an affair? I can work harder at it than anyone, I’ll blow that number out of the water. But I can’t. I can’t do that when I have to keep starting over. Sometimes I feel like I can’t make any progress, in spite of knowing that’s not true.
I had a hard time separating the two demons of his infidelity and her pregnancy. That’s perfectly reasonable; you can’t have the latter without the former. And from this side, that two-to-five sounds pretty fair for your average adultery survivor, as long as that special caveat is fulfilled: no contact. God, I could have gotten over this in months.
But no contact is impossible when there’s a child involved. The geometry goes from triangular to whatever crazy shapes inhabit four-dimensional space. Even so, those shapes would still be navigable if all the parties involved were reasoning adults.
We’re very obviously short one. Reasoning adults tend not to argue with judges in their courtrooms.
It inevitably becomes a self esteem issue. The what’s she got that I ain’t got mentality. This can only be worsened by shit-talking. It becomes she’s so bad, but I must be worse. Shit-talking is bad. Just leave it alone.
But anyone can deal with a bad hand for two to five years, right? Of course, right. Students do it all the time.
I was like, really depressed when that five-year deadline came and went, and I wasn’t recovered. And the longer it was, the worse I felt. As if I could somehow bullshit myself into believing that a month or two months over five years was close enough, that I could still count it as plain old five years, and feel like I’d made it under the wire.
Until one day, there wasn’t any wire anymore. The deadline didn’t matter; it was some arbitrary crap I’d found on the internet, for crying out loud. Sure, I’d found it in two dozen different places on the internet, but still. It’s just a statistic. It’s only true when it’s true.
Like being one in eight.
Then the one day came. And it wasn’t just the deadline that didn’t matter anymore. It didn’t matter anymore.
It doesn’t matter anymore.
I still know where that part of me is, the part that warned and worried and wondered and kept me awake at night. Sometimes I check in there, just to make sure, and it’s empty. It’s smaller, shrinking from disuse. Because that doesn’t define who I am anymore. The rest of me is filling in that space, because this is who I am. Not a victim, but a survivor. A winner.
But, always a but. But what’s the timeline on Ian’s guilt? When will he believe me when I say that it’s okay, that it doesn’t matter anymore? Because it doesn’t.
It doesn’t matter anymore.
I just want it to be okay. I know it can’t all be okay, not right now, but just this little part. When the next big ole turd hits the fan, Ian, I don’t want you to apologize because it’s all your fault. The guilt for what we’re dealing with now does not lie with you, and you know that. It’s not your fault. Your mistake was six years ago, and it mostly involved not doing a background check first.