Self-doubt (personified, in my most recent post) – about whether or not I should go through with a divorce after all – has been permanently evicted. I even threw away the proverbial beer cans and wiped off the proverbial coffee table.
Nine days ago, the gavel banged so hard on that decision that it cracked the bench.
I know what I have to do. And I know that I have to do it. That question has been laid to rest. So has the question of what to do about my recent discoveries.
But the solid answers to these questions open up a whole pressurized can of other questions, dear ones. And from here, I have to choose my words very carefully.
When you’ve seen that your legal marriage partner has been specifically searching for material consisting of children, and you cannot gain sufficient distance to take any action (even though you desperately want to) just yet…now what? What do you do?
Unfortunately, forget googling. Try as I might to find step-by-step action plans or first-hand accounts, most of the results that came up for me involved high-profile media-circus indictments or convictions or sentencing of offenders. There is one high-ranking website that contained some information, but it wasn’t very specific, and people under stress need specifics. Under this kind of stress, the brain shuts down and the brain-holder needs some hand-holding, too – someone to connect the dots for them.
There are also no support groups (that I know of) for someone in my position. Nobody who really understands what it’s like to be in this type of situation. Nobody to reach out to, compare notes with, obtain much-needed advice from.
There is often, however, stigma in being the wife of the type of person it looks like I’m married to. People assume you’re complacent, accessory, or even involved in it with them. “How could she not know anything??”
I’ll tell you how. Because for over two decades, I’ve tried to engage with my husband, as a healthy person would in a normal relationship. I’ve asked him about his day, asked him what he was thinking about, asked him to be open with me. And each time, I’ve been met with “nothing”, “uneventful”, or an absolute stonewall of silence. I’ve literally asked for more hugs, more affection, more interaction, more closeness…and I’ve literally gotten nothing.
How are you supposed to have any idea what your spouse is up to when they spend hours in another room, watching videos, and their YouTube history only shows a lot of educational-type videos, such as airplane disasters or the inner workings of cruise ships? How are you supposed to know what they’re into when they purposefully avoid you without saying a word?
These questions may seem defensive, but I don’t mean them that way. These are honest, genuine questions, asked with a neutral tone, really.
I’ve been struggling over the course of this past week, I won’t lie. When you discover something like that about someone you thought you’ve known for over two decades, shock can set in.
I’m extremely fortunate (and hella-grateful!) to have a rich support system of excellent, trusted friends and family. I shudder hard to imagine going through this without them! Also fortunately and gratefully, they readily offer plenty of advice.
It can get confusing when everybody takes a different angle to the situation and has something different to say. Pieces of advice can conflict. Each person makes a good point, and the brain tries to consider and process each one. But tidbits get tangled in a fried brain, and it can be hard to sort them all out.
Eventually they do get sorted out, though. They just take a long time to process and organize. It helps to write them out. A to-do list comes to life, one that can serve as your anchor.
However, this opens up another question: the sequence of these tasks is crucial to get right, and get right the first time; in what order do you tackle them?
Obviously I can’t say much more about that in this public setting. It’s about to get legal.
What I can say is this: I’ve been busy. I’ve been researching and reading books and articles, talking with various people, obtaining loads of information, taking furious notes, taking advice to heart, tackling various projects, and so on. My (clean) devices are secured or locked down. Passwords have been changed (or activated in the first place), without being stored anywhere. Emergency and contingency plans have been made, supplies gathered and secured. Allies have been kept in the loop every step of the way, and (a big shout-out to all of them here!!) they’re ready to help me with whatever at any time. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is taken care of in the event of crisis-level chaos.
While I have a Personal Doomsday plan in place, I haven’t yet established a master plan for how to proceed in apparent peacetime. And right now, the atmosphere at home is rather peaceful (despite the fact that he at least suspects that I at least suspect something). The vibe is cordial; both of us are wearing various degrees of masks, not breathing a word to the other, never tipping our respective hands.
It has the potential to be a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse…or it could be a whole lotta–well, not nothing, but a whole lotta little. The unknown variables and unpredictability are a little unnerving.
It’s a little more unnerving yet when, upon spilling your guts to your counselor, they suddenly declare that either their role has to change–to one in which they mediate a three-way sit-down between you, the therapist, and your nemesis, in order to get everything on the table–or they have to cease meeting individually with both of you.
Although that came as an eleventh-hour shock in the last five minutes of yesterday’s session (what the hell just happened??), it was likely a blessing in disguise. Everything happens for a reason, after all, and maybe a therapist isn’t what I need right now. Roadblocks induce–and often force–creative strategizing. The thought process must follow the lines of “okay, so that’s not an option. Fine. What can I do?” And go from there.
I went from there indeed, becoming inspired to research the one member of my support team that I don’t yet have but desperately need most: a divorce coach. They help navigate you through the process, providing valuable information and encouraging critical thinking, supporting you in ways the attorneys can’t.
I plan to make phone calls first thing after this holiday weekend.
Dear ones, in a situation like this, it’s just day to day. You do what you can to get through the day. You do what you can to make each day as productive as possible. You make the most of every situation, every decision point, every fork in the road. At any point in time, you’re asking yourself what you can do today–or even this hour or this minute–for yourself, to improve your situation, to get that much closer to at least one of your goals.
During this time, you keep your expectations realistic. You remain kind and gentle to and with yourself. You go easy on yourself; you’re living a nightmare, after all. You keep your boundaries solid, saying yes when you can and no when you need to. You remain open and honest with your support system/team, and you swallow your pride to ask for help when you need it. You take care of yourself – your mind, body, and spirit. You’re your own partner, after all. You keep going, one foot in front of the other, striving for balance between proactivity and downtime to rest and relax.
This is my first rodeo. Hopefully this’s my only rodeo, ever. This was never on my bucket list…
…or, spiritually, karmically, maybe it was. ❤