My head’s a jumbled mess. I start the drive to Colorado one week from tomorrow, and I had my final couple’s counseling appointment with Chris yesterday morning. It was strange seeing him after two months apart. The appointment itself was just awkward. I was hoping that seeing his face would make me feel… something. Some kind of flutter in my stomach. But it didn’t.
Our therapist spent a few minutes with each of us individually before bringing us in together to talk. She commented on how great I looked. Said that I appeared to be doing much better since the last time she’d seen me. I admitted that, yes, I actually feel better than I have in probably four years. She wanted to spend the joint meeting talking about what progress we’d made individually in the last two months, or as she likes to call it, a “weather report.” Then she wanted to discuss what we’d each like to do now regarding the separation. Privately, I asked her to have Chris go first. I knew that if I did, he wouldn’t be as honest about what he wanted. I would be honest regardless.
Just as I expected, he’s regretting and questioning every decision he’s made in the last several months. He cried a lot. He said that he thought that separating and moving to his own place would allow him to concentrate on recovery, to focus on getting better. But in reality, it drew him further into isolation. His addiction got worse before it got better. He realized that I was his bedrock. Our family was what was keeping him tethered to sanity. He also said that he understood now that he was so withdrawn into himself that he was ignoring me. That he forgot how to be empathetic with me.
He’s only been sober for a couple of weeks now. He started going to three meetings a week, and he’s in constant contact with his sponsor. Chris never flat out asked to reconcile, but he did make hints towards it. He talked of “rebuilding.” But learning how he’s only recently taken his sobriety seriously only made my resolve stronger.
When it was my turn to talk, I told him that I am in a very good place. Better than I have been in years. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was unhappy. I felt unimportant. Now? I’m regaining my self-respect. I’m proud of myself. I just bought a house all on my own, and I’m making life exactly what I want it to be. I’ve started reconnecting with friends and making plans with people for when I get to Colorado. I’m bringing adventure back into my life. When I said that last bit, he got an obvious look of longing on his face. He commented about how that was what made us fall in love in the first place… adventure.
I asked him to stop calling me. I told him that I didn’t think it was helping either of us to be in constant contact. He asked for this separation, and I want to take it seriously. He asked how we are supposed to rebuild our relationship if we’re not staying in contact, and I was honest and said that I wasn’t even sure if I’d want to reconcile. Ever. I explained that he’s like a stranger to me now. I don’t know who’s going to come out on the other side of this. The man I met and fell in love with in the first place, or someone entirely new? Our therapist chimed in with exactly what I was thinking — that we would have to date each other again to really know. We’re both going to come out on the other side of this completely changed, and if we do reconcile, we’re going to have a very different marriage. We need to court each other again to even know if that’s what either of us would truly want.
But regardless, he’s not ready for that anyway. He’s been sober just a few weeks, and he’s obviously still struggling with it. I explained that every time he calls me, he acts like his world is falling apart. He’s miserable at his job, he’s miserable in his new apartment, he doesn’t have any friends. I feel like I’m moving forward, and he’s standing still. I told him that I can’t continue to let him drag me down with him into despair. I even told him Rob’s football analogy. And that was when a lightbulb went off in his head. His face washed with this look of understanding. He nodded his head and said, “You’re right. I’ve only been calling you when I’ve been depressed. I’m trying to cling onto you to ground myself. And that’s not fair. I don’t want or need to be married to my therapist, and that’s how I’ve been treating you.”
So with that, I told him I wanted to continue the separation, and I want it to be unrestricted. I don’t want either of us to hesitate or feel guilty about building connections with new people. I want to check in with each other once a month or so, but no more. We have at least four more months to work on ourselves, to figure out what we each want, before making any other major decisions anyway. In our state, we have to be separated for six months before we can file for divorce. And separation is defined as when one party establishes a separate residence. Chris moved out mid-April, so we wouldn’t be able to move forward with a divorce until October at the earliest.
And I’m not even saying that I would want a divorce. I honestly have no idea right now. I don’t know this man. I do know that he regrets everything that’s happened between us, and I do know that he loves me. I love him. But right now, I just don’t have the same feelings about him. Even if he gets his sobriety in check, will he truly be emotionally and sexually available in the ways I need him to be? I have a hard time imagining it because it’s been so long since I’ve experienced it.
After the appointment, I invited him back to the condo. I knew he’d want to see the dogs one more time before I go. Leaving them behind has been very difficult for him, and he’s asked me many times to send him pictures. He played with them for awhile, took some photos himself, and we made some small talk about how things are going at work for each of us. Before he left, he hugged me. For an uncomfortably long time. I thought he might never let me go.
It stormed the rest of the day, so I spent it lounging, reading, catching up on some of my favorite shows. I mostly just tried to distract myself from getting buried in my own thoughts. When I finally went to bed, I had a hard time falling asleep. I was feeling deep pangs of loss and regret. Why? Am I just feeling the loss of what we once had or of what I thought could be? I felt guilty for hurting him, even after all the hurt he’s put me through. I’ve never been angry with him over this because I know none of it was intentional. He’s a broken man. I know that it’s not healthy for me to be in his life right now. Nor do I feel any semblance of attraction or raw desire for him. So why do I feel so… sad… about this?
I just don’t have the answers right now, and that’s okay. I will in time.
In other news, I went up to Baltimore Thursday night to see Combichrist. I went by myself, and y’all… I had so much fun! Three of the opening acts ended up being equally amazing (Wednesday 13, Prison and Night Club), and I literally danced for four hours straight. Also, apparently not wearing a wedding ring is like a beacon for dudes. I got asked on three dates, and got hit on by like ten other people. I even got asked out in the parking garage on the way back to my car. It was equally annoying and exhilarating.