For weeks, I had asked my husband to join me in Baltimore for Thanksgiving. He was back in Portugal, covering some sort of car race for his magazine. The race ended a few days before the holiday.
It wasn’t long before I started to get the sense that my husband had, indeed, gotten back on the “trouble train”. He hadn’t ever actually given me a straight answer about joining me in Baltimore, much less spending a week on the road with me. When the time finally came around, he didn’t have the money for a plane ticket. He had only asked the magazine for a one-way ticket to Lisbon. He had “gambled” with making something out of the car race story, but it wasn’t looking too good.
He asked me to cover his ticket to Baltimore. I couldn’t afford it. I had been paying all of the bills, and our property taxes were due in a couple of weeks. We would not have survived financially had it not been for my tour. Money from my husband’s stories had started trickling in, but it certainly wasn’t consistent, or substantial.
To be fair, I did understand that my husband was trying to make something of himself and his career. He certainly couldn’t return to teaching, especially since he had crossed professional lines and slept with one of his students. Furthermore, he had dreams of becoming a writer. Every chance he got to cover a story, he took. I was supportive, and wanted to be moreso, but the damage had already been done. I was wary of the content of his articles. I didn’t trust him. I didn’t know whose company he was keeping. I felt like he was giving his career way more effort than his marriage. And if all of this meant that he was going to be traveling extensively over the next year or so, I didn’t want to have any part of it.
I was sitting on the leather couch in my swanky tour bus, unpeeling a banana for breakfast as my husband and I emailed back and forth.
I’m not staying in a long-distance marriage, my thumbs pounded, furiously. Nope. Won’t do it. Not when there are prettier women, more exciting people and parties, more alluring countries, sights, smells, sounds, food…I won’t compete because I just shouldn’t have to.
I shouldn’t have to feel bad for wanting you around. I shouldn’t have to feel bad for being mad that you can’t get your ass to Thanksgiving on time. You should have booked your return ticket from Lisbon to Baltimore when you bought the ticket in the first place. But, no, you had to keep your options open just in case a better opportunity came up. For what? Money? Really?
Your actions have spoken deafeningly louder than any of your words.
He didn’t want a long-distance marriage, either, but he was writing to me from almost four thousand miles away. He just wanted me to understand, and not place myself in competition with his career.
My blood started to boil. I stood up, and threw my banana as hard as I could. It narrowly missed hitting a trombone player square in the face. He ducked as the banana splattered on the window and sank to the floor. Everyone in the front lounge stared at me. Still, no one knew of my relationship troubles, so I tried to pass my behavior off as PMS. One of the guys jokingly offered me a beer. I cleaned up the mess, crawled back into my bunk, and quietly cried myself to sleep.
A few hours later, we arrived in the next city. I wrote a more lengthy reply from the privacy of my hotel room.
Greetings from Wausau, Wisconsin. I am staying in a hotel that is nothing short of the midwestern version of “The Shining”. The crisp, white bedding and the worn carpeted halls scream death! It’s fun to be in the midwest. I realize how great my life actually is. I have profusely thanked the Lord that I do not have to work at the Walmart nail salon in Waukegan, Illinois. I think I have issues with the entire state of Illinois. Sufjan Stevens would be sad.
Regarding our earlier exchange of emails (the new way to conduct a marriage!):
I’m sorry for sounding unsupportive. More than anything I want to support you in your career. And I really DO. I DO, and I know I don’t show it well.
I think that anytime I lose my focus on the Lord, I start going insane. I’m not used to this type of insecurity. I know you think I’m crazy, but sometimes I feel like you will just dump me because you get tired of my reactions; you’ll dump me because I’m not excited enough or supportive enough of your new venture. The fact that you had an affair opens every single door that is available. If you were able to fall in love with and have sex with another girl so easily and quickly, why not dump me over the tiniest matter? Especially when the door is open for a new, more exciting life?
I keep asking God, “Is this why he had an affair? So that he could have a successful career?” It’s not that far-fetched. You started intensely focusing on your career mid-affair. It has paid off.
It feels like our marriage got in the way of your career in the first place, and when it was at its worst: shattered, destroyed and hopeless, you were at your best, getting your career off the ground.
I know I am just speaking from my dumb, idiot, messed up, emotional heart…I’m trying my best to think before I speak. But this is me, and I am a passionate person.
I want to know that you aren’t going to leave me because I piss you off, or because I mention UKR’s name for the millionth time. I don’t want to mention her stupid, lying, manipulative, evil, destructive, blood-sucking, husband-stealing name ever again, actually. I have to forgive that bitch. I have to forgive you. I want her dead. I sometimes want to become Dexter and wrap you both up in your favorite brand of condoms, real nice and tight, and then stab you both in the heart. Multiple times. Murder you both dead, and make you watch each other scream, bleed and die. Die for LOVE, you infidel mother fuckers.
Yeah, that’s the hate in my heart that I carry for you both. Not pretty. I have to control it.
I have to forgive her. I have to forgive you. I have to forgive as the Lord forgave me. An excerpt from today’s devotional: “If your mind needs a focal point, gaze at My Love poured out for you on the cross. Remember that nothing in heaven or on earth can separate you from that Love. This remembrance builds a foundation of gratitude in you, a foundation that circumstances cannot shake.”
I have to remember that, even if you do dump me, I will be OK. God will carry me. But that’s insecurity talking. Beyond that, I have committed to being your wife. It’s extremely difficult. It never was that difficult before. I know that I am not easy to be married to, either. I truly do not want to have this affair define our marriage forever. I need your help. I need your patience. And if you can’t do it, then let me go. I know I keep saying that, but I truly cannot live like this, in hopeful expectation only to be devastated again.
I am committed to being your wife. I DO support you in whatever you do. I am sorry I can’t be more excited about things right now. I know that with God’s help, I can get there. I am truly committed to trying. I am sorry if I go bezerk and/or project worry into the future. That’s my sinful nature. I lose focus on the Lord. We are in the midst of doing this, and it’s hard, but we’re doing it. I just miss you and I want you to miss me and want to be with me more than you want to be in Portugal, or Lebanon, or Yemen, or Hawaii. But I can’t make you do that, and I have to be OK with it if you don’t feel that.
GOD is in control, let us not lose our focus on Him. Forgive me, forgive my rants and raves. I am human and I am hurting. I know you are, too. God is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine. Let’s ask him to help us. We can do this. We can, but only with God’s help, guidance and direction.
My husband showed up in Baltimore, the day after Thanksgiving.