The first few months of living in my furniture-less fortress provided the much needed respite from my life as a wife and mother. I rose early in the morning to go to the house to make breakfast. I would go back in the evening for dinner and the bedtime routine. Our hope was that the children wouldn’t realize that I didn’t actually sleep at the house. It wasn’t long before I was busted by my four-year old son asking, “Mom, where are your pajamas?” I had forgotten that one small detail in my fail-proof plan.
Our little detective’s inquiry resulted in a family meeting where we informed the children that mommy and daddy were not getting along and needed a break. We told them that mom was moving to a new place, aptly named, “Mommy’s Take-a-Break House” and they would be living in both places until the break was over. We were all hopeful and unsure about the future, but we dove headfirst into the new normal.
We continued to do things as a family, even couple’s therapy. Yes, we were in therapy while he was having an affair. It seemed that the appropriate time to share that part of his life hadn’t presented itself. Though I had lost faith in the process, I attended sessions in hopes I could better understand how we had gotten to that place. Each day became a little easier. There were flashes of peace at unexpected moments. I would, however, have outbursts of anger or a million questions about the affair. That was to be expected, right? One day, after a round of questioning, he told me if I continued I would drive him back to her. Really? Do I stop asking questions and put his comfort over mine?
Well, it wasn’t long before I got my answer. During a therapy session, he informed me that he needed 30 days to sort things out. What did that mean? It turns out that it meant that we both could do whatever we wanted, with whomever we wanted. I knew that meant he was going back to her. For those 30 days, I tried to preoccupy myself with the kids, work and other positive outlets. It mostly worked. There were days when I cried for no reason other than the fact that my life, as I knew it, had fallen apart.
A mutual friend invited the two of us to a cookout which would be one of the first opportunities to introduce the new, new normal to our children and friends. Hurdle #1 – arriving separately to an event that we’d typically go to as a family. Hurdle #2 – Acting natural. I jumped both hurdles with relative ease. The children ran between the two of us like old times. Our first family event as a separated couple was a success! As the evening wound down, my intuition told me that he was going to see her that night. Of course, I wanted to say something, but I was honoring the terms of the 30-day notice. I muscled my way through the evening. I was so proud of myself the next morning. I had actually slept, gotten the kids out, and made it to work in one piece. Then, he called.
He called to thank me for giving him the space to…I don’t even know what else he said because I lost all composure. In a tone usually reserved for scolding my children, I ask, “Are you thanking me for allowing you to have sex with your girlfriend? Oh no, you need to thank me to my face!”
I took very directed steps to my boss’ office and through the tears, I whisper, “I need to go home”. What happens next, I will NEVER forget.