Separation

Before I dust off this blog, and start a new chapter in my life’s story, I want to make it very clear to the readers that I’m not the hero in this tale. I’m not the good guy in this story. Consider yourselves warned. Here there be monsters.

A few hours ago, I got the text from my wife saying she and the movers were on their way to the new apartment. Thus begins our mandatory trial separation of one year. I’m back home now, except that’s not the right word anymore. My home moved out and is in a tiny apartment by herself. This is just a house. An empty shell of what it was. I should back up a bit.

First, this is entirely my fault. I’ve had warnings, such as a heartfelt email almost two years ago with a list of how I could be a better husband to her. It was literally a list, with items on it as simple as “Tell me that I’m beautiful” and “Touch me just because you love me. Active touching.” You know, the simplest, most basic things that people in love do for one another. And I failed at it. For two years. How can I blame her for wanting more than I offer?

That wasn’t the final straw, though. During the pandemic, work sent me home to stay safe. I was only allowed to go in when work required it, which meant a lot of time at home, by myself, being alone and bored. That boredom and loneliness spiraled into a deep depression. I’ve always had problems with depression, but this was worse. On top of that, I have an inability to talk about my feelings vocally, and I’ll get into that later. This led to a distance forming between me and my wife, because I couldn’t/wouldn’t vocalize what was wrong with me. As this gap widened, I sunk lower and lower into that depression. I felt unproductive. I felt isolated. I felt worthless.

So I reached out via the only medium that I’ve ever really been able to: written word. I did this in the form of chatrooms. Old IRC chatrooms that I hadn’t visited in a decade, Discord channels, streaming communities… any place to get an actual interaction where I could talk about my feelings without having to look someone in the eye. And eventually, someone talked back. She “listened” to my typed-out emotional ramblings and responded with kind words and over time, began to flirt. I don’t know how it would affect a normal person, but having someone flirt with me when I felt as worthless as I did helped. I didn’t want to lose that bright spot in my gloom of depression, so I flirted back. Over time, the flirting took its course, and I crossed a line. I never asked for her picture, or to hear her voice, or to meet in person, because that would make it more “real.” But a line was crossed regardless, and my wife was devastated when she found out. I may not have put my dick anywhere I shouldn’t have, but I was careless with the trust of the most important person in my life. That was the final straw. I’m not the good guy in this story, readers.

The first night was terrible. She was moving out. She wanted a divorce. She could never trust me again. I’ve never had physical symptoms of an emotional pain before in my life, so I thought I was dying. I thought it might be a heart attack. Between throwing up and sobbing into the pillow on the guest bed, I passed through the night waiting for death to rightfully come and punish me for the pain I thrust upon my wife. I didn’t sleep.

The next morning, I stayed in the guest room and listened to her go through her morning routine. I didn’t want to make her look at me. I didn’t want to force a reminder of the betrayal. I didn’t want to make her hurt more than I already had. When I heard the front door lock behind her, I got out of bed and tried to eat some cereal. I threw it up within 30 minutes, brushed my teeth and ate a Baby Bell cheese. I drank as much water as I could, partly to rehydrate and partly to have some liquid in the mix the next time I threw up. Then I pulled out my pistol and held it in my hand for about an hour.

I wanted this pain to end. This was a new misery for me, and I didn’t know any way to relieve it. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. My chest felt like it might explode at any minute. All it would take was ten seconds of courage. Walk into the yard, call 911 to let them know where to pick me up, and put a hollow-point bullet through my temple. The pain would be over and, if there’s a Hell waiting to claim my soul, it couldn’t be worse than this. But what about her? She would find a way to blame herself, at least partially, and I wouldn’t be there to explain that it wasn’t her fault. My parents and friends would also suffer. How could I justify ending my pain if it meant increasing the pain of everyone I loved? So I unloaded the gun and put it away.

I cried and puked my way through the next ten hours, waiting for her to get home and rehearsing what I would say to her. I was going to live, but that wasn’t going to be enough. I needed to fix this. That’s who I am, what I do. I fix things. But first, I needed to fix myself. She’d told me as much the night before… hell, she gave me an email two years ago with instructions on how to start. So I waited.

When she got home, I waited for her to change clothes and go through her post-work routine and, before she went into the computer room I asked her if we could talk. She agreed, and everything I had rehearsed, everything I wanted to say just vanished from my mind. So I blubbered through the words that my heart needed her to hear. I still loved her. I still thought she was beautiful. I said everything that she had longed to hear for two years. I wanted to save this marriage. She doesn’t know if it’s possible. Right now it’s too fresh, too painful, for her to see any possible happy ending to this. But she listened to me, and that’s more than I deserved or expected.

This morning, the movers were coming and she needed to pack without me there. Not because she wanted to steal things, because I’d let her have anything she wanted, but because she didn’t want the reminder of me and my transgression around. So I grabbed my laundry and went over to my parents’ house to spend the day.

My inability to vocalize my feelings comes from my father, not that I’m blaming him for it. He and his father were the “strong, silent type” of the previous generation, and they were the men I admired most. It’s no wonder I turned out like them, though now it’s called “toxic masculinity.” Rightly so. This emotional barrier is a poison inside me. It’s a barrier I’ve been building my whole life, and now I’m terrified to break that dam and release the flood of 40+ years of pent-up pain and sadness.

My mother saw it in me, and revealed the struggles she’s faced over the years with my father for the same reasons. To his credit, my father sat there and listened. He didn’t speak much, but he didn’t get up and leave the room. That’s more progress than I expected. I told them everything, including the part about the pistol. I cried on their couch as they listened, and my mom offered what insight she could. I told them I was going to fight for this marriage, to strive to be the man that my wife fell in love with and earn her trust back. I want to spend the rest of my life showing her how wonderful she is. But the first step is going to be the hardest… I need to show myself that I’m worthy of being loved in return. I need to be happy. So Monday, I’m going to call around the various counseling offices, and set up an appointment. Maybe talking to a stranger will be easier than a loved one, but I’m dreading it. I’m also looking forward to it, because it’s the beginning of my journey. A journey that I’m going to record here.

I may not be the good guy in the story, but I hope I can change that eventually.

I weigh 369 pounds, my blood sugar is 85, and I still love my wife more than anything in this world.

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