Monday, August 3, 2015

So much changes in a year

A year ago today, I took the trip which made me realize that my marriage was over.  I hadn't seen my husband in 4 months, because he was working overseas. So I booked a flight early on to visit him at the midway point of his assignment.

In the days leading up to my trip to see him, I felt a sense of dread. Every time we spoke in those days and weeks before I saw him, he had become increasingly hostile toward me and dismissive of my feelings. I had been incredibly sad and depressed ever since he left months before, yet I couldn't talk to him about it. Any time I tried to bring up my feelings, he told me that I was bringing him down, and that I was being unsupportive of him, and that he was tired of hearing about it. Most of our conversations quickly devolved into arguments and him yelling at me if he even heard a hint of sadness in my voice.

So I stopped saying much. I pulled back and quit reaching out to him. I became afraid to open up to him, because I was so tired of fighting. I accepted that I was alone in my feelings. I didn't even talk to my friends or family about it, because I knew that he would be angry if he found out I went to them instead of him. So I was sad and depressed and incredibly lonely. And exhausted.

It was a big deal to me that I wasn't even excited about seeing him. On every trip prior, I had been counting down the days and minutes until I could see him again. This time, I was dreading it. I knew that things were not going to go well. I knew we were going to argue. I could feel that our marriage was crumbling.

This feeling was further confirmed as I arrived to my airport. I called him to let him know I would be getting on the plane soon, and he informed me that he had to work and wouldn't be able to pick me up. I said "Ok, no problem," but I apparently sounded too sad, and he immediately began to scream at me that it wasn't his fault he had to work and he couldn't believe I was pissed at him for not picking me up. I tried to remain calm and tell him that I understood and that I wasn't angry, just disappointed, and he continued to scream at me. I had to put the phone down. I was crying, there in the airport, at the gate. About to board a plane to go see him.

It took me until a layover in Paris for me to say to myself "Ok. You're halfway there now. Just be excited about this." I still wasn't excited, but the dread had started to recede a bit.

When I arrived at the airport there, his dad picked me up. And I spent the next 9 hrs with his dad. As soon as my husband came home, he gave me a peck on the lips and then turned on the tv to watch his team's soccer match. I even said "Hey, it's not like I just flew 3000 miles to see you or anything..." He put his arm around me and continued to watch soccer.

That night, we went to bed, and he stayed up playing video games. Any silly ideas I had of a blissful reunion were out the window. After a little while, I asked him to please come to bed and at least hug me. So he hugged me for a minute or so, and then got back up to play video games. I asked him to please stop and come and lay with me so we could hold each other and catch up, since we hadn't seen each other for four months! He grudgingly did. But of course, it started an argument about how I was being so selfish, and why didn't I just tell him if I wanted him to come to bed (I thought that was what I did?).

The argument kept going from there. All of the sadness and insecurity I'd been feeling for the last 4 months bubbled up. And he only saw it as an attack on him, and me being unsupportive of him, because I dared be sad that my husband had left. Then he uttered the phrase that will stick with me for the rest of my life, and the moment I knew I couldn't be married to him: "Don't ever make me choose between my career and you, because I can tell you right now, you won't win."

In that moment, I stopped speaking. I don't know that any phrase has ever hurt me so much. I just hung my head. My heart dropped. He finally said what I had known for months now--that I was not his priority and never would be. It devastated me. I began to cry quietly.

"What, so you want a divorce now?! Is that what you want?!" he yelled.
"No, that just really hurt me to hear. I want us to work things out. I don't understand what happened."
"I don't want to talk about this anymore!"And with that, he went back to playing his video game.

And I laid in bed and cried. When he finally did come to bed, he was angry at me because I was moving around too much, because I was emotionally upset and also jetlagged and couldn't sleep. "You just don't stop, do you?!" He fell asleep, and I moved to the floor, where I would have more room since he was taking up the entire bed.

That was night one. The rest of the trip got worse from there.

Part of the reason I went to visit him then was that I had a friend getting married in a neighboring country that week, so we were going to go to her wedding. On the way there, I got a call from the friend who was sitting my dog that she was no longer able to dogsit. I began to cry from the stress, and my husband yelled at me, saying "If this is how you're going to act, we're not going to go anywhere!" I told him that it was sad that he couldn't just be supportive and help me try to think of a solution. He told me that I just had terrible friends, and if it had been HIS friends, this never would have happened.

When we finally got to the hotel, we were able to get in touch with one of his friends to take over watching the dog. I was relieved, but utterly exhausted. As I got into bed, he said "You don't seem happy that my friend is taking over," and I said "No, I'm very happy, I'm just really tired and need to sleep." And he proceeded to yell at me about how much better his friends are than mine, and he was going to text my friend and give her an earful about what a terrible person she is. I said "Please don't do that. Please just let me handle it when I get home. She's my friend, so please just let me deal with it later."

That sent him into a rage unlike any I've ever seen. In his mind, I was putting my friend's needs (to not be yelled at) above his need (to give her a piece of his mind) and was choosing her over him. He saw it as the ultimate act of betrayal, told me he hated me and wanted to be as far away from me as possible. His screaming was so loud that someone from the hotel had to come up and ask him to please be quiet, because fellow occupants were complaining. He then announced that he was going to sleep in the car and didn't want to see me.

I laid in bed, shaking. I had never been afraid that he may hurt me physically before, but his rage terrified me, and I didn't know what he was capable of. It was especially scary, too, because I was in a foreign country where I didn't fluently speak the language, and he had the car. I thought he might just leave me there (since he'd informed me earlier in the day that he didn't want to be there anyway, and if we weren't married he would have gone instead to see his soccer team play hours away). I began to think of ways for me to get home without him.

He came back into the room a bit later. Of course he wasn't actually going to sleep in the car. I stayed as far away from him in bed and he eventually tried to put his arm around me. I didn't sleep at all that night.

When I look back at all of the beautiful pictures that were taken during that trip, all I can think of is how sad and scared I was. To me, those pictures show the beginning of the end of our marriage, and of the person I thought I knew. There's one set of pictures in particular that were taken at my friend's wedding...we were off in the corner by ourselves, but the photographer had spotted us and took a whole series of pictures of us smiling at each other, making funny faces at each other, and finally of him hugging me tightly. I remember in that moment feeling so loved and happy to be with him, despite everything that happened at the hotel the night before. What I didn't realize until after I saw the whole string of pictures weeks later was that he had seen the photographer taking pictures of us, and immediately after hugging me, gave a "thumbs up" and a wink to the camera. It hadn't been real. It was posed on his part. I was just an unaware participant who thought that he was hugging me because he loved me and wanted to do it in that moment. Basically the entire ordeal is a metaphor for our entire marriage.

The day I came home, I passed a kidney stone and developed a UTI. Being with him for 10 days had literally made me sick. My body was trying to tell me something, but it took my brain awhile longer to finally really listen.

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