Yesterday I woke up with the beginnings of a tension headache and my chest hurting. I was anxious about how the monthly conversation with my husband would go. He wanted to get to it right away after our youngest daughter had left for school.
He said he didn’t really have anything to talk about, but I did – I wanted to know more about how he wanted to handle our announcement of the end of the relationship. He was suspicious as to my motives, which wasn’t really a surprise. He’s suspicious about every damned thing I do. His preference was that whether we posted separately or posted the same thing and tagged each other that we be very vague. I’d offered to use language accepting responsibility for ending the relationship, in case he was uncomfortable with vague – turns out he’s more comfortable with vague. He is, in fact, worried about what I’ll say about why the relationship ended. I’m sure it’s because he’s just so concerned I’ll make myself look crazy, and not that the facts would make him look bad. /s
He brought up the mental health thing again. Said he didn’t know how I’d got this idea that I might be at risk from him for being Baker acted. I informed him, with a little heat, that he’s the one that put that idea in my head. He brought up the fact that our insurance covered a hospital stay, out of nowhere, and tried to steer me in that direction. The fact that he’d done that is one reason I refused to tell him about my first serious episode of suicidal ideation, and why I confided in A and H instead. It’s why I stopped telling him details about my mental health.
He wanted to know if I’d at least tell him if I went on medication and I said I’d have to, since he’d be the only adult around to keep an eye out for me. If I had a serious reaction to the medication that required an emergency response, he’d have to be able to tell the paramedics what kind of medication I was taking, after all.
He tried to ask if I felt he’d ever ‘betrayed’ me and I said I couldn’t know. I made sure to be clear that I was referencing his faithfulness, since he’d given me an opening. He just brushed that aside, which was honestly strange in and of itself. Given how upset he’s been about any suggestion of untoward behavior on his part, anything that blames him, anything that might seem like a moral aspersion, having him have almost a non-reaction to the idea that I didn’t know if he’d been faithful was – strange.
Instead he meant in a general way with any given behavior – which was also strange because who would use ‘betrayed’ for that?
I was a little stung by the way he’d been speaking to me, and I snapped out that he needed to stop playing stupid mind games. I hadn’t intended to bring that up, though I’d really wanted to bring it up. He was defensive about that, and denied it immediately, and said it was all in my head. I didn’t try to argue with him – I just told him that the next time he thought he was being “tactical” to remember that he’s not as clever and as smooth as he thinks he is.
Honestly, the conversation has already fuzzed a little, but I know he wanted more information from me – to dig around in my brain and satisfy himself on some points, have me tell him the specific things I saw as being mind games, and I just told him no and stonewalled him. I told him what he wanted to know was in no way pertinent to current events, that it had not impacted my decision to divorce him, and that it would be a waste of both our time if we went down that route.
He was not happy about that. I was accused, once again, of being controlling. He made sarcastic remarks about my “boundaries.” Made noises about no longer sticking to the once a month conversation format. I promptly and coldly told him that if he couldn’t respect my boundaries we’d stop having conversations altogether. He asked if I was threatening him, and I said he could call it what he wanted, I was informing him of what would happen.
He wanted to know, then, how my job search was going and if I was submitting applications anywhere. I basically told him it was my business, not his, and then received a rather hilarious surprise – the man accusing me of revising the past has revised the past. He thinks our last year together was his idea, and he thinks it was him magnanimously giving me the opportunity to get employment and get back on my feet prior to our divorce.
A trial period of one year had been my idea. So I could see if things changed enough that I could keep living with him. I was still trying to salvage my marriage when I brought it up to him and was trying to avoid divorce. I was thinking of it in terms of living separately if that trial year working on things like hoarding and sleep didn’t work out, not being separated or divorced. I didn’t (and still don’t) believe that living separately has to be the end of a relationship. Sometimes I think two people can be good together as a romantic pairing but terrible as roommates.
When we had our long conversation later on in the year, after I’d started to think divorce was a real and likely possibility, he brought up the trial year. I remember feeling relieved because if he’d brought it up, he’d feel like it was his idea and be more likely to go along with it. I’d let him know at the time that I didn’t think we’d find a miracle to save our relationship, but that we’d at least have that year to find out. He was very clear that he was hoping for the miracle.
Getting employment and being able to support myself on my own were certainly part of the whole thing, but not the reason the idea was first floated. The year as I’d first brought it up was about him changing enough so that I could stay without risk of further mental deterioration.
Now, in his mind, he’s the one that had the idea for a last year together and it was so I’d be able to get on my feet financially and support myself before our divorce.
I didn’t correct him. I just stared at him. I didn’t want to look away and seem like I was ignoring him, but I also didn’t want to seem like I was cowed. After we stared at each other intensely for a little while I couldn’t help it, I started to find it funny and he saw the laughter creeping into my expression and asked, stung, if I found something amusing. I admitted I did find our staring contest amusing since we looked like two lizards staring at each other from their aquariums.
The conversation necessarily had to fizzle out. He couldn’t force me to divulge the things he wanted me to divulge and I wasn’t going to be intimidated into giving him what he wanted.
I almost forgot that he wanted our announcement to include something about him getting custody of the kids and asking people for advice on how they handled interactions with their children through a divorce. I told him I didn’t want custody arrangements discussed, I felt that wasn’t anyone’s business, either, but that we could certainly ask people if they had any advice for helping children through a divorce. I swear the reason he wanted it known he’s getting custody is because he wants to look good. The reason he doesn’t want me talking about what led to the divorce is because he wants to look good, and he would definitely not look good.
After the conversation was over I was fuming, and vented in my group chats. I felt a bit better after, though, and got hooked on a rabbit trail going through my Facebook posts from 2016. By the time I was halfway through the year I was feeling pretty bitter. I’d dropped my faith and become agnostic early in the year and had made a series of facebook posts explaining about my religious background, some of how it had severely impacted my life, and why I was walking away from Christianity entirely. In those posts, I made excuses for my husband. Said he’d sensed something was wrong but didn’t know what, and didn’t know what questions to ask.
Turns out, that was wrong and he never bothered to correct me or discuss how it was wrong. Because I found out earlier this year, in an explanation meant to provide evidence that he cared about me and chose to do the right thing, that he realized early in our relationship that he had an inordinate amount of power. So he went to friends to ask them what they thought. Someone like me, with my strong personality, wouldn’t be going along with things unless I wanted to, right? Reassured that it was totally fine for him to just keep on keeping on in a relationship which he understood was unbalanced and understood he had ‘inordinate power’ he never bothered to discuss the situation with me and ask me why I was doing what I was doing. But, you know, I can totally trust him!
To be honest, I don’t think he wanted to know from me why I was doing what I was doing. If he’d asked me direct questions he would have got direct answers and he no longer would have had plausible deniability. He no longer would have been able to rationalize that I wanted him to get what he wanted all the time. He had landed in a relationship in which his partner did her best to give him what he wanted, when he wanted it, and he didn’t want to lose that sweet deal.
Not that long after our conversation had closed, he started being warm and friendly, telling me cute stories about our kids from while I was gone in Tennessee and acting like everything was just fine, nothing was wrong. I looked at him, smiled and nodded, talked about our kids, and thought about how this behavior – which has happened multiple times now – was almost certainly him being “tactical.” Another one of his mind games. I bowed out of the conversation after a little.
I admit, it gave me a petty sense of satisfaction when later in the day it was clear that he was in a bad mood and that it was almost certainly related to our earlier conversation, which he must not have felt satisfied about. He looked and acted sour and also took a nap. Meanwhile my mood had already stabilized and elevated and I was jamming out to Dance With The Dead and feeling pleased with the fact that I handled a stressful situation and came out of it still holding my head up and not deep in the throes of depression or anxiety.