Previously seen on The Troubles, Gary works too much and I bitch too much and eventually we hate each other. Gary uses the D word.
After much crying, I got up the next morning and looked up "Lawyers, Divorce" in the Yellow Pages. Then it struck me that I was skipping a step: that marriage counseling step.
First I tried the parish priest, even though we had never set foot in the church. It was useless. (Gary claims he was there. I just quizzed Gary about what he remembers. Nothing.)
Then, I realized that whore McDonnell-Douglas Aeronautics, who had seduced my husband away from me with her cool technical projects, could pay for the counseling with her Employee Assistance Program. The EAP sent us to some ex-priest. We drove separately, I was late, Gary was there, I walked in, and the counselor pointed his finger at me and demanded "HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOUR FATHER ABANDONED THE FAMILY?"
That bastard Gary's been talking about me, I thought, but come to find out this man held fast to the Inner Child school of therapy. He informed us that the reason we were having difficulty was because "Little Ellen" and "Little Gary" had been hurt as children and were acting out. "Little Ellen" must have Daddy issues because her husband was eight years older. I don't deny the truth of this, just the parlor-game way he introduced it. This visit did result in a nice moment on the parking lot while we made fun of the therapist. It would seem "Little Gary" struck my Gary as a euphemism for his penis.
The next place I tried was chosen because it was close to my work. I went alone. The therapist had on a vest and asked if I'd like a hug the minute I walked in for my first visit.
"No!" I recoiled in horror.
"Not a hugger? That's okay. What brings you here?"
So I bitched about the situation for an hour. She interrupted me once to ask if I'd considered having an affair.
"How would that help anything?" I was astonished. I could not have had an affair, men were treating me like a leper. A leper with Herpes. Herpes and Aids. I had been flirting with men at work, and I'd been out dancing with my friends, but the one time a man asked to buy me a drink I had placed my wedding-ring hand prominently on top of my purse after I said no. And, frankly, I'm a little pissed only one man asked, the Heartbreak Diet had me down to 120 pounds. And I wore lingerie to work every day, just so I could feel it and think what an idiot my husband was for not having sex with me for the last four months.
After our hour was up, she insisted that Gary come the next time. She moved in for a hug but caught herself in time.
The next appointment wasn't for two weeks. I moved back to Mom's house. At the time, Mom and Dad were on vacation, so Gary assumed I was watching their cat. Cat-sitting. That I had moved in for some intensive cat-monitoring. The cat would at least be there when I came home from work.
After two weeks Mom came home and said, you can stay one more week, after that, get an apartment or move back with Gary. (Mom, when I reminded her of this a few years ago, was horrified by her coldness.)
I moved back with Gary for one reason: The First Annual Tea Party was coming up in about a month. I wasn't nice to him, I can tell you that.
I have no idea why he said he'd come to my new huggy counselor with me. He sat there scowling with his arms crossed (in fact, the only thing Gary recalls is that he was unable to uncross his arms), while the counselor asked us to recap our grievances.
Me: He never comes home.
Him: Why would I? She just yells at me when I'm there.
Me: I wouldn't yell if you came home more.
Him: I've said I'm going to come home more now.
Me: I don't believe you. You've said that before.
"Okay," said the counselor as she hopped out of her chair. "Separate rooms."
And she went in a separate room with Gary, alone. I sat there and wondered if she was suggesting he have an affair. After twenty minutes she came back in to my room.
"What did he say?" I asked.
"He says he changed jobs already, and if you give him another month -"
" - Then things will turn a corner and it'll slow down," I sneered. "He's said that for years."
"Well, you have to believe him. You can't be mad at him for things he's done in the past. You have to live in the moment. If he makes you mad, let him know, that instant. Don't say 'fine' and hang up the phone. You have to own your feelings."
Hey, I thought, this is my fault, is that what you're saying? Who is paying you? I thought we were friends. This is about the hugging, isn't it.
The remarkable thing about that session was hearing an objective point of view. She seemed to suggest that Gary had a reason to complain. Gary! The Villain! And I imagine having a stranger say to him, "You've been neglecting your wife. She's pretty pissed," meant a lot more than hearing it from me.
Then she went back to talk to Gary, again, and then came back to me.
"I told him you were going to leave, that you were shopping for apartments. He said you were crazy." (As an aside, I had not yet shown any evidence of true insanity at this time.) "But he didn't say 'good riddance.' so I think you should come back in two weeks."
On the very tense drive home, I was crying, Gary was scowling, and at the stoplight to get on to Highway 94 he burst out and bellowed about how he needed to work. "Don't you get it?" And then he explained himself. Essentially, he was angry at himself for wasting many opportunities in his youth.
It had nothing to do with me.
Up till then, every time he chose work over me, I was insulted and hurt, since I wasn't as interesting or fun as work. Now I saw he was working to make up for being a "bad" son, a college dropout, a time waster. And if he'd chosen me instead of work all those nights, he would still hate himself as much. I was completely irrelevant to the situation.
Well, I know I should say we fell into each other's arms, but of course no such thing happened. I stopped crying hours later when my first tea party guests arrived. We never made another appointment with the counselor. Gary started to say "I really would rather be at home with you, but I feel I need to finish this project." I started to say, "I am angry that you will not be home," but then I would make other plans. After a few months, we made love again, and I use that term sparingly. I think it was the only time I felt like we were "making love." I did love him much more after that one experience. (Then it was back to nasty, nasty fun-filled sex, but that one time was quite unusual.)
Eventually, after two years, we were back to giggly giddy love again. It hasn't been consistent adoration for the last 15 years, but I can stand the sight of him. And I like Friend #2's comment, we love each other more than pie.