We finished reading. We looked around the room. It was one of those suspended moments…a split second of time in which time doesn’t really exist. A moment in which I could see the confusion and hurt and pain in each of their eyes, yet no one yelled, or got up and ran or stomped out of the room.
The oldest, our brilliant former national-merit-scholar son who’d spent time seeking his own way and returned to start a company locally only a year or so before was the first to speak. He fumbled around his words, saying something that sort of tried to bridge the gap between his understanding of his life and what he now knew his life really was; something laced with an attempt at logic for a situation that defies logic. He twisted in his seat and got up to refill his coffee.
Our daughter, number two child, had an interesting, quick insight. She said that so many things made sense now…mom’s craziness wasn’t really so crazy…that she was shocked yet not shocked…that she sensed the discord in our lives but it was so under control…and that she was glad we were going to at least try to work things out.
Number three child, Son-2, was angry. His eyes would NOT meet his father’s eyes. At first, he hid behind some kind of sarcastic dig at his dad, and he pretty quickly told the room he thought I should divorce dad. Then he said it more emphatically, and was pretty disdainful toward me if I stayed with him.
Son-3…our quiet and introspective son…the one who had heard the sobs regularly and imagined all kinds of pain or tragedy around my outwardly visible disintegration…was sad. Just sad. He didn’t meet his dad’s eyes either, but it was less with anger and more with…well, the best word? Sadness.
We got up and the kids hugged me and felt awkward about their dad and we came home.
That afternoon, HUSBAND and I took our daughter and soon-to-be SIL out. It was very important that he know about this since it was now a big part of her life. We felt like it was unfair to not share it with him…what a bombshell to learn ANYWAY, but specifically as you are planning your own marriage with visions and dreams of a future, and your past has just been shattered in some ways. So we told him the gist of the story, with HUSBAND sharing how affairs came to pass and encouraging SIL to make different choices. SIL’s mom and dad had a difficult marriage, filled with alcohol abuse and other women. When he was 7, the marriage ended and he had no relationship with his father. He had looked to HUSBAND as a father-figure, an example of a husband, so it was a sober moment when he realized that even the person he held up as a model was broken. He was very gracious, and encouraged us to continue our counseling and work toward reconciliation if it was possible.
Some days passed, and Son-2, who was home from college for the summer, was staying away from our house and completely distant from HUSBAND. One day, I went into his room and he asked me, no, he sort of yelled at me WHY AREN’T YOU DIVORCING HIM MOM? WHY? He’s an ass…he’s never going to change… HUSBAND came to the door and Son-2 told him to LEAVE! I DON’T WANT TO SEE YOU OR TALK TO YOU! HUSBAND honored it, went out the door. I sat on the other bed as Son-2 sobbed and told me what a jerk he was. Son-2 began to recall some events in which his life and HUSBAND’s life had crossed the secret life: That Friend (see prior post) who had been complicit in the last affair was a great cheerleader of Son-2, texting him from time-to-time and supporting him with an occasional gift in the mail, or check for good grades, that kind of thing. That Friend had mentioned to Son-2 that he should plan to come up for the opening of his new building with HUSBAND and me. Except that That Friend had also told HUSBAND that if I didn’t come, SW (slut-whore) could come and he wouldn’t tell. Son-2 didn’t know that, of course-about SW, and mentioned to HUSBAND that That Friend had invited him…and could he go…and HUSBAND had empathically and overbearingly said NO! YOU CAN’T COME! Son-2 had been surprised at his response, and hurt and wondered where that response had come from. Now he knew. He felt so used by HUSBAND and That Friend. He felt so manipulated.
I listened, held his hand as he sobbed.
I tried to explain softly that I didn’t KNOW if I would stay married to dad. That I was involved in a process. That I didn’t want to make fast decisions, and had a lot to consider. That there were years of faithfulness and good and that it was so much.
Then Son-2 gave me new information. He told me he’d found porn on his dad’s phone several times.
Porn. On his phone. Several times.
I did not react, but I asked when.
In high school.
Why didn’t you tell me.
You were his wife, Mom.
My mind reeled back. One time…one time…the younger two boys were in middle school…siblings off at college…we were getting into the car…HUSBAND was in the driver’s seat….boys were in the back seat…I was fumbling with my blackberry trying to look at something on the web, which worked so poorly on the BB, and asked HUSBAND if I could use his iPhone…reaching for it as I asked…and when I swiped it there was a PORNOGRAPHIC picture and I LITERALLY shouted THERE IS PORN ON YOUR PHONE!!! He grabbed it from me and closed that page. I was shocked, and did not try to hide my shock from anyone including the boys. IT WAS COMPLETELY, UTTERLY, TOTALLY OUT OF CHARACTER FOR MY HUSBAND, OUR HOME, OUR WAYS, OUR LIVES. So when he told me that he was so sorry…someone from his office had sent that to him and ‘he was so shocked when he saw it he just closed his phone…he’d meant to delete it and confront the co-worker’…I bought it. I sat down in the car, and he told me how sorry he was, and I looked at the boys and said something mom-like such as “isn’t that disgusting…who would ever…”
I comforted Son-2, asked him to bear with me, to just support my journey, hugged him tightly and left the room.
Son-2’s words resonated…. Yes. I was his wife.
And I was his mom.
And I was so so stupid.