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Paula Constantine, Providence, Road Island

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My husband has been having an affair for 4 years. I’ve filed for divorce.

In the last 4 weeks I have:

lost my husband

lost my business

become a single mother

become sole caretaker of a 90 year old

have 100% responsibility for this giant house (we lost heat during Irene)

found out that when the divorce is final I will have no health or dental insurance

have to deal with the fallout with the kids

have to deal with the fallout with 90 year old Auntie Charlotte

started volunteering in the local hospital so they’ll get to know me and hopefully give me a job when school is over (my old hospital is having lay offs.)

had to deal solo with Jack getting kicked out of school (a whole other story.)

had my income halved (and he is still giving me more than he has too.)

had to deal with him having a supportive/love relationship

not had one full nights sleep-I wake up 3-4 times a night

get up at 5:00, take out dogs, feed kids, feed dogs, throw in laundry, get kids ready for school, Let Luke drive the minivan to school (we have to rack up 30 hours of driving time for him to get his license) then clean house, get them to all sports, Dr’s, dentists, friends, school commitments, sports banquets etc…

deal with all homework, teachers, school issues…

Take Auntie Charlotte to doctors, dentists, day programs, etc.

Did I mention that I am in school (trying to get training for a full time job in an area where people are hiring)

It goes on and on…

It should not take more than 4-6 months for 20 years of marriage to be dissolved.

Our kids are devastated. Our younger son curled up into a ball and rolled on the floor, sobbing like a wounded animal. Our younger daughter smiles blankly and says “Everything is ok, I’m not upset.” His 90 year old aunt (and last living blood relative on earth) who is a staunch yankee, has cried (it’s the first time in 22 years I’ve seen her cry) more times than I care to think about. She is becoming slower and slower, more and more hunched over daily…

I’m going to use my blog to chronicle this family’s journey through the pain and suffering, and hopefully the redemption at the end, of divorce. I plan to be brutally honest, it’s not going to make him look good, it’s not going to make the other women look good, at times it’s not going to make me look good either…it’s going to be honest. I’m hoping that this chronicle will someday be a source of support to someone else.

The other women is his co-worker, an editor at the local newspaper where he has worked for the last 25 years. She is a few years younger, but far from a younger women. She has never been married and told him she “had not had sex with anyone in 10 years” previous to their taking up. People who work with my husband (he is still my husband after all) say she is “an oddball, difficult to get along with.” It’s not about attractiveness, that’s for certain. She has a manly look, yes, I looked her up online (sadly, the kids told me they did as well.) I joked with him (he is still my husband after all-and we do have 22 years of history…we talk, we really talk…as you shall see:)

Me: “Ouch S, she is hideous! Are you sure she’s not a man? Maybe there was a sex change…have you checked “down south?” I mean really taken a close look? Honey! You need to be careful!”

S: Laughing…she is on some kind of medication…

Me: “One word S, one word…Hormones…you better check her medicine cabinet!”

He laughed.

He told me she has a fat stomach and that she is a slob. He’s looked around her house and thought to himself “Jesus, I could never live here.!” He told me he couldn’t “get it up” with her at least 1/3 of the time…what then, I am thinking, what then is the attraction?

Here’s where the story get serious…and sad…

I never know the truth, it may be the most difficult part of this entire process. And what is the process? Is it the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage? Is it putting together a marriage that was formed way back when under less than auspicious circumstances? Is it making a marriage stronger than ever before?

No matter what happens I am not winning, I am losing. I am losing this game, this battle, this relationship, I am losing the life I once had and the future I looked forward to. I am adrift, I am lost I am terrified and I am unsure of every single thing in my life and in this world.

I think of suicide on a daily basis. Would I do it? Not know, I would’nt let her win, and I could never do that to my kids. I would rather suffer every day of my life than let her have my husband, my kids or one dime of my money.

I have never felt such hatred toward another human being. I try to be compassionate. I try to think of her as a lonely, fat desperate women, taking her last desperate stab at happiness by sleazily starting an affair with a married man.

Did I mention that its not her first affair? No, she’s doen this before-and at work no less! No wonder her co-workers look at her as a, well, I can’t use that word, I just can’t. No women uses that word. Oh, and did I mention that this is not her first affair with a married man/co-worker? She should have a giant “L” tattooed on her forehead.

What do I want? I don’t know. I have no peace. My mind knows nothing but tumult.

Someday I want us to look at each other, through eyes veiled in tears, and to to reach out our hands, to touch each other, tenderly touch, first fingers entwining…then hands clasping together…then arms wrapping around one another…until our bodies fuse and our hearts touch…I want is to remember everything, everything we were to each other and everything we have been to each other and everything we will be to each other…

I wept as I thought about our life, our children, our home. The times we spent talking, talking talking…we were trying to save ourselves, we saw a savior in each others faces, in each others eyes…sharing our hearts and our souls-you shared your drunken father, your cold, withholding mother, your shame, the torment of your adhd, your feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, fear…I shared my drunken father, the craziness that was my mother, the pity of a child’s innocence betrayed, betrayed and betrayed again, my own incessant fear of past, present and future…

I thought of breaking it apart, of cleaving the thing we’ve built…is it worth saving? Can we save it? Can we save each other? In 22 years we have not saved one another. We tried, we tried so hard in the beginning. Your anger quashed our efforts, my fear cemented the path. We hung on, we didn’t know anything different so we clung to the past and let it shape our present and define our future.

The future becomes the present, we stayed together. It was not all bad. We had no time for one another, we ignored one another, we gave and we gave and we gave until we bled ourselves dry for each other. When we put our heads on the pillow at night there was nothing left for each other. White knuckles, held tight to the daily grind of responsibility, we allowed to loosen their grip in sleep, me curled fetal and clinging desperately to myself, you next to me, an ocean apart, clinging to a stained and deflated pillow…

I see where our blood was spent. It was a river of tears that carried the bodies of the elderly through the end of their lives and on to the next, never a lazy river, it held rapids that swirled up abandoned children-whom we caught in our slung-together raft-yet another body clinging onto hope for the future…the riverbank full of life, fields of peonies, photographs documenting a crying out for passion, rushing past a house-strong and tall-built from the sweat of that white-knuckled constant effort,

I thought of her, the women you ran to for respite. The women who ran to you for the same. I thought of the easy flow you had-no rapids there. Ego building Soft-spoken, kindness, taking your face it her hands and moving your head so that your eyes no focus on the tumult and focus instead on…Peace? Safety? Securtiy? Goodness? No, they focus instead on nothing. Blessed nothing…no old people, no kids, no barking dogs or weed filled peonies and no wife, no wife, who has become the very embodiment of tumult and the very opposite of respite. Nothing…But, nothing gathers up your tattered edges, tucks them under, no longer to be seen…

Ah but, still there, still there, the tattered edges insistent, coming undone, loosing themselves from the tucked in place…frayed even more when they come out of hiding.

And me? Was I there, with them? I was there, yes. Between them, around them, above them and beneath them, I swirled around them every minute they were together. With my husband, she was breathing in the scent of me. She was touching me, she was trying to run away from herself and instead she ran straight into our arms…my arms.

For every bit of tucking away the frayed edges was fraying them still more. She was fraying them, fraying them, brushing away the broken off bits-and still now, she is frantically tucking them under-frantic, frantic, frantic, because they are peeking out, finding there way out from under at such a rapid clip!

And I was there, I was clinging to the raft, weaving furiously, untucking the frayed edges, attending to them, replacing missing threads.

We have a storehouse of sorts you and I, a storehouse full of strong and resilient threads. one thread made when your mother called out her last word, “Stephen!” as she lay in her dying bed. Another thread made when we tucked Auntie Edie’s Alzheimer’s into our life, stroking it gently until it died, still another thread made when we took an abandoned child in hand and made a vow to wrap our hearts around that child and nurture them as we had never been nurtured.

While she was tucking and hiding, I was replacing and weaving, thread by thread, your tattered edges-which are of course-our tattered edges, back into a whole.

She does not know that the tattered edges she should attend to are those that surround herself, her own heart and soul. She does not know she is tucking and hiding from herself.

I did not know that working furiously must be tempered by a gentle touch, a kind word, must be tempered by softly brushing the face of the one you work for…

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