For friends who are new to this party, my Facebook page must seem like the end of a Scooby Doo episode where the mask is ripped off the monster to reveal a mild-mannered writer was the real culprit all along. “I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for that darn kid!” What seems like an abrupt unmasking has actually been a painful unraveling of my illusions over nine long months with an intense rush of emotional evolution over the last several weeks.
I started down this scary path of self-discovery and self-healing because I wanted to become a better dad. A better man. I didn’t want my son to have memories he’d need to recover from as an adult because I was too much of a coward to go into battle on behalf of his future happiness right now. I failed the woman I loved for more than a decade. No way I’d continue failing our son. Enough was more than enough. “Get busy living or get busy dying.” It was time for me to live again. Time for us to live again. Daddy became a brand new man. It was much easier than I feared. The seasons flew happily by until I ran headlong into everything left unsaid with O’s mom.
Oh, no. Now what? No other choice. I needed to finish my spiritual transformation if I wanted to be whole again. I tore through the stages of “grief” at a breakneck pace, mama at my side for moral strength and support. Facebook and veteran friends providing backup. Guilt, denial, remorse, hope, fear. Anger. More guilt. Acceptance. It’s been a crazy rollercoaster ride for sure. All of it leading me to the final challenge of making amends to anyone I’ve treated poorly. Some people I’ll never see again, but one person in particular is an irreplaceable part of my life and has patiently waited for a sincere, heartfelt apology for longer than I care to admit. Not one that rests on a bed of lies, either. A deeper, more visceral accounting of the truth is needed to make this right.
The reality is I was never a reliable partner to my lovely and amazing wife. When she needed me most, I rarely delivered. Oh, I was great at logistics. Move something from Point A to Point B? Consider it done. Cook dinner? No problem. Plan a date night or road trip? I’m your Huckleberry. Slip a Snickers in her lunch bag, unnoticed until a hasty 3am lunch? So thoughtful. Keep a job longer than a year so we don’t lose the house? Not my fault, bitch! I only became the man my wife needed when I was no longer her husband. When I no longer had the solemn charge to love, honor and cherish her for as long as we both shall live. When I already failed to live up to our wedding vows in every way imaginable except two. The best thing she ever did was say goodbye to our marriage and move on with her life, painful memories made mostly tolerable via consistent coparenting and blessed silence. I doubt I’d have reached this place if she hadn’t been strong enough for both of us. Over and over again.
My heart started out with honorable and loving intentions, but I wasn’t aware of a dangerous “genetic” weakness at my core. A hidden fissure of fugues and fury waiting to rip my life apart with very little prodding. I’d spent my days until then mostly ignoring the gnawing self-doubt and numbing fear of everything, authority and girls in particular. Bravado took the place of confidence. Fight not flight. The best defense is a killer offense. Always. If that doesn’t work, throw in the crazy. And words. So many horrible, untenable words. That I was able to find a woman who could love me and then trust in us enough to let me love her back is incredible. That she remained by my side through all those broken promises, irrational fights and sleepless nights is nothing short of a miracle. I definitely didn’t deserve her. I’m forever grateful she didn’t feel the same way. Maybe that’s still true.
The only bright side in all of this is that the truth can absolutely set you free. I still believe love has the power to heal even the most grievous of wounds. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. I’m lucky to be a writer. I have candor and transparency on my side. When I was ready to see my life as it truly existed, I could think about nothing else. Write about nothing else. Dream about nothing else. The only way out of this impossible impasse was by taking responsibility for my actions. Taking responsibility for my words. Taking responsibility for all the things I should have done and said differently. Just take responsibility. It’s a long and undistinguished list that I won’t go into here. I’m not sure what the point would be. I know the details. She knows the details. That’s all that matters.
I’m keeping the faith that someday soon I’ll get a chance to say all of this in person, humbly seek her forgiveness and perhaps find a renewed hope for our future as a family. That’s enough for me for now. It’s my turn to wait.