I am sleeping in the downstairs bedroom. Alone. Or sometimes with the dog.
I hate writing this story because I want to be a person you admire, but I also hate not writing it. Because I want to be a person I admire. I want to be a person known for honesty.
Which means I need to tell you that I wish I cared more that I’m not talking to the Farmer.
I hate that I have stories I don’t want to tell. Because I have found that almost always, the secrets we keep matter a lot to us, but they don’t matter to other people.
For example, I emailed to Melissa one day. “I have a secret: I drank wine at breakfast today and I haven’t stopped.”
I thought Melissa would email back that I’m an idiot and I’ll be in rehab.
But she emailed back, “I forgot to get a refill for Lexapro and today is the first time in a year that I’ve initiated sex.”
Secrets are fun. That’s what I try to tell myself. It’s fun to not have to have a secret anymore, really.
It’s very hard to tell which of our secrets are huge and which are small. Like, I did not think it was a big deal when I said I was having a miscarriage, but that was a huge deal to a huge number of people. And I thought it was a huge deal when I said I was trying anti-anxiety meds, but no one really cared. What is a huge secret to you and what is a huge secret to everyone else is so different.
Which makes me feel unsure about secrets.
But I read a piece in the Wall St. Journal about a safari guide in Zimbabwe. He is one of the most famous safari guides in the world, and he says he tells people to “never run away from an animal. Always go slowly. Unless I tell you to run. Then run.”
And there was one time when he was guiding a man and woman through some elephants, and a mother elephant started chasing them. So they had to run. They ran for about half a mile, and they still hadn’t gotten away. And the woman said, “I can’t go anymore. I can’t run anymore. I just can’t.”
And the guide said, “Okay. I’ll have to shoot the elephant.”
Then she said, “No. I’ll keep running.” And she did.
I think we are like that. That if the alternative is terrible, we can keep running. But first we have to really believe the alternative is terrible.
I wish I felt more fulfilled being in a marriage with the Farmer. I love retreating to my work. I read that men who have stay-at-home wives treat women at work like their wives. That might be nice. I should go get an office job.
But I don’t want another divorce. And the kids really love the Farmer. So I guess we are doing a trade right now. I cook and clean. And he lets me raise my kids on the farm. And the kids love him. We have not exactly discussed this trade. In fact, I have not spoken more than a few words to him in weeks.
And there was a fight. Of course. The fight was: I say something. He gets pissed off that I said it. I get hurt that he’s pissed off. I can’t remember the fight. The topic or anything.
I remember what the kids saw, though: He kicked me out of the house in front of the kids.
The kids left with me.
The next day, my seven-year-old said, “Dad. I’m sorry you had such a bad day yesterday. I’m sorry you kicked Mom out of the house.”
The Farmer said, “I didn’t kick her out of the house I….” (I can’t remember what else he said.)
And my son said, “Well you told her to get out of the house twice. And you put her stuff on the porch.”
The Farmer said, “I lost my temper. That was wrong. I should not lose my temper.”
Later. Days later. When I had already stopped talking to the Farmer, I checked in with my seven-year-old while we were driving.
“How are you feeling about the divorce?”
He asked if I was talking about divorce between me and the Farmer.
I said, no, I’m talking about the divorce that actually happened, between me and my Ex.
My son said, ”I am worried that Dad is going to throw you out of the house and then I will just live with him on the farm with him and I’m worried you won’t have a place to live.”
That killed me. So many different ways it killed me.
It is well known that as a rational act of self-preservation kids will often identify with the aggressor in the marriage. And that’s what happening at my house. So I can’t let the kids see us have a fight again because our fights are not safe for them to see.
I reviewed my options. Couples therapy has been totally useless. The therapist told us he thought we were hopeless. And divorce is out of the question because I think it’s completely selfish with kids. So I decided it’s my job to figure out how to be in this house without ever having another fight with the Farmer again. Because the fights are too costly emotionally to the kids.
Which means I’m retreating to my work. My work is always there for me. And I’m so good at work. And my work is interesting and fun and I meet such cool people. So for now, that’s my best solution.
That’s the end of the post. There.
But I thought it sounded like my life is going to hell. So I did some searches about being a workaholic. I thought it would be good to write about the virtues of having a great career to turn to if your personal life sucks. I wanted to give you links to research about how people with great careers can use them as tools to create resilience.
But there were no links. There were only links about how people gain resilience from intimate relationships. And, frankly, all the research about workaholics is that they are neurotic, delusional and lonely.
I love retreating to work so much. But I didn’t want to have to tell you that because it’s so lame. So last night, I did my webinar at 8pm. And at 9pm I walked up to the Farmer, after two months of not talking to him, and I said, “I want you to hug me.”
I think he was surprised to see me even walk into his bedroom which two months ago was our shared bedroom.
He looked at me.
He said, “You must be really happy after that call. It sounded like you guys were having lots of fun.”
I said, “No. I’m sad actually. I’m sad that we are not trying hard enough at the relationship. I’m sad that work is so much more fun than my personal life.”
He hugged me.
And that is why, I think, that stories have so much power. We so much want a happy ending.