What Happened


What do you tell people when they ask you what happened? What is the truth to you? Are you so sure you know? How are you so sure? How?

I was with a group recently where everyone went around and shared a memory or a moment from their time together, joyful, weird, beautiful moments. It was a love fest. No dry eyes in the room. Then the last person to speak stood up and began by saying Well, you know, I’m a truth teller, so, and you knew pretty immediately that this was going to be a bitter, accusatory truth, and I thought, Is this the kind of truth anyone here needs? I wish I were ever as confident as that person was about what the truth was, but even if I were, does that mean the world needs to hear it? I’m not trying to bring half truths. Not that I know what the fucking truth is. I can try to tell you some things that happened, but other people are free to tell you they didn’t, or that they happened a different way.

The day you wake up and tell me you have to go explore, I’m pretty sure the first thing that comes out of my mouth is So, you want to get separated? Or maybe So, I guess you’re moving out? It’s one of those, maybe both. Your first response is What? No! The conversation from there is a process of sorting out our different ideas about what it means within the context of our marriage for you to explore with another person. I remain unsure what I ever could have done in our fifteen years to indicate that there would be any other option than separation, but a sentence you say, at some point on this morning, is I guess for a minute I thought I was going to have a girlfriend and a wife. After you determine that the menu of options does not include one from column A and one from column B, or at least not with the wife from column E.C., we still have to parse out where this exploring will happen. I have to parse out for you that it won’t happen in our house. That’s my bitter, accusatory truth.

Subsequent to this, relevant to truth telling, you tell the first shitty couples therapist that I made you move out. I think you also tell this to the second shitty couples therapist. The first time, I say No, you don’t get to tell the story that way. We didn’t have an open marriage. If it hadn’t been obvious to you all along that if one of us chose to be with someone else, that one would have to move out, I don’t know what else to say. The second time, when you say She made me move out, I correct again. You chose someone else. Moving out was a given.

But I’m the one telling the story here. These may be the words that were said, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t imply that you would have to move out. I did imply it. It was, I believe, inherently implied when we took vows. I believe that you had to have known this would be the end result, and that therefore, no one was making anyone do anything. A choice was being made. By you. A girlfriend instead of a wife.

Do you tell them you wanted a girlfriend and a wife? Did you tell that to your family? Did you tell that to your best friend? Did you tell that to this old friend or that old friend or the other old friend, is that why you don’t talk to them much now?

The day you tell me you want to end the marriage, you tell shitty couples therapist number one We had a good marriage, I’m not willing to work on it, I chose someone else. Is that what you tell people? I still can’t wrap my head around it. But maybe it’s the simple truth, and I should swap out the pronouns.

Some of my short answers: He had a midlife crisis. He left me for someone else. He grew distant over time. I let things go that I shouldn’t have. I’m broken. I don’t know.

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