Crazy Times

I wish I could say the following year was a breeze.  But like all couples trying to work through the aftermath, it’s filled with a lot of hard moments.  I don’t profess to remember everything from that time.  Some things are honestly a blur.  And not just because I was suffering from baby brain.

This is kind of like a story within a story, so bear with me.  I could devote an entire blog to this subject, but I can’t go into all the details.  It’s just too identifying and honestly painful thinking back on it.  However, it begs inclusion as we were not only dealing with my husband’s infidelity but also a neighbor from hell.

To this day, we still don’t understand how she went from being a quiet next door neighbor to a raving lunatic overnight.  But she did.  Literally.  Our guess was that she was schizophrenic and had stopped taking her meds.  Either that, or it was something spiritual.

For some reason, she was fixated on me and I had to deal with this on top of the infidelity.  All while being pregnant.  No sooner had I made the decision to stand by my husband and work through the infidelity, that our next door neighbor went crazy.

She showed up on our doorstep banging on our windows and doors one evening.  She was screaming nonsensical words and thought she was drunk.  My husband refused to open the door.  Neighbors watched from windows and were all wondering WTF happened.  We had no clue ourselves.  But it happened several times more with her antics escalating over several months.

She would erect speakers on our shared fence and start blasting YouTube clips of babies crying (she had no children, but visibly knew I was pregnant), talk in various voices over the fence whenever we were outside, try to run over neighborhood kids whenever she drove on our street…the list goes on and on.

Yes, we called the police.  Multiple times.  And yes, they informed me to keep a log.  And pretty soon, they said to get a restraining order after she kept going onto our property and banging on our windows.  And yes, my husband tried talking to her husband which only made her go even more mental (she never did this when he was home, only when he was gone at work–which was all time).  And yes, I met with a detective to see what we could do to protect our family.  There was no explanation for her behavior.  I had never even spoken to her, other than to say hello, as we had been in the house only a year.

The scariest incident occurred one afternoon.  And luckily Vivian had just run back inside.  She was speaking in two voices over our fence, while I was silently watering in our backyard.  One was a child’s, while the other was just pure evil sounding.  There is really no other way to explain it.  At first I thought it was an actual small child talking, until I realized it was her, speaking in two voices…and they were addressing……me!  The hair on the back of my neck stood up, it was that scary.

She hissed, “Youuuuuuuuuu (expletive)….Youuuuuuuu (expletive).”  I don’t even want to repeat the exact words because I believe it was the uttering of two demons, possibly more.  For real.  This was like something out of Poltergeist.  Not kidding.

The detective had asked me to start recording whenever she harassed me.  Apparently it would help them build a case.  She hadn’t said she wanted to kill me….Yet.  And unfortunately, as the detective explained, “Ma’am there is no crime in being crazy.”

I share this because it had a profound effect on me.  Being pregnant, I felt very vulnerable.  And I felt very alone in dealing with this crazy neighbor, plus trying to shield Vivian from it all.  My husband would leave for work and no sooner had his car pulled away, the harassment would start.  He would sometimes leave for work, only to park his car one street over, then sneak back to witness it himself.

Windows were kept shut, blinds were permanently left closed.  It was like living in a dark cave.  Overnight.  We had no choice because one morning, while trying to do Vivian’s hair in the bathroom before school, she started standing outside our window ranting and raving.  She would listen to wherever we were in our house, then stand on the other side of the wall hurling obscenities or just screaming nonsensically.  We were literally being stalked in our own home.

The recordings were given to a sound technician in Hollywood, who works on various movies.  He offered to clean it up after hearing from a friend about what we were going through.  Anyways, he enhanced just the audio portion since I was shaking like a leaf when recording it.  Working on it late one night, he finally called saying it was the scariest thing he had ever heard.  Hands down.  Having to listen to it over and over, freaked him out.  Once we got it back, we gave it to police.

Why didn’t you just move?  Well for starters, the housing market had tanked.  Selling wasn’t an option then.  And we couldn’t rent it for our mortgage either.  So we stayed, trying to figure ways to endure it.  This went on for the duration of my pregnancy and several months after our child was born.

We even had our home blessed by a pastor after that.  Him and his wife used holy water and oil on every window and door.  My husband was instructed to pray over the four corners of our property, every morning before he left for work.  So he did.  Rain or shine.  At 5:30 a.m.

Needless to say, in the span of a few weeks, our marriage was turned upside down.  And now our day-to-day lives were as well.  Looking back, I can see this contributed to my own desire to escape.  Something that fuels affairs.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but hindsight is always 20/20.

 

 

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The Marriage Counselor

“My therapist won’t see us as a couple.  She said she is too involved with me already and it wouldn’t be fair to you.  She wouldn’t be impartial.  So she gave me some referrals but none of the marriage counselors are on our insurance plan.”  That is how the following morning started, in between dressing Vivian and prepping snacks in advance for V’s entire preschool.  Getting dressed he said, “Ok let me see what I can dig up today once I get to work.”

As anyone who lives in Los Angeles understands, asking for therapist referrals on a mommy blog was akin to standing on the 405 freeway, at rush hour, with a blow horn.  Pretty much every mother in the entire LA basin was throwing out recommendations.  So once I kept hearing the same three or four therapists, I knew I had my short list.  That explains how I was able to get into therapy so quickly.

Now Hubby offering to find a marriage counselor was 1) a chance for me to offload some of the work in sorting through our marriage problems but 2) fraught with the very real fear he would likely pull out the yellow pages (like who uses those things anymore?).

We are polar opposites in that way.  So I am telling you this upfront.  To be fair, I drive him nuts with my penchant for thoroughness.  I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and will gladly dive knee-deep into any subject till I become an expert on it, only to abandon it and take up the next topic.  Just how I am.  However, my husband is the exact opposite (can you say yin to my yang–is that even correct?   Whatever.  You get what I am trying to explain).

My husbands lackadaisical attitude towards life in general is embedded in his culture.  I can’t divulge more than that without fear of exposing who he is.  But let’s just say, he comes from an entire country that relishes in being laid back.  And no, he is not from Jamaica.

It’s safe to say that when he found a marriage counselor, I approached our first session with extreme caution.  We both pulled into the parking lot at the same time and I distinctly remember things were really icy between us.  Despite wanting to extend forgiveness, I was combating waves of anger still or maybe it was just hormones.  Who knows.

We entered the therapists office and sat down.  He was fumbling about and clearly unorganized.  And he was slow like molasses in everything he did.  It was beyond annoying because he would ask a question, and then close his eyes for several minutes while he pondered another.  I couldn’t help but think, “This twat is milking our therapy session!”  Despite having several diplomas all over his walls, he lacked any real social skills needed to be a therapist.  That’s academia for you.

“So what are you hoping to achieve?” he implored.

“Why….I want to know why he chose to do this.  Without understanding the why, I can’t move forward.” That is what I said to him.

Incredibly, he replied like Yoda from the movie Star Wars, “You…..may never…get that answered.  The why…does not matter.”

My my mind was racing at full speed and I could feel my heart pounding.  I wish I could say it was because I was pregnant.  Or that someone kidnapped my manners.  But when faced with idiots who lack common sense, I feel compelled (no rather it’s my duty to all of mankind) to inform them of their ridiculous notions.

“Listen here Yoda.  I went to Starbucks this morning.  I ordered a plain bagel and iced latte (it’s ok people the new guidelines say pregnant women can have a cup now and again).  I know why I ordered that.  Because I wanted it.  I craved having carbs and needed some caffeine.  Don’t tell me for a second that my husband doesn’t know why he decided to fuck someone else.  We all make choices.  And we all know why we do that.  We’ve hired you to get to the bottom of the “why”.  If you’re not on the same page, then I am out of here.”

We ended up storming out of his office and fighting in the parking lot.  Me leaving in one car, my husband in another.  And that was the extent of our marriage counseling.  To date.

Needless to say, things were back to being miserable between us.

 

The Sex Addict

The next day, I did what countless people do every day.  I turned to Google for answers.  I know, I know, I shouldn’t have.  Just like you shouldn’t self diagnosis any ailments using MedMD.  However, we all do this, right?  At least in dire straights.  Screw waiting for a therapist to get to the bottom of this.  I wanted answers.  And quick.

I needed to understand why this happened.  You know, the actual underlying reason why this occurred.  Why my husband wanted to cheat on me.  Why he felt compelled to go outside our marriage, at a time when our lives were pretty damn idyllic (no mortgage, no kids, no debt, no stress).

And for the record, his first infidelity occurred right after we had ended a trip around the world–for 9 solid months I might add.  In my mind, he had no reason to be unfulfilled, to seek out an affair.  Our lives back then were one giant adventure, a bucket list trip that began on a safari in Africa and ended on an elephant in Thailand.  For real.  It made no sense to me whatsoever.

I wanted to figure this out.  Because in all honesty, I needed to know what I should be guarding my marriage against.  If not, we were doomed and likely would happen again.

That evening I told my husband, “I read this article on-line and think you might be a sex addict.” I was dead serious when I suggested this as he also confessed to a porn addiction.

All the other situations just didn’t seem to fit when reading up on various types of affairs.  So we sat down together and emailed a support group for men struggling with sex addictions.  He went to a meeting that night, while I stayed home with Vivian and my ever-expanding belly.

When he came home, I was expecting him to say, “That’s it.  That’s what I suffer from.  Now this is how we go about fixing this.”  However, it’s never that simple.

As he opened the front door, he had a look of astonishment spread all over his face.    The stories he heard that evening shocked him.  He proceeded to tell me that he felt so unbelievably sad for all the men in the room.  Hearing their stories, hearing their struggles assured him 100% that he wasn’t a sex addict at all.  Far from it.

Looking back, I think it was a knee jerk reaction at the time.  Me grasping for straws, trying to figure this whole situation out.

We laugh about it now.  Him a sex addict?  Ha!  Not even close.  Over time, I can see he was trying to fix things in our marriage.  And he was willing to face whatever “this” was because he didn’t want to divorce.   Even going so far as looking into whether or not he was a sex addict.

That counts for something, right?

Therapy

As I sat on the couch filling out a questionnaire, I found myself looking around at the dark wood panelling left over from the 70’s and thinking, “I can’t believe I am actually sitting in this office.”  It was quiet, yet I could hear a faint buzz from the outdated fluorescent light bulbs above me.  As my pen hit the paper, I heard a voice and what sounded like tissues being pulled out of a box.  Then the door swung open and a pair of legs went scurrying by.  This was another wounded soul.  My compadre.  But out of mutual respect, I kept my eyes cast downward and proceeded onto page two.

“Would you like to come back now?” she asked in a cheerful voice.  So I picked up my belongings and sat down on the Rachel Ashwell slip covered chair.  Sitting across from her, I studied her face noting it was full of wrinkles from years of laughter.  I began telling her the story, from A to Z which was sprinkled with tears at the most painful of parts.  She had a reassuring nod and the hour whizzed by.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first therapy session, but maybe if I scheduled another, things would become more clear.  We agreed that twice weekly sessions were needed right now.  A hundred dollars later, I walked out the door unsure if therapy was even for me.

That time in my life was what I refer to as my “crisis” mode.  I was able to hold it together for my kids, but any moments alone were spent crying.  Often times, I found myself pulling into parking spaces only to have no recollection of how I got there. Mentally, I was having conversations in my head every time I got behind the wheel.  Or I would replay moments in our marriage and then piece together business trips of when he cheated on me.  Music either lifted my spirits or caused me to burst into tears. And often times, I cried at the most inopportune times.  In line at the grocery store–check.  Driving Vivian to preschool–check.  And my most memorable–the time I burst into tears before having an ultrasound.

Life has a way of bringing people into your world that can offer advice or healing words.  Marti was mine.  She was the ultrasound technician working the morning of my appointment.  You know, the appointment where you get to see your baby for the first time on a screen.  The one where it’s usually filled with tears of joy and awe for the little child inside of you.

Only mine didn’t play out quite like that.

For reasons which I won’t go into here, I found myself telling her all about my husbands betrayal.  She listened and cried, telling me the story of her fathers affair and how it affected her mother and her childhood.  As she moved the wand over my belly, I felt horrible for crying.  Here I had this little child inside of me, and he/she didn’t deserve to be washed in this sea of pain.  This poor little soul was literally being created inside of me while I wadded through the worst, most excruciating pain of my life.  And I felt guilty for that.  Still do actually.  Even to this day.

But Marti, a complete stranger up until that morning, just held my hand and let me cry.  She was so deeply affected by what I had shared that she contacted me a week later, sending me a handmade card.  I am pretty sure she broke hospital protocol, but in times like these, rules are meant to be broken.  I keep it in my nightstand, along with the confession letters, as a trophy of what I have been through.

“It has been several days since your visit and truthfully, I have yet been able to shake the image of this kind and beautiful patient before me, so visibly upset, sharing her story of ultimate betrayal.  

After a great deal of thought, I must share with you my sincere appreciation for your strength as you consider resolution rather than abruptly, and understandably so, declaring an end to the relationship.  You exemplify courage and strength, commitment and compassion, qualities we all hope to recognize in ourselves.

I hope the burdens on your heart are soon lifted and you can acknowledge your courageous soul and the fine example you are to your beautiful children.”

Words have meanings.  They aren’t just letters on a page.  She got that.  And got me.  My pain.

Everything.