I’ve been wondering why I’ve felt so little anger. Everything I’ve read (and it’s been a lot) has said getting past the anger will be one of the hardest stages to deal with. Yet I haven’t really been angry. Yes, at the moment of Discovery and in the days following, before the confrontation, I threw things, yelled, shouted, punched the living daylights out of my pillow but thankfully stopped short of kicking the dog.
All this I managed to hide from you until I had all my facts neatly lined up, in my head and on paper, ready to present in a nice calm ‘charging neutral’ manner. I can honestly say that, by the time of the confrontation, I felt no anger. I was hurt, I was raw, I was confused and I was scared, but I wasn’t really angry.
I truly believe that this was the reason the confrontation wasn’t really…well…confrontational. I stated my case calmly, clearly, with no room for you to deny any of it. It was gut-wrenching for both of us. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
Since then, I’ve had moments where I’ve felt angry but they’ve been fleeting. Until yesterday. At home for 2 days with a tummy bug I inevitably haul out all the ‘case files’ and go through them again, one by one, trying to make sense of why this happened. Dates, times – all of it! And the anger grows and grows. The times I thought we were happy, you called her, you met her. Our anniversary, our kids’ birthdays, family celebrations – all times I know we were closer than ever, you called her. You met her.
Confusion! You said it was a lack of attention, affection and sex. Yet these were all times you were getting plenty of all three. So why the need to still be in contact with her? The anger grows. Then you phone to chat, but have to cut the conversation short to take a business call. You’ll phone back you say. You don’t. Only when you reach the supermarket at the end of our road, 2 hours later, you call to see if I need anything. By now the anger is at boiling point.
When you get in I am hiding in the shower. You try to open the shower door to kiss me. I tell you to fuck off. You walk away confused. I dry off and follow you downstairs. You ask what is wrong. Everything, I say. I’m so bloody angry I could kill you. I escape to our bedroom, away from the kids, so they don’t see my tears. You follow. What is it, you ask.
I tell you. . That I’ve gone through all the files again and I don’t understand. Again I lay out my case, except this time it’s not exactly calm or neutrally charged. I’m too angry. I tell you how angry I am at what you’ve done, that you’ve made me feel like this
I thought you’d answered all my questions, but suddenly I have more. Why on those dates? Why when I thought we were happy? Did you plan on leaving me for her? Did you talk about me with her? What did she do that I didn’t? Why? Why? Why?
Every question I throw your way you answer gently, without hesitation. It was sex and attention. That’s what you needed. That’s all it was. When we were having happier moments, you were worried that if you didn’t keep in contact with her she’d move on. Then when we were unhappy you wouldn’t have her anymore. (You have the grace to look embarrassed at your reasoning.) She always knew you’d never leave me for her, you say. No, you didn’t talk about me, it wasn’t about me.
Yet, it is all about me. Maybe it wasn’t, but now it is. I didn’t ask for this, now I’m the one who has to deal with it. The smallest things become enormous.
Do you understand that by not phoning me back when you say you will, you are not keeping a promise? It seems minor, but to me it’s just one more rejection. You used to call her 4, 5, 7 times a day, yet you find it difficult to call me once. It hurts.
You say you don’t like calling from the car, yet that’s when you used to speak to her for the longest. Every morning at 06:30 and every evening at 17:15 – to and from work. But you can’t do the same for me? Why? Don’t I mean as much?
Ask me, ask me anything, you say. I’ll do whatever you need to help you get through this, to help us get through this. I don’t want to lose you, you say. You stroke my face and look deep into my eyes. You’ve been doing that quite a bit lately. I realise that it’s been too long since you used to look at me like that, with love.
One by one, as the questions get answered, and you continue to gently reassure me, the anger starts to fade. And as suddenly as it appeared, it is gone. I have no doubt that it will be back, unexpectedly and unpleasantly, but I’m starting to believe that it won’t always be like this.