What works

I am Regret. I

force questions that do not have

answers. I loathe sleep.


9:00am

Monday morning I sent Michelle a photo of Brad and his soccer team after they won their tournament with a brief description of the weekend both boys had. I sent her the picture because I thought she loves my boys and would like to hear about them. On my drive home from work I received the following text from her:

Michelle: I don’t see the need for us to have any more contact. I will not be responding to any more messages.

I was so upset. I have been feeling so good about things. Thursday I get all weird and freaked out about going on a date with a different woman then this. What the fuck? I did what works. I had a brutal workout, spent quality time with my boys, cried a little bit, talked to my dog, took a long hot bath, and read my book. By the time I was in bed I felt better.

I had some choice things to say back to her immediately after she sent me the text.

Me: Yeah, I can see that from your perspective. Why keep in contact with people you really never cared for to begin with. You are a cruel, unforgiving, and vindictive person. You kept that hidden for over three years. I don’t know if that is admirable or terrifying. You always said the song “Just My Imagination” by the Temptations was our song as a couple. Talk about foreshadowing huh?

About 5 minutes after I sent that I thought maybe I shouldn’t have. Now, I don’t have any regrets. Fuck Michelle and the space she keeps taking up in my head and my heart!! She IS cruel, unforgiving and vindictive. I am sending her the following text and then I am blocking her number from my cell phone as well.

Me: Yesterday, for about 30 minutes, I felt bad I sent that text. That was it. I stand by it. You ARE cruel, unforgiving, and vindictive. I should have included selfish, naïve, and immature as well. You’ve allowed one moment to define everything. You can’t allow I am capable of change because you are NOT capable of change. You have told me to “go fuck yourself” and that “you ruined my life and I fucking hate you.” I wish I had it in me to respond in kind…I don’t.

I’ll leave you with this: your actions the last 13 weeks and 2 days has as much to do with us being apart as anything I have done. One day, you will look back on our life together (our family) and you will regret leaving. You will miss us.

I sent this as a text and as an email. I have blocked her on my phone and email.

 

Love is a behavior

8:00am

Real love is a behavior not an emotion. It doesn’t matter how we “feel” if we have no action or “works”. An abusive spouse may feel they love their partner but the abuse says otherwise. A cheating wife may feel she loves her husband but the infidelity says otherwise…and so on and so on. Since our break up, I have tried so hard to make myself a better person. I can look back on the last 12 weeks and really say this has been a demonstration of my love for my children and Michelle.

Michelle doesn’t love me. It’s that simple. It is so clear looking at it through the prism of “love is a behavior not an emotion”. In fact, reflecting on our relationship, it makes me question if she ever did. I think she loved the idea I represented and the comfort my money provided. I say this because when we came to our first, real crisis she ran like a prisoner who sees freedom for the first time in 3 1/2 years. She has never looked back. Since then she has: misrepresented my actions, twisted my words, insulted my integrity, maligned me as a father, consistently said horribly cruel things (with the sole intention of hurting me), tried to manipulate my emotions for her financial benefit (health care), lied/went behind my back to try and maintain a relationship with my kids, and who knows what else. I guess the last one would be an example (all be it a misguided one) of her loving the boys. Her actions speak volumes about how she feels. She doesn’t love me. The only regrets she has with our relationship failing is losing Dennis and Brad and the material benefits that come with being with me. My “demonstrations of love” since our breakup have been a spectacular waste of time. I need to focus on loving just my boys.

Please don’t patronize!

9:00am

Michelle sent me the following text at 10:30pm last night:

Michelle: You ruined my life and I fucking hate you.

She called me multiple times. I texted here and asked her to stop. She called at midnight I didn’t look to see who it was (I was asleep) and answered the phone. She was sobbing and inconsolable. She feels I am punishing her by “taking” the boys away. I described the confusion the boys feel and why that wasn’t good for their well being. It isn’t what she wants to hear. She started hurling the insults again and telling me how I felt rather than listen to when I talked about my feelings. She is all rage and hate. I’m afraid she’ll never change.

I sent her the following text this morning:

Me: Are you okay this morning? I know you don’t trust or believe I am getting better with my drinking and because of that you don’t want to be with me. I just feel the need to tell you this so you know…I still want us to be together. I am willing to do whatever work is necessary. I am already in therapy for myself. I will do couples therapy…I will do anything for us. Please don’t patronize and dictate to me how I feel. This is how I feel! I hope you are better today.

Maybe she will take me back, maybe she won’t. I won’t waste my time trying to influence that. I will make decisions about my life and my children’s lives using all the information I have available to me. She has told me innumerable times we aren’t going to be together:

  • I don’t want you to have any hope of us getting back together.
  • I have felt so much, more calm since I don’t have your standards to live up to.
  • I feel more content with myself when I’m not with you.
  • Go fuck yourself.
  • If there was ever a chance of us being together that is gone now.
  • You ruined my life and I fucking hate you.

I don’t have anything else to say about Michelle today.


Oct. 6, 2017

12:00pm

Monica and I have been talking more. She was getting a bit flirty and I had to tell her that isn’t what I want in reconnecting with her. She’s been lonely and with our sexual history it makes sense. To be honest I had thought about it too. I have extremely fond memories of that aspect of dating her. So I’m working on boundaries. Making sure to keep what I need/want in mind. Not trying to please everyone else etc.

Hope?

the difference from

where I was – to now, gives me

hope for the future


8:00am

Yesterday, I was so upset and angry at Michelle with the horrible thing she was saying to me that I left work. She is consumed by anger and resentment (maybe hatred?). She kept landing these blows that were expertly placed for maximum damage. I wish I could say I didn’t try to do the same but that would be a lie. She is just so much better at it than I am. My heart isn’t in it. I mostly ended up trying to defend and explain myself. I’m pathetic!

I got in my car and just started yelling at no one in particular as I drove home. That lasted a good 10 minutes or so. After I blew off steam I decided I needed to get out of my head. I got home, did a tough 20 minute circuit work out, and immediately went for a 3 mile run. All told it took about an hour. When I got home from my run, Dennis and Brad were home. Brad and I talked for about an hour while his brother did his homework. Then the three of us went out for sushi down in the old market. We walked around talking, having fun, and ended up at a coffee shop for desert. We talked at length about Michelle and how they aren’t going to be seeing her for a while. They were/are both sad. I explained why it was for the best with an analogy:

When you pull off a band-aid, you can do it slowly and it doesn’t hurt as much but it hurts a lot longer. Or, you can quickly rip it off. It hurts at first but very soon stops. The way I see it (this is me telling them), we can either extend the pain because it seems easier (it isn’t) or just rip that band-aid off.

As we were driving home, Brad said he feels good about the decision. I asked why. He said he feels less stress (he suffers from anxiety and has a therapist) because he knows what is happening now. There is no longer any confusion about the status of Michelle and I. Uncharacteristically, Dennis chimed in and said he felt the same way and then said, “this was a really great night.” Brad agreed.

After her attacks the last two days, I know what I wrote to her in that letter (on Sept 18th) about being so much further ahead of her and being afraid she wouldn’t be able to catch up…it has come to pass. She doesn’t even think she needs to see anyone. I feel so sad. I need to focus on the positives: I’m healthy, I’m sober, I have honest/clear/loving lines of communication with my children, and I’m not overwhelmed by being sad like I was.

After dropping the boys off at their mother’s I went to the movies. When I got home, I went to bed and read for an hour. I am proud of myself. I left work just a mess: hurt, sad, and longing (I’m being honest, I am still wanting Michelle). Shortly after, I had worked out and was on the front porch laughing and talking with Brad. I turned my day around. I did that! I didn’t stew about things. I felt those awful emotions, I let them in, and then got rid of them doing what I know works: exercise, time with my kids, movies, and reading. Last night I slept like a baby. I have made so much progress.

I just realized, my go to thing when I am upset (like I was yesterday) was drinking (either alone or with a friend). That never entered into the realm of possible solutions to getting “out of my head”. That is progress!!!!!!!

 

A dust-up

11:00am

Michelle received my letter. A huge dust up ensued. I wish I hadn’t engaged but I did. She said a lot of awful, hurtful things (!again!). She made assertions that aren’t true, she insulted my integrity, and maligned me as a father. Here is the last punch she landed before I stopped texting:

Michelle: Your boys are screwed without me. Have fun with their crippling insecurities when they are older because nothing is good enough for Collette. You’re a terrible father!! I was their only champion.

She is awful. I am so upset right now!!

 

I was so upset with all she said, I wasn’t able to concentrate, so I left work early today.

Ephemeral

she was like others:

ephemeral and fleeting.

I will never leave.


8:30am

Tomorrow evening I am going to have the conversation with Dennis and Brad about Michelle and not seeing her in the future. I need to get the logic behind the decision organized so it is coherent for them.

  1. We love Michelle, we miss her.
  2. Michelle no longer wants a future with me (I was going to say “us”…I think “me” is better).
  3. We need to move forward with our lives. We can’t hope Michelle will change.
  4. This is painful. It is okay to be sad, hurt, angry, confused, scared.
  5. These feelings may never go away but they will diminish with time.
  6. Some people will come and go in your life. I will never leave you.

Number 2 is still difficult for me. It will be difficult for the boys. I hope they are further along in their grieving than I give them credit for. The 6th point…it makes me feel good to remind them of it.

 

You’re not worthy of them

8:30am

What a weekend. Friday was the Nebraska game. I made homemade nachos (and killed it…they were perfect). Saturday Brad had to be in Lincoln for a soccer game at 9am. We got back home at 2pm. I worked out, bathed and rested for a few minutes. We met some friends for pizza and then went to the UNO soccer game. Home in time to watch SNL (season opener). Sunday had to get Dennis to a swim meet for warm ups at 8am. Came home for a quick lunch and then went to the movies. Had a 5pm soccer game for Brad, made homemade chicken noodle soup, and then to bed. I am exhausted from my weekend.

I ended up texting with Monica off and on. It is nice to download my brain to someone new. We might get together for a few drinks later in the week. I’m not looking for anything there except having a friend. They are in short supply these days.

I’m sleeping better and the obsessive thoughts about Michelle seem to be subsiding. The last time I visited my therapist, we talked about her continued relationship with the boys. I was honest and admitted the reason I capitulated and allow her to maintain her relationship is because she was upset. My therapist is right, there are all kinds of complications that can come up in the future that will be more harmful to the boys than losing their relationship with Michelle. Here is what I am sending to Michelle in a letter and email.

Michelle,

I’ve been working with my therapist for 10 weeks now. I’ve come to trust her and respect her. She pointed out all kinds of potential complications that, net, will be more harmful to the boys than the loss of their relationship with you. At this point in your life, you aren’t interested in any version of the world where you might need to grow. You are stagnating. My boys deserve people who can take objective stock of things and make adjustments that are in their best interest. Right now, you aren’t capable of that. I hope, some day you will be. Going forward, I do not want you to be a part of my children’s lives. With the selfishness, entitlement, and manipulative behavior you displayed regarding my health insurance, I won’t risk you not honoring my wishes as it relates to my children. I am going to cut off your contact via text, phone, and social media.  If I had to sum it up in one sentence it would be this: I don’t trust you to be objective and act in Dennis and Brad’s best interests if what is in their best interest conflicts with what you want.

David

P.S. I really do hope you are able to change and learn how to evolve and grow. I miss how happy we all were together as a family. I can see it now, as we were…our breaking up was inevitable. I love you.

I sent it this afternoon in a letter. I will send it to her via email on Thursday as well. I want to make sure she receives it.

Resignation

she won’t acknowledge

she has work to do. why am

I trying so hard?


9:00am

Michelle and I had a bad fight Saturday afternoon. I called to talk to say hi and ended up talking about some resentment I (recently) had. She tried to turn it around like I was trying to control her. I wasn’t. I was simply giving voice to my feelings. I have always felt love was a behavior, not an emotion. She agreed. I told her I’m hurt she hasn’t gotten into therapy yet. She scheduled an appointment for October 5th (that is 12 weeks from when we broke up). I told her that spoke volumes about her commitment, or lack thereof. She interpreted this as me telling her what to do. I wasn’t. She refused to see what I said as an expression of my emotion…my hurt. No matter what I said she wouldn’t listen.

It feels like she’s stuck in this death spiral of anger and resentment. She is stuck in the past and what happened vs. the way things are now and into the future. She can’t see my actions for anything but controlling. She told me the difference between that long dinner we had on Friday (a lovely, tender night between us) and the following Thursday was Friday “she was in control…could express her feelings and I just listened.” The following Thursday I tried to talk about my feelings. She doesn’t want to hear my feelings. She doesn’t want to hear that I feel resentment that it will be 12 weeks after we broke up before she has her first meeting with a therapist. She doesn’t want to hear how that hurts me or how that hurts Dennis and Brad.

Right now, it’s not about me respecting her thoughts, feelings, or opinions because I do. Right now, it’s about Michelle being the only one who is allowed to say or do anything. She expects me to feel and say nothing unless it’s obsequious and apologetic. She doesn’t care about my feelings.

I think it is sinking in. Michelle isn’t going to try. She sees me as the only problem we have. She’s resentful, unforgiving, selfish, and hateful. She isn’t brave enough to look inward with a critical eye. It’s our death knell.

I feel sadness. I feel resignation. I’m fighting so hard to be a better man for my boys and for her. I can’t believe she won’t fight for us. I feel hurt. I do not feel hope. I slept better Saturday and Sunday nights than I have since we broke up. I guess resignation leads to less stress.

I can’t believe we’ve come to this.

Thanksgiving, I had this idea of doing “An Affair to Remember” in Chicago. Tell her I’ll be somewhere at noon the Friday after. Fucking stupid!!!

I would still jump if she said she’d take me back.

I am fucking pathetic!!


3:00pm

A letter I sent to Michelle:

Michelle,

The whole point of me sending these journal posts to you (The more insightful entries I have been mailing to Michelle) was to share. I realized I was going to have to do some colossal soul searching and super uncomfortable examinations of myself. I thought it might help both of us if you could witness it. It felt right to make myself vulnerable to you.

I had hoped, maybe naively, you would be willing to do the same (be vulnerable not necessarily keep a journal). With both of us sharing/growing, I thought, maybe, we could find our way back to each other. Maybe that’s wishful thinking. I don’t know. After our dinner on Thursday and the phone conversation Saturday afternoon, I feel further away from you than ever. I feel like we had started a trip together, 8 weeks ago, only for me to realize you’re still asleep, in bed, you haven’t packed your suitcase, and you aren’t planning on leaving for another 3 weeks. I have gotten so far ahead of you. I hope you can catch up but I’m afraid you can’t (or don’t want to).

I hope at some point, if you catch up, we can find each other again. We all feel less without you.

I love you.

So you’re saying there’s a chance!

7:30am

I’ve been anxious to write in my journal since Friday. Michelle asked me out to dinner. Michelle told me she wants us to try to be together. She said (in almost the same breath) she doesn’t know how that would work. Frankly, I don’t either. She doesn’t know/trust how I can change my controlling behavior.

I’m not done working on it but I know I it’s changed. Brad and I were talking Saturday afternoon. We talked about my drinking. I asked him if he’s noticed anything different about me since I quit. He said I’m not as bossy or as grumpy as I used to be. He said I seem a lot happier. The longer I go without drinking, the more apparent it becomes how destructive drinking was for me and those I love.

I feel happier. I notice I laugh a lot more in the mornings now. I have more energy. My mind feels clearer. I went to bed at 1:30am on Friday and woke up Saturday at 6:30am. I was pretty tired but not foggy in my head. I was able to do my yard work, exercise, take Dennis shopping for homecoming, go to Brad’s soccer tournament all afternoon, and come home and read for a bit. Even though I was super tired I had fun with the boys, with Derek (we had a bite to eat between soccer games), I texted with Michelle, just had a really great day. All of it was because I wasn’t hung over.

I have to admit something disturbing. I still have an urge to drink and I’m frightened by it. I’m not frightened of lapsing. It’s strength is what frightens me. I don’t like it. It pisses me off. I resent it. That is motivating. I can take a step a back and see how drinking has hurt my life.

Michelle still loves me. We made no promises about any future we might have together. She just knows she misses being together. She misses our family. Just knowing that makes me feel better. We talked a bit on Sunday. She said Friday hurt because of how much she missed everything. She asked how I felt. I am like Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber. “So you’re saying there’s a chance!!!”

I feel like she is nervous about this. I think it has to do with trust. She wants to trust I will continue to do the things I say I will, but she isn’t sure. I get that. I’m not going to ask or beg her to trust me. That is the cry of a guilty soul. Time and my follow through are the only things.

The same can be said about what she does. I’m nervous about her anger and her panic attacks. She has an appointment with a therapist this week. If she does the work, she is going to learn where the anger and anxiety comes from. I suspect it has its roots in her childhood and what happened between her parents when they were separated.

So there are a lot of unknowns here. It’s why we said there are no promises. There is just a desire to be better. We asked each other multiple times…what do we do now? We want to try and work our way back to each other. How do we do that? We work on ourselves and some of the challenges we have. Only then we can work on us.


She should never get

credit for Her selfishness.

She is not like Her.


1:00pm

Our relationship will NOT be the same as it was. The bones of it will be the same: we love each other, we are dedicated to a life together (right now to the idea of a life together), and we are dedicated to Dennis and Brad. The day to day, I imagine will involve me letting go of the reins. The more I think about it, the easier it feels. It’s a matter of trust. I know I can trust Michelle to make decisions that are in our best interest. She won’t let me down. If she and I are going to work as a couple, I have to trust her. That’s it.

I see the reservations I have that anyone will do what’s best for me. That anxiety is why I hold on to the reins so tightly. If I want to be in any relationship, I need to find a person I can trust and give that up to them.

Let me restate. If I want to have a successful relationship with Michelle, I have to trust her to make decisions that are in our best interest. I can’t control them. I have to give up control.

Here’s the insight. Collette could NEVER be trusted to make any decisions but what was in her own best interest. She is selfish. She made innumerable decisions, during our marriage (and after), that were hurtful and detrimental to me, my kids, and ultimately to our marriage. I have been operating under that same primer. Michelle is not Collette. Michelle is not selfish. Michelle has integrity. Michelle loves me. Michelle loves Dennis. Michelle loves Brad. Michelle will not make decisions that are selfish and hurtful. Michelle can be trusted. Michelle is Michelle. That is why we love her.

 

Toxic

8:00am

I feel like I have so much anger about Michelle building up inside me. Look at my post from yesterday fuck’s sake!! I know anger is part of the grieving process but Jesus. It isn’t feeling cathartic anymore. It’s starting to feel toxic.

I’m still on this rollercoaster of emotion. Elation and joy when we talk or text (yes we’re texting even though we said we wouldn’t communicate for 4 weeks…we made it 2 weeks) to despair and anger when we don’t. I keep thinking about the quote, “the only way out is through”. I think the only way through is cut off communication with Michelle entirely. That means on social media, her visiting with the boys, on the cell phone, texting, email…a clean break. I need to move on.

She is done with us as a couple. I need to quit holding onto the notion she will change her mind. That she will take me back. That she misses our family enough to work on our relationship. I need to not be angry about that. So that’s where we are then.


1:00pm

Michelle,

I love you. You are the great love of my life. I have never felt the happiness, ease, and contentedness in a relationship I feel with you. You are everything I want in a woman: smart, complicated, strong, ambitious, tender, loving, interesting, maternal, beautiful, sexy, and gentle. We are so happy together. I miss being home with you. I miss how much we have in common. I miss talking to you. I miss the way you are with the boys. I miss laughing with you. I miss the way people talked about us as a couple. I miss making love to you. I miss our life together. I miss you!

It’s hard to accept the person you planned your life with, the first and last person you want to see every day, doesn’t want you anymore. I know you aren’t trying to hurt me but it hurts you won’t work or fight for our life together.

It’s been interesting reading my journal from the last month. I’m a cliché of grief. I’ve hit all of the stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and (only very recently) acceptance. I know exactly how I contributed to where our relationship is today. My anxiety and insecurity drove my drinking and my need for control. It’s too early to say I’ve fixed those things. I will say, I can see myself from today and into the future…it’s the man you fell in love with.

Do you know how you contributed to where our relationship ship is today?

In order to grow, as a person, you must be open to the possibility you are wrong. Personal growth requires you are uncomfortable. It isn’t easy and demands courage and objective, self-deprecation. You’ll never be able to grow using your family as your therapist. They lack objectivity. You know this, and your sister knows this.

I have been harboring some resentment (which manifests itself as anger) towards you. It feels like you’ve been treating the life we built together as a kind of buffet. It feels like you are picking and choosing what you want and leaving out the things you don’t want. In fact, I’m the only thing you don’t want from our life together.

Like I said before…I know how I contributed to our breaking up. I told you to leave. I will regret that for the rest of my life. I wounded us. You decided the finality …you killed us. From the outset, you have told me not to have any hope of us getting back together. Now, you want things that take you away from Omaha and preclude us being a family. When you decided you didn’t want us to be a couple any more, you didn’t leave me. You left the family we built.

I need to move forward with my life and accept we are no longer a couple.  I need a clean break.

To that end, you have to get your own cell phone plan by the 18th of this month. After that date, I am having your line taken off my plan. You will no longer have a relationship with my children. This is all very confusing and hurtful for them and your continued presence in their life is making that worse. You’re not their (step) mother. You decided that when you decided you didn’t want us to be a family anymore. I will be blocking your ability to communicate with all three of us via phone, text, and email. The only way to communicate with me after the 18th is via letter. I will carry you on my health insurance plan until January 31, 2018 (roughly 6 months from our breakup).

I’ve read this letter over and over. I know how harsh it sounds. I’m not trying to punish you. I’m trying to move on with my life. Nothing about our break up is fair.  We are un-equal partners (but partners none the less) in where our relationship is. I will never get over losing you. I will always hope against hope that you will change your mind about us and take me back. In the face of that unlikely event, I will never bring another woman into Dennis and Brad’s world. In hind sight, where you and I are at and the hurt the boys have in their hearts, it was a mistake bringing you into their lives.

I wish I had asked you to marry me. I love you.