Thursday, December 20
I taught my last public yoga class. My clients treated me to a lovely brunch, gave me thoughtful presents, and I soaked up the goodness because I'm meeting JB later and handing him divorce papers.
At seven p.m. I pulled into the parking lot of a local coffee house—the same coffee house JB and I sat in when we were working on our relationship workbooks. JB was sitting at a corner table. He waved me over. I walked up to the counter, ordered tea, and JB quickly walked up behind me, ordered coffee, and paid for both. His face was ashen.
JB and I sat down. I placed a plastic grocery bag on the table. JB eyed it suspiciously. The bag contained three Christmas cards from JB’s high school friends and divorce papers.
“I brought you some correspondence,” I said.
“I need to say this before you say anything,” JB said rapidly. “I’m sorry. I’m going to tell you exactly why I’m sorry. I’m sorry I was unfaithful. I’m sorry I betrayed your trust. I’m sorry that I hurt you. I’m sorry that I hurt the kids. I’m sorry that I put our family in jeopardy. I’m sorry I put your health at risk. If there’s one thing that bothers me more than anything else, it’s that. I’m sorry that I was selfish and reckless. And I hope at some point you can forgive me.”
“I forgive you and want a divorce,” I said, sliding the bag over to him. “Divorce papers and a few Christmas cards.”
JB pulled the Christmas envelopes out of the bag. He pulled the divorce papers out of a manila envelope. “Is it a no-fault divorce?’ he asked.
“I hope we can save money and use the same attorney,” I said. JB had dug a large debt hole. My mother was paying for my lawyer because there was no loose cash. I showed JB where to sign if he chose to waive his right to counsel and file for a court appearance. “My attorney can file the appearance for you, take the money out of my retainer. It’s $206. I’d like this to be as cheap and quick as possible. The retainer was $4,000.”
“I’m not going to sign anything right now. I’m going to need time to look it over, think about if I want to sign over my right to an attorney.”
“If you don’t like how things are going, you can hire an attorney any time. It’s not set in stone.”
“I was hoping we could meet a few more times, have a few more conversations, talk about this, maybe go for counseling.”
“I will never trust you. Our marriage is dead. There’s no going back.”
“You realize this will change the way we live, our standard of living.”
“Look, I know how you feel.”
“You know how I feel? How do I feel?”
“Uh, you’re hurt. You’re angry.”
“You have no idea how I feel. You think I could live with you after this?”
JB hung his head.
“I turned myself inside out the last several years trying to make our marriage good. All the while you were fucking whoever you could dig up.”
“I know. I’m so sorry.”
“How were you able to live like that?”
“I don’t know. I really don’t know. I disassociated. I disconnected.”
“Disassociated? Disconnected? Fuck your psychological drivel. What did you disassociate from, disconnect from?”
JB looked down at the table. “I don’t know.”
“Was this was one of your passive-aggressive moves? Were you sticking it to me?”
“Well, if I’m going to peel the onion and really look at what I did, that might be part of it.”
“Did it make you feel like a man? Powerful?”
“No, no it didn’t.”
“You’d be at home on Ashley Madison, sexting with women, arranging to have dates, come upstairs and rub on me?”
“I guess that happened sometimes.”
“You’d go out and have sex with women and come home and have sex with me?”
“No. That never happened.”
“For years you were sticking your unprotected dick in skanky women then coming home and sticking it in me. Do you think I would ever let you stick your dick in me again?”
JB sat there looking gray and jowly, like Droopy Dog. I couldn’t stand the sight of him. I pulled my coat on.
“I’m sorry,” JB said. “I know that doesn’t begin to cover it, but I’m really sorry.”
“You’re not sorry for what you did. You’re sorry for your consequences. Your key doesn’t work anymore. I changed the locks. When you pick up Tom Saturday, I hope you’ll have those papers signed.”
I drove away, pulled into the garage, and sat there for a long time before walking into the house.
“How did it go?” Blake asked.
“I gave your father divorce papers. I asked him uncomfortable questions. I watched him squirm.”
“Hmm,” Blake said.
Blake and I stood looking at each other.
“Well, I’m going to meet Chad,” he finally said.
“I’m going upstairs.”
We hugged. Blake left and I got into bed, turned on the TV, and checked email.
“You said you think I am not sorry, just sorry for the consequences. I understand why you think that, but it isn't true. The way you described my actions today was chilling and difficult to hear because you vividly described the depth of my betrayal. My actions have been reprehensible and they do eat at me every single day. I have thrown away a wife and family that has always loved and supported me unconditionally and I have responded with reckelss (sic), selfish behavior. There is no explaining or excusing it. I have to live with it.
“My regrets are enormous, and they will burden me forever. I will always love you and care about you, and I hope over time we can become friends again, as hard as this may be for you to imagine right now.
“Please don't think of our marriage and years together as a waste or a fraud. It's not true. Life is a lot more complex than that and you and our marriage has (sic) always mattered a great deal to me, even when I was doing terrible things. All the good times were very real to me and we brought two amazing kids into this world.
“I will not resist or delay your desire for a divorce. I accept that I have done too much damage and I appreciate your forgiveness.
“However, I do need more than 2 days to think about whether I want to sign away my right to consel (sic). The document doesn't seem to give me the right to change my mind. It's Christmas time, and I think we can take a few days to think and process and revisit this next week.
“Merry Christmas and I am so, so sorry for what has become of us.”