Posted by Anonymous.
It's depressing to me that what feels like the most important decision I will have made up to this point in my life can be reduced to some stupid, cliched song lyrics. My husband and I have been together for more than a decade. We have an amazing two year old son. And more bad blood between the two of us than I care to think about most days. Our marriage got off to a rocky start, I'll admit, what with me attempting suicide a few months in and then again a year later. What can I say? I was young, and depressed, and felt trapped in the horror of feeling that the walls were continually closing in on me. I tried to kill myself, in part, because I thought my husband deserved better. Now, years and scores of pills and hours of therapy later, I look back on that time in our marriage and regret that I felt so utterly incapable of letting in my husband (or anyone else) even the tiniest bit. And I regret having ever put him through that mess.
Five years ago when he told me that my depression and emotional withdrawal from the marriage led him to have an affair, I cringed. I felt responsible. What was wrong with me? The fact that he waited to tell me about the affair until after we had planned a move across the country to be closer to (his) family eventually infuriated me. Cue the start of breeding resentment. And then, six months after we had moved across the country and he told me he was having another (emotional) affair with a coworker, the world slipped out from under me and I ran, no, sprinted head-on into the land of denial and workaholism. Maybe it was because my body was telling me, in a voice not unlike what I imagine a shrieking harpy to sound like, "You need to have a baby! Right now!" and having one with my husband seemed the most accessible option. Maybe it was because I couldn't imagine giving up on the years of history built up between us. Maybe it was because neither my family, nor his family "believe" in divorce, and I couldn't imagine shaming them by telling them I just wanted to give up. Maybe it was because I felt incapable of living on my own. Maybe it was because I was scared.
Not surprisingly, we had had sexual issues from the getgo. We had waited until marriage. Why, I don't know. Our honeymoon was one long disaster. I have always found sex uncomfortable at best and painful at worst, and not infrequently, would cry after intercourse because I felt as if something was being taken away from me. I know, I know, that sounds pretty fucked up right there. He wanted it all the time; I never wanted it. I was convinced (and he was convinced) there was something wrong with me. I had sex only out of a sense of obligation, and never really out of a sense of anticipation or enjoyment or intimacy. And then, after a long dry spell, he subtly pressured me to have sex. I can't really blame him for that. I understood that he had needs that weren't being met. I don't know if I can blame him for continuing to pressure me - "Come on, it'll be fine" - after I said no, it wasn't a good time. I know I blame myself for not standing up more strongly to him. Of course, I got myself good and knocked up. I was never really ambivalent about being pregnant. I knew from the moment I found out that I wanted the baby.
For a brief period, we got along better. We tried really hard. We stopped the constant arguing and forced ourselves to look forward to the oh-so-bright future. And then he told me that he was still in contact with the woman with whom he had had an emotional affair. That he was still attracted to her. He described the sex acts they had discussed. Even though something in me was screaming, "Get out! Get out! Get out!" the thought of being a single, graduate student mother flooded me with fear. So I stayed. I have tried to forgive him, but I can't. I have told myself I need to live with the consequences of my actions that led to my (wonderful, brilliant) son being conceived. I thought that meant staying with my son's father and "working it out." I thought it meant providing my son the perfect nuclear family. I thought it meant swallowing my pride and self-respect and getting on with life.
But now I just don't know. I went through a horrifying postpartum depression and have emerged from the other side. Emotionally, I'm still a thousand miles away from my marriage. I cringe inwardly every time my husband touches me. I don't feel attracted to him. I've stopped sharing things with him. We haven't had sex since our son was conceived. I'm angry. I'm hurt. I'm exhausted.
Last weekend, the issues in our marriage, sexual and otherwise, came to a head once again, as they tend to do when even the strongest denial is insufficient to fill in the gaping cracks in our relationship. He shared his frustration that I won't touch him. He told me "We need to do something about this. I can't ignore this need forever." In my head, I agree, yes, we need to do something about this. In my heart, I feel sick about the idea of touching him. He told me that he thinks I need to touch him, even if it is uncomfortable for me. Even though he took it back later, a part of me flew away and started singing a high-pitched tuneless tune when he said that. I can't live with that expectation, I told myself. I can't live with that expectation, I told him.
I spend most of my time feeling utterly numb. In the moments when I touch the despair in our relationship, I feel like I cease to exist. I want to make this all his fault. Outwardly, I do. But inwardly, I keep chanting, What is wrong with me? What is wrong with me? What is wrong with me? I look at our son and think How can I shatter his world with a divorce? And I think How can I keep living this nonexistence in his presence? And I sit here, paralyzed.