Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Don't Follow Me

Posted by Anonymous.

She is falling. The bottom has dropped out, and she is hurtling towards oblivion. There is nothing to grab onto, nothing to save her, she is falling.

The phone has fallen out of her hand. It lies on the floor of the van. She stares at it. She looks up to see her mother and sister turned around from the front of the vehicle. She can see their mouths moving, but she has forgotten how to hear. She has forgotten how to breathe.

She looks out the windows of the car and sees people in the yards of this pretty development. Mowing lawns, setting up sprinklers, walking dogs. How are these people still moving?

She realizes she has stopped breathing. She has started to shake. She hears something, finally. The voice, it is her husband. It is coming from the phone on the floor. He is shrieking obscenities, screaming for her to answer him.

“What is this? What did you do? What am I looking at?” He is sobbing, making guttural noises.

Her sister takes the phone and speaks calmly, “We are coming home now. What happened? What is going on?”

“Your sister is a whore.” He screams, “Ask your sister, she’s a fucking whore.”

And then there is silence again.

Her mother has pulled the van over. Turned around in the seat to look at her. Eyes searching, questioning, bewildered.

“I was having an affair,” she whispers, barely audible.

“What? With who? When? How?” The questions come at her rapid fire. She is shaking and quiet.

The shaking becomes more violent and she begins to lose her grip on reality. She is moaning and sobbing, rocking back and forth, “My babies. He’s going to take my babies.”

With this, her mother snaps into action and calls her to attention.

“You need to speak to me. What happened? Tell me now.” Her mother’s authoritative tone grabs her attention just as it did in childhood.

“It was an e-mail relationship, with a guy from college. It started on Facebook.” She doesn’t say the name but she doesn’t have to. Both her mother and sister know immediately who it is.

“Did you act on this relationship?” her mother inquires, trying not to say the word sex.

“No. But there were pictures and graphic emails.” And he saw them all. Oh my God. He saw them all. How is this happening?

She begins to unravel again. The momentary calm is gone, and she borders on hysteria. She screams that she needs a cigarette, although no one in the car smokes. Her mother once again snaps her back to attention with her tone.

“We need a plan of action. First of all, where are the kids? “

She looks at the clock, 8:45pm. They are in bed, exhausted from a long weekend. It is a Sunday night. Having just spent the weekend in New Jersey and then all day swimming, they were tucked in by 7:30pm.

“They are sleeping,” she says.

“Okay. You need to talk to him,” her mother says, always the problem solver, the trouble shooter. There is nothing that she can’t fix. With a glue gun and heartfelt apology, this would be right as rain in no time.

Her mother and sister discuss quietly how they plan to handle the situation. Her husband said he wants her out. He wants her to get her shit and leave.

The focus of their discussion has shifted. The focus of concern is the children. “…don’t want to wake them…” “…I can stay with her…” “…she can stay at my house…”

She has three children. They have three children, six, four and two. Her babies.

She shoves their faces out of her head, too painful to think about right now. Her heart might explode.

She can only think about the leather stitching on the seat in front of hers in the van. She wants to die. She wants to stop existing. She wants to disappear.

She can’t say these things in front of her mother and sister because they will take them seriously, as if she might actually commit suicide. Would she? She guesses that this feeling is why people take that step. She couldn’t do that, wouldn’t do that.

Wouldn’t mind if something killed her but wouldn’t take it into her own hands. That would just add insult to injury.

She will have to face this like a grown up.

She is just starting to breathe again when they pull into the driveway of her house.

The violent shaking begins again. They walk in the door. She is flanked by her mother and sister.

This situation is awkward and humiliating for everyone.

He is sitting at the table and has the laptop open.

When he sees her mother and sister, there is a slight change, almost imperceptible to anyone but her. He softens and there is sadness behind his immediate rage.

He demands that she log back into the e-mail account. While in the thick of the initial incident, she had changed her password to lock him out of the account.

“Show them. Show them what you did.” He is shaking, too, she can see.

“Facebook. That fucking Facebook,” he repeats, over and over. “How could I be so stupid? So fucking stupid?”

When her mother and sister finally leave, sad and scared, the house is quiet. The home that they built together.

She looks at him. She waits. He can’t look at her. After an interminable silence, he says, “Why?”

The question hangs in the air. Unanswerable. Inexcusable. Unbelievable.

Mentioned in 20% of all divorce cases according to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), it seems that Facebook is certainly adding fuel to the fire.

In some cases, Facebook is used as way to collect evidence in an already heated battle. In other cases, like mine, Facebook is merely the gateway. The Devil’s playground. The Garden of Eden. The place where a woman feeling stifled by the boredom of being a middleclass wife and mother goes to find some excitement.

It all started so innocently. A simple, “Hey there! Long time, no see! You look great!” It moved into a daily communication. Simple stuff, “your kids are so cute,” “your new deck looks great.” Then there is the shift, so slight, almost unnoticeable, “Remember the time…” and then you are in, involved. You are thinking of another person right there in the middle of your perfect, amazing life.

It slides so naturally away from the “social network” to a more private exchange, e-mail. And then the phone calls begin. The text messages.

It’s all so easy, nobody is getting hurt. It’s not “real.” It’s all digital. Nothing “bad” is happening, just two old friends talking, and then there is the proposal, the mention of “what if…,” the innocent lunch meeting. In the moment there are choices to be made.

I made my choice. I chose not to go to a hotel. I chose not to take that final step. But, in the end, it didn’t really matter. I was already there. I had already put myself in the situation. I made it real.

And I had to answer the question. Why?


One year ago, my world fell apart.

One year ago, I almost lost everything.

But I didn’t.

We survived.

I followed an angel down through the gates; I can only thank God it was not too late.

I found my place. I can only thank God it was not too late.



Anonymous said...

I went through the same thing. After years of him rejecting me, I made some incredibly bad decisions and I did the same thing you did. I told myself it wasn't real either, because it was just digital.

It has been almost two years and he hasn't forgiven me. Anytime I make a mistake now he pulls 'the mistakes' I made out of the bag and will verbally attack me as viciously as he can.

I don't know what to do. If I didn't have two little kids I'd tell him to leave. But I'm so sad, still so lonely. I hate myself almost as much as he hates me.

Anonymous said...

My ex boyfriend kept trying to re-do his high school years via facebook correspondence with girls that wouldn't have given him a second glance when he was a chubby nerd. With work at the gym, some advice from GQ and a big important job, he flashed it all and all it did was feed his newly-inflated ego. I am actually embarrassed for him!

To act upon things with the false security of nostalgia is not a new phenomena but with easy access via Facebook, it's a growing issue.

I am glad this writer was able to sort things out even though it was too late. Wow.

Anonymous said...

I understand, really. A friend [more like friend of a friend] but local writer, Kyran Pittman wrote about this in her new book, Planting Dandelions, a chapter called Crush. There's a version of it in the June Good Housekeeping. I think you should check it out.
I found myself with a crush on a coworker just before he switched companies so it didn't have time to 'run it's course' (read: me figure out that was stupid.) Nothing happened, except a lot of thoughts. It was strange. I love my husband. 100%. But, I wanted that guy too. Even if just once. I talked it out with a friend, and just admitting it aloud that I was thinking these thoughts made everything go back to normal. I would like to hope that if given the opportunity, I could have said no, but I'll never know.

Anonymous said...

I have been there and back. We survived it. it was not easy to get to where we are today but I'm glad he did not throw in the towel. He makes me happy and complete

Anonymous said...

Just like the other commenters I've been here too. When I first started dating my now fiancee I was still in a "digital relationship" with my ex from college. But I acted on the relationship and met up with him several times, broke it off with my boyfriend but ended up realizing it was him I was meant to be with all along.

Things are much better now, obviously since we are engaged but it was so hard to get out of that trap. As much as I love finding long lost friends on the internet, finding long lost love is really hard.

Lia said...

Not to add any pressure to the creator of this site, but it's been almost 2 months since the last post. Will anything new be posted soon, or should I give up checking? (I do love this site, and I'd like to see it keep going.)

Mike said...

When will there be more updates??? additional entries?

Mike said...

So is this blog dead?? too bad since i loved the entries...

Anonymous said...

It's rude to your readers to just stop posting without any explanation. Especially since we can see that 'upstairs' posts are going on as usual. Why not just explain that you're no longer doing this part of the site? Given an explanation, we'd all understand. Leaving us in limbo isn't cool.

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Hamlin said...

Thanks for sharing with us..
Happy Moms realize that the days are long but the years short. It's not that they are impervious to stress, it's that they have learned to lower their expectations and be in the moment when things get difficult. When your toddler is puking all over the house, this is not the time to reorganize the hall closet. A sick day then turns into a time to create sweet memories of hours spent reading and cuddling on the couch.