Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What Happened After My Wife Moved Back In

After Gabbie and I cleared out her apartment on Friday, December 14th, I was anxious about what might happen next.  Her move was meant to blindside her boyfriend Charlie and we didn't know how he'd react.  Surprisingly, he took the news in stride.

Although there wasn't a scrap of furniture left behind, he continued to sleep there, in a sleeping bag, for the rest of December.  Maybe because he's been homeless so many times before it wasn't a big deal for him.  Whatever.  I didn't care what happened to him, just so long as he wasn't a part of my life.

Moving back in with me and the kids dramatically improved Gabbie's spirits.  She was giddy for weeks.  In fact, she was so upbeat, and so much like her old self, that I became increasingly confident that the long nightmare with Charlie was finally over.  Not only did she stop spending time with him, but she also stopped going to the bar by herself and she stopped drinking altogether.  While I can't say "it was the best Christmas ever!" I can say, for me, it was the best Christmas in many years.

From the moment Gabbie moved back in, she and I spent every night together.  We cooked together, cleaned together, shopped together...we did almost everything a 'normal' married couple would do together...and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Some people have asked what it is that I love so much about Gabbie.  That's a reasonable question given how much time I've spent writing about her bad behavior.  There's no doubt that she continues to captivate me, in spite of all she's done, and in spite of my non-heterosexuality.  What's so special about her?

The simplest explanation I can offer is that spending time with Gabbie when she's at her best is an experience of pure joy.  She makes me feel like I've regained my sight after going blind or regained my hearing after going deaf.  The joy she brings me when she's "on" is absolute and indescribable.  Truly, like the sight-impaired or the hearing-impaired, I must be emotionally impaired because experiencing her happiness brings me a depth of inner fulfillment that I have rarely felt on my own.  Is it any surprise that I'm so patient with her?

The three happiest weeks I've had in years came to an end after Christmas.  The situation didn't blow up, but it did change.

My 13yo daughter, Rose, has a strong dislike of her mother.  It makes me sad to see her so filled with antipathy for someone who loves her so much, but for reasons that Rose can't clearly articulate, she despises Gabbie, and claims she always will.

As I said in the previous post, Rose was furious that I let Gabbie move back in.  Fortunately she wasn't so mad (or selfish) as to ruin Christmas by being openly hostile.  After Christmas, however, she was less restrained.  Unbeknownst to me, Gabbie started lobbying the kids to support the idea that we'd all continue to live together, permanently. My son was ok with that but my daughter was not.  When Gabbie mentioned the idea to Rose, she went ballistic and made it clear that she'd make us all miserable if that ever happened.

It was Gabbie who told me about her reaction.  She was devastated by Rose's anger.  But she also said she wasn't about to let a 13 year old girl run her life, "and I hope you're not going to let her run yours either."

Gabbie should have known better than to be so obviously manipulative.  If that was the best argument she could make for us to permanently live together, then she had no argument at all.

Annoyed by her feeble attempt to sway me, I asked Gabbie a pivotal question that was intended to reveal her true feelings:  "Do you want to live with me, or the kids, or all of us?"

"All of you, of course."

"What if I moved out and you kept the kids.  Would you like that?"

"Well, no."

"Oh, then I must be the person you want to live with so badly?"

"I want all of us to live together."

We went around in circles a few more times but eventually she admitted that she didn't want to live with just the kids, or just me.  What that meant was she didn't want to do much of the work of parenting, nor did she want to get back together with me.  What she wanted was the best of both worlds...to be single and free whenever she felt like it, and to have a family on-call to keep her company the rest of the time.

That was not an acceptable answer for me, but I didn't want to risk getting emotional about it by reacting immediately.  Instead, I decided to think about it some more, without any pressure from her or the kids.  I ended the conversation by giving her a non-committal answer: "You've only been back for a few weeks.  Let's see how the next month goes, especially with Rose."

It turned out that Rose was unyielding.  When I asked her why she was so opposed to letting her mom stay she said, "It's because of you, Dad.  As long as she's around you're not going to get on with your life."  She was right and I knew it...and thus Gabbie's fate was sealed.

Gabbie started looking for another apartment in mid-January.  In just a few days she got a lucky tip and secured a nice two bedroom in a great location - for $100 less per month than she and Charlie were paying for their tiny, dark studio.  She moved out again on January 27th.

Now that she's been gone for three weeks, I can report some progress on a few key issues:

First, we're over as couple.  For as much as I enjoyed December, and I know Gabbie did too, when she admitted that she had no desire to live with me, that was all I needed to know.  I'd rather be alone for the rest of my life than be trapped in a relationship of her convenience.  I'm a ridiculously loyal person, but the only people who deserve my loyalty are the ones who really want to be with me.

Second, Gabbie might have turned the corner with Charlie.  She claims she's done with him and that she's never going to let him live with her again, but I'm still skeptical.  He's been working out of the area for most of the year and has a place to sleep while he's on that job.  The real test will come when he's broke and homeless again when the job ends.  Will Gabbie let him 'crash' at her place?  We'll see.

Third, now that Gabbie is out of the house for good, I do feel more free to try dating men again.  I'm not exactly enthusiastic about the idea but I'm going to give it a try again soon.

Epilogue

I've been frequently criticized for being co-dependent and for doing a poor job of protecting my kids from Gabbie and Charlie's antics.  Every time I write about something bad that happens, I'm told to take a stand: to get a restraining order against Charlie and to take a 'tough love' approach with Gabbie.

For as much as I sincerely appreciate the advice, and I do, I've never felt that getting tough with Gabbie was the right thing to do.  And now that I have the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, I feel that my slow and patient approach has resulted in the best possible outcome for all of us.

I could have kicked Gabbie out three years ago and immediately filed for divorce.  I also could have turned the kids against her by exposing her bad behavior and her affair with Charlie.  Doing either or both of those things would have made for a faster resolution, but the speed and drama of it all would have been traumatizing for everyone, especially the kids.  While the patient approach has been a long and unpleasant slog, no one will be permanently scarred because of it.  Yes, the kids have all been hurt and disappointed by Gabbie's poor choices, but there's no way around that.  In all other ways, our familial relationships are as intact and positive as possible, and that means the long-term trauma has been minimized.  Looking back, I can't see how blowing up the family by taking an aggressive stance with Gabbie would have made for a better outcome.

In many situations I'm sure my co-dependent, patient approach would be a very poor choice.  But for this situation, it's always felt right.  I'm very happy that I can look back and not be ashamed of my behavior or regret any of the decisions I've made.  The journey hasn't been easy or perfect, but overall, it's worked out well.  So...in light of my much maligned co-dependent behavior, all I have to say is that I'm happy, because each step of the way, I feel like I did the right thing.

Many thanks to you all for your support over the years.

I don't know if I'm ever going to find a compatible man to enjoy life with, but I hope you'll accompany me on that journey as I blog about dating from time to time.  Even if I never meet anyone, I plan to continue blogging about bisexuality and mixed orientation marriages for the indefinite future.  Believe me, there are a lot of people out there who find those posts far more interesting than the ones about my life.

Thanks for reading.

Cameron

Monday, February 11, 2013

"Help me...please...help me..."

On Wednesday, December 12th, at about 6:45pm, my wife called me and said in a desperate, breathless whisper, "Help me...please...help me..."

At first I thought her asshole boyfriend had hurt her and she needed to be brought to the hospital.  But then, as she repeated the same words again, I knew her life wasn't being threatened - she was just very depressed and somewhat drunk.

Slowly, detail by detail, Gabbie told me her latest story: she and her asshole boyfriend Charlie got into a fight; he went on a 48-hour drinking binge and ignored her calls; she eventually tracked him down and found him "doing coke with some druggie slut;"  he refused to leave the slut and come home.

In other words...the same old story.

Actually, I shouldn't say that.  There's been very little drunken drama for the past two years.  I'm just tired of the whole situation.  I want it to go away.

Charlie is a menace and a very real danger.  Gabbie needs to quit him but that's something she must genuinely want to do herself.  I can't do it for her.  So, until she's ready to get rid of him, I don't feel half as sorry for her as I do for myself...   

How did my life end up like this?  
Why is that asshole my problem?  
Why do I even have to hear about him?

With those thoughts flowing through my head, I consoled Gabbie as much as I could.  I assumed that's why she called in the first place.  The problem was, unless she was suddenly ready to take action, I didn't want to listen to two hours of complaints about Charlie.  Eventually I got tired of listening to her and said, "What are you going to do about this mess?"

"I want to come home."

WHAT?!

For seven long years I've waged a silent war with Charlie for her heart.  There have been many times - SO MANY TIMES - that I desperately wanted her to say something definitive and positive about me, and us.  For whatever reason, the words "I want to come home" hit that magic spot.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, visions of a happy, normal life with her flashed through my mind.  And in that normal life, all of the hurtful things in my current life were gone.  No Charlie.  No separation.  No gay thing.  No disappointed children.  And most powerfully of all: the possibility that she might want me back.  That thought instantly brought tears to my eyes.

Sadly, my euphoria only lasted for a few seconds.  I've been down this path before.  More than once I've had big hopes that the long nightmare with Charlie was over, and each and every time I've been bitterly disappointed.

"What do you mean?" I asked her.

"I can't live with him anymore.  I'm miserable.  I'm so, so, so, so unhappy.  I want to come home."

We talked about that for a few minutes, but it was hard for me to take her seriously because she was still drunk.  I ended the conversation by telling her to get some rest and we'd talk more about her plans the next day.  After we hung up I wondered if she was serious or if she'd dismiss the whole idea in the morning.

Then I started thinking about what *I* wanted.

I realized that I don't want to spend the next 25 years with her.  I love her tremendously, stupidly even, but I've already spent 25 years supplanting who I am and what I'd like to do with my life, all in an effort to please her.  After two years of being separated and four months of actually living apart, I've come to realize that, in a very sick and twisted way, Charlie has been my savior.

The next day Gabbie was her normal cheery, intelligent and sober self.  Instead of a pathetic sobbing mess begging for help, she was a middle-aged professional woman telling me about her plans to move back in.  Because Charlie is such a disaster, I told her I'd welcome her back.  "And this time," I said, "if he causes ANY trouble at the house, even for a minute, I'm calling the police and filing a restraining order against him.  My patience is gone, and honestly, I'd love for him to test me, because I'll do whatever I can to get his ass hauled off to jail for good."  Gabbie told me she understood.

The plan was to move her things the following day, a Friday.  Charlie was scheduled to work, which was perfect as far as Gabbie was concerned, because she planned to leave without telling him.  I loved that idea.  I had big hopes that the shock of coming home and finding her gone would send him into a violent rage and he'd come looking for her.  Then I'd have my excuse to dial 9-1-1.

Because Gabbie was moving the next day, I needed to tell the kids what was happening.  I didn't want them to be stunned when they came home from school to find the house crammed with their mother's stuff.  Also, I was unsure how they'd react.  Would they be indifferent?  Happy?  Disappointed?  Mad?  Just about any reaction was possible.

At dinner I shared the news with them in as upbeat a manner as I could: "Guess what?!  Mom's moving back in tomorrow!"

My 15yo son responded first, "Does that mean she broke up with Charlie?"

"I'm not sure.  You'll have to ask her yourself.  I know she doesn't want to live with him anymore."

"Good."

My 13yo daughter then jumped in, "This is temporary, right?  She's not going to stay for long is she?"

"I don't know.  My guess is she'll be here for a few months."

That news made my daughter burst into tears.  "How could you let that wench move back in?!"

"First, she's not a wench.  Don't call her that, she's your mother -  and the only one you'll ever have.  And second, I 'let' her move back because she's not happy living with Charlie."

"After what she's done to you?!!  She can go die in a hole for all I care!  I can't believe you're letting her back here!!"  And with that, my daughter stomped off to her room and slammed the door behind her.

I said to my son, "It doesn't look like your sister is happy to have mom back."

"Nope."