After the first disappointing couples’ therapy session, I was going in more prepared. I knew what I wanted from this therapy. And I was going to get it!
The second session was on a weekend. Scheduling a sitter for the kids, we escaped early to enjoy a fast, casual lunch together. Over lunch, we further discussed what we wanted from therapy sessions. Both agreeing that we didn’t want to share our story so much as get actionable items to figure out our future together.
A Pit Stop
After lunch, we quickly hopped into a local pharmacy. That night we were going to a friend’s, Sean’s, birthday party and needed a gift. Rainbow and our daughter would leave the party early so they might see a live theatre production.
Whipping into the parking lot, we set a good pace. Beelining through the aisles, we seek out a birthday card, a birthday gift, and a little notebook to write down our agenda for the coming therapy session.
The checkout lady was kind, but molasses could have raced her and won. Zipping out of the store, we plop back down in the car.
Pulling the little notebook out, I jot down the main points for therapy discussed at lunch:
– Don’t want to re-hash the story. Want Frieda to mediate solutions/tools.
1) We want out of “limbo”. Marriage is changing – but how?
2) Rebuild trust and connection (passion)
3) Tools to determine individual “who am I” and how that fits with our current life
I also note the tools provided last time were breathing, thinking errors, and a brief mention of meditation sans the how component. Rainbow adds thoughts about the types of love and how to distinguish, along with how polyamorous communication works.
Lastly, I write that I want “data”. How do you get data and facts on these various goals/topics to make an informed decision?
In hindsight, the last note just demonstrates ignorance on my part of what therapy is really about.
We exit the car and enter The Twilight Zone. The temperature is warmer than last time and I’m sure the stairwell gives me a slight sunburn as we climb to the second floor.
Once again we wait longer than anticipated with the burbling fountains keeping us company. I find a magazine on the multi-tiered shelf that looks interesting. I thumb through it as we wait silently.
A sign behind the main door catches my eye. It reads, “Don’t look backward, you’re not heading that direction.” Seems like good advice. I file it in my brain’s mental motivation folder.
Awhile later, Frieda ushers the appointment ahead of us out the door. She says she will be right with us after she uses the restroom.
Upon her return, she welcomes us back onto the couches from last time. Rainbow and I move the table, along with the mountain of pillows, out of the way so we may sit next to each other. Frieda settles into her arm-chair with one leg bent underneath her causing her to sit lopsided with a slight lean toward the window. Her halo of hair is highlighted by the sun from the window and casting a shadow on one side of her face.
I kick-start the party by frankly stating our disquiet with the last session and laying out the overall goals we have for therapy.
Frieda then verbally analyzes me with a series of statements; concluding that I strike her as someone who likes facts and is very analytical. Well, I am a former auditor so yes, I like facts. I was also trained to listen to others and accurately regurgitate what they told me into a logical form to analyze it.
After just watching a Brain Games episode on how fortune tellers “read” their customers, I almost point out to her that she is using a common fortune-telling technique called the Barnum Effect. I manage to restrain my tongue.
Who Am I
Listing the goals helps focus Frieda. She starts unexpectedly with the last goal listed of determining “who am I.”
First, she addresses meditation as a tool for finding self. Explaining it is a fabulous way to help center yourself and discover your inner truths. She gives the name Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Then, once again, Frieda focuses on me almost exclusively. Emphasis on what is desired in a relationship is the “who am I” topic chosen. She again asks a series of questions. I look up and to the wall over her right shoulder, tearing up as I discover that I want monogamy in a relationship.
“That’s okay,” Frieda quietly states.
Both the words and tone remind me of the Seinfeld episode about homosexuality. You know the one, where after the word gay is said it is promptly followed by, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
The general impression I get from Frieda is that I am broken. I know this feeling is not how a therapist should make a person feel. I’m positive that was not Frieda’s intention either – but we feel how we feel.
My tears already recognize what my analytical brain doesn’t. Monogamy does not fit with Rainbow’s emerging sexuality.
Frieda further pries from my heart’s depths that I have a strong fear of being lonely. I have always known that I want someone to share life with. I have been a reader and watcher of romance anything as far back as I can recall.
Finally, Frieda switches her attention to Rainbow who has been sitting with hardly a twitch this whole time. What does he want she inquires. Rainbow more readily gives up the goods and shares he is open to polyamorous relationships. He has already read all about them and it seems like a possibility he could live within.
Rainbow too shares that he is afraid of living life without me. He says he can’t imagine not having a relationship with me.
I realize my fear is more about being lonely than not having him in my life. A strange realization for sure. How can I feel that way about the person I am married to?
She closes the session with encouragement to seek out meditation materials. To recall and find self-love and to strip away all fear and judgment to answer the question “who am I?”
We depart calmly, both deep in thought.
A Birthday Party
That night we head to Sean’s to celebrate the big birthday. It’s chaos as usual at the friend’s home. Sean and his wife, Krystal, have several children including foster kids. Add to that all the family and friends and it is a grand time!
Plenty of food and drink for all.
Too quickly it is time for Rainbow and our daughter to head to the theatre production. They leave in a rush with barely time to be able to sit before the show begins.
My son and I remain at the party. I receive text updates throughout the night from Rainbow letting me know how things are going. Our daughter is thrilled to be there. The selfie photos sent show the stress lines on Rainbow’s face.
The show is delayed multiple times.
The party continues on and soon I find myself in the living room chatting with the same couple friends we normally hang out with. Sean and Krystal plus Ron and Angela. These couples have been our friends for the majority of our marriage.
I watch the banter and physical contact back and forth between the couples. Ron loves to tease Angela with all sorts of outlandish comments just to try and rile my serious friend up. Sean actively touches Krystal all the time.
I recognize that I don’t have the type of open, warm emotional relationship that Sean and Krystal and Ron and Angela have. There is no emotional spark like that between Rainbow and I. We are almost always calm and level emotionally (or maybe frozen would be a better term?). It sounds and looks good on the surface to always be even keel, however, I know life is truly lived in the deep gut-level emotions.
I imagine our emotional self is like the ocean. The surface may indicate one thing, but there is a depth beneath where real life is found. We all have deep emotions, regardless of the calm of the surface.
My relationship is a boat on the calm ocean surface, not a deep sea diver.
Soon I pack up myself and son. We head home. My heart is torn. My brain tumbling over loneliness.
I tuck my son in and wish him goodnight with an extra long hug. I repeat multiple times that I love him – to infinity and beyond!
It’s late, about 11 o’clock. The show Rainbow and my daughter are at is just ending. They will be home in an hour.
I take that time and write. I write down a list of all my friends through the years. I note how long I’ve known them and if I still keep in regular, authentic contact with them.
The list of people who I have honest, long-lasting friendships with is five people. My whole life and I have five people beyond Rainbow that I would consider true friends.
My fear of being lonely has already manifested itself. I learned in my college years even friends I felt close to in high school considered me a “spoiled brat” and were only “friends” due to proximity. “Friendships” from work fade once I stop actively reaching out after employment ended. My current friendships have started to slide since I started carrying the burden of Rainbow’s sexuality changes. It’s hard to have an authentic friendship when they don’t know one of the biggest, most vulnerable, things happening in your life.
My entire life I have felt lonely in some respect. Rainbow was the one person I was sure about. And now he is not sure about only having me. I want monogamy. I want only one person to have that deep emotional romantic relationship with.
This lack of deep emotional connection to friends is the reason the other woMAN cuts my heart so deeply. Rainbow is having an emotional affair with another person. I want monogamy. Monogamy includes emotional commitment. The emotional commitment has been violated with Rainbow’s relationship with the other woMAN.
I conclude that Rainbow’s changing sexuality was justification for him to remain engaged in an emotional affair. One that was even “blessed” by me so that it may continue without Rainbow feeling guilt for it; despite the fact that the blessing was given under duress. A blessing for that relationship was the only path to not lose what little deep connection and monogamous love I thought I had found in my life.
I determine I want two sincere apologizes from Rainbow:
1) for the emotional affair and a commitment to cease the relationship
2) for not sharing his homosexual feelings with me first.
The “D” Word
Rainbow and my daughter arrive home around midnight. We swiftly tuck her into bed with hugs and kisses.
My heart physically aches as Rainbow prepares for bed. We small chat about the show while he is changing clothes. I am sitting up in the bed when he climbs in leaving the lights on. He can tell I am upset.
We begin the conversation by discussing the session with Frieda. However, my emotional upheaval about being lonely and the emotional romantic violation I’m experiencing rapidly overshadows the tone.
In a rush of tears, I explain what I have been thinking about and how my heart hurts. I show him the list and re-iterate my fears. We both huddle on the bed knees tight to our chests, tears pouring faster than tissues can mop them up.
I sob that I feel I am not enough. That I give and I give but no one seems to give back – especially now that Rainbow has another emotional romantic entanglement. I gush out that I just can’t stand the pain anymore of not being someone else’s “one”.
“I think I want a divorce.”
Rainbow breaks down in a torrent of tears. So do I. He tells me he always envisioned a future with me. He didn’t want anything else.
My emotional state tells me that no matter the expectation, the reality does not allow for that future. Answering the “who am I?” question has unveiled unexpected answers that my heart knows don’t align with my current life.
Laying side-by-side, we cry ourselves to sleep that night.
Thankfully, life allows for Mulligans.