The sun is shining, and the fall air has a slight chill to it. The day is warm, yet cool. The weather seems to match my mood. I’m no longer as lost as I was; the anger at Bea is gone, not fully acknowledged, but somehow it was more fully acknowledged than my anger towards another person has ever been before by the person who caused the anger. The relationship with her doesn’t feel like it’s back on solid ground, but it feels like it will be.
My best friend, K has sent me a text while I was in therapy. We sometimes meet on Mondays, and she knows I get done around 9:00am. It’s 10:15 now. The session had gone way over. This is yet another example of Bea and her caring about me; that I do matter to her.
K is wondering if I am still coming over and she also wants to let me know that her wife is home today. I really need to go grocery shopping and go home and clean. It’s what Hubby needs me to do. I’m feeling too raw to go be around K’s wife; she can’t stand seeing me cry, it upsets her and makes her want to fix it.
I call K on my way to the Grocery. “I’m just leaving therapy. I’m sorry, but I think I better run some errands and go clean my house while Kat is with the nanny.”
“Okay, that’s fine. It’s not because wife is here, though, is it? She’s off on Mondays now, she has 4 days off in a row now.”
I don’t know what I feel, but something bubbles up in my chest. It’s not comfortable, and tears threaten to fall because of it. I work to smash it down. “No, not at all. I just really am behind on everything. You can’t even begin to imagine the mess my house is.”
“What’s wrong?” K should work for a psychic hotline. She can always sense moods, even through a text message.
At that, I break. And then I’m turning the car around, hopping on the highway and heading to K’s house.
Later, after taking my new car for a drive, and getting coffee at Panera– well coffee for me, two chocolate croissants for K– we sit in my car in her driveway like teen girls and talk, music playing in the background.
I spill out the fights, the mess, the mad I have been feeling at Bea. Everything.
“Honey. Alice.” K is making a face.
“This is my how do I tell you some hard truths in a nice way face? You are feeling so sensitive right now, and like everything is your fault, and you are not okay, not by a long shot, and this weekends ‘experiment’ stunt you pulled has not helped you to be okay at all. There’s things you need to be aware of that will help you in the long run, but might hurt to hear. So I’m trying to figure out how to sugar coat them for you.” K is squirming in her seat, I know that for any normal person it’s hot in the car. The heat is on, the sun is shining in. I’m the only one on the planet who could possibly still be cold.
“K, open the window.”
“Huh?” Confusion crosses her face, and then relief. She opens the window, and breathes. “Okay. First. You need to realize that when you married Hubby, he met and fell in love with this independent, confident, ‘perfect’ Alice. Now, you are telling him that wasn’t you, and he has to process that. He’s seeing that the independence is now replaced with needing him to hold your hand. He’s seeing that the confidence is now replaced with timidness. He’s seeing that the girl who liked herself actually loathes herself on the deepest level imaginable. He isn’t seeing the rest of the Alice he met is still there. And he is not seeing that once you go through the shit, the therapy, the healing, you will actually BE the things you pretended to be. You couldn’t have pretended to be those things if they weren’t already in you. He’s scared. He’s afraid for you. He is worried. He feels like he fell down a rabbit hole, too, right along with you, but it’s a different rabbit hole.”
She stretches, and I process what she is saying. It makes sense. I can understand this. Why the hell can’t Bea just spell things out like this? Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” stars playing, and I hum along….
“I’m all out of faith
This is how I feel
I’m cold and I’m ashamed
Bound and broken on the floor
Nothing’s right I’m torn……”
“Okay, second. When You met Hubby, his mom….you had to separate the two of them, right?”
I nod, and we briefly chat about Hubby and my insane MIL.
“That is a codependent relationship. You removed his mommy, but his need for codependency didn’t go anywhere. He latched onto you– the strong, in control, confident woman in his life. And you, well you have this need to be perfect, to earn everyone’s love, so you just took over that ‘mommy’ role and made his life easy. You became exactly what he needed, what he had been used to, because you think you need to earn love. And he is codependent. His issues and your issues fit together perfectly. So, now that you are, for lack of better words, breaking down the facade you had created and falling apart, his world is crumbling. He is terrified. He tells himself he is strong, he isn’t codependent. But he is. So he gets mad at you, but he is passive aggressive, so he invalidates you, ignores you, acts out in other ways. He also places his happiness on you because he is codependent, in his eyes, his happiness is your job. But he is a big boy. It’s his job. Not yours, you aren’t in charge of his emotions.”
I’m drained. K has dropped a bomb on me. She’s right. She always is. She’s smart, and insightful, she’s honest, and she knows me better than anyone. I can’t hide from her.
I start to cry. “It’s easier to just be what he needs. I love him. I want him to be okay. I’ll just be what he needs at home, and then work on my stuff at therapy, yoga, whatever.”
K is shaking her head. “You need him to be okay. You need him to be strong. You want him to be the way you view your Dad– invincible, able to fix anything, handle anything. So, you keep things smooth for him so you can maintain that image of Hubby. It’s not a true image though. You need to face that. And you can’t be two people. It will destroy you. You’ve already been destroying yourself just in four days of pretending. You are sitting crooked because you cut your hip too deep and it hurts to put pressure on it. Your knuckle on your right hand is scraped from purging which only happens when you are purging a lot. You haven’t slept, even the good concealer is not hiding the circles under your eyes. You are wearing new jeans, which only means the old ones for too big, because you hate shopping for clothes. Your bra is too big, it’s falling off. You’ve lost too much weight since I saw you last and it’s only been 3 weeks. You aren’t okay. You need to be you. That’s all. You, as you are is good enough. I like you much better than the facade. I don’t like fake you at all, to tell the truth.”
I look at K. I’ve know her almost my whole life. She loves me, she knows me, really knows me, she probably knows things about me that I don’t even know she knows. Big crocodile tears slide down my cheeks. “You can not know that! How can you know the real me when I don’t even know the real me?” I’m confused and lost, swimming in this sea of new ideas and old beliefs, rules, obsessions, traumas.
K places her hand on mine. “I know you. I’ve made it a point to ignore your facade. I know you, and I like you. It’s okay. You’ll get to know you, too. It’s okay.” She’s steady; a life preserver to help me stay afloat.
Sniffing, “Okay,” and then a pause while I think about everything she has said, “I’m so, so screwed. I’m gonna be seeing my shrink until she retires. Crap.”
K laughs. “It’s why you are interesting, Alice. Come on, let’s go inside, see the wife.”
We head inside, and I might have even managed to skip alongside her for a moment.