“We need to talk,” JC said as I was walking back from the basement with a load of laundry. He’d been in a bit of a mood lately, and I wasn’t sure what was going on. Normally I just let him go through whatever it was that was bothering him, but lately, his mood was driving me nuts.
“Mom, can I play with the Wii and Isla wants a cookie. I told her no, but she insists you will let her have one,” said Ryan, my 5-year-old. Ryan and Isla, who is 2 and 1/2 are staring at me anxiously. Suddenly I am feeling like I have way too much on my plate, but those days only happen when I am actually at home trying to catch up things, which is not very often. I am a neurosurgeon so a lot of my time is spent at the hospital dealing with patients and cutting into their brains. I enjoy the work and it actually is a kind of escape from the mundane of being a wife and mother to my immediate roommates.
“No, you can’t play with the Wii and Isla, you can’t have a cookie. But you can have an apple or orange,” I said to them. Ryan, at this news decides he is going to try pouting to get his way and Isla just looks at me like I have grown a 2nd head on my shoulders. I know a cookie won’t hurt, but I am really trying to get them to eat healthy and cookies don’t work. I am not even sure why we have cookies in the house since I never buy them and JC doesn’t grocery shop anyway. “Where did the cookies come from anyway”? I ask Ryan.
“Nonnie brought them. She said we should have them because they are good,” he says happily.
“Can I have once since you won’t let Isla”?
“Great,” I said rather quietly. JC’s mom is something special. At first when I met her, I thought she would be wonderful, but then she turned into this weird caricature that when I tell my acquaintances, brother and sister of the weird stuff she does, they think I am making this stuff up.
“Sure JC, just let me put this load of laundry away. Can you go get Isla an apple or orange, whatever she chooses and . . .” I trail off as I see he has this really sad and serious look on his face. I am really concerned about what is happening. He is also a doctor, cardiologist, but I can’t imagine anything seriously wrong with his practice, so it must be a personal / family issue. As much as his mother drives me crazy, I hope nothing is wrong there as that will mean serious issues for me potentially.
“Ryan, there are some apple slices cut up on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. You and Isla can split those,” says JC. “Can the laundry wait? I really have to talk to you. We really need to talk,” he says almost pleadingly.
“OK, why don’t we go into the other room,” I say in my best false happiness. I don’t want the kids to be suspicious if something is wrong.
“I’m not sure how to say this except to just come out with it. Alexis, you know that I love you and I love our beautiful kids. Jeez,” JC said trailing off. This is not sounding good. I can’t ever imagine a conversation starting this way and ending up in a good way. And the other tip-off this wasn’t going to be good – he used my full first name instead of calling me Alex like he usually does.
“I love you too,” I said. I’m trying not to freak out and so I steady myself to accept whatever it is he has to say. I mean, what could it possibly be? He lost a bunch of money from a secret gambling habit? He wrecked the car? He is getting sued by a patient whose care turned out less than stellar?
“OK. I had been . . . having . . . in love with . . . I’m sorry. I cheated on you,” he quietly blurted out. “It’s over now, but I . . . need to tell you about the . . . affair. I promise it’s over,” he was staring at me. We were sitting on our sun porch, with JC directly across from me.
I could feel the color drain from my face and that he had reached to take my hand. A million things were starting to go through my mind and nothing was coming from my mouth. I guess really what can you say at this point? I suppose I should have had some clue that this was going on, but I can honestly say at the moment, I couldn’t say that I knew what it was if there was anything. I am sure eventually when I think back over time, I will be reminded of something that occurred that should or maybe even did make me suspicious, but I chose to ignore it because, my husband, Josh, wouldn’t cheat on me. Why would he do that after all the stuff I have told him about what had gone on in my life prior to meeting and falling in love with him?
“Are you going to say anything? I mean, I am not expecting you to forgive me or anything yet. I know it is a lot to take in, but I really want to try to fix this,” he said a little pleadingly. I say a little because I am pretty sure he knows that if he were pleading more, I might punch him since that stuff never works with me.
“Do I know her”? I asked barely audibly. At this moment, I felt as though I was having an out-of-body experience. Like suddenly, I was watching what was happening rather than experiencing it. My question was the only thing I could say and I was really hoping the answer was no. If it was someone I knew, then I am not sure what I would do or say.
“Those details don’t really matter. What matters is that I want to try to repair things between us, Alex,” he said. I want us to go back to the way we were before all of this happened,” JC said. I just notice that I didn’t take my hand away when he grabbed it earlier when he was confessing of his infidelity.
“Do I know her”? I asked again a little bit louder. I’m not even sure I am angry yet, but maybe that is coming. Or maybe not because deep down, I know things were off with us and this just confirmed my belief that things were not great between us.
“No, you don’t. I really do love you and I am serious about wanting to fix things,” he said. Just then Ryan and Isla came out on to the porch.
“Mommy, we want orange,” said Isla. She and Ryan both had a slice of apple in their hands. They were smiling, and as soon as I heard them coming, I tried really hard to make myself appear as though I hadn’t just heard my husband had been cheating on me in more than just the sexual way.
“Ok, guys. Give me and Daddy a couple of minutes and I will come and get you some orange slices to snack on,” I said. As I was speaking, I felt like my voice was coming from a far away place, but apparently it seemed normal enough since Ryan and Isla went scampering back into the house. Probably the kitchen to wait for me to peel them some oranges to eat. Oh to be a little kid again with absolutely no cares in the world. Although, that feeling only lasted for a few years for me personally.
“I’ll go get them and you can stay here. Or go back to doing the laundry. Or really whatever you’d like to do. After I get them the fruit, I want us to talk. I know you are probably in shock, but I WANT to fix this Alex. I love you,” he said.
I just sat there and Josh had placed my hand back in my lap on top of my other hand. I couldn’t move. Suddenly I was feeling as though I couldn’t breathe. I had a million thoughts running through my head. How long had he been having an affair? How long had it been over? Why did he suddenly or maybe not so suddenly want to confess? Was she someone he worked with? Was it a woman to begin with? If he were seeing a man, I wouldn’t be the first woman to discover he husband was on the down low. Did he ever bring this person to our house? Did Isla and Ryan know this person? Did he use condoms? Is he coming clean because he has an STD now and is sick? Am I sick and don’t know it yet? If it was a woman, is she pregnant and this is why he had to come clean because she kept the child and Ryan and Isla will have a new brother or sister? Is it REALLY over?
I found that I couldn’t get up to leave so I just stayed on the porch. About 5 minutes had passed since JC went to go get the fruit for the kids and I was just sitting staring off into space with all the questions I had going through my mind. Or at least I think it was five minutes. I didn’t even notice when he had come back. I only knew because there was suddenly a hand on my shoulder. I almost didn’t realize it.
“So, I have a ton of questions and none of them will really make me feel any better knowing the answers. I won’t bore you with them now,” I said. I felt on autopilot. Again, like I was having an out-of-body experience. I could see myself talking, but not really feeling I was doing it. At this point, JC had moved around to facing me and I really couldn’t see him at all. All I saw was this guy who I thought I knew but apparently didn’t know.
“We should talk. I know this is a lot, but I really want to work things out,” he said.
“Great. I honestly don’t know what to say and what you want right now doesn’t really make much difference to me,” I said. I finally got up from where I was sitting and went into the house. It was a bit of a cool evening, but that happens in the Bay Area at night. Since I was feeling as though I were not present, I went on auto pilot and finished the laundry. All the while, I was putting on the brave face so Ryan and Isla wouldn’t know what was going on. I am not sure where JC went and I really didn’t care. For all I cared at the moment, he could walk outside and get hit by a bus and it wouldn’t faze me much. Other than having to explain to Ryan and Isla that Daddy was gone and never coming back.
Never coming back. Another possibility if things don’t and can’t be worked out. Too much to think about. Good thing I have busy work at home to deal with so that I don’t have to think. Even better news, no surgery tomorrow that I have to think about either. After I finished the laundry and a few other chores, I went into my bedroom. Our bedroom. When I got there, I decided that I was not going to sleep there, so I gathered a few things and went to our guest bedroom. I know some people think he should be the one not sleeping in the room, but I felt that I couldn’t be there. What if he had this person in that bed? Our bed.
“Where are you going”? JC asked me. He saw that I had a few toiletries and some clothes with me.
“Away from this room if that is alright with you,” I said through gritted teeth and a smile.
“I’ll sleep elsewhere if that is what you want. But I’d really prefer you stay here. We need to talk. We shouldn’t go to bed angry,” he said as he tried to take a few of the items I had in my arms.
“No offense, but I don’t care really care what you prefer. There are a lot of things I don’t know and I don’t care to find the answers to them right now. I’m going to the other room after I tuck the kids into bed and read them stories. OK? Please give me some space right now. I’ll talk when I am ready and if that means at 2 AM, so be it. If it is tomorrow, great. If it is weeks from now, oh well,” I said as I pushed past him to the guest bedroom. After I dropped my stuff off, I went to read to Ryan and Isla and tucked them in. Finally, I could go think so I sat on the chaise lounge in the room in silence for a moment and then eventually I just started to sob quietly.