Start as close to the end as possible. It’s easy to think about that now, writing and all, 13 years after these events happened. Proceed.
I was late for couples therapy. The circus of SXSW was in town and I had been networking ahead of my band’s gig that night. Lost track of time. Big traffic. On the phone texts were beginning to arrive with a new fury.
Where are you?
You are 15 minutes late. Should I just go home?
Are you coming?
What the fuck are you doing that you could forget this?
Does not bode well, not at all.
I fell into the chair beside my wife and apologized.
“Let’s get started,” Rich, the therapist said, “We’ve only got half an hour left.”
And she started, “This is really just an example of the problem. He doesn’t pay attention to me when I tell him how frustrated I am. He’s not listening to me.” I hold up my hand.
“Again,” I said, pausing. “I am very sorry. There’s a lot going on today. Can we pick up where we left off last week?”
Rich jumped in, “A good idea, Jason. Would you like to start?”
“I’m going through a lot. We’re all going through a lot. And we’re not meeting each other halfway. I keep trying to do more, do better…”
“Bullshit,” she said.
Rich again, “Um, okay, hold on Susan.”
“I’m serious,” she continued. “It’s as if he thinks there are no consequences for his actions. Like he’s not even trying. I’m left doing all the work. I’m not married to an adult. I’m married to a child.” I hold up my hand, again.
“Wait, we were talking about…”
“There are going to be consequences. Tough consequences.”
I looked at Rich. He appeared confused. And for a few seconds, I felt dizzy, as if all the oxygen was gone. Something about her tone felt sharper and more aggressive. I was afraid as I asked my next question, “Have you been to see a lawyer?” And boom, the lights went out in my head. I was spiraling. I didn’t want to hear her answer.
“I was just getting information. About my options.”
“We’re fucked. We’re fucked. I’m dead.”
The last minutes of our session comprised of Susan sort of apologizing and sort of claiming the high ground and sort of telling me to go fuck myself. She was like an overeager executioner at this point, almost giddy with anxiety mixed with ambition. Sure, the path was obvious, she would get the divorce package. A few weekends off a month, and she could be rid of me and my stubborn bad-husband attitude. I kept whispering in my head, “We’re fucked. We’re fucked.” The real truth was much worse.
I was fucked.