On that particular day, the current crisis had settled, and we were talking in calm tones about what behaviors I wouldn’t accept in my marriage. “Hmmm, I guess hookers and kiddie porn,” I said to P., and gave a nervous little laugh, although there’s nothing really funny about either topic. Invisible stared straight ahead and remained silent. Surely, since we were getting ready to take a long-awaited trip to Italy for our 25th wedding anniversary, my contrite and loving husband would never do anything to jeopardize the life we’d carefully built together.
I hate it when I’m wrong.
Fast forward a couple of years to 2013, the morning sun fills every corner of our kitchen, and my face is inches from invisible’s face. “I’ve had you followed so you better tell the truth now about where you’ve been, or I’m calling a lawyer,” I hissed, teeth clenched and the tendons up both sides of my neck as taut as a 20-year-old’s. There was no one really following him, but my churning gut told me he’d taken his hobby offline and out into a seedy neighborhood on the edge of downtown after I’d cracked the code on his laptop the night before–and witnessed things I could not unsee. So, I decided to call his bluff, hoping for–what? An admission? An apology?
I waited for the answer, my heart pounding so hard it jackhammered into my ears, as I shoved a sticky-note pad toward him and watched him write the name of what turned out to be a red-headed, petite, not the least bit pretty prostitute who listed her age as 40 but whose hard little face screamed a decade older. Her last name was Rhodes, or so her profile said, and for someone who probably fielded a variety of special requests from perverts each day, she also had a request for visitors to her site: “If you seen my ad, tell me where you seen it at.” Clearly, the gal was a cracker jack marketer and entrepreneur, but I doubt that she actually lived up to her last name’s scholarly lineage.
Today’s question, dear readers, is this: What are your boundaries? What’s acceptable in your marriage? In your life? And where do you draw YOUR line? I don’t say “line in the sand” because if you really listen to what your gut’s telling you, the line isn’t pliable and won’t shift with the tides. The line I’m talking about is in indelible ink, and it’s not going anywhere.
Had my gut talked to me before? Yes, but for years I didn’t trust it enough to listen carefully to every nuance and nitpicky thing it said. This time was different–as I saw and read page after page on invisible’s laptop, the shiny sheen of a life as I knew it was scraped away like a scab until the bare-assed truth was all that was, literally, left. The answers I’d wanted when he was distant and detached now screamed, “Here I am!” The answers I begged for when he looked at me with eyes as dead and indifferent as a carp with a hook in its mouth now shouted, “Look over here!
Jesus, I got answers in the coming days and weeks to questions I never could’ve dreamed up.
But that’s the thing about the kind of boundaries I’m talking about here. They don’t go anywhere. They are there for you, at 2 a.m. when the sick scenarios keep flipping through your mind so you can’t begin to ease into that sweet slumber your body craves. They show up for you the next morning when you look into the mirror at the thick-lidded woman with crazy clown hair staring back, and those boundaries you’re hanging onto for dear life are the only thing in that moment keeping you afloat.
I hung on for my life the first weeks and months, lessening my grip in year two and now, nearly four years since that morning with invisible in our pretty yellow kitchen in my forever house that I sold to a woman who has the taste of a Clydesdale, my boundaries are firmly imbedded. I don’t need to clutch them like a set of pearls to remind myself of where I’ve been and where I’m going.
So when a match.com guy tells me none of his three daughters speak to him, when the earnest retiree talks marriage after one date, or when the sexy gigolo goes dark for weeks at a time while he’s playing the field–and then circles back to throw me a crumb? Ohhhh, believe me, my boundaries pop up on cue, just like the invisible fence that keeps my frisky grandpup from running into the street.
I’ll admit, it stings for a minute when my boundaries send me bolting straight back to the curb. But never again will I let some asshole drive a speeding car straight at me without being ready to step out of its path.
Click to read the next post: “Uncharted”
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