Level One, Day Five

We’ve had quite the week here.

First, the fun stuff: On Friday, my friend Julie and I went to see Indiana Jones. What a great flick! A big rollicking roller coaster ride from start to finish, with a real plot and everything! I thought it was a very satisfying conclusion to the Indy saga.

Then we spent a few hours running errands, and that was fun too. I think a full day of nonstop girl chatter might be better than therapy. I mean, presumably. I’ve never actually had any therapy. Steve and I recently talked about seeing a marriage counselor, but we’re kind of afraid he’d listen to our story and then say, “You’re all wrong for each other, just walk away. That’ll be $250, please.”

Not-so-fun-stuff: In the spirit of Getting Everything Out In The Open, Putting The Past Behind Us And Beginning Anew, Steve has been (rather courageously, I think) filling me in on Things I Should Know About Before Making A Final Decision About Getting Back Together.

He started with the easy part, telling me about a bunch of stuff he did during our separation. He figured (correctly) that it would be much easier for me to learn about those things from him than to find out from someone else somewhere down the road. It was kind of difficult to hear, and I can’t say I really wanted those images in my head, but I did appreciate his honesty and I was glad he’d told me. People apparently do some crazy stuff when their marriage falls apart.

Next he moved on to the hard part: confessing things he’d been guilty of during the years we’d been together that even I hadn’t known about at the time. There was nothing really divorce-worthy in and of itself, but taken all together his confessions painted an even more dismal Big Picture of our old relationship than I had seen before. Again I appreciated his desire to come clean and put it all behind him, and I did my very best not to make him feel like he’d made a mistake in telling me about this stuff, but damn. Kind of a major shock for me.

Saturday was the Clarke Family’s annual roundup and branding. We usually all go, but I skipped it this year. Steve and I are still officially separated, and I didn’t feel like answering a bunch of questions that even I don’t know the answers to yet. So Steve took the kids to the roundup, and I saddled up Mahogany and headed down to my old hideout to do some heavy duty thinking.

Gorgeous day, and there were still some late wildflowers brightening up the canyon.

Once we got to the hideout, the dogs played in the creek while I introduced Mahogany to the concept of being turned loose in the little grassy area. I made low “fences” of dead cottonwood branches across the two exits, but she could have shoved through them or hopped over them if she’d really wanted to. I figured I might as well find out now whether she was going to stick around voluntarily or have to be tied to the tree every time we came down.

She stuck around. I was glad — it would have been a long walk home.

So then I settled down to ponder my situation. And I guess it all boils down to this: either I can choose to believe that Steve’s desire to change is sincere, that he has come to realize what truly matters to him, and that he’s ready to put his self-absorbed ways behind him…or I can choose to believe that he’s the same irresponsible opportunist that he’s always been, and not waste another day of my life on him.

Or, I suppose there’s a third option. I could promise to give him another chance, but then end up driving him away myself with all my mistrust and old resentments. Really hoping to avoid that one. I need to either make a clean break of it or honestly throw my heart into the ring for all it’s worth one last time. At least if it still doesn’t work out I’d have the comfort of knowing I wasn’t the one who screwed it up.

The thing is, he feels different now. To me, I mean. For the first time in years, my finely-honed Bullshit Detector isn’t tingling even a little bit. He feels…authentic. The man who used to deeply resent being asked to call home if he was going to be working late, now calls me two or three times a day just to ask how my day’s going and tell me about his. He converses with me. Actual conversations! And he didn’t even blink when I told him that, until I feel more secure in this new marriage we’re building, I would need him to stop going out and partying without me. He just agreed. He said from now on we’d go out together or he’d stay home with me.

My favorite gesture so far:

In our old marriage, the kids were “my job.” If we had some family outing, I’d be the one getting Luke and Elizabeth ready to go while Steve relaxed in his comfy armchair, flipping through channels on tv and periodically asking what was taking us so long. Yarg.

Fast forward. I had plans to be out with Julie this Friday, so Steve was going to pick the kids up at the bus stop after school, keep them overnight, and then take them to the Clarke roundup Saturday morning.

Friday morning at 7:30am he showed up at my door, to help me pack their suitcase, because he didn’t want me to feel like I was doing all the work myself.

A girl could almost dare to hope.

I spent a couple hours mulling things over in the hideout, then rode home feeling pretty good about giving the new marriage one solid shot. I have firmly resolved that if it fails this time, it won’t be because I didn’t give it my all-out best effort. That’s really all a person can do in life, right? Throw their whole heart into it and pray that love can find a way.

Now if only Steve’s no-strings-attached ex-girlfriend would stop leaving bitter messages on his cell phone. That would be swell.

Here’s to the future. May it be as bright when we get there as it looks from a distance. :^)

Categories: Family, Horses, Life, Love, Marriage | Leave a comment

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