Sometimes life can find us sleeping, dozing off in the intoxicating respites and sleepy lulls that make up the drudgery and normality of the everyday routine.
It’s easy to do, one minute you’re a young, energetic young 20-something and the next thing you know you’ve got four kids and an odd feeling that somehow you are missing something, like perhaps, the last ten years of your life.
That was where I found myself a year ago. I had somehow slept walked through years of marriage. Lights were on, no one home. Same morning drill; wake kids up, drop them off, head to work, and home again. Wash, rinse, repeat.
For me, having children, the ‘easier’ a routine became, the better, I was all about making it through breakfast without bloodshed or somehow managing to get everyone herded into our awaiting carpool – backpacks zipped and matching shoes on the correct feet. I managed, but I had an inkling that there was something else going on.
You see, I knew something was wrong, with my life, my marriage. Of course, any third-party bystander could clearly see the giant gulf that I was apparently blind to.
Hmmm, let’s think about this, traveling husband, one whose weekly business trips were now seeping into the weekends. As I look back now, the signs were all there – I just chose not to see them.
In my defence (and God knows I needed one) I had emotionally checked out. For all intents and purposes, I was a kept woman, ignorant of kind of important things like phone bills and credit card statements. A big red flag as I would soon find out. I was also unaware of some unaccounted time that I assumed was part of my husband’s work travel schedule, not time that was apparently being used for other ‘business’.
I assumed, naively, that everything was fine, nothing more than a bit of a disconnect between my husband and myself. Funny thing, though, about our mobile phone carrier, and the fact that my husband no longer had the bill sent to our house.
You see, years ago (when our youngest was still a baby) I came across some of his cell phone records and was struck by the odd occurrences of a phone number in Butte, Montana. I noticed a pattern; sometimes my husband would call this particular number four, five, or six times an hour. Some calls were short, others were many, many minutes. But mostly there were a lot of them.
Back then, I had four children under the age of six, I was chronically hormonal, acutely postpartum and mostly just sleep-deprived, and as it turns out, more than a little paranoid to boot. So I did what any normal wife would do; I called the number.
I calmly waited, heart in throat, counting the rings before I lost my nerve and hung up, however, before I tossed down the phone in terror, a woman answered. I nervously asked who she was and awkwardly explained how I had her number and by chance could she explain to me how she knew my husband.
After a lengthy pause, she said something about real estate property that she owned in Anaconda, and of course, that her own husband was great friends with my husband. Funny, I didn’t know either one of these people.
I confronted my husband later, who predictably gave me some kind of bullshit answer, trying to corroborate what his lover told me. Now, as I look back, the two must have shared a great laugh together, chuckling about the stupid wife who was so oblivious and easily fooled, ha ha! Too bad, because I really like a good joke.
It was funny too, because fast forward ten years and I was a little less hormonal, a little older and hopefully a little wiser.
This time when I held a stack of phone records in my hand, the sirens blared and unlike that phone record incident ten years prior, I listened to their ear piercing screeches, not dismissing the God-awful keening or the heavy dread that sat in the pit of my stomach.
Oh, I was awake now, thrust out of any sleepy routines of life, especially since my eyes spied a number from Butte, Montana, one that flooded the pages with its many appearances.
Awake. Not sleepwalking anymore.
I was fully conscious of myself, my surroundings and my life, this life, not some cosmic or karmic next life or something. I have one life and I decided right then to wake up and join it. Sometimes we are forced into change, kicking and screaming, clawing onto anything to give us comfort, even that which will ultimately hold us back and keep us stagnant, sleepy and disengaged.
I shed light on that affair (and many others as I was to find out) by tearing the roof off of its dark and sleepy lair, the discovery of it ignited a light within me. I had faced my greatest fear and I had conquered.
No longer would I be that zombie wife that waited at home for the phone to ring, that ignorant rube that spent weekdays (and weekends) alone, sleepwalking through life in a daze. As a matter of fact, sleep eluded me for a good bit. I was in fact, very, very awake. The wakefulness of life crackled in my brain like trodden gravel, grinding my sleep-deprived mind in its powerful jaws. Oh, I wasn’t going to be caught sleeping now!
Separation for my husband and myself is imminent. But I am not afraid, hanging onto fear like a child, huddled in the darkness under a stack of blankets.
I now embrace the light of freedom, knowledge and reality. A much better alternative.
Who knew that my husband’s infidelity would be the catalyst that finally got me off my ass and checked back into the world again?
I now live with an attitude of thankfulness, oddly enough, to my cheating husband. For to have the ability to view the world through eyes of universal gratitude and authenticity is a gift.
Kristen Lynch lives in Boise, Idaho (United States) and is the mother of four teenagers.
Currently, she is a technical writer at a large IT company but writes fiction/non-fiction when she isn’t cleaning, cooking, or carpooling to the soccer fields. She is also compiling a collection of personal essays, written on her experience with marriage, infidelity, and learning to heal.