August 20, 2015

Double-Blind: The Truth about Deception.

Flickr/Katie Tegtmeyer

When he said he was working late, I thought he was working late.

“You’re the only woman I love,” he said.

I didn’t hear what was not said.

I saw and felt every red flag. I felt angst, discontent and anxiety.

I saw signs and figured they all pointed to me.

Me as flawed.

Me as fragile.

Me as neurotic.

I saw the best in him and the worst in me.

My ex was fun, funny and mature. He was nine years older; soft and squishy, he was like a mattress I could turn into.

There was joy, bliss and ease, too. We enjoyed each other so often and were compatible.

We shared poems out loud—his or mine or the works of Robert Bly, Coleman Barks and Mary Oliver. We devoured whole books by Bill Moyers and listened to Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Keb Mo and the Indigo Girls. We loved the beauty of lyrics and melody in song or poetry or conversation.

And mashed potatoes.

We loved food and debating politics and being lazy with books and newspapers.

He admired my firm moral center and hard-working ways. His passionate exuberance and humor lit up our home.

We cuddled under a blanket and watched West Wing episodes while repeating monologues.

I was his.

He was mine.

We were family even before becoming parents.

But I idealized him and hoped for rescue. I let him take care of me. Not financially or practically—but emotionally. I made him my answer guy—the solution to my biggest problem:


In truth, I was a non-stop cling-freak for years. I thought he was stronger, smarter and more seasoned at life, love and health and getting over the past.

I thought I was difficult, damaged and lucky to be loved at all, as though I were his service project. I felt lucky and grateful and worked hard to make up for my lack.

I did all the cleaning, money managing, handling the yard, house repairs, even though we both worked.

He has to deal with me, I thought. I owe him. I took on the heavy lifting of parenting, too, to compensate for being so emotional. He had work and the work of dealing with me.

When I felt anxious or distrustful, I’d tell myself, “Don’t be so negative.”

When I spoke up or complained, he’d say, “Can’t you focus on the good instead of what’s hard?”

I didn’t doubt, scrutinize or second-guess him hardly at all. Instead, I doubted, scrutinized and second-guessed myself.




This is what fills me with remorse today.

He didn’t make me do any of that.

He didn’t force, abuse, coerce or manipulate me into any of it. He simply allowed me to do what I was doing.

See the best in him—and the worst in me.

We’re divorced years now.

We don’t share a home, a future or inside jokes.

We spoke the same vows once, but they are history.

Now he’s my ex, my daughter’s father, a guy I was once married to.

The dusty photos of his relatives—my former in-laws—are no longer in my closet.

The pictures belong to him; I don’t want to hold them any longer.

I don’t buy his favorite tabasco sauce when I go to the grocery store. He doesn’t laugh at the full tray of ice cubes that go in my morning coffee. We don’t exchange greeting cards or love notes or rage or hate.

He’s not mine.

I’m not his.

We aren’t the “we” we once intended and vowed we’d be.

We are cordial, communicative and refuse to make our kid a piece of taffy we tug at one end to pull on and bite into the other.

On our would-be anniversary I feel sad, though. I tossed and turned all night and couldn’t settle into sleep. Anger was in my breakfast bowl and is the Unlucky Charm I can’t swallow.

“I promise to see the best in you.”

It’s the vow we wrote and said and promised.

That is the line in the vow I wish I could delete, edit or undo.

I saw the best in him. Always. I saw the best in him at the expense of truth.

I didn’t see how the best in him was a character I created-wanted-hoped for, or that when facts showed me a different reality I stuck to the storyline I had committed to.

We were BFF’s, partners, soul-mates, devoted husband and wife. We never said the word divorce.

I invested years, tears and time with all I had. I don’t regret our union, the family we started and all I’ve learned and am still learning.

I’m embarrassed I gave him so much space in me.

I invited, allowed, insisted and forced him in. I let him take over because I was empty of myself. I didn’t trust my own intuition, feelings or self. I didn’t accept myself for who and how I needed to be in the world.

That wasn’t his fault.

Not then. Not now. Not ever.

We both settled for something less than honest.

He lied to me.

I lied to myself.

I told myself.

He is strong; I am fragile. He is generous; I am selfish. He is whole; I am broken.

We were mistaken.

I didn’t believe I was worthy of love when I married. That was no gift to him or to me.

Until “we” ended, I didn’t break open, strip down to soul and forge my own way.

I want to keep my eyes and heart open to the interior world and exterior orbit as well as other souls.

But this time there will be no more fairy-tale bullsh*t, or a storyline that can’t twist and turn.

I want tender, vulnerable, gifted, dazzling, terrified and brave. Give me naked non-fiction, close-up documentary and unwavering honesty.

With myself, with others and in love.

I want to own the best in myself and expect the same from others.


Author: Cissy White

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Flickr/Katie Tegtmeyer



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