Limbo and Parachute Packs

RJ SHAUGHNESSY PHOTOGRAPHY
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July 2011

Impossible things have happened!  

Impossible thing #1:   I can do emergency home repairs, alone.

One night I heard the horrific sounds of the bedroom fan ripping free from the ceiling clamp that held it's whirling blades a safe distance from my head.  It hung and spun from an electrical thread! Gyrating, threatening decapitation. In the most independent way, I woke up, ducking my head like I was under a helicopter and flipped the light off.

It may have cost me 2 hours and a few tears and swear words but I fixed it!  Myself!  I turned off the electric breakers, fixed the wire and re-attached the fan!  

The dog days of summer have begun, even the starry evenings are warm.   Seventy-four nights have come and gone since he left with his pack of never-ending lies.  At midnight I dive into the cool depths of our backyard pool.  A solitary skinny-dip under the cover of a blue-gray night.  Water washing me, the caress taking me to another lifetime where I thought I loved a man who knew every inch of my skin.  I hadn't always skinny-dipped alone.


Impossible thing #2:  I am officially in limbo and I'm happy here.

It's a state of uncertainty.  A place where decisions aren't made.  The biggest nagging question, "should I stay or should I go?"


A snap decision would find me running.  I'd pack the Subaru with essentials, top off the tank and tell my children an elaborately woven story of adventures to be had while driving east, the sun shrinking as it settles down for sleep.   Driving all night, all day, all night and all day again before slowing for a small town in Georgia or maybe North Carolina.  I'd rent the first little house with a yard and buy 2 milking goats.  I'd work at the local downtown hardware store (I know how to fix ceiling fans, afterall) and make goat cheese until I had an entire farm of goats and a underground cellar full of every flavored chèvre.   My children would grow up eating handmade cheese and wearing handmade pants.  

Divorce seems eminent.  I mean, really, what kind of woman stays with a man like that?  A sex addict.  A sex addict?!  The very words reek of hopelessness.  Fatal.  Futile, like an eternally lost sub-class of homosapien.


He's broken every marital vow.  Told every lie.  No wonder his eyes never meet mine.  A man splintered by his own personal hatred.  I would hate myself too if I had been where he has been.


Limbo has become an opportunity.   In a place of not knowing what to do, I can prepare for the worst.  I use his money, live in our house, love of our kids, let him mow the lawn when he asks and encourage him to visit our children.  All this time, I'm preparing my parachute pack.  My emergency rip-cord.  I love the happiness and freedom I find from being prepared.

Impossible thing #3: Bill is on our side.

Bill believes we can repair our marriage.  Bill sees redeeming qualities in Mr. Scabs and sees the depth of forgiveness in myself.  Bill is a cool, older hippy guy with grey hair and glasses.  Bill kinda looks like this guy from M*A*S*H.  Bill is our shrink.

Walking into the waiting room of Bill's office is like being sucked into a time warp circa 1976.  Macrame brown and orange beaded plant holders cradle a handful of poorly kept house plants.  On the wall hangs a brown, orange and mustard colored yarn art which forms the head of a sleeping lion.  The office smells slightly of burnt coffee, not in a bad way, just in an endearing forgetful professor way.  

Papers, books and board games are piled in every corner of his office.  It's a disaster.  His collection of board games has things like Scategories, Uno and Candyland.  I wonder why our sessions never include a rousing game of Monopoly?  

We talk a lot about lying and sex.  Bill wants to see Mr. Scabs tell the truth and make hard changes.  He teaches me that I will be ok no matter what and I believe him.  There is one thing, I'm not sure I believe; sex addiction isn't about sex.  In that wandering moment where two strangers bodies collide it is undeniably sexual.

Bill's button up shirts are always halfway tucked and he wears birkinstocks with black socks.  A sign of genius.  It's not unusual for Bill to take off his shoes mid-session and assume a meditating yoga-like posture with his palms facing up on his knees.  After we've told our stories and made our demands, he'll ruminate, closing his eyes and breathing as if as if asking the universe what to do with us.  

Bill's so weird and quirky but it's his weirdness I trust.  I like weird people.  He's genuine and we often laugh through our sessions.  Mr. Scabs is charming and fun but also so lost.   

Bill helps me set boundaries.  We make an infidelity contract, clearly outlinning what is cause for future marital disintegration.  The contract is sealed with palm-spit and a handshake.  

Honestly, I feel myself moving toward divorce despite the contract.  He hasn't been able to tell the truth and is still telling me new lies.  He thinks I'm clairvoyant as I have an uncanny way of seeing his lies.  

Bill teaches me how to pack my parachute.  And, in the case of an ememrgency he prepares me to pull the rip cord.  Preparing for the worst, I begin researching divorce laws, squirreling away all my money, investing time in my part-time job, knowing soon it may be my only support.   

I even, practice making cheese.