Session One Hundred One - Tuesday
Therapy for a sort of infidelity.... What is cheating and can Cassie heal from letting go?
I sat in Dr. Gwen Wyatt's office for the one hundred first time. I thumbed through the three month old Entertainment Weekly on the table; it was battered and bruised like the spirit of some of her patients. She stuck her head out of her office and I looked up.
"Hey Cassidy, you look good. Come on in."
Dr. Wyatt's office was a calm place; no receptionist or ringing phones or hectic behaviour. I don't think I have ever seen another patient for more than two minutes in passing.
I stood and walked to her, my feet felt like lead. The weight of my conscience seemed to hold me back, it wanted to root me to my spot. I promised myself that today I would start healing. It was certainly time to let go.
Of him. Of it. Of us.
I knew I would have to talk about him. I would have to tell the truth. I walked in behind Gwen and took a seat. Once I was in this room I was allowed to call her by her first name.
"How's Harry," she asked, "I know he wasn't feeling well."
I sat and exhaled loudly, " He's OK. Needs a tooth pulled. What kind of rabbit will he be if he has no teeth?"
We both laughed and she opened her notebook to show me the time for free talk was over.
"I was thinking we could talk about why you're here. You found yourself here six months ago and you were not the same person you are today. I know we are making progress and crossing lines but you're going to have to talk about the choices you made."
I nodded, "I knew it was going to get harder I guess. I was so comfortable with where you and I were. You know some of it but it's time to start... I don't know. Maybe taking some responsibility."
She leaned over and placed her hand on my knee, "Even the hard stuff gets easy. I promise. I will rephrase, not easy just easier."
I put my head down, "I loved him."
She spoke to the room, "Your husband or him?"
I looked at her and tucked my hair behind my ear; tears had begun to well in my eyes and my throat felt tight. "Both of them. That's so incredibly selfish but it's the truth. I fell in love with both of them a long time ago, then over and over again throughout the years. Their paths never crossed on purpose, only once and I struggled to keep my composure. It's hard living an almost double life. Sort of but not really, " I shook my head. " I guess I'm wondering if he thinks of me as much as I think of him. Not thinks, thought. I don't even know anymore."
She smiled, "That's normal Cassie. You know that right? You ended a ten year long affair with a man from your past. Did you expect it to be cut and dry?"
I shrugged, "A girl can dream right?"
"Yes I suppose one can. But what you were involved in was very real. Very tactile, even if it wasn't."
Gwen already knew my relationship with him began years ago. At first it was an innocent flirtation then it developed into much more than that and continued for years on end. Throughout many of my relationships as well as his one main one, we remained in contact.
"How could I say no? I loved him. I wanted him. I needed him. If I listen to all of your therapy mumbo jumbo doesn't that mean I deserve him? I took him, I guess. His attention. His desire. His lust belonged to me. I am certain of that. Even if we never touched each other."
Speaking about him has always been emotional when I'm with Gwen. I'm allowed to be emotional and honest. Most times it pours out in waves. Today wasn't any different.
Gwen nodded, "Love makes us selfish. I've done many things that I've justified using it as the ultimate and only real excuse. But that's not what this is about Cassie. This is about figuring out if you can move on from it. Have you tried to be in the present moment like I suggested with your husband and the kids? You have three beautiful children. I'm sure he is living fully with his wife and child in tow. I'm sorry but it seems like there wasn't much investment into the things you needed to make you happy. And it's some very interesting mumbo jumbo as you so lovingly refer to it."
I placed my head in my hands, tears robbed my of my sound.
"I have tried. I have. Everything seems flat, and dull. I find myself staring off into space wishing there was a way I could be with him. I know there is no way. He's married. I'm married. It was torturous like some love is. I wanted him so badly but was afraid to have him. A part of me didn't want to ruin what we had. We were still innocent in it to say. But what the hell Gwen, he doesn't even wish me a happy birthday. He never has."
She crossed her legs and shifted, after six months therapy I knew I had nailed something that she wanted to discuss with me. I could already tell I had thrown a hungry dog a bone.
"Is that what did it? I can see how after all these years that would disappoint you," she wrote notes and leaned toward me, "did you tell him how it made you feel? We spoke about you talking to him face to face but it ended up not happening when I expected."
"No," I said, "but I wish I had told him everything. Most times when I worked up the nerve , I lost it. My birthday was just it for me. I was so hurt that I waited hours to talk to him. Then when he didn't respond I snapped. I was right to snap. I'm tired. I was tired. Is that fair? Am I allowed to be tired of a relationship that isn't a relationship?"
She looked at me, "Relationships aren't about what is allowed. Some of the most healthy relationships I've had have pushed the boundaries of what some people would think is right. It's all perception and you are certainly allowed to feel the way you feel. Innocence is also something that is sometimes based solely on perception. You can commit the most heinous crime and believe you are innocent because of the reason you did it. Do you want my opinion on innocence?"
"No I will pass on the opinion. Innocent was the wrong word. I guess I continued things with him when I should have walked away. I understand that it had run its course but I couldn't walk away. I did things to add fuel to the fire. The truth is he didn't love me unless I was stroking his ego. I needed something to click and help me to realize that loving the idea of someone isn't the same as actually loving or having the person. Him standing me up did just that. He proved just that."
She laughed, "You didn't tell me you made plans to meet with him. Can I ask when this was?"
I smiled, "I should have told you but I knew what I was doing was wrong, I didn't need you to solidify that truth. It was about three months ago when the real break happened. You and I had already discussed ending it and I was going to tell him I needed more or nothing at all. Either way, he never responded to me again. I only reached out once and my hands shook while I typed the text. I don't know if it was nerves or the finality of it all but I felt sick. But I apologized and left it at that. It's done."
My face crumpled and I sobbed into my hands. Gwen handed me a box of tissues and I tried to compose myself. It took a few minutes before my voice lost its emotional shake.
She nodded her head and took notes, "Continue Cassie."
"I was mad because I was in love with someone I knew I couldn't have and it weighed on me. It helped me to justify my every whim, without thought of how it disturbed my path. You can't constantly choose the selfish way and justify it as a need, right? Wants and needs are very different and I've often confused the two throughout my life."
Dr. Wyatt looked up, "We have made amazing progress here. You have really examined your part in all of this. Do you feel selfish for making this about you and only about you? What about what this would do to your family?"
"Being selfish often doesn't seem that way to the person on the distributing end of the behaviour. To me it is seen as something that is necessary, a right almost. I need this so I will make horrible choices to obtain it. Does that make sense? I didn't think of them, only me and him."
She shook her head in agreement and cleared her throat, "I see this in relationships all the time. Sometimes people just don't know when to let go. The universe can show you a million signs and one hundred thousand clues. We all see what we choose to see and live how we choose to live. But as you said earlier, love makes us selfish and sometimes it clouds our judgment. Would you say you would embark on a sort of emotional affair with anyone else but him?"
"No, I wouldn't. An emotional affair. It's crazy Gwen. He filled this strange void I guess. It was all I needed in this life, to be wanted. My husband wanted me, it was clear to me and anyone. But this thing with him was all I wanted. This was the next logical step, to consummate the relationship. But I could never bring myself to do it. The truth is I had told him this on more than one occasion. Suddenly something changed in our dynamic and I wanted to but when I felt ready he obviously wasn't."
She wrote on her pad and raised her head, "How long had it been since you'd seen him?
I looked up and wiped at my eyes, "Almost three years."
"What happened three years ago?"
"I met him for a drink. He was late. We had a good time," I explained.
"Cassie, you know what I mean. What happened three years ago?"
"We kissed, I wanted to from the moment I saw him after not seeing him for so long and we fell into an easy rhythm. We laughed and when he leaned in I can tell you I didn't think twice. I kissed him with all I had."
Dr. Wyatt twirled her pen, "How long had it been before that?"
I looked down, "I hadn't seen him since I was in my early twenties. We spoke almost everyday though. Since then. Not on the weekends so much, there was an easy understanding about that sort of thing. We kind of let life happen for one another. I guess I lost my way."
"You don't have to justify what worked for you in your relationship with him. If that was enough for you and him to maintain such an emotional connection then who am I to judge? I am here to help you get through this and become emotionally invested in the things and people who matter. It's about being present."
Gwen was right, she wasn't there to judge me and often she let me slide with questionable statements and feelings. She didn't push me to justify myself.
"Did things escalate after the kiss? Did you feel more connected to him?"
"I did but it also scared me. I felt reckless and like I didn't deserve all the wonderful things I had in my life. The paranoia was insane. I always felt like I was two steps from being caught. He was more aggressive, pushing for something more physical. I was too afraid to get caught."
She nodded, "And? Did you get caught?"
I shook my head, "No."
"So him not wishing you a happy birthday was the breaking point you would say?"
"Yes, but the thing is as the minutes ticked on I decided I didn't want him to anymore. I didn't want to care anymore. I didn't want to test the boundaries of the universe. I didn't need to. So I walked away. Yes it wasn't the right way to end things but I felt like it was the only way. Cut and dry. Or as cut and dry as I'm capable of. This happened twice before when we were both expecting our children. So I guess I'm assuming."
Gwen looked at me, "That his wife is pregnant? Knowing your history, that's a safe assumption. I want to say just because you rip the band aid off quickly doesn't make it hurt any less, it's just faster. I know you're emotional about it still but how do you think you're doing?"
I shrugged, "Some days are better than others. But it's as if the role he played in my life is starting to fade, I check my phone constantly because it's still new and my ego isn't ready to let go just yet. I want him to miss me and it bothers me that he doesn't. There were many things he has done to prove that he doesn't care shit about me previous to this. But since I chose to ignore those things in the past I feel like I can't reference them now."
"Why can't you," Gwen said, "you're allowed to be hurt and process that whatever way you want. You aren't as destructive as you have been and I think we have made such big strides today. Let's say we meet Thursday to discuss YOU and not him. Let's talk about you without him."
"OK but Gwen I need you to know I have always prided myself on being understanding, at least in his life I had been. I was his sounding board for everything and the place where sexual repression met the desire that I guess history can sometimes hold. We place so much focus on our history when sometimes it does nothing but help to feed our compulsions."
She stood up and nodded her head, "Time is up for today but I will leave you with this last thought. Your ego can feed on the mere idea of a missed opportunity, the what ifs dancing in your field of vision. So don't entertain the what ifs and if you do I can tell you one you should concentrate on. What if your husband found out? That's the what if we are focusing on."
I stood up too, "Thank you Gwen. I will see you Thursday."