I don't want to bore anyone with the details, but we had an alarmingly explosive dust up that involved her screaming and shrieking at me over something that wasn't really anyone's fault.
And I snapped.
I won't try to defend my actions, because I truly don't believe they are defensible. That being said, over the course of eighteen years, M has said and done things to me that, had she been a man, would justifiably (sp?) have earned a serious beating. The number of lamps and/or vases that have suffered a wrath that she earned over the years are countless. I think of myself as a protector, so I could never imagine the idea of striking a woman or child or anyone weaker than myself. My only defense is that I honestly don't believe I'd have done it if I wasn't already so upset about what was going on. And then she was shrieking in my face and I snapped.
I grabbed her by the blouse and flung her twelve feet across the room into the television cabinet. In the split second it happened, I tried to stop myself and catch her and apologize, but it was way too late. I ended up spending five minutes trying to cover my balls while she wailed on me with one of the cute grey Toms wedges that I'd recently bought her. (see how I can make myself look adorable even while explaining how much I'm not?) The whole time I'm thinking, "Take it. Just take it. You earned it." I couldn't hear out of my left ear for two days. Woman knows how to work a shoe.
Thankfully my sister was there and whisked CJ away as soon as the balloon went up. In the space of about ten minutes, our tempers came down and we began the process of apologizing to each other and talking. I told her that after what she said in our first counseling session, that I was done. She agreed and we started talking about how it would work and how to best make it easy on CJ.
I went to my first solo session with our counselor, during which she asked a lot of specific questions about my childhood. I've never shared with a therapist before and found the experience liberating. During the intervening time before our next couple session, M kept trying to start conversations about what went wrong and trying to consruct metaphors that would explain her behavior. Each one was more withering and emasculating than the last. The one I remember most went like this;
M- "Here's the thing Tony, you're charming and engaging in a childlike way and people like you. You're like Peter Pan".
M- "The thing is, Wendy doesn't marry Peter Pan".
Me- "I get that. So why did you?"
M-"I didn't realize what I was getting myself into and had a sort of 'buyer's remorse' after. I just thought I could manage my mistake".
She couldn't seem to stop herself from coming up with these gems and insisting on assaulting me with them, no matter how much it was killing me.
As I drove to our next session together, my heart started pounding and I couldn't get it together. I walked into the office ten minutes early and our therapist saw what a wreck I was. I told her that I didn't think I was emotionally prepared for the session and that if I had to endure one more word from my wife regarding her perspective of my inadequacies, I would melt through the floor. She assured me that, based on our responses to work she'd given us regarding how we engage each other during conflict, she planned on doing most of the talking that day and if M began to go in that direction, she'd shut her down. I agreed to stay. I have to say that this woman is damned good at her job. Based on joint and personal interviews, coupled with our answers on the forms (which I have to say, M answered astonishlingly honestly) she was able to illustrate to us how our natural personalities only fed a loop of conflict no matter our best intentions. It was a very illuminating session and I'm glad I decided to stay.
That being said, I still didn't leave the session feeling any sense that M and I stood any chance. At best, we need to continue counseling so that we can learn to communicate better while we raise our son.
I also probably need to find my own therapist so I can begin to explore and deal with my own issues.
I left the session that day and drove straight to an apartment complex I'd been eyeing and turned in an application for a nice little one bedroom overlooking a pool about fifty yards from the Beltline.
The way I felt at the moment I walked into counseling that day and the way I felt when I strolled out of the leasing office a few hours later were leagues apart.
I now had a plan and knew what I was going to do. I take possession of my new digs in a couple of weeks.