Every week, a chapter of my book, “Husband, Liar, Sociopath: How He Lied, Why I Fell For It & The Painful Lessons Learned” (available via Amazon.com, just click on the title or book cover) will be published here on Lovefraud. To read prior chapters, please see the links at the bottom of the post.
Chapter 43B: No Way Out
I realize now that this was all an act. If Paul sensed I was going to leave him (and our marriage was going to dissolve on my terms, not his), he needed to do something drastic—appear to care, to accept some responsibility for our relationship, and to be committed to change. He needed to tap my empathy.
Paul’s request felt surreal, partly because it was so out of character and partly because a piece of me must have been holding onto the foolish hope that the Paul with whom I had fallen in love was still there and would return someday.
“Of course,” I said, not knowing how else to respond. “Therapy is a great idea. I’ll ask her for some names the next time I see her.”
When we got back home, Paul hugged me. “Thanks so much,” he said. “I love you. I know I don’t tell you that often enough, but I really do.”
My head was spinning. What was going on? I needed air. I needed to think, to get out of the house and be alone. I took Mr. Wrinkles and Ella for a long walk. After fifteen minutes, I sat down near a tree in a quiet cul-de-sac where no one could see me. Sobs erupted from some deep place, shaking my body uncontrollably. Blood pounded inside my forehead with such force that I feared a blood vessel could burst. I am too young, in too good of physical shape, and my blood pressure is too low, I reasoned. I can’t have a heart attack or stroke. Still the powerful, out-of-control unrelenting pressure in my head scared me. My spine, neck, and gut felt like they were on fire. My stomach convulsed, and I suppressed the urge to vomit. Never have I experienced something so primal, my body raging out of control. I tried to breathe, to focus my thoughts. My instincts were screaming RUN! But Paul had pulled out the ultimate weapon once again—he had tapped my empathy. Damn him! Damn him! Damn him!
Why now? What should I do? Just a day earlier, I had decided I wanted out of this marriage. Now Paul was saying he felt broken, that he wanted to change, that he wanted to start seeing a therapist, that he wanted my support. Was this real or should I stay on the path of independence and plan my exit? Should I give him a chance? How could I know? What the hell had just happened?
I suppressed the strong, animalistic urge to run and decided to wait and see. After all, I was not planning on walking out the door that night. I was planning on using whatever time I needed to get stronger emotionally and to make changes that could create a foundation for a new life—like getting a job, continuing with my therapist, and researching divorce lawyers and places to live. I could still do those things while seeing if Paul was genuine in his desire to change, couldn’t I?
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