Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein
A quote attributed to a genius. If he said it, he was probably referring to research and science, or not. But that quote is the answer to, “Why therapy?” It is to prevent that kind of insanity. I have been that kind of insane. I’m not 13 or 18 or 26 though. I’m 65. I don’t want to make the same mistakes of the past to ruin the future. The answer to problems is not in a new relationship. Love and sex are wonderful, but they are a cloak over problems. You still have the old lingering and add a few new ones; you complicate and destroy chances of saving something, not a marriage, a family. Someone else’s wife or husband will still be someone else’s wife or husband. They didn’t walk out the door and suddenly become someone else. Same for me. I will make the same choices unless I understand why. I’m not saying this because I’m 65 or too old to care about love or because I chose a different way of handling problems than my husband; I’m saying it because I learned from my mistakes. I chose a guide to find my answers for this icing on the cake of the past seven years that brought deaths, disability, job loss, addiction, marriage, felony charges, divorce, grandchildren. In other words, life. My husband and I faced all these things at the same time, yet not together. I was the person in the marriage to handle the majority of family life matters but also shut out at times. I never planned to be that person or wanted to be alone with choices. A dialogue was difficult. Our responses differed resulting in anger and retreat. Responsibility is a lonely place, depended upon and yet blamed. Now I must make decisions for myself. Where should I live? How should I pay for it? I have a house with no mortgage that will hopefully bring a return. But what do I do to maximize it for the rest of my life? Where do I want to live? Do I rent or buy? So many life decisions. And the advice is to not make major decisions after surgery or major loss.
The knock-out punch landed me in the offices of a counselor who was a good fit. It’s not easy to pick a number out of the bag. Important life decisions of choosing therapists, lawyers and doctors hinge on word of mouth, interview, and faith in your gut instinct. Those paid professionals may care about you, but they will leave you to feel glad or sad after winning or losing your battle for health, wealth, and happiness. Sex is a consideration in choosing, whether an overt or subconscious decision. Why? We may think that someone of our own sex will be more sympathetic to our plight or health or whatever. For heterosexual cheating, that would seem to be contradictory perhaps. Or perhaps we believe that one sex is more competent than another. Or believe that someone of the opposite sex will understand that opponent in a divorce or couples or individual therapy. It’s a sexual divide. I didn’t interview therapists, went with the one who answered my call. Luck. I did interview both sexes for a lawyer. The woman was like a therapist convincing me to drop all illusions about my husband. While I felt comfortable, I thought she might be too aggressive. They all suggested I might want spousal support. Never my thing. So female therapist and male lawyer. I chose on my feeling of comfort with each. I will not live long enough for the day when sex never enters the equation of choice for either men or women.
I thought I was winding down therapy on April Fool’s Day. Then I had a meltdown the day before ready to throw in the towel rather than deal with my husband. I suddenly found it unthinkable to even talk about objects of little emotional value but financial value. What in the hell happened? It’s a process that does not have clear beginnings and endings of emotions. It was not even about my husband, well a bit. Emotions of loss will not end with divorce. Everyone who tells me I will be better off, the usual statement to describe a cheating spouse who first hides but not well enough, then flaunts an affair in your face and the face of all who know you. I know that is true; nobody knows that better than I. It’s reaching a final acceptance.
Saturday after that session, I moved to a group. This was a mixed group dealing with change, not just a divorce support group. It was not a pity party or some gripe session. It is to support others, people who don’t know you. There is something about sharing with strangers who suddenly are not strangers. Someone said I never thought I’d be here.