I’m sitting in Bishop Lund’s office. He’s behind his desk and I’m in a chair pulled up to where I can rest my elbows on the top of it. I’m both calm and nervous. I’ve prepared myself for this moment. One slip up, and I undo everything.
Listen. Don’t say a word.
And, under no circumstance react in any way.
This is her time. Her time to get out verbally everything she needs until it’s all emptied out, and everything, every drop of what needs to be said is said.
IF I dare say anything, my go-to words are “OK” and “thank you.”
I brace myself, take a deep breath (and I’m not being melodramatic) and motion to Bishop Lund to go ahead and dial her number.
The phone rings. I can hear it from where I’m sitting.
She answers. For the first time in over 9 months I faintly hear my wife’s voice through Bishop Lund’s phone. They exchange niceties, and after getting the OK from both of us, Bishop Lund lays the phone on his desk and presses the speaker button.
If I said anything, it was a weak, “Hi.” But, I don’t even remember saying that.
Amy starts off slow, mentioning some positive things about me. Soon though, each positive comment is followed by a but, and then something that feels like a dagger being shot into my heart and then twisted over and over again.
Ten minutes has passed. The positive comments have all but ceased.
The rhythm, the flow, the ease with which her words naturally stream from her mouth impress me, even as they cut and slice one right after the other. Yes, I sit there and think to myself, “I’m really impressed with how articulate she is expressing herself, her feelings, and perspective.”
Yet at the same time, the pain builds as does the pressure. I don’t agree with some of the things she says or the way she frames some events. Each time I look up at Bishop Lund. Expecting to see a reassuring look in his eyes. Instead, I see fear and real worry. I kind of think it’s funny cause I can tell he knows that one defensive remark on my part, and it’s all over. His fear and worry actually strengthen my resolve to just take it all and keep my lips zipped. So I bear it…for now.
I hear things like,
“By the end, you gave me nothing to miss.”
“I live in a closet in the basement of someone else’s house, but at least I have peace. As hard as it is, I’d rather be here than with you.”
“This may be the last time you ever hear from me.”
“You are incapable of love.”
“You’ve completely destroyed me. You’ve ruined me. Me and the kids will need therapy for the rest of our lives.”
I think I’ll stop here.
My pulse rate rises on multiple occasions. How she’s presenting things is so one-sided and so not accurate. At least that’s what I think to myself. Outwardly, I stay perfectly silent.
By the end, once she has emptied every hurt and pain imaginable that she has had to endure, I simply cannot speak.
I think she ends with, “This may very well be the last time I ever speak to you.”
It’s deathly quiet. I can feel Bishop Lund’s nervous energy as he anticipates what I’m going to say or do.
He has no need to worry. I break before I even get the first word out. My head drops into my hands and the flood gates open. The horror of what I just heard about myself for over an hour straight is just more than I can bear or hold in.
Once Bishop Lund realizes I am utterly incapable of saying anything, I just faintly hear him say,
“Amy, he’s not going to be able to talk. I’ll call you a little later. Goodbye.”
It’s over. I didn’t say a word. Bishop just patiently waits until I can somewhat compose myself.
Once I do, he simply says, “Jeremy, I am so proud of you. I don’t know of any man who could take what you just did. There were times I thought for sure you were going to speak out, yet you never did.”
He reassures me the best he can.
I just want to lie down right there in his office and go to sleep and never wake up. I am thoroughly drained of all energy and life.
I don’t remember much after that, at least that day. I think I went back to Terri’s house, walked straight back to my room, shut and locked the door, fell on the bed, and slept ’till the next morning.
I wake up early. Surprisingly, I feel refreshed. I think back on the previous days call with Amy. I feel something that is new to me, something a bit surprising.
I actually have no regrets. I feel no need to apologize for anything. How could I? I didn’t say a word. The pendulum, once the dreaded call ends, officially swings 100% to her side. I submit to it all.
This is NOTHING like me. Was she accurate in everything she said? I don’t think so. Did she omit details, facts, and events that were relevant and that would have cast me in a more accurate, favorable light? Yes. In fact, did she go all the way to portray me in the most egregious light imaginable? In my opinion, she did. But, in spite of all that, I feel like I ultimately come out unscathed. I feel like my stock actually rises, especially in Bishop Lund’s eyes.
Amy seems to come out unscathed as well. She’s bold, fearless, direct, and even quite powerful at times. She stays on point and shifts from point to point far smoother than she does shifting a car with a manual transmission!
I notice something though. It’s a nagging feeling that I’ve had the entire time. It’s somewhat faint so with all my intense emotions, it mostly goes unaddressed. But, it never goes away.
Here’s the feeling.
I’m working on me, fixing me, facing hard and painful truths about my character deficiencies. I’m working exhaustively wrestling with the brutal truth about myself. I am surrounded by people also working and helping to make me a better man.
All this is great, right?
Well, who’s focused on Amy? Does anyone have the sense to know that she also must overcome some things?
Is it ever 100% one person’s fault?
Does everyone really think that if I fix myself every issue in our marriage will be fixed?
I catch myself.
These are not the kind of thoughts that have progressed me to where I am. Keeping my focus on me and taking full accountability for virtually everything has enabled me to keep all the power over my life in my hands instead of handing control of it over to someone else.
I push these thoughts to the back of my mind and suppress them. They stay there, but not passively. Deep down, they nag me.
I project into the future. I simply can only envision one where at one point or another I must address my concerns. They’re real. They’re valid. I most definitely am going to need resolution, and they most definitely are not going to go away without a fair hearing.
The thought of this terrifies me. The more time goes by, the more her reality solidifies as my reality. I simply must submit to it all.
Am I capable of maintaining this posture forever? Do I really accept her reality as the complete, unadulterated truth?
The honest answer is, I don’t. I feel willing to shoulder all of it. In fact, I want to shield her, and my desires do stem from loving her. At the same time, I’m beginning to not appreciate how willing she seems to let me.
These feelings grow over time.
Timing is everything, and I’m not stupid enough to make this about me in any degree for now. Once I prove to her my sincere willingness to submit to her way 100% for an extended, very extended, period of time, perhaps then I can address with her my unresolved feelings and concerns.
I’m told by some to NEVER address them, ever. In fact, some go so far as to say that for the rest of my life, I can never afford to even have an issue or problem with something she does.
I hate this philosophy. To me, it’s patronizing to women. It sends a clear message to them that they aren’t capable of handling the truth. At least those are my thoughts about it. I think that if I were a woman, I would punch (or maybe it would be a slap:) someone in the face if they inferred that about me.
One problem. I’m not a woman, and time just might prove me more wrong than I ever imagined!
There is risk no matter what I decide to do.
Ultimately, I decide to wait a long time after we get back together before ever even alluding to them (and that’s IF we ever get back together).
The risk with this one? It appearing to Amy as a bait and switch.
But, I am getting way too far ahead of myself.
I don’t even know if I’ll ever hear from her again.
Side note: I promise there is a podcast coming. I distinctly remember recording 3 separate episodes. Not that anyone has been waiting on pins and needles. ha!