It wasn’t until she lay crumpled on the floor of the bedroom, tears streaming down her face, looking into an abyss both terrifying and electric, that she felt the enormity of her Drew problem. She had underestimated Jake’s reaction. She’d known he’d be angry. But she had hoped his anger would quickly give way to a reckoning, a shared understanding of what was missing in their marriage. Foolishly, she had been optimistic about what this opening of Pandora’s box might mean.
What she hadn’t bargained for was his inability to process it in private, away from the kids. She didn’t realize the suggestion of separation might provoke an extended fight that would threaten to engulf their daughters. Jake never did have a poker face. He’d always been transparent, a lousy trait for a parent.
To be fair, Jake didn’t know what it was like to be a child of divorce, a kid with parents who hated each other. He didn’t know what it felt like to grow up shuffling between them, hearing their disparaging comments about each other, and wishing at least one of them would recognize how confusing and confidence eroding it all was.
Without that experience to guide him, he couldn’t be expected to know how his pain would affect the girls, how they would absorb his emotions yet not understand them. She realized he would turn to them for comfort, and it wouldn’t be until it was too late that he would see his mistake. She could not let that happen.
No, on the floor that night, as he stood over her, shaking, hands clenched, and speaking loudly enough to wake the kids, she realized her needs were secondary, and that this was going to be a gradual evolution, not an instant transformation. She let his heated words about counseling and a midlife crisis wash over her and sink in. Though the path was visible, she couldn’t get there without his support.
She needed to be the adult. This would have to be mutual, because the girls were her first priority, and this was a role she must accept. All others, real and longed for, must wait.
As she calmed the storm she’d created, forcing some of Pandora’s demons back into the box, she tried not to despair that this change she could see could not be reached.
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