Ryan and I had tried therapy way back in late 2003 when we still lived in the Midwest. Ryan was really pressing for it, I'm sure he thought it was a pathway to more sex. I was just starting to travel more and so I really did not have the energy for it. We went for about a total of 5 exasperating session where I felt that the burden of improving the marriage was fully placed on my shoulders. What I got from the therapist was that Ryan and I needed to find time to date, I needed a friend, and that I might need some medication for my thyroid. My answer: 1) who has time to date, when I wasn't traveling I wanted to be with my girls, 2) I needed Ryan to be a friend and let me quit my job, 3) thyroid imbalance? Really! The cause of my aggression was Ryan - that lazy bastard!
Anyway, that first round of counseling was very short lived.
So in fall of 2008 Ryan talked me once again into marriage counseling. Yes, Ryan the perpetual victim and martyr always willing and responsible to help me find new ways to serve his needs.
This time the therapist was better. But I always came away feeling cheated. All we did was talk. A few times she mentioned "homework" but we never really got around to it and she never really gave us any advice. I think the most ridiculous moment was when Ryan came into a session with a document he described as "a marriage audit." Typical Ryan, taking an emotion and putting a bottom line profit on it. And he expects me to be turned on by that? I think he said it was some type of BS assessment on how each of us was or was not meeting the needs of the other.
Eventually this therapist suggested I meet with another therapist to discuss the anger I had toward Ryan and she would focus on us as a couple. I really didn't have the time to meet with one therapist let alone two so this was a recipe meant to fail.
What I can say is that Ryan and I were both very candid. I discussed my relationship with Brent and Ryan discussed his failings as a husband and the career issues he had in the Midwest. Of course clearing out the underbrush only revealed the great stone wall that we had built between one another. And I have to admit, during the year that we were in therapy I was still seeing Brent off and on so I really did not have my head in the game. So we came away with a lot of understanding of where we were and why we were there but not much motivation to change.
As for Brent, I said before he and I had many break ups. Each one was harder and usually longer and the reunion was less heartfelt. By summer, 2009 Brent's marriage was ending. By fall, 2009 he had moved out of his house, officially separated from his wife. He was becoming very distant at work and his travel was very erratic. I associated it with the divorce but it meant we were not around each other very often.
Long story short, by fall, 2009 I had really had it. At the time I didn't really blame Brent for his distance, his home life was falling apart. For me it was just time to move on and without regrets. That September we were together for a meeting in Indianapolis. When I told him my feelings he was not surprised and from the look in his eye I could tell we both knew this time was for good. We did have "goodbye sex" that night. It was OK, but this time I didn't leave with a desire for more or apprehension over the next time I would see him. I really felt a big since of relief.
So fall, 2009 into the holidays was a bit of a relaxing period for me - both my guys were leaving me alone. And that is all I really wanted at that moment in time.
But out of the gates in 2010 Ryan renewed his pledge to divorce if things didn't improve. This time Ryan said, and I quote, "I'm putting the ball in your court to see what you come up with." Isn't that nice of him.
So I was tasked to find a new therapist that I would fully support.
I settled on a therapist in another town about 30+ minutes away, nobody locally really seemed like they focused just on marriage counseling, we do live in a small town after-all. This would again be a recipe for failure. Each time we had an appointment was essentially a 2.5 hour commitment between driving and the meeting.
We saw this therapist for just over a year ending last spring. I really liked Dr. P and again it was very therapeutic to talk out our problems, understand our mistakes, and why we were at this point. This time I was able to focus more because Brent was not on my mind. At the end of the day it really came down to trust, I just didn't trust Ryan to have my back and to change. I was quite sure that if we had sex things would be good for a short time but then he would just return to his selfish state of being. The therapist basically said we both needed to take a leap of faith. He didn't say that we should get divorced nor did he say we should have sex but he did say if we were committed to each other long term we had to take the jump. He rationalized that if things didn't get better at least I would have the answer I was looking for and could leave Ryan with a clear conscience. It seemed so rational and logical in practice and I could see Ryan eating it up with a spoon. But still, in reality the thought of sex made me feel violated and dirty and it made me feel like I was giving in. I just couldn't do it and look at myself in the mirror. I was quite sure it would only make things worse. I can't say I was happy at this time or even content but I was getting to a place where I was not perpetually sad and I didn't want to muddy that up with anything new. Where Ryan and I were as a couple had become somewhat terra firma for me and I didn't want to change the landscape.
Now back to Brent. I mentioned above that Brent's travel schedule had become erratic since his divorce and also that he did not press me back in September when I broke up with him.
Many of my work colleagues noticed that Brent was spending a whole lot of time in Indianapolis now. I thought it was due to needs of a certain account. I would later find out that it was entirely about the needs of certain account.
I started to hear about this fabulous new manager at one of Brent's accounts in Indianapolis. In fact at one point she even sent me a Facebook friend request. She was a girl who had recently moved to the states from Italy, her name was Allegra and apparently she was fantastic at whatever she did. What that fantasticness was at work and otherwise and how it related to Brent would slowly become apparent to me over the next few months.
Now, while you're crying for Shannon and/or cursing me and Brent please enjoy this beautifully melancholy ballad, Wildwood Flower, originally written and performed by the famous Carter family (including June Carter who would later marry Johnny Cash). The version below is Reese Witherspoon singing from the Walk the Line soundtrack. I think the Johnny Cash/June Carter story is perhaps the greatest love story of all time and wow - what great music.