Journal Entry: October 14, 2014
Sharing with friends.
The drive up highway 1 through Big Sur is awful. Again, it’s dark and windy, but this time I’m driving while my husband is violently vomiting next to me. Esalen is really out in the middle of nowhere and is very environmentally friendly, so no plastic. We have to use paper bags for the vomit. This is going to get messy. There is absolutely nowhere on the road to stop at this hour and get supplies. I am driving as fast as I safely can on maybe two hours sleep. I know along with the vomiting, my husband is in incredible intestinal pain. He also needs to be hydrated, but there was nothing we could take with us from Esalen. As we enter Monterey, I pull over to a gas station that is blessedly open at 4:00am. I purchase paper towels (they unfortunately don’t have hand wipes), Gatorade, bottled water, and ask for extra plastic bags. I do my best to clean up the car and my husband’s clothing. He refuses to drink anything because he knows it will all come back up on him. I need to get him to the hospital as soon as I can as he is dehydrating by the minute. Thankfully, once we get back on the road, he falls asleep. We arrive at the hospital in Mountain View at about 5:00am. I am happy to see the waiting room is nearly empty. After checking in at triage, Blue Eyes heads straight to the bathroom and you can hear him throughout the floor as his system unsuccessfully tries to expel that which will not come out. They mercifully get him into a room in the ER and hook him up to an IV bag of fluids to get him hydrated, and they turn the drip to high.
He starts to feel better as his body is being hydrated without sending anything down through the intestines. Unfortunately, everything in the ER is moving pretty slowly. He is eventually taken away for a CT Scan. Meanwhile, I am feeling pretty horrible myself sitting in this little temporary emergency room area with just a curtain and a hard chair, and a few medical gadgets. I am hungry and tired and in desperate need of a shower. I wait and wait for his return from the scan, having no idea whether he will be checked into the hospital, or whether we will abandon our Silicon Valley plans altogether and drive home so he can be near his doctors, or whether his blockage will correct itself and life will go on as “normal.” He was checked into the hospital at home in July and was out and on a soft diet within 24 hours. I prayed this time would go so smoothly. A very sweet middle-aged nurse enters our little area while I am waiting for my husband. She looks at me and suggests I find a place to rest, maybe on the sofas out in the waiting area. At this point I am holding out hope that we will be able to leave the ER and go to our hotel to relax and that he won’t be checked into the hospital, but my resolve is starting to crumble. The nurse comes over, takes my hand, and asks if there is anything she can do. Tears start to tumble down my cheeks. I tell her a little of our story, but I can feel the exhaustion threatening to send me into a deep and traumatic crying spell full of blubbering revelations that his woman does not need or want to hear, so I try to maintain control and share just a skeleton of the story and she is very understanding. Her brother-in-law is an alcoholic and her sister has struggled with his addiction and recovery and it has nearly broken her. Everyone has a story. Just talking with her and hearing her sweet and comforting voice gives me a little strength. She promises to come back in and check on us as soon as Blue Eyes is back in the room. My mood is now melancholy. I think about the life my husband and I have together. I have spent many hours in hospitals with him over the years, but we have also had a lot of fun enjoying the success we have experienced after many years of hard work. We adore our children and I have often felt very blessed over the past thirty years to have found such a great man to share my life… I really truly felt that way, until January. Now there is a cloud over everything. It still shocks me that there is a woman who stole some of my husband’s time and energy and somehow feels like she owns a piece of him, or perhaps in fact feels entitled to all of him. It boggles the mind. She has no idea what living with my husband is really like. The only Blue Eyes she knows is the one that was all hopped up on his addiction. He was never sick, never tired and had boundless energy for sex. She thought he was neglected, and had a sexless marriage, but instead, he was throwing all caution out the window to procure his drug, and we got what was left, the sick, tired, and exhausted remnants of Blue Eyes. I can feel myself drifting into sleep.
I take my big Kate Spade purse and clumsily use it as a pillow, and I drift off for a few minutes. The kind of sleep I experience after thinking about Camilla is always fitful and unsatisfying. Plus the chair I am using as a makeshift bed is so hard and uncomfortable. I decide to go to the cafeteria to get some tea and a bite to eat. Who knows how long Blue Eyes will be gone. I stumble about the hospital in my sleepy stupor and finally come to the conclusion that the cafeteria is closed for breakfast on Sundays. I find a little coffee shop and get a cup of tea, fruit, and a croissant. I feel a little better. I can see as I walk back to the ER that it is a gorgeous, sunny California day outside. We are supposed to be checking into a beautiful hotel this afternoon with a nice pool. I realize that is not going to happen and I make my way back to the dreary little room in the ER and I find my husband there on his hospital bed, back from the scan, sleeping.
The scans come back and it appears as if he has a rather large blockage in an area of his intestine that is near a hernia he has had for some time. They recommend he be checked into the hospital immediately and that a gastrointestinal surgeon read the scans. Blue Eyes does not like what he is hearing and he wants to leave the hospital and either drive home or go rest at the hotel. As much as I would like to choose either of those, especially the hotel option, I am afraid to let him leave the hospital until he can eat something without vomiting. He cannot stay in the ER, so he finally gives in and allows them to check him in. Once we are in his private hospital room, which is quite large and updated and has a lovely view, I start to feel a little less anxious. They show me to a bathroom where I can take a private shower, which I do. Before Blue Eyes’ intestinal episode, our plans had been to finish the happiness seminar, which ended at noon, drive into Silicon Valley by way of an In-N-Out Burger (ha), check into our hotel, then have dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Smiley. Once I had texted Smiley that we wouldn’t be able to make our dinner plans, and explained why, I had been in contact with him most of the day, giving updates. Smiley planned to come to the hospital and visit as soon as practical.
Blue Eyes had decided a few months ago that Smiley would be the first friend that he told about his sex addiction. He sent the book “Don’t Call it Love… “ by Patrick Carnes to Smiley, so that Smiley and Mrs. Smiley could read about the addiction before Blue Eyes shared his personal story with them. After reading the book, and before meeting face to face, they had both been very supportive. Again, most people have only dealt with the media’s version of sex addiction. Most people do not understand that sex addiction is real, and really, really destructive to all involved.
While I was in the shower, Smiley arrived at the hospital. When I entered Blue Eyes’ room, they had been chatting, which I was very glad about. I tend to dominate conversation and I am also extremely blunt, open and honest, whereas Blue Eyes tends to hide and lie and generally avoid anything that is difficult for him. Smiley did not want to cause Blue Eyes any unnecessary stress as he was already in the hospital and in pain. Unfortunately, it is a little difficult to talk about sex addiction, and thirty years of lying to your spouse and yourself and everyone else, and 15 years of outright cheating, without it getting a little stressful. I am not so great anymore at pretending. When it was time for Smiley to leave, I walked out with him. He was unbelievably kind and supportive and I know dealing with this is not fun.
As it started to get dark out, I realized just how tired I was. Blue Eyes wanted me to sleep at the hospital on the little single bed pull out chair. I pulled it out to see how comfortable it was, I did lay down and shut my eyes and immediately fell asleep for about an hour and a half. When I woke up, Blue Eyes was sleeping. My body was achy, the chair was just not comfortable and I desperately wanted to be able to sleep through the night on a comfortable bed and without nurses entering every hour and without a cacophony of beeping noises every time Blue Eyes moved his arm and kinked his IV. I also wanted a decent meal. I kissed Blue Eyes good-bye and ventured out of the hospital on my own and found my way to the hotel, where I had a delicious dinner and an amazing full night’s sleep.
As it turns out, Blue Eyes spent three full days and two nights at the hospital. The surgeon desperately wanted to cut him open to repair the blockage and the hernia and kept insinuating that if he weren’t able to do that, the intestine would die and poison his system. Blue Eyes has heard this all before. Surgeons want to cut; it doesn’t always mean it is appropriate. The on call doctor did not think the surgery was necessary, and if anyone was going to cut him open, Blue Eyes wanted it to be his own surgeon back home. By Tuesday afternoon he was able to keep a liquid diet down without nausea and that is always the sign that it is time to go home. We checked him out of the hospital and went back over to the hotel, where he drank a lot of herbal tea, and Gatorade, and ate pretty much nothing. He ended up not eating until we were home and he was able to meet up with his doctor. Chronic intestinal problems, or the fear of them, can really hinder an appetite.
That evening in Silicon Valley at our hotel, Mr. and Mrs. Smiley came for a visit. Blue Eyes went through his story and I mostly tried to keep my mouth shut. Blue Eyes has been working on his first step (telling his sexual acting out history) for months now. He decided to share the first draft, out loud, with his friends. It was the first time I had heard it. He will present it soon in front of his 12-step group and he is really stressed out by that prospect. He cried part of the time while reading it. We all cried part of the time. It also left me feeling traumatized and cold. Not necessarily because of the acting out behaviors he described in front of friends, because I got over the humiliation from that some time ago, I honestly do not blame myself for any of it or feel much connection other than sadness and despair, but as he read his story, I felt that ever-present air of self involvement that permeates Blue Eyes’ life. He has such a difficult time dragging himself out of his own head and into the reality that includes the rest of us. He has childhood wounds, he is a sex addict, he has a story to tell, but does he really want to change his story? Does he really want to get better? Does he really want to recover? The more he goes on and on about why he did the things he did and what he did, the less I feel like he is delineating a path of how he will change in order to live a freer, more honest life in the future. I feel he is still acting, grandstanding, living in self-pity, and even in denial that this is really him, his life, and that he is not just acting in front of a crowd. It is really hard to accept the things he did in order to feed his addiction. I get it. Recovery is about diving into the deep end of that pool of self-doubt, denial, and self-pity, and conquering it. That’s a major two-step process, first the diving in part, second, the conquering it part. He always says how astonished he is by the positive and loving response he receives from friends and family that now know his truth. To me, that represents someone who has rationalized the lying and betrayal because, if people knew, they could not or would not accept or love him. I wonder if he actually ever believed that, or just used it as an excuse to continue the bad behavior.
I am a bit skeptical that he really thought people would react negatively. But then again, I live in reality, he does not.