This Blank Time in Life, Is All An Illusion - entry for Dreem-WOTW


This is my Entry, for the @dreemport dreemport word of the week writing contest. It's not just any ole WOTW writing contest, oh no... this Word Of THE WEEK CONTEST, here
is based on THESE 5 Words!

sanctuary, time, distant, blank, and illusion

“How did I get here, looking at the counselor’s face in sanctuary of her office?” I sat and thought back in distant time over what became of the illusion of my marriage.”

Back In Time

At first, it was like any other normal, to me I guess, relationship. We met, mom introduced us. We had a first date, and slowly built up. Took a while, too. There wasn’t a lightning bolt, more like a tiny spark, and maybe that should have been a clue? What do I know, I was never married before. You know, normal dating… more dates, pretty soon exclusive. Spending more time together than not. She was unlike any of the other women I dated… Blond, not brunette. Short, not taller than me. I usually fell for outgoing, stronger women. She was deferential. Clearly, my mom was thrilled with her, and in some ways, I wonder, did I do this to please her? Or, was it truly love? The spark leaves, eventually, tho. It does for most everyone, sometime after that honeymoon phase. And after the spark, you’re left with a warm feeling, and maybe, if you work it, some lasting love.

Counselor’s Sanctuary

When we first entered her office, the decor was fairly standard “counselor.” I wall of bookcases, with dozens and dozens of books. Philosophy, religions, loss, grief, marriage, sex, the topics were varied. I noticed one small section, I have a few of those titles, as well, Antiques. Her desk was a beautiful heavy oak desk, warm wood. Matching chair. And not a new desk, either… this was an antique. For her sake, I was hoping it was someone in her family who passed it down. Her windows behind her desk had a large shade pulled down, to mask distraction I suppose. The decor on the walls to either side were mostly pleasing and calming simply photos of nature. Behind the chairs where my wife I would sit, was a couch along a wall, and a small book case of some toys. Above the couch was a wall of clocks. All antique clocks. I recognized a few. I was sure in our individual meetings, I would bring them up, to build some connection with her.

Back in the chair, sitting, staring at the counselor… and my mind is drifting. I hear my wife talking, but my mind cannot focus. She’s sitting in an identical chair, to my right, and answering some questions from the counselor. My wife goes first then, the counselor asks me. I stare at the counselor’s face. Her face is soft, round. Very warm. She’s not a classic beauty. Not even a cute face. She’s definitely got a look. Her face is clearly aged and experienced. When she smiles, there is no deception… her face, all of it, smiles. So, I don’t try TOOO HARD. But now, an hour later, I am almost studying her face. Staring.

My wife is on edge… her face is a mask of anger? Contempt? Disgust? Frustration? It could be some combination of all three. She also hates when I go into this blank state. When, no matter how mad or excited or frustrated she gets, I go blank. In this place, this office, this sanctuary, I think, Control. I think master my emotions. Not so much not have emotions, but rather Master them. Allow them to flash inside, to run and be intense, and simply master their affectations. Not to show. Not to lash out. Simply be blank, and sit and be, in this chair. Allow the emotion to wash around and over me… and let nothing manifest. I have been told, it is one of my worst qualities.. that pulling away. I have been told, it is my defense mechanism, and it bothers those closest to me, to no end. The more my wife’s emotions get intense, the more I feel myself withdraw inside myself.

One of these days, I will find a way to deal with things, other than to simply withdraw and hide from confrontation. Meanwhile, I am perfecting a blank look.

Distant Partners

... and I hear my name, perhaps it was called a few times. Blank gone, I look again at the counselor… and she says my name again. She is telling me, it’s ok to answer now. “Can you rephrase your question?” I ask. Not repeat, because, of course, that would imply I didnt her or wasn’t paying attention. Rephrase, so that I can actually hear its without acknowledging that I was thinking of what went wrong with my marriage that brought me to to his day: A counselor, fixing our 28 years of constant tensioning stress. Well, technically 27, because truly that first year didn’t suck too bad.

“What do you want out of these sessions?” I suspect that her first question was almost exactly this, but in three or four times the words. And there it is… in a nutshell… something I have been avoiding for the past, 15 or twenty years. “What do you want?” What. I have heard it asked, and I have a few answers… one that I respond with. One that, when very close friends press me, I will say out loud. And one answer that I know is literally the only solution that will work. I know deep inside, what the right thing to do is.

“We’ve grown distant.” I stop and look at the counselor. Not my wife. I hear nothing but a small exasperated sigh. It’s obvious, I know. I continue, “I want a partner again. In the house. In the marriage, in parenting the kids. I’ve given up hope for a partner in the bedroom, but I insist on not being the sole adult in the house.” A pause, and then after a good thirty seconds of silence, “and that partnership beings with three things: Communication, respect, and kindness. Without that, why bother being in the same house?”

My mind leaves the office sanctuary and runs to a distant place: where, my wife and I are, or rather, were partners. That first daughter born… and even after the second…. Thought the writing was on the wall, then, too. We both worked, cleaned, made meals, we both cared for the girls, both talked, laughed, and planned in that far distant place.

Again, I hear my name. Again… my mind traveled back to present. “I’m sorry, I understood that today was about meeting, setting the agenda, and discussing what we had for expectations? I hadn’t thought there would be back and forth. What was it you were saying again?” This last directed at my wife.

I said, ‘WHAT do you mean, I’ve given up hope for a partner in the bedroom?’” Of course she would attack… not allow any perception of any wrong doing. I looked to our counselor, and said in a quiet calm voice, “should I answer her?” Clearly, again, being a bit of a jerk.

“I think it’s ok to clarify some things before we finish today, if that works?”

“OK, then” to the counselor, as I took a deep breath. More for a pause to gather my emotions and master them, before lashing, and now, continuing to my wife, “We’ve had little contact, physically, in 10 or 15 years. Maybe a few times holding hands, and maybe a kiss, or two tops. I do admit, in the middle of the night, when I come to bed, to reaching over and touching your hip each night. That’s my sex life, a simple touch on your hip, with you asleep, for 15 years. So, to clarify, I have given up any thought of sex with you, ever again. I have given up any though of intimacy, with you, ever again.” I held her gaze, for a good 30 seconds before she looked down and away.

If we are going to go through this exercise, then, I am planning on being open. Not holding back because it may make her uncomfortable. I fully expect, that out of her mouth, will come some very uncomfortable options and true faults of my own. I believe most have been pointed out by one or another friend of mine over the years. But again, my wife and I? Queen and King of not communicating with each other, over the vast distance that has grown between us. The divide in our marriage grows more, each year.

A few more questions from the counselor, towards my wife, and some easier answers from me. And the counselor turned to me, and asked, if I had any questions or needed clarification from my wife.

I paused, again, to think… together my emotions. Master them. Marshall them. And added, “no. nothing.” I retreated again, to that blank state. Outward? Blank. Passive, and calm. Inward? Turmoil, and my mind going a million miles an hour.

“Ok, then, you have homework as I mentioned in the emails before we met, and again, when we first began. This week will set the foundation for how we finish. Your homework, is the write down 10 things. 5 things that you want to change about your relationship. And 5 things that you enjoy, and find comfort in, for your relationship."

And there it was, I must spend the week, making a list, to work on my illusion of a marriage. And then, 9 more sessions of talking and 9 more sessions of homework, on my illusion of my marriage. At the end, we either would be moving forward, progress, or, that deep dark answer, to “what do you want?” That is buried in a deep distant place inside me. How odd, that, as I think of the deep distant answer, it is only then, that a smile barely perceptible, shows, on today’s blank face.

This month the Dreemport submission date is:

Tuesday 20th December

between 4 am UTC and 23h59 UTC

Enjoy My DreemPort-WOTW Entry. Perhaps, it's time you write yours, as well?
- BluefinStudios

All Photos by Bluefin Studios unless specified.

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