Last night I had a complete meltdown. I was fine until about 10 or so, then completely broke down while I was getting ready for bed. I couldn’t stop crying.
The issue? Not infertility.
Nope, the issue was loneliness.
J has been home maybe five evenings in the past five weeks. And maybe once in the past two months has he been home for four or five nights in a row. So while I’ve been going through the ins and outs of IVF Cycle #3, he’s been … gone.
It’s not his fault. It’s not like he’s out drinking with buddies, or obsessing over some project that he could put less effort into. He’s a lighting designer, and he’s been in tech (the two weeks of rehearsal time before a show opens) on one show after another. This is not something that can be shortened, rescheduled, or ever ever ever missed. Last year, he had a freak onset of “primary cough headaches,” which basically made him feel like his head was going to explode every time he coughed. We didn’t know what it was, so we went to the ER on the only afternoon he wasn’t working. When the doctors wanted to give him morphine, he tried to decline, because he had to go to work in the morning. When they started testing for a stroke or aneurysm or brain tumor, I asked him if he had any backup plan for the next day if this turned out life-threatening. “I can’t think of anything,” he told me.
So that’s the kind of schedule we’re dealing with here. The kind where you can be in the hospital with a brain tumor and you still can’t call in sick.
And it’s not like he can just take fewer jobs. He’s barely eking out a living as it is. I make three times what he makes (thank god!), and we’re still struggling to pay the bills. And now that our insurance has run out and IVF is going to get insanely expensive, we need him to work even more. The truth is, the only way to be a successful lighting designer is to squeeze in as many shows as your schedule will allow. In fact, the lighting designers that have “made it”—the ones J “assists” in the bigger theaters—all travel all the time. These guys are home one week every other month, if that.
So the more successful J gets at his job, the worse our situation gets. This has been a problem for a while now, and it’s getting worse. And last night I realized that it’s not going to work for me. I’m too fucking lonely. I go through my evenings like a robot. For the last month, I’ve actually started going to be earlier and earlier, just because I was so bored and lonely and I wanted to get the evening over with.
Before we got married, almost 12 years ago, I told J that I was worried about this happening. I made him promise me that, if it ever came down to his family (me plus those children I assumed would come along the moment I wanted them) or his career, he would choose me and the kids. But I also figured we would know in about five years whether his job was going to work out. Either he was going to “make it” or he wasn’t. Either I would be able to cope with him being gone a lot or I wasn’t. But here we are, ten years into his career, and he’s just short of what we would consider reasonably successful. And here we are, ten years later, and I’ve just now hit the end of my rope on this lifestyle.
J’s schedule embodies the worst of all work schedules. It is uncertain in advance, it is wholly inflexible, and it eats up most of the time I’m not working. I can’t schedule anything with our “couple” friends, because everyone I know books their social lives several weeks in advance. I have no social life. I don’t go out, because I’m not dating. I don’t go dancing, for the same reason. Consider this: the last time we had company to our house was LAST SUMMER. The last time we did anything social was in January, when we took takeout over to our friends’ house for dinner (best solution, since they have a new baby). And the next item on my social horizon is on July 23, when I’m going to NY for the night. Oh, and we’ve had sex three times since my surgery in December. Three times. Clearly our marriage isn’t what it’s supposed to be.
And I wouldn’t mind this so much if I had some fucking company while I was at home. I like being at home and cooking dinner and watching TV and going to bed. I just don’t like doing it alone. I’m social person, and this is slowly sucking the life out of me. Every year I get older, and I have no one to share my life with.
So I did what I never wanted to do––last night I asked J to consider changing his career. Of course, his next evening home is Monday, and that is our only night together until the following Monday. And let’s face it, I can’t let things simmer for one day, let alone four.
So I wrote him a note and left it taped to the bathroom mirror. Here is what it said:
I think you should know that I’m starting to feel like our marriage is in trouble. I know that I’m full of hormones and am probably a bit irrational right now, but I can’t keep on pretending that things are okay when they aren’t.
I can’t remember the last week you were home. How long have you been in tech now? Four weeks? Five? More? I’ve lost track.
I am lonely. Horribly, desperately lonely. I’m married, so I don’t have the kind of friends a single person has. I don’t go out after work for drinks. I don’t go dancing on the weekend. I don’t date. I have absolutely no social life, nothing to look forward to when the weekend comes around. And if it felt like I were actually married, that would be okay. But mostly it’s like I’m not married, because every night I come home to an empty house. I don’t know anyone else who lives like this. Everyone else I know who’s married at least has companionship.
I don’t think I have ever been as unhappy as I am now. I’ve never been through anything worse than the past year and a half, and the deeper I get into this nightmare the less you’re here to lift the burden.
I don’t think you’re hearing me when I tell you how desperate I am. When I first raised this with you a few weeks ago, you actually told me it was going to be okay, because you have lots of free time every year in February. And in August.
I know you can’t change this overnight. Hell, I’m not even sure you can change it in a matter of years. But you need to know that what is going on right now is not working for me. And I don’t see a baby making that better, only worse. I don’t mean to sound overdramatic—I’m not leaving you or anything. But I can’t live like this, year after year, with only my friends at work to make me feel human. We have to start thinking of alternatives.
I also know that you’re not okay right now. I’m pretty familiar with what depression looks like, and I see it in you. Probably it’s shitty for me to lay this on you right now, but it can’t wait another two weeks.
Honey, do you have a backup plan? If it turns out I just can’t live like this, do you have any other way you can live your life?
I can’t believe I’m doing this to you, just when your career is getting so much better. I hate the idea of you being torn. I don’t have any answers.
Then a tranqued myself out and went to bed.
This morning I woke up feeling sick, and tried to get ready for work. But I started crying again and couldn’t stop. So instead of putting on my makeup (not possible when leaking all over face), I went in and woke J up a few minutes early.
We talked (well, I cried and talked, he mostly listened) for about a half hour. He’s not mad, and I think he thinks I’m right. But there are no solutions to this problem. There is no good outcome. Either he keeps doing what he loves, what he’s been busting his ass for ten years to be able to do, and I get fed the table scraps of his attention for the rest of my life. Or he finds some way to move out of design work, presumably into theatre administration or something awful like that, and he’s given up his dream. (And this is assuming he can even find such a job.)
What’s so cruel about this is that it’s a total waste of everything he’s done. (Not to mention all the money he just spent joining the union last year.) How could we not have seen this coming 10 years ago? He didn’t have to go into theatre, he could have been anything. But now he’s 35 years old with an MFA in lighting design, and only design and techie experience under his belt.
My heart is breaking for him, and I’m the one breaking it. I hate myself for doing this to him. I think it’s why I let this go on so long—I just couldn’t bear the thought of killing his dreams. But I just can’t be alone any more. I need someone to cook for each night, someone to talk to about my day. Sure, it’s been really bad timing—him being gone while I’m going through all this IVF and BFN shit, and sure, that’s affected my outlook on how bad things really are. But that’s the whole problem. Life doesn’t conveniently occur just when he’s home. It happens every day, and I can’t wait until he’s done with a month of tech before I need him. I need him when I need him. And I needed him this last month. And he hasn’t been here.
I will add that I really needed him last September, when I had my ectopic pregnancy and resulting miscarriage. He was gone for that, too. This is my point.
And I can’t be a single mom. I was yelling my head off at the damn kitten last night (he was driving me nuts). Can you imagine me with a baby, all on my own? And what happens when it’s not me having a crisis, but the child? Is J only going to be available for that kid when it fits his schedule?
My husband’s been working 14-hour days for three weeks straight, and he has more than another week to go before this show opens. He just learned that, because of his crappy sperm, we’re going into even more IVF torture we can’t emotionally handle or financially afford. He’s exhausted, depressed, stressed out, defeated. I have never seen him this low in my life.
And I just told him I think he’s going to have to abandon his career—the one thing that’s going right for him.
I feel like such shit.
(Oh, and before anyone suggests couple’s counseling, I will add that I thought of this, but had to abandon the idea. Why? Because where the fuck would it fit into J’s schedule?)