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NOTE TO SELF . . .
The day started like any other day.
My receptionist, Kristin, had buzzed me on my pager to let me know that my first patient of the day, Larry Schafer, had arrived and was waiting in my office, which is downstairs from the main part of my house. I answered her by saying that I was on my way down, but just then, my house phone began to ring, and hearing it ring made me stop dead in my tracks. I curiously glanced over to the phone and then looked at my watch, and not wanting to keep Mr. Schafer waiting, decided to let the call go into voicemail. But for some reason, the tone of the ring had a strange feel to it, and the fact that it rang at all did more than pique my curiosity. Maybe my overly suspicious defenses were triggered because my friends and family knew to call Kristin if they needed to reach me during the day and that hearing the phone ring, when it shouldn’t be ringing, almost seemed eerie.Deciding to ignore it, I walked over to the back door, just outside my kitchen, and grabbed my sneakers and began putting them on. But by the second ring, my gut was taunting me with the idea that this was no ordinary call. I couldn’t let it go and ran over to answer it.
“Hello?” I said very carefully.
After listening to what the caller had to say, I found that I was unable to move; unsure if I had heard correctly or that maybe the caller had the wrong number. She said that if I was looking for my husband, I could find him at his usual room at the Skyview Motor Lodge, right outside of JFK Airport. Suddenly, my perfect life, with its accomplishments, luxuries, and fantastic circle of friends was pulled from under me, and what I had suspected for years now proved to be more than the occasional suspicion. I buzzed Kristin and told her to reschedule Mr. Schafer and to cancel the rest of my appointments for the day. I was going to put an end to my suspicions once and for all.
As I stood outside the motel door trying to calm my pounding heart, I knew that I was about to face a pivotal moment; a truth that I had evaded for years. Would I be forced into accepting that my husband, the man I’ve known half my life, was nothing more than a con artist who’d deceived me from day one? I inhaled a deep breath and prayed that I wouldn’t fall apart, and then banged on the door several times. When it opened, I was face-to-face with the biggest liar I had ever known.
He had a white towel wrapped around his waist, and beads of sweat were trickling down his temples and chest. His expression was one of utter shock and disbelief. He never expected to see me standing at that door.
As I shoved my way past him and went into the room, I looked over to the bed. She had the sheet pulled up to her neck and was studying me through eyes that were wide with panic. I stared back at her thinking that she was stunningly beautiful—with her light green eyes, flawless complexion, and long auburn mane that flowed down and around her shoulders.
Rage and jealousy came at me all at once; dizzying me to the point where I couldn’t think or even speak. The two of them stayed where they were and just watched me. Neither offered words of explanation—nor an utterance of apology. There was only hard-core silence—the kind that makes time stand still; where admission of guilt, though not verbally expressed, was as deafening as my pounding heart. He was with her! He had sex with her! They had shared that ultimate closeness; that bond that only love making could create. They were whispering words of love, making future plans, but worst of all, they were betraying me—the one who loved him unconditionally—the one who stood by him through thick and thin—who wore the gold ring that signified my inherent place next to him. And now, as he took a step toward me, running his hands through his saturated hair, eyes filled with desperation and shame, I just shook my head not wanting to hear what he had to say. I didn’t want lies. I didn’t want excuses. There was nothing to discuss. He broke our pact—obliterated my trust—and it was a pain that permeated my flesh and etched itself into my soul.When someone cheats on you, the memory stays with you for the rest of your life, and you end up judging all your future relationships based upon that one undying memory.
from Note to Self, due out June 2012