Last night I was treated to a romp through the current state of my psyche, thanks to a nightmare. The plot was cliché, something I would never write in my fiction because of the lack of originality: my husband cheated on me, I was the last to know, and his partner in extramarital sex became pregnant, leaving me with the decision to stay or leave my marriage. Even more cliché, when I asked my partner why he’d cheated on me, he responded that he needed to get sex somewhere.
Cliché it may have been, but it was one of the dreams where you have no understanding that you’re dreaming and every emotion that my dream self felt was still very present upon waking. Worse still, the way I was awakened from the dream was by my husband’s real life attempts to interest me in some morning sex. Needless to say, there was no sex; there were tears and I was unable to go back to sleep for more than an hour as I chewed over the dream again and again.
As I said, chock full of clichés—but still capable of punching me in the emotional solar plexus.
With some distance (and sleep that did not involve nightmares) I can say that the reason it was such a disturbing experience is that I managed to nail myself in all the areas I feel most vulnerable: my identities as wife, mother, and my current state of isolation.
My husband lost his job in the mini-recession some number of months ago. We were extremely lucky that he has been able to find work, and that we were also able to use this as an opportunity to fulfill a dream of ours; living abroad, although we have moved to a much different part of the world than we had pictured at the start of the job-hunt.
This move has necessitated reams of paperwork. Over and over I have had to self-identify as a "homemaker" or "housewife" because "writer" would cause too many questions, and the type of writing I do would not be looked upon fondly in our conservative new home country, where homosexuality has yet to be accepted and there is no porn. While I have not worked since the birth of our daughter over a year ago, the knowledge that I was financially dependent upon my husband in the US was a different creature than being dependent in a foreign country. At home I was still plugged into my professional community and had the contacts to procure a job if necessary. I could at least hold close the notion that if anything were to happen to my partner, our financial status, or our marriage, I could contribute to or support my family. If something were to happen now, I would have the additional hurdles of repatriation, which isn’t just getting myself and my child back to the US.
Another victim of the move has been time with my partner. There was a period of time where he was in our new home country while I tied up all the relevant loose ends in the US; the time difference made connecting a challenge, although we found that there are many uses for Skype besides talking. Once our family was reunited, there was jet lag on the part of both ourselves and the Little Mistress, resulting in many odd disconnects in terms of who was awake when. A new job, understandably, requires a shift in our family dynamic with different hours/demands on my partner’s schedule. But it has made connecting when both of us are awake and ready to engage with each other fully a challenge. The effort is made, but there have been far more occasions when one person is fighting sleep with every ounce of energy they have just to be with the other person—resulting in a lackluster connection.
The idea that my partner would cheat is absurd in the bright light of day. We have an open relationship and there has never been a time when any flirtation or extracurricular fun was conducted without full knowledge of the other partner.