My job is dangerous in some respects. I walk a thin line; I’m aware of that. There are always physical and financial threats looming. Still, I can’t stop.
“How are you, Alexis?”
“In desperate need of my third coffee. Would you like one?”
“I’m OK, thank you.”
“So, have you spoken to the man from your night with Tonya?”
“Jesus, no. That was just a fling.”
“You didn’t exchange numbers?”
“No. I mean, why bother? It’s not like we could have an actual relationship.”
“He’s too young and lives a continent away.”
“… and you’re married.”
“Ah, yes, then there’s that.”
“Yes, I regret that I am not having any regrets.”
“So, you expect to feel guilty.”
“Yes. If one of my friends did that, I’d be shocked if she didn’t have any remorse.”
“Well, you didn’t sleep with him.”
“Maybe I did.”
“You told me you didn’t.”
“Regardless, the way I felt that night–I don’t know how to explain this. Shouldn’t I have those feelings with my husband?”
“But, it’s unrealistic, isn’t it?”
“I’m sure you’ve felt that way with your husband at times.”
“Sure, early on. It just faded, and that sucks.”
“Don’t you think it sucks for Mike too?”
“Well, if it does, he certainly hides it better. Naturally, he sensed a change in me this week, and he has been putting in more of an effort. He’s overdoing it. It’s actually a turn-off.”
“Wait. I don’t understand. Mike’s trying harder, and that’s pushing you away?”
“OK. What is he doing?”
“He brought flowers home, which he never does. In bed, he was more attentive to my needs.”
“He kissed me more and, you know.”
“Gave you oral pleasure.”
DOCTOR’S NOTE: She’s tearing up. There’s the regret.
“Why did that push you away?”
“Because I fantasized about Fabrizio when he did it; that’s the only way I could enjoy it.”
“You miss Fabrizio?”
“No. I miss the feeling I had with Fabrizio.”
“Can you envision yourself ever having that feeling with Mike again?”
DOCTOR’S NOTE: She’s crying.
“I’m sorry it makes you sad. Are you OK?”
“No, I’m not OK. I’m fucking angry.”
“No, at me.”
“I feel like a shitty person. I have children to consider, not to mention Mike’s feelings. He’s a great father and a good person.”
“You think they deserve better.”
“They absolutely deserve better. I don’t even know how we got here–to this place where we’re numb to each other. He has never cheated on me. We just drifted over the years. I wish I knew what caused this.”
“Is it possible that time caused it?”
“Marriage is supposed to be forever. It says so right there in the vows.”
DOCTOR’S NOTE: Now, she’s visibly angry.
“Yes, still, most don’t last and, of those that do, many are clinging to dysfunction out of fear.”
“Well, then that fucking sucks. Whatever happened to commitment and dedication. You know? Through thick and thin; for better or worse. Nowadays, people just give up. They leave wakes of broken hearts and damaged offspring. It’s fucking greedy. I hate that I feel this way.”
“Alexis, as with life, relationships run their courses from exciting beginnings full of promise to death. Some are short; some are lengthy; some end tragically; some end amicably.”
“If you’re not happy in your relationship, it affects your spouse and your children. Mike deserves to have a woman in his life who loves him completely. He deserves to be someone’s Fabrizio. He longs for that, believe me. A man can sense when his woman drifts. What he did last week, whether consciously or not, was reach desperately for something slipping away.”
“So, why would that push me away?”
“Two reasons: You have some guilty feelings about your night with Fabrizio. You feel unworthy of Mike’s attention and uncomfortable about where your mind wanders. Second, you don’t want to save your marriage.”
“You don’t … and that’s OK, Alexis. This is your life we’re talking about here. You deserve to have all those feelings you miss. It’s not practical–though many people try–to have weekend trysts to satiate your urges. You’re putting a Band-Aid on an infected wound. Eventually, people playing that game get caught, and that’s the tragic ending I referred to. How would Mike react if you told him about what happened?”
“He’d be devastated.”
“Anger? Sadness? Violence?”
“He’s not a violent person at all. He’d be hurt.”
“How would you react if Mike confessed a weekend tryst like yours?”
“I’d be disappointed but, honestly, I don’t think it would hurt. In fact, it would probably help this whole crazy situation if he had an affair. It would convince us both that our marriage is over, and we could move on.”
“Interesting. You wouldn’t feel jealous if another woman were relighting Mike’s fire?”
“No. As long as she’s a good person, and she treats him and my kids properly, I’d be fine with it.”
“If you truly loved Mike, wouldn’t you expect his having an affair to bother you?”
“Of course. But, I do love him. It’s just different now.”
“So, what will you do?”
“Hey, you’re the doctor. You’re supposed to help me out of this fucking mess. Isn’t that what you’re paid to do?”
“I’m paid to help you heal and improve. Your healing may cause short-term pain to others. There will probably be resentment and anger. Some of your friends and family may consider you to be evil, heartless, or greedy. I hope you didn’t expect a simple solution like, ‘take two of these and all will be fine tomorrow.'”
“So, let’s work on you, and if an exit is what you decide upon, let’s find a path that will cause the least peripheral damage.”
“I’ll see you next week, Alexis.”
Diagnosis: Reality is setting in. She knows it’s over.
Treatment: The anger and pain is natural. Next week, discuss possible separation.
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