Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Prompt 45.2. How close have you come to breaking up with your partner?

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

I wish I could say this has never come up, but, if I did it would be a lie. The truth is, we came too close, close enough that I had to move out of the house for a period of time in order to get a better perspective on how I felt about the situation. I suppose, in all fairness, I should go back to the beginning of things because the blame can't fully be laid on one of us over the other.

Things started shortly after Abby and I were married, we were planning where we wanted to go for our Honeymoon when I received a phonecall from my brother in Croatia. Niko and I had not been on speaking terms since I'd made the decision to leave Croatia for the United States so I knew immediately that something was wrong, and it was. Our father has always been the strength of our family, when our mother died, during the war when I lost my family, and in the time after. As much as I knew the time would come, I still wasn't prepared to get the call saying his health was failing, but there it was. Tata, my father had been diagnosed with cancer, I had to go to him.

When I made the decision to leave, I didn't know how long I'd be gone. In a perfect world I would have liked to have had my wife and son with me, Tata had never met Abby, he'd never had a chance to hold his grandson. Unfortunately, we weren't expecting to travel out of the country so soon, and we still didn't have a passport for Joe, we decided I'd go alone. I thought I'd go there, find out how my father was doing, and convince him to come back to Chicago with me for treatment. I'd forgotten how stubborn he was.

My father refused to leave his home. He refused to leave his friends. My father had spent his entire life there and nothing I could say could convince him to leave. I had no choice but to stay as we first went through the beginning of his treatments, then a worsening of his condition, by the time a surgery robbed him of the ability to walk, I had been there almost six months.

I never wanted to be away from Abby and Joe that long, I certainly didn't plan for it to happen, and I understood how difficult it was for Abby to juggle her work at the hospital and Joe's care even with the nanny. I didn't realize at the time that the stress of my being away and the extra pressures were going to cause her to relapse on her drinking, and it was that relapse that caused the additional problem.

We reached a point with my father's condition where it seemed that his condition had stabilized and I thought it would be safe for me to fly home for a short visit. In the time that I'd been in Croatia I had managed too to rebuild my relationship with my brother and we thought it would be a nice surprise for Abby if he flew back with me to meet her and Joe. Unfortunately the reception wasn't what we'd expected, and Abby was angry at my bringing him back without talking to her first. We'd only been there a couple of days when the call came that our father had died, and at the same time Abby told me that she'd started drinking again. I wasn't as supportive as I should have been, I'll admit to that, but, I had to go back to Croatia to bury my father and settle his affairs. We decided that Joe would go with me, and she would go into rehab, and when she finished she'd fly over and join us. I never realized at the time that she was hiding a secret far worse then the fact that she'd begun drinking again, far worse than the fact that she had put Joe's life in danger by driving with him in the car while drunk. It was only when Abby arrived in Croatia that she broke the news to me that she'd slept with her boss during one of her drunken binges.

When we returned to Chicago things weren't the same between us. It wasn't just that I no longer had my job at County, though that was part of it. I couldn't get past the fact that she'd betrayed our vows, and I couldn't wake up every day and face her until I came to terms with what I was feeling, I decided I needed some time and space to work things out, so, I got an apartment and moved out.

I found a new job at a hospice, it was a huge change from working in the ER, but, I think it allowed me a chance to really come to terms with my father's death. Abby and I remained friendly and Joe shared time between both apartments during the separation. Eventually I realized that I still loved Abby and despite what had happened I was willing to try and forgive her, to do that though we both decided would require that we make a change. As hard as it would be for both of us, Abby and I decided to leave Chicago. We decided that a new city, new jobs, new friends, would allow us to fully put what had happened behind us and move forward. It's not easy, but, for Joe, and for our relationship we have to do this. I love my wife, and I love my son, and if this is what it takes to salvage our lives then this is what we have to do. I can only hope that it works because I don't know if I can survive losing another family.

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