Radical Recovery – Seven Poems

Seven Poems

They call it ‘midlife crisis.’

Mild words for complete devastation.


Our words are hard in the air … 
imprisoned in stiff shells
of doubt and fear.

What I want 
is the warmth
of a heartfelt laugh between us.


Have you seen my naked body so often
that you are no longer moved by it?
Have you felt my bare skin so many times
that it’s lost its power to excite?
Are you bored with my shape
and with my familiar moves and sounds?
Will I ever again 
make you take a quick breath 
of gratitude and joy?

I wonder, 
and I have to work hard
not to be unbearably sad …
because I think I know the answer.


Geese flying, honking overhead
Delicious cheese ravioli, leftover from last night
Two owls talking to each other in their own Morse code 
Birds chattering everywhere
Perfect, breathless, 65 degree evening on the deck
The sun shining sideways through leaves – life-full green 
A spring evening of perfection
listening to the game 
having a glass of wine
Our youngest at a friend’s
Our dog at my feet 
A perfect evening … except

My husband loves another woman.
A woman who says her husband doesn’t understand
and takes her children to counseling
because they’re having trouble in school
and they aren’t sleeping very well.

For three years, 
my husband has methodically, knowingly, callously 
destroyed our life.
I’m incredibly inexpressibly sad.
But I’ve got to face the truth.

I’ve got to make my heart face the reality that he wants to share
his life with someone else …
and all my rage and tears won’t change that.
and thirty-three years of loving and living together
won’t change that.

I’ve got to give up trying to make him understand
everything he’s losing.

I’ve got to give up trying to make him see 
everything he’s destroying.

For one thing … our grown up children
don’t want to see the anguish 
and the humiliation any longer.

It makes them sad 
and angry,
and they wonder if they ever really knew their father at all.


I feel so totally alone.

Who can understand this pain?

Who can understand the sense of agonizing disbelief my husband of 32 years would have so little care for me…
that he would have so little regard for my heart…
that he would have so little concern 
about what this would do to me forever?

How is that possible?

Could I ever give my heart to a man like that again?

Could I ever feel safe with a man like that?

Could I ever entrust myself to a man who could do that for so long?

Who could look me in the eye
and lie 
and betray my trust
with such selfish disregard …
for so long?

Who could say to me,
“We could work this out
if you weren’t so unforgiving.”
And that very night
call her,
and kiss her,
and have her in his bed
in Room 120 at the Fairfield Inn.

Can we mend?

How can our love survive
after your betrayal …
when you once again felt that intoxication,
that quickened heart,
in moments stolen away
in secret places  
with someone else?

How can that ever, ever be mended …
for me?
or for you?

How can you now be satisfied 
with someone you grew tired of?
someone you could so easily discard?
someone whose heart you could tear apart
without enough remorse
to make you stop?

How can I ever feel safe 
that behind our loving
you don’t quietly wish
you could be excited again?


I’ll admit
I want the security
that you want me completely
without hesitation …… nothing held back.
I don’t want to worry
that somewhere deep inside
you feel like you
had to give up the true ‘love of your life’ for respectability.

I’ll admit 
I want romance…
an extravagance of heartfelt affection. 
I want to know
that you have a tingling excitement
about our future together.

I’ll admit
I want to live the rest of my life with a man
who loves me without reservation,
who is secure enough to show me that with fun 
and optimism
and good-natured laughter.
I want a man with a contented desire 
to be honest and true…
not someone who feels
hemmed in and restricted by faithfulness.

I’ll admit
I have doubts you can be that kind of man.

I’ll admit
I’m afraid you’ll always think that 
money and things and activities
and being president of everything
will bring you satisfaction.

I’m afraid you will forever be looking 
for something in the pages of Playboy and Penthouse 
and between the legs of easy women 
to fill the empty spaces you have inside.

I’ll admit
I’m ready to say,
“Go ahead, have your cheap unbalanced immoral girlfriend!”

I want someone better, 
something richer,
a good life of love and laughter.

I’m tired 
of hoping you’ll grow up enough 
to grasp the unbelievable pleasures 
of love over the long run.

Or hoping you will learn to be content with what you have,

Or wishing you could understand the exquisite joys
of sharing your heart and your self 
with me
and with your children and grandchildren.

I’ll admit
most of all, I’m tired of your life of lies.

But you know what’s really sad?

I’ll admit 
I keep wanting to give you another chance.
I keep thinking God will 
somehow make this turn out all right.

I’ll admit, 
after all these years,
it’s hard for me to give up on you … 
and on us.

I’ll admit 
it’s hard for me to accept 
that it’s time to let you go.


Did you actually think she was worth 
giving up your children every day?

Or that she could ever repair 
the quiet look of sadness in their eyes?

Did you really think she could take the place
of seeing the family of geese with your grandchildren?

Or laughing around the table about “I eight the refrigerator?”

Did you really think she could fill up the empty spaces
everywhere you turn?

Or could heal the hurt of people who loved you?

Or could soften the disappointment
of people who respected you?

Did you really think she could replace
the rich, deep pleasures of doing right?

You might have thought so …
or maybe still do.

But you’re wrong.


What an ugly 
horrible word.

I hate how it looks on the page.

I hate the way it makes my heart hurt.

I hate the fears it conjures up…
lonely nights
with no one to feel close … skin to skin
lonely mornings 
with no one to look out the window 
while we’re still snuggled under the sheets
lonely days 
with no one to go for a quick bicycle ride 
going to soccer games alone
going to school functions without you at my side
holidays trips
and I can’t even imagine seeing you share life with someone else.

But when I can finally face the facts with less sadness,
maybe then I’ll understand that divorce might mean something else.

Maybe it will mean
nights when I’m totally secure that the important people in my life 
are honest …
and faithful.
maybe it will mean not having nights of wondering where you are 
or mornings 
or middle of the afternoons
or feeling once again that sick, 
discovery of betrayal. 

Maybe it will mean looking out at the moon and sharing the beautiful sight…
not wondering if you are somewhere screwing your girlfriend.

Maybe it will mean not agonizing in the darkness 
wondering in the quiet if you wish
you were in someone else’s bed.

Maybe it will mean feeling more free to be myself
and sharing more time with people who laugh easily …
people who are fun 
and who know that God makes a difference.

Maybe it will mean finding bits of myself 
that have somehow been lost over the years
and maybe finding someone good and true to share myself with.


But I still hate the word divorce,  and I’m utterly heartbroken it describes my life.

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