I may not have the flow of this conversation exactly right, but you’ll get the drift. One of these days I will get smart and record them in all of their glory.
Tony told me his Mother is very sick and he found out right before he left on his trip.
“I’m sorry to hear that. I wish there was something I could do.”
I was torn between my gut telling me he been lying and god-knows-what telling me that kind of lying – to me! – was impossible. So I asked some questions to try to get a sense of the truth:
“Did you get a chance to talk to Mary and your son?”
“Yeah, we did talk and we skyped”.
“I see. So you made time for the things that mattered.”
There was silence on the other end of the line.
“It’s bullshit, Tony. You and I talk almost every day. I simply don’t believe that you couldn’t talk to me. There’s something you aren’t telling me.”
We moved on to other topics. He told me it wasn’t as if he was seeking out others when he was away. I told him it wasn’t really a concern – I know how much of a hermit he is. We discussed how different we are, how I talk to my friends and use them as support, while he doesn’t. When I’m upset I seek out others, and he goes underground.
I said “let me put aside the fact that I am not integrated into your life at all, that there are people who can’t know I exist, you are just so different from me in how you reach out.”
He said he had been thinking a lot about that, and how talking about it might make him cry. He said his Dad wasn’t the guy to always have his back and set him straight, that he really missed having that person in his life. His Dad had a stroke and then died when he was 17, so he lost his chance at that. His brother was several years younger. He and his brother don’t have a good relationship, and it’s only moderately better with his Mother.
He said “Ann, I learned to be self-reliant. I don’t trust anyone, I don’t let anyone in.”
I told him I thought it also meant if he lets someone in, he risks being hurt again, being abandoned. Whereas I put myself out there and as a result, get hurt.
Later, I brought the conversation back to where I needed it to be:
“Tony, didn’t you tell me Mary was away somewhere?”
“Well, your son must have missed you.”
“Yeah, I can’t wait to see him later today.”
“I could have sworn you told me they went on a trip somewhere, no?”
“Nope. I don’t know if they went anywhere. ”
“That’s bullshit, of course you would know where they were. You talked to him and Skyped with him”
“Don’t lie to me Tony… You know, I was thinking a lot too while you were away. Thinking about how if you decided to get back with Mary, you wouldn’t want to tell me and probably wouldn’t know how to tell me. You worry I’d be angry.”
“Yeah” he said, “I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, about getting back with her.”
“What did you decide?”
“What do you mean?”
“Seriously? I mean, you said you’ve been thinking a lot about getting back with her, what did you decide?”
“Ann, I change my mind every single day. I’ve been wanting to talk to you about it.”
“Tony, of course you can, you can talk to me about anything. You seemed a bit different the last couple of times I saw you. More distant. But look, Tony, you’ve lied to me in the past, you aren’t always forthcoming. Although perhaps more recently you have been. I think, or I need to think so. Maybe not recently. I don’t know.”
Quietly, I heard “Yes, you’re right.”
“So I just can’t deal with you lying to me, and that includes by omission. Normally when you haven’t been able to talk to me – and you and I talk almost every single day – it’s because you’re with someone who can’t know I exist. And I find it inconceivable you couldn’t make time in 10 days to talk to me. So what aren’t you telling me? And realizing I don’t trust you? Bringing up all that old shit? That was probably the worst of all of that. I haven’t told you in a long time how I feel about you because I know it makes you uncomfortable…”
I couldn’t finish the thought, I started to get choked up.
“I need you to not lie to me, Tony.”
“So, I will see you on Sunday?”
“Sunday night it is.”
and I hung up the phone.
All images in this series are from the Cary Grant movie “My Favorite Wife”