I arrive at our joint session late - not due to any chemical influence, as I'm sure Sarah has inferred in my absence, but because I couldn't remember the ignition code to the new CattleBox. After 25 minutes of searching I'd given up and called for a ROE lift.
"We're doing truths," Sarah says to me in a tone that hides none of her annoyance; a 3rd grade teacher tone. She says it like we've discussed this before, so I respond agreeably, "Truths, cool. Sorry I'm late Catherine---"
"It's your dime, Mr. Castleton [she uses my last name to reprimand me, not unlike a 3rd grade teacher] - the one you should apologize to is your [she pauses to remember what the status is] ... your wife, Sarah here."
Her mouth says, "It's nothing" while her body says, "It's everything"; she hasn't heard me apologize in so long that her parts can't decide what to do with it. The two 3rd grade teachers share a look that I catch in the wall mirror as I turn to hang my coat. There is so much collusion in this room it's stifling.
"Now, where were we?" Sarah resets.
"Sarah, I want you to take this pad and write out 25 things that you are too afraid to share with... [did she just forget my name?!] share with Gavin."
"And Gavin, take this one and do the same," she hands me a pad and pen.
"What kind of stuff am I writing here? Truths that she can't share with me?" I stall, feigning befuddlement.
"Truths. These are things that you feel strongly about but are too afraid to tell Sarah because... you're afraid to admit them... or you think you'll hurt her feelings... or she'll judge you---"
"We tell each other everything! There isn't one thing---"
she settles a hand on Sarah's knee, "It's just an exercise. Even in a very intimate relationship there are still things we keep hidden from one another---"
"Ok, here I go. Truths. Truths," I begin to play along. This is $400/hr, so I do my best to limit the amount of time we spend listening to Sarah pontificate. I am annoyed at how textbook an exercise this is, but if I'm going to get things back to normal - if I'm going to GET A KEY TO MY OWN HOUSE AGAIN(!) I have to jump through these stupid hoops and at least give off the appearance of cooperation.
My first few truths are, admittedly, sarcastic, but, to my surprise, somewhere after the first few the whole thing becomes a bit cathartic. When Catherine calls "Time!" I've only laid out 24 truths. I spent the last five minutes of the session trying to figure out which of eight remaining truths should be my number 25. I did not have time to notice if Sarah had struggled to complete the task. We gather our things and stand to leave, shaking Catherine's hand. I feel lighter, relieved even. I tell myself I will do this exercise on my own, regularly. "Good session guys, we are making progress. You have to believe that. Now next week we'll exchange lists and discuss." The blood drops out of my face and I lunge for the pad but she anticipates my reaction and pulls back, "Uh, uh Mr. Castleton! You have to TRUST here! This is all about PROGRESS!" It is at this distinct moment that I realize she and my wife have every intention of ending our marriage, and they've managed to get me to pay for the rope I will hang myself with.