I am nothing if not a diligent student, so when my therapist, Mitchell asks me to track my headaches, think about what I hope to gain from an open marriage, and talk to my mother about the one she had, I take my homework seriously. I track my migraines, but it’s hard to find a pattern. I can get a headache while dropping Nate off in his classroom, during lunch duty or my last-period class, picking Daniel up from Afterschool, getting the boys into bed at night. Or at four a.m., I might wake up from a dream in which my head is being crushed by boulders. I might find myself downing Excedrin before a date night with Stewart, trying to keep the pain at bay so I can maintain a compartment of myself for marital bliss and carefree sex. I might think about Matt, and the nausea will rise as light flashes behind my eyeballs. I’ll be forced into bed and will cry under the covers, hoping I can purge my tears as well as my headache before the kids find me. And my last surefire way to enter the migraine zone? Thinking about my other two assignments. Why do I want an open marriage? And do I really have to talk to my mother? I ask Stewart to take the boys to the playground on a Saturday so I can call her. Earlier in the week, I sent an email asking if we could make time to talk. My mother and I speak on the phone regularly. So my request is designed to forewarn her: this won’t be a typical chat. Of course, she writes back. How intriguing! * I rack my brain for days, trying to think of where to begin. And I silently rehearse as she answers the phone, fumbling the receiver, reminding me again of her new physical reality. “Hi, Mom!” I say, summoning my best cheerful voice. “Hello, sweetie,” she says, sounding like she’s far away. “I’m sorry. Just give me one moment while I get the phone in the right spot.” It […]
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