I’ll never forget that day. It was Valentines weekend and my girlfriend and I were taking our children to the coast to play. It wasn’t just a trip to the beach though, it had special meaning. Her and I had planned to do a professional photo shoot for our husbands in order to give them sexy photos as presents for VD. Both were working and couldn’t be with us on the holiday itself, so we thought it would be a lot of fun and make us feel sexy.
We were passing through a small town in Philomath, OR when my cell rang. It was my husband. I picked up the phone and in the minutes that followed was forced to pull over the car for fear of wrecking it because I couldn’t see through tears. He had called me to tell me he was leaving me for another woman. He had been seeing her for three months and she was so amazing our life was being thrown out after 15 years.
My entire world crumbled. I sat in a car, in that tiny town shaking uncontrollably and sobbing. My friend who was with me was trying to calm me, and the children looked on wide eyed from the back of my mini-van. All that I knew as my family was done. I had molded myself into this mother and wife, and now I was going to be a mother, but the wife part was disappearing in front of me.
In talking and calming with my girlfriend, we made the decision to continue to the beach because that is where my family was and there was certainly no reason to go home. When I returned on Sunday, with photos that meant nothing, I had to face that my reality was going to be severely altered. Would I move home to the beach, what would I do? First thing was to sit and discuss with him the choice he was making. I had to know why my loyalty and dedication to him and our child meant nothing.
We talked for what was probably hours and in those moments somehow I convinced him that what he was doing was wrong. That three months of a fun filled fling weren’t going to represent the future and the little honeymoon of experience he was currently enjoying could fade. I told him how hard times, arguments, money woahs and many other things would burden and change his happy little relationship and for what? He didn’t know, that was the thing, he knew me, and he knew how I would deal with things, where my heart was, he knew everything about me. He had no idea how she would react to any of the things that make marriage hard work. He didn’t know if she would turn into some really scary bitchy person or if she would take things with stride. He didn’t know if they fought once if she would dump him or if she would stand by his side completely devout waiting to ride out the wave.
After our talk he took a couple of days to think and I took a couple of days cry and be in my zombie like place where getting out of bed was difficult. He finally came to me and admitted that he was wrong, and said he wanted to stay with me and work things out. Part of me was relieved, but another part of me was just dead. I had lost the piece in me that was certain that no matter what, I could have faith in my marriage.
Over the next two years things got worse and worse. We moved across town to a mobile home to be closer to his mother, and had a lot of repairs to face there. Things were very trying, and money was worse. I tried very hard to manage our money but his spending was out of control and I finally gave up and handed him the reigns. This was a horrible idea. We were financially in a whirlpool getting sucked into the depths. I had taken some time of work to sort my emotions, be with my daughter and attempt to mend my marriage. The thing was, we had plenty of income to cover our meager expenses, but even still, somehow we couldn’t meet them.
About a year before the big “D” escaped my mouth, his father who was very ill with heart disease came to live in our home. He had been living in the Port Angeles area and had no real relationship with my husband, and hadn’t since he was 11, but he needed help and somewhere to live and we were family. I was happy to help as I could. So in moves dear old dad with heart issues and no SSI or income of any kind. Dear old dad who smokes four cartons of cigarettes a month and has all these other special needs that are expensive. It was a financial strain, so I did what I do best, researched and then helped him to file what he needed to get assistance from SSI and food stamps.
He was approved and his income came, but he was angry and nasty to me all the time. My husband and I had also worked really hard to build our daughter up and make her this very strong little girl who really believed in herself, and this man would angrily tell her what he thought of her all the time. She often cried and ran to her room because her “grandpa” told her she was a whiny baby or he got on her for doing things that weren’t bad or wrong. He wouldn’t let her breath and no matter what I said he was lash out at me too. The days of dealing with him were very wearing. Then on the return of my husband from work, I would cry to him and tell him how hard the day was, and where things left off prior to his return with his father, and he wouldn’t sit to have a talk with him or take control of things and put him in his place. He would just ignore it and ignore the damage this man was doing to the emotional well-being of our little girl, and even go to the extent of calling me drama for having issues with it.
You add that to the financial woahs and the fact that I knew my marriage would never feel the same to me again, and my clock was ticking. I wanted out. Our fighting was getting more and more severe. I was drinking pretty regularly, and let me preface the fact that the amount I was drinking was NOTHING in comparison to later in my life, but for what I knew at the time it was common for me to wipe out a 750 ml bottle of wine. I felt like I had dedicated my heart and soul for 17 years to a man who no longer wanted to be at my side, who didn’t care for how I felt or things that hurt me, and he was no longer that partner in life, the one who would have my back no matter what. The little bit of security in knowing that no matter what our family unit would remain was gone, and now he was even going as far as to allow the mistreatment of our daughter.
So that was it, I was done with attempting to force a situation that wasn’t going to ever make me happy and that no longer gave me even the sense of security that I wanted for the family unit we had once been. I had to take the step and end the marriage and salvage what I could of my dignity, and my self respect, and also to attempt to recover what I could of my daughters emotional well being.
But how? I wasn’t working, I had no income. I had worked our whole marriage until we hit the rocks, and then I had left a fantastic job to be at home and try to take care of what mattered, so here I was, 150 miles from my family and penniless. I had to make some sort of a plan. I knew that my daughter had gone through so much so I wanted to make sure that I attempted to keep her in the same schools and with the same friends. Her well-being was my priority. So once I had an idea of what I was going to do, I broke the news to my husband. I want a divorce, and I want you to move out of our room. You can stay in the spare room until we figure things out.
He was devastated but he obliged. He then realized where things were, he made his father move out and started trying to take me on dates, and asked me to go to counseling. I had exhausted every bit of what I had in me to fight for the marriage and I had nothing for him. I didn’t want to be married anymore. My feelings were dead, my heart was cold, and I just wanted to move on.
As a side note, I got a little vindication about his father. A few weeks after he left here, we were given the scare of a lifetime. It seems when he went to stay with some other extended family, the mother in the family caught my father-in-law grooming her children for sexual assault. The cops had interviewed her children and were going to arrest him when he left suddenly from their home. We took my daughter to get evaluated to be sure he never crossed any lines with her, and thankfully they think she was never harmed.
The other thing he attempted was taking me on dates. In the 17 years we were together, I got one white rose from him. There were never holiday presents or flowers for anything, never private dinners or a movie alone, and I wasn’t really damaged by that, but still, to decide that now, when things are damaged to the point of no return that it is time to buy me flowers or take me on a date was almost like salt in the wound. It was desperation on his side, and just pushed me farther from him and made me angry.
In the months that followed, he moved around the corner from me. We filed papers together for the divorce and tried to keep everything fairly even and amicable. Eventually that turned south, because all promises made on his part were broken, and then eventually I was forced to stand my ground and leave many of my promises broken due to his choices affecting mine.
We got to a point where we didn’t talk at all. Honestly that still sucks, we were so close for so long, but after the divorce I saw this person in him that I had protected for so long, that I had lied to my family about and hid away that I was incredibly resentful for. Now we are cordial after almost 8 years, but a few minutes is about all I can take. I still struggle with forgiving myself for hurting him every day. I know in the long run, we would have ended up apart and honestly, he deserved a woman who could love him the way a man and woman are supposed to. I couldn’t and I think even more than hurting him by divorce, I am angry that I hurt him by denial of where I was emotionally for all those years.
Little did I know how lucky I was to have a guy stand at my side as true as he did for so many years. Even though we didn’t last, I had no idea how truly horrible men could be. No offense to those good men remaining out there, but it became clear very quickly as I re-entered the world completely green of any dating know how, that men were not like my daddy, and those who were, were incredibly hard to find.
To be continued…