I consider myself having started late, though I guess if you ask any 20 something year old they will think they are on the right track until they bypass their 20’s. My life is far from what I expected it to be. I thought that I had a pretty good idea of what I was supposed to be doing in life. I followed “The plan.” I graduated high school, went to college, had a few monogamous relationships, started dating my ex, graduated college, engaged before I committed to staying in a place, because for some reason we think that you have to be engaged to stay in a place and that somehow that makes it ‘official’, got married….worked.
I did what I was supposed to do. I worked fucking hard too. I thought that if I worked hard it would all turn out alright. I was about to buy a house when I found out that my ex husband had been cheating on me and lying to…basically a child. I had been trying to do the right thing, move our lives forward, working myself and staying in one place because I was so afraid of change and that I would drive him away.
My husband had always been a very quiet but over the years (Lets just call him W) had gotten quieter. I knew that he was depressed, clinically, but I couldn’t force him to do anything about it. It was something that we had talked about and he felt like I tried to do. He called it controlling him. I called it asking when he’d be home from work or asking him to put his schedule on the fridge. We worked in restaurants so I know that was hard; we can’t be sure when we are getting out. But he was never happy. I asked him to come out with me for Valentines day or things like that and he would just be….so miserable. Eventually, I figured he would come to his own decision and get help. And I would have to wait until he did for risk of him resenting me more.
Life went on. A had to do my own thing because…really what else was the option? I started training. I ran half marathons and a full marathon. He only came to the first half and wasn’t even home to congratulate me after the full and I took an Uber home, though he did drop me off.
We were looking at houses and had put in two offers and he genuinely seemed excited about the townhouse when our offer got excepted. Two days before the option period ended I texted him that we were having a new roof put on to which he replied: “We need to talk.”
It went on via text for a while where he said he didn’t want to call because it made him feel too vulnerable. As if you are supposed to feel comfortable telling your wife of almost six years that you want to separate. I finally convinced him that after 9 years of being together I deserved to have this done face to face.
When he got home, he told me that he was depressed and that part of the reason was because of me and I made him feel controlled and “unsafe”. I felt horrible and we agreed that he needed counselling and to get back on antidepressants (Of which he hadn’t been taking them since middle school, or even gotten checked out). I agreed that I needed to see someone too if I have control issues.
I knew that I couldn’t stay there. None of my family was there and there was no support system. He wanted to separate for six months and see how he felt, he said. I agreed…and I believed him when I asked of he had been seeing anyone else and he said that “In spite of all of our problems, that’s something I’ve never done.” I even asked him if he planned on seeing anyone while we were separated and he said he didn’t plan on it and needed to focus on ‘getting himself right’. (Note that we hadn’t had sex in a year and it was something that I asked about and tried for and he said that it was part of the depression.)
It was hard….but I left. I packed all of my things up into my Rogue and my Mother came down to drive the 26-hour drive back to where they live with me. The night before I left he came over and talked about how great it was going to be in a few months when he moved up there for me. About all the things that we could do and that he was already feeling so much better after being put back on antidepressants. I felt this surge of hope even though I told him I couldn’t deal with false hope right now. I told him that I felt like this was the last time that we were going to see each other and he kissed the side of my head and told me that it wasn’t. That this was just the beginning.
I left all of our wedding photos around and little notes reminding him that he was strong and that he was going to get through this. To take care of himself and that he wasn’t alone. I set off the bug bombs like he asked before I left, taking our other dog with us.
I talked to him that night like he asked when we got to our first rest stop. He said he had just gotten home and gotten to clean the apartment super cleaned up since no one was in it. It was hard but we were working at it you know?
A few days later though….I got a message from a dumby account on Instagram. It was a picture of a text message he had sent her trying to keep her from leaving. It was about how yes he was married and how I treated him like shit and that we decided to stop fooling ourselves. (I didn’t decide anything in this okay?) About how he tried so hard to make me happy and how he had felt like a failure when he couldn’t (He hadn’t done anything with me or acknowledged me for months before this.) About how he had finally been happy with her and how he hadn’t told her he was married because he was scared of losing her.
I instantly called him and told him. He told me it was just once after we had separated and how they had never done anything before that. That it was a mistake. I was hurt obviously and angry but I kept reminding myself that we were separated…even if he had said horrible things about me in that text. Mind you, this was only 4 days after I had left.
I texted the woman back thank you. She didn’t respond until the next morning but she wanted me to know everything. Not only did I find out that he had not just slept with her once, but had been doing so for nine months, but that she was only 19 and he had told her he was 21 (He’s 30). She found out he was married because she had been moving into the apartment that I had just left (Within 2 days), and had found a valentines day card that I had put on the counter so he would randomly find it and remember something good….which means that he sanitized the entire apartment, everything with my name on it, everything that had belonged to a girl, all of our wedding pictures…all of those little notes I left. He had told her that he wanted to marry her. While lying to both of us. She had found out and run but found me on Social Media because she ‘didn’t want him to get away with it’. I told her that she was brave and thank you for contacting me. It was a really stand up thing to do and not everyone would have that kind of courage. I told her to be careful. That he had lied to me for years and that even if he said that stuff….we had been days away from buying a house.
I called him and told him what I had found out. He just went quiet. I asked him if this was the real truth and he said yes….quietly. That he had been happy with her and she was so great…whistful, like I wasn’t there every day trying to get him to do normal adult things every day. I asked him about the age thing and he said that he’d told her that because he was afraid she wouldn’t give him the time of day of she knew he was thirty.
Controlling? He had a 9-month long affair so if I was controlling I sure as heck wasn’t good at it was I?! I never checked his text messages or his phone or his email….nothing. All I did was ask him when he was coming home from work….and yet he still makes me feel guilty. He says that he was afraid to tell me that he was unhappy, that he was afraid of disappointing me….but instead of trying to work things out, getting help, going to marriage counseling, well he started living a double life.
Either way…I told him I want a divorce and he was fine with it….which of course he would be. He really doesn’t have to change anything. He still has his job and the apartment until the end of the lease. He has all of our stuff and the furniture and I wouldn’t be shocked if he puts up a fight about sending the few things that I’ve asked for. Part of me gets all paranoid and thinks that he’s still sleeping with his side girl and this was his way of breaking up with me so he really didn’t have to do anything. He did agree to pay us back the month that we used for the appraisal of the house and the inspection. Thank god because my father probably would have sued him just to punish him.
I finally asked him a few days later what his plan was in a few months? Was he just going to tell me that in his therapy he didn’t think we should work on things? No, he told me. He was just going to live with this girl and see how he felt later. Nine years, Nine years of my life for someone that not only wouldn’t try, but someone who lied at every turn, who blames me for behaving like that, for pretending to be 9 years younger then he was to bang a teenager….who he was also lying to!
The point is that I did ‘the plan‘. What we all think we are supposed to do. School, graduate, get married, about to buy a house, wanting kids, ect. I sacrificed taking care of myself so that I could have a life with someone. That’s what we are told we are supposed to do. But it’s not true. There is no set path. There is no road map to happiness and just because we are taught the path, doesn’t mean that it works. We can do everything right and still have the rug pulled out from under us.
In the past 3 years since this happened, I learned a lot about myself. I learned who I truly was as an adult and had the security of having my support system to start a new career in which I have been able to save money, try new hobbies and make independent choices instead of constantly having to drag someone with me.
I love my life now. I love how much I get to do and how many things I get to discover. I gave up so much in my 20’s for someone else, thinking that I was an adult, thinking that I knew what I was doing. I have done a lot of growing, not wanting my trauma from the lies of my past marriage to get the best of me and destroy the rest of my life. Self-work has been a huge part of this. Learning how to love the time that I spend on my own. Learning that I can say no. Learning to assert myself. Even something as seemingly innocuous as learning how to not need someone else to be proud of me. I learned these things late, but the more I talk to other people the more I realize how we think there are certain things that are supposed to happen. More then that I have realized that things we think are unbelievable, are actually more common than we think.
Over the next 30 days, I am going to write about some of those lessons that I have learned and why I feel like we need to talk about them more; why we need to rethink the time lines that we carried over from our parents’ generations- which are in most cases, ridiculously outdated. It is important to squash these ideas and encourage all people to know themselves and to not push people, consciously or unconsciously down a path. Most of all in their 20’s when people think they are adults…but are still extremely vulnerable.