I have been thinking about this post all week. I know it needs to be written and to be honest, because that is who I am. However, I don’t want to come across as bashing my ex-husband. Having said that, this post may come across slightly bitter and angry because the time I am describing is full of those emotions. Read with that disclaimer in mind.
I am a homebody at my very core. I love coming home and a lot of energy has gone into making my home a safe place for myself and my family. After the details of the affair came to light, overnight my home went from being a safe place to being a battleground. I remained in the master bedroom and my ex-husband moved up into the office, but every other room was shared space. Over the course of the next six weeks I begged him repeatedly to leave and he adamantly refused. He continued carrying on with the affair, now just openly, while I struggled to process and grieve without having a safe place to do so.
I am a fighter. I could say that I got it from my Irish-Catholic side of the family, but, in reality, I was born this way. Throughout the course of our marriage, if I had an issue, I wanted to talk about it, hash it out, and fight if necessary. I thought my ex-husband was a good fit for many years because he would allow me to do so and rarely get angry. In hindsight, and even over the past year or so, I realized that this was hurting us. He wouldn’t fight – not with me and not for our marriage, but rather internalized his anger and frustration and used those pent up frustrations for an excuse for his infidelity. As you might imagine, the period between the affair revelation and his moving out was full of arguments. I was angry and hurt and many issues kept coming to light as the web of lies unraveled. In my fighting nature, I confronted him on many of these things and looking back, I probably should have just let it go. I fought because I wanted him to apologize and feel guilty. The closest I ever got to an apology was “I am sorry for hurting you”, not “I should not have had an affair, I should have talked to you, I should never have lied to you, etc.” These were not pretty arguments either, they were full of me yelling in between sobs, cursing (something I rarely do, but apparently my inner sailor emerged), and struggling to put my feelings and frustrations into words. The thing about me is that I can be articulate on paper, but struggle with it conversation and even more so when fighting. I am not proud of these fights and these were me at my very worst, but even as I was fighting with him, I was begging him to leave so that I wouldn’t have to be constantly confronted with the pain of what he had done to me. Shortly after he moved out, I found out he had been recording me during these fights and sending the recordings to family and friends. He recorded me at my most ugly and vulnerable and sent those recordings to “show how crazy she is” and to “get people on his side”. In many ways, I am struggling more with the fact that he recorded me as I grieved and yelled through the end of my marriage, than by the affair itself.
In between the fights, there was also the very real things that had to be done. I retained an attorney and found a therapist. My weeks became full of appointments and paperwork and trying to sort through our finances and the logistics of divorce. I found myself sitting in Planned Parenthood one day (as my OB-GYN couldn’t get me in for 2 months), waiting to have STD testing done because in our fights I found out that this was just one of many affairs that he had over the years. So, not only had he hurt me emotionally, he had put me at risk for a sexually transmitted disease. I also had a graduate school class to finish (and I did, with a solid “A”). Oh, yeah, and I still had two sons with school and soccer, who needed me to be mom and to feed them and check homework and help them process what was happening to our family. I was also busy applying for new jobs as I knew that I could not continue working 11 am to 11 pm as a single mom. Surprisingly, I got it done and managed to work full-time as well.
This six-week period was extremely dark and painful and still kind of a blur in my mind. I talked to friends and family constantly. I went on lots of long walks with my dogs. I exercised every day and did lots of yoga. I listened to podcasts on my walks and read some books. I began the process of letting go of my future and grieving. I vacillated between the stages of grief on almost an hourly basis. He finally gave me a move-out date and I approached that day with dread and hope that I could finally move on. Then, the night before he was scheduled to leave, I came home from work and took the dogs on a long walk so he could have some time with the boys. I came home from the walk and began getting ready for bed when I heard him say “I am heading out”. I peeked around the corner and said “oh, are you staying at a hotel tonight?”. He responded again with “I am heading out”. I looked at him confused. He then said, “I am headed to Tennessee tonight” and he turned around and left. I don’t know what I expected, but this is not how I envisioned our goodbye. I thought maybe I would give him one last hug or shake his hand or something. Instead, he lied to me about even the day he was leaving, took my cats, and headed out without even allowing me a chance to say goodbye. Nearly 14 years of marriage and he didn’t have the courage to look me in the eye and say goodbye.