Friday, January 31, 2014

Who The $#@&% Did I Marry!?

A friend, who is a mutual friend of Darling Hubby's texted me yesterday afternoon.

"Hey, just thought you should know, he's changed his relationship status on Facebook to 'in a relationship with Nasty Rotten HomeWreckin Trailer Trash without benefit of the trailer Skank'  Don't get upset, but it says since September 2013"  Remember, he just left December 27th. That means that he had been carrying on with her for the last 4 months of our marriage. Our marriage that is still not disolved yet as of today, January 31st.

My heart jumped up in my mouth. How could they be so brazen!
His family, that just a month ago was MY family, would see that!
He was making me look like a fool!

I know that his family is embarassed, and extremely apologetic. They are all in shock that he so easily threw away a seventeen year relationship and walked away without explanation. I am assured that the person he has become was not the person they had raised. After being told repeatedly through the years, that I was the "daughter-in-law that (she) had prayed for," his mother is at a loss for words.

Just when I think that I am free of any feelings for him, something like this happens and I'm sucked right back into that dark hole again. Right on the heels surving the "dusting of 2014" where I was on the verge of a breakdown. This has been an emotinal week.

I had already known a few weeks ago that he had changed his profile picture to one of him and her together. A friend sent it to me. It was taken sometime obviously in the past, based on the shirt he was wearing: his Auburn jersey. When he left our house to watch the Iron Bowl game, he had remarked how it barely fit anymore, but was his "lucky shirt."  I guess it should have been his "get lucky" shirt instead.  That is the shirt he is wearing in the picture. And all of his family saw this picture of him and her, sticking their tonges out, I can only assume, at me.

Darling Hubby's High School Girlfriend posted a comment on my brother's page. He had commented about finally getting off  from a 56 hour shift with the local police department. Though much younger than me,  I had known her as the daughter of a customer that frequented the store that I had worked for in high school.  Small town life, gotta love it. I decided to reach out to her as well.

Her story was pretty much the same as the other I heard and my own. He was a con man from as early as 15 or 16. He would break up with her for a few weeks, have his fun, then come crawling back, begging for forgiveness. She took him back many times. He was a smooth talker, and could easily manipulate her.  She thought this was "true love." He could convince her that an idea was hers, all the while getting his way.  He too would always ask  her for money, or make her pay when they went out. My thoughts went back to paying his attorney. Was the mistress dealing with that pressure now? He was lazy, only doing the barest minimum to get by. And he'd always insist on driving her car. I thought about the entire year before we were married when I let him drive one of my two Mustangs, because his car had "died."

I was told that she cheated on him when he was in Army basic training and only learned of it when he arrived home, before heading out to tech school. I was certain that I was hearing another verse of the same sad song. I was expecting to hear that she had remained faithful, while he actually cheated on her, but was surprised to learn that her story was different. 

"That part was true," she replied, "but it took that separation to realize what a real, loving, relationship was. I had a friend who knew we were dating, but had been someone to listen. He worked two jobs, and he would pay for everything every time we went out. The polar opposite of D/H. By the time he came home from basic, I was free of his spell." Though she did admit that he had been her first true love and that hurting him had been one of her biggest regrets.

She told me that she had been happy when they made contact again, a few years into our marriage. He told her that he had "found the love of a lifetime,"  a woman who was "everything he wanted and more." She was pleased to learn that this woman had been me.

She said that she had contacted him a few months ago. They discussed that one of her coworkers was friends with one of his brothers. Given that she lives two hours North of our hometown, she thought that was an amazing coincidence.  She said when she asked about us,  he had said that things were "rocky." Of course I told her that this revelation surprised me too. "He was telling everyone that he was unhappy, but the one person who could change that for him, " I had replied, "me." She had wondered if he was looking for an opening for her advice and had ignored him.

I told her not to worry, that our friends had steadily been telling him the whole time that he was messing up a really good thing.  That he had it made: beautiful, devoted wife, with a career, a nice home (albeit not the cleanest), a nice vehicle that was paid for, a comfortable life with all the trimmings. Everything a man could want, and they had all been jealous of him for that. Nothing that she said would have made a difference.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering if I need to be on an episode of "Who The (Bleep) Did I Marry?" to save some other poor soul from suffering at the hands of this con man.

Just this past weekend, I ran into a friend whom I had shared the one picture I was able to snag from the mistress's Facebook page before she blocked me.  I had sent that picture to several friends to be exact. Everyone was shocked. Little did I realize, that this particular friend worked for someone in D/H's family. She told me about the reaction of the family members in the office when she showed them the mistress's photo.
It was not pleasant.

I feel sorry for his mistress.  It's hard enough just being the mistress, with everyone knowing that you broke up his family, that you thought so little of yourself that you would stoop to taking someone else's husband rather than finding your own.  I've been told by his close family already, that she will not be welcomed, and they will view her with suspicion and distrust.  I will be a tough act to follow. 

I feel sorry for his parents, finding out that the boy they raised, grew up to be a man they would not want to know.

And I feel sorry for the next woman he cons when the "new" wears off this relationship.

But most of all, I feel sorry for me, for being so blind and stupid.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


I am reporting to you after surviving SNOWMAGEDDON 2014. I am happy to say, my "adventure" is over.

The state of Alabama knew that the central portion of our state would get "a light dusting of snow" on Monday night. What we got was a repeat of the Blizzard of 1993!

At 11:00 a.m. I left work, bound for home. The Chief told me to stick to the interstate because it would be heavily travelled. Little did I know just a few short hours, I would be trapped in one of the most harrowing experiences I have faced so far.

It was slow going. It took an hour to make what is usually a fifteen minute drive from the office to the interstate. I inched my way along, finally reaching the interstate, careful not to slam on my brakes. The snow was sticking and there were no ruts to follow, even behind the 18 wheelers. I made my way on to I-20, headed out of Birmingham, where the conditions seemed to improve.

Being alone with my thoughts right now, is not a good thing. I have the opportunity to mull over the past few weeks. The longer that I drove, the more angry I got at Darling Hubby (and his mistress) for what he had done to me. Despite being an awful driver any other time, he was amazingly calm, and drove surprisingly well on snow and ice. I had admired him for that.  He had always driven during situations like this, and I had always felt safe and protected.

But I was going to have to do this alone sometime, and now was as good a time as any.

By the time I had reached the I-459 interchange, just outside of Irondale, it was clear that something had happened up ahead. Traffic was at a standstill. It was now 1;30 p.m. My family texted me, as cell service was down due to jammed circuits. I was glad that I had bought gas on the way home the night before. I was going to need it.

I watched as 18 wheelers slipped and caught, rocking the trailers from side to side.

 It made me nervous and I tried my best to stay behind them. But as my lane would inch forward, I would find myself next to them again.

It took over an hour to make the otherwise short drive toward the Leeds exit.

As I approached the Leeds exit, I could see the traffic snarl below the Bass Pro Shop. "Goat Hill" looked like a parking lot. A long line of cars waited on the entrance ramp. I watched as several calls made a break along the shoulder of the road, only to be stymied by an empty car further up the way. I was averaging just a few dozen feet, but those were a few dozen feet closer to home.

I texted friends to see what progress they were making. One, a father, was frantically trying to get to his girlfriend and their baby who was stranded on I-20 driving in the opposite direction, She had picked up the baby from her parents and didn't even have a bottle for him. His phone was fading fast and her phone was apparently already dead.

I texted another, who I will call Brown Eyes (because, well, he has brown eyes: the second set I had ever fallen for, the first being JC when I was in first grade) or B/E for short, to see if he had any trouble getting home. He lived in the opposite direction from town. He replied that he had stayed on back roads and though it took a little longer than normal, had made it home in one piece.

I had made it about a mile past the Leeds exit and the traffic was moving less and less. Many had begun abandoning their vehicles and walking along the shoulder of the road.  Rescue vehicles had begun driving the wrong way on the opposite side of the interstate and I could see the tops of cars and trucks over the concrete wall as they followed. I was starting to go stir crazy and my heart was starting to race. Earlier I had been able to take my medicine on time, thanks to a unopened bottle of water from the Susan G. Komen walk in October. I had read about the dangers of drinking water that had been left in ones car. I drank only enough to get the pills down for fear of poisoning myself. My chest began to hurt. All I could think was that I was going to have a heart attack and no one would be able to get to me. I would die in my car on the side of I-20. Panicked, I frantically texted friends to talk me down off the ledge.

 It was now five o'clock and I suddenly had a more pressing matter to attend to: I had to pee.

I had started discussing it with my mother about an hour before. At the time, I was in the center lane. I explained how I was surrounded by traffic and there was no ideal way to handle the situation. Each time that I'd muster the courage, traffic would move a few feet, so I was afraid of getting caught with  my pants down (pardon the pun) when traffic started moving.  I didn't really have to go at the time, but knew it would not be long before it was pressing. She called me back with the solution. I just had to make it into the right lane.

As luck would have it, a spot opened up, and I was able to get in the right lane, behind a woman in a black sports car. She was irritating me by letting others into the lane in front of her, so we were not moving.  I spent a good ten minutes cursing at the back of her head. It was now dark and the snow was quickly forming ice. I watched as she would inch forward in her front-wheel-drive car, while dragging her back tires like a sled along behind her. I guessed that I was doing that too.

The plan was to open the passenger doors, both front and back, then squat between them. That way I would be shielded She suggested that I take off my vintage wool dress coat to do the deed. I wriggled free of it and threw it into the back seat, where I also put my purse and the reusable shopping bag,  that I lovingly refer to as "my briefcase," so as not to knock them out of the car.  I gathered two or three napkins I had found in the console and put them in the seat. I crawled over into the passenger seat, looking back out the front window to insure that traffic wasn't moving. I reached back and opened the back passenger door. When I opened the front passenger door, a gust of wind carried my napkins off into the night. But worse than all that, the interior light came on.

As if peeing on the side of the road was not bad enough, now I was going to do it under a spot light.

I bent over at the waist and unbuttoned my pants, squatting and pulling them down at the same time to avoid a show. The air was cold and the momentary blast on my bare backside, made getting things started nearly impossible. I thought that I heard the crunch of footsteps in the snow. Great, now I had looky loos coming up behind me. The ice on the side of the road was slick and my high-heeled boots had begun to slide. My feet were steadily sliding further and further apart. I already had a cramp in my right butt cheek from standing on the brake for so long. I was trying to relax and "let it flow." I frantically fished around in the floorboard for more napkins, managing to only come up with one. My sliding feet were now putting my boots and pants in the way. I squeezed my thighs together to try and bring my feet in, all the while bracing my abs to keep myself upright. THIS was much more of a workout than I bargained for!

It took forever! I had always been able to do my business really quickly, but this moment of torture seemed to go on forever. Across from me, I could see two drivers of 18 wheelers, standing between their rigs talking. Both were facing me. Just on the other side of my car, I could see the white van, carrying a family of four. I could see the mother in the front seat point my direction. It didn't matter. What are the odds I will ever see these people again?  When I was done I dabbed with the napkin and dropped it, trying to pull my pants up with the same motion that I had taken them down with. I closed the back door. I could see the shadow of the woman behind me trying to crane her neck to see what I had been up to. I mouthed the words "making yellow snow" at her and crawled back into the car.

With that over, I was able to calm down and relax. Traffic had not moved in several minutes. I decide to try a call to B/E. After getting the "all circuits are busy" for most of the day, I was relieved to hear him answer. 

Have you ever had an old friend that you could call for whatever reason, no matter how much time had passed, and they instantly made you feel better?  B/E had always had a calming effect on me.  We had always been better friends that girlfriend/boyfriend, and though we did date, we parted amicably. We had been in touch, on and off over the years, the Lord sending him into my life as the voice of reason at just the right times. Though I hadn't spoken with him since my last divorce nearly twenty years ago, the first time we spoke two weeks ago,we talked like we had just spoken the day before.

We talked about the weather, how I was still in nearly the same spot as I was when I texted earlier, how I had suffered the ultimate indignity and peed on the side of the road in front of hundreds of strangers. He cackled. "You didn't have a cup or a bottle in the car?" Well, as a matter of fact, yes I had a bottle, but I was not exactly equipped to pee in a bottle. Really, that is the only time that ever wish I had been born male.  We discussed the options of using the bottle versus what I had done (another perk of talking with old friends is that they tell you like it is). I can honestly say if this ever happens again, I won't have a problem jumping out of the car to handle business. Sounds a lot neater.

 I never thought about the fact that I didn't have a way to wash my hands until just now, but now think that was a good thing. My "Lady Macbeth Syndrome" would have kicked over in high gear. The last thing I needed was to have hives too.

He's given me great insight over the past few days on my present situation and D/H, having survived a similar situation himself.  I told him how I was mad with D/H, simply because he could drive on ice and snow and had he been faithful to his vows "to love, honor and cherish, holding only unto me, as long as we both should live," that we would at least be facing this ordeal together.  He listened, and told me that he knew how I felt, but I would get through this. Each challenge I faced by myself and accomplished, would make me stronger.

We talked for a while, interrupted occasionally by a family member calling to gauge my progress.  Droves of people walked past me. Where I was sitting, I could see a spot on the side of the road but was not quite to it. I told him about the 18 wheelers, spinning tires but making no headway. Of the chick in front of me, dragging her tires along ("you are probably doing the same thing" he had quipped) of the rear-wheeled drive compact car just ahead of me, spinning and sliding all over the road, and the Mustang ahead of that car that did the same. I told him I was rethinking buying another one after seeing that.

A call came in from a number that I didn't recognize, so I had him hold on for a bit to click over. It was my daughter's aunt T/L. "Hey, are you still up on the interstate?" I told her that I was and apprised her of my current location. "You are not far from us. Do you think that you could walk?"  I wasn't sure at that point. I had on high heeled boots, I was wearing dress clothes. I did have a wool coat and gloves, but no hat. "I'm not at that point right now, but if I decide to ditch, I will call you back so you can look for me."

I went back to my conversation with B/E without cutting him off. I was finally learning how to use this stupid new phone. I told him of T/L's offer but how that would only be a last resort.  It was after 9am and I needed to call my boss. If I was going to be out here much longer, I wasn't going to be worth anything at work the next day, where we were on a delayed opening of 10am.

We said our goodbyes and I called my boss.  I told her how I was now approaching seven hours of sitting still on I-20 East with no end in sight. She was telling me of handling in coming calls and that my coworker, who also lived in my town, had made it home, despite leaving after me. I did not know how she did it without getting on the interstate somewhere or traversing a treacherous hilly road. About that time, a man knocked on my window. I asked her to hold on and rolled my window down. The man was offering me water. Another man walked up with a back of snack crackers.
"Are you sure you don't want the water?" the first man asked. "It's gonna be a long night" holding out the bottle to me.  Hearing this my boss responded, "Oh my God"

"What? What do you mean?" I asked. "We've been moving a few feet within every hour" "Well that has stopped now that they've closed the interstate. The drivers ahead of all this, " he said waving his hand ahead of him, " are stopped for the night. No one is going anywhere." My boss repeated her comment, "OH MY GOD" I thanked them and rolled the window back up. "I guess you heard that" I said remorsefully. "What are you going to do?" she responded. "I have an offer from T/L to walk down and stay with them. They are only another mile or so down the road. I could walk that"

We said our goodbyes as well. I had finally made it up to the open space on the side of the road. I put the car in reverse and backed up just enough to clear the black sports car. It took some maneuvering but I managed to get into the spot, just big enough for my car, and leave room on either side to get out when I came back. I called T/L and told her to turn on the pool lights, visible from the interstate, get the ladder out to make it over the fence, because I am on my way. I sent a mass text to all that I had been speaking with and told them I was ditching. I explained that I had made this tough call after what the man had told me,  I would be there all night, and I was down to a quarter tank of gas. I was going to need that to get home.

I called several folks and told them I was ditching and walking to T/L's. My BFF, Cyn, said her bubby could come retrieve me if he could find me. I later learned that he had driven the wrong way down I-20 West  peering over the wall looking for me. 

I looked around the car to make sure that I didn't see anything valuable. I put my phone in my purse and zipped it up tight. I made sure I had my gloves on and buttoned my coat. One button was off just enough that it gapped, but otherwise it was warm and toasty. I grabbed my "briefcase" and purse, took a deep breath and opened the door.  I put my feet out on the ice, slowly and gingerly putting my weight on them. So far so good. I made sure to lock the doors, that I had my keys, and started out. It was just shy of 10 pm.

T/L told me to stick to the "puffy snow" rather than walking down the road, that would be mostly ice. I had not gone very far before I slipped and fell on the downward sloping shoulder. I walked in heels all the time, I decided stick to space between the road and the "rumble bars" instead. It was much easier to walk on. Abandoned cars littered the road, and were turned every which way. It looked as if a child had left them in the course of play, to answer his mother for dinner.  I walked past the last two 18 wheelers and was shocked that there was not another soul on the road, all the way to the exit. I had been just a quarter mile from freedom. It had taken nearly an hour to get that far. The mile marker next to me read 142, which meant I was 2 miles from the exit. The  road stretched out before me like a white carpet.

I walked on into the darkness, my positive attitude melting away with each frozen step. The thought that I could fall and hurt myself, or worse, tire out and collapse, kept inching it's way into my mind. The thought that I may die of exposure so close to home began to weigh on me.

Suddenly I heard the buzz of an ATV engine. I turned around to find a utility cart speeding up to me. It stopped next to me. There were two men up front and one sitting cross legged in the back."Where are you headed?" the driver asked.  "Just up ahead, almost to the exit" I replied. "Can you take me?" I asked hopefully. "Sure, get in the back" The man in the back jumped out and helped me in. Then off we went. "I'm Paul" he said, offering his hand.  "My preacher, the driver, and I decided to come down here to see if anyone needed any help. We found this fella, (the other passenger up front) he's a bad diabetic. He's been without insulin all day. We are taking him to the exit to meet his wife. "  We rode on. In the car, this drive was less than 2 minutes. But in this little cart, it seemed to take forever.

The fact that his name had been Paul was not lost on me. The apostle Paul had been known by not only his beliefs but by his actions as well. I never thought to find out the preacher's name, or what church they were from. I was just glad to be moving. I later learned that my mother was desperately praying for the Lord to send help to me. These men were the answer to her prayer.

When we reached the house, I called T/L to let her know we had arrived. She came out on to the deck, her boyfriend followed behind with a ladder. Paul, the preacher and me made our way down the steep hill to the underbrush below. All I had to do was fight my way through the thicket, climb the fence, and I was home free.  I had to crawl through the underbrush, snapping off twigs and bending back saplings along the way. "You got this?" Paul had called to me. I could not answer, I was focused on keeping my glasses on my face and the not tearing my coat. "No, little fella, you come here, I need you!" T/L called out to him, But he and the preacher were already struggling back up the hill. "Hey, you come here!" she called out, to no avail. She had wanted to give him $10 for his trouble, to use for gas. But they hopped in the cart and drove away. A guardian angel would not have taken a reward anyway.

Her boyfriend put the ladder over the game fence. This is a four foot wire fence, topped with barbed wire, used to keep game and other critters from making their way out onto the interstate. I climbed the ladder and he helped me down the other side. Finally safe, I hugged T/L. My legs, shaking badly, would not carry me any further. I nearly collapsed with relief. They practically carried me into the house.

T/L sprang into action. She seated me in front of the gas heater. She brought me dry clothes and socks. She brought me a hot bowl of chili. She fixed me a cup of coffee. She showed me the bed I'd be sleeping in. I was never so grateful.
I even made a new friend in the midst of my adventure. He's really great!

I slept like a rock, waking just before 7:00 am. The loud wail of an 18 wheelers jake-brakes woke me from a sound, dreamless sleep. From the window I could see traffic moving once again. A friend had told us that traffic started moving around 4am.

Around noon, we headed down  I-20 West toward Leeds to retrieve my car. On the shoulder, cars made their way backwards up the exit ramp. When we reached the 140 exit, the abandoned cars looked like a scene out of a zombie movie.  We made our way down to the entrance ramp and just short of getting back on I20 East, a state trooper blocked the entrance.  A salt truck rumbled by.

After about 30 minutes, the rig in front of us started to move and we were on our way. I was less than a mile from my car. As we pulled up behind it, I could see that it had been safe, pulled off the road enough to be out of the line of traffic. I jumped out and fired it up. T/L motioned for me to come on. There was a break in the traffic and I gunned it to make it into the clear lane, I was so excited to be on the road and moving that I almost forgot the road was still dangerous.

As I followed them off the ramp, my first thought was to get gas. I couldn't get the card swiper to work, so I had to go inside, but I was so happy, I didn't care. Coffee was second on my mind. I waiting patiently as the waitress juggled a mountain of tickets, an obvious sign that they had been busy as a 24 hour establishment. The coffee was fabulous. I wonder where they get it (giggle).

When I arrived on my doorstep, it had been 27 hours since my ordeal began.  I had faced it on my own, ( after getting good advice from smart people, of course) and triumphed.

Things are looking up

I was saddened to learn that my peaceful and quaint hometown had gained national attention by towing the cars of stranded motorists and charging between $175 and $300 to the owners. Well, you can't win 'em all.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Post Mortem of a Marriage: Moving On

Despite the fact that I've posted some tragic and painful things everyday this weekend, my weekend was FABULOUS!

I think that writing is moving out the negative feelings and making room for positive thoughts. These are obviously benefitting me, and others are noticing the difference.

Most surprising is that the house remains clean with little to no effort. None of my stuff mysteriously goes missing. I have enough groceries to last for another month, maybe more. I have a substantial, positive balance in my account, (Or at least I did until I paid my attorney) and ALL the bills are paid.

I've had nearly everyone I've encountered this weekend tell me that they can see how much weight I've lost, and that I look great! One even remarked that it had to have taken off ten years!

I owe thanks to my friends, who keep me busy and keep me going.  They apparently made a pact in the very beginning to not leave me home by myself. Their plan is working perfectly. I've had something upbeat and fun to do every weekend. One passes the duty off to another seamlessly.

Sundays are a little tough. D/H and I would spend them cuddled up on the couch watching t.v. Even the last Sunday we spent together. Now I am alone with my thoughts on those days and the melancholia sets in .

Ironically, I have reconnected with a few people from my past, and had lengthy conversations with them over the past few days. I spent most of Sunday chatting on the phone. As we laughed over old times and new, I felt the sadness slip away.

 All those who I have spoken with these past few days seem to be in agreement on one thing, and though I only know of two who actually know each other, I've heard a version of this advice from them all.

They keep telling me to "go back to the Joy they knew from back then."  The confident, smart, witty, tough, opinionated girl they all once knew. The one that told it like it was, no matter how ugly, but still had compassion in her heart to spare your feelings. The one who made friends in every clique and saw them for who they were, not what they could do for her. The girl who stayed behind after the party to help clean up. The girl who's smile lit up the entire football stadium when she twirled.

I'm not sure where I left her. So much in my past has changed me.

But I can find her again.
And to do that
I must move on

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Post Mortem of a Marriage: Time Heals All Wounds

I have been dealing with my life after marriage for nearly a month today.
It has consumed my waking hours and haunted my dreams. I know that everyone thinks that I am crazy for putting so much of my personal life out here this way, but the writing has been cathartic and healing. Purging all my negative emotions and purifying me.

Now it is time to move on.

Too much water under the bridge now. I know too much about the man I am (unfortunately still) married to, and it disturbs me.

What is most disturbing was that I let a passive abuser into my life. A passive abuser is one who does damage in other ways than becoming violent or physical. They hold your emotions hostage.
And what was worse, maybe I was becoming one myself.

Let's look at the warning signs that I've recognized so far.

Intensity and High Involvement: Becoming involved in every aspect of ones life quickly and going over board to fit into this person's daily life. Wanting to be involved in your hobbies,  your sports team, your church activities, or going over the top with outings or dates. D/H wanted to spend every waking hour with me, and probably could have had we not both worked.  He wanted to go where I was going, and didn't mind sitting around and waiting on me. He was more than willing to drop whatever he had planned and change his plans to mine. I was flattered that he wanted to share so much of my life. He was raised in my church so I took it as no surprise that he was so willing to get involved in church so quickly and so completely. He embraced everything about it and we went every time the doors were open. He rededicated his life to the Lord and was rebaptised. We were in charge of our Sunday School department, in the choir, on the prayer team. We were active members for about 5 years before the problem that made us leave our church home. I later learned that he had done this with First Wife as well.

Pressure for Early Commitment: The abuser wants to lock you in and make sure that he has you.  D/H had told me he loved me only 2 weeks into our relationship. I could feel things going that way too. I remember we were both afraid to tell each other that. He had said that he was holding back from telling me because he didn't want to be hurt again. Within a few months, we were shopping in the mall when he pulled me into a jewelry store and asked me to pick out a ring. I knew that it was too fast, but I was in love. Now don't think that I married him right away. We dated two more years before tying the knot.

Being "Too Good to be True": If something is too good to be true, it usually is. But as grandiose ideas or claims never pan out, that is the time to start asking yourself, "Am I being had?" I remember thinking "How lucky am I to have found this man?!" But somehow, the things that he told me would never quite materialize. He would make great plans, and tease me with them to raise my anticipation. But something would always come up, so that he'd never actually have to deliver. And he always had a great excuse,  an unexpected bill, or a bounced check, that I would believe. He always knew what to say and when to say it. A real smooth talker.

When he carried me in to the jewelry store to pick out a ring early on, he had said, "Anything you want! Well, within reason of course." Then he sent me out into the mall to sit and wait while he spoke to the salesman. Of course financing didn't come through, but he was too embarrassed to tell me, eventually blaming First Wife for ruining his credit. I should have run right then.When he eventually did get a ring months later, I wound up paying it off myself.

Need for Constant Contact: Calling or texting constantly to keep them on your mind. D/H and I would talk on the phone until the wee hours every single night. He would be the first voice I heard in the morning, when he called to make sure I was up after our long gab-fests, and the last voice I heard before going to bed. Had cell phones been popular then, I'm sure that he would have texted me "I love you's" all through the day. He was always on my mind, and he had made sure that he would be.

Isolating One from Family and Friends: This one you don't really notice at first. Some people will start falling away gradually. Others will leave suddenly. Or the new partner will begin to convince you that your friends are really not your friends and that you should stop hanging around them. This is because he begins to realize that your friends may just have his number and can still influence you to leave the relationship.  In the beginning, D/H was always willing to hang out with my friends for free food and drink,. But soon he started coming up with an excuse to not be around them anymore, or would behave in a manner that would cause us not to be invited back.

Even worse were his efforts to edge my own daughter out of my life. When we met, she was eight. The very first night I let her meet him, he helped her with a school project. He was kind and sweet and she liked him instantly. She was smitten from the start. After we married, and got custody of the kids, we set about being a family. But then things changed. The sweet relationship she once had with D/H  became hostile around the time she turned 12. Former Alabama standout and Big Oak Ranch founder John Croyle always says that " you can't put anything over on a twelve year old" and he must have been right. She started begging to stay with friends rather than come home. She would openly argue with D/H, and I found myself between them on more than one occasion.  Because twelve was also the time when most girls go "boy crazy" I just wrote it off as normal teenage angst. But I guess she was starting to see through the cracks in his facade and could see the real man peeping out from behind it. Peeping being the operative word.There were some disturbing allegations, based on what I now know was his porn addiction, but he easily explained away. She was having relationships with older boys, and seemed to do anything, short of murder, to be with them. At the time, two other local girls had accused their stepfathers of the similar things. The police feared a trend was forming, but launched an investigation any way. I had been his staunchest defender, and our family had as well. I knew this man as well as I knew myself. He would not prey on anyone, much less my own child; a child that he loved and was raising as his own. The charges were dropped and we struggled to move forward. It did a number on my psyche. It affected "alone time" as the thought of him propositioning her would creep up from the back of my mind when we were together.  Her behavior deteriorated as well. Before long, she had asked to go live with her dad. We had Tigger and Kit-Kat to raise and the constant bickering caused a constant unhealthy tension in our home. D/H convinced me that it was all for the best. Let The Ex be a parent for a change. I took her to him, and things settled down for a while. But The Ex was ill-equipped to handle her. It wasn't long before the courts put her back in my custody, and everything started again. She moved out as soon as she graduated high school. Our relationship has never been the same.

Emotional Blackmail: Behaving negatively to achieve desired results. It started innocently enough.  D/H used to stick out his bottom lip like a little boy and give me the sad kitty eyes (okay, that's a Shrek reference) when he couldn't get something or do something that he wanted. He looked so adorable, I'd quickly cave and submit to his whim to make him happy again.  Big mistake. It only escalated in more and more negative behavior.

Need for Control: There is a constant need to be in control of every situation. Even the ones that he can not control. Control over our time, money, the car, and so on. On more than one occasion, we were down to driving just one car. Three times in our marriage, we spent a year carpooling. That would control how I spent my time as well. But the main way that D/H maintained control was by controlling our finances. While we did have separate checking accounts, he was always trying to whittle mine down by asking for money constantly. He never had any money left after he got paid. That was a huge mystery, because his take home pay was more than mine. He was almost always short something on his half of the mortgage payment. The utilities (which I have since learned are not that bad) were always behind, or worse, about to get cut off. I never got to see those bills, so I was left to wonder what was going on. I would ask pointed questions (Are you gambling? Do you have another family I don't know about? What are you doing with your money?) but he would always have an answer. I am not certain when he stopped balancing his checkbook but he was always overdrawn and looking to me to bail him out. The pay-day loan situation grew out of that. At first, it was just to get him by until his next pay day, but it spiraled out of control quickly. I would pay them off twice a year with my tax return and my company bonus, but he would always go back. I never really thought about it before now, but this was an attempt to bring me under some sort of control. Limiting our finances so that we stayed stuck in the rut....together. I would be mad at first, but then we would pull together and work it out. I was happy that this year we were finally starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. Too bad it was just one of his mistresses driving the train.  I am certain this is where his money was really keep wining and dining the trashy women he was seeing.

Playing the Victim: Everything that has happened to him is someone else's fault. He just can't catch a break. He has nothing but bad luck. He's insistent that he has been wronged by life in general. Such was the case with D/H who seemed to find fault with most things in his life. In the beginning, it worked to his favor. It was him and me against the world and I was happy to take up my sword and follow him into battle. But as time went on, he never seemed to find anything positive. Always focusing on the negative. I also learned that this was how he manipulated people, as in the very first lie he told me that hooked me in. The lie about Old Flame. When this new relationship ultimately goes South, he will blame it on someone else, anyone, other than himself.

Lying To You or About You: Just as D/H had used the lie to Old Flame to hook me in, he used lies or half-truths to make his situation seem far better or worse than it really was in order to manipulate the outcome. Even not telling someone a lie, but not sharing the truth is a form of a lie, like not telling me that the utilities were behind. Or the lies he told me when he was actually with his mistresses. He was very adept at embellishment and would add things to his story to help move it along. Like the story that I was cheating on him. I have always been faithful to the vow that I made to him before God. But it made what he did, seem not so bad to others. Tit for tat. Or the lie that surprised me the most: that we were "having problems."  I was shocked to learn that he had told this lie consistently this past year. BUT  WE NEVER HAD PROBLEMS. Yes, we did have challenges that we faced.. That is what marriage is about, overcoming things together. But we never had problems. That must be the difference between a positive perspective and a negative one. Or his current quest to convince others that I am now "crazy" or "unstable." This was to aid in his "clean getaway. No, I'm not crazy. He just wasn't man enough to face me. Now that our friends know the truth, I am no longer the villain. He is, as is his mistress, who knowingly pursued the relationship. He even managed to get her to lie to me for him on the day that he left. A month out from his leaving, people now feel comfortable enough to approach me and tell me the truth. Things that he had said. Things (and women) he had done.  I'm learning something new and disturbing every day.

Difficulty Cooperating with Others: Someone who prefers to "just do it themselves" rather than working with others, because "people get on their nerves" or they can do it "better their way" are really control freaks.  They always have to be right, win the argument or feel they are in control of the situation  D/H once told me that he loved his job because he didn't "have to deal with people." He hated having to wait on customers. I have a job where I deal with upset customers and staff, all day, every day, but I love it and I am good at it. That is not for everyone. I understand that. But D/H's bosses and coworkers were always jerks and idiots. Always. He never had anything positive to say about any of them. Ever.

Also, D/H always had to be right and when he was wrong, he'd never willingly admit it. It was like that episode of "Happy Days" where Fonzie could not admit that he was wrrrrrr..... wrrrrrr.... wrrrroooonnng.  He would, however, use his apologies as emotional blackmail on me. He'd hang his head and tell me that I was right, and he was sorry and he'd never do (what ever behavior) again.

Few or No Friends of their Own: When you live in a small town, nearly everyone is kinda your friend at one point or another. Having one good best friend is pretty standard. But when those who are closest to him suddenly disappear and his time is freed up to spend with you (but not your friends) its time to start asking questions. D/H quickly traded out all of his friends for all of my friends. He seemed to always be having a falling out with his friends. We would no longer see these  men and he always had an excuse for moving them out of his life. Over the years, he had many short-term friends, many of which were fair-weather at best. But his circle of friends was constantly changing. Even his two closest friends, who served as groomsmen in our wedding, were no longer in our lives. But that didn't matter to him.  In the beginning he was always willing to go out with my friends or hang out with my friends. Eventually, he would come up with excuses to no longer want to be around them either. Unless there was food. Free food would always get his attention. But he would just eat and then be ready to go.

Road Rage: This one kinda surprised me, but trust me, it fits. I would often joke that I knew exactly how I was going to die and when I went, D/H would be behind the wheel. He had to be faster than everyone, be in front of everyone and drive dangerously, at high speeds, everywhere we went. He always had to drive. When we were dating, being a passenger was not a problem, but once we were married, I rarely got to drive. Then he would speed, follow too close, pass to close and so on. He wrecked both of my Mustangs within 3 months of one another. Both total loss accidents. One was not his fault. A man cut him off in traffic going to work. That D/H was in his blindspot because he wasn't going to let him over is a distinct possibility. The second a man was coming from a cross street and pulled out I front of him. Again, the possibility exists that D/H sped up so that the car wouldn't get in front of him, because I had seen him do this with my own two eyes.

Cheating Partners: The more cheating partners a guy has, the bigger the red flag. If no one was ever faithful to him, what does that tell you?  I had fallen for this myself. According to him both his High School Girlfriend and First Wife had cheated on him. How could these women had cheated on the poor, sweet, man? And now, supposedly, I was a cheater too.

Perfect segue to ...

Projection: they begin accusing YOU of behaviors they themselves are guilty of. D/H started telling all our friends that  I was cheating on him.  When I would work over to cover someone's shift, I was actually off having an affair. When I was out on one of many volunteer projects, I was having an affair. Actually, he would use those times to meet his mistresses. Of course, the fact that his latest mistress was trying to convince him of this too,  so he would leave me sooner, may have played a part.

Shunning: The Old Silent Treatment. When D/H was mad, he would clam up and give me the old silent treatment, even when he was in the wrong. He used to tell me that it was best that we not talk so he wouldn't say something he would regret later.  I will admit, I sometimes employed this tactic too. But as you can see, I'm a talker. I wanted to talk over what ever issue we were having and get it out in the open.

Dismissing What is Important to You:  Your job, your hobbies, your friends, your family, your dreams, your goals....what is worth losing to satisfy his need for attention. Well that is what he wants. He will probably complain that it takes too much time, costs too much money, or is just plain stupid. The only examples that comes to mind are church and Toastmasters. Church was important to both of us, but he eventually stopped going, for one reason or another. Then he made it hard for the rest of us to go. Keeping us out late the night before, Planning things that would interfere with worship  Letting everyone sleep in, I kick myself for letting that happen.  I joined Toastmasters in order to improve my public speaking ability. I was presenting an award every year at our national meeting  and TM helped me to collect my thoughts, and speak intelligently on nearly any subject. Those in the group would also give advice on tone and voice quality. This helped with my job, because, well, have you ever spoken to someone from Alabama on the telephone? Enough said.  But the local TM meeting was on a week night, What on earth were they going to do for dinner? It really became a problem when we were down to one car. When I began experiencing health issues and wanted to reduce the stress by quitting my job, we "couldn't afford it" and he was unwilling to do what I needed to help.

Grievance Flipping: I call this the  "One Up" No matter what might have happened that day to me, D/H 's day was always worse.
Every.   Stinkin'.   Time.

As I started reading up on emotional abuse, I could not believe that I had traded one abuser for another. How could I have been so stupid! I had trusted him implicitly. I guess love really is blind. I was living with a con man!

I recognize all of these traits in the man who lived here as my husband.
I also see some of these traits in myself.

The difference is simple: I recognize there is a problem and that is the first step to any recovery,

But time, as they say, heals all wounds.

I am committed to improving myself in 2014 and I've already seen the positive results of the changes that I've made. Like the positive attention from others.

I"m sure that God has a plan for me. I am sure that He will send the right person into my life at the right time and he will be wonderful. D/H will be just a faded memory that only surfaces when I come across a photo I forgot to throw out, or channel surf by wrestling.

I hope it doesn't leave too big of a scar across my heart.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Post Mortem of a Marriage: First Wives Club

This picture is of me and Darling Hubby, seventeen years ago today. I am singing Alanis Morrisette's "Head Over Feet" to him. I had heard the song on her album and wanted him to hear it. The song described how he made me feel so perfectly. It would not become popular for a few more months.

When asked how we met, people told us that we had the sweetest story.

A little background. I had known D/H for a long time.  We both graduated from the same high school though given our age difference of five years, had just missed one another. His family went to my church.  Our grandmothers stood elbow to elbow in the choir every Sunday. As I sang in the youth choir, he sang in the children's choir. Our parents had all gone to school together. He and my little brother had several friends in common. I knew his people and he knew mine. Typical small town stuff.

My group from our small hometown, ran into his group from the same small town at a local watering hole, that was popular 17 years ago, but has long since shut down. I wasn't supposed to be there. I had decided to go and have one beer and if I ran into anyone that I knew, I would have two then call it a night. He wasn't supposed to be there. He had been at his parents house for dinner, when the neighbor invited him to come along. We ran into each other in the hall inside. Chatting with two of my little brother's friends, Darling Hubby got my attention by opening his wallet to a picture of Tigger and Kit-Kat, stuck it in my face, and blurted out, "These are my kids!"  The first words he had spoken to me in probably ten years and that was what he led with.

I had just ended a disappointing relationship with UPS Guy, that ended because I was a mother. UPS Guy just couldn't deal with that. I wasn't really looking for anyone. The breakup had been painful.  A minister friend, who called me out of the blue, had just prayed the night before that God would "send me my heart's desire"  I was looking for the "package deal," someone with children, just like me. And here he was. A sign from God. Over the years, I told everyone that he had the best pick up line I'd ever heard. Some weeks later, for Valentine's Day, D/H gave me a gold necklace that had "I Love You" stamped into the gold. The designer's tag read "Heart's Desire." Only then did I tell him of the minister's prayer. Another sign from God that we were meant to be.

I always left out the part about running into an old flame that night, who stopped to speak to us and hugged me. As Old Flame walked away, D/H turned to me and asked how I had known him. He told me of his distaste for this young man. Later in the evening, he returned from a restroom visit, agitated and red-faced.  He related a story that I didn't really believe, but he was so adamant that it had happened,  I was swayed into believing that it could have happened.

He said that he had run into Old Flame while in the restroom. That O/F had asked him point blank, "What are you doing here with that slut?!" D/H had, of course, defended me. "I ought to go back and kick his ass." he had said. He also got the male group of friends at our table riled up and they too wanted to kick O/F's ass, but thankfully he had left.  Over the years that D/H and I were dating, we would run into O/F here and there. Tensions were always high, and I was often afraid that things would get ugly and people would really get hurt. Finally one night, I had had enough and insisted that they mend their fences over a beer, which they did.

I had wondered about this for a long time. I remember how shocked I was that O/F had said this about me. We had parted amicably and there was no ill will between us, but D/H was so convincing, I couldn't help but believe him. I decided to contact O/F. He was easy to find. The conversation that followed shook me to my core.

O/F told me that he had also always wondered why things would turn tense when we ran into each other. Why D/H would become aggressive and in turn, he would have no choice but take a defensive posture. He was shocked to learn that I had been told this lie. "You were always special to me, " he had said, "I would never had said that about you, even if I had hated your guts." He went on to say that it was very sad that D/H had to go to such lengths for attention from a nice girl.

This was the lie that endeared me to him, and was the catalyst for our entire relationship. Darling Hubby, my defender, my knight in shining armor,  riding in on the white horse to save the day.

What do you do when you suddenly realize that your whole relationship was a lie?
It started with a lie, lies carried it along. and then it ended with a lie.

You find out if your situation was similar to the first go 'round.


I had an appointment on the other side of town today and had an hour to kill, so I decided to drop by the office of The First Mrs. D/H. She was glad to see me and was glad that I was fairing okay. I asked her if I could ask her a few questions about the time that they were together and see if what I was being told was the truth or not.  She agreed.

I was told that he was "separated from service" from the Army because she was writing bad checks on post, and in the Army, a crime by one's spouse was as good as a crime by the soldier. LIE

TRUTH: Taking all the money out of the checking account to go party with the other soldiers, while your wife is unknowingly trying to buy groceries or pay the utilities will also get you drummed out of the army.

I was told that their marriage had broken up because she had been unfaithful. LIE

TRUTH: He had actually cheated on her with a girl that he had worked with. (Sound  familiar?) After they separated, only then did she see her high school boyfriend, but then decided her family was more important and went back. I had known a version of this story, where the timeline of events was flipped to his favor. After all, there is a little vein of truth in every lie, otherwise it wouldn't be plausible.

She said that she even thought that her and D/H would get back together during the breakup that led to our relationship. He has wanted to see the kids and invited them over. She brought dinner from McDonalds. They had a nice visit. I vividly remember this dinner, as I was there. When they "unexpectedly" showed up, D/H asked me to hide in his bedroom. I hid there for nearly 2 hours.

I was told that she went out for cigarettes one night, and was later caught in bed with the aforementioned 18 year old friend. She had said "this isn't what it looks like" and the boy was so scared he jumped from the second floor balcony to escape. LIE

TRUTH: Yes, she told him that she was going for cigarettes, because that was the only way she could leave, and D/H stay with his own children. She was found at the apartment of those friends sometime later, but with a large group of people. He attempted to show his ass, and was shown the door.

I was told that she sat on her behind, refusing to work, all while he worked two and three jobs to support them. LIE

TRUTH: He didn't want her to work, but stay home with the children. When the opportunity did arise for her to work in the evenings, he refused to watch his own children.

I was told that she wouldn't let him see the kids. LIE

TRUTH: She would have gladly let him see the kids, but he never called to see them or even ask about them. She said about the same time that she found out about me, was about the time he started calling her about the kids.

I was told that the trailer that they lived in while they were married was apparently  demolished by her drunk, drugged up, crack-head friends that were partying with her after he moved out. I had seen this place with my own eyes, as we cleaned it up to be sold.  Large holes in the walls, carpet torn up, broken mirrors, etc...   LIE

TRUTH: The damage was actually caused by D/H, who would come home, at all hours, in a drunken stupor and lose control.  She had no money to repair it, so everything stayed as it was.

That he had heard that she was telling people all over town that she was coming after us to get her kids back. LIE

TRUTH: The course of events that led to our later gaining custody were tragically true. She was grateful that they had a place to go that was safe, and said that it had been the best at the time. But when she was finally in a good place again and wanted to speak to D/H about it, he refused to speak to her. She said that at that point, all she could do was be patient and pray that it would eventually work itself out.

Some very familiar truths emerged as we talked. I had learned that he had been very controlling, wasting money, mooching off their friends, drinking heavily (another familiar story) and/or becoming violent only to promise to "change/go to church/stop drinking, etc...,  limiting her friends,  limiting access to money or the use of the car. Red Flags went up. More Warning Signs.  Though D/H had NEVER been physically abusive toward me, I too had ignored the signals that something was not quite right.  Had I had a passive abuser under my roof all this time?

When we would have an argument, he would eventually come to me, head down, sullen, and tell me that I was right. He wouldn't come right away, but he would eventually, feeding me the same lines about changing or doing things as I had suggested. Always.

I thought about how easily duped I had been. I didn't mind helping him pay bills, or buy things. I had even been dumb enough to pay his attorney the final payment on his divorce, several hundred dollars, so he could finally be free of her. My guess is that he realized that he drove this gravy train for as long as he could.

I had been harder to control. I was a strong, opinionated woman. I had built my confidence back with each crisis that we faced and won. Little victories that kept the bond between us firmly cemented. I never realized the pattern of crisis vs. victories until now. Even his four bleeding ulcers in as many years had become suspect. They always seemed to appear at times when things were tough and I now know that they were most likely caused by bouts of binge drinking with his buddies. I was recently embarrassed to learn that D/H would make a habit of never having any money at our local hangout and would cajole others into buying drinks for him. Often. Because I was trying to get his drinking under control, I would limit the amount of money I would bring with us, in hopes he would stop when the money ran out. But that never seemed to stop him. No wonder people would dread hanging out with us.

I had insisted from the start that we maintain our own bank accounts, something that saved me from financial ruin in my first marriage, just as it had protected me now. We never maintained a joint account, even separate from our own, though I had suggested it several times, to use to pay bills and make the house payment. He said that we would manage just fine with what we had.  We divided up the bills and each month he'd give me what he had to pay the mortgage.  There were many times when he would be short and I'd have to pony up the extra. But when utilities were behind, or worse, shut off, I became insistent that we open an account and both put money into it . He'd angrily remark how he would just give me ALL of his check and I could handle all of it myself. But he never did that. His money was his money, and my money was my money, and as they say, the twain shall never meet. I resigned myself to the fact that I had spoiled him in the beginning and that I had made him irresponsible. But it turned out to be much more sinister: controlling the cash flow (or the lack thereof) in the household was the only way to bring me under some sort of control. 

Every year, I'd sit with him before the tax preparer, seeing his W2 and be shocked that he made as much money as he did, but had nothing to show for it. I began to resent the fact that he never had money, constantly had his hand out, mooched off our friends and family, but would never tell me where it was all going. What he was telling me wasn't adding up to the evidence I was finding. He started hiding the bills so I wouldn't see them. I'd ask for them but he said that he'd "gone paperless" and didn't have time to pull them up for me. I was constantly having to fork over money. Each time he'd ask if I'd buy gas, or tobacco, or even toilet paper, the first thought in my head was always "Didn't I just buy that?". And yet every year we filed a tax form that showed we should have been living a more than comfortable life.

I listened to the woman I was let to believe was "a monster" in disbelief. All I could do was profusely apologize for all the nasty things that I thought about her all these years. I was shaking, I was so angry.  "It's okay," she had said, "you had no idea that you were being manipulated."  Tears welled up in my eyes. How could I have been so stupid?

She told me how much happier that she is now, and that I will be too. She promised to pray for me. "God has a plan for you, and you are going to be so much happier and better off without him."


Friday, January 24, 2014

Post Mortem of a Marriage: The Early Days

This picture has sat on my desk for the duration of my relationship.  I've always loved it, because it depicts two young people, totaly smitten with one another, happy, and ready to face the world together.

The date, on the back reveals it to have been taken seventeen years ago tomorrow: January 25, 1997

This was when Darling Hubby first told me that he was in love with me.

That following Monday at work, several of us went to the local Chinese buffet. This was my fortune. I remember how we had all squealed and agreed that it was meant to be.  When I got the pictures back, I taped it to the front, and stuck it all in a frame. It has set on my desk to the left of my computer for the past seventeen years.
Did you know that Chinese fortune cookies are really an American invention?  The most popular story goes that Chinese immigrant, David Jung, living in Los Angeles and founder of the Hong Kong Noodle Company invented the fortune cookie in 1918. Apparently  David was concerned with all the poor he saw in the streets near his shop. So he created a cookie to pass out to them for free. Each cookie contained an inspirational verse written by the local Presbyterian minister. Not exactly ancient Chinese wisdom.  Kind of a let down, huh? 
 That just goes to show, you shouldn't take advice on life from a half-baked cookie.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

One Day at a Time Sweet Jesus

That has been my theme for the last twenty-eight days.

Surprisingly, I am still alive. Strength has come from somewhere down deep. I know the Lord has put it there. The benefit of being in a continuous prayer state.  I'm just taking each day, one day at a time,

The first forty-eight hours I did not eat or sleep. From the time I woke up on 4:30 a.m. Friday morning, took my shower and prepared for work, until about 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning, every time I closed my eyes, my husbands face was all that I saw.  I used the time constructively, not wanting to sit still as long as the Lord was giving me strength. I packed all of his remaining belongings and stacked them in the corner of the living room, to make it easier for him to pack when he came for them.

When I did nod off Sunday morning, on the couch in the living room,  I had a dream that his mistress had broken in and was standing over me with a gun. A loud bang somewhere in the house, provided the sound effect for my dream. I woke up with a start, startling both of the cats, perched anxiously over me on the back of the couch.

Another strange occurrence is that I haven't really cried much.  I am told that I am a true Drama Queen, and when I was a child, I was known for my crying jags. Emotion overwhelms me and tears just begin to flow. But I have only had a few instances of true tears. I didn't really break down on the day that he left. I think that I was in shock. Looking back, maybe I was relieved.

The first true tears came on New Year's Eve, as I tried to fake being happy at a NYE party. Everyone was so sweet to me, and took turns making sure that I was dancing and having a good time. Everyone was doing a pretty good job keeping my mind off of it and keeping me occupied. But as the clock struck midnight, everyone kissed their partner and it hit me. For the first time in sixteen years, I would not be getting a midnight kiss.  My husband would be kissing someone else.  I fled to the bathroom and locked myself in a stall. Try as I might, the tears flowed. It wasn't long before I decided to make an early exit.

The other was on January 11th, when Darling Hubby backed the UHaul truck into our driveway.

That was the 17th anniversary of the day that we had met. I had always mentioned it to him and this year was no exception.

 "How fitting that today is the day you move everything left out of my life. The seventeenth anniversary of the day that we met.  I guess things have come full circle."

He stoically walked past me, and into the house.

I asked questions, that got mostly one word answers. Only what was necessary for the event at hand, Was this Julz's t.v. table or Tigger's. Where was a bag to put the bolts to Kit-Kat's bedframe. As he rolled down the door of the truck and started to leave, I tapped him on the shoulder and said, "No hard feelings?" He could not even look at me. He didn't even have the common courtesy to say good-bye. I instantly came unglued. My step-dad held me back, as I screamed from the porch, what a coward he was, and didn't have the guts to face me. He just drove off. The whole thing took less than two hours.

I laid in the floor in a heap, sobbing and screaming. How could he just throw me away like this? I had invested nearly fourteen years in our marriage and this woman had enticed him away in just a few short months.

Where did I go wrong? Several friends have chalked the situation up to a middle life crisis. I had never thought of us as "middle aged," being that I was perpetually eighteen in my head. That may seem ridiculous to some, but it is that thought seems to keep me young. Forty-two was around the right age for a mid-life breakdown. He needed someone to stroke his ego again, and make him feel like the knight in shining armor, riding in the white horse to save the day. For that he needed someone who was poor, and even lower in class than himself.  Why else would he pick someone living in government housing? This would make him appear somewhat affluent and could even impress her family. Someone so desperate for love, they were willing to steal him away from his family. Someone who was resigned to being the doormat for him to eventually wipe his feet on when he tired of her, just as he had done with me. After all, if they will cheat WITH you, eventually they will cheat ON you.

I'm just glad that I'm not having to run into him at the local Walmart, like we always did with our exes. I'm not sure I will ever have the occasion to run into him, now that he's moved an hour away. I'm not sure how I would react if I did see him.

 I'm also not certain he will recognize me , as the stress and turmoil has caused me to lose over 15 pounds.  I am now just eight pounds from my goal weight of 140. My cardiologist will be so proud when I see him next month. I came across the jeans I was wearing the night I first met him. They almost fit. Glad I hung on to them.

I have a close friend who lost her husband in an accident over a year ago. She reminded me of the advice that I gave her, almost daily, as she battled the demons from her own loss.  "Baby Steps" I would say, "take baby steps each day. Keep moving forward. It's okay to stop every once in a while. but don't step back. Keep moving forward."  Funny how this message would be exactly what I needed.

I am getting reports from mutual friends about the things he is posting about the situation on Facebook. 

The first was a long rambling post about "walking a mile in his shoes," and that there are "two sides to every story" and he was disappointed that he had to delete so many people he thought were friends because they chose to believe the "lies". He implied that I was manipulating the situation. He admited that was an ugly situation it was, but not to judge him for what he had done. He said that he had reasons for doing it the way that he did, and "those closest to him" knew why.

Maybe he means his mistress. I understand that she is steadily working to separate him not only from his children, but from the life he once had in our town. A red flag went up. That is the first tactic of an abusive partner, and after seven years of being married to one, I should know.  I am left to wonder what other signs that he may be missing  Or that she might be missing. I'm not sure who is using whom here.

Maybe he meant our friends. He had been telling them what he had been planning for the last month or so. He had some sort of dirt on everyone, so no one dared breath a word to me, for fear his allegations would cause problems in their own lives. They tell me that they are all sorry that they didn't clue me in sooner. All are in agreement that real friends don't treat friends this way.

I know that he did not mean his family either, who are all at a loss for words. They have apologized to me for his behavior. I have had them tell me that I will always be "their family" and have given me their support and prayers as we face this situation.  I am told that none of them want to ever meet the mistress. I will be a very hard act to follow. But all agree, I deserve so much better than a man who would stoop so low.

And my children? My girls, both angry and hurt, comfort me each time I see them. Julz has been separated from the siblings that she had so desperately wanted. Kit-Kat was sent off to live with her biological mother, whom she had no contact with for over ten years, and limited contact now. Only Tigger, my son hasn't spoken to me. He will not respond to my calls or texts. He was thrown right in the middle of that lion's den, because he didn't have anywhere else to go. He is a "going through the motions to avoid the emotions" kinda guy. I am certain that he is hurt by the whole situation, that went down just 24 hours before his birthday.

More recent rants from him over the last few days, lead me to believe that he is getting some sort of flack from somewhere. He posts about being "a grown up" and being capable of making his own decisions,  telling friends to delete him from their friends lists if they don't agree with his choice.  He said that he was "happier and more in love than ever in his life."

That stung.

HE was the one that made things ugly. HE left. HE cheated. HE wasn't going to tell me why. HE never told me that there was a problem. HE never told me that there was someone he wanted to be with more than me. HE never told me that he didn't want me anymore. HE was the one that threw away a 17 year relationship for some fling. How does that make ME the liar? How am I supposed to be manipulating everyone? HE was the one who was blackmailing everyone! I just don't understand. Is he trying to ease his own conscience?  I wonder when the consequences will catch up to him.

I grew up with a friend who is a lawyer. He handled the divorce of a coworker, so I called him the first week, right after New Years. He drew up the papers that day. On January 6th, I signed the "complaint."  He signed on the 10th.  Now we wait to come up with the money.

With the stroke of a pen, life as I knew it will end.

I met a friend for coffee earlier this week. I'm not sure what drew the attention to the thin, gold band on my left hand.  "So when are you going to take off your wedding ring?"
I looked down at it, and the indention worn into my finger. It was almost as if it was part of me now.

"I honestly don't know." was my reply.

Until then, I will be taking life just one day at a time.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

When Life Hands You Lemons....

I've heard all my life that "when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade."

Not too long ago, I saw a meme on the Facebook page of a friend that read
"When life hands you lemons, throw them at your enemies."

I had chuckled a little, not realizing that I would have to follow that very advice a short time later.

The Friday after Christmas, Darling Hubby walked out. He left for another woman, that I didn't even know existed until that very day. Moved right out of our home into her apartment, and wasn't even going to give me an explanation. After nearly fourteen years of marriage.

And I had no idea he was even unhappy.

These past few weeks have been very eye opening for me.

I am told that he "didn't love me for a very long time now." He complained about me " not fulfilling my wifely duties," if you know what I mean. But for him, sex was all that mattered. He bragged to friends of numerous affairs over the past few years and how easy it had been to have them and still be home by dinner. One that lasted nearly two years was with the girl at our local pay-day loan office. Given his habit of frequenting this place, despite paying it off, several times, that one may still be going on. Others with women he had picked up along the way, here and there, having short dalliances over the years. He would even send me home early from our local hangout in our vehicle. Then he would pick up a girl, do her in the parking lot, and have one of the guys drive him home. Rumors swirled that they included my own friends and acquaintances.

The mistress, he met at a part time  job he had taken for extra money. She apparently had no problem with the fact that he was married, and pursued the relationship quickly. Normally, this person wouldn't have been a blip on his radar. Only pretty girls actually turned his head. Angelina Jolie was his "ultimate woman" and this one was far from that. But he had told his friends that he had needed to "trade me in for an ugly one" who would "depend on him" and "trust what he told her." Someone he would have no problem winning over  and who would not think enough of themselves to ever leave him if something better came along. And that is exactly what he found.

I am sure that she was flattered by the attention he paid her, as she was deeply unattractive. She was nearly as masculine as D/H, with a visible moustache, a tongue ring, and two teeth rotting in the front of her mouth. Short, dumpy, crude tattoos.  Over-processed, stringy hair, that was unkempt in nearly every photo I had seen. She looked far older than her age of 36. The epitome of what one would imagine "poor white trash" to look like, lacking both substance and class. She is also not the sharpest knife in the drawer, as the few texts and posts I've been sent are littered with simple spelling errors. None of his friends could believe what he could possibly see in her. One had said that he was obviously not only thinking with his (insert favorite euphemism for male sex organ) but seeing with it as well. I am sure that my husband saw a woman that he could quickly, and easily manipulate, just by showering her with compliments. As luck would have it, just like me, she too was an Auburn fan. A match made in heaven.

 I am told that neither friend that he usually watched Auburn football with, had seen him all season.  There was only one place he could be.  I shudder to think of the 15 minute conversation I had with him after this year's miraculous Iron Bowl win.

He complained that the house was a wreck and that I "couldn't cook." I worked a full time job.  Actually, I worked more than a full time job. I was the assistant manager of customer service for a national corporation. A ten hour day was pretty much the norm, Of course I never felt like cooking when I got home or had the energy to pick up around the house.  I'd collapse in a heap nearly every night. There were three other people here and yet I was the one expected to clean and cook. Funny, he had no problem sitting on the couch himself doing nothing, or walking around the clutter, nor did he have any problem spending my money each week for fast food. He always picked the restaurant. I had told him many times that if I could quit my job and stay home, the house would be spotless, and he'd come home to a hot, fresh cooked meal every night, but that wasn't our reality.

He said that I "didn't love him" and he doubted that I ever loved anyone but myself. I couldn't believe that he had said that, after all the trials that we had faced together. In sickness and in health. His two total-loss car accidents, his bleeding ulcers, his fall from the roof; I stood by each time, terrified that I would lose him. Of all the times that I had given him pep talks about making things happen if we pulled together, convincing him that there was always a better way, or constantly making sacrifices to pay off some poor decision on his part. But I thought we were making it work. We were building a life together.  I thought of the pizza he had me buy for us the night before all this. And of kissing him good-bye that Friday morning, just as I had EVERY MORNING for the better part of fourteen years.  How easily he threw that all away for a woman he'd only known less than four months.

When exactly did the man I thought I fell in love with and married, turn into this stranger in my home?

When our relationship was new, it was grand. I would physically hurt when I was not with him. I could not wait to see him, or even speak to him again. We would stay up for hours talking and then have to struggle through work each day for lack of sleep. Money was always tight, but I didn't mind paying for us to go out, or buying things for him. I made much more money back then, and the sacrifice was worth it. I could not imagine my future without him in it, and I often wondered what we would be like as grandparents, and retirees, exploring the world together.

He had seemed to have been burned badly by his first wife. He told me that she had cheated on him with the 18 year old brother of one of their friends. He had actually caught her in bed with the boy. I too had had my share of tragedy. In my first seven year marriage to a violent, abusive man who had made a game of cheating on me. He had even built a "love nest" to take his conquests back to.

But D/H and I were kindred spirits. I think that was what drew us to each other, and why we fell in love so quickly. He told me only two weeks in, that he was falling hopelessly in love with me, and I felt the same.  I was thrilled when we went to look at rings just a few months later. I guess I should have run when I found out that he couldn't finance one. That should have been my sign. But I reasoned that a ring was just an outward symbol of an inward attitude and I had the right attitude. I eventually got one, but in the end, I was the one who had paid it off.

 We had vowed to one another that we would never be unfaithful, agreeing that if we ever felt that we would cheat, that we would tell the other that we wanted out.  He told me that he had found "the love of his life," He called me his "trophy wife" and I worked hard to maintain that title. I wanted to make him proud. More than one of his friends told me that he was "in it for the long haul" and to not break his heart.  I guess that was why this was so shocking to me.  I had kept my promise. I guess to him, they were just words.

We have had our ups and downs, like any long term relationship, but we always pulled together to make things work. All I ever wanted was to make him happy, which was sometimes tough, given the way he would sometimes behave. A man should want to take care of his family. We struggled financially, due in great part, to all the poor decisions he was making. But I was happy that we were keeping our heads above water, not realizing that all the while he was shooting holes in the boat.

His only responsibility financially was to pay the utilities. We split the big bills like the house. I paid for my car, the auto insurance and the medical insurance came out of my check too. I bought the groceries and if we went out, I usually paid for that too. He would have to ask for gas money just a few days after he got paid.  He would huff and stomp around if I didn't have it to give him. I had my own gas to buy as well . but I often would make sacrifices so I could help him out. Then he would not only buy gas, but finagle soda, snacks, and dippin' tobacco as well.

I never could figure out where his money was going. Our friends wondered too. He would mooch off anyone who would feel sorry enough for him to pay. It was embarassing sometimes. People eventually stopped inviting us out.  He managed to alienate himself from several close friends. He had always pinned the blame on a fault of theirs, rather than any with his own

He made around 40k a year. I would see his W2 every year, and wonder where it all went.  I knew that the pay day loans were just money down a hole. Now I'm sure it was a ploy to continue seeing the pay-day loan mistress. I justified the premium cable package, and his premium cell phone plan as his perks, because "we couldn't afford to go out all the time."  I didn't mind taking us out every once and a while, because I benefitted from that too.

 I began to have problems with my blood sugar and blood pressure. Constant stress of managing people for eight to ten hours a day in a high pressure environment begins to take it's toll, I told him that I wanted to resign to take care of my health issues. That would free me up to be more of a homemaker than bread winner. I was told that we "couldn't afford that." I guess that situation has changed, as I understand that his mistress does not work, outside the seasonal security job where they met. Now he will be the main bread winner there. I gave him gas money at least 3 times a week. Now that he's tripled his drive, where will that money come from?  I guess that will be her problem now.

The more and more he shirked his responsibilities, the more and more I began to resent being intimate. I felt like I was "rewarding" him, all the while reinforcing the idea that it was okay for him to be so irresponsible. In the beginning we were like two teenagers, always looking for spare time alone. We were connected. Gradually, things started to change. He stopped romancing me. It became more like a chore that had to be handled like laundry. He became demanding and made crude comments constantly. Really romantic. He wasn't holding up his end of the bargain as far as Protector/Provider/ Head of Household was concerned. I felt like I was getting the short end of the stick.  "Time alone" became less and less frequent. It was rushed. I didn't enjoy it and neither did he. Wham-Bam-but-no-thank-you-ma'am. Like going through the drive thru of a fast food restaurant.  Order up...DING!

He had stopped actually brushing his teeth. He always felt that a quick rinse would suffice. His breath was unpleasant and he didn't seem to care. I couldn't stomach more than a quick peck here and there. When we were "alone" he wouldn't even try to kiss me, or he would jam his tongue into my mouth so forcefully, I'd choke on it. All I wanted was to be made to feel special, like his queen, not the scullery maid. Though I loved him, I began to resent him.

And then, there were the "allegations."  When my daughter was around 12, she had made a claim that he had "propositioned" her for a favor in return for not telling me something he had read in her diary. He denied this acusation. I remember him running into the bathroom and throwing up.  I did not believe her and neither did the rest of the family. Of course, two other girls at her school had recently done the same to their step-fathers, and this was the perfect middle school dramatic antics. But the experts at Children's Services had believed her and an investigation began, that was eventually dropped.  But true or not,  the thought of my husband, asking my daughter to perform this favor on him would often pop into my head whenever we were "alone."  I loved my husband very much, and even though I didn't believe it, this thought would make it nearly impossible to "be alone" with him.  This affected our "alone time" ever since.

I know this all led to him looking for "it" elsewhere. In a way I am glad, because I heard rumors that he had contracted an STD from the "Pay-Day Loan Girl" (which he vehemently denies).  But in the end it wouldn't have mattered if we had sex every spare moment of the day. He would have wasted the money and left anyway.

I later found out that he was "rolling" pay day loans, three to be exact. That is where you pay $90 for the privelege of holding $500 every two weeks. You do the math. Don't get me wrong. If I had to have money, right this moment, I know I could go and "borrow" it right now. But it creates such a situation that spirals down really fast and you are caught in a seemingly endless loop of paying and borrowing, over and over again. I would dutifully pay at least one off twice every year (for the past five or six years now) with my bonus, but he would just turn around and start it again. I guess it was an excuse to go see "Pay-Day Loan Girl." We could have had a comfortable life, but it was like he was driving down the interstate, tossing money out the windows.

Recently, he chastised me for not helping him pay bills when I got my bonus this year. Instead, I had opted for a long anticipated minor cosmetic procedure that I would save for, but then wind up bailing us out with that money. As usual, I didn't know that he needed any help with bills. I had offered to give him some money to pay on his pay-day loan, He had flatly declined, so I paid for my procedure and nervously awaited the scheduled date.  I later learned that his mistress had met him at our local hang out the very week that I had my procedure. He had introduced her to our friends, who were stunned. Later, he admitted to one that he "knew that she was ugly, but that was okay"  Poor girl. She has no clue. He's just using her too. He had expected me to bail him out, yet again, and still leave me the day after Christmas.  Really glad that I spent that money on myself now.

Bills were always behind. More than once I would come home to find something cut off for non-payment. We would scramble to find the money and get it paid. It would make me very angry that he was letting our family down this way.  I guess it happened enough that he stopped telling me when things were behind.  I guess I was relieved that he did that, not realizing that this lack of communication over something so basic, was chipping away at the foundation of our marriage.

I was left owing nearly $800 in delinquent utilities, on the same weekend that we were to make our $800 house payment.  I discovered that he had not paid anything in a few months.  I guess all his money was supporting another household.

I'm not sure when the lying began, but I recently learned from his first wife, dubbed " The Monster" early on, that this was his pattern and she was surprised that I had not caught on sooner.  The story she told me differed wildly from the one I was led to believe all those years ago.  But in every lie there is a vein of truth. I had witnessed her bad behavior enough to know that she wasn't completely in the right either.  I had seen her behavior that led to our gaining custody of his children. I had always viewed this as "my mission, " to raise those children as my own. I guess the Lord considers that done now. Mission Accomplished.

But I began to question our entire marriage at that point. Had he lied to me all along?

He told me that he "didn't owe me any explainations."

No explaination for blowing up my entire world of nearly fourteen years and moving out while I was gone and slinking away.

He told me that "everyone knew it was over."

Everyone but the most important person: me.

That is all I can write right now. I am aching, much like it did in those early days.
I hope that I survive this.