Recently, I went to dinner for a friends’ birthday. It was a small group, intimate I guess you could call it, only six of us. I knew the birthday girl and one other common friend, one other I had come across in other ways over the past two years, and the other two were completely new to me.
When I was invited I felt the overwhelming urge to say yes, to be included and to get out and have some fun, to not be the boring wallflower. I’ve been told that I don’t have any friends, and hate social situations, remember? I needed to prove that wrong for myself…again.
These types of gatherings are not my favorite – meeting new people in a situation that I really have no reasonable escape if it goes wrong, or gets uncomfortable. But what could go wrong with a birthday dinner?
The group texts were funny, and rapid fire a night or two before, like high school girls getting ready for the weekend. Somehow, in the mix, it was decided that I would be picked up and carpool with other people in the group – the driver being someone I had never met. Who gets into a car of a complete stranger pulling up in their driveway? I do, obviously.
The restaurant was very nice, the menu a bit pricey, but it was a birthday dinner and I was happy to be pushing myself to get out there and meet new people. I was socializing!
Once the basic conversation of what to have for dinner, what type of wine we all liked to drink and where we all lived in the neighborhood had waned, the conversation went a completely different route. Divorce, miserable marriages and second wives.
Two of us were divorced, two of us were second (or third) wives. The other recently divorced woman was sitting directly across from me. One of the second wives was sitting next to me.
Lucky for me.
The second wife proceeded to preface each tale of woe about her husband’s children from his previous marriage with “I’m the stepmom” and then would go on to describe how difficult her life is, and has been, to be in this position. She’s the stepmom. How difficult her stepson was/is to raise, he’s lazy and hostile and has no direction in life. Her husband just gives him whatever he wants. But she is the stepmom, what can she do?
She is home all day, so she is the one who has been putting in all of the work to help him while her husband stays too busy with work. But, she is the stepmom.
He’s a “troubled child” but she’s only the stepmom, what can she do?
Then she went on to list her challenges because of his ‘crazy bitch ex-wife’ who took him for everything she could in the divorce, forcing them to live in the marital house of his first marriage. It’s not a house she, the ‘stepmom’, would have chosen, and it really needs to be updated and remodeled. She would actually prefer to move into her own house, but they just can’t afford it now thanks to his alimony payments to his crazy bitch ex-wife. So they must live in a house that he shared with his ex-wife. They’re stuck.
And don’t get her started about how hard it is for her now 8 year old daughter to be around her 18 year old half brother! He doesn’t want to give her the time of day – she’s just a child, for godssakes! But this woman is only his ‘stepmom’, what can she do about it? She’s stuck.
The other wife, who is a third wife, had similar stories of woe.
Her husband was forced to move his belongings into her mother’s house after his divorce because he had nowhere else to go, thanks to his crazy bitch ex-wife. Her mother asking her while he was moving in, how nice was his house, was it big and expensive??
His crazy bitch ex-wife got a crazy huge settlement after the divorce, she didn’t even deserve it.
Thank goodness they’ve moved to another state now, far away from the ex-wife (and I am guessing their children), and can live their dream life! She’s not just a third wife, nope. She proudly brags that she’s his ‘trophy wife’, by her definition. Wearing low cut sweaters, tight jeans and big jewelry while she enjoys her ladies nights out and other social activities…without him.
The room began to swoon and spin around me by the middle of the dinner, the air was getting thinner, and it wasn’t from the wine.
I was in a nightmare. A fun house of sorts, with the mirrors distorting real life. Seeing, hearing, what I thought was real and true in my life, but obviously I was wrong. I was hearing the other side of my story, from the other woman, through the ex-husbands’ eyes. They were adamant about their rights to be happy with this man, they deserved it, he deserved it.
And at any expense to his previous family, because his ex-wife is a crazy bitch.
I didn’t say much for most of the evening. I didn’t share how demanding and forceful my ex was about keeping our family home, forcing our kids and myself to move out. I didn’t mention that I cried, lately almost every day, and a lot, but I had to hide it from my kids so they wouldn’t see me falling apart. I didn’t share the hurt of my broken dreams, and his broken promises, made over a lifetime spent together. I also didn’t mention how devastating is is to know that he had already begun to fill my vacancy with someone new, as if I never existed, as if he never truly loved me. And neither did the other recently divorced woman.
Because, we are the crazy bitch ex-wife.