She tried to tell me

I can still hear her British voice in my head today. My dear friend, Alexia.

We became friends while my ex and I were living in Germany, and stayed friends afterward. We met at the international playgroup in the city, a very diverse international mix of mothers and children showing up to sing songs, dance and make crafts while we drank coffee and exchanged new mom stories. We had only lived in Germany for about six months when I first tried the playgroup, and it was the most glorious connection I had made since moving to a foreign country!

It was my life line and my escape.

Alexia led the playgroup at the time that I began to attend. She was warm and friendly and welcoming. I loved her immediately. I truly admired her for her strength, her wit, her laugh, her way of directing people without being overbearing, and her straightforward style of telling you exactly what she thought without crushing you. She was like a movie star in the theater of my mind.

I wanted to be just like her someday, when I grew up.

We became friends over the course of many cups of strong coffee and many versus of  “Wind the Bobbin Up”. This led to dinners together, on our own and with our husbands sometimes, and playdates with our children to play together in the back garden or race Bobby Cars down the slanting driveway. She became a constant in my world. A beacon of light. I turned toward her like a flower reaching for the sun.

She was the epitome of “having it together” in my mind.

We would talk about our children, our families, our history, and of course our marriages and husbands. How we met, what our courting/dating was like, our weddings, etc. That’s what women do to bond and to get to know each other. You can tell a lot about a person from the way they describe their relationship.

I lived in Germany for six years, and over the course of that time, I am certain that I filled her ears with my many trials and tribulations of life abroad as an American. The challenges and the struggles. Alexia was British and married to a German man, that was a common pairing in Europe. My husband and I were pretty much the exception to the expat rule at the time. We were both American and didn’t speak a word of German when we arrived.

During all of this female bonding time I am sure that I told her some of my most annoying, and disturbing, stories about my husband and our marriage. I thought it was the thing that girlfriends did, we shared and commiserated, it was a way to blow off steam so you didn’t blow off your husband’s head!

After a few years of confiding in her, one day she looked me in the eye and said, “It doesn’t sound like you’re happily married.”

I was stunned. Not happily married? I asked her what gave her that idea, of course I’m happily married! Why wouldn’t I be? Her explanation was simply that most of my stories about my husband and marriage weren’t very positive, they were sad, frustrating and negative types of stories. I didn’t really have anything good to say about our relationship, or our marriage, for the most part.

I stayed the course of defending my ‘happy marriage’, “What do you mean? Those are things that all wives talk about with their friends, it’s an outlet to share it with someone else. Everyone has their issues and annoyances with their husbands. We all do it.” Alexia didn’t miss a beat, she looked at me with her head slightly tilted and said, “I never talk about my husband that way.” And, she was right. She really didn’t.

I was quiet.

I should have taken that as a sign, a nudge, to take a hard look at my marriage and what I wanted out of it. That was over fifteen years ago. But instead, I decided not to share anymore of those negative stories with her, plus I became more aware of what I shared with most people. I covered it up, left it at the door when I came in, and only shared the good stuff.

Now that I am divorced, I can look back and search for clues, look at my mistakes as well as his, basically armchair quarterback during the replays of our entire relationship. What I should have, what I could have, done differently. I can almost pinpoint when it had started to sour, when I had begun to feel invisible and unimportant to him. I remember telling him how I felt so many times, usually in tears, and still nothing changed. I can remember the big, blowout arguments as well as all of our little disagreements, that led us to this place.

She was right. I was not happily married.

I should have looked more closely at it all at the time that she shared this epiphany with me, but instead I chose to hide it more, to bury it down deeper inside. I began to keep my attitude in check and stay positive in most public instances, not just playgroup anymore.  Even with my own family. I wanted to make certain that everyone thought, that everyone knew, that I was happy. We were happy.

They could all say that we were happy, and truly loved each other, with conviction.

But we weren’t. We were functional most of the time. Of course, we had some really great times together, and loved each other most of the time, but there were long spells of that not being the case over our twenty years together.

He had come from a widowed mother early on in his childhood, and I from a divorced family, we didn’t really know how it was supposed to work or what marriage  should look like. But we were determined and willing to go the distance, at almost any cost, to prove that we were good people with a good, solid marriage. We could live up to the American dream that escapes so many other couples and keep an intact family. We would prove it with each passing year, with each celebrated anniversary. But we weren’t really happy with each other, and it showed in some of the smallest, simplest details.

It’s not always the big stuff.

At the time, it’s hard to admit that it’s really not going the way you had hoped, that your promise to stay with each other for a lifetime may have been an overreach for both of you. We each had our own expectations of how marriage worked, how to raise kids, even how to love each other. It wasn’t very similar in most areas, any areas to be honest, and that created the first crack in our trust of each other and our love for each other that grew with each passing year. A crack that created a small valley in the early years, would eventually lead to a gaping hole between us after many years of ignoring the obvious signs.

She tried to tell me. I should have listened.

 

 

 

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But, I can’t…

This is the first weekend that my boys are going to stay with my ex…for an entire weekend. At least, that’s the expectation.

And honestly, I want them to want to go and hang out with their dad. To do cool things that only a dad can make happen, especially with boys. I want them to be excited to see him and to have his full attention for an entire weekend.

Plus, I would love to have the divorce ‘perk’ of having weekends to myself…what mom wouldn’t?!

But I know that it’s not like that. And it may never be that way.

I know that they haven’t missed a thing, over the last year, while he made himself mostly unavailable to them every weekend. They kept count of the hours that he “put in”, it didn’t go unnoticed. I know that they are rocked to their core over the changes that he has forced upon us all – his long term girlfriend moving into our house to eventually be his wife, without any introduction or warning, kind of changes. I know that they don’t really trust him to think of how they feel, or care what they want. on a weekend or otherwise. He hasn’t so far, why expect anything different?

I know that I should let it go and let it play out. Let them discover who he really is.

But, I can’t.

I worry too much, I think too much, I hurt too much for everyone else. I want to protect them, to make it better, to take away the pain and the hurt.

But I can’t.

I wanted it to play out the way that we had agreed upon, with the normal divorce expectations, the slow build up to leading separate lives and bringing in new players, but that hasn’t happened. I wanted our kids to get used to a new normal first, to feel safe and protected by both of their parents wanting only what’s best for them, but that hasn’t happened.

I want him to be better than he is right now. I want him to think of someone else, other than himself – or his new cool life – and to see how he’s trampling on their feelings and trust. I want him to realize that he’s the reason that they don’t feel safe to trust him, and it’s nothing that I did or said, it’s his actions or lack of that are holding them back.  I want him to know that he created this divide between himself and his boys.

But I can’t.

I can’t change who he is, I can’t rewrite the script. I can’t make him more accountable. I can’t make him a better dad. I can’t turn back the hands of time and get a do-over, not that that would help.

I can’t change it. I can’t change him.

This is new territory for all of us, new territory that we didn’t expect to have to traverse. We are winding our way along a path with too many forks, too many hills, and all the while we are hoping that we will come to a flat meadow full of peace and promise, and finally be able to relax. We are thirsty, tired and frustrated. And we want it to be over. I want to get to that place for all of us, to make it better, carry the burden to save them the heartache and disappointment.

But I can’t.

 

 

Live, learn and read

“We’re amazing people – after all – no one robs an empty house.”

– Becoming the Narcissists Nightmare, by Shahida Arabi 

I have begun reading a variety of books, and blogs, on divorce, narcissism (NPD) and depression in the last few months. That’s how I deal with things usually, I tackle problems and challenges in a somewhat clinical way. I do my research and due diligence to get the answers I need, the answers that help me not only understand my circumstances, but accept them and eventually move on. So, I read. 

A lot.

I read to make sense of things. I not only want to know what it is, or how it happened, but why it happened to me. What did I do, or not do, to attract this treatment or reaction? How did I allow myself to give up my true self and get mentally beaten down, while convincing myself that I was being loved, for so long?

Is it normal, common, typical?

Or is it just me? Am I broken, different?

I can talk about it until my head hurts, and I’ve cried until I’m depleted, but most of my friends and family are tired of listening to me, or will be soon. I still need to understand the why’s and how’s, though. I need to know what my part was in it all, how to avoid it in the future, possibly even how to help someone else eventually. 

I’m a researcher. It’s what I do.

I want to rebuild my armor with a new security system, I suppose. Adding in a new checkpoint, with a safety switch.

The phrase “live and learn” has been running through my mind on a continuous loop, for most of my life, if I am honest. From love relationships, to family disagreements and friendships gone sour, to career decisions. The problem appears to be that I’m not putting the idea of learning from experience into practice quite as often as I should. I am not only living, but more often than I care to admit, reliving these lessons without completely learning from them.

My own personal “Groundhog Day”. (I feel you, Bill Murray.)

So, in the hopes of learning from a truly painful lesson this time around, I am reading. I am reading everything I can find and searching for more. I am building a community for understanding. This way I can label it, learn about it, know the signs and feel stronger in the end.

Empowered. Protected. Prepared.

I think I read about doing this in a book one time…

Red Flags

When your life takes a major turn, around a corner that you never saw coming, you tend to re-evaluate your choices and your actions that led you to that point. Should you have seen it coming? Was there a red flag that you missed, or dismissed, somewhere along the way?

How many red flags?

It’s easy to see the big things, the glaring issues and ugly truths when they happen. Those things stand out as if they’ve been circled in red pen, or written in fat tipped markers. They’re big and bold, you can’t miss them. And you are forced to deal with them, for better or worse.

But the other red flags? Those tiny, almost imperceptible blips on your radar? Those are the sneaky ones. They are tucked into bigger moments, slipped in-between other actions, and that’s how you miss them. You make excuses, you blame others, you think it’s because of the situation. You forgive them, “just this once”. But it’s not only once, is it?

You look the other way to keep the dream alive, to not be a difficult bitch, to keep the peace. You want ‘happily ever after’ the way you’ve been promised it happens. It’s a fairytale, for the most part, but we want to believe it’s real.

I’ve spent a lot of time lately going over the last twenty five years of my life, my marriage. Looking back, looking for answers. When did it begin to fall apart? Were there signs that I missed? Was he always this selfish, cruel and narcissistic? Was I just blind, naive?

The short answer? Yes.

I can look back all the way to our first year, when we were just dating, and see red flags that I chose to ignore or just shrug off. I told myself that they were just due to the circumstances surrounding the event, or that the other person involved provoked him, or maybe I just didn’t completely understand him…yet.

The most vivid one for me was on our first New Year’s Eve. We had only been dating for less than six months, I was at his house getting ready because I had just totaled my car the week before Christmas, and it was easier to get ready together for the night’s festivities with his close group of friends. He still lived at home with his mother (okay, that is really the first red flag, let’s be honest) so I was in her house, using her shower, to get ready to go out with her son.

It all started out so simply, I needed a towel to take a shower. That’s all, a towel.

He gallantly offered to fetch one for me and dashed off to get one. On his way to the linen closet, in the other bathroom, his mother instructed him which towels to pull from – “not the good towels”.

If you’ve grown up in the same era as I did, you know what “good towels” means. They are the ones you save for company and holidays. They are the towels that hang, like paintings in the Louvre, only to be seen and not touched even by family. They are for “special occasions”.

Obviously, I didn’t make the cut. But you know what? I didn’t mind, I got it. I completely understood and saw it almost as a compliment – I was not considered a “guest” that needed to be impressed and that was a nice thing, wasn’t it?

I guess I was the only one that wasn’t offended, because suddenly all hell broke loose. The next thing I know there is a screaming match going on across the kitchen between the two of them, the likes that I have never witnessed in my own family.

Ever.

I stood paralyzed with fear, looking down at the linoleum floor, not sure what to do or where to go. It was loud, it was mean-spirited and ugly. He was screaming about how there was no good reason not to give me a good towel, what was she saving them for anyway? She screamed back that they were for “gifts”, gifts for who was never determined, and then it went out of control from there.

The insults, the screaming, the crying.

He resorted to insulting her on every level possible, even to suggest that her two husbands hadn’t died of natural causes, she had killed them with her craziness and they died to get away from her. I compared it to a scene with Norman Bates when I recounted the events to my mom. I was beyond shocked, and so was she.

Who talks to their mother like that?

But, I didn’t walk away from him. I didn’t break up with him. No, I made an excuse that families are different and have a different dynamic. Everyone communicates in their own style in their own family. Maybe that’s just how they communicate, some families are loud and scream, but they still love each other, right?

He would never do that to me. He would never treat me that way. We were different.

I honestly thought that we had a relationship that he was saving just for me, because I was special. One with communication and respect, a relationship where we could discuss things and work together to find the answers. We would have a secure and level-headed relationship, filled with love and acceptance, because we both had experience in dysfunctional families. And, I wasn’t his mother, so it would be different, right?

But that was only the beginning, only the first of many red flags to come.

The red flags start off small, too small to worry about, that’s the problem with them in the beginning. It’s the way he talks to the waiter or waitress, it’s his intense competitiveness that he demonstrates in a casual game of volleyball with his friends (spiking the ball and screaming at his team mates) It’s the smug attitude he carries that shows he assumes that he’s always right, no matter the circumstances, and all of his friends and family have learned to accept that attitude. They even praise him for his “strong will” and tell me “he’s a good guy”.

The red flags aren’t usually a huge slap in the face, no they’re more subtle than that, and they’re usually not aimed at you. In the beginning.

They buzz around you like gnats or mosquitoes, small and annoying, you can swat them away and move on with your life. The world is still beautiful and full of promise, and you’re enjoying the warm sun of his love on your skin. This is paradise like you’ve never experienced, even if there are a few bugs. But it can only get better. He’s only that way to protect you, to care for you, to love you.

The problem is that the bugs grow over time, they multiply. Eventually, you don’t even notice the bites, you just get used to them like those unblinking children from the Sally Struthers commercials, with flies on their faces. You’ve learned to ignore them and accept them as part of who he is, you shrug it off. Sometimes you may even feel good about it on some level. It proves that he loves you and wants to protect you. I remember telling people more than a few times over the years, “Yes, he’s an asshole. But he’s my asshole, and I’m glad that he’s on my side.” I truly believed that.

The red flags don’t stop after you’re married, they continue to sprinkle themselves throughout the years of your relationship, and grow bigger and more bold. And now they aren’t just for strangers, his family/friends and hired help, they’re aimed at you, your kids and your family. The problem now is you’re more invested in the relationship and have more to lose if you walk away. Not to mention the feeling of being a failure, a sucker.

What will everyone think of you?

Looking back at the long list of red flags now, I can only shake my head and ask myself what made me stay as long as I did. Why didn’t I walk away after the New Year’s Eve incident?

What was I so afraid of? Why does anyone stay in that type of relationship?

Simply put, because you just don’t know any better to expect any better. You’ve been groomed from an early age, most likely, to accept less and to put up with more, because you want people to love you. You’ve learned to ignore the ugly stuff and to only think of “good things”. You want so desperately to live the dream of happily ever after, at any cost, even if it means losing yourself.

And to do that, you can’t look at the red flags.

 

 

 

 

 

What is she thinking?

Over the last few weeks, after the shocking news of my ex not only having a “long term serious girlfriend”, but also moving her into our family home and planning to get engaged in the next couple of weeks (a fact he threw into his response, more than once, to my attorney’s letter reminding him that the parenting agreement stated that he must wait at leasts six months to introduce any new significant other to our children), I have been trying to wrap my head around something. I am trying to understand this from all angles and all sides.

What is she thinking? Honestly, what is going on inside of her head? Or is she that selfish?

She, being his new special someone (I casually refer to her as his “gold digging whore girlfriend” but “special someone” is quicker to type) What can she possibly be thinking?

When she met him, at work, he was a married man with three kids. He was her boss, her supervisor, her mentor. When she attended the holiday party, that we hosted in our home, she met his wife and three kids more than once during the planning process. She ate dinner with them. She was an invited guest into their family home.

At what point did she think “why not me? I could live like this.” At what point did it begin? Was it while we were married, before or after she was a guest in our house, or once we were separated? Of course, I will never know the full details and I probably would still find it difficult to believe him even if it did start after we were separated.

He hasn’t been very transparent up until now. He has lied about the smallest of things.

But still, when and why do women accept dating a man who is “separated”? Isn’t that a risky venture? Isn’t it possible that he could reconcile his marriage and try again, or realize that he’s making a huge mistake personally, professionally and financially and go back to status quo?

Personally, I have never gone down that path myself, so I have no idea.

And now that she is moving in with him, in a home that entertained not only her but her other young coworkers and his older colleagues, will they have a party with some of those same guests in the near future?  Maybe to celebrate their engagement, and what will those people say?

“Wow, I’m so happy for you! What a great house, I love what you’ve done with the place, what a great life you have now!”

“Yeah, his ex-wife was such a bitch, wasn’t she? I mean, that party they threw a few years ago, how she helped organize it all and was acting all friendly by talking to everyone? God, he is so lucky to have you now. You two were meant for each other!”

Will they gladly accept the invitations and pretend that I never existed, that they never met me?

Or will they look at her with disbelief and wonder, wondering what she was thinking and when did it begin? Maybe they already knew it was going on and they were in on the secret. And some of the older women, who are wives of his colleagues, are they beginning to worry or wonder about the future of their marriage now? His friends’ wives, too. They should be looking at this and wonder when will it happen to them.

This is too surreal and too close to home for many of these women, in their fifties and sixties.

Do her parents clap with joy that their “spinster” daughter (over 30 and unmarried is not easy for a young woman to face at holiday parties with family) has finally found a man – even if he was married to someone else for twenty years first, and already has three children from that marriage – he will make their daughter incredibly happy, provide well for her, put her in his big, beautiful house and bless them with more grandchildren!

She is so lucky! They are so proud!

Are they excited, even overjoyed, to see an older man walk through their door to meet them that is almost the same age as they are? That doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable or question it? Maybe they figure that they’ll have more in common with him, or he can continue to parent her, relieving them of their worry.

Or did her mother shake her head in disbelief, and warn her that it was bad karma?

Does she know the hateful things he tells his kids and writes to me, his ex-wife? Or does she assume that he’s polite and courteous and “trying” to be amicable, but his ex-wife is a crazy bitch? I would guess that he’s not sharing some of his hateful diatribe with her, by email or text. And his conversations with his boys are most likely out of range for her to hear, or texted while she isn’t around. Then again, maybe they are and she is being supportive of him for standing up to his spoiled brat kids, who only call to ask for something, and don’t support him in his new life. Don’t accept them as a couple.

How does she just move in to a home that he shared with his wife only a year ago, and not feel weird, uncomfortable, like a thief? How does she sleep in his marital bed, use the same towels, hang her clothes in the same closet and sit at the same kitchen counter drinking coffee that he shared with his wife before her, and not feel some queasiness or guilt? Does she feel my presence in some of the rooms? Does she pretend that I am dead?

And then there are children involved that need to be considered. He has been pushing for them to not only meet her, but accept her, and accept them as a couple. Is she going along with this course of action willingly, or just following his lead? If she is going along with it, it only proves how disconnected she is to the idea of raising kids, protecting them, because she hasn’t had any yet. She hasn’t felt the pang of regret or sadness when she is unable to protect them from the ugly truths or disappointments of life.

And why would she want to, or allow to be, forced upon his kids and risk the resentment that will surely come from it? Does she seriously believe that once they get to know her they will just love her and it will all be okay? They will be okay with another woman sleeping in their mom’s bedroom. That this story has a happy, wholesome family ending?

They will be a happy “blended family”. Possibly she is just delusional.

I can’t wrap my head around it, any of it. I feel as if I am a character in some weird movie, who wasn’t give the script, so I am ad-libbing my way through each surprise and plot twist. I don’t understand. I am a woman. I have been a young, single woman. I have had my share of married, separated and divorced men approach me. Hit on me. But, I have never considered any of those scenarios as a possible solution to my relationship struggles of being single. There are too many strings and loose ends. And I don’t want to be “that woman”.

Obviously, I don’t know what she is thinking, because I’ve never been like her.

 

The light bulb moment

There have been many “light bulb” moments along the way over the course of the last year. But I would call them low wattage light bulb moments. Dim, just enough light to see but not enough to read by, or see the entire picture clearly. And only one at a time.

The more I am reading about narcissists, the more I am learning about my life for the last 25 years. The more I am understanding that it wasn’t all in my head. Sad, isn’t it? I had no idea, or just didn’t know what to call it I suppose. I just thought it was me, I was causing it.

One of the traits of a narcissist, according to almost every book and article, is that they lie. They lie about details, small things, big things, it doesn’t matter. They will make you think that you are the problem, you are the crazy one, you are the one who should not be trusted. But the bottom line is that they will lie to you – and then make you believe that you are wrong, overreacting or just plain crazy.

I never thought of my ex as someone who could lie, or would for that matter. One of the things that I truly loved about him was the idea that he had integrity, and was a man of character. I respected him, even when I didn’t like him, even when I questioned if I loved him. I even respected him during most of our divorce proceedings. He didn’t need to lie, because he was sometimes brutally honest, like a small child that doesn’t realize telling someone that they’re ugly is hurtful. It’s just a fact.

So, reading up on narcissism lately – is there a college course for this? I’d like to at least earn credits or something – while I’ve been nodding along to all of the other traits, I’ve skimmed by the “lying” trait, because that’s just not who he is. He doesn’t lie.

At least that’s what I thought.

Then something tickled the back of my brain. Something very recent, that made me wonder, but I pushed it out of my mind earlier. We had to agree to make a shared “family calendar” to add to for everyone to see and use. The idea being that the kids would know when he would be in town, so as not to make plans without checking with him first, and we could both communicate our plans without having to actually speak to each other. It would keep us accountable for our parenting time, too.

It’s a tool to manage our split family. We all have iPhones, so iCalendar made sense.

If you’ve ever used a shared calendar, you’ll know that once you put something on it, it pops up for everyone in the group to let them know that a new “event” has been added. And it shows up on everyone’s calendar, in whatever color they choose. My oldest son has used it for dumb things, like when he’ll be thinking about his car or eating or sleeping, just to be funny. But it showed up on all of our calendars each time.

This weekend was one of the weekends that we (the two younger sons and possibly me) were scheduled to go camping with our scout troop, so I added it to the family calendar. But I didn’t stop there, no I added every campout weekend for the rest of the year through August to the family calendar, including summer camp dates.

I did this in November, before we were even officially divorced. I’m a rule follower.

I then added to it as things came up, one being my youngest’s cello recital two weekends ago. This one I  added only two weeks in advance, because between the teacher being a scatter brain and the details of things slipping by me, I just didn’t get it on there any sooner. I added it to the family calendar, but never mentioned it to my ex otherwise.

The day of the recital came, and as we walked into the building, my youngest turned to me and said, “Dad just texted me to wish me luck on my cello recital.” He smiled. I smiled and said “that’s great”.

Only two weeks later, on a Thursday morning, my ex is texting our youngest about making plans for this Sunday. I remind my son that we have a campout this weekend, remember? We get back around noon on Sunday and then go to Grandpa’s birthday party at 3pm.

He texts back this information, and tells me that my ex said he didn’t know about the camping or the birthday party, but I began thinking “what is the point of a family calendar if he never looks at it?”

I have added multiple things to the family calendar. So, I checked my calendar again to make sure that they were all on there, and they were. My dad’s birthday party was not added to the calendar because, according to our agreement, my ex would see the boys every other weekend and he had just been in the previous weekend and didn’t bother to make any real plans with them (with the exception of trying to force them into meeting his new live-in girlfriend, but that’s another post) so it was a non issue in my mind.

Later in the day, we had our typical heated email exchange, and in his ranting about my being uncooperative, he claimed that he didn’t know anything about a camping trip this weekend. I replied that it had been on the calendar since November and maybe he should learn how to use his calendar, or check his settings.

Then this morning, when I awoke…light bulb.

He didn’t know about the campout, but he knew about the cello recital enough to wish our son luck, minutes before the concert began?

He had also added an event to the shared calendar over the summer, once. A comedy show, that he didn’t intend to take the boys to of course, he just wanted to let us know that he “wasn’t available that night”. So, he knows how to use it.

But the basic idea still stands out, he knows how to use the family calendar and sees events to know about the cello recital, but not about a weekend campout? His text to my son made it look as if I was keeping secrets from his dad. I was getting in the way of his dad being present, being around. I was the spiteful jerk, or the lazy ass. The bitch.

Now, I am not “that mother” who sneaks into her kids’ phones to see what they are doing or who they are texting, but this one bothered me for some reason. When I got a moment, I checked my son’s texts from with his dad, and it irritated me. His texts were dripping with sweetness, and disappointment. He added that he wasn’t aware of the camping trip.

But he had to have been. He knew about the cello concert, and only from the calendar.

It was a “Scooby Doo” moment for me. And I was one of the meddling kids.

Then it all came rushing back to me, so many hanging questions over the last twenty years. So many times that I had “that feeling” or felt like I was losing my mind because I thought he said one thing, but he insisted that he said another. He insisted that his relationship only started before the summer, but did it? Was she in the picture since that holiday party three years ago?

And it’s not just about the divorce and the sickening details around it. It’s so much more, everything that I thought to be true, and now I wasn’t so sure.

Had he cheated on me before? How many times, and with who and when? One time I found a nail polish bottle of clear coat in our suitcase while on a weekend away with him, and knew it wasn’t mine, but he convinced me that it was and I just forgot it in there from the last time we traveled. The late nights working, the convention trips in fun places that he never invited me to, and the many times he full on ignored me at company functions while he hung with the very young, female managers.

He would also leave his phone at home while he “ran errands” on the weekends.

And the time that I had that ugly gut feeling watching him talk to a “retiring” female partner (who was rumored to have slept her way to that position, and now felt that she needed to retire, possibly to save her marriage) He was part of a group of men surrounding her like a pack of horny dogs, hanging on her every word, and it seemed odd. He seemed enthralled with her, almost too familiar, and that was my impression from across the room.

Was I that naive and that trusting? That stupid?

He lied about never making me move, about the details of taking that new position in California, that we wouldn’t have to move if I wasn’t ready. He lied about having me keep the house for the kids to grow up in once we agreed to divorce. He lied about having someone waiting in the wings, when I asked him point blank, that ugly night of truth. I could suddenly see the last twenty years in flashes of moments that I had questioned.

He lies.

And with this knowledge, something came over me. The light bulb switched on and I could see him for who he truly is, and realize that it was never about me or because of me. And it gave me some sense of peace, some sense of acceptance, that I can’t quite explain. I trusted him for half of my life. I believed him, respected him, and I thought I knew him.

But, he lied.

 

You Don’t Understand Me for the Same Reason Couples Divorce

I connected almost immediately to this post, and his writing is wonderful and genuine. To say that I feel somewhat “validated” in my belief that the way divorce begins and plays out these days is an epidemic may sound self-centered or egotistical, but really it just made me feel that I wasn’t alone in my thinking, or that it isn’t all just my own view or my singular experience leading me to that conclusion.

Must Be This Tall To Ride

Some things simply get lost in translation. (Image/funcage.com) Some things simply get lost in translation. (Image/funcage.com)

I wrote a post exactly three months ago today which was so popular and relatable to the average married couple that several million people read it.

It’s so popular that it has remained the most-read post on this site every day since, quadrupling MBTTTR’s daily traffic from pre-“dish” post levels.

The reason it became popular is because people read it, recognized their own lives, and wanted to share and talk about it with others.

And even though She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes By the Sink mattered so much to so many, it yielded and continues to elicit radically different reactions from readers:

“I like that this guy got to the deep issue of respecting his wife. It takes a lot of self-reflection for a man to understand that little things like this can really hurt a woman.”

“This will contribute to…

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