August 2007- We moved into the new home and the spending spree began. He had a credit score of 800 and lots of credit cards. He wanted to drive to Southern California and shop for furniture. He was on a wild high- euphoric and happier than I’ve ever seen him. Seeing him happy was a huge relief. He claimed that business was booming, life was good and I bought every word that left his mouth.
We bought everything that we needed to furnish the house in one weekend. A massive dining room table, chandeliers, a $10,000 bedroom set, couches, art, patio furniture and everything else that we could find. He was unstoppable and he was on cloud 9. I wasn’t worried at all. If he was this confident in the business and in our life then I wanted to believe in him. I wanted to support him and obviously, money was no longer a concern in our world.
I hired an artist to create a masterpiece fit for a princess on my daughter’s bedroom wall- a Candyland mural. At two years old, her wall was bigger than most living room walls. I stayed busy decorating their bedrooms and playrooms. I through myself into being a full-time mom, having play dates with tea and crumpets (only half joking) and doing things that rich, stay-at-home moms do.
December 2007- During this time, I started a business from home and was on top of the world. My business was like another child to me– I put my heart and soul into it. The business was a hit in the local media and my business partner and I were on the front page of every newspaper and were interviewed on every local radio station. I felt like I was living a fairytale life. I had the home, the cars, the beautiful little girls and a new business that helped me to forget the unhappy feeling that I had whenever I thought of my marriage.
My brother came to visit us for a week and we took a family walk together through the community. My brother and I walked up ahead and he said to me, “You aren’t happy. I hate seeing you like this– you need to make a change”. I agreed with him yet I just didn’t know how.
I could keep the fake, “happy wife” image up to the community but I couldn’t pull it off with the people who truly loved me and knew me.
My X traded our luxury home to our business partners in an effort to keep his company. We found a home to rent and moved into a normal neighborhood. Nothing fancy- just a regular middle class neighborhood where kids rode their bikes in the street and everyone waved to each other as they passed by. I was content. We could actually afford this house and live within our means. I was hopeful that the roller coaster had come to a halt. This is the part where I lift the bar and exit to my left.
I gave birth to my second daughter while living in this home and shortly after, I felt the tensions start to rise. Less than six months after moving into the rental home, he wanted out. It started with a Sunday drive to our local coffee shop and a few glances through the real estate section of the local newspaper. Then it turned into a “lets go look at a few houses to kill time”. Within a few weeks, he had a realtor and was looking at homes. Not just any houses but very high-end houses. Originally, we agreed to a home price of $800,000 or lower. This was our compromise. I couldn’t handle the stress of another huge mortgage and he couldn’t handle the embarrassment of living in a home that wasn’t up to his standards.
He found a gated community and begged me to drive through with the realtor and just look. We were greeted by a magnificent gate and a guard who eagerly greeted the happy, blond couple in the Mercedes with two bouncing baby girls in the backseat. The all American family. We drove through the most amazing neighborhood complete with tennis courts, plans for an equestrian center, lakes, trails and million-dollar homes. As we made our way through the 550 acre neighborhood with rolling hills and breathtaking vistas, I felt like crying. It was happening again.
We pulled our car into the driveway of the house which sat on the highest hilltop of the community. The happy realtor pulled in next to us and I realized that I needed to put on my “public face” which is also known as the fake smile, on-cue laugh and trophy-wife persona.
I followed them into the house and I was in awe. This was the home that famous people would have lived in. Rich people live in homes like this. We couldn’t live in a home like this. He lit up. He walked through the home room by room and I followed behind him with a newborn and two-year old in my arms. He looked so happy. He never looked this happy. In fact, he always looked depressed. I wanted to be happy again. I craved happiness. My happiness was dependent on his mood– his day and his world. If he wasn’t happen then he was miserable to be around. I felt a glimmer of hope.
He wanted this home. If this is what it took for him to be happy then I would support him. He claimed that he could make it work and told me 150 reasons why it was such a brilliant investment. It was listed at 1.2 million but appraised at 1.6 million. He talked over me which I was accustomed to– real estate lingo that he knew I didn’t understand. He promised me that he would never touch the equity– never refinance the house again. He promised. He told me of his plan to pay his parents back the money he gambled (and lost) from their retirement (their entire retirement). He rolled his eyes at me when I pressed him to understand how we could afford this. It was the same look he always gave me, “you are so stupid— leave the money and business decisions to me”. His perfect SAT scores, his pre-med background and college education. Who was I to question him?
I wanted to believe him. I wanted so badly to be happy.
One month later, we moved into the home.
May 2007- Wildflower Triathlon: This time, I arrived for my annual camping adventure with a 2 year old and an 8-day old baby– and another c-section incision to deal with. I was ready! In fact, this year is was easier– I had become more robotic. I knew what to expect and I even helped pack for the trip this time! After all, I had four days to recover from a major surgery (yes, that is sarcasm). I remember explaining to the surgeon that I needed a pain pump inserted into my incision– I had read about them online and knew it would drastically cut down on the pain during the trip.
He was very good at manipulations and I was very good at buying into them. After all, if I was home (he explained) then I would be trying to do laundry, clean, etc. Somehow, he became a hero with a brilliant plan to help me relax. I packed my pain pills, crock pot, Vitamix and planned out our meals for the week. He packed up the Airsteam and off we went. He claimed it was the ideal situation— I could relax.
On the second night, I cooked a huge pot of pasta for a large group of 15 people. I remember feeling as though daggers were being inserted into my wound but I was the good little wife- no complaints from me!
My best friend was there during this particular camping trip. The funny thing is– we weren’t friends back then and we weren’t even acquaintances. It’s ironic that we are even friends now…she didn’t like me. She was there to support her husband and she thought I was pretentious in my “glamping” attire, new Airstream, new vehicles and my “shiny, happy life”. It was a show. I looked like the rich, modern version of June Cleaver but the reality is…I was sad, alone, pretending to be wealthy and I was miserable inside. Heck, I had a full stomach of staples and a pain pump attached to my waist– I was pretending to be pain-free also.
I pretended a lot.
I pretended in my mind that I was loved.
My second daughter came into the world in April of 2007 at 6lbs 9oz.
I’m a planner- she arrived just two years and three days behind her sister. She came into the world with a sleep schedule to-die-for and was all smiles while awake. This little girl completed my world. She was such a happy, peaceful baby in every way.
When I thought about my baby girls- my heart was overflowing with joy.
I was happy beyond anything that I could describe.
I loved every moment of motherhood. I was enrolled in every “Mommy and Me Class” offered within a 20 mile radius. My world started to revolve around making organic baby food, play dates and every conversation began with, “Guess what she did today?”.
My life changed from shopping for the newest Coach purse to searching for the latest Petunia Picklebottom designer diaper bag. I was in love with motherhood.