Category Archives: The End of Our Marriage- 2009

One Last Dance

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In between crazy, horrible text messages, emails and constant digs about how fat (119 lbs) I was…I received an email from him.

He begged me to reconsider.  He wanted to whisk me away to a resort — for couple’s counseling.  He saw a “sign” while on a trail run– two doves at 2,000 feet.  He said it was his sign that we needed to be together.  That he had failed– lost everything and now he had lost his wife.  He was sorry.

I’ve been in this position so many times with him.  It used to work for me.  Previously, I would fall for the emotional email…the charm…the apology…the manipulation.  He would whisk me away to Hawaii, Jamaica, Canada, Oregon, Florida, New York, Chicago…and “fix it”.  If we had a fight then I could almost count on finding plane tickets on my pillow within a day.  After the vacation, things would return to normalcy and everything was lonely, sad and empty.  Void of emotion and void of feelings.  Void of affection and void of love.  That was “Normal”.

This email was different.  The charm didn’t work.  The link he sent to a high-end couples retreat didn’t work either.  I was dead inside when it came to my relationship him.  Things had been “done” for six months by that point.  I believe that reality began to set in.  He knew I was dating.  It hit him.  It was too late.  I read the email– no feelings stirred.  No emotion.  I was done.

Not only was I done but I finally saw the manipulation. 

Doves have a lot of meaning to me and he knows that.  Several years ago when my daughter had her first seizure, I was leaving my house to see a child neurologist and I was a mess.  As I was pulling out of our gate at 6am, a dove flew straight up to my window and hovered there– it made eye contact with me and seemed to freeze in mid air.  I had a sense of calm wash over me and I knew in my heart that everything was fine.  I knew at that moment that my daughter was fine and that the test results were all normal– and they were.

Ever since that day, doves have been a symbol to me.  I hear a cooing and it reminds me to stop.  Breathe and be thankful. 

I know him.  I’ve seen the manipulation– personally and with so many other people.  He uses people and he manipulates.  That is what he does best.  By sending me an email talking about doves and fuzzy bunnies…he thought he was tugging on my heartstrings.

He wanted one last dance.

I didn’t.

I was the dove flying out of the cage of unhappiness.

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Online Dating

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I posted a personal ad.   Online.

I had a deep desire to form real friendships.  I had hundreds of “friends” but didn’t have real friendships.  My world while married was pretend.  One local newspaper article called us the “Golden Couple” during our entrepreneurial stint.  I felt like everything BUT the Golden Couple.  We had friends but it was what I refer to as “surface friendships”.  I was forbid to talk about anything “real”.  Our money issues, my health concerns or problems in our marriage…all topics that were forbidden.  I remember sitting at a dinner party one night and telling a group of friends that I had just been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis– the car ride home was silent.  “He” could not believe that I would tarnish our perfect image.  From that point on, I kept my health issues to myself.   I kept all issues to myself.  I knew that our life was private.

I made a list of the 50 things that I wanted in a future partner…things that I would not “settle” on.  I read that list often.  At the time, I wasn’t looking for a relationship.  I was looking for a friend.  The list gave me hope for the future.

I placed an online ad.  I kept it very simple- no photo.  It started something like this:  Happy in San Luis Obispo— I don’t want a relationship– seeking a friend for coffee, etc.  ….it was pretty basic- pretty simple.  I mentioned that I had children but also mentioned that they didn’t need a father– they had a father.  I also mentioned that they would not meet my children- for a long time…possibly never.

I went out on one coffee date in June with Glenn and the rest is history.  For over two years, I’ve had best friend…a partner in life…and I’ve been in love.  I’ve met someone who values my feelings and loves me for who I am.

He loves my every color and accepts me for who I am without trying to change me.

That online ad was the best decision I’ve made in years.  Glenn has restored my faith in men.

The Sympathy Card

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I recently received a sympathy card from a dear friend.  It was a sympathy card for my loss.  The loss of my marriage.  It was probably one of the most touching cards that I have ever received but nonetheless, it was a sympathy card.  At first, it struck me as odd but the more I think about it…it was completely appropriate.

Today I was jogging which I do about three days per week.  I place my daughters in the jogging stroller clad in their little pajamas with breakfast in hand…and I run.  I run away from the world and I think.  I put my IPOD in and I explain to the girls that this is “mommy time”.  I process my current reality: the divorce, the loss of my home and the loss of the life that I once knew.  I think of happy things and I plan for my future.  I make mental notes and I think of the things that I am grateful for.  My jogs are my time to focus and prepare for whatever the day will throw my way.

Today was different.  I normally run at the Cal Poly Campus which has been quite and serene all summer.  Today was bustling with incoming freshman and their parents.  I ran past moms who were walking and laughing with their daughters…we shared the smile that only mothers can share.  I could almost see a tear forming with the smile as the mothers looked at my young daughters…and it was an unspoken message from them to me: time flies quickly…enjoy it.

I ran past parents who were walking their teenagers to their dorms and I sense of sadness washed over me.  This time the tear was in my eye.  There were actually many tears in my eyes as I ran.  The reality of the impending divorce hit me like a ton of bricks.  Am I robbing my daughters of this experience? The experience of walking hand in hand with two parents to their dorm rooms on the first day of college.  I felt more grief as I ran past these glowing families than I did on the day I decided to leave.  Reality set in.  My family is broken.  Today it hit me.  I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders and I felt guilt like I have never felt before.

I continued running with more momentum and an urgency to be free of the college campus…and the happy families.  I ran for about a mile and then slowed down to catch my breath.  I remembered the sadness in my marriage for so many years and the sense of despair that I felt.  I remembered the tension and the arguments.  I remembered the loneliness.  I remembered questioning myself daily for four years: how could I be married but completely alone in every sense of the word?  I cried and I allowed myself to feel the loss.  I allowed myself to grieve for my failed marriage but I also let go of the guilt in that moment.

I stopped running and I sat on a curb.  Cars flew by us one after another and my daughter asked me why I was crying…I was crying because I knew that I made the right decision.  I know that there will be times when I doubt myself and there will be happy families that cause my chest to tighten and tears to flow…but I know that I am on the right path.  I feel sympathy for the loss of my marriage and the vows that I spoke almost 8 years ago.  I feel sympathy for my daughters and the loss of their family.  I feel sympathy but i know in my heart that I made the right decision…and that we will be ok.

The Nesting Agreement

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The thought of making my daughter’s bounce back and forth like a tennis ball made me feel physically ill.  I couldn’t imaging packing them up for a weekend and watching them bounce around.  I knew our current situation was over and I came up with a plan that involved a lot of couches and a lot of friends.  I was determined to make it work.

I proposed a “nesting agreement”.  I would wait for “him” to come home on Friday nights at which point I would leave for the weekend.  I would stay with friends and I would be content knowing that my children were in their own beds at night.  We had tenants renting an upstairs unit at the time so I felt confident that another person was there to keep an eye on things– and to alert me if things were bad.

By mid-May, I was couch surfing on the weekends.  That term is fun if you are 19 years old however, I wasn’t 19.  I made the best of it.  I stayed with my bookkeeper one weekend and a high school friend the next.  I hate asking favors of people so this was a very humbling experience for me.  I missed my daughters greatly.  I cried a lot and I drank one too many glasses of wine on occasion.  Many of our friends were mutual friends.  I felt out of place and new that I needed to create my own support network– friends outside of my traditional circle.

I wasn’t grieving in the way that you would expect.   I had grieved over the loss of my marriage for two years before I actually left.  Once I made up my mind that things were done– I was already void of emotion for the marriage.  I didn’t miss “him” and I didn’t miss our life together.  I missed my daughters.

Out the Sliding Glass Door…

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Before I knew it, three months had gone by.  We had been living the weekend routine and it was difficult.

He would arrive at 10pm Friday nights and leave on Sunday morning.  We co-existed in the same house and even went to Disneyland together for my daughters’ birthday.  Being at the Happiest Place on Earth didn’t even make me happy.  I was living a pretend life and needed to make changes.  How long could I keep doing this?  I knew the answer: not long.

The weekend routine sucked- there is no way to sugar coat it.  I felt like I “needed” to stay there.  He was drinking a lot to deal with the issues at hand and I had never been away from my daughters.  I felt stuck.  I didn’t want to be in the same house with him yet I didn’t know what to do.

One Friday night, I had just finished a three-day medical procedure which left me very ill.  Under the covers with the    chills, a horrible headache and zero energy.  I was actually happy that he would be arriving to “take over” with the children as my youngest daughter had a double ear infection.  I heard him come home and an hour later, I heard the sliding glass door open and shut.  I heard his truck start and I heard him drive away.

I stayed up most of the night with my little girl and her fever.  Tears streaming down my cheeks.  I knew I couldn’t live with the drinking anymore– or the lies.  I couldn’t live the lie that we were living. I was done.  He never came home that night. The next morning, he didn’t show up to take the girls to their gymnastics class.  He was hungover and admitted that he has stayed with a “divorcee” the night before.

I was angry.  I was angry that he had the luxury of “choosing” when to be around with no regard for me or my daughters.  I was angry at the lack of caring and selfishness.  I was angry with the drinking to “cope” with problems and the lack of consideration.  That night ended our weekend “arrangement” and I knew that I needed to start the process of a less toxic living arrangement.  I wanted him to be responsible.  I wanted him to be a dad.  He had never owned that role.  I wanted him to WANT to be a dad to these amazing little girls.

Hurting My Little Girl

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We were still in the “in between”.  He had verbalized that it was done however, he was transitioning to a new job in the Bay Area so we were living under the same roof– trying to be civil.

Everything in his world was for show.  Had it been up to him, we would have had 2.5 children just to completely fit the mold of the perfect, all-American family.  We arrived home from an errand in his car– all of us together.  I had just warned him that our oldest daughter (almost four at the time) didn’t nap and was a bit cranky.  I knew he was in a bad mood– I could tell it was the type of quiet anger that frightened me.

I started walking into the house (through the garage) ahead of him –carrying our youngest daughter.  Our oldest daughter was upset about her jacket not being on properly and started to have a mini-meltdown.  The meltdown wasn’t the problem– it was the fact that she wasn’t “acting perfect” and there were neighbors watching.  He needed to “stop her” from throwing a fit– remove her from the eyes of onlookers before his image of perfection was tarnished.  He picked her up and carried her quickly through the garage– arms wrapped around her chest and squeezing her tightly to make her stop.

Squeezing her and hurting her to make her stop being a tired, four year old little girl.

I heard the commotion– her cry– the garage door shutting to keep the world from seeing the imperfection.  I turned to see him carrying her through the garage and into the house– the look on her face of shear terror.  I grabbed her from his arms and told  him to leave- to get out of our house.  Our renter was in the kitchen making tea– she was also our former nanny and the girls’ Godmother.  We placed her on the counter– she was in complete hysterics.  She look liked a caged animal.  I had never seen my baby look like this.  We held her– she was gagging…she couldn’t catch her breath.

I started a bath to calm her down– we sat with her and soothed her.  She continued to gag during the bath.  My heart broke that day.  My biggest regret and one of the few regrets in my life: not calling Child Protective Services.  

Days later, I insisted on going to our marriage therapist to explain what happened and ask for advice.  I notified him that I was going and it may be reported.  He attended the session- he admitted what happened and apologized.  The therapist told him to go back home and sit down with our daughter– admit to her that he did something very wrong and to apologize.

The therapist told him that he would assume this was a one-time occurrence but if it happened again…it would be reported.

The Beginning of the End

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When I thought of my life outside of my girls…it felt scary.  I was living a pretend life.  To the public and to our friends, we had everything.  Inside, I had nothing.  Empty.  Blank.  Painful.  For a very long time.

I was lonely.  I was sad and broken.

In my heart, I know that I tried to make my marriage work.  God, did I try.  I begged and pleaded for couples counseling.  Finally, in September of 2008, I took “him” to dinner and I explained where I was: I’m not in love.  I am scared.  I can’t do this anymore.  I want out.  He panicked.  I was serious this time and he knew it.  I was so alone and desperate that I swore to him that I would have an affair if someone merely HUGGED me.

We started couples counseling the next week.  I was hopeful and willing to throw everything into making our marriage work.  Four months later, he walked out of counseling while waiving the white flag.  I was also done.  I was exhausted.

At the same time, our world was crumbling around us.  I was in the dark about our finances for years and there was debt that would make your head spin.  Some of it I knew about but much of it felt like complete and utter betrayal.  I uncovered lies and deception– lies to banks, he spent his parent’s retirement savings and he conned his younger brother out of almost $100,000.  I didn’t know who he was.

We actually shared the same home– on the weekends, I stayed in the bedroom and he stayed on the couch.  This went on for months.  We co-existed under the same roof…nothing in writing and nothing formal.