I am new to this online journaling thing. I used to do this many years ago, the old fashioned way with a notebook and a pen, but I guess the times have changed and so I must, too. Ok- here is my story: I just turned 48 years old and filed for divorce after 17 months of married life with Dave.
It all came as a total surprise to me. I was still a bride, still so in love with my husband, I never would have imagined that he would be cheating on me before we were even married a year. He likes to think it wasn’t really cheating because it was online and not an actual, physical relationship. By the time I caught him again just a few months later, after going to counseling and swearing that it would not happen again, I thought we had turned a corner and things were getting better. I couldn’t believe it was happening again. “How many?”, I asked him. “I don’t know, ” he said. “Two or three.” That’s what he admits to, but I have a feeling it is much more than that.
I wonder now if it had been going on all along, maybe even before we were married. When I found it the first time, I assumed that this was something new. Dave had met her through an online game- he used to tell me she was quite the opponent, she was really giving him a run for his money, so to speak. Little did I know that he was playing quite a different game with her. I believe she was just one of many, an opportunity to flirt with women in his idle time (and there was a lot of that since he had lost his job).
He blames me for most of the problems in our marriage- not supporting his dreams, not supporting his health issues, not being affectionate enough. “There were problems,” he said. Problems of his own making, but so easily pointed the finger at me. He STILL doesn’t accept responsibility for the problems in our brief marriage. He readily admits to having online affairs, but refuses to take any responsibility in anything else. It’s because of the “problems” in our marriage that he turned to other women to fulfill his needs.
He wanted me to bully him into making healthier eating choices, to force him to the gym, to refuse to not let him go to the doctor. I tried to be that person, but there were always excuses and negotiations and rationalizations. I was there when they cut half his foot off because of his diabetes- I begged him to go to the doctor because his foot was infected. “I have it under control,” he said. By the time he went to the urgent care, there was nothing they could do to save it. After that I bought special cook books, spent my lunch hour pouring over the internet to find answers to questions about carbs and exercise and how diabetes affects his body. We started to grocery shop together, to prepare meals together so he would understand. I printed a list and put it on the refrigerator for foods that were good and foods to avoid. Soon he didn’t care. “It’s only a couple of tortillas,” he would say. “I have been good today, so I can have this (giant) potato for dinner”. He went back to the grocery shopping on his own, preparing meals on his own, high in carbs like white rice and tortillas and potatoes. He quit looking at labels and put his nutritional health at the lowest priority. He wanted a mother, not a wife. And if he didn’t care about his health, why should I?
Dave was laid off from work literally the day after we returned from our honeymoon (although now I have doubts about that). He collected unemployment for a while and said he was looking for other work. Updated resumes, checking job sites and Craig’s List regularly for postings. At least, that’s what he said. He decided that Uber was the way to go, he had a fairly new car and he could be his own boss. And in the beginning that was fine. He was making almost as much money as he was at his regular job, and he was “still looking for something else in the mean time”. Then he started cutting back his driving hours. “Mondays and Tuesdays are really slow, so those will be my admin days” where he did stuff around the house and “paid bills”. Then he decided that Wednesdays and Thursdays were slow too, and he could make just as much money by driving only on the weekends. When the creditors started calling ME (because everything was in my name), he told me not to answer those calls. I had to cash in vacation time to take his car out of impound because he hadn’t been making the payments (HIS car that was in MY name). When I nearly had my wages garnished because “the jewelry account is the lowest priority” and wasn’t getting paid, I took a personal loan to pay it off. I was working full time, overtime every day, and doing sewing projects on the side to try to pay some bills. I tried to discuss finances with him, and he would blow up at me, because I was “ruining his day” by addressing the subject. I became angry and resentful, and pulled away from him- why would I want to make love to someone who had let me down, who wasn’t even making an effort to be a partner in our marriage? “You don’t even have to do anything, just lie back and let me in there”. How romantic. How does a girl refuse an offer like that?
Dave is a comic artist; he loves to draw, and is quite talented. I have always told him that I wish him all the success in the world because I think he truly deserves it. With this came the idea of wanting his own comic book store. I’m not opposed to that, we talked about that all the time, dreaming of the time when we would have a little nest egg that we could invest in something like that. When the opportunity came up for him to open a store with a women he had met through Uber, I was very upset. The timing was not good for us- we were struggling financially, and would not have been able to live without the (little) income he was bringing in. He told her he would work for free until the shop made a profit, in order to be a partner. He would put up his comic collection and his “expertise” in ordering and running a store, and she would invest her money in the shop. There is no way we would have been able to stay in the apartment, he would have not only let me down, but his two kids that were living with us. No, I could stand by and let him destroy our family. And further more, I did not approve of his relationship with this other woman. They might only be friends, but I didn’t think he would be so happy if I had a similar relationship with another man (“encroachers,” he would call them, and I was continually defending myself for any innocent comment or conversation that a man would start with me).
It was in the midst of all of this that I found his online cheating the first time. We went to counseling, but it was all a joke for him. When our therapist suggested a book for us to read, Dave thought maybe we could get the highlights off the internet. He thought our therapist was ineffective and did not drive the sessions like he thought he should. We only went to about four or five sessions before it fizzled out. There was a scheduling mix up where we needed to cancel, and Dave saw that as an out. “It got us talking about our problems, we don’t really need to pay this guy who isn’t doing anything for us”.
Despite the problems in therapy, I thought we were starting to work through some of our issues and were actually turning a corner, when my dad fell and broke his arm. I had to stay with him for almost 2 months; he developed uncontrollable panic attacks and physically had problems getting to the restroom, bathing, taking his medication, etc. Dave even pitched in, coming to visit my dad once a week and taking him to doctor’s appointments when needed. He thought I wouldn’t be home until June, once the Renaissance Faire was over (I am part of a volunteer group that works at Faire), but I kept telling him I was trying to get back home as soon as I could. I was home at the beginning of March, just as build for Faire was starting. I told Dave that I would only work Faire once a week, like last year. He kept telling me I should work both days, he would be driving anyways, and he knew I was with my girl friends and happy there. “Are you SURE,” I would ask, “I want to be home with you, I don’t mind only working one day.” Again, he told me he would be driving since we needed the money, he didn’t mind and wouldn’t be home anyways. Silly me, I should have seen this for the red flag it was, but as I said, I thought things were turning a corner and getting better. I thought he was giving me this time because he wanted me to do something I enjoyed. Maybe that was part of it, but I found in texts later, telling his female friend, that I had come home but was ” Working Faire for the next two months. Both Days.” He painted me as selfish, leaving him to go play at Faire when I just came home from taking care of my dad.
My step-daughter is the one who actually overheard a phone conversation that she mistook for him cheating. She was sick about it and later told her mother because she was afraid he was doing it again- she knew that he cheated on her mother, and she knew that I had already caught him once early in our marriage. Her mother is the one who alerted me, and was already making plans to move her kids out of our apartment in case our marriage fell apart. Dave was not aware of this, she told him that she was moving to our area and the kids wanted to live with her. Ironically, he was hurt and confused, wondering why the kids would want to leave his home. It wasn’t until three weeks later that I found proof of his online cheating again and confronted him with it. Of course he could not deny it, I had the proof in front of me. Ironically, the conversation his daughter had overheard between him and his female friend had been her telling him that he needed to come clean about all of this, and that she hoped it didn’t all blow up in his face. That was exactly what happened.
It took me three more weeks to pack and be able to move out. I gave him two weeks to get his stuff and leave, but I couldn’t live with the thought of him sitting at his desk at night and probably chatting up his other women. It made me sick to know while I was sleeping in our bed, he was carrying on this double life, this perfect Dave life where he didn’t have any financial problems, didn’t have any medical problems, who was this good looking, charming artist who had a wife who didn’t appreciate him. Poor Dave! I’m sure they all felt sorry for him, I was such a terrible person- a dream crusher who didn’t put out. I knew I couldn’t afford the apartment, so I left and he found a room mate to share the rent- a once friend who now won’t look me in the eye. I am sure he has heard the “Poor Dave” story too- and what a terrible person I am to have put it on Social Media. Yes I did- after I unfriended his friends and family. His daughter, however, I didn’t unfriend- after all, she did have a hand in all of this, the discovery of it all, even if the conversation she overheard was not his cheating, but confiding in a friend. I didn’t call him names, and I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true. I stated facts because I couldn’t tell it over and over and over again to each of my friends and family members, it was easier that way. And it brought the whole thing out into the light of day. But I am the bad guy. I am the one who put this out in front of his (18 YEAR OLD) daughter. She knew what he did, he did it to her own mother (the SECOND wife), he did it to his FIRST wife, and now he had done it to me. And yet, I am the bad guy. She had already justified it in her own mind.
It’s amazing to me how someone like that can completely pull the wool over someone’s eyes. He always used to say that I made him look good. I used to laugh and say that he was a great guy, that anyone could see it. Now I think he was right. I gave him some sort of validation- that if I was such a good person, so nice that everyone loved, he must be as well. I made everything seem legitimate, so real, but it was all just an illusion. And now he’s doing it again, moved on to the next one after being separated for less than three months. I believe that it was a relief for him that it all came crashing down- I don’t think he could keep up with the lies, keep his past hidden, keep juggling these different lives that he had going on. It must be a tremendous relief for him not to hide from it all anymore. At least until he has to do it all again with the next one. How much will she know? The amount of information I found out AFTER I left him was incredible. Things from his first wife, things from his second wife. Things that if I had known about I would never had dated him, let alone marry him.
I met him to sign the divorce papers last Monday, and he just let me walk out the door when we were done. No goodbye, no “I’m sorry this happened”, no hug. I thought he was walking me out, but he made the turn before the door and went to his desk instead. I stood at the door for a second before I realize that he wasn’t there. I walked the few steps to my car thinking he would come out. I sat in my car watching my rear view mirror thinking to myself, “Don’t let me just walk away, Don’t let this end this way, Stop me, Say something…” but he never did. That was it.
I “celebrated” my birthday just two days later, and with all of the Happy Birthday wishes that I received, it was the one that I did not receive that hurt the most. And honestly I’m doing better- I’m in a divorce support group. I am learning to do things I used to love to do again. And I don’t cry every day now, but it sneaks up on me sometimes like right now, thinking about special days we did have together. We were together for over four years from start to finish, and we had many wonderful days. He became my best friend, my lover, my strength, the person I turned to when I was hurting, and then he became the person that hurt me the most. Some days I feel so broken, I don’t think I will ever want to be in another relationship, will ever trust another person like I so completely trusted him. I am not ready to forgive him, but I do pray for him. I pray that he is able to get help for the problems he stuffs down deep and keep him locked into a life of fantasy. Mostly I pray, though, that he is not able to do this to another woman, that whoever he becomes involved with is able to see through the smoke and mirrors to who he really is. The Lexus, the apartment with my name on the lease, even the two cats that he can’t stand but won’t give back to me- they all make him look like something special, but in reality they’re nothing but the making of a wonderful facade. I hope that others will not look through those beautiful rose colored lenses of love like I did, and that they see the warning signs; they’re there if you pay attention.
I am not trying to play the victim card in all of this, I willingly let him handle the finances expecting that he was a responsible adult like I was. My ignorance was my own fault, I could have been more involved and maybe that pressure would not have been on his shoulders. Maybe my expectations were higher than what he could handle, and it was easier for him to give up than try harder. I am a survivor, I am used to working hard and making things work even under difficult circumstances. I expected that he would be like that too, and he just didn’t have it in him. I am also a fighter, so when I stood up before my friends and family on that beautiful November day, I took a vow for good times and bad, for better or worse, and I meant it. I tried to make my marriage work, fought for it, kept telling myself we would turn the corner and things would get better. Dave gave up long before he ever cheated, even before our marriage was out of the honeymoon stage. He gave up when it became real.