It took almost a year for the mark on my finger to go away, the mark that was left by the beautiful, vintage-inspired band that he put there when he proposed just 3-½ years before. Let’s see- yes that’s right- one year engaged, one-and-a-half years married, and one year apart. All told, from beginning to end, the whole relationship was less than 5 years. The wounds were so deep that first year after we split, that mark on my finger was like an outward sign of the pain within me that wouldn’t go away- constant, rising up and choking me with the grief of my failed marriage. And the scars… the scars will last for a very long time.
It was easy for him, at least I thought so, he moved almost effortlessly into a new relationship just a few weeks after I left. In truth, looking back on it, I believe he knew her even before I was gone, met through an art job that they would collaborate on. And since that is how he operates, it shouldn’t surprise me in the least.
When I found out he was engaged, barely a year after I left him and the ink not yet dry on the divorce papers, I was devastated all over again. I didn’t want him, I could never take him back even if he begged me, but how dare he move on so easily when I was still trying to pull myself out of the depression that was weighing me down so completely. But while I was working through the lies, the broken promises, the complete financial devastation that he left me with, he couldn’t even stand to be alone with his own thoughts. Another failed marriage, another time that he thought it was easier to cut and run than to deal with the reality of relationships, another time he came up short and quit like all of the other things in his life. One job after another, one attempted comic book after another that only made it a few pages. He wanted to join the army reserves, no-he wanted to be a cop…it was an obvious pattern in his life that I was too blind to see, he just couldn’t finish anything. He was collecting wives like the closet full of thrift store sport coats and designer shoes that he would never wear- he liked having them, but couldn’t figure out how to make it all work every day.
He told me once, when his daughter was moving out and he was so hurt by the break in their relationship, that he didn’t want to talk about how he felt. It was just too painful, he said, and pain wasn’t good, so he would just stuff it down and not deal with it. I think he has been doing that his whole life. And so while my grief for the loss of my hopes and dreams, the future with my new husband, the broken promises, the betrayal, the rejection- while all that has caused me so much anguish and heartache, I think the thing is that it HAS caused me anguish and heartache. I am working through the grief that still comes in waves when I least expect it, but he has stuffed the pain of his failure so far down inside of him, the only way to not deal with it is to get right back into another relationship.
I feel bad for her, really I do. He is nice looking and very charming when he wants to be, and has a way of making you believe you were always meant to be together. And I’m sure she is a nice person, one who will look past his faults and believe his version of the truth. But once he realizes he can’t keep up the charade, when the constraints of marriage are too much and he actually needs to be a responsible adult, he will cut and run again, leaving her to pick up the pieces just like the three wives before her.
I wish you could see this, Valerie. I wish you could know that when he is up late at night listening to his podcast and drawing, he is messaging other women- women who will stroke his ego and make him feel good about himself when he can’t pay the bills or has lost another job, or won’t call to have the sink fixed. Women who will make him feel like more of a man when he can’t perform in the bedroom. Women who will want to take care of his disease when he can’t be responsible enough to take care of it himself. And when be does this and it’s over for you too, you will seek us out, the other three. You will cry and rage and beat yourself up because you didn’t see the warning signs. And then he will stuff it all down and move on to the next one while you’re still paying the bills…