He had a closet full of secrets and now I had to move forward alone. My whole marriage had been a threesome or more unbeknownst to me.
His rationale-family life was never impacted because what he did outside the family home did not matter to him.
In his words when he walked through the door he flipped a switch to be husband and father. What?
How do you disavow trust in any relationship? He believed it didn’t matter because nobody knew about it. What about the persona you present to those same people—that presumed you were trustworthy? In his mind, he was blameless.
No one I knew at that time, nearly thirty years ago, had ever had to figure out this kind of deception. Where did I begin on the heels of the years of emotional abuse?
Very badly is the short answer. I got angry at the deception, at the years of abuse, at being the innocent party to living a lie all of my married life. Living a lie not because I chose to live a lie but because I was the victim. I had no choice in the history I was now given at the end of our marriage.
I call it my ‘burning bed’ of words. They spewed out of me for nearly a year- a very dark night of my soul. Could I say the worst things to him via voicemail and tell everyone what he did to our family? Could I make him feel remorse? Turns out I could and did say the worst but did he feel remorse? Not likely. In his dismissive words after the divorce –all just water under the bridge.
I finally reached a place where I knew I had to claw my way back to respectability, let go of the past and reclaim my dignity.
I was still seeing my counsellor. Fortunately I was in good hands and she knew what she was doing. Just who was I, this person that had been deemed so inferior by my former husband?
Slowly I began to see some worth. My life started to take on new meaning. I had a circle of unfailing family love and a career that offered enormous satisfaction but ultimately this was my personal struggle.
Many career opportunities and challenges gave me a place I could go in my mind to rest from the trauma of the abuse. It had seeped into fibre of my being. I frustrated family and friends because everyone is on their own timeline to heal. Thankfully they were forgiving.
There was not a lot of reading material and certainly nothing but one book to address the type of deceit I’d lived. For the rest of my recovery I had to rely on my own ingenuity hunting books in bookstores.
I found the books I needed and have written about them in detail in other postings. My journal became my new best friend. My journal and my words were the marker for my emotional growth.
Betrayal of this magnitude is a huge mountain to climb. I spent time beating myself up for such stupidity. Why had I always believed him?
Eventually my life started to be less about what was done to me and more about me and my future. I remember very clearly the last time I cried about what had happened to me. A song- it’s always a song- isn’t it?
Tears were streaming down my face for the loss- the loss of what I thought I had, the loss of my innocence because my marriage had been a sham, the loss of our history and our future as I thought it would be, and the profound loss of misguided belief in another person whom I deeply loved. Me, him, us, our family were all in the tears that trickled down my cheeks that night.
On to my future.
Life started to speed up in a variety of ways. New opportunities presented themselves both personally and professionally. I began to see that what had happened to me, in many ways, saved me.
As painful as it was, it forced me to finally grow up. It forced me to be independent and self-sufficient. I was worthy because I believed it and not because of anyone’s validation.
Dating was a whole new hurdle. I had to get over my embarrassment of telling dates why my marriage ended. If I thought I had been stupid what would they think? But eventually that faded too. The layers of the old were shedding. A weight was being lifted.
He’s an old man now, living a very comfortable life, and to my knowledge quite unrepentant for his deceit and abuse all those years ago.
I have created opportunities for myself that would not have been possible had my value and worth as a person continued to be insidiously sabotaged. I have an inner happiness never previously experienced and a treasured circle of love. And I know unequivocally, that his leaving was the greatest gift he ever gave me.