Tuesday, September 09, 2008

'Tis a strange sort of anniversary.

A year ago today, my husband left me. Took the kids, snuck out the back door, ushered in the worst period of my life.

And you know what? At the moment, I don't care.

I'm not over it, but I'm in the process of healing.

I love that man, and in a way I always will. I would never swear off the possibility of reconciliation, but I am now at the point where I wouldn't blindly welcome him back, either. I can admit to my mistakes, but one that I am not willing to make again is letting him get away with whatever.

For my student development course I have to take at SAC, I was supposed to take the Myers-Brigg personality test again. I didn't. I know which one I am. INTJ--introverted, intuitive, thinking, & judging. It's a rare personality type, about 2% of people. The point of that, in this, is: from their relationships, INTJs expect "inexhaustible reasonability and directness." (That's a quote; I know "reasonability" isn't really a word.)

This is the type of person I am. I will speak to you the plain, unvarnished truth. I never met an ass I wanted to kiss. Tact and I have only a nodding acquaintance. I don't have the energy to flirt, or to talk circles around something. I grew up reading romance novels, and was always kind of annoyed that, when the heroine fell in love, she would never come out and say it.

I didn't do that. I fell in love, and the question was not whether to say it but when. I was always honest and upfront. And in the beginning that was welcomed.

But we did not value the same expressions of love. I have noted to my best friend, with some acerbity, that I was left, in essence, because I don't consider stuffed toys to be the ultimate expression of romantic love. I liked to get flowers, and even roses, but made the cardinal mistake of coming right out and saying that I much prefer tulips. I made no beans about the fact that, with my husband the center of my world, I expected to be the center of his as well. This is something he always had a problem with.

The clearest way I can explain that is this: When we moved to Hawaii, we had $40, because we didn't get the dislocation allowance we were supposed to. We were staying in the Navy Lodge on sufferance, and the assurance that we'd pay them. (And a hold on a maxed-out credit card.) Someone at work--mind you, this was perhaps our third day there--told Robert he found this apartment for him to rent. We went and looked at it. I said that it was nice enough and I had no objections to living there, but how on Earth were we going to pay for it? I went back to the hotel and looked up the wait lists for housing in the area. Lo and behold, two of them had available three-bedrooms. We could move in almost immediately.

We eventually did this, but not until it was made known to me that Robert was mad he'd "offended" people at work. Total strangers. Yes, I realize these were other sailors, but damn. Trying to get us to move into an apartment with no way to pay the deposit or the rent wasn't a favor.

And this was how my marriage was. I had a husband who constantly, consistently, put the opinions and needs of others above his wife's.

I wasn't okay with it. But I bore it because it was a small facet of my life with my husband.

When he left, he accused me of many things. Very few of them true. If he had said "I left you because you are mean and judgemental and frequently pessimistic," it would have been true and it would have been understandable.

Instead, he said that expecting him to put me first was abusive. No kidding. Every single adult I have spoken with, from my priest to my counselor, to the social worker CPS sent over, to random drunken gay men, have agreed that husbands and wives are supposed to put one another first, that this is the natural order of things. (His own parents taught this, that you should put your spouse first.)

Instead, he claimed that I cut him off from his friends, that from the second we got together, he was never allowed to have a life outside of me. This was the most outrageous of the accusations. In August 2004, my uncle and my niece died within 36 hours of one another. This was the week of my birthday; my niece died Wednesday or so, and I believe my birthday was a Thursday. We didn't celebrate my birthday that year. I was in no mood to. The next week, the next Friday, I played hostess to two of his friends from the Boise, who came over to play Dungeons and Dragons. (A game with which my uncle had had a mild obsession, and made me think of him and want to curl up in a little ball.)

Several times over the years I'd hunt down his friend Robert Marquez, a man he'd met on the USS Oklahoma City, and let him know where we were and what we were doing. I'd e-mail him our phone number so he could call and talk to my husband. When we moved back to San Antonio, I looked Marquez up on MySpace and updated him and sent him Rob's e-mail and phone number.

And that's really only a small part.

But I cut him off from his friends.

I do not mean this as an indictment of my husband. I mean to share a small part of the pain and bewilderment I felt then.

And this is why: Robert has always been one of the best people I've known. Honest, to a fault. Does the right thing, even when it doesn't benefit him. And then over the course of a day, he went batshit insane and tore my world apart.

And he still doesn't seem to feel guilt.

We are approaching friendship, he and I. I don't understand it, but we're friendly enough that all of the past year seems surreal, as if perhaps it wasn't quite so bad as all that, though logically I realize that it was, and in fact I've always kind of low-balled the horror online.

I was left for another woman. I am somewhat vain, but I am also honest. I'm not merely trying to make myself feel better or run her down when I say this, it is simple truth. I am smarter. I am better looking. I am a better person.

And yet, in the end it doesn't really matter. That relationship lasted longer than it should have, but it seems to finally be balls up (a fact for which I am certain her husband is grateful). The Other Woman being a certain sort, she has publicly blamed him for all her ills. He wouldn't have been happy anyway. There's a saying that a man who marries his mistress only creates a vacancy in that position. Well. A woman who marries her lover merely creates a vacancy in that position. A woman who swears undying love to three men at once probably loves none of them.

Lessons he had to learn the hard way. Take a guess as to how much sympathy I have. Lowball it. Lower. Lower. There.

So there I am. Here I am. Out the other side of hell. I still feel sorry for myself sometimes and still lick my wounds, and sometimes still wake up in the night shaking for the lack of that man.

But you play the cards you are dealt.

My Psychology teacher in high school once said, "Sure, your parents have a lot of influence over you and what you do with your life, but eventually you have to be an adult and take responsibilty for your own life.

And so it is here.

Yes, he hurt me. Damn near killed me, spiritually. I can hurt. But I can't lay here and let life happen to me.

And I am not. I am up again and beginning to slowly move forward.


Mark said...

I've been divorced for 3 and a half years. I still love my ex-wife, but some of the reasons for me filing for divorce are still there. Others aren't any ore, for that I'm grateful. But I honestly don't think I would ever want to be married to her again. Now we are like friends, she lives 100 yards away, and she helps me with the kids, and I help her with her house, and gave her my pickup when her car died. I know that the kids will always be safe with her, but I don't want to be with her. I still haven't figured out what or who I'm seeking to help fulfill my life. I just know that it isn't her. She knows this and even though she wishes to get back together she knows how I feel and she well isn't OK with it but she understands it, and is actually somewhat supportive of it. However she has said that any woman I do wind up with had better not mistreat any of our kids or she'll kill her :o)

Murphy said...

"Lessons he had to learn the hard way. Take a guess as to how much sympathy I have. Lowball it. Lower. Lower. There.

Sorry, know it's a serious post, but that one made me chortle.

Sounds to me like you have the right mindset for learning from the past and for success in your future. Best of luck.

JD said...

Sounds like you could relate to this song:


Congrats on getting through the year and hang in there! I always like to think if things look really bad then it can only get better. . . but if all else fails, one day at a time has always gotten me through things.

Good luck!

Strings said...

Not everyone is the same: we all have our own feelings on what is acceptable, and what isn't. You said it yourself: what he was doing, how he was treating you, was unacceptable to you.

Sounds like you're making it through this. It'll take time, and I'm sure there's still a number of nights where your pillow is soaked. But you hold on and keep pluggin'...