Six Days of Separation
My husband had moved out. It had been six days. Six days of separation. (I had to make the picture relevant somehow. )
I was a wreck. Truly. I can’t even describe it here. I’m not ready.
It was the weekend after he’d moved out and my husband stopped by the house to see the children and to tell me he’d be away for a few days. You see, the “other woman” who I’d just found out about a couple of weeks prior, see My Worst Superbowl, Remembered, lived in another city. She planned to move to our town but that hadn’t happened yet. So he was going to see her. Ironically, she lived in a city where I had wanted to move, but my husband had vetoed that, said absolutely not, he would never live there. Now he was going there for a long weekend– to see his girlfriend. Huh.
On our anniversary weekend . . . Huh.
Regardless, the matter at hand was that:
My husband stopped by our house on his way to catch a flight to spend a few days with his girlfriend.
Let that sit for a minute.
My husband and I had been together since high school.
Let that sit for a minute.
We had been married for many, many years and had five young children.
Let that sit for a minute.
But on this day, six days after moving out, after breaking my heart, hell, after breaking me, and causing unspeakable pain to the children as well, he showed up at what used to be at our house . . . and knocked. That was appropriate, given the situation, but it was like a kick in the kidneys.
It hit me: He really doesn’t live here anymore . . .
Still, what sent me over the edge was . . . him . . . the sight of . . . him.
The brother looked good.
Now my husband has always been a very good-looking man, but he could be a bit of a slob sometimes. He went too long between hair cuts and shaves. He had a good job, but not the kind of job that required that he be clean-shaven. His facial hair came in spotty, he could never grow a full beard, so it wasn’t the sexy five-o’clock shadow. It was more of a “I just don’t give a crap look.” Still, he would clean up semi-regularly and when he needed to for an event. And when he did? He looked damn good.
On this day, six days after having moved out, he had shaved and had a fresh hair cut. And he was wearing, not the tee-shirt he usually sported on weekends, but a nice button down shirt and slacks. He looked damn good — for her — for his girlfriend.
Let that sit for a minute.
I didn’t know what to do so I went to the store while he played with the kids. Shortly after I returned he looked at his watch and said he had to go. I asked if he was going to her city (I didn’t use her name) and he said yes, and then snapped,
“What am I gonna do here?”
Ouch. Yeah, perhaps I’m not ready to share so much, but I digress . . .
Then he left. He left what would later be referred to as “the marital home” to catch his flight to get to his girlfriend’s house.
He had literally left me to go to her, and looked damn good while he did it. I, on the other hand, didn’t look so good — or feel so good.
He was gone and I lost it.
I guess it was a good-old fashioned panic attack, with an underlying dose of depression. I hadn’t been eating or sleeping and had been crying off and on for a month. I was already fragile. So fragile. And this, seeing my husband, my high school sweetheart, my first love, looking like he was going on a date, six days after having moved out, well that was too much. The thought of him, so coiffed and together and jetting off to stay with a woman and kiss her hello, maybe see her friends and family — like a couple — literally drove me mad. I went to my room. The kids must have been watching TV or something. I remember grabbing my address book (I didn’t have a smart phone at the time) and paging through it, trying to find someone to call, looking for someone to help me because I felt out of control. I was shaking. I was breathing too heavily. But my parents didn’t even know he’d moved out, I have no siblings in the area and my best friend who had helped me on moving day is not always available, being a physician. My heart was racing, my breathing panicked, the tears were coming and I had the kids to think about and take care of.
I found the name of a woman, an acquaintance, really. I’ll call her Christina. We’d met through our children and attended kids parties together, did the couples dinner thing at her house a couple of times (my husband and I rarely had people over, that’s another issue). I always liked this woman — but we hadn’t become good friends. There were a lot of reasons, my husband and her’s had nothing in common, I had so many kids, not a lot of money, was insecure socially and my husband was a loner and I followed his lead, as I’d been conditioned to do. Christina, a lawyer turned stay-at-home mom ,was also a professor’s wife with a manageable sized family. They entertained, they traveled, and she spoke three languages. This was not her home town. I think I felt inadequate around her, though we were both lawyers, or maybe it was that I saw in her a life I’d missed out on. Huh. But I digress . . .
Even though we weren’t that close, I dialed Christina’s number after my husband backed out of our driveway on his way to his girlfriend. Christina had unwittingly won my dysfunctional lottery, got my call — and answered.
I could barely speak yet I stammered something along the lines of:
He was here and he left.
He left to be with her.
I don’t know what to do.
I can’t handle this!
I know I’m supposed to be strong but I really can’t handle this.
I can’t. I really can’t.
The tears were coming much harder now. I was pacing, panting and alternately shaking and clenching my free hand.
I was not handling this with grace and ease. Not by a long shot.
I don’t remember what Christina said to me. I can’t remember not because it was so long ago, but because I was really — ill. I couldn’t have told anyone what she’d said even the very next day.
Long story short, as they say, she talked me down from my frenzy and kept me from spinning further out of control. I think she told me to breathe. I needed to be told that. I think she offered to take the kids or at least some or one of them.
I don’t know. I don’t remember.
I do know that her answering the phone that day helped me more than she’ll ever know. (Not to sound overly dramatic but the situation was pretty bad. I was pretty bad.)
Christina and I never became the kind of friends who hang out regularly. She did take my son to play with hers a few times, but our kids were not in the same grade, and we lost touch.
Recently, however, I ran into her at a school concert. I admit that since that whole ordeal I’ve felt a bit embarrassed by my actions, my condition and my persistent inability to bounce back. I know she never judged me but I often feel like other women deal with this stuff so much better than I do — so I judge myself. Still, I was glad to see her to exchange pleasantries. Truthfully, I’ve always admired her. But when I saw Christina she had a bit of news. She casually told me she’d moved out of her house and now lives alone in a nearby apartment. I knew her oldest was away at college, but she told me that the other boy, a ninth grader, lives with his father in their marital home. Huh.
I didn’t know what to say, so I said, “Um . . . what?” ( I have such a way with words.)
She smiled, repeated herself and said, “You never know what life brings” and added, matter of factly, that her husband was going to buy her out of the house and that she’d been on her own for about three months.
She seemed fine. In fact, she seemed good, really.
We exchanged cell phone numbers. I don’t know if she needs help or someone to talk to . . . or whatever. If I can help, I will.
Just Me With . . . maybe a new (old) friend?
I’ll try really hard not to hyperventilate when I call her from now on.
See Also: “My Daddy Moved Out” — My daughters announcing the break up.
Riding With My Boss — wise words from a surprising source
My Worst Super Bowl, Remembered
It was Super Bowl weekend and I was in the beginning of some of the most painful days, weeks, months, years of my life. It was about a week and a half after my husband of many years had informed me he was leaving. He had said, simply, “I have to go.” He denied that there was anyone else, stating merely that he was not happy and was never going to be happy.
And, like Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.
He had decided to leave, but I had begged him to stay, regardless of his decision. I guess I was buying time. I was still in Stage One of trying to get him to change his mind, not accepting that the marriage was in Stage Four: non-operable, treatment resistant and terminal.
A few days before Super Bowl Sunday my husband went on a pre-planned, pre-paid SCUBA trip which had been booked about six weeks before he broke up with me — really that’s what it felt like — but I digress . . . The trip itself was not completely out of character because he belongs to a club and went on trips a couple of times a year. What was odd was that he had scheduled the trip during Super Bowl weekend. What was completely crazy was that he was still going on vacation after telling me he was leaving me and while I was a sobbing heap on the floor.
What’s worse, my kids, who are unusually healthy, freakishly healthy — I mean I have five kids and I only remember dealing with two ear infections — ever — had come down with the flu, high fevers and all.
All five children had the flu. All five. Flu. They were too sick to even take to the store. I had to get my Dad to come over while I went grocery shopping.
I was housebound with five sick children. My husband had gone to the Bahamas.
Huh. Signs of things to come.
Although I was crying all the time (I told the kids I was sick, too) having him out of the house for a few days gave me random moments of clarity which tapped into my common sense.
Long story short: It was during Super Bowl weekend that I uncovered uncontroverted evidentiary support leading me to the conclusion that my husband was not in fact on a trip with his SCUBA Club. To the contrary, he was on a romantic island vacation with another woman.
Like how I lawyered that up? It’s a defense mechanism of mine to deal with painful topics. But in straight talk, I found out that my husband, who had simply announced after double digits of marriage, “I have to go” was on a beach getaway with another woman, a jaunt he had booked a month before he informed me he was leaving me. He was frolicking in the sand and surf with someone new, while I was heartbroken and housebound with five children suffering from the flu. (Rhyme unintended but I kinda like it so I’m keeping it.)
Stupid Super Bowl weekend. That was a long weekend. A long game. And the daggone Super Bowl happens every year and I get a little reminder of some of my worst days.
Just Me With . . . ghosts from Super Bowl’s past.
This happened some time ago. It’s all back story, the abridged version. I have a memory too good for my own good, see The Twilight Zone — Again? Seriously?, when I reflected on the date my divorce became final and damn near wrecked the car. When I’ve gone through something difficult, especially something which coincides with a holiday or special event, it is hard to ignore, try as I might. See A Sad and Disturbing True Halloween Story.
I’m better now. I’m not crying about it, at least not about him leaving me. It took years and thousands of dollars, but my divorce is final and he has remarried. He did not marry the Bahamas woman, in case you were wondering, that relationship didn’t work out — and that’s all I have to say about that.
The pain has decreased over time, but that does not negate the fact that it was a super-duper crappy Super Bowl weekend back then, by anyone’s standards, and I still remember it — like women remember (but don’t feel) labor, like people acknowledge (but don’t celebrate) the anniversary of a death. It’s just there. And it’s okay to acknowledge it — so that I’m not so hard on myself for being where I am now, and also so that I can celebrate how far I have come. Plus, one day I might even write a book.
I know I’m better off without him. But it’s like having a huge life sucking tumor removed — in the end it’s all for the best, but would it have killed somebody to give me a little anesthesia? That mess hurt.
I’m just sayin’ . . .
A couple of weeks after that Super Bowl, one of the kids announced, My Daddy Moved Out.
Our Breakup — The Musical Revival
Riding With My Boss
I was working as a contract attorney for my neighbor’s law firm when my husband left me.
It wasn’t pretty.
At first I tried to continue to work as usual. But the funny thing about extreme emotional trauma and a good old-fashioned nervous breakdown, it makes you a bit less efficient.
I had told him what was going on and that I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. He said that I could work more or less hours, depending on my needs. That was sweet. Turned out to be untrue, but sweet. And he’d offered his kids to me as needed to babysit. He was genuinely supportive. He and I didn’t have heart to heart conversations about personal things but still, he was helpful.
In the days, weeks and months later, I was a walking ghost. I wasn’t eating or sleeping and was crying everywhere I was alone and sometimes even when I wasn’t. I looked like shit. Truly.
I missed a lot of work. One day when I happened to be there my boss offered to drive me home. The last thing I wanted to do was be in a car with anyone and make small talk, but I was too tired to think of an excuse and had just missed a train, which he knew. So, I accepted.
At first the ride was silent. I have learned over the years that it is not my sole responsibility to fill the voids in conversation so sometimes, I just don’t. This was one of those times. I said nothing. Really, all I wanted was to get home before the daily tears found me.
Then my boss said something to me, and it wasn’t small talk:
“Roxanne, you are a beautiful woman. No one knows why some people make the choices they make. But you should know that his decision had nothing to do with you.”
Whoa. Out of nowhere! All I could say was, “Thank you.” And it made me cry, damn it! I’ve always hated crying in front of people, but it had become almost a hobby of mine. I was glad it was dark. Maybe he didn’t notice? Yeah, right.
Just Me With . . . a ride home from my boss.
When I Needed a Helping Hand
I don’t always blog about things in order. And many things I don’t blog about at all. Right now I’m dropping right into mid break-up time, it’s kind of like clicking channels and landing on a Lifetime Movie which is halfway over — and watching it anyway.
It was the dead of Winter. My then husband of many years had moved out just days prior. He took only one suitcase, although he had secured an apartment, a fact I discovered later. There is a very long a painful story here that is beyond the scope of this post (I say that often, I know). Anyway, I guess his plan was to come and go at his leisure to get the rest of his belongings. I realized that I couldn’t take that; having him leave the first time had been horrific, I couldn’t handle a repeat. Consequently, I told him I would get his things together so that he could pick them up in one trip. I packed and consolidated his stuff (again, the packing may be a subject of another post, it involved two of my bridesmaids, wine and Fatal Attraction). See My Cheating Husband Was Packing Viagra. Next, I planned to put his belongings outside on the porch for him to retrieve without me or the kids being involved at all.
I lived in a great neighborhood, people were always willing to help each other out. We (when the Ex and I were still a “we”) had made friends with another couple our age. We didn’t do the dinner party thing much (they were child-free, we were not, and my husband wasn’t really the socializing type — then) but we talked periodically and the neighbor husband was always helpful when we needed a another man to help move furniture or something. He was our Go-To Guy. So when everything was packed (behind closed doors so the kids wouldn’t have to see) and when the stuff was ready to be relocated to the porch, I called the Go-To Guy to help. His wife answered. When I asked if her husband was around to help me move something she told me he was out of town on business. But, she added, “If it’s not too heavy, I can help you. ”
“Uh, okay, thanks.” I replied, but didn’t tell her what I was moving. I hadn’t figured out how to tell that part yet. This was all so new, a fresh, deep, bleeding wound.
A few minutes later, she arrived, ready to help me.
“Okay, so what are we moving?” she asked, cheerfully. She is a very positive person.
“[Ex] has moved out we’re moving his stuff to the porch.”
This much must be understood. Neither this woman nor her husband had any idea there was trouble in paradise; I had been married for a long time and had “multiple” kids. See Fertile Myrtle. They had known us both for years. This was HUGE news. Huge.
But it’s her response to my major announcement that still makes me smile to this day, and it’s what I will always remember and love her for. She said, in a matter-of-fact, almost casual, way:
“Okay, maybe one day when you feel like it, you can tell me what happened.”
That’s it. That’s all she said. Then together we proceeded to move all of his packed belongings to the large covered porch. We didn’t discuss it at all. When we were done, she went home. As scheduled, my husband picked up his things early the next day while the kids and I slept.
Not that night, not the next day, but a little while later, I told her the whole story. But the fact that she did not ask or need to know or even need to ask that night shows what a good friend and person she was, and is.
People often wonder what to say in response to an announcement of a break-up or divorce.
Sometimes the response is, simply, “So where are the boxes?”
Just Me With . . . yet another good friend.
My Cheating Husband Was Packing Viagra
To My Best Friend on Mother’s Day
A Good Neighbor, An Accidental Friend, and a Christmas Surprise