I just found out my divorce is final! I left his alcoholic, emotionally abusive, bullying ass one year and 11 months ago. And, at last, it’s done. With a stroke of a pen. The damage? A pen can’t erase that. Nothing can. The anger? Some days, I don’t feel a thing.
Forgiveness? I pray every single day but that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe it never will. Our divorce was mean and awful and horrid. He set the tone by trying to bully me throughout our marriage and when I finally left him, at the onset of our divorce. Until I thought, Fuck You. You want a mean nasty fight? You’ve got it. I was done being bullied and fighting back was incredibly empowering.
My marriage to my ex was horribly abusive. Maybe it was the alcohol. Or maybe, even without the booze, he still would have been mean, awful and selfish. I have no idea how I ended up married to a narcissistic addicted man. I had never dated abusive men in the past. But here I was, living in a hell I could never have fathomed.
It started out innocently enough. When I met my ex, he appeared to be a great guy, which he pointed out to me all the time. Look at all his friends, his close relationship with his family, and all the co-workers who loved him. Except none of those people knew the real him. The only “lucky” ones to know this monster was his ex wife and his children. The ex wife tried to warn me. Except she tried to warn me just days before the wedding and by then, it was too late. And, honestly, I didn’t believe a word she said anyway.
“He’s an alcoholic!” the ex wife told me on the phone. “You have no idea what you’re doing.”
It fell on deaf ears. I should have listened.
My ex’s family all knew that he had a serious drinking problem. Did they owe it to me to warn me? Good question. I wish they had because I would never marry anyone with an addiction.
The first signs of trouble showed up just a few months after the wedding. We were supposed to go to San Francisco for my birthday. I never showed up at the airport for that trip because just the day prior, he screamed at me for the first time. This bizarre, high pitched soprano scream that I had never heard before. It was almost funny. Except being screamed at is never funny. I left the house in horror, disgust and outrage and spent the weekend at a friend’s house instead.
A few months later, I realized that there was something seriously wrong with my ex and the entire marriage was a huge mistake. I wanted a divorce. But after a few months? How embarrassing. And then he told me he was an alcoholic and confessed that it had ended his first marriage. Wow, his ex wife was right and he was a liar. But how could I leave a sick man who needed help? I couldn’t. It was my job to help him get well, right? In sickness and in health, I had vowed. Except curing an alcoholic is rarely ever that easy.
And thus the pattern of lies, promises, manipulation, apologies, and abuse began. It was an endlessly horrifying existence for me. Even when we weren’t fighting and things were “good,” I was always waiting for the next “drunk episode” to happen again. Trust me, it is an awful way to live.
Even after huge fights, he would tell me that he was really a great guy, that there were lots of women out there who would love a guy like him around and, really, I just didn’t appreciate all he had to offer. No, I’m emotionally battered and traumatized, I’d try to tell him. “I wish you’d just hit me!” I said to him after one terrible fight. “That way you couldn’t deny the damage you’re causing.”
I hid my life in abuse because I was deeply ashamed. I was so focused on portraying this (false) image that we had a good marriage and a happy home. Three years into our marriage, I woke up one morning, looked myself in the mirror and said: “I am a battered wife. This is not acceptable and it is not ok.” There, I did it. I was honest with myself. Finally. I then started telling my parents and a few close friends about how awful things were at home. It was a big step for me.
The final straw was on January 2, 2012. The month prior, I had routine lab work done and my doctor had found some alarming abnormalities and ordered more tests. That morning, I went to get scanned for tumors. When I came home, my ex showed up drunk. As I sat at the kitchen table sobbing in fear for my health, he screamed in my face so loud that he was spitting at me. He called me a drama queen, stupid and lazy. I finally had enough. I called 911 and had him removed from the home. Several days later, I received my diagnosis. I had Stage III multiple myeloma- a blood cancer. I packed up clothes in trash bags, gathered up the children, and moved two states away and immediately entered treatment for my disease.
When I left, he threatened to cancel my health insurance if I didn’t go back to him. When that didn’t work, he immediately purchased a membership on match.com with our joint checking account and started taunting me about a woman he met. She was really wealthy, he said, and wasn’t a lazy thief like me. It was unbelievable and incredibly low- even for him. If that woman knew that the guy she had just met had separated from his wife just a few weeks prior and that his wife was battling cancer, and yet was still willing to date him? Then they were made for each other. Regardless, he was no longer my problem and another woman could inhabit my hell. At least it wouldn’t be me anymore.
Here I am two years later. I’m in remission from cancer. My divorce is final. And I didn’t compromise one tiny bit during the divorce negotiations. His attempts to bully me throughout the divorce didn’t go so well (for him). Shedding that man from my life has been one of the good things that came from my devastating disease.
I hope and pray that if you’re in such a relationship, that you find the strength to leave. Divorce is tough. Making that decision is really hard. But there are worse things than divorce and an abusive marriage is one of them.