In the compression of a few months, I experienced way too many life changing events, as people continue to tell me. So when I called my friend the other day to tell her that the company where I work was laying off my entire department, there was a sound on the other end of the phone that sounded something like a shriek.
As I calmly explained the situation, she pointed out I seemed to be taking it well. Being out of work was bad, but in the scheme of things, it’s nothing. In the last couple of years, my heart had been torn a part watching my youngest child suffer through a terrible illness; realizing my husband of decades had cheated and lied during our entire marriage; filing for divorce; the loss of family members; my financial security gone and the discovery that I had cancer. Honestly, this seemed like a piece of cake.
Eventually, I did begin crying for the thousandth time in the last 10 months, not because of the job loss, but because of the perfectly timed message I had received from my soon-to-be-ex, as I walked out of HR with my exit package. He’d heard the news and began his typical questions about the status of our divorce, which I had filed for and was doing entirely by myself, effort-wise and paying-for-wise.
I’m continually surprised that he can still hurt me. In spite of my resolve to end a bad marriage and move on in my life, his enthusiasm for the end of our marriage, so that he can begin a new life with the woman he’d been cheating with for years, is still devastating. His reaction to me losing my job was a reminder he didn’t care what I was going through. His only concern was himself and his oldfriend. (Nothing young, special, or pretty about this person, inside or out, so I refuse to use the term girlfriend, because she’s about as far from being a girl chronically or physically.) He did not want my joblessness to be an excuse to delay the divorce, as it been had a few months back during my medical issues, when I feared losing health insurance.
On the call with my friend, I was on the pity-pot, lamenting about how I wish I could do it all differently. How, she asked, stay with the son-of-a-bitch? No, never that I answered. My regret was the same regret I had been dealing with since I kicked him out. Why hadn’t I done it sooner? The should haves, could haves, and would haves that incessantly churned around in my head. Okay, she said, tell me exactly what you would have done? She insisted I give her he minute by minute scenario of when, what, and how I would have done it, if I could magically go back in time.
As I began the story that I wished had happened, and I have to admit, it was lethargic.
Looking back, of course I can see those definitive points in time when I should have divorced him much sooner. Certainly, finding her clothes in his weekday apartment, 300 miles away from our home, is a stand-out. Let me explain, he worked in San Francisco during the week and flew back to LA weekends to be with our family. Our children were finishing school in LA and as soon as the youngest was done, I would be happily moving up to the Bay Area. During one weekend trip I made, I was searching for something in the apartment’s closet and found a woman’s blazer; old, and too ugly to be mine. My heart dropped to my knees as they say. His excuse was that his company used that apartment on the weekends and it must belong to one of those people. I never believed him and asked him many times about the ugly jacket, but he stuck to his bullshit story. The sadness I already felt about other clues to his chronic deception continued to build up, and like a good co-dependent, I turned it all inwards and suffered constant turmoil that was killing my spirit, if not my overall health.
The story I wish I could tell is that when I found that jacket, I had calmly returned it to the closet, found a private investigator (by the way, a phone bill is all that’s needed, but back then, I didn’t know anything about gathering cheating evidence), put together all the paperwork and hired a lawyer. I would have driven back up to San Francisco, walked into his office, straight back to where this bitch sat, (lording over a highly resentful staff, all of which were later deposed in a lawsuit that burned both of their asses), gone in, given her a semi-heart-attack with my presence, taken her phone, called him to come down and told them both, up close and personal, that they would soon regret their callousness and stupidity. (Somewhere in there, possibly a hard slap across someone’s face, if not a kick in his balls.) Walked out, and as he followed me down the hall, had him served with divorce papers in front of everyone. I would have then returned to my car, dumped his expensive suits, ties, and shoes (possibly reeking of bleach) on the front door of that office and would then leave to start my new life. Yes, I would have cried, gotten depressed, lost sleep, (and weight) as I have this year, but I’d be long over it and would have avoided all this looking back with regretful hindsight.
I admit, it gave me a little charge to be the big, bad bitch in my scenario, (like the Angela Bassett character in Waiting To Exhale). Anyway, what actually did happen a year later, after I had moved to San Francisco in deep denial that I was going to live a happy, post-raising children life with my husband, was that both my husband and his moronic old friend were embarrassingly escorted out of that business. He was out of work for a year and then barely got a job making a third of what he’d previously made, a once respected career damaged permanently. She filed a ridiculous lawsuit against their employer, thinking she’d make millions, but instead, only managed to drag both his name and her own through the mud, making both look like complete idiots. (Now, when either are GOOGLED for anything, there it is, that lawsuit for all to see just how unprofessional two people can conduct themselves.)
Unfortunately, no perspective real or imagined, provides a winner in the entire mess, most especially our family. Our sons lost their role model, they worry about me, and now wonder, what kind of family they came from. Their father has all but disappeared into a sick relationship, colored by alcoholism and deep-seated insecurity. When they do see him, they say it’s as though they are with a stranger. And me, I’m looking for a new job and continue to work on myself, developing new memories, and learning to be happy. I know that’s the real story and the best, the one where I live happily ever after.
What would you have done differently with your cheating spouse?
- Facing Your Spouse’s Infidelity…Not the Dear Abby Way!
- Infidelity: Knowing Why Doesn’t Keep Him From Cheating Again
- 7 Reasons Some Women Stay With A Cheater
- A Sordid Situation