Something that I have done a lot of over the year and half since the ex dropped the bomb is listen to podcasts. There are a lot available out there to listen to and cover everything from politics, true crime to self help. Prior to the bomb drop, I was partial to true crime podcasts, like Serial and Undisclosed. Then during the tumultuous months of trying to work things out with the ex, I found myself listening to Rabbit, which was fantasy type story. It kept my attention diverted to something that was both riveting and mysterious.
In the past few months as I work on determining what I want (besides a solid relationship which seems to be as elusive as a unicorn at this point), I’ve turned to the category of self-help. The one podcast that I enjoy the most is by Cathy Heller who is the host of “Don’t Keep Your Day Job,” which is all about finding the thing your passionate about and working on trying to make it your hustle.
The one piece of advice I’ve heard over and over again is that you don’t have to be an expert and that your experience will matter to someone. I’ve taken this to heart and mulled it over. In my current (paid) job that I have, I help people every day. It is what I’ve always been drawn to do. I get great satisfaction knowing that I can help someone through a difficult situation with their work.
I never thought it would be possible to help others as they navigate this journey of being in a loving, committed marriage to feeling like your universe has been completely turned upside down by the one person you trusted the most – having your husband decide that they are done with the marriage.
So here I am – hosting a podcast called Overcomers: Living a Full-Life After. It is scary, exciting and exhilarating to be putting this out in the universe. Talking to women and helping them through their struggles. It’s something I wish I had when I sat by myself alone more nights than I care to count wondering when my husband would come home.
My podcast is currently on Stitcher and Google Play – links to both are on the left. You can also find me on Podbean at Overcomer: Living a Full Life After.
Divorce sucks. It just does. It sucks whether you want it or not. It is the realization that a promise that you made with the best of intentions is now broken. The future you envisioned is changed. And if you take this journey seriously, you will be changed as well. It will be a painful process, but I firmly believe that if you let yourself feel what you feel, express what you need to express, and work through what needs to be worked through, you will be a better, stronger person. Your life will be one of contentment and with very little regrets for living your life on your terms.
One of the criticisms I often hear is that someone leaving a relationship should not start dating right away. I do think that getting into another relationship right away may be a form of escapism which has the potential of hurting an unwitting partner. I chose to join an online dating website about a month after I asked my ex to leave our home. Getting out there helped me to see that there were others who wanted to be with me, so in a way it was a boost to my confidence. My intent was not to have a relationship with one person, but to figure out what I would want in a future relationship. This could only happen through dating a variety of men.
While dating, I am also working on myself. The damage done during the end of my marriage brought up a lot of trauma that I had managed to bury for many years. This trauma is part of what allowed me to stay for months instead of walking away when the emotional abuse started. If I experience discomfort during dating, I find myself questioning where the discomfort comes from. Every decision I make is mine to be made. Yet there are times afterwards that I find myself questioning how I got into a particular situation.
For instance, I started communicating with one man who I will call Tom. He was a successful businessman who owned his own home, had two older children, and wasn’t looking for anything serious. We started texting each other and things moved to more sexual in nature. I don’t mind sexual talk in texting and think that it is fine between two consenting adults. We decided to meet up. We had a drink, talked and then we had sex. I consented. I wanted the sex as much as he did. Yet, after I left, I found myself crying, angry and sad that I was in this position.
What position is this exactly? I felt ashamed for having sex with a man I had just met. In the moment, I felt no shame. In the moment, I felt sexy and powerful. After the fact though, I felt ashamed. This made no sense to me because I knew going over there that we were having sex, so again, it was a decision I made for myself with full knowledge of what would happen.
I am a survivor of sexual abuse. When you are sexually abused, there is secrecy and shame that comes with it. You are told not to tell and you are made to feel ashamed about sexuality. As a young child, I remember feeling proud of my body. I remember stretching in the morning and just feeling glorious wonderment when I would look at my body. That joy of my body was taken away by my abusers. I let that transfer into my relationship with my ex which impacted our relationship over time. I let that impact my feelings about sex and thus let my abusers have control over my sexuality decades later.
The year since I asked my ex to leave has been a year of growth, self-reflection and self-love. I have learned by dating what I want for my future. I have also learned that I enjoy sex. That I can be sexual on my terms. Dating has helped me, despite claims that people should not do this right after a break-up, for me it was the right thing to do. I own my sexuality and will not let my past define my relationship with it any longer.
I got married young. I met the ex at the age of 19 and married him at the age of 20. I can count on one hand the number of guys I dated prior to meeting the ex and I would have a couple of fingers left. That’s how inexperienced I am with this whole dating thing. I guess what I would like is honesty and being realistic with each other. I’ve yet to meet a man who has been willing to do either one.
I’m open to friendship. I’ve been clear about that. I’m open to a relationship with one person. I’ve been open with that as well. I’ve been open to dating other people as long as we are honest with each other – meaning, you don’t sleep with me saying you want to be exclusive and then hop onto POF or some other dating site the very next day. Yes, I’m a grown women who can make my own decisions, but part of that decision making process has to include what the other person is telling you.
I’ve had fun and get my hopes up – I don’t want marriage, but it would sure be nice to have one person to go out and do fun things with. It’s like this constant flux of uncertainty, which I fucking hate. I go in with no expectation other than having a fun date, then it’s like they can sense that I’m vulnerable and tell me what I want to hear. I’m working on having a harder heart without losing what I think is pretty great about me – my optimism and hope, which can be cruelly crushed by people who are there to serve their own egos.
A couple of things I’m doing is refocusing my energy in doing meet-up groups with women. I’m trying to not worry if I don’t hear back from someone when I should. I’m trying not to obsess about checking POF. I’m continuing to talk to other men until I know for certain (will I ever be certain?) that I have a commitment, which for me will include deleting profiles on dating sites – both of us.
I still harbor some anger that this path of being by myself and having to date in order to not be by myself was pushed upon me. Again, I didn’t think I would be single and dating at (now) 53 years old. There are times I need to step away from it in order to give my head and (mostly) my heart a break.
That is the last e-mail you sent to me and it has made me angry. My therapist has asked me when I’m going to be angry with you and I think I’m getting there. I am angry because while you seek my forgiveness, you have never forgiven me for my one transgression against you.
Your actions for 7 months spoke volumes as to how to really felt about me. You did your level best to destroy me. Your destruction of me will take me months or years to recover from and to work through. You were selfish and you were arrogant. You did the one thing that you swore you never would do to me. You used my one statement as an excuse to find another woman, even though my actions towards you for almost a year should have shown you that my words were just that – words that inadequately described my hurt.
So when will you forgive me? When will you acknowledge that what I said in no way justified your actions against me and in no way justified your transgression of being involved with someone else while still married to me?
When will you admit that I am pretty much the same person you married. I’ve always been ambitious. A trait that at one time you admired because I wasn’t a partier like the woman you were involved with before me. And look who you ended up with – another partier. You went backwards and I went forwards.
I forgive you, I forgive you, I forgive you. When will you say that you forgive me and that you are sorry for destroying this family because of your own selfishness. One day you will have to look in the mirror and acknowledge that you almost destroyed the one person who loved you unconditionally. Will you be able to forgive yourself or will you still blame me?
There are times when I feel like I’m not making any progress as I work through this grief. I worry that some people think I should give over it already (including the stbx) and are just tired of me talking about it. There are many times when I feel like I’m doing well and ready to move forward, then I feel like I’m right back at square one, facing the intense pain that I felt when he first said “we” were done. There are so many nights when I have cried myself to sleep, really not wanting to wake up, but I do. I get dressed, go to work, and then I’m back home at the end of the day, by myself.
I try not to think about the stbx. I try not to think about what he is doing, who he is living with, what his life is like without me. I think for him, he wishes that I would disappear or hate him or not care or just go away and stop bugging him. He once told someone that I was “hanging on like a loose tooth.” I try not to and I really never thought I would be that kind of woman – desperately clinging to a man who clearly does not want her.
Along with this sadness is the anger that I feel at what he has done. It still doesn’t make any sense to me. I read messages that he sent to me just two years ago about how much he loves me, his hopes for our future, and can’t help but wonder how I ended up almost divorced, living alone. It’s obvious that for him, he moved on, both in his head and his heart a long time ago. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me.
He doesn’t want to hear about my sadness. He wants to move on from the damage he caused and doesn’t want me to bother him with my grief. He can call me when it conveniences him, but then gets angry with me when I need to talk to him and try to make sense of this life that he chose for me. I get that I can choose my own path now moving forward and I’m trying really fucking hard to work on that path. It’s just going to take me a while to process that the man that I thought I was married to for so long really does not exist anymore.
I don’t want him back. I know that he damaged me. I know that almost destroyed me. He says to me that I could never forgive him. I have forgiven, but I can’t forget. I don’t hold hatred in my heart for him. That’s not me. I am angry and hurt and just trying really fucking hard to make it through each day surrounded by my uncertainty of what my future holds. I can’t help that.
When my soon to be ex (stbx) informed me on July 2nd, 2017, that we (meaning he) was done, I literally felt like I couldn’t breathe. If he had stood in front of me and punched me in the stomach, I think I would have preferred that momentary pain than the pain he inflicted for seven long arduous months. He used to care about me and my feelings, so I thought that if I appealed to him from a rational point of view, then perhaps we could save this marriage. I appealed to him that since we had two of our kids entering long term relationships that it would be essential to show them that when a married couple hits a rough spot, you don’t just walk away. I asked him to consider marriage counseling, which he seemed amenable to, but which ultimately we only attended four sessions.
My stbx suddenly had rules that I was to follow. He expressed wanting freedom and not wanting any responsibility. He also told me that he didn’t want to be married to his mother, meaning I was absolutely forbidden to ask him any questions about where he was after work or who he was with. There were more nights than I care to count (but can’t forget) where he came home very late and on more than once occasion, never came home. If I reacted to any of this, then I was being emotional and irrational.
About a month or so after he told me he was done, I discovered he was having a relationship with a woman that he worked with. His justification for this behavior was due to a comment that I made to him on two separate occasions. This is a comment that I’m not proud of, but while I said the words, my actions showed that they were just that – words. So what did I say to my husband? For some context, throughout our 32 years together, my stbx has spent a lot of time and money on his passion – his cars. The summer of 2016 was our 30th anniversary and I really thought he was planning something special. Instead, he was spending a majority of his time and money on a new muscle car he had purchased a couple of years previously.
I was feeling resentful toward him and his cars. Sometimes in a long term marriage, resentments happen. I expressed my dissatisfaction in a way that was not appropriate by telling him that perhaps he should find someone who was into cars like him. As he likes to remind me, I said that to him two separate times. However, I saw the devastation that my words caused him and renewed my efforts in working on our marriage. We started spending a lot of time together on the week-ends, going to Santa Cruz, and I thought, reigniting and renewing our commitment to each other.
For a year, I thought we were on this path. I was so convinced of his commitment to us that we purchased a home together and I took out money against my 401K to help buy furniture for this new home. I felt like our sex life had never been better. I was excited about our future and looked forward to growing old with this man who was the love of my life. In the summer of 2017, my life as I knew it changed, inexplicably. I went from being in a secure relationship with a man that I thought loved me to being married to a man who told me he despised me. Who told me that he didn’t know when I would be punished enough for what I said to him.
Emotional abuse does not happen in an instant. Instead, it happens over time. It happens when the person that you have built a loving and trusting bond with, decides that you no longer matter to them. They will kiss you, make love to you, tell you that you are beautiful in one moment and in the next, they will be inches from your face, yelling at you and telling you that everything that is happening is your fault. It happens when you do everything that they ask you to do for them and yet, they still want more from you. My therapist at the time said that for someone who is trauma bonded, it is like the gambler who is looking for their next fix. The euphoria you feel when your abuser tells you they loves you keeps you hooked when they are being abusive. You are looking for that next high, no matter how quick or temporary.
I’ve thought a lot about writing this letter to you. I’m conflicted because I don’t want to pay attention to you and have you think that you are a constant presence in my life. Trust me when I say that I no longer think about having revenge on you or that I think that I lost this battle over the soon to be ex (stbx). In a sense, I guess you did win and you can now sit back knowing that your actions helped destroy a marriage of three decades.
Please know that I no longer place blame completely at your feet. For months, I despised you and all that you stood for, but the reality is this, the stbx is responsible for his actions. LIkewise, you are responsible for yours.
According to the stbx, you listened to him when he came to you with his problems in our marriage. I am sure you listened willingly and you provided the kind ear he so desperately needed and what he wasn’t getting from his wife (at least according to him). I know that women like you seek out vulnerabilities and you played right into those vulnerabilities. I’m sure you presented yourself quite differently from the picture the stbx presented of me to you. I’m sure I came across as the uncaring wife, who selfishly pursued my desires at his expense. However, I know different as do our kids. Everything I did was to make our lives better. I am no longer willing to apologize for my ambitions to not only improve myself, but to improve the lives of this family, which included the stbx.
Here is the reality, M, an honorable woman would have told the stbx that she wanted nothing to do with him until he was at the very least no longer living with his wife. Instead, you continued to allow the stbx to be a part of your life, with the knowledge that he was still with me. No matter how much the stbx has declared to me or to our “grown” children that you are a good person, I know otherwise. You are not good and honorable person. You will have to live with the knowledge that your actions along with the actions of the stbx led to the destruction of a marriage and a family.
I could live with the damage you and the stbx inflicted on me. However, as the stbx will tell you, I’m a mama bear when it comes to our children – grown or not. I have yet to hear an apology to our daughter for your horrible treatment of her when she tried to find out where her dad was last summer. You absolutely refused to tell her whether or not her dad was okay – instead you kept telling her to ask her dad – the same dad she could not contact for several hours.
This is what I know, M, is that had you told the stbx you were not interested and that he needed to work on his marriage prior to getting involved with you, there is a good chance that this marriage could have been saved. At the very least, the stbx and I could have come to a decision mutually about ending the marriage without the involvement of a third party. You inserted yourself where you, quite simply, did not belong.
Here is the thing that I know – I fought like hell to save this marriage. Our three grown children will always know this about me: that I am a fighter. What they will always know about you is that you knowingly got involved with their dad while he was still married to me. They will always know that their dad gave up on this marriage and our family without ever thinking that perhaps we had something worth saving – that our family was worth a fight.
I do not wish the best of luck to you. I do hope that you will never suffer the devastation that I experienced. I feel sorry for you as well because the only man that you thought was good enough for you was one that was already married.
There has been a lot going on with me since my last update. I have more good days than bad days, but I’ve been able to power through on the bad days and make it to the next, embracing it for the gift that it is. I have to keep reminding myself that my Betty Ma (my maternal grandma) was only given 45 years on this planet. I’ve been given the gift to live years beyond what she was given. My life is precious not only to me but to those who love me. I have got to keep that in mind.
I’ve been doing online dating which has been an experience. There are some nice guys out there, but there are also a lot of them out there for the quick hook-up. Quick hook-ups have there purpose, but I really do want someone who I can do fun things with as a companion and a best friend. Intimacy is so much better when you have that connection. Right now, I’m talking to one guy who I’m feeling really good about, but I’m trying not to get my hopes up. It seems every time I do, then I’m disappointed. I’ve been seeing another guy as well for a few months. He lives a few hours away and while we always have a good time together, I don’t think he’s being completely honest with me.
I keep moving forward in the hopes that some day I will have someone in my life that will value me in the way that I value them. I really do miss sharing my life with someone – coming home and knowing that there is someone that I can just sit with on the couch and share my day and listen to their day as well. I miss waking up next to someone, planning our day and just that closeness that comes when you have someone in your life that matters to you. I am putting it out in the universe that I find someone like that. If not, I will have to be okay with that as well.
My divorce will be final on September 30, 2018. It will be the day before my birthday. It is not lost on me that the end of one chapter in my life is ending as the start of new year on this planet begins for me. I’ve come a long ways and that’s what I have to keep my focus on. It’s no longer about the ex and the damage he caused me. It’s about me welcoming this change and becoming the person I was always meant to be.
On July 2nd, 2017 my life took a very unexpected turn when my husband of 31 years told me he no longer wanted to be married. I’m not going to go into the details for his decision because as of right now, we are still married. It came as a surprise to me for which I never was really prepared. Since he is five and a half years older than me, I had thought it possible that I would be widowed. I never thought I would be contemplating life as a single, divorced woman.
It’s taken me since July 2nd to be at peace with my husband’s decision. I believe that when life doesn’t go as planned and something negative happens, you can either become bitter or become better. I am choosing to become better. This is an unexpected chapter in my life that is scary and exciting. I’ve not ever truly been on my own since I met my husband at age 19 and got married a year later at the age of 20. In my head, I’m thinking of the possibilities that exist for me, such as creating my own space when we sell the house that we purchased last May. I’m contemplating traveling by myself and with other people to places I’ve only thought about visiting but hadn’t really seriously considered as possibilities until now.
As opportunities present themselves through work, I’m seizing them. I’m looking for new things to learn and I am looking for opportunities to learn about myself. I’m expanding my social network by reaching out to people that I want in my life. I’m reading self help books about divorce and about learning to really love myself. I’ve started listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Podcast, “Magic Lessons,” and have purchased her book as well for inspiration. I’m learning to live my life by the moment and not trying to stress about what my future holds.
A created this blog a year ago with the idea of taking on new adventures. I never imagined that one of these adventures would be as a single woman. It is the lesson that I needed to learn that I never should take anyone or anything for granted. I thought my marriage was a sure thing that I could rely on. Here’s the thing about relationships, it really does take two to make it or break it.