The Day the Marriage Died

Up until now, everything I have posted has been recently written, almost 3 years since the end of my marriage.  I recently went back and visited some of my earlier writings, drafted in the weeks and months after he left.  I’ve decided to share some of that, to expose the raw underbelly of divorce.  Please be aware that this writing has a different tone.  The emotions and language are harsh as they capture my reaction on the day the marriage died.

Choosing: painting by first husband, George Fr...

Wellness is not measured by the amount of broccoli you eat or the number of miles you can run.  It is not found in the number of punches on your yoga membership card or the double digits of your sit-up count.  Wellness is not indicated by the reading of the blood pressure cuff or the size indicated on the label of your jeans.

I used to think I was well; I had all of the above mastered.  My lean, muscled body spoke of the intense workouts it was subjected to along with the strict vegetarian diet that was used to fuel the exercise sessions.  I awoke before dawn to ensure that I could fit a workout into my hectic schedule as a middle school teacher.  I fit long runs in on open evenings or on the weekends.  I watched everything I ate, avoiding meat and keeping a careful eye on the amount of fat consumed.  My favorite way to spend the weekends was working in my extensive garden or going on long hikes in the nearby North Georgia mountains.

I used to think I was well.  But, I wasn’t.  All it took to strip away all of physical manifestations of health was a few short sentences.  A text, sent across the country on a sunny Saturday afternoon, arriving unexpectedly on my phone.

July 11, 2009  12:38 p.m.

I’m sorry to be such a coward leaving you this way.  I am leaving. Please reach out to someone let the dogs out as I am leaving the state.  The code for the garage is 5914.  I’m truly sorry but I can’t do this anymore.   Please give me some time to come to terms with my decision.  I will call you in a few days.  I am sorry that I have failed you.

Lesson One

When two become ones, you are able to see yourself clearly.

Fear gripped.  Legs collapsed.  Brain stuttered.  Lungs heaved. Gut clenched. Body trembled.  World shattered.  Visceral.  Violent.

My father’s arms engulfed me as I lay shaking on the floor, my body and brain rebelling from my new reality.

“What can I do for you?  Do you want me to call mom?” my dad offered, seeking for a way to comfort his only child.

“Yes, please,” I responded, forcing the words out through my locked lungs.

He reluctantly left me in a heap on the hallway floor in my aunt and uncle’s house as he moved to the dining room to make the call to my mother in Texas, whom he had divorced decades earlier.

My brain barely registered his soft, yet strained voice in conversation several feet away from me.  My hands gripped my phone with urgency, willing it to send another message.  Wanting this to be a mistake.  A joke.  Anything but real.  A little anger pushed through the initial shock, enough for me to summon the courage to flip open the phone, using muscle memory trained over years to scroll down twelve names to Mr. T, the nickname he used to put himself in the phone he bought for me years before.

“Hello.  You’ve reached T of MMS.  I cannot come to the phone right now, but please leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as possible.”

I took a deep breath and left a message, almost unintelligible through my tears, my shaking, and my heaving chest.

“T.  I don’t understand.  What is this?  A text message?  Sixteen years and a text message? Please don’t do this.  Not like this.  Call me.  Please.”

I closed the phone, severing the connection.

It sat there silent.  Taunting me.  I opened it again, this time to send a text message.

What about the dogs?  Are the dogs okay?  Call me.

It remained silent, the screen dark.

My father was still in the other room, pacing the length of the dining room table as he and my mother searched for a plan.  Meanwhile, my mind flashed upon the last week, looking for explanations, answers.  Anything.

T had returned from a business trip on July 1st, four days before I left our home in Atlanta to visit family on the West Coast.  We had spent those few days together, enjoying each other’s company as we took care of the mundane responsibilities of daily life and celebrated Independence Day.   I searched the memories, looking for a clue, but none was forthcoming.  He was as loving as always, never hinting that he was drafting the text while embracing me.  On the morning of my trip, he walked with me into the airport, helping me with check-in and baggage.  Just outside security, next to the black and red poster declaring forbidden carry-on items, he hugged me fiercely.  We kissed, full passionate kisses.  Pulling back slightly, he reassured me, “You’ll be back before you know it.  I love you and I’ll see you soon.” I just couldn’t make sense of it all.

Nothing existed at those moments other than my broken body collapsed on the hardwood floor and my black and silver outdated Nokia flip phone.  I alternated between gripping it until my fingertips were white from the pressure and flipping it open, willing a new message to appear on the screen.  That phone, the deliverer of the death sentence of my marriage, was the only possible connection I had to my former life.  It was my executioner and my security blanket in one.

My dad finally settled his body next to mine on the floor.  He held my hand that was gripping the phone, his tenderness contrasting with my rigidity.  He delivered the information from the call with a soothing voice, trying to keep himself calm and impart some comfort to me.  My mom was going to call my friend Sarah to check on the dogs.  My dad and I were going to immediately drive from Eugene, where we were visiting my aunt and uncle, back to Seattle, my dad’s home in order to catch a plane back to Atlanta.  My aunt came to us, crouching down so as not to loom over our crumpled bodies.  After being informed of the plans, she lifted me onto the bed, where I was left with a box of tissues while my dad called his wife to have her arrange airline tickets.

The bed, although softer than the unyielding floor, offered no comfort.  The tissues were simply something for my other hand to grip.  Shock had shut me down.  As I lay curled on the bed, others backed my belongings and made the preparations to leave.  I was helped off the bed and led out the door to my dad’s waiting Miata, my things already placed in the trunk.  I robotically pulled the seatbelt around my body, never lessening the grip on my phone in the process.  The five hour drive was largely silent; I was still too stunned to speak and my dad’s poor hearing didn’t allow for conversation in the noisy car.

I used that time to reflect back on my marriage.  Memories flashing through my mind like pages through a photo album.

T and I met in 1993 at the Kerrville Folk Festival, a hippie-inspired haven outside of San Antonio.  I had recently sworn off dating, but I welcomed a friendship with the funny, smart, and creative sixteen year old.  Although we were both from the San Antonio area, our homes were 30 minutes apart.  Our early friendship was dependent upon the phone, as T had no car and, as I was still fifteen, I had not yet obtained my license.

As weeks turned to months, our friendship became the primary force in both of our lives.  He realized that our feelings had developed into love; I was too stubborn to see it yet, as I had decided to eliminate romance from my life.

The first time he told me he loved me, he said it in German.  I did not translate it until he left that night.

Our first kiss was in my car, stopped outside his house, after our first time out alone together.  It had been 7 months since we met.

It was not a first kiss for either of us, but it felt so new and so powerful that I could feel my entire body swell with the emotion and passion of it.   I realized loved him.  In English.

I decided to lift my ban on dating.

We had been inseparable in the sixteen years since that kiss.

My memories were interrupted by the woodpecker sound of my phone ringing.  My stomach dropped.  I opened my hand, revealing the window on the cover of the phone, hoping, expecting, to see his name appear on the screen.  Instead, my mom’s name was emblazoned on the phone.  I felt a strange blend of disappointment and relief, although I wanted, no needed, to talk to him, it was not a conversation to look forward to.

Opening the phone, I uttered, “Hey.”

“Oh, sweetheart.  I am so sorry,” she said through sobs.  “I talked to Sarah.  She and Curtis went over to the house.  The dogs are okay.  It sounds like they were alone for a while, though.  They were out of food and water and there was a mess all over the basement.  She cleaned up and gave them food and water.  They’re okay now.”

“Was there any sign of him?  Anything?” I questioned.

“No.  Reggie went with her, though, because they didn’t know what they were walking in to.  I warned her ahead of time that they may find him dead.  He may be suicidal.”

“I know.  I thought that too”, I replied.  “None of this makes sense.”

After hanging up with my mom, I called Rebekah to thank her.  I received one additional piece of information from her. She said there had been a letter placed on the kitchen island.  She had not read it; its contents would remain unknown for another 12 hours until I could get back home.

The first leg of the journey came to an end as we pulled into my dad’s driveway.  The opening garage door revealed his wife, standing in the doorway, holding two plane tickets with my packed luggage and a bag for my dad by her side.  After a brief stop to use the bathroom and say goodbye to his wife, we were back in the car, heading to the airport for our 9:20 p.m. departure to Atlanta.

We waited outside the last gate in the concourse to board our flight.  The airport was slowing down for the night, the stores closing and more people leaving than coming.  I spent the time looking over the text messages from T that I had received since he dropped me off at the airport.

Mr T                7/5/09            6:49 am

Love ya!!! Have a smooth flight and  be safe!

Mr T                7/5/09           7:41 am

I told ya I’d stay in touch!

Mr T                7/5/09           3:05 pm

Love you!!!

Mr T                7/5/09           3:08 pm

Welcome to Seattle!

Mr T                7/5/09           3:12 pm

Ok.  For the record dill pickle cashews are really weird!

Mr T                7/6/09           8:12 am

Morning to you too!  Have a nice run?

Mr T                7/6/09           8:14 am

Ha!  I assumed you’d already be going out of your mind for a quick five miles.  Did you have a good night last night?

Mr T                7/10/09        11:14 am

We’ve had so much rain it sounds like a waterfall in the backyard!

Mr T                7/11/09        12:10 pm

Hey!  You okay?

Mr T                7/11/09        12:12 pm

Sorry – I didn’t know I’d missed your call until now.  Love you big big!

As I read these, I was compelled to send him another message.

7/11/09                    5:54 p.m.

Reb has dogs.  My dad is taking me to atl tonight.  Where are you? Are you ok? I can’t believe 16 years ending with a text.

7/11/09                    7:59 p.m.

Please just let me know if you’re ok im worried about you

My mom’s were even more concerned.

Is it true that you are leaving Lisa and the marriage? First, i need to verify that. If that is accurate, do you have specific plans as to when, ect. Iam so very sorry this is happening,if it is. Cathy

7/11/2009

3:39 PM

I’m worried about you. Are you OK? Core thing right now is to keep breathing. Medical stuff could be playing a big part in how you are feeling and thinking, distorting things a lot. Also, depression can have a genetic cause, when there is family history of alcoholism. I care about you. How can I help? Please let me be of support. I love you and want you to be OK. Remember, first thing is to keep breathing.

7/11/2009

7:32 PM

P.S. Depression and lack of sleep can both really mess up thinking and feeling, getting things really off base from what is really true. I’m here for you if you want to talk or write. Love, Mom

7/11/2009

7:37 PM

PPS-one other key factor to be aware of is the effects and impact of burnout. I have been concerned for years about your pace with work and how that pace destroys a person over time. When burnout accumulates, it can slide downhill pretty quickly, being a huge wake call.

The flight was another endless yet timeless five hours.  I was rigid in my seat against the window, my left hand gripping my dad’s right and my own right hand still gripping the phone, even though it had been powered down for the flight.

Early Sunday morning, I finally reached my house: relieved to finally be there, petrified of what I would find.  The house felt empty, although I could hear the familiar sounds of the dogs barking from the basement.  My eyes quickly scanned the rooms, searching for the “whys” and the “hows.”  I spotted a deliberately placed paper on the kitchen island and I began to read, scared to touch the paper, as though it would make the words somehow more real.

Lisa,

I’m afraid there is no easy way for me to say this – I’m leaving.  We have had a long and rich life together but I can no longer live this life anymore.  As I told you several months ago, I feel as though we have been drifting apart for a number of years.  It was a gradual thing but I can honestly say that it has reached a point where I no longer can share time with you without wondering when I can be away from you again.  I can’t keep living this lie – it’s not fair to either one of us.  I will continue to support you as best I can from wherever I end up.  I will continue to work for ******  but I would appreciate if you didn’t involve them in this matter.  We had some amazing times together and I will treasure these memories for the rest of my life.  I think people change as they experience life and unfortunately we have grown so far apart that I simply cannot relate to you in any way.  I know that this will hit you very hard and for that I am sincerely sorry.  I have never wanted to do anything to harm you in any way but in doing so I have made myself unhappy for many years.  I know that once you recover from the shock of this you will bounce back and live a happy and satisfying life – a better and more honest life than I could ever hope to offer you.  Everything I have left behind is yours and all I have taken is my clothing and the equipment I need to make a living.  I will never ask you for forgiveness or understanding.  I am a coward who couldn’t tell you to your face that I am leaving.  If I don’t do this now then I probably never will.  I need my life to have some sort of meaning to it and unfortunately working in the basement of my house and watching tv and playing video games isn’t it.

I’m sorry but my life is very quickly becoming that of my parents.  No matter how much I see that, it feels like there is nothing I can do to change the path that I am on.  From this point on there is nothing more that I can say other than how sorry I am for leaving you in this way.  I will do everything I can fro this point forward to try and make this as easy on you as possible.  I didn’t strip the account to leave.  I sold everything downstairs that I felt was part of the old me that I so desperately need to leave behind.

Sixteen years.

Sixteen wonderful years.

Half my life.

A text message.

A fucking text message.

A letter left behind.

A typed, unsigned letter.

How could something so rich, so all-encompassing, end so succinctly and so impersonally?  Summed up and dismissed in 140 words or less.

Needing action, but having no direction, I purged the closet of his leftover clothes, shoving them into garbage bags intended for Goodwill.  I grabbed his books, stacking them in the garage.  It felt purposeful.

My dad went to work in T’s office, clearing the custom basement room of the detritus of T’s life while searching for clues that would provide some answers.  No answers were unearthed; only more questions arose.  Why did he take all of the financial records after 2005?  Why was there a prescription for Cialis?  Did he take his computers and software, or sell them as implied in the letter?  And most importantly, why did he do this?

The normalcy evident in certain areas of the house haunted me.  He did my laundry and placed my folded clothes in their normal location.  The fridge had been cleaned out of perishable foods.  The cat’s litter had been changed, the dishwasher run.  As he was packing his car to leave his life behind, he continued to live its details.

The house that night was vacuous.  Alien. Familiar.

Haunted.

Artifacts of a shared life strewn about, taunting me.  Whispering false hopes.

Since he would not respond to me, I began to find myself having imaginary conversations with him, responding to his letter.  My first interpretation was one of shock, anger, and disbelief.

“Dear John” letter – First Interpretation (July 12,2009)

Lisa,

I’m afraid there is no easy way for me to say this – I’m leaving.  Yeah – I got that from the text message.  Thanks.  We have had a long and rich life together but I can no longer live this life anymore.  Why is this in the past tense; you sent me loving messages mere hours ago? As I told you several months ago, I feel as though we have been drifting apart for a number of years.  And I was furious that you kept that hidden for a number of years and only told me when I pulled it out of you.  It was a gradual thing but I can honestly say that it has reached a point where I no longer can share time with you without wondering when I can be away from you again. Knife through the gut, twisted. Why do you always tell me you miss me and can’t wait to see me again? I can’t keep living this lie – it’s not fair to either one of us. True – this is not fair to me.  I will continue to support you as best I can from wherever I end up.  That’s nice, but not my first concern.  Where are you?  Are you drifting on the currents?  I will continue to work for ***** but I would appreciate if you didn’t involve them in this matter. Strange.  Why are you mentioning your employer? We had some amazing times together and I will treasure these memories for the rest of my life.  I agree that it has been amazing; I am not sure how much I’ll be able to treasure them after this ending.  Besides, if you have been unhappy for years, when were the times real?  When did you begin to pretend? I think people change as they experience life and unfortunately we have grown so far apart that I simply cannot relate to you in any way.  You were relating just fine yesterday – what the hell happened? I know that this will hit you very hard and for that I am sincerely sorry.  Apology not accepted. I have never wanted to do anything to harm you in any way but in doing so I have made myself unhappy for many years.  WHY DIDN’T YOU TALK TO ME? I know that once you recover from the shock of this you will bounce back and live a happy and satisfying life – a better and more honest life than I could ever hope to offer you.  This sounds rather blithe; do you actually think that I can recover from this like it is a case of the flu? Honest is a strange word choice. Everything I have left behind is yours and all I have taken is my clothing and the equipment I need to make a living.  I’m not exactly worried about stuff at this point.   I did notice; however, that you took all of the financial records along with the computer that is used to pay bills.   Interesting. I will never ask you for forgiveness or understanding.  Good, because they are in rather short supply right now. I am a coward who couldn’t tell you to your face that I am leaving.  Coward is exactly right. If I don’t do this now then I probably never will. Why now? I need my life to have some sort of meaning to it and unfortunately working in the basement of my house and watching tv and playing video games isn’t it.  Your choice to do those things.  I also  noticed that you took most of the DVD’s and video games.  Interesting.

I’m sorry but my life is very quickly becoming that of my parents.  How?  You are so different from your father; we are so different than their marriage. No matter how much I see that, it feels like there is nothing I can do to change the path that I am on. That doesn’t sound like drifting.  Where does this path go?  From this point on there is nothing more that I can say other than how sorry I am for leaving you in this way.  You should be. I will do everything I can from this point forward to try and make this as easy on you as possible.  So we start off as difficult as possible and then you want to be helpful?  I wonder what “easy as possible” will look like? I didn’t strip the account to leave.  Why is this here?  Does this relate to the strange bills I received while you were in Brazil last month? I sold everything downstairs that I felt was part of the old me that I so desperately need to leave behind.  Did you sell the computers? Games? Software?  Most of what I see missing is what you need to make a living.  Did you sell your work equipment?  Something here doesn’t feel right.

My biggest fear had always been losing him; I could not imagine a future without him by my side.

I had never been an adult without T.

I now faced a life without a life-mate.

He had become fully enmeshed in my existence; teasing the strings of him out of me would take time and a patient hand.  I needed to find where he ends and I begin.

After being together for so long and from such an early age, I really didn’t know who I was without him.  Of course, we had our own interests, our own friends and hobbies, but no area was untouched by the other in some way.  I defined myself through him.  I was part of a partnership.

Weeks earlier, in a summer staff development session at school, I was asked to write three words that defined me.  After a moment’s consideration, I wrote:

wife

runner

teacher

Now, all of those were in doubt.  Who was I now? By fracturing the bond that had joined two into one, he had forced me to begin to define myself.  By myself.  The first step in reclaiming my life, finding balance, is to see myself clearly.

I use the term, “tsunami divorce” to capture the shock and utter devastation of this kind of break-up.

This is how my story began. To find out how it ends, read my book  Lessons From the End of a Marriage, available on Amazon.

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168 responses to “The Day the Marriage Died

  1. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this. My husband of 23 years left me 2 weeks ago — via email. We, however, had been having severe problems for the past 4 months. Still, I can’t believe the sheer cowardice, cruelty and tackiness of informing me he was moving out by email. Three kids, two cats, a mortgage, a minivan and perimenopause. I am comforted that you had so many of the same thoughts I did re: suicide (which, let’s face it, might’ve been easier). I hope that I can muster the strength and grace you have and learn to redefine myself. Thank you.

    • First, let me say that I am so sorry to hear that you are going through this. Yes, to leave that way is showing cowardice and cruelty. I looked at at it with mine that he revealed his true self and that made me glad he was gone. Maybe you can try a similar perspective? Please keep in mind that two weeks in is very early and everything is still so visceral. Stay with it; it does get easier.

  2. Again, so very thought provoking and heart felt.
    I thought I had immunity to a fatal marriage via a verbal agreement to not file for divorce so long as we were in marriage counselling. That was not the case though. On our regular night of meeting with the counselor she informed me that she had filed earlier that day. It seemed beyond belief.
    Yes, guys are not exempt from being blindsided and we go through much the same as women in many cases. Unfortunately being open about the effects of divorce does not come easy for most men or at least not for me until it came to self-preservation vs. self-destruction.

    • I am glad that you have learned to talk about divorce. I am finding that any men are more comfortable opening up in the virtual world. I hope that it can help many of them from turning to self-destructive habits. Thank you for sharing:)

  3. Pingback: How It Began « lessonsfromtheendofamarriage·

  4. OMG!!!!!! I am reading an excerpt of how my life changed 5 years ago. It’s surreal, but very true.

  5. Pingback: What Words Were Spoken? « lessonsfromtheendofamarriage·

  6. Liars don’t really make sense. They are not logical. And that’s really all I can say or this reply will turn into a book. :D

  7. Very moving! When I left my wife I couldn’t do so without being totally honest with her, she deserved it. I could never have lived with myself if I’d just communicated my intention by text or a letter. Marriage should start as it began, two people telling each other how they feel, not say what they think the other wants to hear.

    Very personal and moving account, thanks!!!

  8. I probably should take comfort in knowing that I am not alone on this path of divorce. For some reason, I am not comforted. I am deeply saddened.

    In November 2011, my wife told me she was having an online affair. I had never felt pain like that and saw the only to end the pain, was to end my life. Obviously, I was rescued in time.

    We started seeing a counsellor but it turns out, I was the only one doing and work on our marriage. The first week of April, she told me that she had an extended business trip coming up. It was extended because she was going stay an extra night to f*ck her NEW online boyfriend. Needless to say, we are done and our marriage is over.

    Your ex sounds a bit like my soon-to-be… Lousy communicators. There is so much we could have done over the past few years to avoid where we are now. But, she couldn’t express herself and I never picked up her subtle hints.

    What makes our case a little unusual is that we have two daughters (9 & 12) and she is the sole breadwinner in the home. While we may be broken as a couple, we are very good parents and want to co-parent our girls. It’s going to be a challenge but we totally owe it to them to try. I am thankful that in Ontario, we have a form of family law called collaborative family law. Both of our lawyers are trained mediators and we both agree (via contract) to not take the other to court. WE decide on spousal/child support, custody of the girls, division of property etc. not some judge. Our lawyers/mediators help us do this. We’ve only barely begun this process but it sounds like a civilized way to do things.

    I am glad I found your blog. I already feel there is much for me to learn here.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Wow, Steve; my heart aches for you. It is sad that so many of us have similar stories, but there can be comfort in knowing that others understand and have made it through. It is not an easy path, but it is doable and you do not have to take the journey alone.

  9. I relate to many of your feelings – the turn of my events are different, but to this very day he never had the decency to share a conversation, a word or even an e-mail with me to discuss divorce… All I know is that I need to get myself and my teens through this. Sadly many people go through this, but they come out the other side… somehow.

    • We can certainly come out the other side, stronger and more beautiful. The one who initiated the journey does not get to dictate the path or the destination. We can control our own journeys:)

  10. Wow! I cannot believe there are so many cowardly spouses out there who just email/text their spouses that the marriage is over. I thought I was the only one to have met such a one. I don’t know whether to be happy that others are going through this heart-wrenching sorrow with me, and I can find support and healing through all your stories, or to be sad that there still exist spouses for whom marriage is a joke! Regardless, I am glad I found your blog.

    • Until I stumbled on Lisa’s posts, I thought I was the only one to be told her marriage was over by text message. Almost 5 years since that message, it is still hard to believe anyone thinks it is an appropriate way to end what could have been a life-long partnership. We have not spoken since that message except to sort out our belongings by email.

  11. I found this blog because you posted a link to it in a comment you made about a NY Times artlcle today. Your circumstances are extremely unfortunate and I wish you luck in healing. I’ve had the unique disadvantage of encountering many men who behave this way. Men have done worse, they’ll continue to do worse. Women too. You seem to have a good support network which is really important. Consider yourself lucky to have not spent another minute with him. Nothing lasts forever. Not love and not pain. You’ll be just fine :) Cheers.

    • Thank you for your support. It is sad that some people act this way, but luckily, it’s a minority. I’m now three years out from the day the marriage died and there is beauty in life again:)

  12. I came across this blog while doing “research” because I’m in a place where I think I’m almost done with my marriage. That said, I cannot fathom how a man (or woman) could be so cowardly as to leave someone via any method other than face-to-face. Yes, ending a relationship is heartbreaking and painful. But, wow, a text? Even if my closest friend did that to his wife I’d probably punch him in the face. Hard. You just don’t do that.

    Sorry you went through this, but I’m sure you’re coming out of this as a stronger person.

    • I am sorry to hear that you are at the end of your marriage, but I am glad to hear that you are not planning on doing it via text. Otherwise, your best friend may have to punch you in the face:) Divorce is never easy, but there are certainly choices that can make it a little easier. I wish you the best.

  13. Pingback: Two-Faced July « lessonsfromtheendofamarriage·

  14. well that letter is almost identical to mine, except mine asked for forgiveness, and pity and he never called himself a coward. ( which he is)
    the realisation that he had planned this out for some time while faking love, hit me so hard that I developed a heart condition.
    As to the letter, mine also promised to look after me financially etc etc.
    Except he used work transfer, as an excuse for his departure, when actually he hadnt even told them we we married, thereby depriving me if any right to pension insurance etc, shld he have died. Not illegal in this country to lie to tax department.
    He led his family to believe he asked me to go with to USA and I refused. thereby cutting me off from the only support I had in a foreign country. I found this out much later.

    We had been together 10 years, and married for two. He left in the middle of my citizenship application thereby intentionally leaving me stateless, unable to apply, work at a fixed job, and ill, with no family, in a foreign country. my family is 10,00 miles away, including my two children of 27 and 30. who he never even said goodbye to. they loved him as much as I had.
    He never left actually, he just pretended to be on a work assigment in USA, to keep me from finding out about his infidelity and diseases he infected me with. Telling me subsequently, in a letter that Im his soulmate and the most wonderful person. Sadly I belived him. he asked for forgiveness, I gave it, from afar with no explanation,

    the debts came to light, I had no money to go home, and now he has filed for divorce using his ex sister in law to drag me through the courts again with no money and no recourse to legal aid. The lies and filth he presented on the divorce document were his last and final proof of his inhumanity.
    I will fight back, I have discovered a double life too hard to believe, I had email conversations to try to get closure from him, I never got it.
    the last mail, He told me he hated me, the reason?? because i had discoverd who he truely was. A psychopath will never let you go after that.
    i can relate to every word you said, in your post, but as I have discovered, there is always someone worse off than you. you had your parents, your civil rights, a house and a job, I had none of those.

    I will face him in court this year, with the truth on my side. I dont carry his shame anymore, its all his.
    The law will never protect you thats what ive discovered. Your friends and family will search for reasons and signs, but you know there are none. They discard you like a piece if used toilet paper, and they dont lose a wink of sleep.
    thankyou for sharing this I too am writing my journey. xx A

    • Sometimes I think there’s some horrific template out there where these kind of spouses get the framework for their correspondence – the words are often so similar. There is one way we were both lucky. We escaped with our lives. My heart goes out to you as you face the showdown in court. I found that the courts were not equipped to deal with the dishonesty, manipulation, and lack of cooperation by my husband, but many of the people who work in the “system” immediately saw through him and his lies. That validation was priceless.

      I am so glad to hear that you are writing your story. Give yourself a happy ending:)

      • During my divorce months in 2009, I was stunned to hear my STBX use the exact same words and phrases that my wife before her had used many years before.

        Stunned. I thought, “Is there some sort of playbook that they both are reading from?” They had never met, never talked with each other, they were raised in different parts of the world, etc.

        However, they were both badly abused while growing up. (Yes, I know; I have learned.) So, I hear what y’all are saying.

        It is amazing. I had not realized the commonality that we have.

  15. thanks for the encouragement. I havent read the part in divorce court with the showdown with the law, have you posted that. cos id like to read it. A xx

  16. I would like to extend my sympathy for the pain you have suffered, and thank you for sharing. I read your Blog and the subsequent comments thoroughly, paying particular attention to the emotion and feeling of the words. I found your Blog via the Huffington Post after reading another divorce related article. Lately I find myself reading all I can on the subject of divorce because like your ex-husband, I have been unhappy for many years now and desperately want a new start. I know exactly how he was feeling. The disappointment with his life trajectory; the feeling of stagnation; the inability to articulate the complex needs, emotions and feelings he required to make married life tolerable or even happy and the desperate need for autonomy. Freedom=Not having to explain yourself or every move you make, (ie. where are you going?, why did you do that?, and this is what you should do…). I have had the divorce talk several times during our 25 year marriage and she is well aware that I am not happy. Her refusal to acknowlege my feelings and to heed what I have told her only strengthens my resolve. During the course of family life the dutiful husband becomes more of a fixture in the family structure rather than a human being with emotions, needs and weaknesses. Somehow, talk of divorce gets smoothed over or becomes less of a priority in favor of one event or crisis after the next, especially where our children are involved. So, while I cannot speak for your ex, these feelings become repressed and buried for the sake of continuity. You see..Like your husband, I was planning a well written email or letter and I had not completely ruled out a text message. Yes I am a coward, but I also want to avoid the fighting, screaming, begging, and her demeaning herself that would surely ensue. I know this from prior attempts to be courageous. I don’t like to see her that way and I have always been a sucker for tears, to say nothing of what the children would witness due to her unpredictable behavior. I haven’t spoke to her lately about my “selfish”, desire for freedom, hopefully her attitude toward me has changed and she will forego any counter-productive theatrics and talk to me in a civilized manner, which may be more than I deserve, but does not change the fact that either way this marriage will end. This is not something I am proud of nor take pleasure in, It will be the most difficult thing I have ever done.
    Why am I telling you this ? Well, like you writing is sort of a therapy for me. I cannot talk to my children, my wife is aware, but oblivious and I don’t have friends that I trust enough to divulge such personal information. So, writing on your blog seemeed the logical choice and while you did not mention children, (pets do not count), I thought you or your adoring fans could offer some objective insight or advice.
    Please, I think your first reaction will be to lambast me for my cowardice, but remember every relationship is unique, there is no standard by which they can be measured. I cannot detail every nuance of our 25 year marriage except to say neither of us is innocent. I hope this post is well received, looking forward to any comments suggestions or words of advice, encouragement and even negativity.
    Thank You for reading
    Respectfully
    Searchforfreedom

    P.S.

    Not sure if this matters, but I am a Black Man Married to A White Woman and I love her regardless of our status

    • I am not going to lambast you, but I’m not going to be easy on you, either. First, I applaud you for thinking through this and seeking opinions before you act. That takes courage. What I see in your response is a lack of responsibility. You discuss feeling disappointed and stuck. You allow yourself to feel that way. That has nothing to do with the marriage. It is not selfish (a word you use frequently) to seek happiness, but it is selfish to act in without regard for those around you. I am not making a judgment about the quality of the marriage or if you should stay or go, but I am going to address HOW you choose to go, if you do.

      By delivering the news in a text message, you are avoiding discomfort you anticipate for yourself while not allowing your wife a chance to listen or be heard. That is not fair. However you leave your wife, is the way you leave your children too. Do you want them to feel like they were only worth a letter or a text? Additionally, you are sending the message to your children that it is acceptable to act in a way that hurts others for your own benefit. You say your wife is aware and unreasonable. If you are afraid or uncomfortable with her potential reactions, then deliver the news with a counselor or pastor present. But give her, your children, and the marriage the respect of your presence.

      Freedom and happiness are found within yourself. They do not come as part of a package with a divorce decree. I hope that you can find them and can do so in a way that doesn’t leave a path of destruction behind you.

      (FYI – I am not sure what you have read about my situation, but my husband told me how much he loved me up until hours before the text, stole untold thousands of dollars, lied and manipulated the court system, had (an) affair(s), had problems with alcohol, committed felony bigamy, and attempted suicide. Is this really a man you want to compare yourself to?)

    • I was the recipient of an “I’m moving out” email four months ago from my husband of 23 years, father of our three kids. By all means, if you never want a relationship with your kids, send an email. My kids were taken almost completely by surprise at their father’s leaving; they were pissed that he sent an email and left without saying good-bye. No matter how you try to explain (or justify) it later, your kids will remember how you left. The only time an email/text/letter is appropriate is if you are in physical danger, which I assume you aren’t since you’re leaving the kids with your wife? Doing the hard thing now in person may make maintaining your relationship with your kids more likely. And please google how to tell your kids you’re leaving, so you can explain the choice in a way they can understand.

      • Thank you for sharing how your kids responded. I’m in complete agreement with you. The only time an email/text/letter is the appropriate way to end a marriage is if there is abuse and physical danger.

  17. I was quite simply raging for you after I read this. How dare he opt out! He obviously planned leaving and had been thinking about it for some time, so why not discuss it with you? Because he was a selfish, a coward and many other things that would be inappropriate to list. He may have had a million reasons for leaving but there is no excuse for how he did it.
    You are obviously a very strong and courageous woman to have been able to move on with your life. I wish you continued healing and happiness.

    • Thanks for the support:) It was a cowardly way of ending it, but it also had its benefits. It was a clean cut, a sudden amputation with no anesthesia. I fell out of love in first sight of the text, rather than having months or years of living in the gray area. As far as moving on, he took 16 years from me, I’ll be damned if I give him more!

  18. Wow! You certainly know how it feels to be blindsided the way I was! Amazing how much a person can surprise us in the worst ways!! sorry you went through this, but happy to know you made it out the other side stronger and happier :)

  19. Thank you so much for sharing your story. My coward, I meant to say, HUSBAND of 18 years didn’t even bother to leave a note. He just packed a few things on the sly and left home as he would normally do on a work day. Then he immediately moved in with his girlfriend and THEIR CHILDREN. He was in my bed that morning and in hers that night. No explanations, no apologies. As a matter of fact, he just totally forgot that he had a wife or a family with me. Your story has only served to solidify my resolve to live and live WELL. Seeing past the pain gets a little easier every day because of people like you. Your honesty and blunt recanting of your initial emotions and question after that text message spoke to me and reminded me that I’m not the only woman in the world who is going through or has gone this and SURVIVED. Today, you’re my hero!

    • I’m glad my story can help you. One of the reasons I chose to share my tale is that I couldn’t find anyone writing “from the other side” of a tsunami divorce. I want people to feel that others share their pain and that there is life beyond the trauma.

  20. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your story is very sad but I am soooo glad you were brave enough to share it. Maybe you don’t fully realize it but your are helping a lot of people. Men can get burned just as badly but the lack of shoulders to cry on is depressing. I am currently married with 2 beautiful daughters (14&12). Two years ago I discovered that my wife had been having a 6 month affair with an ex-boyfriend she dated from high school. We’ve been together for 15 years, married for 9. At the time of the affair our marriage was great (her words as well as mine). But the shock you described when your husband sent the text was the same shock I felt when I was going through our cellular bill and discovered the infidelity. I was numb, out of breathe and trembling. To make matters worse I was out of town on a work assignment so the initial conversation with my wife occurred over the phone. For the last 2 years we’ve been living in a pure hell. The loss of trust, shame, embarassment and guilt has consumed us. I love this woman very much but am slowly discovering that I have fallen out of love with her. I have also discovered that she is a very poor communicator so talking is non-existent. We talked all the time before the affair but not so much now. The hardest part of this journey for me has been the constant thoughts of “what did I do wrong” or “what didn’t I do right”. She swears to me that I did nothing wrong. That I was doing “my job” (her words). She says that it is her fault, that she made the worst mistake of her life. She wants it to all just go away but I am left picking up the pieces of my heart and our marriage all alone. I’ve read every book, article, and even been to counseling but the pain will not go away. I had never thought I would get a divorce because of my Christian beliefs but our marriage is like a slow death. I have been more than willing to reconcile but her idea of that is to not discuss anything. Divorce sucks for everyone (especially the children) but for men with children it is a nightmare. Maybe I would feel worse if I were responsible for the damage done to my marriage (I doubt it) but to walk away at all feels like too much to bear.

    • I am so sorry to hear of your situation. That sounds heartbreaking with no “good” solution. I wish you the best as you navigate your path. And, you are so right, men can definitely be the ones burned. I am encouraged by the number of men sharing their stories online. It helps us all.

      It’s funny – I no longer think of my story as sad. It was the worst pain I have ever felt and I still mourn the loss of the man I loved, but I have gained perspective now (3 years on) that has allowed me to celebrate the gifts embedded within the trauma.

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  26. “He had become fully enmeshed in my existence; teasing the strings of him out of me would take time and a patient hand. I needed to find where he ends and I begin.” That sounds exactly like me right now.

    • Sorry to hear you’re in that place. I have been successful in teasing him out of my existence. I know it seems impossible, but you can get to a point where the strings of him will leave only a vague imprint on your heart. It’s scary, but also strangely exciting.

      • I know I will get there. Even after a month and a half though I’m still at the “Where are you? and, Why aren’t you responding to my texts?” phase. I know I will soon have to cut the cord in order to move on. But it’s so hard to accept, as you know. I want to take what he did and smash it into his face, to destroy him still. But it doesn’t seem to matter to him. None of this ever mattered. I have yet to come to terms with that. I’m still a bleeding mess.

      • It sounds to me like you are exactly where you should be. It’s natural to scream at the lack of response and to want to punish him. Hell, I didn’t let go of the latter for about two years. The most important thing to realize is that you will get there. Your reality right now will not be your reality forever.

        Hugs:)

      • Thanks for the kind words. I feel like one of those guys in a fire suit, you know the magicians or stuntmen who set themselves on fire on TV and walk around? That’s how consuming my rage is. I thought I’d have some clarity after a couple months but truthfully I have none. I just know that’s I’m very, very angry. I suspect I’ll never get over it. And I’ll keep putting off a reunion, month after month, till eventually I’ll realize I’ve already let go. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get back on a plane to see him again. I’m consumed with hatred.

      • What a great analogy. Do you have an outlet for your rage? I found that it helped for me to physically exhaust myself (mainly through running). It seemed to dampen the flames a bit so that I could breathe.

      • I’ve been working out too. Joined a gym. I’ve had a hard time eating so it’s been tough to work out more than three times a week. I’ve managed four on a couple occasions. But I also find I feel anxious during the class and have to step out to catch my breath. I used to workout to be attractive to my husband. Now …?

      • Yes. You are right. I’ve lived too long — eight years — trying to convince someone else to love me. It will be a huge crazy change to start living for myself.

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  31. I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story. Even the replies are comforting to me during this horrific time I am going through right now. I’m not alone!! Just knowing that other people have experienced a similar heartbreak like me and have come out the other side healthier, stronger and happier gives me hope. Thank you thank you thank you!

    • I am so sorry to hear of your situation. I am glad to hear that you find comfort in knowing that you are not alone. There are many others that are further along on this journey that can offer support and understanding. Hugs:)

  32. Hi. I just came across your blog because you liked one of my posts recently. Reading how your husband left you left me speechless. I was never married, but the man I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with left me with a simple “You don’t belong here. You need to go back to Chicago.” I never got a real explanation. Instead he ignored me whenever I tried to get answers. I can’t understand why someone can be so cruel. Ending a relationship in such a cold manner. Text message, email, an unexplained reason…they’re all the same. They all hurt in the same way.

  33. It has been six years since my divorce after 20 years of marriage. The similarities in our stories are sooooo similar. It was such a revelation to read your experiences. One difference which makes moving forward and away from my marriage is the fact that our two daughters (now 24 and 16) and two grandchildren make it necessary to be in contact and I must hear about his new life with a new wife, new baby and wonderful vacations. I look forward to reading more of your blogs.

  34. A warning to any men reading this blog (which is very good by the way) beware of the restraining order. My ex wanted to get a leg up in the upcoming separation and divorce and obtained a restraining order on bogus medical grounds. I learnt to late Judges are very very quick to sign them against men without any evidence. I had to leave the home in 15 minutes and take what I could carry, leaving my then 11 year old Daughter behind. After six long years I’m firmly on my feet and my Daughter, after sorting this all out for herself (as kids are wont to do) consented legally to live with me and now at 17 without any influence from me (honestly) refuses to have anything to do with her Mother. My Daughter is heading into her senior year and we are having a great time choosing colleges.
    I am obliged to keep in touch with her Mother until she’s 18. But she is a shell of her former rampaging self and is a broken woman over her Daughter’s decision. I am not one to gloat, life is way to short for that nonsense , but she fell on her own sword.
    I’m reminded of a familiar Chinese proverb – “those who laugh last, laugh the longest.”

  35. My now ex-husband left me in a very similar manner. We’d known each other for 16 years, been married for almost 4 and I was two weeks from delivering our first child together – his fifth, my second. He went to work normally that morning and, at 4 or 5PM, I got a phone call from him, “I’m not coming home.” Assuming he meant he was working late or had to go somewhere for work, I asked when he would be home… and I got the answer that will forever be engraved in my soul, “No. I mean I’m not ever coming home. I’m done. I don’t want to be a husband or a father anymore. I’ll be by to pick up some stuff later this week.” In just those few words, he destroyed my entire life. I learned later that he’d been dating this woman who worked in a store next to his office – all the late nights in the office, the missed kids’ events, the working on weekends – all lies to cover his affair, which started in my 3rd trimester of pregnancy… because I’d become “boring” – I didn’t go out and party and go dancing and go to bars. Never mind that I worked a full time job forty-four hours a week, was heavily pregnant, and spent what little “free time” I had caring for my son and the two of his children who we had primary custody of – children who were literally dumped on their mother in just as short a phone call: “Don’t send the kids back. Keep them.” (This was two days after Christmas and the kids were visiting their mother half a country away). I lost my husband, my best friend, the father of my unborn child, and my stepchildren in one day. My stepchildren and son were devastated – they lost their siblings, half their parents, their friends, and all their belongings – two days after Christmas. He never even explained anything to them, didn’t want to speak to them. He left my son, age ten at the time, a voicemail message telling him to be good. A less than acceptable goodbye from a man who coached his extracurricular sports and was “dad” for five years. My son still harbors a great deal of hate for his former stepfather all these years later.
    I was devastated, but went on – first, it was just going through the motions, in shock, then I went into labor and called him – he took me to the hospital, stayed for one night, for the birth… and then he left. He left again and left me alone in the hospital, with our newborn and my older son, with false promises he’d be back soon to take us all home. He never came back. It was just enough to tear open all the wounds fresh.
    It’s ten years later and he has abandoned all five of his children – some of them repeatedly. Three of the five are adults – mine and his second youngest don’t even know him. His new wife made it clear many years ago – it was her or his kids. It was never even a contest, he simply shucked his children as he did his marriage and his whole life, without so much as a look back or a care. From time to time, I hear stories from his family of domestic violence between them and drama and, while at first, it was a source of bitter amusement to me, I no longer care. They deserve each other (yes, she knew he had a 9 months pregnant wife at home and children when she started the affair with him).
    I made the decision to not just survive the tsunami he created, but to thrive and so I have. I’d almost like to thank his now wife for freeing me from a life that, while satisfying and acceptable, certainly pales in comparison to the fully and delicious life I live now. I doubt I could ever bring myself to thank him, as I still have to deal with the fall out from a now ten year old son who has already asked me why his “real dad” abandoned him and his older siblings and why his “other” brothers and sister live so far away and why he can’t see them more – how to explain such a tender subject to an innocent child without maligning half of his genetic code is quite the challenge, but my partner (my son’s REAL dad as opposed to the genetic donor) and I are definitely up to the challenge, which we take day by day by day… and I must say, WE have raised a fantastic son together for the past six years.

    • What a story. I am so sorry to hear about the impact on the kids but I am also thrilled to hear that you are thriving and, in that, teaching the kids the power of perseverance and hope.

      I like that you wrote about how “perfect” his public personae was. I think that is one of the parts that’s the hardest to come to terms with (and also makes the one left behind subject to questioning about what we did to trigger the tsunami).

      Best to you:)

    • My own father left a marriage of 25 years to marry his girlfriend of about 10 years. The great thing about it (and I do not mean this in a good way) she was a family “friend”. Her kids were the same as my sister and I. Our families had grown up together. I wish it had been a stranger. Somehow that is more palatable than the betrayal he left behind for us to muddle through wondering how we didn’t see it. I knew something was really wrong at home, just couldn’t put my finger on it for a few more years. Until I got “it” at the age of 20 and my sister at 18. I had this theory he waited until my sister was 18 so he wouldn’t have to pay child support. It is exactly the type of thing he would do.

      It is hard to explain to kids where their Dad is. Mine was absent most of the time. I once answered the phone, and it was his mother asking for him. I said, he is not home, I know he’s not out of the country. I said, Philadelphia, maybe. I had no idea where my own father was. That’s not just a sad commentary on his character, it is wrong for your children to not know where their father is. I specifically use the word “father” because he sure wasn’t a Dad.

      I really commend you for not letting it get to you, and in fact, turning it around. I hope I can do that. No more men like my father. I want a partner to walk through life with; with the good, the bad, the ugly, and the uglier.

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  39. Three years ago, you were exactly where I am today. My marriage has been dying a slow, bleeding out type death for about 2 years. I have known it, but somehow, it surprised when I awoke one morning after the “deal breaker” fight; the one where he threatens me physically. What was the point? He had already nearly driven me into the ground with his comments and lack of affection. I was in a very abusive, very toxic marriage. My heart did not want to hear what my eyes and brain already saw, and that was the ship sinking. Even rats have the sense to flee a sinking ship, but I was having a huge mind-heart disconnect. For 2 years. That, I think falls into the realm of self-torture or magical thinking. I truly believed him when he said he would change. I have never thought of myself as naive, but I guess when you love someone, all of Newton’s and Einstein’s Theories are thrown out the window.

    I am a little nervous but excited about moving. Unfortunately, we are still living under one roof, and the reality has hit with gale force winds. I am thinking no dating, no “friends with benefits,” no men, just me and my cat licking our collective wounds. If he would just keep his mouth shut today, I would never ask for another thing again. Ever.

    I am never doing this again. Breaking up sucks bad enough, but throw legalese into the mix, and it becomes warfare. You just sit there and wonder. You don’t even know what you are wondering. Maybe, wondering how it got to the point where it is hard to be civil to someone you once shared your life with.

  40. I don’t know what hurts more, the sudden death of a marriage, or watching its gradual decay and being unable to revive it. In my case, it was being chipped away, one blown-off anniversary, one disappointment, one flimsy excuse at a time. I finally reached a point where I expected nothing from him because it hurt far less than to expect something…anything…and get nothing. Little by little I built up a wall of self-preservation and when he realized he was on the wrong side of it, suddenly our marriage became a priority. It had become inconvenient to him, so it suddenly became very important. But by then it was too little too late. I was numb. My parents urged me to forgive him and save my marriage, but I had nothing left to give. I looked within the depths of my heart for any shred of something that I could hold onto, but there was simply nothing there. I’m never one to say hurtful things to anyone, but I was forced to admit to him that I was happier when he wasn’t around. He claims he never saw it coming, but I had tried to talk to him about our marriage many times over the years. Every time his response was, “I think things are fine,” and that was the end of the conversation. Eventually, I just stopped trying. It took me a very long time to work up the nerve to seek divorce, but it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve found myself again. I’m happier than I’ve been in a very long time, and people have noticed. Before my divorce, a friend of mine told me I was in danger of losing my spirit. But now, I’ve been told I look ‘lighter,’ like a huge load has been lifted off my shoulders. Divorce is never easy, no matter what ultimately leads to it, but it’s comforting to know we’re not alone, isn’t it? Even though our situations are very different, I felt your anguish. Thank you for sharing your story.

  41. Wow I just can’t imagine..a text. I’ve been married for 18 years, well 18 years next month and we have been together for 20. We were both young me being 24 and she 21 when we married. Times really does go so fast I guess when you get into that life with work, kids and those things. Perhaps if I had listened to my heart all those years ago we could have worked on things sooner but how do you survive when things go bad early on in the marriage and a dozen years later or more you still have not resolved them? How to you last that long with unresolved issues.

    Our issues are lack of emotional support, anger, lack of communication and feelings of sadness. There’s no fighting or drama like that but then again I guess those things might have been not so bad and an indicator of some type of passion.

    Here I am not 42 with four kids ages 11-15 and getting a divorce from the person I love. I love her but I have been so sad for so long from the lack of feeling loved. We both now this is the right path to take but it sure has hell doesn’t make it any better. What will happen when I move out and how will I handle not going to bed in the same house as my wife and kids? I don’t know but I feel like my world has ended. The pain I feel now is unlike anything I have ever felt before and I wonder if I will one day see some hint of happiness.

    Thank you for sharing my blog and sorry for this long comment.

  42. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I relate to this post. I am glad that you are sharing these experiences of what it feels like when divorce strikes and how each person deals with it. Keep it up and thanks for liking and following my blog as well! We’ll get through this :)

  43. I am so glad I have found this blog. I am 29 years old and have been seperated for 3.5 months now from my highschool sweetheart. We were together 12 years, married 3 of those. This is without a doubt the most painful experience I have had so far…it feels neverending. The situation is so very similar to what happened to me…and reading other comments it’s unfortunately seems to be familiar to so many. Thank you so much for writing about this…it can be such an isolating experience and it does help ease the pain a bit knowing that others have been in the same position and it does give hope that someone can find happiness after such pain.

  44. I discovered your blog just yesterday after you discovered mine. The term ‘tsunami divorce’ applies to me too. I couldn’t read all your story – it’s still too painful for me, I’m only just starting to write again about my experiences, 14 months after my ex husband first walked out. But it’s always affirming to meet someone who’s gone through something similar. So thank you for sharing.
    A

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  46. I have never felt more validated! I knew I was not the only one in my situation but it sure did feel like it! Since this is where you place your beginning so will I.
    My ex husband and I were high school sweethearts. We started dating our senior year after a friendship of about 6 months. He was my first boyfriend, I was deeply smitten with him but I was terrified of screwing things up so we took things very slow. We gradually became more intimate and I knew we were in love. From that point on it was magic. We were, like you, inseparable.
    We were together 3 years when we decided that we wanted to get married. Unfortunately (at that time) we were surprised with a pregnancy, and we ended up marrying 1 year before our planned time.Needless to say we were happy. Even with the pregnancy to me our relationship blossomed. I had never felt more connected to him.
    We welcomed our daughter and began family life. Even still, I still felt like we were in the honeymoon phase. On our 1 year wedding anniversary he proposed to me again and got me (in his words) a proper engagement experience. We planned to have a ceremony when our daughter was old enough to walk in the procession.
    Obviously NO MARRIAGE is perfect. But at that point we hadnt had any HUGE problems, until my husband lost his job. He began playing computer games alot more and taking refuge in his PC (he was always a gamer) I equated this with possible depression OVEE losing his status as provider. I questioned him to ensure that WE were fine and on multiple occasions he assured me he was happy with US. About six months later we became pregnant again. And we were surprised but welcomed the new addition.
    Things to me were great, stressful as is life, but happy. Soon my husband found a better job, and about 4 months into our second pregnancy he left for training.
    We were in constant contact and we talked about our plans together and our love. As well as his excitement to come back to his girls. But suddenly in February of this year (while on training) he stopped calling and texting the way he did. And I equated it to stress or workload. Until one day he emailed me that we were no longer compatible and that he no longer loved me. I was in utter shock. There I was pregnant and content awaiting my husbands return.
    For me time stood still, I could hear my own heart beat, I could feel the pain encroaching my body. I had to call for my parents to help me with the children. I was gripped with fear and pain for I too couldn’t envision a life without him. Who would i share my stories with, who would laugh at my not so funny jokes. Who would love me the way only he could? That day a piece of me died.
    My parents tried to comfort me, perhaps I was wrong? Perhaps I had misinterpreted something? And soon my ex called to placate my concerns. Because everyone was blowing up his phone.
    He apologized and said he was stressed and had had a bad day. Although shaken i tried to move one. But things got worse. Finally in may he ended it. He emailed me yet again and said he was sorry but he doesnt love me and never has. That he was unhappy for months and. That our entire relationship he had misconstrued “friendship” for ” love”. He explained that our bond was never bbased on love and that he was ending it before we formed a life together where he would feel unhappy. He said he didn’t want to work on the marriage because he was POSITIVE that we would NEVER work out. He was only capable of loving me like a friend.
    I couldn’t believe it. I spiraled into a crushing depression. For weeks my sister in law had to come and care for our 1 year old. I couldnt eat, sleep or function.
    Something told me to research the only for thing I had no access to. Which was the phone bill. See we were on a family plan with his brother and his wife. So I NEVER viewed the bill, I would pay his brother our portion of the bill. His brother gave me the password to the account and I found a number he called more than any other. It belonged to a female coworker.
    I questioned him and he became infuriated. He said they met on his job training and that she is married and only a FRIEND. AGAINST my intuition I believed him and contiued to beg him to work with me. I reasoned that we could regain spark. But nevertheless he filed for the divorce in November and it was finalize the first week in December.
    This year has been agonizing! And I couldn’t understand why! How! How could he! I questioned my worth as a wife, a lover. What was wrong with me! I have been aching with pain from this sudden unwanted divorce.
    Until this past week. He returned home, and with his new girlfriend. And yes, it was the woman from the phone records. She was there next to him, guiltily shifting her focus off of my judging gaze. He wanted to see the girls and with HER.
    FOR the first time in months i could breathe, for the first time i felt something other than pain. And it was anger mixed with freedom. For the first time i realized i wasnt the sole cause of this divorce. I was not blameless nor perfect, but i did my damned best to love him. He had a responsibility to communicate with me. Instead HE WALKED AWAY from our marriage. For the first time i felt free. And it has given me the strength to begin moving on. Is it easy? No. Does it still hurt? You betcha! But for once i feel strong and capable. And you know what? I WILL BE JUST FINE

    • Thank you for sharing. I am so glad that you can feel that you are not alone – that is my intention in sharing my story. I, too, found that anger helped with moving forward. It is a fuel for sure. Reading your words, I have no doubt that you will be more than okay. You got this! :)

  47. WOW. . My husband left in the middle of the night on November15th 2011. Moved in with his parents. We were married 18 years. We have two children 13 and 17 at the time. Reading your story goes beyond familiar. Who the hell are these weak narcissistic men that we choose to have in our lives?? I don’t recall him starting out that way??
    I never got an apology or acknowledgement that he was a coward. He asked for a divorce and I gave him one. He was and is a non communicator passive aggressive and the ending of my marriage to him almost killed me. In the past two years I have lost my money, my marriage, most of my friends, some of my family, my career, my business, my house and part of myself…. but I am still here. I am still here.
    Thank you so much for writing this. Now I need to get your book. I don’t feel so alone anymore.

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  49. I found out my decade+ marriage was over via phone call when I was out of town visiting my family on the first anniversary of my mum’s death. I can’t tell you how much your story resonated with me. I look forward to reading about your journey as I continue my own.

      • A little over five years ago. Thought I was over it all, but evidently there are still moments when it rankles. One of the reasons I decided to blog about it all. Must root out the bitterness before it has a chance to grow further.
        The community of people who have had similar experiences is a great help in gaining some insight and perspective. Thank you for sharing yours.

      • I hope that you find writing as healing as I have. Writing was key to my healing, both from a personal “therapy” standpoint and in making some good come from the pain through sharing my experiences (which was something I needed to let go of the anger and unfairness of the whole thing). When you’re ready for a challenge, check out my Radical Gratitude post. It is a very difficult exercise but can help you reframe your past.

  50. Thank you so much for your post. I recently received a phone call from my partner of 5 years ending our relationship. No explanations, no background issues, no anything, in three sentences he informed me of my new status. This came two months after my mother’s death and while he was in a foreign country.

    He had just been with me two weeks prior to the incident and acted like everything was perfectly fine, we had been trying to get pregnant for a few months and nearly bought a condo together. Later on I learned that he had started a relationship that same week with a much younger woman, almost half his age (he is 40). I find it tremendously insulting that men can treat women as objects that can be discarded when we are no longer “wanted”.

    The feelings that you describe in your earlier posts are exactly the ones I am feeling today. His lack of honesty but specially the way he left, rendered me unable to sleep, gave me nightmares and panic attacks. I feel so disoriented I no longer know what is true from what is a lie.

    I’m just beginning in this path to recovery. It’s so great to have found companionship and solidarity through this blog.

    • I am so sorry. The pain of betrayal is so deep and piercing and the discovery of the lies makes everything feel so uncertain. There is nothing I can say that will lessen the pain but please know you are not alone.

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  55. Wow. I related to so much here! I love the term: “tsunami divorce”. I must read your book. I must find out what happened. My husband of almost 20 years walked out. Two weeks prior to him leaving we had been cuddling and he said “this….now this is perfect!” When he left he said he hadn’t loved me in years. I was beyond confused.

    “Tsunami divorce”. That’s a perfect visual. Thank you for sharing.

  56. This is awful but I can completely relate. I was dumped to my face, in a relationship counsellor’s office. She asked what we wanted from our partner- he said “freedom.” He then dumped myself and our 4 year old, moving back to his home town 2 weeks later, which forced us to move back across the atlantic to live with my parents, as he was the breadwinner, and left us penniless. I have no idea why he did it, even now… I think some guys are just immature. My ex had unfulfilled dreams, and maybe this is what drove him to reject the idea of family… in his mind staying with us was settling. Devastating for the person on the other end… I was soo in love with him, but I know now he wasn’t capable of reciprocating in real life.

  57. I am still trying to get over that within this text–which is a coward’s way out–he also was thinking at the very practical level, giving you the garage code. The garage code? That’s like saying–“Maa’m, your child just died–and oh, by the way, I brought in your garbage cans from the curb.” Wow. You dodged a bullet on him, didn’t you?

    • Interesting observation and analogy. I gotta admit- I have never really thought about that detail. Even stranger, I knew the code and he knew that I did. I wonder if he sent it in case I couldn’t give it or if he was distancing himself. Weird.

  58. I’ve lost hope in the institution of marriage and the idea of love. Sadly these stories and more like them confirm it every day. You deserved a face to face discussion every single time there was a concern of unhappiness and definitely one for the final “let’s end it” decision. My ex husband was a selfish coward too. I’m beginning to think they all are.

    • It is so hard to pick up the pieces and build again after heartbreak. In many cases, however, the loss clears the way for something better. I know that’s been the case for me. After several hard years of facing the fallout, I’m now happier than I ever been and, perhaps even more importantly, more grateful than ever before. Loss is always accompanied by opportunity.

      • Can you quantify several?? I have been divorced since July 18th 2012. We were married for 18 years. Two children. He is already remarried to someone he met barely a year ago. (yes, i am certain they werent having an affair) The entire story is to stunning to be believed. I keep wondering, who am I that I can’t just GET OVER this, “we were married” thing like he did and just move on with my life? It is stunning to me that men can just hop from one to the other with out breaking a sweat. Am I a freak?

      • I’m at 5 years now. The first year was the hardest. I would say it took 3+ to feel pretty much okay. The hard thing is that healing doesn’t speak calendar. Also, we are often told to “get over it” when better advice would be to “learn from it.” You cannot change your past but you certainly can learn from it.

        So, no, not a freak:) Just a person in pain.

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  61. Wow…..email or otherwise…it isn’t any easier to deal with the loss or betrayal. My marriage of 33 years was in trouble in 2012, thought I would let her take it easy, give her space and we would be OK…instead, as the oldest child moved on to college in 2013, she pushed for a divorce, never telling me she had at least mentally moved on, but never took any initiative…I had hope. Then, upon returning from a trip to visit my daughter in late 2013, I snooped and found thousands of emails, texts, photos, etc…..to and from my wife and her lover. Learned of trips were they met, plans they made, erotic fantasies they had (he lives in a different state and his “happily married”…so he led my wife whom he has known since Jr. High…on with promises of a future), but when she got serious, he pushed her to date others…although keeping his options open for further meetings and claiming to “love” her)…and also found she was dating other men locally (which she shared with her lover and he claimed made him “jealous”)….it had been going on under my nose for over a year. At the time I found all of this, she had moved out from the home a few weeks before, and I went to confront her with some emails and photos of her body parts. At her new home, she denied everything, despite the actual photos of herself, etc……she then got an emergency restraining order against me claiming I was “emotionally abusive” and harassing her (i never laid a finger on her despite the shear pain of the betrayal…never have, never will…so it was eventually dropped)…..simply amazing.
    So my email wasn’t to me…..but the discovery was simply devastating…I can fully understand all that you have gone thru….and I still loved her and wanted to work things out despite visions in my head about what went on under my nose (yep, women do it too)….but she finally filed for divorce..served me….and has since dragged her feet on getting it finalized, while she dates and does whatever, and refusing any contact whatsoever with me, despite ongoing joint debts and children (and her atty. is of little use on trying to keep debts updated and credit safe)….I for one would welcome and am working on closure and finalizing. AND….absolutely agree with you…..if one more person, including my ex says, “get over it”….I just don’t know what I will do….fortunately I have supportive kids, family and friends….and hoping for a bright and happier future.

    • The discovery and realization is hard no matter how it happens. It’s always sad when a marriage ends and even sadder when one person wants to make it work. I like your attitude. My crystal ball says you’ll be just fine:)

  62. Thanks for sharing your story. I won’t go into too long of a description but after dating for 7 1/2 years, being engaged for 1 and married for 8 months, my wife cheated on me, got herself pregnant, and abandoned working to salvage what we had in favor of being a single mom. The ‘nice married man’ who I was assured was her friend turned out to be the father. He stayed with his wife. Difficult to swallow. Like you, I had to pry the information from my wife, she had no intent on sharing her feelings or concerns about our marriage or even going to therapy to try and find a way to work things through. Working on finding happiness and realizing that my life is not over, about to go thru-hike the PCT.

  63. Reading your story above has sent me into the same awful gut wrenching mode I was in when my own tsunami happened two months ago. I returned after a weekend visit with my college daughter to a half emptied house and a note that read:
    “Jen, There is something you should know. I always loved you. I made lots of mistakes but I never stopped loving you. Love much, live well, laugh often…..I’m sorry I was a disappointment in the end. I miss you …..yes, I miss you already. You are my best friend! I just need peace.
    …..always,
    B***”

    When I arrived home my house was in “order” too. He had folded my laundry, ran the dishwasher, made the bed. He did leave the dog alone for the weekend as it appeared. But that’s it…gone.
    I have since received emails explaining the “why” to me…and in that email he suggest he doesn’t love me, and that he had to force a “switch” on…..

    To much! Doesn’t make sense…doesn’t comply…..
    My life has since spiraled on a downward whirlwind of losing clients and debt coming in at a high speed race.

    Life is crazy! Even with my panic stricken-ed chest I still am managing to stay positive….most of the time!

    Thank you for your posts! They help me get through!

    • Sorry that you relate and sorry to re-wrench your gut:(

      The whole situation is so crazy-making, isn’t it? Nothing seems to make sense. One of the things that got me through the early months were “reality anchors,” physical evidence that I wasn’t crazy. For example, I carried a copy of his mugshot in my purse for months. Every time he would say something nuts to the lawyer, I would look at the picture as a reminder that nuts was his MO.

      Thinking of you. It does get better. I promise.

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  65. Wow, reading this reminded me of my own relationship ending. He too ended our relationship after 16 years with a text message. Mine went like this. “Stop texting me. I love her. And she is up here with me.” It is kind of funny, how I can remember exactly what he said almost a year late. Will I always remember this or will it eventually fade away?

    • You’ll probably always remember those words. I know the ones that I received are etched into my brain. But, and this is an important distinction, I no longer feel the pain associated with those words. One year is still early. Keep working on healing and allow time to apply its balm. It gets better. I promise:)

  66. My husband of twelve years did the same thing. He said he loved me everyday, said glowing things about me to family and friends, we were glued at the hip until….his radiology tech (he’s a surgeon) poached him. Suddenly he was out every night, pushed me aside for months, then broke the news that he hadn’t ever loved me, said I’d ruined his life, rambled on about every little thing I’d ever done to annoy him. Meanwhile (I later found out) he’d booked trips for him and the woman and her children (Rome, Disney World), and had forged my signature on a $150,000 line of credit to support her. I’ve been single for almost three years and have never been happier. I moved to another state, bought a ranch, and have started a new life. “Runaway Husbands” is another good read on this subject of spineless men who abandon their wives and families without guilt. It’s an epidemic with surgeons, as their egos soak up the attention from females after their money. These men compare notes in the surgery lounge. My husband was tutored by another surgeon who did exactly the same thing to his devoted wife of 30 years. She is now one of my best friends.

    • It’s so sad when people throw their families away so quickly and deceptively. I’m happy to hear that you’re in a better place now:) I love that we can a turn a divorce we never wanted into the best gift we ever received.

  67. I’m just reading this now. I once did that to a boy but we were 19 and dated for a year. Nana’ve been together for 8 years and I spent months talking the break up/divorce with her. I cheated and she doesn’t know. When she okayed tha separation, I believed we would work slowly to help each other through this. It’s been 3 weeks, she has a new girlfriend and hasn’t been home for 2 days. You think you know people and then. You are very brave and to be where you are now. I know it will all be okay in the end if we try very hard for ourselves. It was good to read this. Thank you.

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  69. Thank you for writing, as I was just tsunami dumped a few days ago and found your site. He and I had been together for 10 years (from college on). I’ve been feeling like it’s all my fault, as if I only did this or that better, we’d still be together. He said that he was unhappy for 5 years, and that he felt un-cared for. He said that he did everything to make me happy, and he realized he wasn’t happy and just ended things a week before we were supposed to move into a new place. Now I’m back at my parent’s and trying to navigate having a life that’s totally different than what I was planning for, when just a week or two ago I thought things were fine.

    And now I’m here, 31 and thinking that I’ll never find another person like that again….how can I find someone else since this is the only man I’ve ever been with and loved? All these “spinster” like thoughts…Ah, it’s so hard.

    Him saying that he was unhappy for years and not cared for….that’s what gets me in the gut. I hope I can rebuild and find new social connections–most of mine are couple-related.

    I think I will spend a lot of time reading through your site–it’s comforting knowing that you and others have been through similar things. Thank you so much for writing!

    • I am so sorry.

      I know what you mean about those words piercing the gut. Please realize they’re just words. He is trying to shift the responsibility of his choices to you. And you are not responsible for his happiness; he is. Right now, try to let those claims flow off you. Later, when you’re not quite as raw, sift through them to see if there is any truth you can learn from. Use that to grow and then discard the rest.

      I was older than you when my tsunami happened and my ex was the only man I had loved. And even though I have a cat, I am far from spinster:) There’s a lot of life left for you. It may not be the life you planned, but it be even better than one you expected. Be open to possibilities.

      • Thank you for the kind words, it’s just been a week, but we need to communicate to split our belongings and move out of our place–he tells me that he doesn’t want to end contact with me–that he hates to think that we won’t be able to keep in touch. Then he sends me a nice text message this morning. I’ve been feeling so desperate and low–I just want him to get back with me, and I know I can’t depend on it to happen.

        I just don’t know how long this will take for me to get over, and the thought of dating now terrifies me. How will I be able to find such a great guy again? We met in college, how can I find someone with all his qualities. I go up and down. I hope things can get better soon.

        Thanks so much again.

      • Things WILL get better but it takes time. Stay with it.

        I used to feel the same way about my ex. He was a great guy (as far as I knew) and I adored his qualities. In time (and after some dates), I realized aspects of his personality that were maladaptive and other areas where I no longer wanted the same thing.

        You CAN find love again. It will be different. But different can be better.

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  74. Mine was a tsunami divorce too. I feel so much pain when I read this post because I know exactly what it feels like to be crumbled on the floor. Just last week I was there actually, in a closet, crying. It’s a year later, and I hope my divorce might be settled soon, but my life is still so scary. Like you I have the love and support of my family, but the healing process is just so slow for me. I just want to feel like a human being again.
    Your blog is wonderful, I love how honest about your emotions you are.

    • It is so scary, so unsettling when the world you knew to be true proves to be nothing but a mirage. It takes time to allow the disorientation to fade and the building of the new to provide shelter from the void. Give yourself time and there’s nothing wrong with occasionally seeking refuge in the closet. Here’s to feeling human again soon!

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  76. Unbelievable story! So heartbreaking and devastating beyond anything imaginable. I’m so sorry. This is beautifully written and i’d love to read your book to find out the rest of the story. Thank you for being sotransparent and raw. I pray you’ve found healing and are on the other side of this horrific tsunami.

  77. So much of this is so familiar. It really is comforting, if only for a few minutes, to be able to relate to another’s story. Thank you again.

    …by the way, this is very well written. I really felt many of the moments with you. I hope to be able to write as well as this someday.

    • The main reason I share is so that people know that they’re not alone.

      And thanks for the complement:) It means a lot to someone who still doesn’t think of herself as a “real” writer.

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  80. I never had a chance to read the full break up story until now. It sounds identical to what my husband did to me. Tsunami divorce. Spot on. Thank you for sharing.

  81. Thanks for sharing your personal story with us. I know it feels a whole lot better to write it down instead of keeping it to yourself. I’m doing the same thing. Last but not least, I wanna say good luck..in everything, life as a whole.
    Ps. very beautiful story written, I was hooked on! :)

  82. Thank you for sharing this story; it’s scary to see how similar the letter he left you was to the email my sent me when he was trying to explain his cowardly behaviour. It was almost identical and that just shows how text book some of this sadly is.
    I really like what you wrote about nurturing your relationship; unfortunately if these people valued loyalty and love a bit more, and were not so weak, they would understand no relationship is perfect and you just have to work at it.

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