I was catching up with an old friend the other day when she asked the inevitable question about my ex.
“Do you think you’ll ever see him again?”
“Well, actually, I have,” I replied and proceeded to give her a brief synopsis of the encounter this past April.
“I would have yelled in his face,” she shared, her tone and body language suggesting residual anger. “How did you resist?”
I thought about it for a moment. On that day, I had no desire to approach him, much less confront him. All I wanted was for him to go away. But it’s more complex than that, as a particular post starting brewing soon after. Apparently, I didn’t want to talk to him there but I still had more to say.
One of the most painful aspects of a tsunami divorce is that its abruptness takes away any opportunity for discourse. I remember feeling so angry and so impotent at my voice being stolen.
In my early attempts at reaching him, I still believed that I would receive a response. Fear and anger fought for top billing in my mind. The following email was sent less than 24 hours after I received the text:
I’ve been mentally composing this for hours to try to not make it sound too angry. Coming home to a “dear John” letter and finding that you had cleared out while I was away fueled my fire again. I just keep thinking that your last employer got a sit down meeting when you quit while I got a text. You have been telling me, through words and actions, that it was okay & then this? You say you want to be supportive, but I can’t see that right now. I can’t think of a more painful way to do this. I can’t believe you stranded me across the country with this news, with no money, and the responsibility of the dogs. I may well bounce back, but this has shattered me to the core. I gave you time & opportunity before – why do it like this? I would like to think that your love & respect for me would override your cowardice. Please show me that respect now by talking to me – it is time to stop hiding.
You will need to come back soon from wherever you are so that we can disentangle our lives. As much as you may want to shirk responsibilities, we have a house, etc. that we need to make decisions about and I guess we need to file paperwork. I don’t know my plans yet, but can’t stay in the home we built together.
Days passed. Phone calls and emails were not returned. I was starting to understand that they never would. As the depths of the betrayals became clear, my anger grew. I entertained fantasies of tying him down and screaming at him; I wanted to force him to face the pain he created. I sent another email, copying what I thought was his girlfriend.
Uganda is an interesting choice.
You were right about two things: you are a coward and you certainly did let me down.
You can never run away from who you are or the knowledge of what you have done. Even Africa is not far enough.
I wonder how long it will take Amanda to see you for what you are?
You have taken away 16 years of my life, my dogs (true innocents whose lives are now completely changed), my home, my financial security, and what I thought was a wonderful marriage. You stole my youth, my innocence, my love. You hurt me in the ways in which you knew I was the most vulnerable. I refuse to let you have any more.
At least I can be at peace with who I am and the decisions that I have made.
I will not attempt to contact you again unless I find out this week that I have contracted an STD from you. That would be one more thing to weigh on your conscience.
Your betrayal and lies have pierced me to the core. I have never felt such pain, such sadness, such anger. The one I trusted and adored deceived and abandoned me.
I held back in that message. I expressed a sanitized version of my pain and anger. It wasn’t enough. The words I needed to say still ate away at me. Awake at 3:00 a.m., I composed another message, part of which is included below.
You were right.
You were right. I will never understand. I will never understand how you could be so cruel to someone you once loved. How you could repeatedly lie, even to direct questions for many months and years. How you could say goodbye at the airport, knowing it was for good, yet telling me that the week would go quickly and we would see each other soon. How you could continue to act like everything was okay (making plans for the future, sending loving texts, saying you missed me, having sex, even putting your $#&^%^@ dirty clothes in the basket before you left town), all the while knowing what you had done, were doing, and were planning to do. How you could betray my trust: financially, sexually, and in every other way. How you could make me feel sorry for you (sick in Brazil?) while you were *^$#*%@ your girlfriend all the while and spending thousands of dollars from OUR account? How you could continue to lie in your text (talk to you in a few days) and letter (I didn’t drain the account) to string me along as long as possible. Every piece I find out is a knife right through the gut (and trust me, I have found out quite a lot)…. You not only stole my present, you robbed me of my past: I can no longer look back on any of our relationship with any degree of fondness. Was any of it real? I don’t want to understand what you have done because in order to understand I would have to be deceitful and despicable too. I could never do the things you did.
…You are wrong to think that you can run away from your past – the house of cards has collapsed and it will follow you. You are wrong to think that this will make you happy. You were wrong thinking that I would continue to fall for your lies. You are wrong thinking that you can block out what you have done – it takes more than shutting me out of your e-mail. You were wrong to block out your feelings that led to this. You were wrong to think that you could handle this on your own. You were wrong to abandon our dogs in the basement and me across the country with no money to return. You were wrong to destroy 16 years with a *%#@($# text message. You were wrong to steal money from our accounts – I guess fraud alert doesn’t work when it is from within the home. You were wrong to ask me not to contact your work; I certainly don’t owe you any favors. You were wrong to have sex with me, exposing me to unknown risks. You were wrong to seek my sympathy. You were wrong to pretend, to lie, to hide. You were wrong to do this to me.
I feel raped. Violated. Dirty. You have shamed me with your lies and your deeds. I was living with and loving an illusion, carefully crafted to take advantage of my trust. What did I do to deserve this treatment? Love too much, trust too much? The level of cruelty you have shown is astounding. The only word for it is “mindf***” – from kindness to cruelty, protection to persecution, connection to abandonment. There are no words that adequately describe the vileness of your actions. Everything you have touched is poisoned.
You know what’s sad? I still find myself wanting to share things with you.
We were such a good team, a good partnership. Unfortunately, a marriage takes two to make it work and only one to destroy it. You certainly destroyed it, and in the process, destroyed part of me. I will never be able to love or trust as innocently again. You stole that from me.
You cannot rest easy. Your creditors will find you. The IRS will find you. From what I have seen, the law may even find you. You cannot run from your health issues – did you even get your lab results? You won’t have health insurance soon. How long will your employers put up with your deceptions? They won’t like creditors, lawyers, law enforcement calling them. You better hope Amanda stays put – it seems as though you are going to be rather dependent upon her soon. I wonder what lies you have told her? You have no one else to support you – you have pushed them all away and betrayed their trust. You are alone.
Are you still interested in the devil and angel tattoo? Make sure to leave off the angel – we know who you’ve been listening to.
I felt somewhat better after sending it. I was able to express my anger and pain, but the problem was that I didn’t know if he ever read it. As the court cases (bigamy and divorce) approached, I held on to the thought that I would get a chance to take the stand and speak to him as a captive audience. When neither case allowed that to happen, I felt cheated again. Perhaps that was one of the core reasons why I chose to write and share my story. Even if he wouldn’t listen, others would.
By the time I was finishing the book, I was ready to write to him again, this time from a place of more compassion born from time and perspective. Since I did not have an email address (nor did I actually want to attempt to contact him directly ever again), I included the letter in the book.
…I still have such a difficult time reconciling what happened to the man I loved. I wish you would have gotten help years ago. I would have joined the fight with you. Instead, I’ve been forced to fight against you. I wish I would have noticed how far you had strayed. I wish I had managed my anxiety better. I wish we could have worked together on our marriage the way we worked together on everything else. The results have been so tragic.
None of that matters now. We’re here. Wishes won’t change that.
You have brought me the greatest joys and the greatest sorrows in life, but I am not dependent upon you for either. I am responsible for my own happiness in life; I choose to make my life meaningful and joyful, regardless of the hell you dragged me through. I refuse to be defined by or limited by your choices; I am only limited by myself. July was my rebirth. But it was a terrible delivery.
I really hope that, wherever you are, you’re okay. I hope that you are making choices that do not harm you or anyone else around you. I hope that you are taking responsibility for the harm you’ve done. I hope that you are shedding whatever demons overshadowed you and that your true self is able to see the sun again.
…Your actions shocked and hurt me more than you can probably imagine. I’ve changed. Possibly so much that you wouldn’t even know me now. Your choices pruned me back to the core, but I have been able to grow new branches from the wounds. Life is beautiful.
I hope that you have been able to find beauty in your life and that you can help bring it to others.
With that letter, I thought I was done. Until I saw him this past spring. WIth my upcoming nuptials on the horizon, I realized that I still had more to say. I wrote the controversial post, A Letter to My Ex On the Eve of My Wedding for the Huffington Post.
And then I was done. That last letter was the final catharsis, releasing him from me. I no longer feel as though my voice has been stolen. I no longer feel the need to be heard by him. I have said what I needed to say and I no longer care if it has been received. I am at peace now.
I have nothing more to say.