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Lessons From the End of a Marriage

A “How to Thrive” Guide After Divorce

The Faux Commute

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In the book I’m reading right now, the main character continues her weekday commute into London months after she was terminated from her job. Part of her motivation seemed to be habit and a lack of purpose and direction. But the main reason she continued the act is because she was too ashamed to tell her landlord/flatmate that she was no longer employed.

When I drove to work Friday morning, the book fresh on my mind, I peered at my fellow commuters, wondering if any of them were burning fuel and hours on a faux commute to a job that no longer existed. If any of them were keeping up the pretense while using up the savings. I pondered spouses back home, blindly secure in the belief that their partner was gainfully employed and unaware of the daily play-act.

It seems like something meant for fiction.

But it’s not.

My ex husband did it too.

He was too ashamed to concede that he could not find work. So he pretended that he could.
For years, he simulated a job. He invented clients and projects. He manufactured payments from lines of credit. I’m pretty sure he even falsified an award. Apparently, he was the best at his pretend job.

And he’s not the only one.

A friend’s first husband pretended to be enrolled in school full time while spending time in bars.

A coworker’s husband fabricated a start-up business while engaging in an affair.

And there’s a woman in my periphery who spent her time shopping while maintaining the facade of employment.

Here is a related piece I wrote for The Good Men Project that explores how this shame around employment can grow and spread through families.

But the problem isn’t just that the secret is kept from the partners.

Often the person can’t even admit it to themselves.

Continuing the faux commute and maintaining pretense even for themselves.

Now obviously most of us will never hold down a pretend job and engage in a daily trip of make-believe.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t engage in our own faux commutes.

That there aren’t truths we’d rather not face and so we keep us the pretense, even for ourselves.

That we don’t catch a ride going nowhere because we’re afraid to admit that it’s a dead-end run.

That we don’t pretend that something is still working for even when we no longer work for it.

So take an honest look at your life.

And make sure all of your commutes are authentic.

The book is called The Girl on the Train and it is a great thriller, especially for anyone who has experienced gaslighting.

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9 thoughts on “The Faux Commute

  1. I remember when my then husband admitted that he had been getting up, getting dressed in his work uniform and leaving for ‘work’. When in reality, he was just up the road, waiting for me to leave for work, so he could come back home, change into his sweats and spend the day in the recliner. What a heartbreaking betrayal from a man I had shared 34 years with, I still have trouble believing that he could so blatantly lie to me and keep up this lie while I was working overtime to help keep up with the bills.

  2. I’m still with the same man who lied to me 7 years ago whilst I was pregnant with our second child. I suffered so much during a 3 hour commute I did 6 days a week. It was almost impossible to do because of the complications in my pregnancy but I did it all the while thinking my partner of 17 years at the time (it’s been 24 years as of yesterday) was slaving away at work but he wasn’t, infact, he was hanging out with mates everyday for the entire pregnancy. He could have driven me to work (which would have been 30mins in a car to the city instead of 1.5 hours each way on public transport where I would vomit at the mere smell of any food) and that would have been enough to stop the severe hardship on me. Once I found out and confronted him, he didn’t seem to have much compassion, it was all about him.

    I’m here because of the betrayals (plural) I’ve experienced by him. Unlike you I’m not under the impression everything is OK though because this started back in 1991 when he lied about owning a house which really belong to his dad and swore black and blue it was his for years upon years but could never ever product any evidence to prove it.

    I’m wondering if I’m going to figure out in a few years that he actually has another family somewhere (although he never travels without me).

    He is a wonderful father to my daughters but a lying asswipe husband.

    Thank you for your blog, it gives me such relief and makes me feel less alone.

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