By Amelia Meyer
He always chewed his lip when he knew he was in the wrong and, as I sat across the room, waiting for him to speak, I saw him begin to chew furiously. “What’s wrong?” I thought maybe he’d bought another expensive bicycle with the money we had saved for a trip to England. Nope.
“It’s what you think it is.” Typical, he avoided uttering the words and made it seem like something that was already in my realm of imagination. It wasn’t. But I knew him well enough.
“Cheating?” It’s the only thing I really feared. I barely whispered it, but he heard it loud and clear, nodding.
We had been married for 9.5 years and I had no idea. Unbelievable, yes. Stupid, possibly. But the fact remains. In the weeks that followed, I experienced a type of pain I hadn’t imagined possible and all I kept asking anyone that gave me a few seconds of their time (and some who hadn’t) was, “Will I ever be ok again? How long does it take for this feeling to pass?” I needed to know that I would get out of that deep, black hole and be some kind of normal again.
Today, I’m a different person. I’m happier, stronger, lighter, calmer. But, over the years since my divorce, I’ve had to go through the motions (and emotions) with friends facing a similar fate. Today, they are at various stages of getting from that dreadful pit to where I am. I want to share their stories and mine as a kind of timeline, a glimpse into what to expect and what just cannot be controlled or changed. Everyone’s story is different – their love and their expectations were different. But, meeting women that have experienced the horror, regardless of where they are on the timeline of healing, does give some peace. It did for me.
MEET D – THE BEGINNING
D is still waiting for her papers, but heard only six weeks ago of her husband’s infidelity. She is still raw, reeling from shock and unable to see the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. I know D to speak well of her husband always, to build him up in front of friends, and to give of herself to him and their marriage. Then, a few weeks back, he confessed to an affair with his masseuse, a place D had never thought to doubt him. He has moved in with her and her child, leaving D to juggle a world of hurt and betrayal alone.
- How do you feel right now?
Intense physical pain. Abandonment.
- Was your divorce expected? Why or why not?
Never. He preached loyalty no matter what to everybody who would hear.
- What do you remember feeling or thinking first?
Who is this man? I don’t recognize him.
- Have you worked through any of the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance)? Where are you at the moment?
Yes, even acceptance. But, sometimes, I catch myself hoping/dreaming that he comes back and says he is sorry and made a mistake. I got so angry that I broke so many things in our house after I moved out. I just walked in there and started breaking stuff. Ornaments, microwave and printer to the floor. He called the cops on me. I just told them that it was my house and my stuff and they let me leave in peace.
- How do you feel about your ex right now?
He is an evil stranger who tells people that he is in love with this other woman because I was a terrible wife to him. He has me out of my house, out of my job (I worked for him), but I have chosen to let it go. I cannot allow his actions to eat at me like a cancer.
- What has surprised you during the break-up or how have you surprised yourself?
Just how cold and calculated he has planned this. His mother told me she always knew he never loved me. I did not see that.
- What goals have you set for the next three months?
Not to make any rash/big decisions. To keep a strict watch on my finances, and to stay ever closer to my God and my congregation.
- What has been your time-out when things get too much?
A walk. A bath. A cry on my best friend’s shoulder.
- If you knew then (maybe just before he told you) what you do now, what would you do differently?
I would just walk away immediately. Many of the things said and done between us during this time was humiliating to me and robbed me of my dignity.
- What advice do you have for others that may be at the beginning of this rough road?
Stay away from the alcohol unless somebody trustworthy has your car keys and your mobile phone, lol.