This was first published in The Huffington Post almost seven years ago. It soon became one of my more controversial pieces. Some people claimed I obviously wasn’t over my ex while others related to the way that every relationship we experience becomes a part of our story.
It’s strange to read it now, as it was written on a day when I was feeling particularly nostalgic and contemplative, planning my second wedding naturally bringing up memories of the first. In many ways, this was my “good-bye” letter to him, one born more from compassion than the angry ones I actually sent to him in the beginning.
I wouldn’t pen the same letter today. In fact, today I have nothing to say to him because I’m beyond happy where I am. I rarely think of him anymore and I struggle to capture any images and memories from our time together.
Which is why I am sharing this letter again. It captures a moment in time. A woman standing on the bridge between the long road of healing and the gates to a new chapter.
Fourteen years ago, I was preparing to marry you. I was so excited but, even more, I was so sure. Sure that we were so good together. Sure that we would continue to weather any storm. Sure that we would be together forever.
My belief in our marriage lasted until the day you left. I remember my shock, my disbelief so clearly. I couldn’t understand how you, my beloved husband, could do those things. Even now, four years later, I still don’t understand the choices you made. I suppose I never will.
In an instant, you went from the man I adored to a stranger I feared. In many ways, you have been dead to me since you left. I remember you as you were since I can’t comprehend what you’ve become. It’s almost as though you are two completely separate men to me — the one I was married to and the one who betrayed me. I just can’t understand how you could be both my protector and my persecutor.
I am no longer the same woman you abandoned four years ago; I’m not sure you would even recognize me now. You ripped everything from me — my marriage, my trust, my dogs, my money, my home and even my health. I had to rebuild from nothing except the support of family and friends and my desire to make something good come from all of this. It has not been an easy journey and there have been many moments where I thought I would fail. But then I think of you and I keep going. You have become my motivation to do more, achieve more, trust more, love more. Live more.
I have found a place of forgiveness and acceptance of our past. In fact, I am grateful for you. I’m thankful I had such an amazing and supportive partner for 16 years. You were my best friend. I smile when I think of our teamwork while working on the house or other projects. I’m grateful for your patience teaching me how to slow down and enjoy touch; I still treasure the memory of the hours spent lying astride you with my head on your chest listening to the calming beat of your heart. I’m appreciative of all that you introduced me to — from the comedy of Opie and Anthony to the details of carpentry. I’m thankful that you always made me feel listened to and respected and that you were a husband that I never had reason to complain about. We had a good run.
And, strangely enough, I’m even grateful that this happened. It has been the most difficult and painful experience of my life, one that I’m still paying for literally and emotionally. But it has also opened up a whole new world for me that I would not have realized otherwise. I faced my biggest fears and survived; I’m no longer bound by uncertainty. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been and I’ve experienced enough to be more grateful for that than I would have been before.
I still wish sometimes that things could have been different. That you would have been truthful with yourself and with me at whatever point you started to go down that dark path. That you could have received the help you needed before it was too late and that the collateral damage could have been reduced. But that’s not how it happened and we have both been left with the consequences of your choices, although you have yet to take responsibility for yours.
It’s strange, although you have been out of my life for a full 48 months, you have been very much on my mind. At first, I spent my time cursing you, assuming you were some sociopath bent on destroying me. Then, I started to pity you when I realized how lost and broken you were. I’ve written a book about you (thanks by the way for leaving me with the story that the officer who arrested you still calls “the top story I share after 21 years on the force”) and untold numbers of blog posts. Your spectacular fall from grace has shocked, entertained and enlightened thousands as they learn about the dangers of marital fraud and the reality of bigamy. The story has given hope to the betrayed and comforted others who have been through atypical divorces. It’s what I wanted — some good to come out of the tragedy.
In the typed letter you left me on the kitchen island, you stated that you knew I would move on to live a “happier and more honest life than (you) could ever give me.” You were right, although it has taken me time to see that. I was so afraid that your multiple betrayals had damaged me permanently, that I would never learn to trust or to love again. Luckily, that has not been the case and I have found love again with a man I am to marry soon.
I’m not sure what you would think of him. He is quite different from you — hard where you were soft, decisive where you were contemplative and most importantly, forthcoming where you were secretive. He challenges me in a way you never did; he encourages me to leave my comfort zone and fully live in a way I didn’t before. He has been so patient and so understanding as I have to worked to purge myself of you. I am excited about my upcoming wedding. Even more so than before, as this one is truly a celebration of love arising from the ashes.
You are not invited to the wedding, although in some ways you’ll be there. You will exist as the memory of the husband I loved and lost, without whom I would not be marrying the man in front of me now. Your name will not be mentioned nor your story told, but your influence will be felt by all as we celebrate the enduring power of love.
Thankful to be your ex,