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.”

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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.

91 thoughts on “The Day the Marriage Died

    1. The same thing happened to me. It was like I was reading my story but I had been married 43 years. No explanation, bolted in the middle of the night taking all we had. It’s been two years and at age 64 how do I move on. I am ready to retire and he took everything. I will work till death or fired. He cashed in 401 K before I could stop him. He was retired and on SS and a pension. He is very mentally ill, no other woman. We have two beautiful adult sons and they were so close to their dad. We were the all American family until this. My sons say he is like a stranger now and want nothing to do with him, he refuses to get help and come home. My house is now in foreclosure and I’ve had to file bankruptcy. How could he do this to me? He kissed me that morning and told me he loved me. He now lives in a 150 sq ft trailer in MN summers (our home) and goes to AZ to live in the desert in the winter. He ruined my life. It’s too late for me to go back to school and find a good job. How will I ever heal? It’s been two years and I still cry daily. I miss him and am so very lonely no matter what I do.

      1. That is horrible, Pam. I am just dumbfounded by your story. I wonder if your husband had a small “silent” stroke or maybe a head injury?

        I have a son who hit his temple on cement when he was 13. There was no outward indication of any injury, and if he had been alone when he tripped and hit his temple, no one would have known what happened, because my son has no memory of hitting his head. There wasn’t even a red spot or a bump on his temple, because he only hit it a glancing blow, according to the kids who saw it happen. But from that day on his personality changed very drastically.

        My son is now 44 — today is his birthday, in fact — and I miss him so much, I miss the person he was before his personality changed forever.

        I am 62 and my husband is very ill right now. I am living in terror of losing my best friend, and my primary financial support along with him. So I have some understanding of how it feels to be in your 60s and wondering what you are going to do to survive the rest of your life.

        I am saying a prayer for you, Pam. God bless.

      1. Thank you, Have to leave my home October 1st, praying for a place to live that is nice, not an old rundown building. I still can’t wrap my head around how he could do this. He has no feelings of guilt, never apologized. Tore our family of 4 into pieces while he sits in the AZ sun, I will have to work till I drop. It’s not fair. Life is not fair.

      2. I will never understand a man who can abandon his children. I tried to stay. I endured beatings and emotional abuse but vowed I’d take a beating every day if it meant I could stay with my son. In the end I realized I had to leave but I made sure I got 50% time with my son. It’s not ideal. I wish I had him every day but I’m glad I have him at least half the time.

        There is a special place in hell for men who leave their children and cut them off.

    2. Wow, compelling article.
      How scary that a marriage which seemed happy for so long, could end like this. “die” is such a heavy term, yet I understand it’s applicable role here. As someone pursuing divorce currently, I have a question for the author. Did you go to court over this separation? Did you involve lawyers? Or, did you find a software to assist you (e.g. http://www.thistoo.co )?
      I’m hoping to find inexpensive lawyers but I don’t think that exists 😦 thank you for sharing , and any advice is appreciated!

      1. Definitely went the lawyer route. No choice, really, since my husband refused all contact. If I had it to do over again, I would have filed “no fault” to save money. Keep in mind what is important to you (custody, retirement account,etc) and let the rest go. The more you struggle, the higher the bills climb. Good luck!

  1. I just want to thank you for sharing such personal, and I’m sure, painful information. I have been divorced for almost four months now and I too have felt a lot of the same emotions you expressed in your message. I completely shut down, voiced my desire for death, and stayed in bed crying for days. I do not wish this on anyone, but it is so nice to know that I am not alone. That other people have endured this type of pain and have lived to tell about it. Once again, thank you for sharing.

      1. How long did it take you to get better? I’m going thru a similar situation and have lost all hope…. It’s so hard to live thru the day… I really hope to get my life back to normal someday

  2. Hello dear blogger.
    I …really don’t know what to say but, I’m deeply moved after reading this. Though I read some of it, I skipped some emotional content which was hard to read for me. I can’t imagine the life you lived, the moments you cherished were all broken in a flash.
    I pray that you have a happy and content life with whatever it may shower upon you (only good things, this time)
    -robin

    1. Thank you:) I’m now at a place where I am happy that my life didn’t go as planned. The whole thing was the worst thing to ever happen to me. And the best. Sorry for the emotional impact. Triggers suck:(

      1. Hey, don’t be sorry! feel free to express your feelings and thoughts. Sharing makes the burden much lighter. Hope the life ahead brings you happiness in abundance!
        -robin

  3. Thank you for sharing your personal story. I’m sorry you went through such pain but am inspired by where you are now. You see, when my husband decided he wanted to separate, I too received a text message and then a letter when I got home. I’m only a couple of months past that day so I have quite a way to go on this journey. People like you inspire me to keep working through the pain to the other side, where I will once again live happily. Blessings to you.

  4. Wow. You are a beautiful writer. This was painful to read. I received and email from my ex (after 17 years) while we were on vacation together with our kids and some family friends. She just walked down to the dock and sent me an email entitled “You and I have had our time…” But life does go on, and we are better off without these false “life mates.”

  5. Thanks for sharing this. I’m currently in the midst of something almost exactly the same – blindsided with him giving me excuses like he has no choice but to leave but that he loves me more than I could imagine. WTF. Will definitely be reading your book – I need the inspiration!

  6. Thank you for sharing! I, too, am recently divorced after being married fifteen years. Cuts like a knife. I got the same cowardly speech as to why he left. I was a devastated mess. I’m a far better more healed person today however!
    I will get your book! Thank you again for sharing your pain with all of us. It helps knowing we are not alone in situations like this.

  7. Wow. Very powerful. Will look for your book. Hope it is sold in the UK. This is very much like my story. This May, my husband ended our 14 years relationship by an email sent from his business trip in Singapore, telling me he wasn’t coming home having secretly found a flat 40 miles away, 5 minutes from the married mother of two he met on a singles dating website and had been having an affair since October 2014. He never said for one day he was unhappy with our “blissful” life yet he had been chatting to countless women on dating websites for years. I can’t wait to read how you recovered from this devastation. Big hugs x

    1. Yuck. So sorry that happened to you. Not okay.

      You should be able to find the book on Amazon on Kindle or Kindle app.

      You’re still in the very early stages. I promise it does get easier and it does get better.

  8. Wow, I can’t even begin to imagine. Mine didn’t come in a text, but face to face. Your story saddens me, but I am happy you are better, you’ve written a book, you have a great blog and you are connecting a lot of people who are in the same boat. Thank you for turning the ugly into good and sharing your story with us.

  9. Thank you for your kindness and I’m sorry you lost your son as you knew him. I will be praying for you. My husband was a welding instructor at a community college and a lot of people thought maybe the fumes over the years did something to his brain. He will not seek help. I have tried everything imaginable to get him help and to get him to come home and he won’t. He’s afraid I will have him locked up (his words) in a mental institution. Something happened for sure, he was not this man when I left for work that morning. He was a loving husband and father. One theory I have is he retired way too young and got very bored after the first few years. He had too much time on his hands to worry and became very critical of other people’s yards and the way they took care of their homes. Ours was perfect thanks to him. I think he just snapped. He wants nothing to do with me anymore until all of a sudden he will have a horrific nightmare and then he texts me for comfort. I try my best to be kind and helpful but I am so angry and hurt inside. I know I have to forgive him but when the man of your life takes everything away from you including your home, it’s hard. My life style is nothing like it was. I now know what it is to live without some basic needs. Friends help as much as they can but that can’t go on forever. I am too old to start over, don’t know what to do. My sons help also but they have their own families and homes. God Bless you for writing me.

    Pam

  10. Wow…I can totally relate to this. Met and started dating my husband at 14, married at 19. My husband went out for a haircut and told me to text him what I wanted for dinner so he could pick it up on the way home. I did but he never responded. Instead he came home and told me he hadn’t loved me for 3 years. He was “kind” enough to stay for two weeks – through our daughter’s 9th birthday – before he moved out and on with a girl 14 years younger than him. 8 months later and I’m still reeling. He can’t believe I haven’t “moved on” yet. We were together 23 years, married for 18 1/2.

  11. I met my husband when I was 19. We spent 16 years together.
    He walked out on me when I was 38 weeks pregnant with our second child, telling me he didn’t feel anything for me anymore. He went and lived with a friend in town.
    A few months later (approx. 6 weeks ago), I found naked pictures of dozens of women on his email account and found out he had been having an affair for the past 6 months. He had also been cheating on me for 10 years of our relationship with multiple women. One was even before we got engaged.
    He is now in a relationship with the woman he was having an affair with.
    I am now living the life I thought we had chosen to live together.
    A week before he walked out he was texting me and telling me how much he loved me.
    Now, he is a completely different person. I am now questioning whether the person he is now, is the real him – the liar and cheater or the wonderful, loving, fun husband I had been sharing my life with.
    All I can do is be thankful for my beautiful children and that I haven’t had to live another day in someone else’s lies.
    My question is….what the hell is wrong with these people??
    Why can’t they just sit us down and have a conversation about how they feel? How can they spend so much time with someone and tell them they love them, only to be so cruel and heartless?
    All we ever did was love them and try to make a beautiful life for us both.
    There is no respect, no care and certainly no regard for our feelings, and we are just supposed to accept it and carry on like nothing happened.
    I will get my revenge on this man – success. I will succeed in everything I put my mind to and be fabulous whilst doing it!!
    Good luck to you all and I’m grateful for the ability to be able to share.
    Thank you

    1. Wow. I am so sorry for you and for the kids.

      Why do they do it in this most heartless way? They are more concerned with avoiding their own discomfort than with acting with integrity. They are afraid of confrontation, both with you and with themselves. And they try to believe that the damage is not great since they are not around to see it. Cowardly, selfish and lacking empathy.

    2. Was just hit with same a couple of months ago. I’m on and off in hell. Not grasping how a person can be with me and my children and countless other women at the same time. He has no remorse either. He apologized after telling me over the phone after 13 years of marriage, twin 9 year olds and admitting to 8 years of infidelity with escorts amongst others. But he quickly blamed my lack of nurturing, financial support, etc. and continues to do so. It was all a lie. That’s what’s so hard. I want to move on and be happy but how do you look at anyone the same when the closest person to you lied about everything you lived for? Your past, your present and your future just wiped away in one phone call? And to have the eternal responsibility of protecting your children from this exact type of behavior at the same time…and it’s their own father. I’m just stuck. It feels absolutely impossible to deal with this on so many levels.

      1. I know it feels impossible when you’re looking at the whole of it. So don’t yet. Break it down and allow yourself to deal with one part at a time.

        Coming to terms with the lying (and it sounds like maybe gaslighting too) is not an easy feat. There’s no switch. There’s just working at it a little a time. If you read my posts in chronological order over the last 4.5 years, you’ll see my (slower than I wish) progress in this area.

        As for the kids, the best things you can do for them – love them, help them not take dad’s behaviors personally, teach them to be self-confident and encourage them to trust but verify in their own relationships.

        Thinking of you. It’s not an easy road. Here’s your fuel – he took x years of your life with his lies. Refuse to give him any more of your precious life.

    3. Skye
      That is exactly what I try to understand
      But one thing is for sure : if you break something that is meant to be you won’t have blessings in future
      You may have temporary satisfaction but wheel will turn around and hit them
      I see it many times over and over
      But…then is to late
      To author of this blog: thank you so much for sharing with others your experience and advises
      To me personally helps a lot to road of recovery knowing I am not alone in this experience
      Cheers

  12. From what I’ve read, they have detached long before we knew there was a problem. It’s probably just to avoid the uncomfortableness of a confrontation. They are cowards, not at all the men we thought they were. I was married 43 years and no other women, a mental illness and mid life crisis. Life was passing him by, he cashed in 401 K and went on many exotic hunting trips all over the country and just had the time of his life. He didn’t care that I was home broke shaking and crying all day wondering what the hell had happened. I got our adult sons and he worshipped them. They have wanted nothing to do with him since he did this to me two years ago. I despise him!

  13. Hi,

    Just wanted to say thanks for writing the letter I retweeted yesterday via my account @bebaynes. It gave me hope and something to relate to when I needed it.

    I found out my partner of 15 years had been having an affair in April from a letter posted through our door by his ‘other woman’. He told me he loved me, that he was sorry, that he would never make the same mistake again. After weeks of counseling and getting to know each other (and this stranger who had betrayed me) again, he began to move back in. On Friday 23rd October, I discovered he had done it again.

    I now have to cut off my best friend, confidante, and the funniest person I know. We have grown up together, lost together and built together. I can’t have any contact with him now and it hurts me physically – if emotions really can do that.

    Your open letter understood all that and made me thankful that though the last 15 years and the man I used to love are in the process of fading away, they are not wasted. Thank you.

    Now to keep that attitude going…

    1. Not exactly, but similar to mine. After 19 years and 4 months of being married to this Chrintian,Jesus loving, loves to share the gospel, moral, caring, gentle, family guy, a young lady knocks on my door and introduces herself as his whore, yes, she said herself she is a whore, paid whore. She spilled the beans. She was not the first, he used them whores all the time,no condoms ! But he fell for her. He was in love, she was in business. She was squeezing him dry out of his money and he would not be able to keep it from me not noticing for much longer, so he tried to get away from her. She was so pissed, she was not going to give up easily on the amount of money she was pocketing, he was so in love and kept no secret from her, that she new where we live, she new all about my family, even our intimate life as husband and wife, he drove her around in my car, he denies, but I do not believe he never brought her into our house when I was at work .He deceived me and she deceive him, made him believe she loved him but brought him down when he said no more. She new he had a lot to loose, his family man image, God fearing image. I am lining up my ducks and divorcing his ass. No wreckonciliation, EVER.
      Can you imagine me standing at the door listening to all of that? How he fucked her and lots of other whores? Giving me details of my life ? She dropped the bomb and I’m still picking up pieces of my scattered brain all over the place..I landed in the hospital with blood pressure sky high, now the cherry on the top, hold on to your seats, HE OFFERED TO PRAY FOR ME. Still sees himself as a holy, christian man, who can pray for the sick.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Did I say that am lining up my ducks and divorcing his ass? No wreckonciliation, EVER! He will have lots of free time to pray for his whores after fucking them.

  14. Its amazing how different our circumstances surrounding our divorces are but how the emotions we process are still the same, how are you doing? I hope you are ok, you sound like a smart, brilliant woman with a great deal going for her. I wish you every happiness on your new adventure 🙂

    1. You are so right about the universal similarities. I refused to see them in the beginning of my ordeal, convinced that the soap opera nature of it all made it different. But those are only the details. The pain of cleaving two lives hurts no matter who wields the blade and how swiftly its done.

      I’m doing great now, thanks for checking:) I no longer even feel like the same woman who received that text. Sometimes we really do have to lose what we thought we wanted to get what we need.

      1. Wow, your words are so vividly expressive! I really appreciate you sharing your story. I found it at just the right time. I am also going through a similar experience, and it has completely devastated me and turned my world upside down. I have to learn how to deal with my new reality in a healthy and positive way for myself and my 3 young children that are completely depending on only me now.

        I’ve considered not talking about my problems with my pending divorce and my soon to be ex-husband anymore. I was starting to feel that the more that I spoke about it, the more that I would feel pain, loss and doom all over again. But, I know that keeping my feelings and thoughts bottled up is not a good recipe for growth and healing. Therefore, finding a good outlet is what I am searching for. Perhaps I will turn to writing, like you have.

        You are a very good writer. Keep up the good work! I will buy your book.

      2. Thank you for your kind words. I am so sorry you’re dealing with divorce. You are so right- bottling it up won’t help you in the long run. I strongly recommend writing. It not only serves as a release, it also helps you process everything.

  15. Wow, very strong writing. I am not sure how I would have reacted or gone forward. The same thing happened to me, but I was the one who pulled the trigger. I guess no one promised us a rose garden without thorns…. 🙂

  16. Three years on… I couldn’t have read your story back then without breaking down. Oh it’s so good to be full of life again, knowing that nothing makes sense and yet everything does. I learnt so much from the post break-up years. Love that you’re revisiting your heartbreak, strong and full of creativity.

      1. Thanks! Ha ha yes, the dangerous pointy bits! I’m so sorry to read that there are so many men unable to speak their truths who resort to leaving in silence. Love to all the women putting their lives back on track. It was one of the hardest times I have ever been through. Hold on to the thought that you will make a beautiful life for yourself.

  17. My husband of 37 years left a four line note on the hall table as he exited in 2010. I was out with my son and our daughter (sick) was asleep upstairs as he packed. Our adult son and daughter have never spoken to him since he hung up on the phone to them repeatedly a few days after he left. I have seen him , briefly, and he is now shacked up with the woman he jilted in 1969. I am now 71. I don’t think I shall ever forget, or forgive, what he done but I like to think of him as dead – because the man I thought I knew is dead. However with hindsight he was always a narcissist.

  18. Dear lady in black. I don’t think this groupu recognizes the difference between being married 5 years vs 37 like you or 43 like me. We have the advantage that our kids and grown but they have the advantage of it’s not too late to go back to school and get an college education or most probably have one because most their age do. I loved Lisa’s book but have received one supportive message when I told my story. I need to find a more compassionate group of elder women. I have no idea how I am going to make it on my own once my house is gone. My ex was mentally ill and spent what we had and refinanced without me knowing it. My biggest hope is that he dies first so I can get his pension which I fought hard for in divorce. No other woman in the picture when he left, who knows now? He’s in AZ and his sons and I have no want to know where or his phone number. He is an evil selfish man that I gave 43 years to. What a waste except for my children.

    1. You are very right that there is a difference between a marriage of a few years and a marriage that lasted for much of a lifetime. I hope that you can find a way to bring some happiness back into your life and that you can find the support you need. Lisa

  19. Wow. Very powerful. Very raw.
    I’m not sure I could ever read your book, since I too lost my love after 27 years of marriage. It’s been 6 years since she left, and I’m definitely not over it. I still look for the reasons why.
    I’m glad you are able to move on. I think that is the most difficult thing about all of this.
    Thank you for sharing.

  20. So incredible to read your post at this time in my life. I am going through the first stages of separation to get divorced after 20 years of marriage, and 25 years as a couple. He didn’t text me or leave me a note, instead he basically vomited a hateful diatribe of everything he hates about me to my face, a week before Christmas. It took me a couple of months to shake it off, regain my balance and talk to him again – with three kids involved it’s hard to ignore him indefinitely. Oddly, we are getting along better now than we have in a long time. Maybe we are both checked out? Or we just don’t have any expectations any longer and there is less pressure? Whatever it is, it’s strange and sad with a side of good behavior. I don’t feel so alone, or so ugly and horrible as he would have me believe about myself, after reading the other comments. Thank you, all of you.

    1. So sorry you’re in this place and so glad you find some comfort from these words. I think you’re onto something with those expectations- they alter things more than we realize.

  21. Thank you so much for sharing your story. 6 months ago I suffered from a brain bleed and a brain infection accompanied by many complications and my ex decided this was the perfect time to leave me. You got a text and a letter but my ex thought it was best that the break up message be passed on by my already distraught son who had watched weeks prior his mom almost die! Your blog and others like yours give me hope that I will get over this. Thank you again!

  22. I am hoping for release of my fear to move on. My ex cheated on me 3 times. When I kicked him out the last time he refused to leave. Another 9 months passed before a judge made him leave. Shortly after that my father became very ill with alzheimers and I took care of him for 4 plus years before he passed. All that time I was still married because my father was my priority and after his death my mom hit rock bottom and now I’m taking care of her. I am 61 and have had no life for almost 8 years while the ex moved on with another woman. He has controlled everything…the money the house, prolonged and avoided being processed by a server. 5 years he has been gone and lived his life playing around and going on vacations that he would never take me on. After his threat of the fact that he payed my health insurance and it would be like he was dead, I’ve been left to empty out all his stuff. To this day we have been married 38 years and together since we were 15. I have told him I forgive him not for his sake but for mine because karma is going to be a bitch!!!! There are some sick men in this world and he is one of them. Now if I can just get my house in my name is can be free. I just want to be free of him….

  23. I read your story as if I were reading my own . My husband of 19 years just walked into the room and announced that he didn’t like me ,he hated to come home from work to me and I made him feel dead inside . Out of no where ! We were happy and he always said he loved me . I had just lost my mom to cancer and then my dad committed suicide 10 months later. A year after that I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a bilateral mastectomy. He dropped that bomb on me 5 days after surgery . He did stay another 2 months but only to confuse me more ,one day he kissed me ,the next he hated me ,one day he would act like nothing was wrong and the next he looked mad at the world. He just moved out a month ago and refuses to talk to me . He changed the password to our checking account so I have no access to money . He’s also leaving behind 3 beautiful grandchildren that love him dearly. He is 50 years old so maybe he’s going through a mid life crisis. I’m devastated . I can’t eat ,sleep or think straight . Help , any advice

    1. My heart goes out to you. What an enormous amount of loss you have faced.

      Not being able to think, eat or sleep is totally normal right now. The loss is not only emotional, it’s physical. This is triage time. If you need help with those things, see a doctor. I needed medication for those exact issues for several months and that support helped keep the body going so the heart could start learning to beat again.

      You’re not alone. And you WILL make it through. For now, focus on the next breath. Later, focus on the next baby step.

  24. I just wanted to say thank you!
    Over the last 6 weeks your blog has given me hope and a place to focus when things are overwhelming. I too am a math teacher (high school), and was married just over 20 years when my husband did some weird out if character dramatic stuff (on the first day of school last fall…lovely timing) then demanded we get a divorce since he was basically sick of everything about me. He spent 6 months convincing me to sign a divorce by mail document by basically demoralizing me entirely with his emotional abuse (admittedly I spent as much time as possible pretending everything was fine…compartmentalizing totally…I was amazed that my AP Calculus students actually did decently when scores came out because I was teaching on autopilot). About a month before it was finalized (mid May…I had just enough backbone to make him wait so that it would finalize after school was basically done because I didn’t think I could deal with it being totally while trying to still teach…lis I kept thinking maybe he’d have a change of heart) I learned the truth through a FB message from a stranger. His long term (close to 3 years though I’ll never know exactly when what I thought was reality became a farce because he refuses to answer and questions about it) girlfriend’s girlfriend (I never though that phrase would be part of my vocabulary) sent me a message with dates, pictures (including “trophy shots” taken in my own home) etc. I spent a couple weeks doing detective work and came to the conclusion that the best thing for me to be able to move on was to go through with the divorce and get away from him sooner rather than later. Of course when I confronted him about it it was of course ALL my fault somehow and the web of lies continued (now with me seeing that they were lies since I’d already read what he’d told her and others). Oops…I’ve been sort of doing the over sharing thing a lot lately…even told the lady I sat next to in the SS office about it today while waiting to change my name.
    In any case I wanted to say thank you…and so far I’m loving your book (read the first 150 pages while waiting at the SS office 😊).

    1. Hello, fellow math teacher:)))

      Ugh. Don’t you hate the projection?? It’s the kick in the gut after you’ve been stabbed in the back. Not fair. Not cool. And not easy. Glad you saw them for the lies they are.

      How are you feeling with starting up this school year?

      1. Yeah…and eduring 8 months of it before finding out what really was going I took a toll on my physical health as well as mental health. Finding out the real reason for what was happening (and the total nuttiness of it) was actually pretty liberating in many ways.

        I have a ton of trepidation about school (normally I’d be popping in and working on things). I have always been my married name (shortened by my kids into multiple nicknames) as a teacher because we got married the summer before I student taught, so going by my maiden name is going to be very odd (and I know I’m going to hear the old name a lot from my juniors and seniors as that’s part of my identity for them).

      2. I so relate to that liberation coming from understanding!

        One benefit of teaching under another name- you’ll find it easier to keep track of former students and their respective years based on the name they call you. And we acclimate to the new name faster since we hear it all. Day. Long. :))

  25. This has been helpful. Today is my 35th anniversary. My husband left a little more than a year ago and my heart aches in ways I can’t even explain. This has been the toughest year in my life. He talked to me about the problems in our marriage–the loss of connection, intimacy, passion, the distance, the need for him to move on. I wanted to talk about solutions; he only wanted out. We had about two or three conversations before he closed the door and refused to talk anymore about us. He has only talked about our teenage son or shared family obligations. I knew there was someone else, although he insists there isn’t. This was confirmed when a mutual friend saw him with his girlfriend. He has not taken any official steps to divorce. I believe he is waiting only until our son is off to college. In the meantime, I am bracing myself. But today–the day we should be celebrating, is especially hard. This is a lonely place, but I am grateful, I found this post and the follow-up comments.

  26. I think you nailed it by teeming it a “Tsunami Divorce.” My God, how horrible. At least Berger left a hand written post it (not sure if you’re a SATC fan). Anyways, it was cowdarice and inexcusable. I’m sorry that you suffered so terribly.

  27. Every time I read your blog I am reminded how important it is for all of us to share our stories as you so courageously have done. It is in the bad times where we help others to not feel so alone and in the good times that give those same people hope that it does get better!!!!!

  28. I too was left after 29 years of marriage. He was my high school sweetheart and he is all I know. He had been having an affair for over nine years according to his new partner. Either way he does not want to work on our marriage. He moved in with her and are very happy together. I am torn and feel as I cannot move on with out him. I have my good days but mostly bad. I constantly find myself with tears in my eyes. I feel as I cannot breathe at times. everyone tells me it will be ok but I feel as it is getting worst. It has been two months since I found out of the affair.

    1. I know it’s hard to hear, but two months is early. At that time, I considered a “good day” one where I slept mostly through the night or managed to make it through a grocery trip without tears. You’re still in shock and learning to come to terms with your new reality. Be patient with yourself. Hugs:)

  29. Most of ‘our’ stories are quite different and mine certainly is – however, this post specifically and this site in general have been so amazingly helpful to me during my (continued) journey that began when my wife of 19 years asked for a divorce in spring 2014. Lisa Arends’ brutally honest and beautiful writing (and perspective) speaks “HOPE” to me loud and and clear! So thankful to have found this site and really look forward to getting the book!

  30. Thank you for stopping by and following my blog! 🙂
    Just wanted to stop by as well! You have a beautiful writing style. The story about your divorce is truly heartbreaking and I cannot imagine how you were feeling in those moments. But your strength to be able to make the best out of an awful situation is astounding. You are a very strong woman. Thank you for sharing your story.

  31. I am so sorry this happened to you and for the way it happened as well. However, I feel a kinship with you through your writing and your experience as mine is similar, except he did it face to face and not through a letter, nor was he as verbal as your ex and able to say what was going on in his head. Good for you for writing a book about it! I will have to read it…thanks for sharing this as I know how heartbreaking it is. You are a fantastic writer! Thank you for having the courage to share your story with us.

  32. Im here becuz i am also having trouble moving on. Sideblinded in 2007 after 16 yrs of marriage by my seemingly adoring husbands secret life/extracurricular activity. Following this discovery he became fleeing, suicidal, psychotic hospitalized numerous times self harming almost nightly w my 7 yr old in the next room. Ran away too often to count leaving me not knowing if he was dead or alive. Ultimately, i filed in 2014. He hired a lawyer & did his best to destroy me & my daughter. He has abandoned her physically emotionally and financially since she was 7. He was her best friend before this all came to light. We have been divorced for a year, lost my career in the mix too & shit i am a strong woman and cant seem to get up. So thanks for the blog cant wait to read ur book and hope to write one… it just might be part of my journey!

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