I filed for divorce on a Friday.
Only a little after a week since my entire world had been ripped apart, I walked into an attorney’s office and he put together the papers. I didn’t really feel any relief; it felt like someone else’s life. The kick is that we had been married for just over two months.
We wanted different things, but we also seemed to want each other. He was my first real love and the only man I had ever slept with. He would look into my eyes convincingly and tell me that he loved me. He would hold my hand, talk me through my problems, and seemed to be a sensitive partner.
We decided to get married. We were engaged for a year when he was strongly advocating to bump up our marriage date by one year to last October. Previously, he had been closed off to wedding planning, so I happily agreed and we planned our wedding in six weeks. It was beautiful, and I have no negative memories of anything in the last few months.
Then everything caught up with him.
The night he told me what happened, I ran some errands after work like changing the bank account on our car insurance and running by my parents’ house to pick up a Christmas ornament I had bought. It was glass and included a picture of us from the wedding with the word Love. Excited to place it on the tree, I ran up the stairs to our apartment.
I opened the door. Everything was suddenly wrong.
He was sitting on the bed and turned to me. “I fucked up,” he started.
“What is it?” I braced myself. He had not come home the night before, which was unusual. Concerned the next morning, I sent him a message to ask if he was okay and a few hours later he responded that he was home. I figured it was a DUI, a stupid mistake, but we could work past it . . .
“I’ve been cheating on you.”
This was not what I expected.
“You know that means we need a divorce,” I blurted out without even thinking.
“How long has this been going on?” I asked him.
“A week and a half.”
“Do you love her?”
“Do you love me?”
“I haven’t been in love with you for a long time.”
In the same breath, he also explained that he didn’t want the same things I did. That he had never wanted to get married. He told me he wanted the money from our savings, and I could have whatever else I wanted. With each blow, I moved closer to the floor, then to my knees, not sure how to respond, or how to push this incredibly hurtful person away from me.
Now, how much of this is the truth and how much of this was him trying to get me out of his life ASAP so he didn’t have to deal with the pain he caused? I am not sure.
A few weeks later, after I filed and moved out my things, we talked. He sounded like a confused little boy. He took back all the things he told me, said he did love me and wasn’t sure how he felt about her anymore. That he made a horrible mistake and now he was going to go with it. He wasn’t himself lately, none of it felt “real” to him. He called the woman he cheated on me with manipulative and said he didn’t want a relationship right now, but that she would probably move in after Christmas.
They are probably a great fit for each other. After all, my husband was great at hiding things by manipulating me, and I would let it happen. I am still working through why, with a great therapist.
My husband and I were together for five years. Many of those years were far from blissful. We would fight often, but then there were moments of genuinely having fun together. However, there was always just something . . . off.
Getting him to open up to me was a constant dance. I would present my feelings, he would respond, at times appropriately. I would wait. I would ask about his feelings. He would shrug his shoulders or respond with “whatever” and I would prod harder. Often I would prod so hard that it would all blow up.
So I learned to work around it.
Basically, I married a man-child, someone who looked charming in a Judd Apatow film, but in real life makes for some extremely painful situations. He struggled to keep a job, to pay his bills, to engage in meaningful conversations on anything not related to music, video games, or food. I would take care of paying the bills, the housework, and trying to tend to his emotional needs. He would occasionally be there for me if he felt like it, but putting himself aside to have real love is something he will never be willing to do.
In return, I was happy to be distracted from dealing with the parts of myself I didn’t want to deal with. Being a fat girl and married was clearly the biggest accomplishment I could hope for. Loving someone else meant I didn’t have to focus on loving myself. In this marriage, no one was loving me, so I’m just lucky I wasn’t hurt worse.
In the end, it is for the best. The person I was convincing myself he was is essentially dead, or never really lived in full form at all. What remains is his ghost.
When I sit and talk with our mutual friends, most of whom have decided to cut off contact with him, it feels like we are reminiscing about a loved one who has passed on. All that remains are our memories of the person we remember who is no longer there. I prefer to leave it at that so I can move on, too.