I haven’t gone sky diving, gotten any cliche tattoo of a bird alighting its cage or soul searched “ Eat Pray Love” style but my life is quietly better since my husband left two years ago. The freedom and contentment of being enough at the end of the day have been enough for me. However, the anger still creeps up and I found myself wondering why after this much time has passed. My children are well, I am in a healthy relationship, I have friends. I don’t wish him back, desire the life I had or hold any guilt that what transpired was my fault. I don’t wring my fingers puzzling over what I could have done differently. While I’m not in a constant state of seething ire the situations that ignite my fury leave me in an agitated state of impotent rage for days afterward until it subsides. It’s time to break that cycle.
Once in an argument my ex husband used the line “Can’t you just be the bigger person?!” In reference to our own relationship. My brow furrowed, head slightly tilted in that dog who doesn’t understand way as I quietly asked “You do realize you’re telling me to let you be small…right?” Which pretty much sums up why I believe the impotent rage still gnaws at me. Because it is impotent. I have consummately been the bigger person. In an effort to keep things “normal” for our children, our families and our friends I played my part. I didn’t get a billboard, I never confronted anyone or called his mama and tattled. No Lifetime movie-spurned woman-revenge satisfaction for me. When the lawyer drew up the petition for divorce on the grounds of adultery I had the option to name the paramour outright yet I chose not to so it wouldn’t hurt her children on public record in years to come. I tried to tell myself that other than a few outbursts I handled the whole laughable, sordid affair with grace and dignity but that is inadequate comfort for someone like me; a tempestuous blend of people pleaser and righteous sword of justice. Out of fear and a loyalty that was no longer deserved I was the reluctant martyr of an Adele song all the while there’s a fiery imp in a torn yellow dress in me who still desperately needs to Lemonade.
Had he or she ever once apologized or owned the infidelity I probably wouldn’t still feel this occasional festering righteousness. If he had come to me and said “I have been seeing the lady across the street and will be leaving you to be with her” I would have been angry, hurt and betrayed. I still would have cried for months like I did but at least I would have had that shred of honesty and closure. Instead he drove me insane with denials and assuring me I was crazy “She’s not even attractive and has three kids, you think I’m gonna cheat with her? She’s just a friend” despite every shred of evidence to the contrary. The way he made the dysfunction in our relationship all about me and my failings and I spent months trying my damnedest to be the epitome of loving wife while he closed down bars in the wee hours of the morning with this woman. If the night I secretly invited her over for a glass of wine and presented my case and asked her what was going on she had admitted that yes, she was indeed involved with my husband I could have respected her for having at least a bit of dignity in owning up to it. Instead she counseled me as a friend, and opened up about her own failed marriage and an hour after she left my husband called at two in the morning while out of town because he’d been “up all night thinking” and needed to reassure me we would work this out. The insidious nature of their betrayal still makes my stomach turn.
I’m also still upset with myself when I think back on the plethora of moments and opportunities I second guessed; letting the mind games twist my perspective. A woman can only take so much George Costanza “That’s what I shoulda said!!” type self recrimination. You have an idea in your head of how you’d handle certain hypothetical situations that the shock of how you actually reacted can leave you stymied. Certainly I never pictured myself seeing my husband earnestly mouth I love you to the neighbor who showed up on our date night then robotically driving the man home with ice in my veins, not saying a word so as not to ruin his big day at the Clemson Carolina game. Nor did I see myself tearfully accepting a pat on the head and a “Poor girl. Are you sure I did that? Gee, who knows..I was drunk, sorry I tell lots of people I love them” when I finally brought it up. It’s as if that was a separate person. That poor, feckless, pregnant woman has my pity yet I also scream at her internally for not being who she had always been, a person who called things as she saw them.
What gets my Irish up now is that the mind games and flippant “You’re a crazy person this shouldn’t bother you” continue. That even with Private Investigator footage and proof of their affair that man still pretends it didn’t happen. That they got together after he left. No matter that it is patently proved otherwise. To know he has the notion that none of this will affect our children and there’s nothing the least bit odd or awkward about our children encountering him, beer in hand, passing out candy on Halloween to them from our neighbors driveway while another man takes them treating or treating. To tell him our children were visibly deflated and lost their zeal for Christmas Eve when we drove by and saw his car at her house; their father was *this* close as they celebrated yet he wasn’t with them and it just be brushed off as “this is only a problem for you”. To hear that your daughters teacher saw pictures of her at Lake Lure posted to social media by the woman as if all is hunky dory. What do you do with that kind of brazen selfishness and delusion?!
Though anyone hearing a man is seeing a high school friend turned neighbor and left his home when his 5th child was 2 weeks old would probably put two and two together that something was fishy I was warned against playing a victim with his sarcastic “Ooh poor pitiful Chrissy” comments. I’m heeding that admonition. I’m not a victim, and this wasn’t written to air dirty laundry. While its difficult to sit back and wait for Karma to do her job this isn’t even written with vengeance in mind. In the end one is an overweight woman who overcompensates for insecurity with selfies, pancake makeup and other peoples husbands and the other has lamented aloud the loss of intelligent conversation. They now have each other which may be karma enough. Alright, so I’m not above a bit of petty snarkiness. It was written because I can no longer play my role. By keeping the whirlwind of “How can anyone pretend that this is normal?! What terrible Twilight Zone meets Young and The Restless nonsense am I living in?!” to myself I’m hurting the people who still deserve the best of me: My children when I’m short tempered and preoccupied with my thoughts, my boyfriend who wonders why this man still irks me so, the friends who have problems of their own. My ex husband always complained that I acted as his moral compass. Maybe this is my final act of needing to spit out “This is shitty human behavior!!!” to the world. Maybe its my first.
Yet, as my rant comes to a close, here I hesitate. The publish icon glaring at me as the woman in me who still has cahones taunts me. I’m afraid to click a button and put this out there. What if somehow it gets back to him that I spoke my piece for the world to see? What if he reads it? What if….well, there I have it. To break the chain I must press publish. Take whatever the backlash may be to finally release myself from protecting him from him from himself once and for all.
And hell, my dearest ex husband if you are reading this we both know I could have said Sooo much more…. You’re welcome. Smiles, smiles and more smiles…so much happiness.