Last night my wife posted on FB. It was a pretty powerful tirade about how much she values friendship and loyalty and was very upset that someone had very recently betrayed her. She was quite upset, it was obvious by her tone and use of punctuation. In addition, I know that she rarely uses FB other than to post pics of the family or nights out with friends. I skimmed over most of the post and reached for my phone to call her.
Then I reread the post. At the bottom, she had tagged her best friend and wrote: “be ready to hear this story tomorrow Lisa _____, I need you to listen and help me pick up the pieces”. A wave of clarity washed over me at that moment…even if we were still married I would have not been able to comfort her. She wouldn’t even have told me about it. It was a tiny, sobering reminder of what destroyed my marriage, the day she chose her friend (the one tagged in the post) over me as her support system.
Many years ago my wife decided that I was not someone she could talk to. She never came out and said it, or even gave me a heads up that she wanted to be closer (can I only assume she didn’t want to?). It was never an issue for us, we told each other everything. I knew that we were drifting apart, I just didn’t realize how severely. What I did notice was that she dropped most of her friends and limited herself to close friendships with only one friend at a time. I found it odd, but she was a hard-working mother who needed an outlet so when she made a good friend I embraced it.
A troubling trend emerged over the years. My wife would spend every available minute with one friend, way more than is healthy for any two people. She would join activities the other was involved in, I believe to spend more time with them, even activities that I had asked her to do with me to no success. It can only be described as obsessive. Eventually, familiarity would inevitably and predictably breed contempt and there would be a fallout. This happened twice. She was crushed both times but failed to tell me about it. “You wouldn’t understand, you don’t know me like she does” was what I heard both times.
Then she met Lisa. Lisa was a woman my wife met through the school. Our daughters were friends and the playdates led to them starting to hang out. At first it wasn’t too bad for me (yes, I know it wasn’t about me anyway), I liked her husband a lot and they were a part of a really cool scenario; two brothers married two sisters and they each had 4 children. They were a big, fun group and we got together often. The trouble began when the daughters had a falling out. They had a terrible fight and the fallout lasted a while. My wife’s reaction to it was the first sign that this friendship was problematic.
Instead of respecting my young daughter’s feelings, my wife forced them to be together. She even yelled at her one day, telling her “Just because you fucked up your friendship don’t think you’re fucking up mine!” I immediately jumped in and defended my daughter and of course that was as well received as a wet fart in Church. I created a solution. If she was insistent on seeing her friend and getting the families together, my daughter and I would find something else to do that day. It worked for a while and eventually, the girls became friends again. But what had developed was not lost on me. This friendship was bordering on the unusual.
I managed to tolerate the situation for a while. I looked the other way when my wife started smoking cigarettes, at age 31 a complete statistical anomaly, because she loved the smell of Lisa’s when she smoked. I tolerated being forced to spend every valuable weekend day and day off with Lisa’s family. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them, but by it being decided by default it bothered me that I had no say in who I spent my time with. I took it for the team until I learned that the children felt the same way. I pushed back a bit against her on this and I was told to leave it alone. It was starting to affect our relationship in profound ways. I didn’t realize it was an obsession until the day when we were on the sofa, the kids were with Grandma and we were taking the opportunity to get busy. She was in the middle of giving me some cough cough oral gratification when the phone rang. She actually stopped what she was doing and checked the phone for the caller ID, the phone was in her hand the whole time. It was Lisa calling, she answered and I was left to zip up, shake my head in utter disbelief and walk away knowing that I had a much bigger problem than I had ever imagined.
Fast forward many obsessed, argument laden years (I simply can’t put you or myself through every example of how this friendship destroyed us) and I had completely resigned myself to the fact that it wasn’t going away. One day in 2011 I sat her down and asked her why she was so distant from me and so close to Lisa. I was told that I “didn’t get her” and that she didn’t feel comfortable talking to me. She told me, in not so many words, that I was not her support system and I needed to accept it. I tried, but never really wrapped my head entirely around it. We had so many other issues at that time that it just became one more thing to add to the shit heap.
When we split, I wasn’t even remotely surprised that she moved in with Lisa. The only real surprise is that they have yet to announce that they are Lesbians. That would be too easy I suppose, that might actually explain some things.
Now that we are divorced, I find myself thinking of her in a kinder light. I have tried to be more accepting and forgiving. To dwell on all that I was angry about is too consuming, requires too much energy and is extremely heavy cargo to carry around. When I saw her FB post last night, I really wanted to call her, to talk to her and be there for her. The realization that I would have been of no comfort to her hit me like a brick in the forehead and so many questions about my failed marriage came to the fore.
I was irrelevant long before I even became the “EX-husband.”
A bitter pill indeed