Maybe it was me

I recently posted about the wedding I went to last weekend. You can check it out here if you missed it.

It was a bittersweet day, being the wedding of the woman who was a major factor in the disintegration of my marriage. While I blame my wife, not the friend, I find it difficult being around the two of them and I was really not looking forward to going. But knowing that my kids would all be there with their dates was exciting for me. Occasions when we are all together are rare and I savor them. All I needed to do was not get annoyed with my ex-wife as she fawned and obsessed over her friend, which proved to be difficult. I was surprised to learn that she would annoy me in an entirely different way that day.

It was an outdoor ceremony. The bride and groom were characteristically late and the crowd was settled restlessly on the row of chairs. I was sitting in the third row, next to my youngest daughter and behind my wife. We were making small talk with the kids and their dates and I was limiting conversation with the ex because that is how we get along best. She was making small talk with my oldest daughter and she blurted out, “Oh, remind me to tell you about my date the other night.”
I did a double take. Date?
I turned to my youngest and she gave me her best “Leave me out of it” look.
When my ex realized my reaction she changed the subject. I was floored.

Now, you may be thinking that I’m crazy, or just wrong to be annoyed. We’ve been divorced for a year, of course she can date. I just can’t believe she is. See, I was told when we divorced that she has no interest in a romantic relationship with anyone. That her friendship with Lisa was all that mattered to her. That made sense to me, after all she completely rejected me for Lisa.

If you think I’m joking, here’s a tidbit for you. Many years ago, when she still had a sex drive, we were getting busy on the sofa one afternoon when we were sans children. I was receiving ummm, oral gratification when the phone rang. It was the special ring tone designated for Lisa and when she heard it she spit me out and grabbed the phone. That’s when I knew it was over. And I was right, it was. To my knowledge, she spends every waking minute that she’s not working with Lisa. Any man that wanted to date her wouldn’t earn a time slot anyway. And with her obsessive issues, any man wouldn’t put up with that friendship any better than I did, it was indeed that bizarre

I was pretty upset most of the day. To my knowledge, she never shared her date story with the group. I kept it to myself but my youngest knew that I was upset and at the reception she and I talked. I reminded her that she once told me that if I was to date, she would be upset with me. So why isn’t she upset with her mother? She assured me that her mother doesn’t want a relationship. Hearing that, I again tried to figure out why it bothered me so much.

If you read the last post, I salvaged the day. I drank a couple of beers, I danced with my kids, I sang Karaoke with my buddies and had a decent time overall. I really enjoyed seeing my grown, wonderful children with their dates being the amazing kids that they are. It wasn’t until the ride home that I started thinking about it again.

It was so much easier when it wasn’t me. When it was only the inability to compete with an obsessive friendship. I have had to deal for the last 2 years with the recognition that I was rejected. It hurt like hell. I was a flawed husband, I did and said things that I regret. But I loved my wife and I would have stayed with her forever because I care deeply for her and feel obligated to care for her, to make good on my wedding vows. But again, I was rejected. The premise that it wasn’t me was small comfort. The fact that she is dating throws that premise to the wind.

Maybe it was me. I failed her. I lost her. I have managed to live without her but the idea of her with someone else disturbs me deeply. The woman who chased me since she was 16 years old, to win me over at 19, has moved on. And I, who thought I wanted a divorce way more than she did, have not.

We weren’t a great couple. But we were all I knew for 25 years of my life.

Forgiveness

I sat there, asking myself if I really drove 2 hours to listen to this.

“Ugh, this picture is terrible. “
“Do I really look like this?”
“I can’t post this!”

My ex had just finished taking some pictures outside with my daughter and now she was engaging in two of the many obnoxious habits that remind me why we’re not married anymore…bitching incessantly and playing with her fucking phone.

“Just delete them and do them again. How hard can it be, it was ten minutes ago?”
“Did I ask for your fucking opinion?” she snapped at me and left the room.
Face palm
Happy fucking Easter.

My daughter came to the rescue.
“Dad, it’s a holiday. She’s always nuts on Holidays, remember? I’m still happy to see you.”
She wasn’t lying. She was. She’s the best. And soon my youngest boy will be back from his girlfriend’s house and soon after that we will meet my oldest daughter and her boyfriend at the restaurant. Despite my oldest boy not being able to make it, which I was bummed about, I will have plenty of people to distract me from her.

I really hoped that the fireworks were over with her but that would not be the case. The dinner conversation was mostly fine, I enjoyed seeing the kids and the meal was great. But she dropped a couple of cracks during dinner about me that stuck with me for the last week. The first one was when she claimed I didn’t love her and wasn’t attracted to her when she was heavy, early in our marriage. I was floored. First, I have no idea how that subject even came up, and I was further incensed that it wasn’t true.

The second comment came when my youngest daughter said that I was a nice guy. The ex made a face. When pressed by my oldest daughter as to the reason, she said “he is now, not so much when we were married.”

I was annoyed at the first one, I was downright pissed off at the second one. My appetite was gone and I wanted to go home. I didn’t, of course, and the rest of the day was ok. I had a cigar with the boys, the daughter’s joined us outside and enjoyed the weather with us, and I largely avoided the ex until it was time to leave.

I do my best thinking while driving, but that particular two hours was spent fuming.

With regards to the weight comment, I never had a problem with her weight. I always found her attractive. It’s she who was never happy with herself and always struggled with her self-image (the selfie thing is case in point). It got to the point where she was so critical of herself she shut off the sex spicket for good.

The nice guy (or not, as it were) thing? I will admit that I had my moments but it was never unprompted and in my recollection pretty warranted. We began fighting in the second year of our marriage and by the fourth child we were struggling maritally and financially. Money destroys marriages and ours was no exception. Add to the equation her complete hypocrisy as she bought whatever she wanted yet bitched about my career struggles and dropping income…yea I’m not going to be so nice.

But I was quick to apologize. I tried to learn from it and genuinely worked towards doing better. I accepted fault as graciously as I could.

Until I realized I was the only one.

Towards the end, I can honestly say that I gave up on us and my only focus was to salvage my relationship with my children. As for her and I, we tolerated each other. When we finally divorced, we were passive and civil. We went our own ways and it really seemed as if everything was cool. I set out to reconcile my anger and one day I decided to just forgive it. I forgave everything. It would be trite to say that I forgave her in particular, instead I did it for me. To unload the terrible baggage weighing on my shoulders. To sleep at night. To move towards a place of healing and to become the man I’ve always wanted to be, with the benefit of a fresh start.

Forgiveness is not as easy as it seems. Ole’ Superman thought that by snapping his fingers and taking a super breath, he could wash years of anger and frustration and be done with it. But it just isn’t that easy. Her bullshit comments of that day made me want to scream at her,

“Do you have any idea how much of your bullshit I let go!?”

But it wouldn’t have mattered. I was a fool to think that it was going to be that simple. Such a volatile, tumultuous relationship cannot just die out like an ocean storm, there has to be the inevitable ripple effects on the shoreline. I may have convinced myself that it is all good and forgiven, but it is not forgotten, despite my wanting more than anything for that to be true. 

I can’t just forget being screamed at and told to “go and die of kidney disease.”
I can’t just forget sleeping on the sofa for 15 years.
I can’t just forget being nagged constantly about money when I was doing everything that my skill set, physical limitations and increasing illness allowed.
I can’t just forget being replaced by her best friend as a support network.
I can’t just forget being in a loveless, sexless marriage and how I managed to stick it out for ten year after the fire was completely out and still remain faithful when no man ever would do so.

It’s not bad enough that I’m broken to the point where I will never find love again. I also have to shoulder the burden of so many painful memories and constantly asking myself a endless series of “why’s” and “what-ifs.” I have to remind myself that I chose to forgive everything for me, as my way of handling and coping. I can’t speak for her. It’s beyond my control and it is naïve to presume how she is to handle it on her end. I need to be, and I am, at peace with my efforts in this approach.

The big question then becomes… why do I even care?

sleepless nights

He met her when she was just 18. He was 23
She was a waitress, working through School
He was a dropout line cook, working through his issues
She would later say that it was love at first sight
For her
To him, she was too young
overbearing
clingy
without boundaries
serious

She made excuses to be near him
to get him to notice her
He wasn’t ready for anything steady
but She was starting to look good

One day he noticed her
where a girl once stood there stood a woman
He weighed the situation
decided He was ready for a regular life
She would later become his wife
It was good for a time, but they soon found
There was less in common
and too many differences
but they made a go of it
they bought a house, started a family
did their best for the kids
they became civil strangers

She was unhappy, incapable of joy
He tried to please her, appease her
He thought he could fix her
but it wasn’t to be
She sought solace elsewhere
not in the arms of another
but in a friendship
an obsessive
fucking destructive
friendship

Her friend became her support
her comfort
her everything
He didn’t understand, but He knew
that He no longer mattered

One day it came to a head
that She would leave him for dead
if forced to choose
He wanted to leave
He sat down with the kids
He loved them so but hated the fighting
they loved their dad so
they asked him not to go
He wiped his tears and dug in his heels
and He stayed

This lasted for years
until His health failed
the job was gone
the money ran out
She told Him to find somewhere to live
and they went their separate ways
For a year this lasted, neither one initiated
the ugly topic of divorce
“for better or worse” indeed
the “better” was a memory
the “worse” was all that remained
completely resigned, together they signed
on the dotted line
to the end of a once great story

They now live far apart
She has 2 of his kids, the other 2 are grown
He sees them rarely
talks to her barely
He thought he would savor it
the lack of contact and newfound freedom
but he grew to miss Her

She is not well, in the head and the purse
He wants to help, but is barely able to help himself
He feels bad
obligated
wants to save Her
the bad memories aren’t enough
to set Him straight

He dreams of her at night
bad dreams of Her with another
He wakes and agonizes over why
He doesn’t want her when he’s awake
why does He care if She takes a lover
But He does care, he aches to know
Was it just him?
why were His advances rejected
his affections neglected
forced to sit outside the door
as she cried in the dark

did He drive her away?

He knows it would kill him
if She were to love another
The only answer he can live with
is that She gave up on love
and not just him

He still asks himself how
that 18 year girl of so many years ago
who loved him so much
would one day stop
and just walk away

 

 

the joy of being irrelevant

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

the erroneous comment I wish I never heard about

“I overheard her say that she doesn’t love you anymore at the dinner table”

“Wait…what?”

“Yeah, I don’t know who she was saying it to, I caught it at the last second but she said it.”

I felt like I had just tripped over a wasp’s nest but I kept my composure as the words set in.

I was having a glass of wine with my mom’s boyfriend. He was telling me about the dinner he had the previous day with my mom, my ex-wife and my oldest daughter on Mother’s Day. They had all gotten together at the restaurant my son works. It was an impromptu get together. My mom and Dave went down to MA to decorate the family stones with flowers and my ex-wife had called her to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. When they realized they were in the same state for once they made dinner plans. I didn’t even know about it until they got home that night. Mom told me all about it. The next night, that would be the time of this writing, it was just Dave and I for a while. I had just asked him of his account of the dinner, particularly because it was the first time he had met my ex-wife and oldest daughter. He had all good things to say and I was feeling good about it. Until he said that line about my ex-wife’s comment. Two questions came to mind; why did she say this and why do I care?

He continued talking as we watched the Red Sox play the A’s. I became noticeably quiet. Eventually, he asked me if he had crossed a line by telling me. I assured him that it was fine, I was just taken aback. While I was unsure why he mentioned it, it wasn’t done out of harm or malice. In fact, he probably mentioned it because it resonated with him after being in a terrible marriage himself. The pressing question remained. Why is this bothering me?

I truly don’t understand why I am having such trouble with this. I was married to this woman for 22 years and for the last 12 I would have chewed my arm off to escape her. There were times when I actually felt that I hated her. Towards the end, we de-escalated into a tolerant phase where we put up with each other but there was no love. Eventually, there was clearly no desire to even try to recapture what drew us together in the first place. When we separated I was relieved. When she asked for a divorce I was ready. When the divorce was finalized I felt liberated. So why am I surprised to hear, second-hand mind you, that she doesn’t love me anymore? It could easily have been said in the vein of “We still care about each other but aren’t in love anymore” as she explained to my mother, or my daughter, or the fucking waiter…again why does this bother me? Do I still even love her?

I do love her. I’m just not in love with her. I love her because we raised four wonderful children together. I love her because I spent most of my adult life with her and there were some good times. I can’t deny them.

I have dreams, vivid dreams of her. I dream of conversations in which she reveals past infidelities. I have dreamt of being with her, in the present, still married and talking about how we “almost split up.” Sadly, I even dreamt that I had died and she wasn’t at my funeral. These dreams are so lucid, so vivid that Freud and Jung could come back from the grave and revive their careers. When I wake from them I find myself wishing she was in my life. Then I shake it off and remind myself that I really don’t want what we had any longer. Still, I am wrought with these conflicting emotions.

I am burdened by memories, racked with guilt, saddled with regrets. A mere matter of months ago I was bitter, angry and resentful of her. Lately, I look back at photos in which we were all smiles. I find myself asking where it went wrong. I find myself asking if I could have done better by her. I remember how much she once loved me and I ask myself if I drove her away, caused her to morph into the cold, detached person that she was in the end. Did I, in the course of exorcising my demons and finding my real self, push her away?

I asked my mother last night if she had heard the comment at dinner. She said she had. It was said to one of my son’s friends who works at the same restaurant. He had come over to the table and asked my wife where I was. She had told him that we were divorced and he was surprised. So, she explained it. She cares about me, but she doesn’t love me anymore.

There you go, I have my explanation. For the comment at least. I still don’t know for the life of me why the explanation stings so badly.

Weight loss

Today I found a miraculous weight loss program that can be accomplished in 2 hours. All you have to do is walk into an arbitrators office at the City Courthouse, answer a bunch of questions, agree to everything and sign on the dotted line. Boom! Divorced. I’m down 135 pounds. At least that’s how much I think she weighs, I haven’t touched her in so long I really don’t know.

That’s what I get for introducing her to a magic food that made her sex drive disappear 22 years ago…Wedding Cake.
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Dog chasing a car

Ever seen a dog chase a car? My first question was always “what is he going to do if he catches it?”

I made the mistake the other day of clicking on one of the “hookup” site links. I was feeling, well what the fuck let’s call it what it is, horny. My wife had told me earlier that day that even though we are not officially divorced yet if I wanted to “get back out there” she was fine with it. I guess that means she suggested it. I certainly don’t want a relationship so I entertained the idea of a casual thing. So I signed up, no credit card required appealed to me.

I instantly regretted it. I began getting bombarded with nude pics of really slutty women “near me” and very provocative messages. I immediately knew that this wasn’t for me. Despite how “delicious” I appeared to one lady; despite the fact that Paradise was the “only one who could take me there”; and contrary to Sexygodess17’s assertion that she’s “the one I’ve been looking for”,  it’s just not my style. I deleted the account immediately. Like a dog, if I chose to chase this car, what would I do with it if I caught it?

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I’m not a casual sex guy, never was. I like the idea of a Friend with Benefits. I have friends that have this. Just sex, no commitments of any kind. But I’m not wired for it. When I was a younger man I had many long-term relationships and a few one-nighters. I never felt right after the one-nighters. Laugh if you want but I respect women and felt dirty if I objectified them in any way. Even when they seemed perfectly fine with it I still needed two showers after. It’s how I am and if I have to choose, it’s a good thing.

I recently entertained the casual route because I’m not ready for the real thing.  For a lot of reasons, none of which has anything to do with my wife, she’s actually the one that gave me the green light.

I don’t like how I look. I’m still heavier than I want to be even though I’m losing it. I’m very self-conscious of the swelling in my legs and how it would look to someone should I take my clothes off in a lit room. And, since I am a brutally honest guy, I only have one testicle. I had testicular cancer when I was 31 and lefty was removed. I was offered a prosthetic but I said no, it’s not like I was dating or planned to. I was with my wife. I regret that now. I think a woman might get freaked out about that. Do I bring it up ahead of time or do I let her find out for herself? Should be interesting.

Again, in the interest of complete and brutal honesty, I must also confess that I haven’t had sex in 8 years. My wife shut me off then and I couldn’t bring myself to break the vows of my marriage. Several opportunities arose, as did I, but I abstained. I have stayed in my marriage for the children and all I had was my honor. If I was unfaithful, my children would lose respect for me and that’s all I have. So, not having gotten more than a handshake in that long, I am very reluctant to ask my next potential suitor for an instruction manual for her vagina. And a kleenex.

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Another issue is what do I have to offer? A woman my age would most certainly see that I have little or nothing to offer them. I can see the ad now:

Broke, balding, chronically ill heavy guy with one nut and a great sense of humor who lives with his mother for the foreseeable future seeks, well shit, ANYBODY. Confidence in the bedroom depending on how long it takes to turn out the light.

I really want to meet someone to spend time with. To walk and talk, read and watch movies, drink and hang out, and be casual with the pace. On top of everything else I don’t have, I don’t have baggage. I’m actually a pretty good guy and fun to be with if someone can get past all…that…shit.

At least Advil helps with the Carpal Tunnel.