Normally I steer clear from cynicism and bitterness on this blog, for my ex was my best friend for 32 years. Sometimes it is hard to take the high road, as in this instance. I found a photo and all the hurts just cascaded back. So please bear with me as I barrel along and allow my anger to pour out of me.
The pain inflicted by the hurtful words my ex hurled at me at the end of our marriage lasted for a decade. He told me that while his looks had stayed the same, I was no longer the woman he'd married. True I had gained an enormous amount of weight, but most people still found me attractive. Most importantly, they liked me for my sense of humor and fun. Ten years ago Bob was as fit as he'd ever been. He kayaked on the river, and rode one of four bikes on long trips, some lasting for days. He'd spent a sabbatical in New Zealand, teaching, biking, hiking, and staying fit. While I exercised regularly, I couldn't keep up.
The last time Bob and I biked along the river together he complained that I was going too slow. I had gone out alone for a peaceful 9 mile ride, but for some reason he decided to join me. He should have stayed at home. I got nothing but comments about my slow pace which was, after all, the point. Since the divorce, my bike has been parked in the garage and I haven't used it since.
During those last married years I made jewelry for fun. I spent $300 on supplies. I sold some earrings, but I donated most to charity (about 100 earrings, most of which sold and made money). Bob accused me of being extravagant. This statement came after he spent $30,000 on a boat dock that we wound up using about 10 times in two years. Nevertheless, my jewelry supplies sit unused. I am unable to create new items without remembering his comments.
During the many decades of our courtship and marriage I went on canoeing weekends with him, we biked and played tennis, we hiked in the mountains, ran in Hawaii and Europe, and went camping about once or twice a year. We went white water rafting and tubed down the river, and I learned to drive his boat so I could pull him on the tube behind it. The last year of our marriage we went on trips and vacations 3 months out of 12. Yet he complained that I never wanted to do anything he wanted to do and that I was such a boring homebody. Imagine my incredulity when I heard these accusations. We had just returned from a 3-week road trip on the West Coast, and had spent every other weekend through mid-September on our lake property. At the time Bob made the accusation, we were vacationing during Thanksgiving week with his relatives in Duck, North Carolina. That was about one month after he stopped talking to me.
On October 30 of that year we attended the Celtic Festival. We held hand as we walked from booth to booth, and Bob told me how much he loved me. I returned the sentiment, and still recall that day as being one of the most special times of my life. We listened to Celtic music under the tents, watched big Scots men play Celtic games, and ate British Isle food. The next morning, at the sink, over a minor argument (I was in the way while he was making breakfast) he stopped talking to me. I followed Mr. Idiot's advice, you know, the guy who wrote Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, and allowed Bob to retreat to his cave and emerge when he was ready to talk. Well, when Bob emerged, he walked. Take it from someone who learned the hard way - don't let your mate get away with being silent. Force the issue and start talking, or else the situation will spin out of control
A few weeks after our Duck vacation, I came to his bed (for he slept in a different room) thinking that I needed to take action. The last sound I ever heard my husband make while I tried to make love to him was something akin to "Eeww" or "Uhhhgg". I slunk out of bed and he went back to sleep. That sound haunted me for months. It haunts me still.
Ten months after Bob moved out of the house, and after he enacted the charade of wanting to "save" our marriage by attending counseling sessions, I found out through a girlfriend that he was engaged to someone else. It seems my husband was squiring his new fiancee around town and she was showing off her diamond engagement ring to MY friends, and trying to solicit one of my best friends to help her plan a reception. Bob and I hadn't even discussed divorce. When I confronted him about his engagement, I asked, "How can you be engaged when you are still married?"
His first response was: "It's all your fault. You've been stalling and just don't see the point." He then proceeded to tell me that he'd found his soul mate, that she completed him. I replied that I didn't know he needed completing. I thought he was good enough as he was. Then he said, "I wasn't happy being poor, so I might as well find out if I can be happy rich." Frankly, I had no idea that we were poor, but this was a time when I was continually being surprised.
Bob was right in one area, though. I hadn't seen the point. I had been married for 26 years, was in shock at his leaving, and truly believed that my husband, who had prepaid for one year of counseling, meant to save our marriage. I had asked him not to date as long as we were getting counseling. I couldn't bear the thought of revealing my inner most thoughts and fears if such revelations were all for naught. As it turned out, he began to date women a few months after he left me, despite his promise not to (which he later swore he never made. Hah!)
On the day we were to sign our divorce papers, I sat in the anteroom while he talked to his lawyer in the main office. As I cried, feeling as if my heart was breaking, I heard their light-hearted banter and laughter. He and his lawyer were joking even as my world was falling apart. Before that day I'd had to endure such statements as: "I am tired of carrying you along", and now I was confronted with the realization that he was viewing the breakup of our marriage with relief. He claimed that I had never pulled my weight, and that my ambition to become a writer would never bear fruit. His new Tootsie, it seemed, had her own investment firm and she had sold her business for a pretty hefty sum. Though she was four years younger than me and was monetarily more successful, she'd had a couple of marriages under her belt. In other words, she was as ripe for picking as he. It turned out he'd met her through his sister. I thought, after 26 years of friendship, that my ex sister-in-law cared for me as much as I cared for her, but I found out the hard way that I was wrong.
It's taken me ten years to get over Bob's hurtful words. Well, I'm probably not over them if I am writing this post, but I will say this: seeing this photo of Bob with his soul mate made me howl with laughter. Sorry, but that low cut Auntie Mame outfit just doesn't fit my image of the kind of woman who would attract the simple, rugged, and fit outdoors man I thought I had married. Did I say fit? Oh, dear me. I'm afraid that is the case no longer. Click here to continue:
(My apologies to all who think I have fallen off my "high road" pedestal. In my next posts I shall endeavor to climb on top of it again.)