Flashback on Married Life and What Love Is Not

Today is my 1 year anniversary celebrating…divorce.

Yes I did say celebrating.

Let me start at the beginning. I met my ex, on a Christian retreat, when I was 18. He was 27. Our first ‘encounter’ was playing cards. At that time, I was SUPER SUPER naïve. When he asked me if I wanted to play 52 card pickup, I answered yes, thinking it was a new card game. He took the deck, then proceeded to fling all the cards at me. As the cards scattered on the table, he laughed out loud. I remember feeling  ashamed because someone I just met was making me appear a fool. However, this feeling only lasted a second so I wasn’t able to fully grasp the ‘red flag’ thrown my way.

The second time a ‘red flag’ occurred was on a date. My ex owned a Firebird and LOVED to drive fast. As he raced around the corner, I grasped the bar on the glove box to steady myself. As a result, the bar came right off. When my ex completed the turn, I showed him what was in my hand. He started screaming and accused me of breaking the bar. Shame once again entered my life as I profusely apologized. However, no apology was given for the haphazard driving.

Despite these two incidents, my ex treated me like a queen, taking me out to expensive dinners, being accommodating whenever  I suggested a date event, opening doors, helping me study for classes, etc. However, unconsciously, my spirit knew, from day one, this relationship was not the right one. I remember, and this is hard to admit, especially after dating him for 4 years and then being married to him for almost 27, he was the first to utter “I love you” after a very passionate kiss. I responded, “I love you too” but only because I did not want to hurt his feelings. So why did I end up marrying him? I almost didn’t.

Right before the wedding, we had an argument about his mother. (Third ‘red flag’, he was a BIG mommy’s boy and NEVER untied the purse strings. This caused NUMEROUS fights between us in the years to follow.) My parents knew I was very unhappy. They let me know if I wanted to cancel the wedding, they would support my decision. But, I knew they had already paid for most of it, so I  decided to go through with it. As a result, I married because:

1.) My ex had a great job with a financial future. Which meant he was my knight in shining armor, who would support me the rest of my life. (Yeah, I realize now, there are NO knights in real life. I also realize I am NOT a queen but a simple woman who is sometimes quirky, loves to laugh out loud, has a deep devotion to family and friends and  lives with two cats so I guess I am crazy too!!!)
2.) I played a HUGE joke on myself, believing he would change after we got married. Today, I know, for a fact, no one is going to change because a ‘ring gets put on it.’
3.) During the courtship, he wooed me with money, which to this day has remained #1 in his life.
4.) I was NAIVE, NAIVE, NAIVE. My ex was the second person I had ever dated, meaning I did not have a great past experience from dates with different guys to have an inkling of what I wanted or deserved.
5.) I did not feel worthy as a ‘single’ person. Yep, I had low, low self-esteem. I figured there was nobody out there that was better.

Through the years, things got worse and so did I. My attitude changed. Instead of being vivacious, I became subdued and quiet. Communication was nil between us as well as sex after the kids were born. I eventually became so angry, I vented through road rage. I ended up screaming at my kids, screaming at my ex and taking longer routes home after work because I knew an argument was going to occur the minute I got home. I found ‘love’ through shopping. I racked up our credit cards, buying anything and everything. That brought attention when the bill came in. My ex was furious, but at least he ‘noticed’ me for a few seconds. The verbal abuse between us escalated. Trust diminished. It was when I lost weight changes gradually occurred within…me.

The final straw came when my ex physically attacked my youngest son, called the police and lied about the incident, saying my son had attacked him. At that moment, I was ready to file. But my youngest asked me not too. Yes, I stayed. The year after, a package arrived, to our home, containing a porn video. When questioned, my ex told me it was for a friend. My reaction? FOR A FRIEND!?!?!?!? My ex, the one who attended mass EVERY Sunday, regardless of the weather, regardless of his health, was accepting THAT for a FRIEND!!!! By that time, I was not the naïve girl, but more intuitive. Something felt off…WAY off!! So I did some digging. I found he had ordered two more porn videos, in his name as well as had communications with women advertising on Craigslist. When I confronted him, he denied everything. It was only after I told him to pack his shit, and get out that he confessed to ‘having a problem.’ The next day when he called to let me know he was seeing a psychologist, I told him I was filing for divorce. He fought all through it, but my unconscious finally broke through, helping me realize there was nothing left of the relationship to save.

Today, I celebrate me, as it also is my birthday!! I celebrate the courage I had to leave someone who did not deserve me. And I celebrate the load off my chest for finally putting it on paper. I still carry resentment but am working beyond it. I try not to put my ex down in front of my boys, but it is hard as he is still playing mind and control games with them. Even though my ex claims he saw a psychologist, he has not changed nor do I think he wants to. It has been difficult to look at myself, realize my faults, take responsibility and make changes. Yet, I know I have grown into the person I could have been if my ex had given me a chance and accepted me for who I was. My boys have also changed due to a more positive, peaceful environment where all of us accept and love each other, despite our differences, our opinions and our faults. It is especially not easy to bare my soul in a public venue. As learned from Brene Brown, and I paraphrase, being vulnerable is hard but feeling shame is much more destructive.

So why am I sharing these intimate thoughts? Because I hope this post gives others, whether male or female, single or married, the courage to leave a relationship that hurts so bad, the heart continues to bleed sorrow. Breaking up is hard. Divorce is harder. And no matter who makes the decision to end the relationship, both parties will experience loss.

Through the pain of this relationship, I learned what love is not. Currently, I am happy being single and am not ready to venture into the realm of dating. Besides, I still have some wounds that are healing which I don’t want to carry into someone else’s life. I have learned I do deserve someone who will love me as I am…with no conditions; support me even when he may disagree with my decisions; listen to me no matter how boring or mundane; encourage me to be the best I can be; be openly honest, no matter how much it hurts-which means I will NEVER ask the question, ‘Does my butt look good in these jeans?’ LOL!!; and center his life around family and friends not money. He also has to have a SUPER sense of humor and like cats.

I will do the above and hope his butt looks good in jeans 🙂 as well as encourage him; not expect him to rescue me; verbally express myself instead of shutting down; reveal the trueness of my heart, soul and spirit; try things he may like and I may not; support him through thick and thin; not rush the relationship; and accept and love him unconditionally.

Today I am celebrating…new year, new age, new me, and new life. I don’t know what is ahead. I do know I possess the courage to face it. And if life grants it, I deserve a fabulous guy, who is NOT disguised in shining armor, to share it with. And if life does not grant it, I will still be happy and content right where I am.



3 thoughts on “Flashback on Married Life and What Love Is Not

  1. I am so very, very proud of you, Annie. To think you suffered for so many years and yet, even after all that, you mustered up the courage to break away from a long relationship and start over on your own.

    I hope your story will help others who need guidance in dealing with difficult relationships. I have been blessed. My husband is a wonderful man.

    Happy Celebrations!!!

    1. Divorce is really hard, especially since I was the one who initiated it with an ex that fought it tooth and nail. But hopefully your life is much more fulfilling. I find mine is.

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