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Here’s my latest book review about Planet Heartbreak by Vikki Stark, which is a companion piece to Stark’s previous book, Runaway Husbands, which really resonated with me on a personal level. I decided to write a text-only review because I know I would totally lose it if I even attempted to do a video review.

In September, 2011 I underwent hip surgery. My loving husband took great care of me before and after my surgery. He took a temporary leave from his NASA job so he could take care of me while I recuperated. He drove me to my outpatient physical therapy sessions. Once he had to return to work a couple of months later, he lined up various friends who drove me to and from physical therapy. One of my friends later told me that when we went to their home for a Christmas party they threw we seemed so happy together. On Christmas Day he made a lovely dinner for the two of us where he said he used beer as a themed ingredient while he made French onion soup and a seafood dish in a beer broth.

Imagine my surprise when, just three days after Christmas, my husband arrived home from work. He had a wild-eye look on his face as he blurted out “I’m moving out,” said that he had rented a room, and threw three pieces of paper in my direction before bolting out the door. I looked at the three pieces of paper. One was my first alimony check. One was a schedule to separate our finances he had written out that would culminate in our eventual divorce. The third was a letter where he essentially blamed the fact that I had purchased a doll the day before my hip surgery as a reason why he had to leave home because the doll added to the clutter of our home.

At first I thought he had just snapped. I knew he was under stress from my surgery, the stresses at his job (he was working on a major satellite project at the time), the fact that he was battling bronchitis, and he had just been diagnosed with high blood pressure. But he refused to speak with me even though I tried leaving voice mail messages (he refused to pick up when I called his phone), text messages, and emails. I found out through friends that he had left me for one of our friends who has been battling severe depression for most of her adult life (she had just been granted SSI disability shortly before he left me).

In the wake of his leaving me, I did a Google search on “my husband ran away from home” and I was directed to this website that also served as the promotion for a book written by Vikki Stark called Runaway Husbands. I ordered that book from Amazon and even paid extra to have it rush-delivered to my home. I read and re-read that book so many times over the past few years that I think I have gotten it memorized by now. It was such a great help to me as it helped me to brace myself for whatever horror my husband threw at me (such as the fact that nearly a year after he left home he sent a divorce petition in a .PDF format that was attached to an email he sent on Christmas Eve). My ex-husband married the other woman just two months after our divorce was final.

In one of our very rare and brief face-to-face conversations my husband said that it was my fault that he had to leave home and hook up with that mentally ill woman. I later found out through friends that they saw him flirting and actively pursuing that woman at the cafe where she used to work two nights a week while I was home recuperating from that surgery. Given his current state of mind, I wouldn’t be surprised if he blames me for the fact that he married this woman soon after our divorce was final.

Not too long ago I found out that Vikki Stark had published a companion volume to Runaway Husbands, which I have recently finished reading. This one is called Planet Heartbreak and it’s a series of essays written by women whose spouses have abruptly left them. While the original Runaway Husbands book had testimony written by women whose husbands had left them, they were interspersed with Vikki Stark’s writings about her research into not only the abrupt demise of her own marriage (her husband suddenly walked out on her the day after she returned home from a tour promoting her first book that she wrote about sister relationships) but other women’s marriages that had also met a similar quick end.

Planet Heartbreak is different in that it consists entirely of essays written by women whose marriages had ended with no advanced warning that their marriages were even in trouble. Vikki Stark included women who had young children, women with adult children, women who never had children, young adult women, middle-aged women, even senior citizens who had been married for a few decades. There is even an essay written by a woman who had been in a long-term same-sex relationship with another woman until her spouse abruptly left her and their two adopted children. In short, there are essays written by women who come from all walks of life.

The one thing that struck me as I read these essays is that all of the husbands are depicted as suddenly switching from being kind and loving spouses to being incredibly cold, indifferent, distant, and even nasty. This fits my ex-husband perfectly. He has gone from being a very sweet, friendly guy who had a great sense of humor to being this totally distant unfriendly stranger—the kind of person I would never even consider dating in the first place let alone marry him.

The only silver lining is that many of our longtime friends have noticed a change in him as well. They have told me about how unhappy he looks these days and his second wife also looks unhappy. Sadly I can’t do a thing about this, especially since he divorced me. He was the one who left me for a mentally ill woman. He was the one who sued me for divorce and married her just two months after our divorce was final. It’s like what Dr. Phil frequently says on his TV show, “When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequences.”

At the beginning of the book Vikki Stark advises the reader to try not to read the entire book in one sitting, which I personally think is good advice. Many of the stories in these essays are gut-wrenching to read at times. Some women had to sell their marital home because they couldn’t afford to keep it. Some women with minor children still had to deal with the minefield of coparenting with a now-hostile ex. One of the women wrote about how her husband has not only cut her out of his life but has also cut out their adult son and 8-year-old grandson as well.

There were two essays where the husbands regretted what they did and wanted to reunite with their wives. One of the women decided to remain separated for the time being and just take things slowly by seeing her ex once or twice a month. The other woman, who’s a devout Christian, welcomed her husband back into their home as he told her that Satan made him leave her and she has basically forgiven him for what he did to her. Those two essays are a far cry from the fairy tale ending “And they all lived happily ever after.”

Vikki Stark wrote that Planet Heartbreak is meant to be a companion volume to her previous book and people should really read the first book before reading her latest one. For me Runaway Husbands helped me deal with what to expect regarding my husband. Planet Heartbreak only further drove the point that what happened to my marriage wasn’t really 100% my fault and there was absolutely nothing I could say or do to get my husband to change his mind and return home.

While Planet Heartbreak isn’t required reading for those who are dealing with their own runaway spouses, I would recommend it for anyone who’s still reeling from an unexpected divorce and has read Runaway Husbands so many times that they have memorized it because reading other people’s stories does provide a chance for healing and hope for the future.

I have one minor quibble with the book. At the beginning of each essay there is a mention about how long each woman had been separated from her husband (which ranges from two months to over 10 years). I wished the essays had been better organized according to the length of the separation (meaning that the essays written by the newly separated would be in front of the book while the longer separations being located towards the end) because it would’ve been easier for someone who’s been separated for—let’s say—three months to find the essays from the recently separated while people who’ve been separated longer can find the essays from the women who have also been separated for over a year or more. I think grouping the essays according to length of separation would provide one with an idea of how it’s possible to recuperate from something as traumatic as a spouse who has ran away from home.

For me reading Planet Heartbreak has helped me to accept the fact that the man I once knew is gone for good and some stranger with an unfriendly personality is currently inhabiting his body. I don’t regret getting this book.



A week ago or so a friend of mine who knew me when I was still married mentioned that he saw my ex-husband and found something disturbing about him. Yesterday I ran into another friend on Easter Sunday who also expressed similar concerns about my ex-husband after seeing him and his second wife at a local cafe.

I’m not going to elaborate on what their concerns are other than to say that I’m not surprised that they are shocked at what has happened to my ex-husband. Since he left me he has gone through a complete personality change that I can’t explain. (I’ve read plenty about personality disorder, psychopathy, narcissism, and sociopathy but I lack the credentials to diagnose my ex-husband or anyone else.) After all, my husband never told me he was unhappy in our marriage until he abruptly left me just three days after Christmas in 2011. (He left me three months after I underwent hip surgery.) He abruptly went from being a loving, caring husband to someone who became cold and distant. He refused to talk to me or to meet with me in person other than to bark out orders over email and text demanding that I adhere to a schedule where we would separate our finances and if I raised any kind of resistance, he would threaten to sue me. I found out from friends that he had left me for a woman whom I thought was a friend of mine but I now know better. She had been open about her mental health issues that became so severe that she had an experimental pacemaker implanted in her brain. She qualified for SSI disability just weeks before my husband left me for her.

If all that weren’t enough, my husband sent divorce papers in a .pdf format that was attached to an email message that was dated December 24, 2012. (Yes, he did this on Christmas Eve.) I later found out that he and the other woman got engaged just eight months after he left me. He married her two months after our divorce was final.

Sure I’m sad over what my friends have told me about him but here’s one thing I learned through both attending meetings of a divorce recovery group and seeing a therapist—the only person I can control is myself. I can’t control anyone else. Sure, I can give advice to someone but it’s up to the person to decide whether he or she will follow my advice or not.

I made the decision to have no contact with my ex-husband because of his cyberbullying threats of taking me to court if I didn’t do what he told me to do. My ex has never said that he was sorry for the pain he had put me through or even acknowledge his role in what happened between us. He once told me that it was my fault that he had to leave me so he could date that mentally ill friend of ours. (For the record, I never once told him that he should hook up with that woman. I would never recommend dating a seriously mentally ill person to anyone.) And the reason why he felt he had to leave: The day before my hip surgery I had gone to the American Girl Place in Tysons Corner, Virginia and I purchased this doll named Julie, who is part of the American Girl dolls’ historical line and she’s supposed to represent the 1970’s, mainly because her default outfit is similar to an outfit I once wore when I was growing up in the 1970’s. My ex wrote in a letter that he left behind that my purchase of this doll added to the clutter of our home and he had to leave because of it.


That’s right, my purchase of this doll is the main reason my husband cited for leaving home, hooking up with a woman whom he knew has serious mental health issues, getting engaged to her while still being legally married to me, divorcing me, and marrying her just two months after the divorce was final.

Unless my ex makes a sincere effort to make amends to me for the hurt he has caused me, there is no way I’m going to contact him to see if he’s okay or if there is anything I can do to help him.

I’ll admit that I haven’t forgiven him at all. I learned through my divorce recovery group that forgiveness is a process that can’t be rushed and that there are some situations where it’s impossible to forgive a person. I can’t say I’ll never forgive him but I am just honestly not emotionally ready to do that right now.

Even if I was still in contact with him as a friend, there are limits as to what I can do. Any advice I give would work only if he wants to take it. If he decides against taking my advice, there’s nothing I can do about it because it’s his life and he’s the only one who has a direct say in over how he’ll live it.

If my friends raise their concerns about my ex with me again, I’m going to have to tell them “Sorry but I can’t do anything about it.” Because it is the truth.

I’m only writing a post about this because I know that there are people dealing with loved ones who have their own level of dysfunction—whether it’s due to drugs or alcohol or they are in a dysfunctional romantic relationship or they have mental health problems that they refuse to do anything about or they tend to gamble excessively or they have some other problem that have seriously impacted their lives. Many of us were raised in religious traditions where you’re taught that you’re supposed to be your brother’s (or sister’s) keeper and you have to be the hero to save that person from self-destruction. What I’m telling you—which flies in the face of most religious traditions—is this: you have no control over that person or anyone else other than yourself. If that person wants your help, then fine. You should help that person. But if that person refuses your offer of help, you have no other choice but to just let that person continue on his/her self-destructive path.

This was a lesson I learned through my divorce recovery group and it’s a similar message that other self-help groups, such as Al-Anon, also convey. The bottom line is that you can’t help anyone else unless that person wants your help.

However you can educate yourself so you can learn how to respond to someone else’s drama without getting consumed by it. I’m going to end this post with a short list of books I read that helped me learn how to deal with and respond to my ex-husband’s actions without losing my own mind.

Runaway Husbands by Vikki Stark. This was the first book I ordered from in the days after my husband left and I did a Google search on “my husband ran away from home.” That book helped me prepare for what would happen next since my husband had followed the same path to our divorce that the other husbands Stark profiled in her book went.

Psychopath Free by Jackson MacKenzie. This is a book that was invaluable in helping me to decide not to have any further contact with my ex-husband until he makes a sincere effort to make amends with me for what he has done to me.

The Language of Letting Go and More Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie. Both books are daily meditations that are designed to help the person with breaking away from a codependent relationship into living a well-integrated and independent life that’s free from codependency.

I’ve written about my divorce before but I’m writing about it again not because I’m a drama queen but because I’m hoping that this post would get mentioned by the Delightfully Tacky blog. Especially with that blog’s The Brave Ones section where other writers write about their own experiences with overcoming trauma.


I don’t know if anything will come of it but I want to do things in the hope that my life will be improved enough so I can move on from the drama of the last three-and-a-half years. My therapist, divorce recovery support group, and even a few books have suggested that everyday I do at least one thing that could possibly help me move on from this major trauma that I went through and I’m still struggling with.

I married my college sweetheart. Compared to other boyfriends I’ve had, this man was very mature, level-headed, and very responsible. He never developed any addictions nor was he ever violent towards me in any way. We had a lot in common. When I introduced him to my parents, he managed to charm them. When I announced our engagement, my parents were totally thrilled because they liked him. We got married 10 months after I finished college and I felt like I had died and gone to heaven because I considered him to be my best friend as well as my husband. At times he even served as a model and muse for some of my art projects.

Man Lying in Bed, Watching Television (B&W)

Man Lying in Bed, Watching Television (Color)

We had weathered a lot together, including the sudden death of his mother in 2010 and my hip surgery in 2011. I thought that we were destined to spend the rest of our lives together. This blog post, which described this baseball card collage I made as a present for my husband in early 2011 based on his own suggestion, is typical of the married life I had with him.

Baseball Cards Collage

My husband did a lot for me both before and after my hip surgery. He made all the preparations for my surgery, he took time off from his job so he could take care of me while I recuperated, and he even lined up friends to drive me to and from physical therapy sessions when he had to return to his job. On Christmas Day, 2011, we had a lovely time together, which I recounted in this post. I was happy in the marriage and my husband acted happy as well. He didn’t indicate that he felt there were problems in our marriage or anything like that.

Michael Reclining on Couch

It all came to a sudden screeching halt just three days after that lovely Christmas Day and three months after my hip surgery. He came home from work, announced “I’m moving out…I found a room,” threw some pieces of paper my way, then ran out the door before I could even respond. I looked at the papers. One was a check for $2,000 that was designated as my first alimony payment. One was a separation schedule that he drummed up that would lead to our divorce. The other was a note where he blamed the fact that the day before I had the hip surgery, I went on a little shopping trip to a mall where I purchased an American Girl doll who was supposed to represent the 1970’s. she had long blonde hair (like I did before I hit my teens), and she wore an outfit that was nearly identical to one that I wore as a child in the same era.


Basically that doll was the reason why he said he had to leave home.

I was totally shocked by all this. At the time I thought he had simply snapped due to all the stress over my health problems and some stresses at his job and this volunteer job he took on as treasurer for our church. The night he left I wrote a short entry hoping that he would soon return home and the separation would be a short-lived one.

Michael in Red and Green

A couple of days later my husband was still missing so I did a few Google searches under “My husband ran away from home” and I was led to this book by Vikki Stark called Runaway Husbands where she went through a similar situation as I did. I ordered it through and for the next several months I read and re-read that book over and over again.

Despite Vikki Stark’s contention that, based on her own experiences and her research of other women who went through the same thing, my marriage was destined for divorce, I still held out hope that my husband would reconsider. I had even contemplated selling that doll that he blamed for the walkout on eBay in the hopes that he would realize that I was serious about saving our marriage and return to me.

When I read Stark’s book, especially the section about how there’s usually another woman involved, I initially thought that there was either no one else or, if there was another woman, she would’ve been a co-worker at my husband’s job at NASA. My assumptions were totally shattered a month later when a few of my friends finally came forward with the truth. They had seen him in the company of a friend of ours whom we both met through this cafe that we frequented. (She worked as a barmaid two nights a week while being open about struggling with severe depression that has impacted much of her adult life. She even mentioned that she had an experimental pacemaker implanted into her brain because her depression had grown that bad. About 10 months before my husband ran away from home she had to check into a hospital for a few days in order to adjust her meds because her body had adjusted to her current course of treatment.) He took her on dates to the same cafe where she worked as a barmaid (and the same one where my husband and I were regulars) within a week after he left me so my friends figured it out before I did.

I thought that the barmaid was my friend and I even felt sorry for her because of her struggles with mental illness. She was among my friends whom I approached when I was trying to look for my husband and she denied knowing where he was. When I told her how he ran away from home, she seemed shocked at the time. But now I realize that she was just a fake friend who had no qualms about stabbing me in the back while I was still recovering from hip surgery and was still willing to stay with him even after I told her he ran away from home.

For the next year I didn’t hear from my husband other than receiving e-mails and texts demanding that we separate our finances and we sign this separation agreement as soon as possible. In his messages he basically barked orders at me like I was his employee instead of his wife. Whenever I protested he would threaten to sue me in court. Basically my husband went from being my best friend to my own worst enemy.

Michael in Dots

To make manners worse, on Christmas Eve, 2012, he sent a divorce petition in a .pdf format that was attached to an e-mail. Then he demanded that I sign it and mail it to his lawyer as soon as possible. I consulted a lawyer who told me that it wasn’t real because there was no case number assigned to it. My husband had his lawyer file for divorce for real and I ended up in divorce court in April, 2013.  Our divorce was declared final by June. In August, just two months after the divorce being final, I got word via Facebook that my ex-husband and my ex-friend suddenly got married.

In the aftermath of my husband’s dramatic about face, I began to see a therapist and I also started attending weekly meetings of a divorce recovery support group. Through them I began to gain a new perspective on my marriage. I realize now that there were some issues in the marriage that I had swept under the carpet and was willing to overlook because I thought my husband was such a swell guy. For example, my husband grew up in a family that was basically dysfunctional and full of drama and it had an effect on him that I should not have ignored. These days I tell people that before they get married, see how that person interacts with his/her own family. If there’s something troubling about your fiancee’s family dynamic, get out now. Ditto for any other red flag that your fiancee may display. It’s easier and cheaper to break an engagement than it is to get a divorce.

I kept on reading other books after I went through Vikki Stark’s book several times and they were all a tremendous help to me. I also have to credit my family and friends for sticking by me and helping me through this sudden out-of-the-blue divorce. If it weren’t for them, I would be in a worse place now both mentally and financially.

I’ve always considered myself to be an artist but I’m having a hard time trying to make ends meet with only selling through art shows and craft fairs. I’m currently looking into temping and freelance work so I can support myself once my husband’s court-mandated five-year alimony runs out. I’m trying to move on. My therapist tells me that I’m making great progress but there are times when I doubt it myself.

I’ve also tried finding creative ways of dealing with what happened. When a member of my divorce recovery group threw a party at her home, she invited people to bring things in order to thrown into a bonfire that she was having in her backyard. I donated my old wedding cake topper for the occasion.

And then there is the time on Halloween when I did this wiccan/pagan ritual where I burned a lock of my ex-husband’s baby hair (which was saved by his late mother when he was nearly a year old and it came with a bunch of items from his mother’s estate—ultimately he left it behind with me).

I have no other choice but to keep on trying new avenues and make major life decisions by myself and hope everything works out for me because right now I’m currently in limbo. I don’t know where I’ll end up. I’m hoping for the best while trying everything possible to avoid the worst.

Santa ClausBaby New Year

Happy New Year, everyone! I finally got around to finishing editing and uploading this video I originally shot on Halloween and I made an allusion about a few months ago in this blog. Well, here’s the video in question.

On Halloween, about an hour or so before sunset, I made a video where I burned a lock of my ex-husband’s baby hair, which was one of the many things he left behind when he walked out on me back in October, 2011. I guess I could’ve dropped it in his mailbox at his current home but I’m still dealing with sour feelings from all those months when he totally treated me like I was little more than a robot who had to obey him or else he would sue me and refused to even treat me like I was his wife. Right now I’m just not inclined to do anything nice for him unless he issues a sincere heartfelt apology for the hell that he put me through and, to be honest, I won’t be getting one from him anytime soon.

The lock of baby hair in question was one that was originally saved by my late mother-in-law after my ex-husband had his first haircut. It was one of the numerous items that we received after her death. Then he left it behind and I really didn’t want it around. I originally thought about just throwing it in the trash but then I came across this entry by Kate Evangelista about the various superstitions concerning hair. I found that if one burned the hair in a ritual, it was supposed to bring pain to the hair’s original owner. (In case you’re wondering, this ritual hair burning didn’t work for me. My ex-husband is still healthy and I haven’t heard any talk about him being sick in any way.)

So I decided to burn the hair in a ritual and film it for posterity. Drawing on my previous experience with rituals (mainly through my Unitarian Universalist congregation and through a sub-group of the Unitarian Universalist Association known as CUUPS), I did one and I burned the hair. I also filmed an intro where I mentioned how my husband abruptly ran away from home, how he cited my purchase of an American Girl doll (Julie Albright, who’s supposed to represent the 1970’s) along with some corresponding books the day before my hip surgery as the reason why he had to leave home, along with brief mentions about how he hooked up with a friend of ours with serious mental health issues and Vikki Stark’s Runaway Husbands book.

I ended not editing it until December because I got diverted by other things. It’s fitting that I waited until New Year’s Eve to upload this video since my husband left me three days after Christmas in 2011 and he e-mailed a divorce petition in a .pdf format on December 24, 2012 (Christmas Eve). Well, anyway, here it is.

By the way, I originally had music accompanying the opening and closing credits. It’s the same tune that I used for the opening and closing credits of My Visit to the Psychic. I originally composed it in GarageBand by mixing various loops. I used it in the previous video with no problem. But when I tried to upload this new video on to YouTube, first it required me to verify that I was a real person uploading this video and not a bot by typing in my cell phone number then responding to a text. Then, after I verified that I am a real person, YouTube was claiming that the music matched “third party content” (without specifying what the content in question is) and I wouldn’t be allowed to monetize this video. I also couldn’t find any links or buttons where I could appeal and say that the music came from my own work on GarageBand. So I deleted the video on YouTube, brought the original video back into iMovie, and stripped out the music. When I uploaded the new music-free video, I had no problem at all. I didn’t have to verify that I was a human being and I could monetize my creation. So I now have gaping silence in the credits where there should’ve been music.

And one more thing, since I mentioned in this post and in the video about how my husband cited my purchase of the 1970’s historical American Girl doll the day before my hip surgery as the reason why we had to get a divorce, I came across this blog entry written by the husband of a doll collector. He seems to be more tolerant of his wife’s hobbies and interests than mine ever was. (My ex was a bit on the tightwad side even though we weren’t poor or financially struggling but that’s another story.) This woman is so incredibly lucky to have a husband like hers. Believe me, I know. If only my husband had been more like that man, we would still be happily married and we probably would’ve ended up celebrating our golden 50th anniversary sometime in the distant future.

Tomorrow, June 11, is the one-year anniversary of the official notice that my divorce is final. In the state where I live (Maryland) divorce is generally a two-part process. The first part is appearing in court and the one-year anniversary of that first part has already passed two months ago.

It’s pretty ironic knowing that the anniversaries of both parts of this divorce fall on a Throwback Thursday two months apart.

When my husband abruptly ran away from home on December 28, 2011, I was completely devastated. He never indicated that he was the least bit unhappy and he took loving care of me while I was recuperating from the hip surgery I underwent just three months earlier. Worse, he refused to talk to me unless it was a demand that I conform to a separation schedule that existed only in his head.

In the time since he left I have come across some books and web sites that were all a tremendous help to me after my husband ran away like he did. I’m going to list them in the hopes that they could help others in my situation.

In the days following his walkout, I did a Google search on “my husband ran away from home” and I got directed to a book written by Vikki Stark called Runaway Husbands. I immediately ordered the book and I’ve read it several times since then. Vikki Stark is a therapist whose marriage suddenly imploded in a similar manner to the way mine did. Just as my husband walked out on me abruptly three months after undergoing hip surgery, her husband walked out on her abruptly while she was at the tail end of a tour she had gone on to promote her first book she had written about sister relationships. Using the same research methods she employed with her previous book, she conducted a survey of other people who were in good marriages until their spouses suddenly decided that they were divorcing without letting them know until the last minute. Runaway Husbands, her second book, was the result of that research while she also told the story about how her husband abruptly left her.

All I can say that after reading that book several times, I’m still amazed at how the experiences of the other people interviewed for that book are nearly identical to my own experience.

While the bulk of Stark’s book is focused on the person who was left behind by a runaway spouse, she did have a section devoted to theories on why grown adults feel the need to runaway from home so abruptly which, like the rest of the book, were based on the responses to a survey that Stark conducted with other women who had experienced their marriages ending in the same way that Stark’s marriage ended. I found those theories very interesting. All I can say is that my ex-husband definitely has issues and there’s nothing I can say or do that would help my ex get rid of those issues because he’s the only one who can work of them. (One example, as of this writing, is the fact that he has yet to make any kind of amends towards me for what he’s done nor has he even accepted any kind of responsibility for his actions since the night he walked out on me on December 28, 2011.)

I began to read other books and writings on the web that helped me. I got Martha Stout’s book The Sociopath Next Door because Vikki Stark referenced it in her Runaway Husbands book and that one was an eye-opener. I learned that, contrary to popular perception, the vast majority of sociopaths aren’t serial killers. (The ones who are serial killers are the most extreme type of sociopaths. The vast majority of sociopaths never go that route because they know they would land in prison and they would lose control—the very thing that sociopaths value the most.) But they are the type of person who is likable and charming yet that person can do the most hurtful act on another person or animal and don’t feel anything about it.

At times I also read up on narcissism (mainly because The Runaway Husbands book mentioned it as one of the theories why husbands run away from home) and I found this article written by Linda Martinez-Lewi called Divorcing a Narcissist—You Are the Enemy. This quote especially jumped out at me.

You didn’t know that your spouse has morphed you into The Enemy. He or she has never been a true partner.

That is so true. My husband went from being the most loving person to someone who, through his e-mails and texts, suddenly showed total contempt for me. I took my therapist’s advice and told him to treat me with respect but that request fell on deaf ears as he went out of his way to show how much he had really secretly detested me for all the years that we were married. It’s a devastating truth to learn because there are times when I find myself wondering that if he really detested me, why did he ever ask me to marry him in the first place? He could’ve just broken up with me while we were still dating, I would’ve dealt with a broken heart for a while then moved on to other relationships.  But, no, that would’ve been too easy. He decided to marry me and just stay with me even though he was secretly in contempt for me the entire time until something better came along.

Here’s proof that my husband detested me and considered me to be his enemy: He sent a divorce petition in a .pdf format via e-mail on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2012. He knew that the one-year anniversary was on December 28 and he couldn’t file for divorce in the state of Maryland until then. He sent that e-mail because he knew that it was the Christmas holiday season and he wanted to ruin my holiday celebration.

This next quote from the same article is also telling.

You are blamed for everything. He/she is lying about you, making you appear to be crazy, immoral, a substance abuser, tramp. You name it and you are accused. Lies are spread to your friends, acquaintances, even reaching at times your work environment.

I know that he definitely blamed me for his feeling the need to move out then immediately start taking a friend of ours, who has severe mental health issues, to the same places where my husband and I were regulars, which led to other friends finding out the real reason why he left me before I did. I don’t know what my ex-husband has told our friends and acquaintances about me and, to be honest, I don’t want to know. All that I know is that the majority of my old friends are still my friends and they are usually very friendly and cordial towards me. Some of my friends have confessed to me that they haven’t had anything to do with my ex-husband since he left me because they found his actions so appalling.

When I was searching for Martha Stout’s book, it had a list of similar books that I might like. One book caught my eye. It’s written by a man known only as Peace and it’s called Psychopath Free.  I read the blurb and I found that it’s a short primer providing helpful advice for people who have gone through devastating relationships as I did. I liked the write-up and I ordered it.  I learned that while there are technical differences between a sociopath and a narcissist, that book said that for the reader’s purpose, it doesn’t matter which type someone is because the only thing that the person can do is to not contact the other person as much as possible. It’s a short book but it’s full of helpful advice on moving on with your life.

I’ve also done Internet research on my husband’s behavior during and after the divorce and I learned that what he did was emotional abuse, which can be just as psychologically devastating as physical abuse. I used to think that my husband was honorable person who was full of integrity but I now know that he faked it all along. The very fact that he didn’t tell me that he was unhappy until the night he left showed that he is little more than a conflict-avoiding coward. The subsequent cyberbullying he did to me via texts and e-mails only proved the fact that he’s a coward. Ironically he used to tell me that other kids in elementary, junior high, and high schools had bullied him and picked on him. Given his actions in recent years, I’m starting to seriously doubt this version of his childhood. Given the fact that he seemed so clever and skilled with the bullying he did towards me, I wouldn’t be surprised if he honed those skills on other unfortunate kids while he was growing up and he somehow got away with it. (Of course I don’t have any evidence to support that theory. I’m basing it on a hunch that came from my experiences with dealing directly with his worst aspects since late December, 2011.)

There’s another piece of writing that I’ve been reading on a regular basis that was recommended to me by my support group for people who are separated or divorced. Melody Beattie’s The Language of Letting Go and The Language of Letting Go 2 are a series of daily meditations on how to emerge from a codependent relationship and to let go of the past (including relationships with friends, family members, and even spouses that just aren’t working for you any more) while healing yourself. I found both books to be very profound and insightful and I now know that both my husband and I made mistakes in our marriage and we both unknowingly created a codependent relationship. Had we consulted with a marriage counselor instead of my husband running away from home, I believe that we could’ve salvaged our marriage. But since he’s gone I have to pick up the pieces of my own life. All I know is that I learned a few lessons from this painful episode and if I had to go through it all over again, I definitely would’ve done things differently. I wrote about those lessons last December (on the second anniversary of his walkout) so I won’t regurgitate them here.

All I can say to anyone who is in my situation with a significant other who has ran away from home is to do as much reading as possible. Educate yourself. Knowledge is power and you need as much of it as you can stuff into your head in order to cope with an unusual situation. And don’t let the naysayers try to deter you from educating yourself. (I had one of my ex-husband’s relatives try to discourage me from reading Vikki Stark’s Runaway Husbands book saying that I can’t believe everything that I read. Never mind the fact that this relative has never read the book and has this tendency to minimize the things that my ex has done to me over the last few years simply because the ex is a blood relative. There’s nothing wrong with being loyal to your family but I think family loyalty can have its downside if it leads to seeing your relatives through idealized rose-colored glasses instead of seeing that relative as he/she really is.) All I can say is read, read, and keep on reading. There is no such thing as too much knowledge when it comes to a situation like mine.

(Read more about how it took more than just books and websites when dealing with my runaway husband.)

Last night my lawyer gave me a copy of the notice saying that my divorce is final. I can’t say that I’m happy about this. I thought my husband and I were happily married and he took excellent loving care of me while I recuperating from undergoing a hip revision surgery to repair a hip replacement that got knocked out of alignment when I fell down twice in a one week period in early 2011. He seemed very lovng and concerned about me and he didn’t once mention that he was in the slightest bit unhappy.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t in the best frame of mind throughout much of 2011 but that was because I was in pain from having my hip replacement knocked out of place and the frustration I felt over the fact that I needed to undergo another operation in order to fix everything. I felt this frustration because I originally underwent a hip replacement in November, 2008, I had to undergo a second surgery just a month later because I had a reaction to the blood thinner Arixstra which resulted in the formation of a blood blister that only that second operation could make it go away. I spent most of 2009 recuperating from the surgery. So I had one year of enjoying life with my new hip joint before I knocked it out of alignment.

Through it all I thought my husband was the most loving and patient person and he took excellent care of me during my health crisis. I underwent surgery in September 2011, my husband showered me with lovely presents for both my birthday (December 15) and Christmas, fixed me a really great Christmas dinner, told me that he loved me all the way up to the night of December 27, then abruptly announced that he was moving out on December 28 before handing me two notes (one a timetable for a divorce schedule that he came up with and the other a letter that essentially blamed me as the reason why he felt he had to move out). He has refused to speak with me since then, other than to send e-mails or texts demanding that I do something to conform to his divorce timetable. If I demanded that he speak to me with respect like we were husband and wife, he would threaten with suing me. I offered for the two of us to undergo marriage counseling but he refused saying that he didn’t ever see us reconciling.

There was a reason why he said that. A month later after he ran away from home (which is what he essentially did) a few of my friends told me that they had seen him constantly out and about in public with a female friend of ours who also has a history of severe mental health issues. I had a hard time believing it at first because I thought she was one of my friends and she has all those personal problems that have affected much of her adult life but then I saw them together in public soon afterwards. I knew why he really left me (other than what he wrote in that "Dear John" letter).

I haven’t seen him in person since the day of our divorce trial on April 10 and I have blocked his number on my cell phone so I can’t get phone calls or texts from him. I have even marked his e-mail address as "Spam" so they would go straight to the trash. I just don’t want to see or hear from him at all. I’ve basically written him off as dead in my mind.

I feel sad that I had to do this but I would rather do this because hearing from him really upsets me since his current behavior is a stark contast to the man I once loved enough to marry. He acts like I am some subordinate of his who has to be ordered around and his messages have such a cold impersonal tone that the e-mails I get from various politicians and political groups are warm and friendly in comparison. He seems to have total contempt for me like I’m some used tissue who needs to be thrown away. There are times when I think that he really hates me because he acts that way towards me. He has adopted this personality that is so cold that I would never have even gone on a single date with him, let alone marry him. I thought he loved me but now I’m not so sure whether he ever really loved me for the person that I am or if he simply loved me as an object in the way that a child loves and cherishes a toy for a certain period of time until he/she tires of it and it sits at the bottom of the toybox until it eventually gets donated to Goodwill.

Now that the divorce is final, my ex-husband is free to marry that other woman if he wants to. If that woman wants to marry the ex-husband of a friend he ran away from in order to be with her, that’s her business. She’s the one who’s going to have to deal with being paranoid (which will only exacerbate her already exisitng problems) about the possibility that he’ll do to her what he did to me—especially if he becomes friends with another woman who has severe problems and he begins to help that person. I’m not going to feel sorry for her if that happens because she knew how he left me and, instead of running away in the opposite direction, she continued to be with him. (She was among the friends I had approached in the early days after he left—before I found out that she was the other woman—and I told her the whole details about how he left. She said "What an asshole!")

The only silver lining in all this is that many of my friends have confessed to me that they are mystified why he left me for her, especially since many of them had seen us in public together where we seemed happy very shortly before he abruptly walked out.

So now I have to rebuild my life and it’s a daunting task. The good news is that I’m getting the townhouse we shared so I won’t have any more upheavals in my life for the time being. I recently started to re-read Vikki Stark’s Runaway Husbands book a second time and I was amazed at how the trajectory from the time my husband left to the divorce mirrored those in the book. Even the description of the other woman in many of those relationships described in the book is similar to the other woman in my situation. When I read it the first time I had hoped that my situation would be the exception and my husband would return home and we would undergo marriage counseling. Reading it the second time led to comfort on my part because there are coping tips that I skimmed over the first time I read the book.

I’m currently reading another book that Stark quoted in her book in the section that discussed theories on why married adults would run away from home with no notice. It’s written by Martha Stout and it’s called The Sociopath Next Door. It’s a fascinating look at sociopaths in general and how, contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of sociopaths don’t end up becoming serial killers like Ted Bundy. I’m not going to say that my ex-husband is a sociopath because only a psychiatrist can make that diagnosis and I don’t have that kind of training. Even if he is a sociopath, it’s way too late for me to do anything about it (and Stout wrote in her book that the only thing you can do about sociopaths is to avoid them as much as possible). I’m only reading this book in the hopes that it will help me avoid any potential future romantic mates who shows any of the sociopathic qualities that Stout identifies in her book.

This whole divorce process has me feeling like I was suddenly hit by a Mack truck. That’s the only way I can describe abruptly going from a very loving relationship where were basically best friends one day to becoming bitter enemies the next day where the husband detests the woman he had only recently told her "I love you" the night before he left. It’s going to take me a while to get used to the idea that my divorce is final. In the meantime I have this lovely song that I would like to dedicate to my ex-husband and his girlfriend.

Yesterday my husband finally succeeded in his efforts to divorce me. He is now my ex-husband. In many ways I’ve been side-swiped by this. He never indicated he was unhappy at all and he acted as if he was happy until the night he left. Soon afterwards I started therapy on my own and began to attend weekly support group meetings for those who are separated or divorced. After talking with the people in my support group as well as other friends who have been separated/divorced, I thought that it would be one of those things where my husband and I would just live apart for years. I decided early on that I wasn’t going to file for divorce on the one-year anniversary of the separation (which is the earliest date one can file in the state of Maryland). I felt that since my husband left, he should be the one to initiate the divorce. I would file for divorce only if, a few years down the road, I entered a new steady relationship that could lead to marriage. I assumed that my husband would be the same way about remaining separated for a few years and either file for divorce further down the road or never getting around to filing the paperwork. Even though he left me for another woman, I assumed that he wouldn’t want to immediately marry her and he would just continue to date her for another few years before deciding whether to divorce me and marry her or not.

I’ve known plenty of people in that situation who have remained legally married but haven’t lived with their spouses in months or even years. They haven’t been in a rush to go through the process of getting a divorce. Some have moved on to new relationships while others are just content with remaining single.

Well imagine my surprise when he went through with filing for divorce as soon as he legally could. It’s like he just wanted to be rid of me once and for all. That action has conveyed this sad message to me: That he really detests me like I’m a cancer ravaging his body. The fact that he has refused to communicate with me like the husband and wife we once were has only reinforced that in my mind along with the incident back in December where he e-mailed a copy of the divorce petition in a .pdf format in a message that was dated December 24. (Yes, he sent it on Christmas Eve.)

There are times when I question if he ever really loved me at all or if I was just nothing more than some toy to be discarded once a newer, shinier toy came his way.

The court trial itself lasted no longer than 15-20 minutes. Like everthing that has happened since December 28 2011, the court case itself was surreal. In the divorce summons I received, my husband’s lawyer indicated that there would be a witness present to testify. My lawyer told me that this is a bit unusual to have a witness. The witness wasn’t named in the original summons so I wondered if it would be the other woman. It turned out that it wasn’t the other woman. It was another woman who is among my husband’s and mine’s circle of friends and she testified that she had visited my husband’s home and there were no evidence that I had tried to move in with him.

The big irony is that my husband’s witness is also a neighbor of my lawyer. It’s a small world after all.

As for the revelation my husband’s current residence, that was also surreal. When he first left home, he said that he had rented a room. I didn’t even know where he lived until, by chance, I was at the local coffeehouse where my husband and I were regulars where I commiserated among my friends about my situation and a guy who sat near me overheard my conversation and asked me for my husband’s name. It turned out that the man was my husband’s new neighbor and when I told him about how he ran away from home, the guy was so horrified that he gave me my husband’s new address. It turned out that my husband had moved in the apartment complex in the same neighborhood as where we had lived together.

I assumed that he was still living in his apartment until I got the divorce petition and I saw a new address for a townhouse that’s on the same street in the same neighborhood as the townhouse I had formerly shared with him and I now live in on my own. My husband finally admitted in court that he moved into that townhouse back in July. Of course he never informed me of this. I’m only glad I hadn’t gone through a major emergency where I had to urgently get in touch with my husband because I only had the address of his former apartment.

The judge granted what’s known as a Provisionary Divorce and I’ll eventually get a formal certificate via mail indicating that the divorce is final. I can’t say that I’m happy about this. I didn’t want this to happen but, given the way that he has behaved towards me over the past year, I felt like I had no other choice but to go along with his desire to divorce me.

The trial began at 9 a.m. and I left the courthouse by 9:30 a.m. so I had still a whole day ahead of me. I tried sitting at home but all I could think about is the fact that my marriage is really over and I had no control over how it ended. I ended up going to Baltimore where I visited the new Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium at Harborplace followed by taking the Charm City Circulator bus to Fells Point where I ate dinner, briefly visited the famous Sound Garden store, then checked out an action where members of Occupy Baltimore and Luminous Intervention used the side of a Bank of America building to do a public debut of this new video game called Tax Evaders. I took some photos and I’ll upload them in a separate entry.

As I thinking back in my mind about anything that would indicate that our marriage had been on the rocks and I literally can’t remember much of anything. I’ve even looked at back entries to this blog using tags and categories like Arizona, Florida, Ocean City, New York City, Massachusetts, The Left Hip Chronicles, and I love my husband Mike for any clues as to whether there were actually tensions in our marriage and I haven’t found much of anything. I know that it’s largely because I have made an effort to keep most personal stuff out of this blog during our marriage but I haven’t found any entries that were along the lines of "if you read between the lines of this entry, you’ll find clues as to why the marriage fell apart".

This is the conclusion to an unexpected process that began on December 28, 2011 when he came home from work, announced that he was moving out, then ran out the door. I was recuperating from hip surgery at the time so I couldn’t even walk after him (let alone run after him). Just three days earlier, on Christmas Day, we celebrated a lovely holiday where we gave each other presents that we enjoyed, drove around the neighborhood at nightfall where we gawked at the most outlandishly overdecorated homes, followed by a lovely dinner that my husband prepared especially for me. We also kept on telling each other "I love you." My husband never even mentioned that he was unhappy. Many of our friends who saw us during the Christmas holiday season later told me that were totally shocked at the news of my husband’s abrupt walkout because they never even detected anything wrong between us.

We basically got along really well together. He was the one person whom I would bounce ideas off of on a variety of topics ranging from future art projects to household-related issues. I felt very comfortable and safe around him. I considered him to be my best friend. We managed to weather all kinds of crisis together (mainly health-related ones that happened either to us or to various family members) with our marriage being stronger than ever.

The only stresses that existed in our marriage in the last three months prior to his leaving were all health-related. I was recovering from hip surgery. Not long after I returned home from the hospital, my husband came down with bronchitis. While he was examined by the doctor, one of the test results showed that he also had high blood pressure. I remembered that he was despondent over that diagnosis but I wasn’t concerned. I grew up having a grandmother living with me who had high blood pressure and, as a result, my family never added extra salt to food with the exception of french fries and popcorn. My mother would routinely omit salt from any recipies that called for it. I figured that if we both watched our salt intake and exercised together more, my husband’s blood pressure could be managed. Despite my attempts to reassure him, he still took that diagnosis very hard.

Shortly after he left, I did a Google search under "my husband ran away from home" and I discovered this book by Vikki Stark called Runaway Husbands. She is a therapist whose husband left her just as abruptly as mine did. She used her own personal experience as a basis to conduct surveys with women whose marriages ended under similar circumstances and she found that there is a pattern in these situations. At one point, when I was still searching for my husband in the first month after he ran away from home, I called one of his relatives to see if she had heard anything from him. We ended up talking far longer than I originally anticipated and I casually mentioned that I was reading Stark’s book. This in-law told me that I shouldn’t believe everything I read and she acted as if that book was a total scam and I was a fool for reading it. (Of course she has never read it herself.) This dismissive advice came from the same in-law who has a side business where she sells herbal potions and remedies of dubious quality and effectiveness through this mail order firm that was started by two former Amway executives.

I’ve read and re-read Runaway Husbands many times over the past year and I find it amazingly ironic that my husband followed the same path that other husbands in the same situation did. The book even seemed to predict the eventual identity of the other woman by saying that she’s not who you think (meaning that she’s not necessarily more intelligent or from a higher social status) or what you think (meaning that she’s not the stereotypical trophy wife a la Marla Maples). When my husband first left, I didn’t suspect another woman because he was home most evenings prior to the night he left. For a while I felt that there either wasn’t another woman or she was one of his co-workers at NASA. (With a NASA co-worker, my husband and that co-worker could’ve gone to a nearby hotel during the workday under the guise of holding an "off-site meeting".) But I was shocked when I found out who the other woman really was.

One of our friends is a woman we knew from the two nights a week that she volunteers as the bartender for a bar that’s located in the back of a non-profit cooperatively-run coffeehouse. She had been battling mental health issues for many years and it had made an adverse impact on much of her adult life. Despite her problems, she had a dry sense of humor and, when she’s in a good mood, she could be pretty witty. Once, when she saw me struggling with my hip problems before my surgery in September, 2011, she advised me that once I have the surgery, I should milk my hip problems with my husband for as much sympathy and other benefits from him as much as possible for the next few years. She joked that I should continue this even after I’m fully healed from my upcoming surgery. Well I never got the chance to take her advice because I learned from other friends that she was the other woman whom my husband left me for. At first I had a hard time believing it because of her mental health problems and the fact that I counted her among my friends. But I then saw them together too many times over the past year for me to live in denial about it. (I’ve seen them hold hands in public a few times and I even saw her attempt to kiss him when I happened to see them at the Greenbelt Blues Festival last fall.)

What really sucks about this woman is that I thought she was a friend and I always treated her with respect. I even felt sorry for her at times because of her problems. There were times when I ordered a glass of Prosecco wine because it was the most expensive wine on the menu so my husband and I would leave her with a more generous tip than with the cheaper alcoholic beverages. (I’ll admit that I wasn’t 100% altruistic in ordering the Prosecco. It is the best wine on the menu there. LOL!) My husband and I encouraged her to attend Sunday services at our Unitarian Universalist church because she was once a member of another UU congregation when she lived elsewhere. (She attended our church for about one or two months in the spring of 2011 then she stopped attending.) I still remember the time in the spring of 2011 when my husband said that he and the female friend were going to the National Air and Space Museum Annex in Dulles, Virginia and he invited me to come along if I wanted to. I took him up on his invitation and the three of us went and had a great time. I managed to walk through the bulk of the large museum despite my hip problems that began after I fell twice in one week and my hip replacement was knocked out of alignment (which was why I had to undergo surgery in September, 2011).

My reward for being compassionate enough to be friends with a woman with mental health problems: She ended up with my husband without even giving a damn about the fact that she was hooking up with a married friend who was the husband of another one of her friends. She knew that we were a married couple so it’s not like one of those situations where a married man lies about his marital status in order to fuck a single woman. Ironically she was among the friends I had approached when I was searching for my husband in the weeks following his running away from home and I asked her if she had seen or heard from him. She said no. I told her in detail about how he ran away from home and she said "What an asshole!" She knows how my husband walked out on me but she’s still with him despite what I told her. I wouldn’t be surprised if, one day in the future, he does something sleazy and cowardly towards her just like he did with me. If that happens, I’m definitely not going to feel sorry for her because she was warned about how he left me.

My husband has avoided communicating with me yet he would send e-mails and text messages demanding that I do all these tasks in order to conform to this separation schedule that exists only in his head. The tone of those messages were more like between an employer and employee than between husband and wife. I told him repeatedly that I wanted him to treat me with respect. I also warned him that if he succeeded in shoving this divorce down my throat, I would not go along with this twisted fantasy he indicated in one of his e-mails where we would still remain close friends despite this divorce and we would be both ex-spouses and ex-friends. He ignored my demands and warnings. He even threatened me with a lawsuit if I didn’t do as he said. I grew increasingly angry because I felt like I had no say in my own separation and divorce.

When he first left I sent e-mails and text messages telling him that I was open to the idea of the two of us undergoing marriage counseling. He refused my offer saying that he didn’t see us ever reconciling. When my husband first left me, I had hoped that it would be a short-lived separation and we would ultimately reconcile. As the months went by, that hope began to subside more and more. I really began to loathe my husband when, on December 26, 2012 (after taking two days off from checking e-mail), I found an e-mail where he sent divorce papers in a .pdf format in a message dated December 24. Yes, he sent it on Christmas Eve. Not only did it cast a dark cloud over the rest of the holiday season for me but he basically said in his e-mail message something along the lines of "I’m sorry for sending it to you on Christmas Eve but it had to be done in order to get the process started." That incident alone has reinforced my feeling that my husband has never had high regard for me as a person in the first place and he wanted an elaborate way of making his feelings known on how much contempt he really has for me.

In that same message he pressured me to sign the papers and send them to his lawyer’s office ASAP. I consulted a lawyer on my own and found that it wasn’t a real petition because of a lack of a court case number. After that I felt extremely disgusted towards my own husband and I knew that it would be a cold day in hell (or a doctor’s diagnosis of him with having a major illness of some kind that has impaired his judgement) before I could ever even entertain the idea of being friends with him again.

When he didn’t get his way by having me sign the papers and sending them to his lawyers in order to avoid a court case, he had his lawyers file with the court and I got it delivered to me in person one evening by an off-duty cop. This time there was a case number and it showed up on a website for upcoming court cases that my lawyer recommended.

The hardest part about this whole process is that I have permanently lost someone whom I once loved very much and I honestly thought that we were going to remain together through thick and thin until "death do us part." I met him during my undergraduate days at the University of Maryland. (He was a part-time grad student who made an ill-fated attempt to get a Master’s degree. He would later get his Master’s degree from a different school.) I married him 10 months after I got my Bachelor’s degree. He took up a large part of my adult life. Over the years we weathered a lot together (both good and bad) and I felt like I was one of the fortunate people who was married to a man who was not only just my husband but he was my best friend. I always felt comfortable in bouncing ideas off of him no matter how outlandish they were. He even influenced my art at times. Here’s a painting I once did as a birthday present for him, where I drew upon his interest in space travel and his employment at NASA.

Hail Columbia

I created a collage piece for his bithday based on both of his ideas. About a month or so before his birthday I mentioned that baseball cards would make a great collage project. My husband answered that it would only be effective if some of the cards were burned. Those burned cards would be the ones for the baseball players implicated in the steroids controversy of recent years. I created this baseball cards collage for my husband’s birthday as the result of both of our ideas.

Baseball Cards Collage

My husband was also the model for various art projects I’ve done over the years.

Man Lying in Bed, Watching Television (B&W)
Man Lying in Bed, Watching Television (Color)
Michael Reclining on Couch
Michael in Red and Green
Michael in Dots

The only saving grace of this process was that my husband and I never had children. The most gut-wrenching chapter in Vikki Stark’s Runaway Husbands book was the one about the children of those husbands and they were affected in even worse ways than the children of more conventional divorces because they not only see their fathers abruptly leave home for good but they also see their mothers being deeply traumatized. Imagine growing up in a household where your parents basically got along really well and acted loving towards each other only to see your father suddenly leave home and into the arms of another woman. It really shakes up a child’s perception of reality and security. In the case of young children, many of the fathers had cut off contact with them. In the case of teens and adults, it is the children who choose not to have any relationship with their fathers. Many of the children ended up with a more negative view of marriage in general. It’s a really sad situation.

I had one person tell me a few days ago that she doesn’t understand why my husband has left me for her. I can understand that sentiment. I’m sad and bewildered by all this. I know I’ve made my share of mistakes throughout this marriage but I never cheated on him or abused him. As far as I can tell, the other woman has only two things that I don’t have: 1) having as big a fascination with airplanes as my husband does and 2) having bigger mental health issues than I do. As for the interest in airplanes, I’ll admit that to me an airplane is an airplane is an airplane while my husband can tell you the difference between a 727 and a 747. But my husband and I had enough other things in common (like the fact that we like the same types of TV shows, music, and movies) that I thought that it was no big deal that we didn’t share the same interest in airplanes. I was tolerant of the fact that my husband doesn’t share my interest in dolls so I thought my husband would share the same toleration of me not sharing his interest in airplanes.

As for the other thing that the other woman has that I don’t have, on the surface it seems like my husband prefers people who struggle with major mental health issues that have adversely affected their lives and I can’t do anything about that. I can’t simply just go and do something to make myself so mentally ill that he’ll want to return to me. (To be honest, being mentally ill is one experience I prefer NOT to have.) That one is so baffling to me because in that "Dear John" letter he left behind for me the night he ran away from home in 2011 he made it clear that I had major issues that compelled him to leave home. But whatever issues I have is nothing compared to the issues that the other woman has.

I’ve had so many people tell me that the real problem that suddenly imploded our marriage may lie more with him than with me that I’m starting to believe them. I can’t do anything to help someone that doesn’t want help. But it’s really hard to be on the front lines of seeing a loved one behaving in a way that’s totally uncharacteristic of him. I had no other option but to give him the divorce that he wants so badly and let him deal with the consequences of his actions while I move on with my new life as a single woman. Tonight is my weekly meeting for those who are separated or divorced so I’ll have plenty of things to talk about. I’ll just end this entry with this song by Cee Lo Green that I would like to dedicate to my ex-husband and the other woman that he’s currently with.

The biggest irony about today being the one-month anniversary of my husband suddenly leaving me and our home without any advance warning is that tickets for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s April 1 concert at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC go on sale this morning at 10 a.m. If my husband hadn’t walked out of our home, he definitely would’ve been at the computer trying to score a few tickets. (I like Bruce Springsteen’s music but my husband is an even bigger fan. Thanks to him, I have seen Springsteen perform live in concert numerous times over the past several years.) Bruce Springsteen generally puts on a very rousing concert performance although the death of his saxophonist/frequent second banana in concert Clarence "The Big Man" Clemons last year could potentially affect the quality of these future shows. If my husband hadn’t left, I probably would be going to the show with him to see how well Springsteen and the band can weather a concert without Clemons’ presence. But, due to an uncertain future, springing for Springsteen tickets is a luxury I have to do without. Since my husband and I aren’t speaking to each other very much these days, I have no idea if he will get tickets on his own and go to the show alone (or with a friend) or not. But I’m not bitter because I’m facing a far worse crisis than not being able to go to a certain live concert.

Ever since the crisis caused by my husband’s sudden walkout on December 28 first started, I have been constantly feeling this intense sadness over the sudden turn our relationship took. I know that all marriages eventually end but I had expected that we would be together until, as we recited in our original wedding vow, "death do us part." My own parents were married for 41 years until my father’s death in 2000. Had he not died, I’m sure that my parents would not only be still married but they would’ve celebrated their golden 50th wedding anniversary by now. I really wanted something similar for my husband and I. My husband said he wanted a long marriage for us, especially since his parents were divorced after 27 years of marriage. He said that he wanted our marriage to last longer than his parents’. I couldn’t believe that someone whom I had known and loved for many years would do something like this.

Let me tell you how devastating my husband’s walkout has been to me. My husband was my college sweetheart. We met through a campus organization at the University of Maryland, College Park. I was an undergraduate Journalism major and my husband was a part-time graduate Computer Science student and full-time worker at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. My husband ended up dropping out of the graduate program because he had a hard time juggling his studies and his job while I ultimately got my Bachelor of Science degree. My husband used to say over and over again that the only good thing about this ill-fated attempt at grad school was meeting me. (He would later get a Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab.) We were married 10 months after I finished my studies.

We have always felt comfortable around each other and I considered him my best friend. We had a lot in common and we were so much on the same wavelength that there were times when we said the same sentence in unison or we completed each other’s sentences. Was it perfect? No. But, then again, no marriage is ever perfect. From time to time we would have disputes but we managed to talk things out and reach compromises. It may not have been perfect but it was good enough for me. I knew that there were other marriages that were far worse than our own (such as one couple we knew of who have a history of violent spousal abuse that resulted in jail time for the husband) so I was very fortunate that I found a husband who was kind, sweet, loving, patient, laid-back, easy-going, and very attentive to me.

The last few months prior to his leaving were a bit rough. I was recuperating from major surgery on my left hip back in September while my husband came down with bronchitis that would not go away. Things were a bit strained but I thought it would be a temporary bump in the road that would improve once our health improved. After all, we’ve gone through similar trying challenges in the past and our marriage remained intact and stable.

By the time Christmas rolled around, we were far behind in terms of decorating. My husband didn’t want me to climb that rickety ladder to the attic because he was concerned about my left hip. Yet he was feeling too sick to go up and get the Christmas decorations. At one point I thought about proposing that we take down only one holiday decoration and forgo doing the tree altogether. Before I had a chance to tell my husband, he suddely said that he would take the decorations down from the attic and I would do the decorations. So I spent Christmas Eve decorating the house in a festive manner and my husband seemed very pleased with my effort. Then we went off to a Christmas Eve service at church and I fixed the usual corn chowder dinner that we serve every Christmas Eve. The next day we exchanged presents and we both loved what we got each other.

There was no evidence of tension between us. My husband was being his usual laid-back easygoing self. I thought that the stress was starting to ease down. I looked forward to the New Year where we would work on decluttering our cluttered house and I would take a more active role in doing just that since I was recovering quite nicely from the hip surgery.

On Wednesday, December 28, 2011 I received the biggest shock of my life. It happened just three days after Christmas. My husband came home from work and suddenly blurted out that he was moving out and he had found himself a rented room then ran out the door before I had a chance to say anything. It was incredibly abrupt. At first I didn’t believe it. But after he failed to come home that night, I knew I would be facing the worst crisis of my adult life.

If all that wasn’t enough, I had another physical therapy session scheduled for the following day. Before my husband left, my biggest complaint was having to go to physical therapy during the week after Christmas. After he left the night before, I had to really make an effort to keep my husband’s abrupt walkout out of my mind as I went through my exercises. I’m amazed that I went through it with my game face on and without having any kind of meltdowns. I haven’t told any of the physical therapists about the drama at home and I still haven’t told them. I just go in for each physical therapy session and just go through the motions without mentioning my personal problems.

I’ve held off from blogging too much about our recent separation because I had hoped that my husband would have a change of heart, return home, and work with me to resolve whatever disagreements there are in the marriage. I fantasized that it would be a short-lived drama lasting no more than one or two weeks. Sadly it looks like I’ll be living through this nightmare for months to come.

I’ve attempted to document what’s been happening and my feelings about the situation only to strike out whole paragraphs because they were either too personal or were too rambling. Instead I’m going to try a different tactic.

Thanks to my nearly nonstop Google searhes in the days following my husband’s walkout, I came across a website known as Thanks to that site, I decided to order the companion book through

Vikki Stark is a family therapist who was in the midst of doing publicity for a previous book on sister relationships when her own husband suddenly announced that he was leaving her even though there was no evidence of marital tension. As a result, she decided to do research on other women who had the same experiences that she did and it became both a website and a book.

In the book Vikki Stark outlines the "Hallmarks of Wife Abandonment Syndrome." I’ll list them below (in bold type) along with my own experiences with each item. I hope that this will also inform those of you who are probably wondering why didn’t I see this break-up coming ahead of time.

1. Prior to the separation, the husband had seemed to be an attentive, emotionally engaged spouse, looked upon by his wife as honest and trustworthy. That’s definitely true in my case. He was a very likeable affectionate person with a wicked sense of humor. I could literally confide anything to him and I felt comfortable sharing my thoughts and secrets with him. He was a great companion and I even felt comfortable when we were in the same room together reading different books or different sections of the newspaper. He was excellent in taking care of me following my surgery and I thought of him as the best caretaker I’ve ever had. (I even joked that should he ever retire from NASA, he could go back to school and train for a second post-retirement career as a physical therapist.) I never ever envisioned my husband doing what he did on December 28.

2. The husband never said that he was unhappy or thinking of leaving the marriage, and the wife believed herself to be in a secure relationship. That’s definitely what my marriage was like before he left abruptly. I honestly thought I was in a stable marriage with no problems other than the health-related stresses that were temporary. Had my husband spent one evening turning off the television set, sitting down at the dining room table with me, and said "We really need to talk because I don’t like how this marriage is going…", I definitely would’ve listened and suggested ways that we could improve the marriage (including seeking professional help). In contrast, one of my friends, who was the one who instigated her divorce, told me that she gave her husband six months’ notice that she was going to leave unless things changed and she acted on that threat when things didn’t improve.

3. The husband typically blurts out the news that the marriage is over out-of-the-blue in the middle of a mudane domestic conversation. In my case it was similar. My husband came home from work and walked through the front door. I said "Hello" like I usually did when he arrived and that was when he dropped the bombshell that he was moving out, handed a few papers to me (including a "Dear John" letter, another letter outlining what the separation will be like in the near future, documentation about the health insurance company we’ve recently switched to, and the first alimony check), then immediately ran out the door, ran to his car, and drove away before I had a chance to respond.

4. Reasons given for his decision are nonsensical, exaggerated, trivial or fraudulent. The "Dear John" letter he wrote to me gave two reasons that compelled him to leave me, neither of which made sense to me. One incident he outlined was a major mistake I made when I was totally stressed out (which was brought on in large part from my recent health problems) and I quickly apologized to my husband. (No, it was NOT infidelity.) I regretted doing what I did that day and I still regret it. After I apologized to my husband, I assumed that he had forgiven me since he didn’t seem to dwell on it and he doted on me like he always did until the day he left. The second incident was based on a shopping spree I underwent just days before my surgery and I only did it to take my mind off my health problems and my upcoming surgery. I purchased two small items that didn’t take up much room at home and were both easy to store. I also ate lunch out. Total expenditure from that shopping spree and lunch: $125. We weren’t on welfare or anything like that and I rarely go on major shopping sprees like that. (My husband works as a Software Engineer at NASA and it’s a better paying job than Wal-Mart.) Right now I’m not going to elaborate further on the reasons he gave. If several months roll by and I’m still in this weird limbo with little or no progress towards a resolution, then I may change my mind about this.

5. By the time the husband reveals his intentions to his wife, the end of the marriage is already a fait accompli, and he often moves out quickly. After my husband bolted out the door that night I didn’t see him in person again until two days later. He arrived on December 30 accompanied by two movers who took his desk, chair, one bureau, and one bookshelf. He refused to talk to me and he ran out of the house once the movers took the items he wanted. Among the items he left behind—our own wedding album.

6. The husband’s behavior changes radically, so much so that it seems to his wife that he has become a cruel and vindictive stranger. When he arrived with the movers he seemed like a totally different person. He was this very aloof haughty cold person, which shocked the hell out of me. Had he exhibited this side of his personality on our first date, I would have never gone on any further dates with him—much less marry. He was the same way the two other times I’ve seen him in person (both times were at church). Communication from him via e-mail and text message has been very sporadic. I’ve tried calling both his work and cell phone and I always get his voice mail on both phones. He has also avoided going to the local coffeehouse where we usually hang out and has rarely gone to church and he has not contacted our mutual friends. It’s almost like he has gone to great lengths to avoid me. In his case his total silence and avoidance is totally deafening, cruel, and vindictive.

7. The husband shows no remorse; rather he blames his wife and may describe himself as the victim. That’s definitely true on both counts. In one of the few e-mails he sent since our separation, he admitted that "you do have me dead to rights on cowardice" and he also admitted that he knows that I was hurt. Yet not only did he not apologize or showed remorse for what he did but, in the next sentence, he said that he didn’t see us ever reconciling. That "Dear John" letter he left for me basically blamed me for the marital break-up and it had a tone of voice that implied that I drove him away from home (when that was clearly not the case—I have never attempted to have him removed from our home and I have asked him several times to move back and try to work things out between us).

8. In almost all cases, the husband had been having an affair. He typically moves in with his girlfriend. I’ve looked through the credit card bill and I’ve looked through his Facebook page and, so far, I haven’t seen any evidence of an extramarital affair. Either he’s not involved with anyone else or he does have a girlfriend on the side and he’s hiding it very well. When he moved out, he told me that he rented a room but, as of this writing, he has refused to tell me where he is living. I’ve asked among our friends if they had heard from him. He hasn’t contacted many of our friends and of the few friends he has contacted, he apparently haven’t told any of them where he is staying. (By the way, many of our friends are just as shocked about what my husband did as I am.)

9. The husband makes no attempt to help his wife, either financially or emotionally, as if all positive regard for her has been suddenly extinguished. On the financial level, I have to admit that he’s been pretty good about it so far. He has left two alimony checks with me so I have been able to pay for food and upkeep on the house. He has also paid the cable, credit card, and utility bills. On the emotional level, I have to agree with that statement. I have sent e-mails and text messages telling him how much I miss him/love him/need him emotionally and he has ignored all of them. It’s almost like what Clark Gable said to Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind: "My dear I don’t give a damn!" There are times when I think that I could be dead tomorrow and he would probably be thrilled that he’s legally single again.

10. Systematically devaluing his wife and the marriage, the husband denies what he had previously described as positive aspects of the couple’s joint history. He hasn’t done that yet. However, I’ve been searching for old cards and letters to file away in case he does something like this. (So far I found one old Valentine’s Day card he gave me a few years ago that I’m keeping as evidence.)

When my husband first left I tried contacting him via his cell phone, work phone, e-mail, text message, and Facebook. He generally ignored my messages begging him to return home and work things out. At first he only responded whenever I sent him a message about my latest physical therapy session. He wanted to know how it went and I would tell him. Lately he has even ignored my physical therapy updates. It’s almost like he doesn’t give a damn anymore.

Thanks to his walkout, I’m now attending weekly meetings of a support group that one of the ministers I spoke to for counseling highly recommended. It’s called Changing Focus and I attend the sessions for people who have recently separated or divorced. The people there are very helpful and nice. That group has helped me to gain insight regarding my recent separation. I can’t elaborate further on these meetings because of the group’s strict non-disclosure rule. (Basically what’s said in the group stays in the group.) There’s a part of me that’s resentful that I even feel the need to attend these meetings because of what my husband did. But I’m glad this group exists since I need all the help and advice regarding this crisis that I can get.

What’s really strange about my husband’s abrupt exit is that—aside from taking his desk, chair, one bookshelf, and bureau—he has left a lot of stuff behind. His books and some of his formal suits are still at the home he left behind. I still have all the dishes, silverware, pots, pans, linens, and the majority of the furniture. I have the George Foreman Grill that my husband loves to use whenever he cooks dinner. I also have all of our combined CD and DVD collection as well. A few nights ago I found a half-eaten jar of peanut butter in one of the kitchen cabinets. It obviously belongs to my husband because I’m allergic to peanut butter.

The most annoying and sad part of this drama is that my husband has refused to tell me or anyone else where he is currently living. Other than his statement that he’s rented a room that he made the night he left, I have no idea if he’s living in the same town as me or in a different town. Personally I think he’s afraid that I’ll go to his new place and go Lorena Bobbitt on him where I’ll bring a sharp knife with me and cut his penis off. (DISCLAIMER: I’m not 100% sure that he’s really afraid that I’ll be like Lorena Bobbitt with an obsession of chopping off his penis off but it makes a great theory so I’m sticking with it for the time being. Heck, any grown man who runs away from home with no warning deserves to have a reputation for irrational paranoid thinking like that.)

In the month since he left there are times when I have a hard time focusing on anything and I feel totally distracted by the recent raw memory of what he did. I’ve boxed up some of his books but my solo effort to declutter the house has been in fits and starts mainly because I would be emotionally overwhelmed by the events and I would quit. It has affected my searching for potential arts and crafts shows where I could sell my inventory. It has affected my ambition and desire to try to earn an income from my art. It has affected my desire to do something creative. I have even closed my Etsy shop over this. On top of that, my mother was recently hospitalized then was transferred to rehab, which adds more to the turmoil that I’m currently going through. I’m stuck in limbo and there’s literally no escape route from it. The only reason why I haven’t seriously considered suicide is the incredibly amount of outpouring of support from my friends and family. All of them have expressed shock over what my husband has done and I’ve received invitations of dinners out with them and other activities. I am incredibly glad that I have so many people around me at a time like this. But I’m still sad that my long relationship with my husband has taken this unexpected turn for the worse.

If my husband happens to be reading this, I have a message for him. Please call me, e-mail me, or text me. We need to meet in person to work out a lot of issues that has sprung from your abrupt exit from our home. I’m willing to meet at the home you abandoned or in your new place. If you don’t want to meet at either place, I’m willing to meet at church or in a restaurant or somewhere public like that. I promise I won’t act like Lorena Bobbitt and, to ensure that, I will leave all knives at home. Ignoring my numerous messages and avoiding me and our friends is NO way to work through this. The longer you let this crisis drag on, the more it will have an adverse affect on you and our relationship, and the more likely our family and friends will start regarding you in a whole new light and it will be totally unflattering. (They are already struggling with the fact that you suddenly bolted from our home and have since made yourself unavailable and hidden.) You need to stop acting like a scared runaway teenager, man up, return home, and confront our problems head-on like a real man. I am even open to professional joint marriage counseling. Only you can end this crisis by contacting me and trying to work things out with me.

In the meantime, here’s an old Del Shannon song that’s dedicated to you. The lyrics very accurately expresses my feelings since you abruptly ran away from home.

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