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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 Amazon.com 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.
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.
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.
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 RunawayHusbands.com. Thanks to that site, I decided to order the companion book through Amazon.com.
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.