So Tell Me About That Grass

You know the saying “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side”? Well, Husband got a rude awakening about three months into his extra-marital activities and realized just how true this statement was.

Apparently, SHE was starting to get a little clingy and began expecting a lot more from Husband. It’s all fun and games until your mistress starts to expect more out of you, right?

Early on in our separation, I used to always ask Husband if we could just talk. I just wanted to talk it out all the time. Dissect our problems, get everything out there and maybe, just maybe, we could figure out a way to be together and get back to the business of being a happy married couple again. Unfortunately, Husband was not down for discussing anything with me. He’d tell me that he wasn’t ready and that it just wasn’t time. I eventually stopped pushing.

It’s probably not a coincidence that around the same time that I 1) stopped pushing to talk about our problems and 2) started communicating with Brad again that Husband realized that maybe what he had at home with me wasn’t so bad after all. Mind you, he still hadn’t admitted to me that he was actually having an affair. He always stuck to his story that SHE was just a good friend. The only thing he did admit, surprisingly enough, was the fact that SHE was starting expect more out of him and that SHE seemed to be falling in love with him which for him just wasn’t cool. I found myself sympathizing with him.

Imagine that. Husband complaining to me about his mistress and me giving him advice on how to handle her. What kind of backwards world…?

Eventually, he started coming home more. This change occurred right around the Thanksgiving break. It didn’t happen all at once but I was happy with even just an extra hour of his time. On the weekends when it was my turn with the kids, he stayed at home longer. He even had dinner at home with us more often. Something that hadn’t happened in a long time. And though I would have much preferred to have him home for good, I was satisfied with anything he could give.

One Saturday afternoon a couple weeks before Christmas, he spent the afternoon at the house. I remember it clearly. We had just finished eating lunch and were hanging out in our bedroom while the kids were their bedroom doing their own thing. Husband brought up our plans for the holiday.

I have a large extended family that lives in both Northern California and Southern California. Our tradition is to take celebrating Christmas one year in NorCal, next year in SoCal, back to NorCal the following year, again in SoCal the next and so on and so on. On that particular year, it was our turn to travel south.

I had already prepared myself to make the trek to Los Angeles with just the kids and was pleasantly surprised by Husband’s willingness to go with us. “We should be together as a family for Christmas” is what he said to me. “We really should be together as a family PERIOD” is what I was thinking but I didn’t dare say it out loud.

Even though he said he would be with us on Christmas Day which technically meant that we would be physically together for at least 2 maybe 3 days because we weren’t going to road trip to LA and come back on the very next day. A small part of me thought back to our vacation from hell and wondered if it would be more of the same. But I told myself to give him the benefit of the doubt. Things seemed to be shifting my way. All I needed to do was trust him and avoid making him mad at all costs because I didn’t want him to change his mind.

You might be wondering if we had a magical Christmas that year. A wonderful gift after the hellish Fall season our marriage endured. Then we lived out the rest of our lives happily ever after.

Not quite.

Because Husband was too far into his affair with HER and it wasn’t going to be that easy for him to end things. It was going to take more than just realizing that I wasn’t such a shitty wife after all. He was in too deep and was soon going to find out the magnitude of the shit storm he created.

So unfortunately no. Things didn’t get better for us after that. In fact, things got much worse. Far worse than I ever imagined.

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The Truth Hurts

Hello everyone!

It’s been a really long minute since I’ve been in this space and I apologize to all of you who I left stranded in the middle of my story. Talk about cliff-hanger.

What can I say? No excuses. Life just happened and unfortunately I neglected my little corner of the internet here.

I’m back now though and ready to continue my tale.

So remember back in the beginning when I thought that I was 100% to blame for my marital problems? Before I found out about the third party in the picture? Well, my mother-in-law believed I was 100% to blame as well.

Oh, I remember fondly (insert sarcasm here) those times when she’d be at our house long after Husband had left for the evening and she’d lecture me about how if I had only made sure the house was clean all the time and made sure dinner was always ready and never talked back to Husband and never made Husband mad and all these very old-fashioned ideas of how an obedient wife should behave. Seriously, it was enough to leave me feeling like I wanted to gag myself with a spoon.

I kept my mouth shut and would just politely nod because in my culture, talking back to your elders is the same as committing a mortal sin. Respect your elders even when you believe they’re wrong. Golden rule.

Oh, but rules are meant to be broken, right?

One evening I cracked. It was after a long day in which we celebrated my youngest child’s 1st birthday. We just arrived home from the party we threw for her at a local party playhouse. You know the kind. Gigantic warehouse type building. A bunch of bounce houses in one space. Tons of kids hopping around just bursting with energy. You can probably imagine how tired we were when we got home.

Needless to say, it wasn’t the greatest time for me to find out that Husband had another phone. I was extra accusing. He was extra defensive. Not a pretty picture at all. And my mother-in-law was there to witness it all.

This confrontation between me and Husband didn’t end well. It took the usual course that every single one of our arguments during this time period took. No resolution. Husband storming out of the house. Me left behind in tears. The only thing different about this one was that Husband called me a bitch and told me he hated me. First time ever.

And my mother-in-law heard it all.

Now picture this: I’m sitting in the living room couch in an upright fetal position bawling my eyes out. One would think that maybe I’d get a little comfort from the mother of the father of my kids, right? Was that too much to ask?

Apparently so. Because what I got instead was a lecture. And my mother-in-law’s tune was the same. I shouldn’t talk back to Husband. I shouldn’t ever make Husband mad. I shouldn’t accuse Husband of things without proof.

Guys, I couldn’t take it anymore. As calmly and politely as I could, I told my mother-in-law about Husband’s affair. Tarnished that perfect image she had of him and let her in on his dirty little secret.

I did feel bad seeing the look of disappointment that washed over her face but I’m not gonna lie and say it wasn’t satisfying. I know it hurt her to realize that her son did wrong and wasn’t the victim of a shitty wife like she made him out to be. That he was also at fault for our marital woes. And surprisingly, she didn’t even try to defend him or tell me that I must be wrong.

The truth hurts. But now she knew. And she did a complete 180. From that point on, she was on my side. No longer was I the shitty wife who didn’t take care of Husband’s needs. She finally realized that I was the victim in all of this then turned her energy towards lecturing her son.

Husband was none too pleased about it. But that’s a different post for a different day.

A Blast From My Past

I mentioned previously that Facebook opened a door that I was thankful for. Despite the fact that this social media platform was the cause of many arguments, tears, and anxious feelings, it did open the lines of communication between me and someone from my past.

And that someone from my past was my college boyfriend. My significant other before Husband came into my life many years ago.

I’ll call him Brad.

Brad is the complete opposite of Husband. Where Brad is a pretty serious person, Husband loves to crack jokes all the time. Brad is super romantic while Husband is non-demonstrative. Back when we were dating, Brad’s idea of a perfect Saturday night would be to do something low-key like a dinner for two or a movie whereas Husband was typically out at a nightclub during the weekends. While Brad and I could spend an entire evening engrossed in an intellectual conversation, Husband is not really man of many words.

On paper Brad was the better guy and a perfect match for me. And boy, was he hot. When I first started going out with Brad, all of my girlfriends told me he was like a mixture of Johnny Depp and Richard Grieco in their 21 Jump Street days. Remember that show?

Unfortunately for Brad, looks alone wasn’t enough to keep me. I broke up with him at the end of my college career not because our relationship was bad but because I was afraid to take the next step with him. I knew that the next step would be marriage and the more I thought about marriage the more I thought that I didn’t want to marry a guy like Brad. In hindsight after all these years, I now realize that it wasn’t him that was the problem. It was really poor timing. While he was more ready to settle down with college behind both of us, I was itching to go out and party. My friends who lived back home in the SF Bay Area were going out all the time and enjoying life. I thought in order to live life, I had to break up with my boyfriend. So I did. Shortly after I met Husband. The rest is history.

Fast-forward back to that fall when Brad re-entered my life. We became Facebook friends earlier that year so I knew a little bit about his life; at least the things that he was willing to share online. I knew that he lived in Seattle, worked in a school district’s technology department, had two adorable young boys. What I didn’t know was that he was going through a divorce.

I’m guessing that the cryptic status updates I was posting on Facebook moved him to reach out to me one evening. He sent me a message via the app and I was pleasantly surprised. Who better to hear from when your husband is treating you like crap than the ex-boyfriend who treated you like a queen? I willingly replied to him and so began an approximately 3-month journey into the past for us. I say 3 months because when Husband got wind of our little reunion he immediately put the kibosh on it. Not really fair considering Husband’s behavior, wouldn’t you say? More on that later.

I didn’t feel guilty for responding to Brad. I actually looked forward to our late night phone conversations after all the kids had fallen asleep. It may seem weird but Brad was the perfect person to talk to about my marital issues. By that point his split with his wife was final so he was able to give me advice and show me that there is life after divorce, in case that was the path I was going to be taking. Some may feel wary about getting this kind of help from an ex but I knew that Brad was genuine and only had good intentions.

One great thing that came out of Brad and I re-connecting is that we were both able to get closure on some things in our past that we weren’t proud of. I apologized for being the biggest bitch to him when we were breaking up and he admitted that he was a jack-ass for questioning who the father was when I had a pregnancy scare. But was it a bad thing that I was finding solace in another man? A man who happened to be my ex who Husband actually hated with a passion? I didn’t think so and didn’t feel the least bit guilty about it.

Why then did I keep it from Husband and do my best to make sure he never found out? Was it because I was afraid that if he did it would mean the end of our marriage? Was it because I was hoping that our marriage could get back to normal?

Well, Husband eventually found out and as mentioned earlier, he put the kibosh on it.

Why am I sharing this? I’m sharing this because I need to illustrate how weak our separation made me and how much control I let Husband have. I allowed him to dictate what male friendships I could have while he continued his friendship with that awful female. It was the biggest double standard. I couldn’t be friends with my ex but he could march around town with that girl? There I was trying to show him in every way how committed I was to our marriage by adhering to his terms yet he’d scoff when I attempted to lay down my own rules. And the bad thing? I let him.

If I could do it all over again, I would have been stronger and put my foot down. Who knows where we would be right now. Who knows where I would be. Would I have ended up with the ex? Maybe. Maybe not. If I was stronger with Husband back then and still ended up where I am today, I bet I’d feel more whole. I bet I would feel like I had a say in how we are today instead of feeling broken in a 100 pieces inside with so much healing left to do.

The Kids Suffer

While living under the same roof worked for Husband and me during the weekdays because of our work schedules (I worked during the day and he worked during the night), we had to come up with a plan for the weekends. And the plan we came up with was simple. We would alternate weekends at home with the kids. Husband and I would be the ones shuffling in and out of the house. The kids wouldn’t have to be displaced.

On Husband’s assigned weekends with the kids, I didn’t actually have to leave the house until early Saturday morning when Husband got home from his Friday night out, I mean, working. I would then come back on Sunday evening and Husband would immediately take off. When it was my weekend with the kids, Husband would leave the house on Friday afternoons and not return until Monday morning when it was time for him to drop off the kids at school.

I remember one weekend when it was Husband’s turn with the kids at home and I was staying at my cousin’s house. I was already feeling super emotional about not getting to spend time with the kids. I hated being away from them even for a minute. I didn’t ask for it. Why couldn’t Husband just leave the house on all of weekends and let me stay with the kids instead?  He was the one who was trying to figure his deal out. Not me. Why did I have to suffer without my babies?

On this particular weekend, I had just arrived at my cousin’s house and was lying down in the guest bedroom when I received a text from my oldest daughter who was 9 at the time. She wanted to know where I was and why I couldn’t bring them with me. She told me that she wanted to be with me that weekend. She told me that she already missed me. I tried my best to be upbeat but her disappointment still came through loud and clear when I told her that I couldn’t pick her and her siblings up. I assured her that I’d be home as early as I possibly could the next afternoon.

The minute my daughter and I ended the conversation, I burst into tears.

I hated that my daughter was upset and didn’t understand why she couldn’t be with me. I hated that despite our attempts to spare the kids from any of the drama that Husband and I were going through, they were still impacted.

Where Husband and I were resolute about not publicly announcing our separation we were just as adamant about not telling the kids. We never wanted to use the word “separated” with them because we didn’t want to worry and put thoughts of possible divorce in their heads. We were ok to leave it at “Mom-and-Dad-are-not-getting-along-so-we-so-we-just-need-some-space-from-each-other”.

But we all know that kids are smarter than we think. I’m guessing that they were able to see right through us. I bet my older two children knew what we really meant even though we weren’t saying the actual words. And you know, I was still ok with leaving it that way.

Maybe one day when they’re older I’ll be able to tell all three of my kids the truth about what happened all those years ago. Maybe I’ll be able to tell them about their dad’s infidelity and how it shaped me, us, into the people we are today.

My first-born once told me that she would never stand for a guy cheating on her. And that if her future husband ever cheated on her, that would be it. She would never forgive him. For her, cheating was non-negotiable and unforgivable, something she would never ever forgive.

I shudder at the thought of what she might think of me and all that I allowed her dad to do to me.

Social Media Puts Our Dirty Laundry Out In The Open

Ah, social media. Or more like Facebook. It was a place of refuge during this tumultuous time in my life. But it was also my worse enemy. Like a backstabbing friend who you trusted with your innermost fears but then turned around and put all your business out in the open.

Husband and I decided not to tell many people about our separation. Only our closest friends knew. Ok, only my closest friends knew. Ok, only my closest friends knew at first but then word got around to his closest friends. But we didn’t openly share it with anyone. We didn’t even tell our parents nor our siblings. We barely even told our young children. What we told them was that mom and dad just weren’t getting along and needed space from each other so we wouldn’t be yelling all the time. That was all the kids needed to know, in our opinions.

The biggest reason we didn’t want to publicly announce our separation was because we were thinking that it might be temporary and that we may end up deciding to work on our marriage, there was no point in telling people — especially our parents — only to stress them out. We agreed that if we got to the point of divorce only then would we tell people.

If I’m being honest, I will have to admit that another reason I didn’t want people to know about our separation and especially not about HER, was because I was actually embarrassed for Husband. Embarrassed that she was someone Husband was spending a lot of time with. I mentioned in a previous post that this woman had quite the reputation of being crazy, a lost cause, someone you don’t take seriously. I was embarrassed about what Husband’s closest friends would think about him being associated with her.

Word eventually spread amongst Husband’s best friend group and they definitely were shocked, to say the least. Shocked that Husband found solace in someone like her. Curious about what it was about her that drew Husband in. But I will say though that  despite their surprise, Husband’s best friends had his back no matter what. They might not have agreed with his actions but they were going to respect any choices that he made and be there for him. As long as he wasn’t royally messing up, like being physically abusive to me or the kids, Husband’s best friends would support him in silence.

So with Husband and I keeping mum and our closest friends not saying a word, you would expect we would be able to fly under the radar with the current state of our marriage, right? Wrong.

Enter Facebook and it’s wicked ways.

If I was a smart person, I probably would have stayed away from Facebook altogether while Husband and I were separated. But I definitely was not smart about the choices that I made during that time. Going on Facebook was one of them.

I was on Facebook. Husband was on Facebook. SHE was on Facebook. Between the three of us, our mutual friend connection spanned the entire SF Bay Area and even covered parts of Southern California.

Husband barely posted anything on FB so he wasn’t the problem. I typically posted cryptic, woe-is-me status updates which left most of my FB connections raising their eyebrows in question, wondering if anything was going on with me and my marriage.

But then you add the kind of crap that SHE posted. It was stuff that made any normal person just mindlessly scrolling their feed stop dead in their tracks and go, “Wait, am I seeing what I think I’m seeing?” Over time people started putting two and two together and soon enough our gig was up.

I’d run into people I hadn’t seen in a while and after we exchanged pleasantries, they would lean over and whisper to me.

“Hey, I saw something on Facebook the other day.”

Then I’d have to take a few minutes to explain to them our situation and let them know that I know all about HER and assure them not to worry, Husband and I will be fine. Blah blah blah.

Once in a while, SHE would post a very revealing status update and without mentioning Husband’s name in so many words it wasn’t hard for anyone to figure out who she was talking about. It was the pictures that she would post that were most concerning to people close to me. Pictures of her with Husband, some where they look really cozy together, and her caption would be something along the lines of “Me and My Best Friend”.

Um, really? Your best friend is a married man? You’re going to be that bold to post something as incriminating as that and later wonder why people were talking crap about you?

To make matters worse, whenever I questioned Husband about her posts he would simply respond by saying he couldn’t control what she did and that I shouldn’t even be bothered by those things.

Thanks for nothing, Husband.

There would be many a questionable Facebook posts by her that I would have to “not be bothered with”. Many of her status updates that would result in my friends calling me to ask if I knew what she was doing. It got to a point where I just had to ask my friends to stop telling me what they saw. It was the only way I was going to stay sane. Plus I didn’t need that extra stress.

Despite the headaches that it gave me back then, Facebook did open one door for me and for that I’m truly thankful. More on that later.

Husband’s Predicament

I’m sure Husband never imagined that SHE and I would be in the same place at the same time. But it happened soon after I found out about her.

I was invited to a birthday party of a mutual friend. This mutual friend went to the same high school as Husband and HER. This mutual friend’s party was going to be at Husband’s restaurant.

Now back in those days I typically declined invitations to parties. Especially when they were on a Friday or Saturday. I just didn’t want to get dressed and go out when I could stay in with my kids and curl up with a glass of wine and a good book at the end of the week.

But when I got the invite to this particular party and got confirmation that SHE was going to be there, you best believe I made sure I was gonna go.

And as you would expect, Husband was none too pleased that I was going. The morning of the party, I told him that I would be there. He very nonchalantly acted like it didn’t matter to him either way whether I went or not. But he clearly wasn’t happy about me being there. I know this because I when I arrived at the party, he was no where to be found. I didn’t ask about where he was because I had every intention to have a good time without him. Of course I had intended on checking HER out as well but was I going to admit that to anyone but Daisy who went to the party with me? Hell no.

I later discovered that the minute I arrived at the party, Husband holed himself up in the restaurant’s small office. That’s how he decided to deal with his wife and his “friend” being at the same place at the same time. He would just hide so he wouldn’t have to be in the same room as his shitty wife and his awesome friend who helped him through his marital woes. To be safe, he stayed in the office until the minute I left. Such a douchebag move, wouldn’t you say? Then to add insult to injury, I found out that once I was gone and the coast was clear for him to join the party, he apparently had a good ol’ time. Judging from the pictures that our mutual friend posted, Husband was all smiles and seriously looked like the life of the party.

Even though I didn’t see Husband at all while I was there but I did see HER. About 30 minutes before I left, she arrived. I knew who she was from pictures I had seen. Dressed in a skin-tight top, a super short mini-skirt and 3-inch knee-high boots, she looked every much like the slut I made her out to be. I know she knew who I was. I would have even bet that Husband warned her about me being there. I still remember the look on her face. It was a mix between uncertainty and a little bit of cockiness like she owned the place and belonged there.

I wanted so bad to say something to her. To ask her WTF she was doing hanging out with a married man. To pull her by her lackluster, stick-straight hair and tell her to leave Husband alone.

But I didn’t.

Daisy warned me not to. It wouldn’t be the right thing to do, she said. No matter how much every fiber of my being wanted to, Daisy told me it wasn’t the time or place.

So I didn’t.

Instead I took a few more tequila shots, said goodbye to the guest of honor, then left with Daisy.

When Daisy got me home that night I was a hot mess. The effects of the alcohol weighing heavily on me, not to mention the thought that I just left Husband and HER at the same place, I stumbled into my bed wanting nothing more than to cry myself to sleep. Never mind washing my face or changing into my pajamas, I just wanted to check my self out of the conscious world. Luckily, I had Daisy there as well as Penny, who came over the minute Daisy called her for additional support. They watched over me as I babbled nonsense, complained about Husband’s behavior that night then eventually crashing into a deep sleep.

That night was one of the worst nights of my life. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have gone to the party. I probably should’ve left well enough alone. But I couldn’t. I wanted  HER to see me. I wanted her to know that I was on to her. I wanted her to know that I wasn’t some mousy wife who stayed at home pining for her husband. I wanted her to know that I wasn’t someone you could just mess with.

Did it make me feel better? Not really. The next morning I woke up with a pounding headache and very much hungover. I couldn’t sleep in or stay in bed all morning though. I had 3 kids to take care of and shuttle to their various activities. Unlike Husband, who wasn’t even home and was probably somewhere sleeping like a baby without a care in the world besides what was going to eat for breakfast.

It wasn’t that I was complaining about taking care of my children. I love being their mom and would never change it for the world. But I was pissed about Husband’s behavior. Acting like he was single again and had no responsibilities in this world besides himself.

Husband was practically living two lives. One life with a wife that he didn’t want to be with but at the same time didn’t want to completely let go of either. Spending just enough time with his children then getting the hell outta Dodge when his shitty wife came around. Then there was his other life as a single man, restaurant and club owner marching around town with another woman, someone he claimed was just his friend, as if that would make it ok.

The worse thing about it all is that I let him. I let him because I wanted to save my marriage. Even though I knew exactly what he was doing, I turned a cheek to all of it. I acted like he was just going through some existential crisis and that soon he would come to his senses. All I needed to do was wait.

The problem with waiting though is that I was slowly falling apart inside. Handing over the reigns of our marriage to Husband gave him more power and strength and in turn made me weaker.

Whatever You Say, Honey… I Believe You

Would it sound crazy if I told you that even after that fateful day that I found out about HER Husband still did not admit that any indiscretion happened between the two of them?

Because that’s exactly how things played out.

Husband insisted that nothing happened between them and continued to insist they were just friends.

And I believed everything he said. Never mind that my girlfriends told me he was lying through his teeth. I truly felt obligated to believe him if I wanted to save our marriage.

What a fool I turned out to be.

In the days and weeks after Husband’s ‘friendship’ with HER was revealed, he and I operated on a new normal. Our arrangements were still the same. I woke up early every morning to get myself and the kids ready for work/school. He came home in just enough time to take the kids to school. I would try to talk to him before I left the house but he would never be in the mood. I would go to work and the first thing I would do is check his cell phone records from the night before. When I didn’t find HER number listed, I’d breathe a sigh of relief thinking maybe Husband was heeding my request that he no longer hang out with her. Daisy put it plain and simply to me when I’d give her the update that I thought that Husband was behaving himself, well, based on his cell phone records.

“You know he has another cell phone, right?”

No way. Never. Husband would never do that to me. That would be next-level shady. Husband is not like that at all.

Or so I thought.

It was still early on in our ‘break’ during which he still held the upper hand. I was still the shitty wife who he need time away from. The other girl in his life was nothing more than a friend who was there for him. I had to accept it. I couldn’t ask any questions about her. She wasn’t the problem, I was told over and over again. I was the problem.

So the entire first month of our break that September, I remained on my best behavior. Doing my best to prove to him that I had changed and I was ready to be a better wife to him. Showing him I could take care of the kids while keeping the house in order. If he wanted sex everyday I’d give it to him no matter how tired I was. Anything to get him home so we can get on with the business of fixing our marriage. Every morning in the short time we were home together, I would ask him if we could talk. And every morning when I asked him if we could talk he would say no. There was nothing I can do about it.

I was, for all intents and purposes, a prisoner to Husband. And I allowed it. Looking back at it now, I know that things didn’t have to be that way. I could have easily took equal control over how our separation would be. Was it really a separation though when we were technically still under the same roof? Even though we only saw each for less than an hour a day, we still lived in the same house, slept on the same bed (albeit at different times of the day) and ate food from the same fridge. I still did his laundry! Believe me, I tried to get a place of my own that was big enough for me and the kids. But Husband rejected that idea. Said it was best not to disrupt the kids in anyway. How could I not see that this was Husband being selfish? Having his cake and eating it, too. It was Husband ensuring that his wife stayed put at home taking care of the kids while he went and lived another life as if he was single.

I couldn’t see all of this because I wasn’t thinking straight. All I cared about was getting our marriage and family back to how it was. Husband could have told me anything — the earth was flat, the moon was made of cheese — I would have believed him. That’s how blind I was. How willing I was to do whatever it took to get him fully back.

If I had only known then what I know now, things might be different. I might have been able to save myself a ton of headache and all the heartache that followed.