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.

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.

Who is she?

Have you ever had the feeling that you were at rock-bottom with no where to go? Stuck at your lowest point and feeling like a huge boulder was weighing you down? Wrought with so much despair that you couldn’t even will yourself to move?

I felt this way the day I found out about HER. The other woman in Husband’s life.

After Husband left the house that day, I sat in the dining room slumped over the table in a heap, unable to move, unwilling to move. Luckily for me, or more so my kids, my best friend Daisy came over to make sure they were fed and had everything they needed before they settled down for bed.

I was left a complete mess at the news of Husband’s ‘friend’, as he referred to her. How could Husband do this to me? To us? Why did he find comfort in another woman? Was our marriage really that bad? Was I that shitty a wife? I just needed to know why.

But no matter how many times I cried out “Why?” I wasn’t going to get my answers that night. Even banging my fists against the table wasn’t going to help. The only thing screaming and pounding on the table did was allow me to release the pent-up rage inside of me.

And Daisy let me rage like a banshee. She just sat quietly and watched me until I was eventually reduced to uncontrollable tears.

I definitely needed it. I needed to lash out and get all the shock and anger out of my system. The faster I did this, the faster I could get to the business of finding out who SHE was.

And it didn’t take long for me to find out. With the help of the super-sleuthing abilities of my girlfriends Daisy and Penny, I found out that SHE was someone who Husband went to high school with. She was recently divorced and was a regular at Husband’s restaurant/bar. She was the girl who Penny had questioned me about just a few weeks before.

But she was also a girl who had a bit of a reputation in her high school days which carried over well into her adult years. She was someone who Husband and his friends had once considered a lost cause. She had a baby in her senior year in high school and wasn’t even quite sure who the baby’s father was. How in the world could Husband find pleasure in her company? Why her? Did he not remember what kind of reputation she had in high school? Did he really want to be associated with that kind of person? As crazy as it sounded, even I was embarrassed for him.

Regardless of her bad reputation though, this woman had Husband’s attention. He found something in her that he couldn’t find in me.

Now shouldn’t this have been my queue to give him the old heave-ho? Show him the door and never let him back in?

I think 2017 me would have done just that. But 2009 me was weak. Afraid. Scared to mess up our perfect little family of five. Willing to do anything in my power to keep our marriage and family intact. This was when I let Husband take control of the steering wheel and decide which path our marriage would take. This is when I basically gave him permission to march around town with this other woman while I sat at home like a good wife waiting for him to come back.

This would be one of many mistakes that I would make in the following months. Mistakes that would shape who am I today and why I feel like I’m not fully healed from Husband’s infidelity.

Even after all these years.

The Day My World Turned Upside Down – Part 2

I was on auto-pilot when I dropped the kids off at school that morning. I drove as quick I possibly could, wanting nothing more than to get back home in order to finish my interrogation of Husband.

But something shifted inside me when I was just a couple blocks away from my house. Instead of turning onto my street, I continued straight ahead in the direction of our neighborhood playground. I pulled over and paused to take a breath. My mind and heart had been racing since the minute I received “The Text” and I just needed a few minutes to gather myself.

I then dialed my girlfriend, Daisy*, and told her everything. The shock in her reaction was evident but I was glad that she remained silent as I re-counted that morning’s drama. The minute I was done speaking, Daisy went into detective mode and told me to check our cell phone bill. I explained though that I would have to check with my sister, Rica*, who at the time was the primary holder of the family share plan Husband’s cell phone was part of.

“What are you waiting for then? Call Rica now.” Daisy urged.

Rica wasn’t forthcoming with her assistance though. When I asked her if I could see the past few months’ cell phone statements, Rica told me that she felt it would be an invasion of Husband’s privacy if she just let me see his cell phone activity. Never mind that I was his wife and in the middle of a marital crisis. She suggested that I do the right thing and get this information from Husband. Even after I told her that Husband wasn’t cooperating, after I told her this was probably the only way I was going to get any information, after I told her that I was desperate, Rica still insisted that this information had to come from Husband.

I can’t say I was surprised at my sister’s loyalty to Husband. My entire family loved him. All my friends adored him. We used to joke about them liking him more than they liked me. I didn’t have a problem with it. But at that moment, Rica had to know that it was me who needed her loyalty.

Unfortunately, Rica insisted I work it out with Husband without involving her or her cell phone bill. He’s a reasonable guy, she told me. He’ll cooperate.

There was no cooperation coming from Husband that morning. When I got back home, I found him sitting in the living room, refusing to talk. I begged, pleaded, even knelt in front of him imploring him to talk to me and tell me who the other woman in his life was. He remained defiantly silent, staring back at me with stone-cold eyes. It wasn’t until I threatened to get a copy of his cell phone bill from Rica that Husband spoke.

“Go ahead.”

Just two words. But two words said with so much anger and hatred. It threw me and I second-guessed my behavior. But it didn’t take long for me to remember that he was the one at fault.

An hour later, I was sitting in Rica’s living room combing through Husband’s cell phone activity from the prior three months. (Yes, Rica finally gave in when I told her I was getting no where with Husband.) It didn’t take long for me to see one number over and over and over again on Husband’s bill. Early in the morning, late at night, all times throughout the day. This number appeared on the bill more than my number did. My heart felt like it was going to pulse right out of my chest when I specifically checked the activity during the week of our SoCal family vacation. Husband was having phone conversations with the owner of this number the entire time we were on vacation. The entire time. And for 2-hour long stretches late in the evenings.

I was shook to my core.

I stayed at Rica’s house for the remainder of that afternoon. I just couldn’t with Husband. How could he have betrayed me and the kids in this way? To steal away time from us and our family vacation to busy himself with someone else? Why did he even agree to go on vacation with us when his mind was clearly going to be somewhere else? And there was no way he’d be able to tell me those conversations were with one of his employees at his restaurant.

Eventually, I had to go home to face Husband. It was late in the afternoon and Husband would have picked the kids up from school by then before leaving for the rest of the evening. I timed it so that I arrived back home just when he was going to leave. I caught him when he was putting on his shoes in the basement which was perfect. The kids were upstairs away from earshot.

I slapped a piece of paper with the phone number sprawled on it against his chest and demanded to know whose number it was. He crumpled the paper into his fist and said plainly, quietly but with so much vile, “She has nothing to do with our problems.”

And there I had it. Confirmation that there was another ‘she’ in Husband’s life.

I will admit that even thought the signs were already there, I stood there astounded as if it was the first time this idea crossed my mind. I silently listened to my husband’s diatribe against me.

“She is a good friend of mine.”

“She helps me with my problems that you create.”

“She’s been a friend since way before we were married.”

“She is not the reason are marriage is f*cked up.”

She, she, she was all I heard.

When I found my voice again, I demanded to know who ‘she’ was. Was I expecting Husband to reveal her identity? Nope. And did he? Of course not. He did warn me that I, as well as my “f*cking friends”, needed to leave her alone because she had apparently told him that her phone was blowing up with all the calls she was getting from, well, me and my f*cking friends. I freely admitted that we did inundated her with our calls. Of course we were going to do this. Is it any surprise that we did?

We didn’t find out her identity though. She didn’t answer our calls nor did she have a personalized outgoing message. Since husband wasn’t cooperating, I moved on to my next request.

“Will you please stop seeing her then?”

I reasoned that our marriage didn’t stand a chance if he was going to continue to see this woman because he’d be comparing her, the good friend, to me, the shitty wife. Husband neither agreed nor disagreed. Just grabbed his jacket and keys and headed towards the door, ready to leave me with so many questions unanswered.

I followed closely behind him because there was one last burning question that I needed to know before he left.

“Are you going to see her tonight?”

Husband sighed with irritation and told me no. He would be going to the restaurant and that’s it.

I’m not sure why I believed him. I knew he said this just to quiet me. Besides, there was no way he would ever admit where he was really going.

I liked to think that I was better off staying in the dark and not knowing the truth. There was no way I would have been able to handle knowing that Husband would in fact see her that same night and that he would continue to see her for many nights after.

*Names have been changed for the sake of anonymity.

The Day My World Turned Upside Down – Part 1

I wasn’t looking forward to writing about this part of our story.

It was the day I found out about HER. The Other Woman. The Third Party.

It was a typical day for us. Well, typical as per our living arrangements.

It was just after 6:00am. I was quickly getting ready, applying my make-up and getting into my outfit for the day. Mornings were the only time I actually interacted with Husband so I always made sure I was putting my best foot forward during the few moments that I had with him. I had just changed into my work clothes when I heard my phone vibrating.

I picked up the phone and saw that it was a text from Husband. I looked at the text and did a double-take. I read it one more time and all the air rushed from my lungs.

Aww, baby, I’ll see you tonight though.  

There were 2 problems with this text.

  1. In those days of our separation, there was never a “tonight” for Husband and me.  Nor did we make any plans to see each other on that particular night either.
  2. While Husband and I did have a term of endearment that we used to address each other, “baby” wasn’t one of them.

With his impeccable timing, Husband stepped through the front door as I was reeling from this unexpected text. I immediately shoved my phone in his face and demanded an explanation. He looked at my phone and without flinching, calmly said, “I didn’t send that.”

I repeat. Husband said that he did not send that text to me. Even when the text was clearly sent from his phone, he denied it. He denied it then stepped past me and quietly strolled towards the kitchen.

My entire body trembled as I followed him through the house. Husband set his phone on the counter and I immediately reached for it. Husband whipped his head around, this time with a sense of urgency and a touch of fear in his eyes.

“Go ahead. Be that kind of wife.”

I put his phone back down. I wasn’t that kind of wife. Silly me. Husband immediately grabbed his phone the minute I set it down and tucked it safely into his jeans pocket.

So I once again turned back to my phone and shoved it in his face asking him to explain. If he didn’t send that text which clearly came from his phone, then who did?

He continued to insist that it wasn’t him.

Back and forth we went as quietly as possible because the kids were stirring awake at this point. Me, pressing for an answer. Husband, denying any knowledge of the text when it was so clear that he was caught red-handed.

This was devastating. It was the first time Husband ever blatantly lied to me. The first time I ever looked at Husband and felt like I was looking at a stranger. The first time since our talk that there was evidence making him the bad guy in our marriage and not just me.

And Husband was not making it easy for me to confirm this evidence.

Fortunately for him, the time came for me to drive the kids to school. But unfortunately for him, that’s when I kicked it up a notch and made some phone calls. Getting to the bottom of the mistaken text was a priority for me. With the help of a couple of super-sleuth girlfriends, I got the answers that I was looking for.