Updated: Jul 2, 2020
| This is the 220th story of Our Life Logs |
I grew up in Kingston, Jamaica in the early 1960s as the eldest of four kids. We lived a middle-class life with my dad working as a deacon and my mom as a teacher. I was introverted and loved spending time alone, especially watching ants as they marched to their hills. I loved being around animals; we had dogs, cats, goats, chickens, and parakeets. We were a close-knit family, and my mother also ran a tight ship, making sure we were raised right. That doesn’t mean that my brother and I didn’t cause trouble now and then. We’d break the rules, then run off and hide in the mango trees until the coast was clear–or so we thought. My mom would wait for us to come back and issue the proper punishment.
After graduating high school in 1981, I wanted to be a veterinarian, but I ended up going to university for accounting because the vet courses were too expensive. However, I found that I was very good with numbers and fell in love with accounting. Abandoning my vet dream, I found a job with an accounting firm after college and built my career in the field. Life continued like this for years. Then, everything changed in the early 90s when I met a beautiful gym instructor named Dana.
Dana was unlike any other woman I had ever known! She was the total package: attractive, kind, extroverted, silly (in a good way), a great cook, and a great listener. As I’m sure you figured out by now, I fell hard. We quickly got pregnant and got married within a year. We settled down and built our family, welcoming another baby in our lives. There was no better feeling than coming home from work to my wife cooking a delicious meal while our children ran around the house laughing and playing.
As our children grew up, my wife and I grew closer. That is…until my job started sending me on business trips in the late 90s. I would be gone for a few weeks every two months, and as I began traveling more often, our marriage began to suffer. When I came home, she wouldn’t be as excited to see me as she used to. She’d simply glance at me, offer a simple “hello” and return to what she was doing. I could feel the distance between us, but I didn’t know how to fix it.
My wife was a very extroverted, social person, so at first, I thought nothing of her having friends over while I was gone. I lied to myself and insisted that nothing was going on, but that became harder to believe as she pulled further away from me. I gave her the benefit of the doubt, but as her “friends” became closer and closer to her, something felt fishy. Still, when I came home, we’d be intimate—though, we were practically strangers outside the bedroom.
One day I received an unexpected phone call from a neighbor. She had discovered that her husband had been sneaking around behind her back and sleeping with my wife. She was calling so that she could open my eyes to the kind of people our spouses were. Hearing that my wife had betrayed me was still a slap in the face. How could she do this to me? Was I not enough for her? I felt a hollow groan forming in the pit of my stomach. What was going to happen?
The next time I saw my wife, I confronted her about the allegations. At first, she denied them, but when I told her that his wife had found out, she backpedaled, claiming she was going to tell me but was afraid that I would kill her when I found out. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! What a preposterous excuse! Never in our marriage had I laid a finger on her, and I never would have dreamed of hurting her!
Despite knowing about the infidelity, I stayed in our home, believing that we’d be able to work past the indiscretion. Then my wife revealed that she was pregnant, and she didn’t know who was the father. I was furious with her and told her I wanted a divorce. She simply laughed and said, “If you divorce me, I’ll take everything you’ve worked for. You’ll have nothing.” I wasn’t educated on the legal specifics of divorces, but I knew that one side always seemed to leave with more than the other. Even if things were split evenly, I’d still be losing a big chunk of money and properties I had worked hard for. Not to mention the impact it would have on our kids. How would they feel? Would my wife keep me from seeing them? Afraid to lose everything, and still partly in love with my wife, I decided to stay.
Years passed and we remained married even though our relationship was forever ruined. We were always arguing and making passive aggressive comments to each other. While I traveled for work, I would send back money for her to buy important things like a new sink, only to come home to find no new sink and my wife’s empty hand, beckoning for more money. Even though we were married, she continued to see our neighbor. I later discovered that some of the money I’d send her was being used to buy things for the man she cheated on me with. It was a very awful situation, and because I thought I’d one day be able to forgive her and we’d be happy again, I stayed married to her for 13 more years. I still can’t believe I let it go on like that for so long.
When I gave up the dream that we’d be happy again, I began to feel helpless. It wasn’t until my friend found me a good lawyer that I felt hope again. I learned that a lot of what my wife had threatened was simply not true. I could actually get out of my marriage without losing everything. My lawyer showed me that I had options, and it was all about compromise. After months of back and forth, I finally was able to divorce my wife in 2013. Being free of the toxic environment my wife and I had put ourselves in was such a big weight off my shoulders. Our kids were relieved too. They had grown tired of our constant fighting and knew we’d be happier apart.
For the first couple years after the divorce I worked nonstop, trying to distract myself from the pain I still held in my heart. I did love her, through it all. I had remained loyal to her. It was a shame she couldn’t do the same. Even still, I missed her. I had to get used to being alone and remind myself that it was the best thing for us. Accepting this was difficult, but when I worked all the time, I wasn’t thinking about it which helped me get past the shock and adapt to the change.
In the divorce, she left me the house my parents gave me, but her spirit still lingered there, haunting me, reminding me of what happened. It was not easy, but I worked to fix myself. I had to get used to doing things alone again, but in time I recovered.
Today I’m living as best as I can. I have even come to forgive my ex-wife for everything she had done. I’ve accepted that we were just not meant to be, and we are even friends now. Our kids are grown, and I am living alone and happy.
It doesn’t make sense to be unhappy by choice. I lived like this for years and that’s not a good way to live. If you are in a bad marriage and are unhappy, but are afraid of the repercussions of leaving, I say to you, GET OUT. Be confident in your feelings and leave, not just for your sake, but for everyone else’s who has to watch you suffer. Your kids will understand. If they love you, they’ll want to see you happier. The longer you take, the worse it will be. Heartbreak is painful, but it is a part of life. To overcome heartbreak is to learn, and in turn, truly live.