I have a question for you: how do you get through the middle of this leaving-your-cheater process, as in, not the terrible realization you’ve been cheated on and the immediate pain, and not the signing of the divorce papers moment, but the in-between part after you make the decision to end things?
I’m in the house up for sale, packing, deposit on an apartment stage and wavering already because this pain hurts like a motherfucker — worse than when I discovered he’d cheated because at least he was sticking around for cake, no matter how awful the relationship an ever-growing D-Days, so many, in fact that I lost track and thought I stopped caring. I was OK with being treated like shit as long as he stayed because I felt I could somewhat control my pain levels — I knew who he was and what to expect. What’s happening now is uncharted territory.
Anyway, over the course of a year, I saw a lawyer, paid his retainer, got the financial paperwork, even bought furniture for my tiny apartment and booked a celebratory holiday alone. But now I’m desperately sad and am feeling like an unwilling participant, even though I’d initiated the whole separation after a decade of lies and unfulfilled promises. It’s the do or die moment and I’m choking.
Right now, contractors are tearing down the wallpaper we chose together and it’s like my life is being dismantled before my eyes. Furniture we bought together is disappearing into storage and it’s a surreal, horrible, heart-breaking feeling. My dining room table is missing — the place where my visiting family shared pizza with my spouse and I, the place where my cats hang out every night while I make dinner (even though they’re not supposed to).
My husband was on board with everything until he realized I was serious this time about leaving. Now he’s making half-assed, last ditch efforts. Because I’m feeling vulnerable and afraid, I eat up every crumb like a newly-minted chump. Suddenly, I’m in love again.
I don’t want to get divorced. I now want everything back the way it was — even though I knew with complete certainty a week ago that I was 100% doing the right thing. My thoughts are clouded with emotion and my heart is shattered by immobilizing grief. I’m not ready for this.
P.S. He slept in the bed for the first time in two years just the other day. And, he told me I was his best friend.
Sad in Seattle
The problem is you’re not no contact. You’re trying to kick a drug and you’re sleeping in an opium den. (Or hopium den, that is.)
You miss the lie. Love, domesticity, and wallpaper. A husband, a place in the coupled firmament. Belonging. But every time you try to rest upon the comfort of this life, reality intrudes with more D-Days.
I was OK with being treated like shit as long as he stayed because I felt I could somewhat control my pain levels.
Listen to yourself — you were okay with being treated like shit so long as he stayed. You would accept any kind of degradation so long as he didn’t abandon you. You felt like you could control it.
The fact is, you can’t control him. He’s going to keep cheating on you — he’s made that clear through a decade’s worth of actions. You can either numb yourself to that, or you can leave. But him becoming a different person is not on the table. Fact is, he already abandoned you. He rejects you over and over and over. That’s what D-Days are. Every day you stay with him is another Groundhog Day of abandonment.
Get your head in the game. You’re either divorcing him because you mean it — you’re truly sick of his shit and know you deserve better. Or you’re “divorcing” him because you want him to respond to your distress signal and Really Care This Time.
I’m worried it’s the latter. Look, we all flounder and grieve. It’s staggeringly unfair that cheaters eat cake and force their loving, committed chumps to put a bullet in their marriages. But it’s a lot easier to fire that shot once you realize you’re killing a figment of your imagination.
What marriage? What commitment? What love?
What are you staying for? The intact dining set?
Oh, but there were Good Times. Oh, he’s not All Bad. Sure. Okay. Everything is fine until the cycle of abuse wheel spins and hits “D-Day.” He walks out for one of his new fuck friends. Spin! But then he hoovers you back. Spin! And the sex is really great! Spin! And he sleeps at home again! Spin! And then he compares you to his fuck friend. Spin! And ignores your sobbing. Spin! And fails to see what your problem is. Spin! And rages at you for not getting over it. Spin! But is really nice the next day. Spin! And has pizza with you and your friends at that dining room table. Spin! And then fucks one of the dinner guests. Spin!
You have a choice, Sad. You can walk away from that crazy, or you can keeping spinning the wheel and hope it hits “Happily Ever After.”
I can tell you that “Happily Ever After” is not on that wheel. You might stay at that table and keep spinning, but I really hope you realize you’ve got better ways to spend your life. Outside that casino is a nice little apartment waiting for you, and a lawyer with his paid retainer. Please realize your worth and move toward a new life.