I am sure that my story is the same one that you have heard a hundred times, I have read versions of it on your site and others… married 9 years, together 18, one small daughter and poof! He is gone. Like emotionally gone. Except that he did not physically leave.
My husband very abruptly announced that he was no longer interested in being married to me. He did not believe in marriage, did not love me anymore – maybe never did and wanted to be done. He spent the next 9 months waffling – going back and forth between being incredibly cruel to me and incredibly needy and sweet. He did not leave the house until 18 months later for a “temporary trial” separation. During this time, an emotional affair with his friend’s girlfriend came to light.
For months and months I did the whole pick me dance… maybe if I was just a bit prettier, maybe if I was more interested in the things he is interested in, maybe if I could keep the house cleaner and the kid better behaved… I tried and I tried. Until I caught them together at a public event after he had promised me that they were not in contact. After he had spent several months wooing me – talking about new houses and vacations together. Then I realized that it did not matter what I did – the one thing that I could not do was be her. We have no moved from “trial” to separated and are heading towards dividing assets and divorce.
This is what is killing me — the total rejection of all the things that I am in favour of someone else. It make me doubt everything about myself. Intuitively – I know that this is not about me. I know that it is about him and his “friend” lacking moral compasses and engaging in truly selfish and narcissistic behavior. I know that there is really nothing I could do. I also know that I cannot live another second in this insane reality that he has created.
But, I just feel so … I don’t know. Angry one minute, sad the next, then happy to be free of it, scared of what the future will hold for me and my daughter. The over riding feeling though – and the reason I am writing to you – is jealousy.
I cannot stand that he is going to get a happy ending. I cannot cope with the OW being a part of my child’s life. I cannot believe that SHE WON! I am a good person, and I did not deserve this – and she gets MY LIFE! My family. It is literally eating me alive. The fact that I did right by my family and my spouse and that he ‘gets away with it’ is more than I can wrap my head around. Why should they get to be happy when I am so miserable?
I don’t really know what I am looking for with this. I guess just a way to navigate this emotional mess that I find myself smack dab in the center of. I feel so shamed and so raw and just so stupid. I believed him. Worse than that – I believed IN him and I feel so so lost in that.
Allyson in Canada
Okay, she won. She beat you in the pick me dance for fantastic fuckwit prizes. You got the set of luggage. She got the fuckwit.
What did she win? Well, by your own description — a desperately needy, cruel, and unstable man. Yippee.
Oh no! But somehow in your imagination when they’re together it’s happy and wonderful. Somehow he magically had a character transplant with maturity injections and became someone capable of commitment and deep joy. That guy who walked out on his little daughter and you — a guy who abandoned his family and betrayed his friend — that’s Mr. Happy. That’s your prize there.
Perhaps you’re new here, but we call that a sparkly turd. All the sugar frosting and colored sprinkles cannot disguise a dog turd. It’s still a dog turd.
He can dress it up anyway he wants to — she’s his Twu Wuv, it was something bigger than them both, the heart wants what the heart wants — he’s still a turd. And she’s a woman who won a turd.
It’s not about you, Allyson. I’m sorry — that’s at once liberating and infuriating. You didn’t matter to him. Your daughter didn’t matter. That does NOT mean you do not matter. It means he is not the benchmark of your worthiness — he’s someone more at home with fellow turds.
But you invested in him! Surely that must mean something! It means you got chumped. You extract the painful life lessons, and you move forward. You loved someone undeserving of your love. It was a one-way street. It doesn’t mean you were less than, because you’re not her. Thank GOD you’re not her! Do you want to be someone with less moral sense than God gave badgers? Do you want to be saddled with a narcissist? There is nothing here to feel jealous about, because she is not enviable. She just thinks she is.
And he wants you to be jealous, because that’s the pick me dance, and that provides kibbles to the cheaters. So please, I know it’s hard right now, but stop giving a shit about them. Start focusing on your new life. And stop worrying about Ms. Won-a-Turd being around your daughter. You’re the mommy, that love is primal, no one takes that away from you. This is your chance to model to your daughter how to be a badass. How you don’t tolerate disrespect. How you rebuild and reinvent yourself when life kicks you in the teeth. Do not model pick-me dancing and turd envy.
You’re going to be fine, Allyson. You got the luggage set. YOU won.
This classic column ran previously.