At the end of the last blog, I told you about how my second marriage was imploding. I’d gone back to Al Anon meetings in the hopes it would help things between us.
By now, it was December 2014. We’d been married for 18 months. And as I mentioned in previous blogs, Randy traveled internationally for his job. He was gone for two weeks each month.
Early that December, I went to a Billy Joel concert by myself. I was thrilled to get a great seat for half-price the day of the show.
Randy and I talked on the phone the day after the show and I told him about what fun the concert was.
Then, a few hours later, I got a text from him that said “Who did you say you went to the concert with?”
I’d already told him I went alone. And I was pissed. He was questioning me.
His distrust of me was getting old.
About a week after that text exchange, he got home from his trip.
And the day he got home was also my last day teaching at the local university.
A few months prior, we’d decided that I’d quit that job because the pay was pretty crappy. I planned to go back to work as a freelance copywriter.
The evening he got home, I was at church, in room 324, at an Al Anon meeting. During the meeting, I thought it was odd that he hadn’t texted me when he landed at the airport earlier that day.
So, I got home from my meeting a few minutes after he got home.
When I walked in the door, he stayed on one side of the kitchen. I went over to give him a kiss, and I could tell he’d been drinking, but I didn’t say anything about it.
I asked where he’d been, and he said that he and his son had gone out to eat. And like I said in the first blog, I had no idea what kind of mood he’d be in when I got home.
I soon found out.
The next thing he said was “I’m not staying.” I didn’t understand him at first. And then he said, “I’m leaving.”
I was still confused. So I said, “Why are you leaving?” His reply, “We fight too much.”
And with that, he left with his suitcase.
And I was baffled.
I remember going to a friend’s Christmas party the next day and just wondering what the hell was going on. I had so many mixed feelings. I wasn’t happy, but the thought of divorce hadn’t even crossed my mind. I was convinced that if I quit giving him a hard time about his drinking, things would get better.
So, for the next few weeks, I did just that. I waited to see what Randy would do.
And what unfolded was a shit show.
Right after Randy left, he sent odd texts. For example, one day I told him that I had presents under the tree for him and his two adult kids. His response was, “I’ll come to pick them up if Steve is there.”
What the actual fuck?
It was downright odd to get texts like that. Randy had always been really touchy about the idea that I dated men before I met him, but he was obsessed with Steve.
So, Christmas came around. I spent it with my kids and my first ex-husband. By that point, we were getting along well.
But it was so odd to be having Christmas dinner with my kids and their dad while my actual husband was in a town ten miles away.
By then, I’d already started seeing a therapist. I think I was in shock. I alternated between disbelief and sobbing. And one thing my therapist did to help me move along was to write a letter to Randy telling him what I loved about him.
Now I realize my therapist already knew what his response would be. But I was convinced that we could work it out.
So I wrote the letter and sent it to him. And again, I was shocked at the response.
It was New Year’s Eve, and I remember reading it with my mouth hanging open. In no uncertain terms, he told me what a piece of shit I was. There was nothing nice in the letter. It was vile.
And it got worse.
In early January 2015, Randy and I had lunch. It was the first time I’d seen him since he’d left three weeks prior.
And it was odd.
Stilted conversation. I didn’t tell him that for the past few weeks I’d been falling apart in a therapist’s office. Afterward, we walked out into the parking lot and hugged goodbye.
In my mind, I assumed that perhaps we’d have lunch or chat a few more times and figure out what we were going to do. Were we gonna work on things? Was I gonna continue counseling and go to Al-Anon?
Would he go to his own counselor? Would he consider going to AA?
I felt really worried when I left the lunch. I knew that whatever was coming, it was not going to be easy.
My counselor told me that even if he was willing to work on his issues, it would take at least a year to start getting things going in the right direction.
At lunch, he’d told me that he was doing another out-of-the-country trip the next day. So, the next day I was at the beauty salon. And as my colorist was mixing colors, I got a text. From Randy.
And before I looked at it, I assumed it would say something like “Nice to see you. Let’s chat again after my trip.”
But that’s not what it said.
Instead, he sent a picture of a personalized mug he saw at a novelty store. It had the name “Steve” on it. He wrote “I’m cleaning out pics on my phone. Here, you can post this on your boyfriend’s wall and have a good laugh.”
And that, my dear friends, was it.
The moment of decision.
The final straw. The end.
I sat in the beauty salon and cried.
I knew there wasn’t a snowball's chance in hell I could stay. And I knew that a text like that was a clear indication that he was nowhere near wanting to work on his own issues.
A few days after that, I noticed that our Facebook profiles were preposterous!
Each of us was using a pic that showed us as a cute couple. So I changed my profile pic and unfriended him.
Oddly, he noticed immediately and sent me a text that said “Sell the house!”
And that’s when things really started to fall apart.
Eighteen months prior, when we got married, I assumed $160K of his debt, including 60K he put on a credit card to buy a new sportscar.
His debt got rolled into my small mortgage. So, marriage for me meant a much bigger mortgage.
And remember, the day he left, I’d quit my job. Now I realize he’d planned it that way. He knew I was quitting.
So he waited to leave me until after I’d quit.
I had no job, my second marriage had imploded, and was on the verge of losing the house I’d shared with my three kids for 11 years.
That house survived my first divorce, but it would not survive the second.
So I was seriously starting to freak out. And the crying started again. I felt overwhelming fear. Confusion. And sorrow.
I sat in my therapist’s office, sometimes twice a week, and talked about how it couldn’t be happening.
How, in 18 months, did I go from standing on the altar with Randy, to that moment?
There, standing in my front yard, a “for sale” sign.
And I felt especially sorry for my son who lived with me. He was only 15 at the time.
I know it made no sense to him. I got divorced from his dad, and his daily life remained pretty much the same. And then I married the wrong guy, and he lost the only home he really knew.
The house sold fairly quickly and my son and I prepared to move into a really small townhouse. So small, that I had to get rid of 75% of my stuff.
I remember how devastating it felt to give away the Christmas tree we’d had for 20 years.
I got rid of so much stuff.
Two girlfriends even came by and loaded their cars up with all my houseplants. I posted so much stuff for free on Facebook. A litany of people came into my house and took my stuff away.
I clearly remember one day, sitting on the garage floor, crying. I was looking at a bottle of random screws wondering “Do I need screws at the townhouse?”
Life felt completely overwhelming.
My mind often went blank.
And my first ex-husband, God bless him, moved me. Box by box, he just loaded up his truck and moved everything to the townhouse.
So there I was, living in a tiny townhouse with my son.
And I thought it was a dump. And it was, in comparison to the beautiful house I’d been living in. It felt like I’d crashed. And landed there.
I didn’t have a garage anymore. And the first time it snowed I was furious that I had to scrape snow off my car.
I cursed Randy as I scraped. I totally blamed him for the situation I was in. Every time I had to scrape ice and snow off my car, I cursed him.
I always describe 2015 as the year I just cried. It felt like I was clawing my way back into life.
I got a part-time job. Randy and I settled our divorce out of court. I got the money back that he owed me. And I started going to divorce support groups.
Life was still horrible, but I was figuring out all my next steps. I was making new friends at the divorce support groups and continued in therapy where I got diagnosed with PTSD.
I worked part-time jobs and started remodeling the 1980s townhouse I was living in.
I was really sad. Really lonely. But little by little, I started to smile again.
And that was great because for a good chunk of 2015, I didn’t really want to be alive. I wasn’t suicidal, but like a few other times in my life, I would’ve welcomed an IV full of meds that would’ve put me into a coma so I could just sleep instead.
And like after the endings of my other romantic relationships, I spent a very long time, years in fact, thinking about my relationship with Randy.
Why did I keep dating him when I saw all those beer bottles stacked in his garage?
When I knew he had a drinking problem?
And then, why did I ignore the red flag of him getting serious so fast? I got engaged to him after 6 months of dating when I really didn’t want to.
And there were other red flags I ignored.
He didn’t take ownership for cheating on his ex-wife. Instead, he blamed her.
And maliciously calling his ex-fiance a psycho wasn’t a good sign either. At the beginning of our relationship, Randy told me she’d left some stuff at his house. He always threatened to throw all of it out with the trash before she had a chance to pick it up.
I ignorantly ignored his mean streak.
Once our marriage started to fall apart, why did I stay so long?
When he was stalking me on Facebook, I stayed.
When he made jealous accusations, I stayed.
When he freaked out because I wrote a memoir about my heart attack, I stayed.
When he called me a cunt, I stayed.
All through that shitty counselor, I stayed.
In fact, I stayed for all of it. If you recall, HE LEFT ME!!
But the good news is, I know how I ended up in that situation.
I wasn’t innocent in all this.
I poked the bear when I should’ve let him wander off, after that third date where I saw beer cases stacked floor to ceiling.
Now I can see all the things I did wrong.
I poked the bear and it bit me.
But wait….there’s more.
A new job.
And a shocking surprise from Randy’s ex-fiance.
And then I’ll tell you about my happily ever after.
I’ll see you in the next episode.