Pride vs. neccessity

 

“Pride is a personal commitent. It is an attitude which separates excellence from mediocrity.”

 
There comes times in all of our lives that we are forced to ignore our initial instincts and allow survival mode to guide through a trying time. My survival mode kicked in immediately after my ex locked us out of our home. I knew, as a newly single mother, I had to make everything right for my daughter, regardless of what it took.

After I was terminated from my place with the company R. and I were employed with, I was terrified. I cannot explain to you just how terrified. In less than two weeks, I had left my home, my marriage, and was now awaking to a new life, in a 6 week rented condo, with no hopes of an income in the future.

We all are aware of the present economy and unemployment statistics and many of us know that a new job is not landed overnight. With that said, I had no choice but to hit the streets, putting in applications at the local restaurants for waitressing positions. The timing of my separation and unemployment could not have been better, tourism season kicks in just before memorial day, so the popular restaurants begin to up their staffing numbers around May. I cannot complain, I was employed within the first week: but my morale was low and I could not find happiness in being a 39-year-old waitress. At the age of 31, I had put myself through college and worked hard to earn the degree that was now taking up space on my living room wall. I had been in my current career field for 8 years: it was a field of nobility, notoriety and stature: here I was, now tying on my black apron and carrying around my order book every day, with embarrassment and shame. (don’t misunderstand that analogy, I do not carry disdain for anyone that works as a bartender or server: for me, it was a huge step down from the suits and heels and five figure income I was used to) ID_no1_6722

In my current state of mind, I think the shock and numbness of the trauma I had suffered was enough to distract me from the harshness of reality and that was probably a good thing. It wasn’t until the end of July, when the distraction began to wear off, that I realized how extreme my situation had become. I was surrounded by everything that I had never agreed with. My co workers were young, average 20’s, enjoying a lifestyle full of drugs, alcohol and, the majority of them, welfare fraud. They all came from varying backgrounds but shared the same mentality for life: if you can’t drink it, smoke it or have sex with it. it’s not worth your time. I isolated myself from them, by not allowing myself much interaction kept me safe and far away from the drama that surrounded their daily work environment. Eventually, my quietness became an appellant for them and the drama was carrying over into my life.

Just before I quit my job at the first restaurant, there was a situation involving a 22-year-old waitress that I never did like. In mid July a close friend of mine was coming for a week’s visit. In casual conversation with this chick, I mentioned my friend would be in town soon and I planned on getting some much needed “Girl” time. I saw no harm in releasing that information, if I participated in a conversation randomly, I was able to camouflage myself more easily. A few days later, I’m not sure if it was nerves or a stomach bug, I called in sick. I had been up all night hugging the toilet and there was no way I was making it in that day. The next day, I returned to work and was confronted by the head waitress. She explained that the 22 year old had heard my call when I let them know I was sick and had spent the day telling everyone she could find that I was not sick, but hung over. She said I had bragged a few days before about hitting the town with my company and getting “crunk”.  I still have no freaking idea what she meant by “Crunk” so that is definitely NOT a term in my vocabulary and I explained that to the head waitress. I had a doctor’s note in my pocket book, I left my supervisor standing on the second story, I marched myself downstairs, found my doctor’s note, walked straight up to the 22 year old, put it in her face, and let her know, the next time she had something to say, to get her facts straight. You should have seen the looks on her 20 year old friends faces….it was a priceless moment, regardless, in that moment, I knew I could not carry on that daily process anymore. My friend did arrive the next week for her stay and over the course of the week she could sense my distress in my employment situation. It was only a week later when I submitted my resignation and quit. It was a tough decision to make, there was still 6 good weeks left in the tourist season, which meant a great income for another month, but ultimately, my morals and pride took over and I simply could not put myself in that situation anymore.

It was the middle of July when I began seriously submitting resumes to anyone and everyone. I applied for every professional position you can think of: administrative, accounting, law enforcement, health care. It was my goal to not have to wait tables in more and return to being proud of myself and my career. ultimately, it wasn’t in the cards at that period in my life and I reluctantly began to send applications to restaurants again. It was in August that I was hired with the second restaurant.

I carried high hopes walking into that job. It was a higher scale restaurant than the previous bar I worked in, the client’s was one of a professional nature and my co workers were older and more mature. At first, I felt content and accepting of where life had led me. There was not much drama associated with my employers and I felt comfortable in my environment. I still carried the hope of returning to professional setting and carried on with submitting resumes to potential employers, but I did not feel the desperation that I had before. At least I never felt that desperation, until mid October, when the owner of the second restaurant returned to run the establishment.

She was in her 50’s: she and her “Boyfriend” had purchased the restaurant together 16 years ago and through the rumor mill, I knew she had a history of alcohol abuse. Currently, her 32-year-old daughter had been helping the boyfriend run the establishment. John was a laid back man, quiet and easy to get along with. He oversaw the kitchen part of everything. He was essentially in the kitchen with his crew all the time and he allowed Michelle to run the restaurant and patron part of everything. Michelle’s mom, Carla, had been in the hospital since July with pancreatic failure and kidney issues. For the first few weeks of my employment, they had not expected her to survive, but here she was, in the middle of October returning to work and man, was she hell on wheels. An alcoholic for over 30 years, you can only imagine how unhappy she was at being told by her doctors to never drink again. She was vile, pessimistic and she created much more drama than you would ever expect from a 50 year old woman. Within two weeks of her return, 4 of our staff quit, which left only myself, Michelle, the bartender and the kitchen crew. Her focus became making my life hell. She would cut my hours, send my home without warning and more than a few times, I caught her pocketing my tip money. I was frustrated, angry and everything felt hopeless. For months I had sent out resumes and my friends had asked everyone they knew, with no responses. After my daughter moved in with her Dad, I even began sending resumes to job openings in cities hours away. At that point, if it was in my destiny to move to a new town, then so be it.

All seemed hopeless. December came, my mentality was at its lowest. My daughter had been out of my home for a few weeks, my heartbreak was still fresh and though time was moving forward, I was still feeling “lost”. I made the decision to take a months break on the job hunt, I could not take the stress anymore. I had spent hours upon days upon months browsing the internet – Craigslist, indeed.com, LinkedIn, meetup, etc. to no avail. I was done, simply put. I reached a point where I decided to hang my head low, keep my mouth shut and do my job. Every fiber of my brain wanted more than anything to drive to work and tell Ms. alcoholic bi-polar bosslady to shove it where the sun didn’t shine, but I was at no point financially to do that. I simply had to accept what was my present fate. Then, everything changed.

It was a cold rainy day in December. I had driven to my girlfriends house to sit in front of the fire-place, sip some white zifandel and forget the world for a bit. We were having a heated discussing over the Home Networks “flip it” when my cell phone rang. It was a number I did not recognize and I almost did not answer it. Something in my belly twitched and my heart fluttered so I answered the call. It was a local law enforcement agency phoning about a position open with our county as a tele communicator. In mid August, I had forwarded my résumé to them, at the same time, their HR Department was transferred from their old office across town into a new office, and here it was December, and they were just now finding my résumé. They offered me an interview for two days later that I EAGERLY accepted. I could not believe my luck! I was ecstatic. Two days passed, I entered the interview with confidence and nailed it. They phoned the beginning of the next week and offered me the job. I did not hesitate to accept, I did not care if they saw how excited and happy I was, for once EVERYTHING FELT RIGHT!

It was week before Christmas, my new job set to start mid January, when I reported to work and informed my boss of my new job. I offered to stay with the restaurant until New Years, but when I informed my boss fbba8ff3-6896-4d3f-8eb0-e9ad9ff5d34dI would not be working New Years Eve, she not so nicely told me that was a deal breaker. Then began the rant of innuendos and insults that I had endured for the two months since she had returned. I quietly put on my jacket, grabbed my purse, and walked out the door.  I have no regrets about that.My Grandmother raised me to treat others as you wish to be treated, but sometimes, after you have taken more punishment than you deserve, you reach a point where you just don’t care. The necessity for the job was not there anymore, my pride took over. I was no longer in a position to be treaded on, mistreated and used. I walked out the door of that restaurant with an unfriendly, go (bleep) yourself, gave myself my Christmas in GA with my son, welcomed in 2013 in a calm, settled environment and allowed myself to know, this year was going to bring changes. I walked into the new year, hopeful for a renewed peace and content in my life, I have earned it!

I can see your colors!

At this point in my blog, I want to take a moment, and reflect on Chris and R. separately and from my hearts prospective on our relationships. Simply because, after discovering the truth of my husbands infedility, my heart released the negativity it had been clinging to and I have since begun a slow healing process. In the healing process, I have learned to see deeper into myself to find the reasons that I responded to these men as I did. My future blogs are going to be focusing on that healing process and leading to my present life today, but I want to take a moment and reflect on these two men who played such dramatic parts in my life.

First, I want to give my description of my husband. My husband is an hypocritical man, with very low self-esteem, that was unfortunately, born into a family that has never known how to love or show love. Therefore, he has never been taught how to love. He was raised by a manipulative mother whom was controlling and demeaning to not only her children, but her husband as well. She became pregnant in the 50’s with Chris’s oldest brother by another man, that said man died in a car accident early into her pregnancy, she soon after meet Chris’s father on a blind date, slept with him and convinced him the baby was his. He naturally married her and though they NEVER slept in the same bed together, she interestingly found a way to become pregnant every couple of years until she bore five sons. By the time the youngest was born, the oldest was in his 20’s. Soon after the youngest reached mid teens, Chris’s father died of a mysterious and unknown illness that left him paralyzed and a mute for the last two years of his life. By all stories told in the communities, Chris’s father had been a gregarious, out going, handsome young man before meeting Chris’s mom. Chris’s mom, however, was shy, a loner and withdrawn. AFter their marriage, some of Chris’s dad’s childhood friends have stated, his dad’s mentality began to change and after just a few short years he was an angry, bitter, ill, loner himself. There are no family portraits in their family, only pictures of Chris, his brothers and their mom. If Dad is in any of them, it is in the background. All of Chris’s brothers and Chris himself only have memories of their Dad yelling at them and always spanking the oldest. By the time Chris and the youngest came along, their dad’s illness was creeping in.

Chris’s mom is full of piss and venom, and the 11 years I spent around her, I never heard her utter a positive word, or even anyone in the community utter a positive word about her. She was always spiteful, talking ugly to people and behind their backs and never had any friends. Her days, since her husbands death, were spent sitting in an empty house, staring at blank walls. I even remember my husband, on several different occasions, telling me if he ever became that negative to just put him in his grave, to not let him live to be that miserable. (this was his MOM he was talking about)

With the family background, its easy to see why my husband was so cold and distant. In the beginning, it touched my heart that he had never known or felt REAL love and it was my goal to make sure he did. I was in that “oh I can change him, mode” in the early stages of our dating.

You see, I was born to parents who never should have had children. I did not have a bad childhood, my parents did not want me, divorced, went their separate ways and left me to be raised by my Grandparents. My Grandparents were angels on earth, but they were not huggy, touchy people: they showed me their love by supplying a warm home, hot meals and buying me ice cream. That, in turn, is how I learned to love, by acts of kindness for others. This did not mesh with my husbands need to constantly be touching me, holding me, asking me where I was going and not even letting me leave him alone in the living room for five minutes. Early in our relationship, this kind of banter was suffocating to me. If I were on the couch, he needed to be next to me, holding my hand in a death grip: if I left the room to get a drink of water, he would ask where I was going and go with me to the kitchen….I viewed this as controlling and suffocating. I, on the other hand, would spend hours upon hours, cleaning his home, buying his groceries, cooking his favorite meals, making sure his fav TV shows were turned to at the right time, etc. This was my way of showing my love: his negativity and harsh words in response to me doing those things crushed my heart and only made me feel less loved.

It was our love languages and the differences in our backgrounds, even present in the beginning of the relationship, that was the pitfall of our marriage. I never felt good enough, he found power in making me feel less than special and thus began a vicious circle. My lack of family in my childhood has always left an emptiness that I never wanted my children to feel. My marriage to their Dad destroyed by divorce, I did not have the strength or the motivation to end this viscous circle for fear of hurting and damaging my children.

So I began to change me. I deleted friends from my life, changed my personality to what I thought my husband wanted me to be, gained a lot of weight and gave up believing in myself. My husband was at great fault for the verbal abuse he put me through, but only I am to blame for allowing him to take away my confidence and control me with harshness.

I never could understand why I was never good enough? Why he never seemed to love me after he won my heart? All I ever wanted was to feel protected, loved, admired, RESPECTED….respected is the big word. He never offered any of those emotions, ever. He was too wrapped up in a mentally deranged image of himself that he wanted to present to the public. My husband is literally a hypocrite. He would tell me for hours, what a damaged mess I was, I was the devil, I was a liar, a looser, a piece of garbage: while in the all honesty, he was only talking about himself and deflecting those things on me. He would go in the public, bible thumps that he was, speak articulately, always smile and offer polite compassion and words of encouragement to everyone, he was a deacon at church, attended every bible study class there was, president of his rotary club, president of the FDA and was always volunteering for some charity benefit. We walked in public, hand in hand, smiling at everyone, as I stood quietly to the side and let him take the lime light. Others would gossip about me behind my back, I was called snobby, not very friendly, heart less, cold, etc. My husband never drank in public, unless he was out with his guy friend, never cursed, or showed any inclination of inappropriateness, ever.

Behind closed doors, his favorite name for me was “you stupid bitch”, he would have me venture to the local ABC 3-4 times a week and purchase him Canadian Mist all the while telling others in the community that I had a drinking problem: he smoked cigars, belittled myself and my children and talked nasty about everyone behind their back.

He was heartless and cold. His older brother died in 2006 and I never saw a tear fall from his eyes. Not one! INstead, he stood at the door to the chapel, before the funeral, making sure to shake everyone’s hand that entered, and thank them for coming: that same night, he drank almost a fifth and downed every person that he had been so polite to their face.

All the while I was battling my alcoholism, grieving the loss of my friend and my job-he was in the public, nastily telling others about my problems and berating me to others. After the affair with R. was discovered, he was quick to call me a slut, trash, etc. He accused me of giving him a Veneral Disease and took no time in telling his friends in family about the affair, all the while, he had been involved in his own discrepancies for two years.

How could I have ever loved such a fraud? Was my heart and life so sad and empty that I was easily manipulated by this man who, obviously, suffers from severe mental illness?

It hurts to know I gave so much of my life to him: it hurts to know how much effort I put into our marriage, how desperately I wanted him to love me and how easily he returned every picture, every memory, and walked away. It hurts to know I was willing to sacrifice myself and my children, for such an ass. I don’t miss him at all, I miss the husband and the man that I wanted him to be!

The truth is set free

It was the end of July when I left the restaurant/nightclub where I had been employed for the summer. That was the first big decision that I had made in my single life: the money was good, the hours were reasonable, but I just did not fit. I was 39 and had spent the last ten years of my life in a professional setting with a respectful career. Returning to waitressing was an option I was forced into, but I could no longer allow myself to lower my standards and work with the types of people I were. The bar owner was in his 50’s, a horrid pervert and had spent the summer making lude and rude comments to me. My co workers were almost all in their 20’s: young, single and stupid. A couple of the bartenders had been caught prostituting out of the bathrooms – yes, you read that correctly, and two of the cooks had been arrested on premises for selling drugs out of their vehicles. Gossip was rampant, drama dominated and once I received my back pay, I knew I had to begin breaking away from the things that were bringing me down and holding me back from my authentic self. No matter how great my income, I could not allow myself to be associated with the people anymore, so I quit.

That was a huge decision to make at that point in my life. Here I was, 39, suddenly single, raising a 17-year-old daughter on my own. My career was over, my earlier beautiful home was no longer mine, and it was up to me and only me to make our lives manageable, was being unemployed really a smart move?

The day my daughter left for her dad’s for three weeks, I crawled into a cocoon in my bed and just laid there. I quieted the world, my heart, my soul and my mind, and just breathed. I did not think, eat, drink or move for two solid days. I slept like I was in a coma. Finally, I mustered the courage to step outside my door, walk the 50 feet to the ocean, and lay still in front of heaven. How had I spent the entire summer and had barely walked out my door? My condo complex is directly on the ocean and has an outdoor pool. In my depressive, isolated state, I had not allowed myself to see any of these amenities surrounding me. I was in self destruct mode for way too long.

Everyday after, I would arise early, walk to the beach, and bronze myself while I allowed the motion of the ocean to soothe my soul. I had forgotten how soothing the ocean was for my heart during my first divorce. After my first husband and I had separated, I had relocated to the beach and spent every day I could find with my soul mate, the Atlantic Ocean. I had been so damaged and destitute I had failed to realize the healing waters lapping at my back door.

August was destined to be a horrid month for me, the 17th would have been my 10th wedding anniversary and later that month would be my 40th birthday. I was determined to make it ok. I began making myself walk outside my doors and associate with my neighbors and those around me. I had noticed our maintainance man when I moved into the condo in June, but suddenly, I really noticed that he was a nice looking guy. I met my neighbors on either side of me, a couple in their 70’s one the right and on the left was their daughter and her husband who were in their 40’s. It was small talk, but I was making steps to make my life my own. I was too embarrassed and ashamed to tell them much about myself, other than that my daughter and I were living there, that was all I could manage. We had a security guard on premises who was in her 30’s, after speaking with her a few times, discovering she was a single mom as well, we made plans to have a girls night out. I was terrified. Would people tell my ex they had seen me in a bar? How would people react to my presence, especially those who had discovered the affair with R. through the locals gossip mill? I literally did not want to leave my home, but forced myself out into the world.

I began the task of putting in applications again, I was drawing unemployment, but it would not be enough to sustain my daughter and I’s small, sheltered lifestyle. Around the middle of August, I was offered a position with a restaurant just a few miles down the road, on the island, but with a higher quality clientele and rating. I was not eager to wait tables again, but it was the option I was given and beggars cannot be chooser. The first night I was there, I knew I had made the right choice in accepting the job. My co workers were more age proper and the customers in the restaurant were of the professional quality that I was used to living my life around. It was embarrassing to be my age and be a waitress, but I was surviving.

Things sound easy at that point, but they were not. I could not shake the unsettled feeling in my soul. There was something gnawing at my existence that I could not pinpoint or put my finger on. My tenth anniversary came, I asked off of work that day and I laid in my bed and cried for my marriage. Inside my mind lingered a desire for my husband to call, to want to see me, to miss me as much as I missed him on our day, but in my heart was the knowledge that he was moving forward with his life, and though I am sure he recognized the day, we were dealing with it in two different manners. The days continued, my 40th birthday was on the horizon. My birthday was on a Sunday, Saturday I had requested off to be with some friends who were going to take me out to celebrate, that Friday night, two days before my birthday, I was at work. My co workers and I were hanging out in the wait staff section, participating in general chit chat. By bosses daughter was in her 30’s and was honestly, one of the noisiest people I had ever met. She had been asking tons of questions about my marriage, separation, etc. and until that evening, I had been able to keep her at bay. On this particular night, she was on Facebook on the computer in our section, she asked if my ex had a facebook page, I reluctantly told her yes, she asked to see him, I opened his Facebook page and the entire room fell silent. My bosses daughter and two other waitresses were standing, looking at my ex husbands photo, in complete silence. They all began to look at each other, my bosses daughter asked one of the waitresses to go and get the head waitress to see his photo. She then began to tell me, my ex husband had been a regular client of theirs for almost two years. He had dined at least twice a week, for two years, with a woman in her late 20’s. They always sat in a dark corner of the restaurant, away from others, and spent “quality” time together. She told me to hold my breath, Nicole was the waitress they always requested and Nicole could either confirm or deny that it was officially my ex. Nicole came around the corner, not knowing that this was a photo of my ex, when my bosses daughter asked her who that was, she confirmed that my ex had had an affair with this woman, in the same restaurant that I was now employed, for almost two years. The room was silent, my heart stopped, but I felt nothing. I quietly walked out and went back to work. As the evening passed, more information was revealed, and suddenly, that feeling in my soul and the gnawing in my belly were gone. You see, in that one minute of revelation, everything made sense.

My husband and I had returned to the area exactly two years before, it was a month into our settling in that I crashed and my alcohol abuse, previously explained in a former post, had happened. Soon after, my husband began to take extra nights of duty at his work, using the excuse that his work was located over an hour away, he would simply stay at his work establishment for two nights every three days. I could never understand his absence and lack of affection when I lost my friend, when I was abusing alcohol, and the days after. I knew that there were evenings he was suppose to be at work, that I could not get him to answer the phone, but in the career industry we were both in, that was not unusual and gave me no reason to suspect any infidelity. In the days since the show of my affair, my friends were mind boggled at how quickly he walked away, seemingly unhurt and unscathed by my infidelity. They were lost his coldness towards my children and his lack of affection or compassion for them. Suddenly, it all made sense. Just as a confirmation to the information they had shared, my bosses daughter went and collected the credit card receipts for the previous six months, surely enough, four times in from February to July there was a copy of my husbands credit card receipt, his signature and dinner for two, the same dinner and drinks each time, had been purchased. I kept each one. After all the damage he had put on my name in society, the guilt he had laid on my heart, and the coldness he had offered for two years, I finally knew why, he had had an affair of his own, the entire time!

The affair (part 2)

It was around 10 a.m., that Saturday morning, that I was sitting in the office, in anticipation, when I heard someone’s key turn in the back door lock. I think I quit breathing and my heart slowed to a flutter: imagine my surprise when I see my other male co-worker round the corner. I had done nothing more than spend the morning in anticipation and fear of what was going to happen when R. arrived, but by my response to W.’s arrival, you would have thought something had happened between us already. W. stated he had a few hours worth of work to catch up on and had decided to come in that morning and complete it. My face was flushed, my heart beating rapidly and I could not formulate a full sentence without stuttering or loosing my track of thought. W. looked at me strangely and made his way to the other office. What was going to happen when R. arrived and W. was in the office with us? What was W. going to think when R. showed with no valid reason? Why did I even care, when I had spent the entire morning telling myself that nothing could happen between us and how wrong it was?

At 11:30, W. was still settled in the side office, when I saw R.’s truck turn into the parking lot. Again, my face flushed, my hands began to shake and I was terrified. The back door opened, R. rounded the corner and I truly thought I was going to pass out. He was nicely dressed, nothing special, but a pair of jeans and a dress shirt, a pair of top siders and cologne that sent my hormones into overdrive. He was smiling the sweetest smile and “hello beautiful” came from his lips before I could tell him we had company. W. entered my office, looked surprised at seeing R. there and said “Well hello handsome”. I thought R’s face was going to bounce off of the floor. W. gave both of us an inquisitive look and called R. into his office to show him what he was working on. Twenty minutes passed before I saw R. again, he entered the room with W. on his heels. He mouthed “sorry” while W. wasn’t looking, they both found a seat in my office and we sat around carrying on idle chit-chat for the next ten minutes. R. looked at his watch, it was 12:05, I was due off at 12. W. noted it was past closing time and inquired about why I was still hanging out. I muttered something about a deadline that needed to be met before that afternoon and I would just be a little longer, W. offered to stay with me. R. interjected, told W. to go home with his wife and kids and he would hang out for a bit. W. gave us both a weird sideways glance, said his goodbyes and left for the day.

When it was just R. and I in the building, I was terrified. I could not look at him, be near him, all I wanted to do was run out the door. I knew the things I were feeling, I knew they were not right and I knew I was going to act on those feelings. He slowly rolled his chair across the office beside mine, put his hand on the arm of my chair and asked what we were going to do about this? His face was just a few inches from mine, I could smell his breath mint. His eyes crystal blue, his goat-tee nice and trim, and his lips were calling my name. I turned away as quickly as I could, rolled my chair over a little, and screamed a bit when my cell phone began to ring. I picked it up, just as a distraction and was excited to see it was my oldest son. He had left for the Air Force basic training a month earlier and this was his first phone call to me. I made no explanations to R., answered the phone and began an excited conversation with my son. I paced around the office while I was on the phone and R’s eyes never quit watching me. I quietly whispered it was my son, he tenderly touched my hand and said “I know, I figured that out”. The look in his eyes were so loving, his touch on my hand-made my hairs stand on end and the electricity coursed through my veins, I knew this was not going to end well, I had to touch him, feel him, kiss him. I had to find out just what was happening between us.

My sons phone call lasted longer than it needed to be, not that I was complaining at all. It was almost 1 p.m. before I hung up the phone and R. was getting eager, he had afternoon plans with his wife and friends. We ran around the building, locking it down for the day, and my mind was awash with thoughts of how this was going to happen. I was C.’s wife, he was another womans husband: the guilt overcame me, but not enough to wash out the want. We were walking into the garage, the building door shut behind us and R. was pushing the button to raise the outside door, when I knew what I had to do. I grabbed him by his belt buckles, told him there was something I just needed to know, pulled him to me, and we shared the sweetest most electrifying 5 second kiss of my life. The feelings and emotions were too much, I pushed him away, reached for my belongings, when he grabbed me by my waist and said “now I need to see something”, and pulled me back to him. When the kiss was over, I was breathless. My hands and knees were shaking, I couldn’t focus on anything, and was unsure of what to do next. R. put the garage door up, let me out first, and I could tell he was feeling the same emotions. We never said a word as we were walking to our cars, he opened my car door for me, and I told him I felt that we had just crossed a boundary, never to return. He looked deep in my eyes and agreed. Before I even exited the driveway, he was calling my cell, we talked the way home, again that evening and made plans to meet the next day at a secluded place.

That was the beginning. We met again on Sunday, and Monday, and Tuesday, Wenesday…etc. The affair quickly became sexual and quickly progressed into a love that I can never explain to anyone. With us working together 6 days a week, it opened opportunities for us to spend quality time together that we may have not had if the circumstances had been different. We took several long distance road trips together, volunteered for weekends together, etc. It was not just an affair, it was a love affair.

The times we would meet for sex were not just in the back seat of a car, as one would imagine. It would be in discreet places of comfort and we would spend hours together just talking, cuddling, spending our time with each other. For example, he had the key to his neighbors beach home. The neighbor never came down, had recently placed it on the market and had given R. the key to show the home to potential buyers. The house was near his home, which created anticipation on my part, but I agreed to meet him there for an afternoon together. When I arrived he was barefoot, had purchased my favorite bottle of wine, and had a chilled glass in hand waiting for me. He gave me a tour of the gorgeous, never will be in my budget, home. We sat on the back deck with our wine, overlooking the pool, overlooking the ocean and talked for I know hours. We talked about our childhood, our parents, our kids, etc. We shared things that day, that we had never shared with others before. R. stood up, walked me up the three flights of steps, carried me into the bedroom and placed me on the bed. He just stood and stared at me. It kind of made me uncomfortable so I squirmed out of his gaze when he aggressively placed me in a lock hold on the bed, looked me dead in the eye and whispered “I just want to swim in your eyes forever, you are so beautiful. Do you know I can see your soul when I look at you?” And the thing was…I knew he was right. He was the first and only man who had ever looked at me and saw my soul. We made love that day, dressed, and took a long walk on the ocean before returning home. I will never forget the guilt, sadness and isolation that overtook my heart that day. How was it possible that I had met someone so wonderful and he and I both belonged to others? How could something that was making me so happy, be so wrong? And just what were we going to do about it?

As our affair progressed, others at work began to notice something between us and the gossip began. R. never denied anything, much to my chagrin, but instead walked around calling he and I the lovebirds and laughing at others when they would ask what was happening between us. It was as if he wanted everyone to know. I, however, would blow it off and make jokes about R.’s player status. I knew what others in the office thought of him and I played that trump card. With the differences in our responses, this intrigued their curiosity much more. R.’s affections for me soon became a little uncomfortable for my tastes. His antics in the office, sneaking a kiss with a co-worker in the room next door, etc. made me anxious daily. One weekend, we were called in to work together on a Saturday. We had to visit with a neighbor of R’s for business purposes. We took the company Cadillac over, holding hands the entire way. After our visit, we were exiting the drive when R. turned the vehicle in the opposite direction. I knew immediately where he was headed and told him absolutely not. He was driving the direction of he and his wife’s home. He chuckled, told me to stay calm he only would be a minute, and he pulled into his drive. I thought I would rather fall into a hole in the ground when his wife opened the front door and came walking outside. In nervous frustration, I picked up my blackberry and pretended to be texting an invisible someone on the other end. R’s wife came over to my car window, spoke to me and started a conversation on what a nice day it was. How I maintained that conversation, I can not tell you: then to my horror, R. returned to the car, and leaned himself into me in a romantic way, as I was talking to his wife. I could not breathe: and by the way she stuttered a half goodbye, I could tell she sensed something. After we were out of her sight, I began to cry and punched him: yelling what the hell was he thinking, he laughed and told me not to worry about it, she didn’t know anything. I began crying harder, he pulled over on the side of the road, took my hand and began to kiss it, and looked me deep in the eye when he told me he didn’t care anymore who knew, he was proud of me and was not letting me leave his life. I knew at that moment, this was not going to end in a good way, not only were we going to get hurt, but our spouses as well.

R. was perfect, other than his lack of discretion. We never fought, the attraction was nothing I had ever felt before, we told each other everything, and when we were apart, we were both empty inside. We would talk for hours about our marriages and what was going to happen with them. We made plans for me to visit his family in PA, meet his daughters that lived in TX: he wanted to visit my childhood home so he could visualize the place where I had been so happy. etc. but we never finalized plans on just how we were going to make these things happen.

By April, we were telling each other we loved each other, and as wrong as it was, we truly did. I will believe that for as long as I live, no matter what the outcome of our relationship was.

By mid April, things were getting too out of control for my mind. At the end of March I had traveled to TX alone to see my oldest son graduate from Air Force basic training. My husband had refused to go with me, regardless of how many times I begged him to come, citing financial difficulties and not having any time to take off work. From the moment I left to drive to the airport until the moment that I returned home, R. was on my phone. He was texting calling and IM’s photos and wanting me to do the same. The day before I left, he came into work and told me he had a surprise for me in the back seat of my car, but to be very careful. I was excited to leave work that day and was even more so when I found one of his shirts, laden with his cologne, with a note for me to sleep in it at night and we would be close to each other. I stashed the shirt in my suit case and the entire time I was alone in my hotel room ,over my four-day visit, that shirt was on my body. It smelled just like him and when I wrapped it tight, it even felt like him. His wife was always out-of-town on Thursday nights, venturing back to her home town to see her Daughter and Grandson. That Thursday night of my trip, we were on the phone literally the entire night. Talking with R. was so comfortable, the conversation just flowed. The next Tuesday, i returned to work and was a little miffed at R.’s lack of hiding his enthusiasm around our co-workers. More and more people were noticing the attraction between us, even to the point of W. taking R. to lunch and telling him he did not need to know what was happening between us, but R. needed to tame it down before something destructive happened.

Finally, I knew we needed to end it and let things happen in a more natural flow. I took R. to our private meeting place and told him we were over. He cried, held my hand, begged me not to do this. I told him that we had two spouses that were going to be hurt, his response was simply “If they had been good spouses, we would have fallen in love!” I refused to talk about it anymore, bade him to leave and told him that we needed to take care of our marriages and if we were meant to be, it would happen. All night, my phone rang off the hook, to the point of having to place it in silent mode to not alert my husband. By this point in time, my husband was already noticing something himself. He questioned my happiness, I had lost around 20 lbs. and I obviously did not want to spend any time with him, where before I could force a few hours without incident. The next day, we were at work, R. made a huge spectacle in front of our entire staff. We were involved in a business negotiation, when W. leaned over to whisper instructions to me. R. saw this, his face turned beet red and he turned and punched the wall before stomping out of the room. I was shocked, the entire staff was shocked, and everyone looked at me. I had no clue what to do or say. It had only been one day since I ended us and he was this upset already. A few hours passed and I was able to catch R. in a private area outside of work. He was angry that W. had whispered, sad that I thought we needed to be over and he begged for me to tell him why. I told him from my heart how much I loved him, but I could not partake in our affair any longer. I told him that i wanted to be his, fully his. I wanted he and I to be a couple, go out in public together, not have to look over our shoulder during our times of love…I wanted to be his and him to be mine. He told me how much he loved me and he cried. He sat and held my hands, looking my straight in the eye, and cried. He begged for one more night. My husband was out-of-town for business until later in the evening and his wife was out-of-town for a trade show. He said he would take me out to eat, in public, and then he wanted us to go somewhere private and just hold each other. I wasn’t entirely sure about the going out in public together but I agreed to meet him after work at his mother’s house.

His mom’s house was located around 10 miles outside of town, in an isolated area, and it was empty since she had moved in with her boyfriend a few months earlier. R. had ventured down the road and ordered us take out pizza and when I pulled into the drive, my heart just melted. He was standing on the porch, again barefoot (we do live at the beach), but this time there was no wine, only his hands pushed into his pants pockets with the saddest blue eyes I have ever seen. We went inside and could not control our impulses for two minutes. Within a minute we were making the most amazing love, eating some pizza and then showering together, to start all over again. That night was intense. It was as if we knew it would be our “last” night together. The bond between us was amazing but there was an air of holding on just a little too tight.

unfortunately, the time came for me to leave, and I drove home with my head in the clouds. That floating feeling was soon to be ended, as I pulled into the drive and my husband’s car was home. I smelt like his cologne, my chest was still flushed from our last session and my hair slightly damp from our shower. I couldn’t pull out, he saw my headlights in the window and opened the front door for me. I was terrified, what was going to happen? Luckily, my husband was in deep conversation with someone on the cell phone and I was able to rush upstairs and put on my pj’s. I toweled my hair and begged that flushed in love look to go away. When I came back downstairs, you could see him eyeing me, but he never asked a single question.

The next two days, R. was off to help his wife out in their store. Thursday came, the night she was going to be out-of-town. My kids and I were out to dinner together when R. began texting me. My husband was on call and was not going to be home until Saturday. R. was anxious for me to come over and see him, though I knew we needed to end. Text, after text, after text came through and I would not answer. I responded that I was out with my kids, to respect my time with them. My youngest son was due to leave for basic training in a week and a half and I wanted as much time with him as I could. This sent his fear into overdrive, and he began to text and call non stop. Finally, around 6 p.m. everything just suddenly stopped. The kids and I were settled into home around 7 when my world began to crumble. R. phoned and I would not answer, so he called the house. I knew if he were calling my home phone something was wrong, so I answered. My husband had called his phone, leaving messages about whose number this was and why were they screwing his wife? R. sounded terrified and I could not believe what was happening. I told R. there was no way he knew, to which R. played the messages from his cell phone. Around that same time, my husband began calling me. R. yelled over the phone to not tell him anything, deny it all. I calmly answered the phone to which my husband asked me what was going on. I told him I had been at dinner with the kids, just arrived home, and was watching a movie with them. Enough of the games, he said, who are you f&$(ing. I played stupid, as is the first response, then he informed me that he had watched all the activity on my cell phone through his computer and he wanted to know who was the person who had texted me over 100 times in the last two hours. I sat in silence, he demanded an answer and I calmly told him it was R. Once reality hit that I had easily given him the information he was searching for he went into angry terrorist mode. He asked me had we slept together, to which I answered no. He then began yelling he was on his way home and was he arrived, he was going to kill me. No one was going to make a fool of him and if I were smart, I would not call or text R. and not leave the home until he arrived. Hearing the anger in his voice, I knew what he was saying was true. After we hung up, I quickly called R. to let him know I told him at least about our talking. I was not as quick as my husband, he phoned R. and left an aggressive message about ruining his marriage if not killing him as well. R. was livid, he was so angry that I had told my husband whom I had talked to. He began cursing me too and told me to NEVER tell him that we had slept together. I was crying, not sure what had just happened, scared for my life and not knowing what to do next. R. informed me that he would be trashing his pre-paid phone and he would be in touch sometime later, and then he hung up on me.

Fear filled my heart, I knew I had to protect my kids, so I called my son and daughter downstairs, told them I had become emotionally involved with someone else, C. had found out about it, and for their safety, they needed to go to their dads for the weekend. My son was terrified for me, afraid of what C. would do, he refused to leave. I phoned my husband, by that time he had calmed, but he was adamant that he was going to get copies of our texts to each other and once he knew we had slept together, he was going to not only sue us both for alienation of affection but also make sure our careers and R.’s marriage did not make it through. He stated he was not coming home that night, as he knew he would physically hurt me, but would be home after lunch the next day. My son slept with my downstairs that night, every noise we heard, we were awake and looking out the window.

The next morning, I packed my kids as much into their luggage as would fit and sent them driving the hour to their dads home. I was lost, terrified and had no clue what to do. I began to pack my own things, not knowing what would happen at any given minute. I called R. over one hundred times that night and into the next day, it always going into voicemail. I was hurt and dismayed at his lack of concern for my safety, but more so at his anger for me telling the truth. AFter all, wasn’t it he that had just been BEGGING me to end it not a week before this?

The affair

Yes, you are reading that title correctly. As much as I wanted to distract my mind from this post and focus on posting about Christmas and my first holiday as a single woman, I know in my heart, it is time to let this go. The process of telling my story in order has offered more healing to me than I thought it would. This part of the story is the hardest for me: I am still holding on to so many emotions that are stemming from this chapter. Bear with me!

In August 2010, when I accepted the part-time position with the firm, I was elated to just be out of the home and back into a professional setting. The firm was a small company, only having 7 employees. Of the 7 employees, myself and the accountant were the only women. She was part-time as well: there were two male owners, one male counterpart to my position and two male maintainance men. I found no discomfort in working with a group of men all day. We were all married, in a respectable position that required us to constantly be on our best behavior, and mature enough to not allow any male/female barriers to form. I got along well with my co-workers, with the exception of one of the maintainance men. I found him arrogant, aloof, vain and intolerable. He was in his 40’s and married to a woman in her 60’s. It was obvious that he was a player, he would flirt with anything that walked. He attempted his flirts with me once I started the position and was irritated at how quickly I rebuffed his advances. I told him straight forwardly what my thoughts were of him and I was honest in telling him that I did not like him. He responded with foul name calling and telling me I was cold-hearted. Behind his back, our other co workers would tell me to watch out for him. He had been an 18 year employee with the firm, single when he was hired-he married his second wife soon after beginning employment. Seven years into their marriage, his sister had obtained a position at a local gas station as a clerk, he began to stop in to visit his sister . The owner of the gas station was a married female whom he began his flirtations with. (I’ll refer to his as R.) R. began an affair with the married store owner, to which the eventually left their spouses and married each other. He was 38 she was late 50’s. My coworkers all stated it was for her money: she owned a half million dollar home that they resided in, she purchased him boats, jet skis, and even had just purchased a landscaping company for him to run during the summer months. He would walk around work with three phones: one work phone, one personal phone and then one prepaid phone he had obtained at Wal-Mart. He would spend hours sitting in the back, texting on his prepaid phone, laughing and giggling like a school kid. My co-workers stated this was his “Affair” phone. Disgusted by this man, I kept my distance pretty good for the three months that I was employed part-time.

In May 2011, when I returned to the firm full-time. I was surprised to find R. waiting at the back door on my first day. He smiled this huge smile, hugged me gently and professionally and told me how much he had missed me. I gave him a sideways, what are you up to look and started my day. Over time, R. would approach me professionally and respectfully. The player that was present the year before, had seemingly settled down and there was a sadness to him that had not been there before. Our personalities began to mesh, we discovered we were both jokester and began a contest to see who could pull off the best prank. We never talked about our spouses or our personal life, but a friendship formed based on personality and our own belief system. Granted, R. still had possession of his pre paid phone, and from time to time would receive texts on it, but there was a difference to him that I could not put my finger on.

Soon after I returned to work, in July of 2011, R. approached me at work and asked if he could speak to me privately. His 43rd birthday was just around the corner, he and his wife had a huge fight, she had kicked him out, and he needed to move his mothers camper into a neighboring RV park to live in. He needed someone to follow him to leave his truck with his mom and give him a ride back. He did not want to ask any of our other co-workers: they had told him for years his marriage was a sham and he did not want to hear their banter. I knew what others were saying behind his back and my heart melted: I followed him to the camper and gave him a ride back to work. During this trip, our first conversations about our marriage began. He opened up and told me how critical and demeaning his wife was. She was an alcohol and a pot head and would spend hours every day telling what a low life he was and how lucky he was to have her. She controlled every part of their marriage: his checks went into their account and she paid all the bills and kept control of the check book, he had to ask for money: she had him sign a pre-nup before their wedding and she was quick to let him know everything belonged to her and nothing was his. When he approached her about her drinking, she put the wall up, told him their marriage was a sham and maybe they needed to divorce. Once he began to tell his story, my heart would cry out in sympathy. We were not in the same situations but we were similar in the fact that we were married to spouses that we longed to love us. We both had sacrificed our own beings to be with people who were not appreciative. I could see in his eyes the hurt and hear in his voice the loneliness. At this point, there was no attraction between us, we simply were building a friendship and a bond that only we could understand.

The first of August arrived and R. moved back in with his wife. Life was moving along, nothing special to report. Work was just that, work, and R. and I had built this great friendship based on trust and understanding of each other. We would continue our pranks in the workplace, much to the dismay of our co workers, and it was around this time that everyone at work began to think we were having an affair. I honestly can say, nothing was happening then, but there was something building between us that others were seeing, but we were attempting to ignore.

In August, my 39th birthday upon me, R. and I began having more deep discussions about our life. The discussions not only involved our marriages, but talks about our childhoods, parents, children, hopes and dreams. I opened upon and told R. about John, our relationship and his death. I did not tell him about my bout with alcohol, at that point in time, I was completely sober. I did tell him how John would always leave a gift for me in my car on my birthday and at Christmas or how we would play jokes on each other at said dates, such as, on John’s 60th birthday, I literally filled his car with pink packing peanuts, to the point of a massive avalanche when he opened his door. As I was telling R. about John, my eyes filled with tears even though I was laughing at the memory of the stories. R. laughed with me, gently wiped a tear away, looked deeply in my eyes and told me I had a heart after all. He said he could see how important John had been to me and how hurt I was at his death. I was taken aback: in the year that John had been gone, no one had allowed me to talk about him, much less offered their sympathy and acknowledged my loss. Quickly, I turned away and changed the conversation. I was overcome with a tenderness that I had never felt before. A few days later, not yet my birthday, but two days before, I open my car door to find a bottle of kettle one vodka in the seat with a Happy Birthday note from R. I was so touched he had remembered my story about John but unsure what to do with the vodka or even tell him about my former issues with alcohol. Unable to take the bottle home, I stopped by a local stores dumpster, emptied the contents, discarded the bottle and went home. That weekend, a hurricane approached our coast and it was days before R. and I saw each other again. He was clearly upset and my lack of response to his gift and I sadly, told him the story of the year before and my blackout/alcohol induction episode. He stood quietly and allowed me to tell him everything. Then he looked me in the eye, put his hand on my arm, and told me to never be ashamed of my past or who I was, I was a wonderful person that any man would be lucky to have and he walked away.

Time moved on, R. began to aggressively pursue me in a romantic sense after that conversation. I would laugh off his aggressions and calmly tell him he was like a brother to me. He, in turn, began to tell our co-workers – if I were single, I would be his. He began to text me from his prepaid phone. I was a little creeped out by this, but intrigued none the less. If something were happening in my life, say with school, with my daughter, etc. He would text this inspiring messages of support and motivation. Over time, I began to eagerly keep my ear on alert, waiting for that bing from my phone that a new text message was present.

In the meantime, my relationship with my husband was still on auto pilot. By 2011, he began taking overtime at work and instead of one night of call a week he had volunteered for two: that being said, when he was on call, he would stay overnight at his place of employment. He would leave one morning, and not be home for three days. This worked perfectly for me, I didn’t have to bear his negative attitude or force a smile around the home as much.

I had reached out to old friends and was actively maintaining true friendships with a few of them, I had purchased a motorcycle (that was a dream of mine), was still enrolled in school and was doing well with my sobriety.

R.’s marriage was the same, he talked of the negativity she brought into his life, would share the horrid things she would say to him, and had opened up on his lack of a sex life with her.

In November of 2011, my husband returned home from his 3 day work stint to call me into the kitchen for a serious discussion. He stated it was time for us to make a decision about our marriage, do we save it or do we walk away? We talked for hours about how different of people we were, the lack of passion and love between us, and the options that were in front of us. We both agreed the marriage was a sham, had been over for a while and we quietly agreed to move forward into separating, but not until after the holidays, for my daughter’s sake.

January 2012 came in quietly, there was a resignation of our marriage that was present in the air in our home, it was just a matter of figuring how to move forward as painless as possible.

It was in late January, after sharing the story with R. about our decision, that I noticed an attraction to him that I knew had been there before, but I had chosen to ignore it. Suddenly, with the talk about separation from my hubby, my walls came down and I was overcome with paralyzing attraction to R. Just as sudden as it happened for me, it happened for him to. You could see the nervousness between us that had not been present before. He could walk by me and goose bumps would take over my body: to see him walk into a room would leave me speechless and I longed to just pull him close, kiss him, and hold him close. I didn’t know what to do with these emotions, and though at that point, we had not discussed it, neither did he.

In February, I accepted my girlfriends invitation to take a road trip to Georgia and spend a girls weekend with her. It was a 7 hour drive and my cell would ding every hour or so with a message from R. Was I safe? Where was I? He missed me already. When I arrived, I phoned him to let him know I was there and he gently told me that he missed me already: I knew it wasn’t a line, I felt the same. The weekend was great, catching up on old times with a dear friend, but my mind was distracted with thoughts of R. At the last-minute, I decided to stay another day, phoned work and let them know but did not phone R., as it was his weekend off and he was home with his wife. The next afternoon, I received an angry message from R., he was upset that I had not returned and he would have to wait another day to see me. The entire weekend, though I called my husband, texted him and left voice mails, he never responded to any of them and could openly care less where I was or if I would return. It was on the 7 hour drive home that Tuesday, that I knew something bad was getting ready to happen, something that would be out of my control.

Returning to work was difficult, my attraction to R. was overwhelming me and I could not control my emotions any longer. That Friday, R. and I were placed in a position of working a 10 hour day together, off of the work premises, just he and I. The attraction was out of control on both of our parts and I made a point of staying away from him as much as I could. There was a time, where we were waiting for others to arrive, and it was just he and I in a building alone together, that he sat on a bench and stretched out. All I wanted to do was place myself on that bench beside of him and snuggle into his neck, wrapping myself around him. I could not get the thought out of my mind, him noticing my discomfort invited me to sit on the bench with him. I refused, he jokingly asked was I afraid. I walked over and sat beside him, with a comfortable distance between us. We continued our previous, non important conversation when suddenly, my body was overcome with goose bumps. R. had placed his arm on the bench behind me and his fingertips were barely brushing my collar and the base of my hair. I thought I would melt on the spot. I hurriedly went to stand and awkwardly fell forward onto the bench in front of us. embarrassingly, silence filled the room, then I hear R. say “Damn, you felt it to! You felt it to!” Thankfully, the door opened at that moment, the people we were waiting on entered the room and the awkward moment fell to the way side.

Our ten hours behind us, the day had drawn to a close. We still had to return the company vehicles to our firm. I was scheduled to work from 8-12 the next day, a Saturday, and R. was off for the weekend. In the garage, he walked over to me, told me he would be there tomorrow at 12, to think about what we felt that day, and the next day we would see what happened.
He left me standing there, speechless. I could not sleep that night. When I closed my eyes, I could feel his fingertips touching my hair, I could hear his laugh, see his blue eyes and smile and I knew I was smitten.

That Saturday morning, nothing was accomplished. The entire day, I spent staring at the clock, terrified of what was going to happen when the hand struck noon.

(to be continued)

Rehabilitation

Websters dictionary defines rehabilitation as restoring to a good condition of health. The day of my alcohol induced rant was the beginning of rehabilitation for me in so many ways. I have found myself not only physically unhealthy, but mainly emotionally and mentally unhealthy. This was going to be a long road for me to travel, but on that day, I made the commitment to take any steps I needed to bring me back to myself.

My husband returned home a few days later. He had stayed at his moms house for those two days, never attempting to contact me or check on my condition. During those days, I spent a bit of time with my AA sponsor and reading every detail I could find on depression, alcoholism, and domestic mental abuse. The day he walked back into the front door, he never said a word, unpacked his bags and returned to his normal daily routine. To be blunt, the day of my blackout, to this day, has never been discussed by he and I again. I sat in wonder and watched at how cold and callous this man could be. HIs heart seemed to be missing from his chest. His way of dealing with problems was to ignore them until they went away.

Summer was winding down, my daughter would be returning home in a few weeks: I knew I needed to start the process of pulling my life back together as quickly as possible. The first few weeks after my episode, I attended 4-5 AA meetings a week. The weeks after, I only attended my two favorite groups once a week, two days a week. I was surprised at the response that I received from the beautiful, amazing souls that were in attendance at the meetings. I had become so familiar with negativity and insults that I never imagined that I would be welcomed and accepted, problems and all. From the minute I walked into the door at the first meeting, I have never felt so loved. The first night I attended, once everyone heard it was my first meeting, they took turns introducing themselves and telling a short version of their own story. The meeting was ended with a prayer for me and I could not make it to the door for the numbers of people coming to hug me, shake my hand or offer a phone number for support. I sat in my car and I cried. It was the first time in a very long time that I felt human: it was the first time in a very long time that I felt it was ok to be broken and there were people willing to help me put the pieces back together. I attended the meetings regularly until Dec of that same year. I am not going to lie to you and tell you it was easy: nor am I going to convince you that I found a life of complete sobriety. I never fully stopped drinking, but with the help of the wonderful people who I met through the groups, I have been able to have alcohol as a recreational use and not as a crutch to help me avoid life.

My husband never offered to attend any meetings. Honestly, when I would go to the meetings, he never asked anything, including where I was. It was my issue, my problem, I had been informed to fix it, that was all he needed to know.

During the meetings and telling my story to others, I began to realize just how much control I had given to my husband. Amazingly, it came as a surprise to me at how quickly I had conformed myself in trying to be what he wanted me to be. The years of insults, negativity, and lack of support had whittled my self-esteem down to the bare minimum. I had wanted so desperately to be loved by him, to be his world, to be his everything, that I had sacrificed the most important person in my life……me! I knew that I had to return to that place where I loved myself and took care of me: I was terrified of what it would do to our marriage, in my heart, I knew our relationship was not going to be strong enough to survive. I had to let go of the emptiness and loneliness and I had to build my strength, not only for myself, but for my children as well.

It was a step by step process that I am still involved in. When you reach the point that I had lowered to, there is no quick fix or overnight transformation. It is a daily process of re-training my way of thinking and living, resurrecting my whole belief system.

My first step was to put myself back into the working world. The industry I received my degree in is very limited in its availability, but I was quickly able to find a position with a company in a neighboring town. It was not the job that I had applied for, it was a sales position with only a commission pay check, but it was a job. I began working in September part-time, three days a week. I was still attending AA meetings, my daughter was back and I shifted a lot of focus to spending girl time with her, and I began to reach out to old friends through phone calls and Facebook. By November, the small amount of commission pay that I had earned in my few months of employment were not worth the time invested and I quit. I had spent time investigating my options and made the decision to return to school for my Registered Nursing Degree. I applied for a student loan, registered for classes and anxiously waited for the holidays to pass so I could begin school in January of 2011.

My pride was slowly returning, my self-esteem was rising and my husband was not a happy camper. On more than one occasion, he tried to sabotage my sobriety. By never talking about my drinking background, I guess he never had to admit there ever was an issue, and on several occasions, he would offer me a drink or come home with my favorite wine or vodka. The weaker me would have taken this as a gesture of love and find it sweet that he thought of me: the smart stronger me realized this was just one more form of his control over me and refused his gifts, standing strong in my commitment to be the better person. He suddenly became this needy, clingy, suffocating form of a man. He would come home with hugs and smiles, spend his evening asking about my day, always wanting to touch me and cuddle with me: a little too late. Again, I knew this was his way of seeing that he was loosing control and he was desperate to try anything.

For New Years of 2011, we booked a four-day stay at our favorite hotel on our favorite island vacation spot. The island is in the same state where we live and was one that had become special to our hearts. In our happy days, we spent many vacations there, laughing and loving each other. It is even the place where he asked me to marry him. I never discussed it with anyone, but I realize now, this trip was my last effort in saving our failing marriage. It would be just he and I, on a very small island, bringing in the New Year, with a very small group of strangers. I have nothing negative to report about the trip: it was quiet, too quiet, we had nothing to say to each other. At 12 a.m. on January 1, 2011, I looked around the room of the restaurant that we were seated in. Others were dancing around us, silly hats on their heads, champagne in their hands and blowing whistles like silly kids. My husband and I were seated at a table, in the middle of all the fun, not saying a word to each other, just sitting there. When the ball fell, everyone around us began cheering and kissing, we simply looked at each other, smiled an awkward smile and uncomfortably watched everyone else. At that very moment, I knew I needed to begin preparing my life to live without him.

School began in January and I was busy with a full-time schedule of classes. My attention focused on other activities, I was able to keep up a social drinking relationship with alcohol, literally, maybe a glass of wine a week. My relationship with my daughter was on the mend, I pushed aside my husbands lack of attention to her and showered her with my love, after all, if I could make it through two more years, she would be out of high school and I would be on my own. That was my plan: I would have completed my classes needed for acceptance into the nursing program by 2012. If I were accepted, classes would have began August 2012 for the two-year program. My daughter would graduate high school in June 2013: I would move out of the home, still attend school, and complete my degree in 2014. My career would be back on track, my children grown and out of the home, and my heart would be available to find the love it desired. Friends were slowly coming back into my life, I was reconnecting with old ones and through school, meeting new ones. Life was looking better, it was always a day-to-day challenge, but I had made the efforts to set changes in motion and things were looking up.

That is…..

Until I returned to the establishment where I had most recently held a sales position and literally begged for a position that suited my college degree. It was April of 2011, the spring semester winding down, and amazingly, thanks to the transfer of classes from my degree, I was only required to complete two more classes that would be available in the fall, online. I knew I had to have a daily activity to focus on, so I returned to my former boss and presented him with an offer that he could not refuse. In May, classes completed, I returned to my chosen industry on a full-time basis. Little did I realize just how much this decision would change my life.

The begining of the end

In 2010, Chris and I had been married for 8 years and together for 9. I had graduated college in 2005 and was happily settled into a great career and had been employed with the same company for almost 5 years.

I mentioned in a previous post about my manager at my job, who had become my father figure. In August of 2009, he was fired from his position with our company. The company had found a candidate, who was well-known in the industry, that was moving to our area and they pushed my friend out of the door to make room for this new person. He was distraught, hurt and angry: and rightfully so. The absence of him in my daily work life was extreme, more than anyone can realize. Not having a father in my life for 35 years had taken its toll on my heart and until our friendship formed, I had never realized the benefits of having a patriarch role model. Our friendship continued, but was limited to a few phone calls a week to check in and catch up.

I was more lonely than ever, my daughter just turned 16 and was giving us large amounts of grief. She was sneaking out at night, cutting the screen in her window: had made several attempts to run away, was having unprotected sex, and was a not so typical boy crazy teen-aged girl. Her grades began to drop and her school activities were no longer a part of her life. There was building a distance between she and I, no longer able to be her friend, I was pushed into being the parental hard ass in her life. Chris had no desire in helping me with disciplining her. He was full of negativity and would insult her and I with put downs and criticism. His belief was she was too old to change and would just be worthless her whole life.

2010 came in quiet and sad, I was drunk and passed out and my husband sat in the living room reading his bible.

The isolation in my heart became overwhelming around this time. In January of 2010, we had booked a “family” cruise to Mexico for he, myself and my kids. I can honestly say, this cruise was the true beginning of the end. The kids and I went on adventures together, he sat at the pool, reading his bible and ignoring my requests at us doing things together. There is no need to venture into details, but the last night of the cruise, a huge fight ensued between he and I. I had limited my drinking around my kids, I always did, but I was in full blow out mode that evening and had partaken in quiet a bit of bubbly when my hubby felt the need to call me out on my drinking in front of my kids and a group of random strangers. The night ended with him telling me the 9 years we had been together had been the worst of his life and his biggest regret was marrying trash like myself. I fell asleep, sobbing like a baby, unable to stop the tears or catch my breath, while he lay coldly, isolated beside me on the opposite side of the bed. It was after that trip, that I became numb to his presence and began to live on auto pilot. I no longer was concerned to have his house spotless, his dinner on the table, or making any attempt at being his wife. My heart broke that evening, more than I can ever explain, and his coldness had left me chilled to the bone.

My auto pilot life consisted of barracading any emotions from entering my heart, whether they were for my marriage, my children, friends, etc. My work was my distraction, alcohol my best friend and other than the twice weekly phone calls from my former manager, my life was void of any interaction with others.

In May of 2010, the company that I worked for hired a new manager. The man they choose was bi-polar, manic depressive and suffered from severe mental issues. (of course, they learned this AFTER they hired him.) For whatever reason, from the moment of introduction, he decided he did not like me and was going to find a way to terminate my position. This man harassed me verbally, physically and mentally. He would attempt everyday to find something I was doing wrong and when he could find no wrong he began to force situations in an attempt to make others believe I had committed some horrendous act so he could terminate me. The only person I spoke to about this situation was my former manager. (to refer to him by name, I will call my former manager John) He was livid and without my approval began to make phone calls to attempt to stop this situation from happening in my life. I never spoke to my husband about what was happening in my work, he would only come to the managers defense and tell me I must have done something to deserve that treatment. At the end of May, it all came to a head and human resources was phoned in. Their hands were tied, they had no proof of wrong doing on either of our parts, thought they knew there was something not right about the new manager, and they offered me a demotion or to resign. I submitted my official resignation, with a rehireable status, and a promise from human resources if the manager was relocated or left our company I would have my position back immediately. On the drive home, I phoned John and gave him the news. I was terrified of having to go home and tell my husband of what happened. John was encouraging and supportive and as I pulled in the drive, I knew the words he said were true and everything would be ok.

I sat my husband down at the dining room table and told him what had been happening over the few weeks and what the final outcome was. He was as I thought he would be. Non supportive, critical, demeaning and was in no way supportive. I was a piece of trash that had left my family financially strapped with only one income, there had to be more to the story since I had hidden it from him, and when he learned that I had been talking with John about the situation he was livid. He accused me of having an affair with John and informed me that he was to be out of my life immediately. On this one, I stood my ground. John was 64 and I was 38, he was happily married and I was married. He was a huge support in my life and a role model that I was not going to give up for anyone. My husband did not speak to me for weeks: but he was talking to everyone else. We worked in the same industry and not a week after I resigned my husband attended a trade show in Raleigh. Imagine my horror when I began to receive phone calls from former vendors or sales reps offering their condolences for my being fired from my position. Yes, my beloved, sweet, perfect husband was telling EVERYONE he saw that I had been fired. (remember that this is the same man who did not tell a soul when I was attending school because it was our private business. When I called him out it, he simply responded that they had forced my resignation, that was the same as being fired.

The next two months were horrible. Unemployed, my daughter at her dads for the summer, dealing with an unhappy marriage and no longer having distractions in my life took their toll. I drank everyday, not from dawn to dusk, but around 2 p.m. I would open the bottle and drown my sorrows. The only mainstay I had in my life was John. He and his wife would drive the hour drive to my home to take me to lunch or to bring me smiles. He would phone daily to check on me and made no bones about calling me out on my marriage and my drinking.

In July of 2010, unable to find a job, the manager at my former work still employed, and savings dwindling, the hubby made the decision for us to place our home for rent and return to his hometown, where we had moved from 5 years before. There was no happiness in this news, it was his home where his family lived and his friends were, that meant that I would be even more isolated in everyone would be near and watching my every move. I was helpless and distraught and simply prayed to God for something to happen to change our circumstances. On July 18, we packed two U-hauls trucks full of our belongings and began the two hour journey back to his hometown. On July 17, I had made a four hour road trip to pick up my nieces from the airport. That four hour trip had been spent on the phone with John, crying uncontrollably and contemplating suicide. In his usual fatherly way, John brought his zany sense of humor into the conversation, along with his supportive words and brought me back from the edge. In route to our new home, on July 18, I received one of the most horrifying phone calls of my life, John had suffered a sudden brain aneurism, was being life flighted to another state and was non-reponsive. My mental walls crashed and I lost control of everything. John was on life support and in a coma for two weeks after they aneurism. I waited daily for that phone call that never came. Those two weeks are a blur of half heartedly attempting to put our new home together and sleeping 18 hours a day. I wasn’t drinking, I wanted to be completely sober when he called to tell me things were ok.

On August 4 , 2010, at 6:48 p.m., John died. A close friend of mine phoned to give me the news, I dropped the phone, began screaming, and turned to punch the kitchen cabinet before fainting onto the kitchen floor. When I came to, my husband was standing over me, phone in hand hearing the news himself, examining the kitchen cabinet. He thanked my friend for calling, looked at me on the floor crying uncontrollably and cursed me for damaging “our new home” (it was actually the same townhouse he had lived in when we met) and walked out, leaving me in a heap on the floor. How could God have done this to me? On the very day we were moving, the very day that I was so stressed over, God took the only support I had. I was hurt, in grief, alone, destroyed devastated and hated everyone and everything around me. At 7 a.m. on August 5, I opened a fifth of vodka and never stopped. I would awake from one drunken stupor to begin on the next. I don’t remember much over the next couple of weeks other than having quiet a bit of hangovers. Just before my 38th birthday in August, I decided to drink myself to death. I opened a gallon of vodka at 7 a.m. and by 2 p.m. had drank over half. The next thing I remember, my husband was home at 6 p.m., dragging me down the stairs by my shirt. In a black out, I had ripped the refrigerator door off the hinges, smashed the duck decoys his dad had made, broke any and all pictures that his family were present in and had passed out in my vomit on the bathroom floor. He was livid, I was still drunk and only wanted to sleep. He threw me into the parking lot of our town home, locked the door and left me with no keys, money, and only half dressed. I somehow crawled to the backyard and passed out again. A few hours later, he awoke me again, dragged me to his car, and informed me he was driving me to a rehab center to get help. This was not stated in a supportive I am worried about you manner. It was more like “You have humiliated me and disgusted me beyond belief, I am taking you where they can fix you, don’t call me or come back until you are sober, if I am even here waiting for you then”. By this time it was 2 a.m., I am vomiting everywhere, fighting a horrid headache and wondering why I didn’t die. We live in a small community where there is no rehabilitation facilities located, after several phone calls and failed attempts to find someone to “Fix me”, he goes in the house locks the door, this time he does leave me in the car. The next morning, I awake to the horrific memory of the day before. The house is unlocked and I stumble in to find he has packed his items, taken my car, and left a note that he was moving to his mothers house. I ventured up stairs, looked at the damage I had created the night before, walked into the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. Since our marriage, I had gained almost 70 pounds, the sight looking back at me was half dressed, covered in her own vomit, eyes swollen, hair everywhere….she was a sad sad sight.

Maybe my husband was right, I was a piece of shit after all. Why had I left myself get to this extreme? Was I willing to die a tragic death and leave my kids with that memory? Was it worth it to try to be the person I knew I was in my heart? At that moment, I decided I was worth it, not the piece of trash he said I was and I made a commitment to prove him wrong. I walked to the phone, called our local AA hotline and within an hour I had a sponsor sitting in my home, holding me tight, while I cried my eyes out.