Holidays and Divorce: Will I ever enjoy them again?

It is Easter Sunday morning and my heart is full of sadness. I didn’t expect Easter to be hard. After all, I trudged through my 40th birthday, our 10 year anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Valentines Day alone, what is one more day? I was wrong, it is just as hard as it was the first special event that I faced alone. To explain my feelings to you: I feel empty, lonely, sad, isolated and ALONE! More than anything, I feel forgotten, not worth fighting for and I wonder if anything I ever did in my last 40 years meant a thing to anyone. To add more depth to that statement, I am not suicidal: I am pouty and feeling more than a little sorry for myself.

As a kid, all of my holidays were spent with family. Though my parents divorced when I was 5, my Grandparents (maternal and paternal) more than adequately filled the void that a child may feel living in a one parent home. My mother was not a “holiday” person, for as long as I remember she was Bah Humbug about everything. My Grandmother’s (plural) were of a different sort. Holidays meant pre holiday evenings spent in the kitchen, making all the men and grandchildren favorite recipes: the day of the holiday was filled with food, laughter and family love. My Grandmothers birthday was 5 days after mine, every year, our family would gather at my Grandmothers house and have a huge birthday pig picking, Thanksgiving was the same, Christmas meant going to both sets of Grandparents and enjoying different traditions with each. My maternal Grandmother made a nummy nummy sweet potato pie and my paternal grandmother would can cinnamon pickles. The memories of my childhood holidays are filled with warmth, love and laughter. As I began to grow into womanhood, I knew in my heart, this was the feeling and memories that I wanted to share with my husband and children. In my first marriage, my MIL was a traditional woman who spent every holiday in the kitchen. I was elated the first Christmas she invited me into her kitchen to help her cook. A tradition was began and every holiday after I could be found with my apron on and my hip bone permanently planted in front of her stove. Age set in, illness and time passed and eventually I took the traditions into my home. As my kids grew, I would be that excited Mom, looking forward to placing flour paw prints on our floor Easter morning, placing baskets filled with their favorites at their door and smelling the aroma of ham, green bean casserole and fresh-baked bread fill our home. After the excitement of all the Easter candy, we would make our way to church in our little pastel outfits, to return home and devour our meal. Easter afternoon was spent in the recliner, on the couch or in the bed, napping off all those carbs, but there was not a person in my home who was not wearing a smile.

Once the first husband and I divorced I refused to give up my traditions. My kids were still young and holidays were still celebrated in our home, just without the presence of a male role. My second husband and I met and I remember the excitement in showing him my cooking skills our first Thanksgiving together. He loved the way I cherished the holidays and I would see excitement on his face every year too. As my kids grew older, found a life of their own and were sometimes not present at our holiday luncheons, I stood my ground and still refused to give them up. I remember it only being my husband, daughter and myself for a few holidays in the most recent years. Though my heart hurt looking at the empty seats at my dining table, I was mature enough to accept life goes on and children grow, and I was proud that the hubby and I had not forgotten or gave up on our traditions.

This last year has been so different.

The first special day was our 10 year anniversary in August. I did not get out of bed all day and I never stopped crying for 2 days. My 40th birthday was lots of fun and filled with great friends but there was that emptiness of not having that special someone by my side, celebrating my life. Thanksgiving and Christmas were horrid. In divorce, the public has a common misconception: they believe divorce is an option (whether you were for it or not) and they tend to not realize the emptiness and loneliness that divorce leaves on a soul. In my circumstance, once the holidays were over, I received many phone calls asking about my holidays. Once they discovered I was alone all day, each day, they gave a heart-felt apology and the common statement “Oh, I just assumed you’d be with your family for the holidays or I would have asked you over!” was offered. What they fail to realize, I lost my entire family in one short year. My two sons are 22 and 21 and both left for Air Force Basic Training in Jan and May respectively. My youngest son is in GA, 9 hours away and though my oldest son is based here in NC, the military rotates holidays. That are not going to always have holidays off and even if they do, they may not have the time available to make it home. My daughter moved out in November, is enjoying her life as an 18-year-old and honestly has no interest in holidays with mom. Need I remind anyone, in 21 short days, I will be officially divorced.

Christmas 2011 was filled with the sounds of my three children running down the stairs in anticipation of what was under the tree, the smells of turkey and gravy simmering in the oven, the sight of ripped Christmas paper all over the living room, my husband spread out on the couch snoring and the overwhelming amount of dirty dishes in the sink. That was the last holiday we were together and I am beginning to believe, it will be the last holiday I ever really want to remember.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and now Easter: there are no sounds of children in my condo, there is no smell of ham or turkey wafting through my home: there are no colored eggs, purple peeps, or chocolate bunnies in sight. I woke this morning, wanting to attend the sunrise service, but simply could not muster the energy to drive there alone, sing alone and celebrate alone. I knew it would only make me cry.

I joined a web based divorce support group that sends daily divorce care emails. In the email I receieved today, the topic was loneliness and isolation. The email encouraged you to force yourself out your front door, join in some public activity and fight your way through the loneliness. Honestly, I don’t have the strength. More than anything, I want to be driving to church in my easter green dress, hearing my kids whine about being up so early. I want to return home, rush to change, make sure all the food is warmed and the table set. I want to watch my sons tear into the ham like they are starving, fight my daughter for the last boiled egg and feel upset when everyone is too full to eat the dessert I spent two hours making.

My heart misses those days! I don’t think they will ever be the same!

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The apocalypse of my soul

My kids left that morning and the strength I had maintained through the evening came crashing down, the reality of the situation hit me hard, hard enough to take the breath out of my lungs. I remember laying on the couch and crying until I could cry no more. What was I going to do now?

I packed my small sedan with as much of my personal belongings as I could fit. A few boxes of clothes, my favorite photos of my family, my jewelry box, etc. and I drove across the bridge to the island. I sat in my packed car, staring out over the ocean, still crying, unable to function. embarrassingly enough, it was the end of April and the warmer weather was bringing out the tourists, a tourist walked past my car and was concerned enough about my condition to not stop and ask if I was ok, but to call the police instead. I can only imagine what that scene must have looked like to the two young officers that pulled in beside my car. Here I am, belongings piled to the roof, barely enough room for me to sit in the driver’s seat is remaining, my hair all over my head, not having had a shower in 36 hours and my eyes swollen almost shut. The officer gently knocked on my window, a look of sympathy all over his face, I explained my situation, he told me I did not have to go home, but I did have to leave the public parking area as I was “scaring” people. He pulled out, I phoned my best friend in desperation of what to do. She knew about R., this was one of the friendships that I had resurrected over the last few years, and gratefully so. She was horrified at the news but was able to offer a listening sympathetic shoulder and some stability to my unstable mind. I drove back across the bridge, to a sound front parking lot that was private and we talked for almost an hour. She is a magistrate in a neighboring county and she told me to go back to the town house and not leave, her concern was his legal rights on obtaining the home by stating I abandoned him. I drove back to our home, he was not there yet, pulled the blinds and laid on the couch and slept for hours. I awoke to his keys in the door, by this time it was around 3 in the afternoon. I sat up on the couch, th events of the last 24 hours still an overwhelming blur and the anger on his face when he looked at me was enough to let me know I could not stay there and be safe. In just a matter seconds I was up, keys in hand, and back out in my car. My husband never said a word to me nor did he attempt to stop me. I again, called my friend and let her know what I was doing. She encouraged me to find a hotel room, isolated somewhere, and get some rest. I didn’t have much money in my account but interestingly enough, for no valid reason, I had applied for a credit card a few months earlier and had been granted one with a 5,000 credit limit. I found a hotel on the island, at a descent rate, checked in, lugged all my personal belongings into the room, called my friend, then drug myself across the street to the local ABC store. I phoned my children to make sure they were ok and to let them know I was ok, attempted on several more occasions to call R. and finally passed out in a drunken heart-broken stupor.

I awoke the next morning to a text from my husband. He was worried about the kids and I and told me I could come home. I texted him back and told him we would return on Sunday, I had paid for two nights at the hotel, the kids were not due back until Sunday anyway, and I, did not see a reason for us to be alone together Saturday night. I knew R. was due to be on call for the weekend, so I texted his work phone with the address of the hotel and the room number followed by 911. I sat for hours waiting for his call, none came. Unable to sit inside the hotel room anymore, I went down to the beach and begin to walk and walk and walk, before I realized it, I had walked over 3 miles lost in thought. I turned and headed back to the hotel, was disappointed to find no news from R. or my husband. Realizing I had not eaten in two days, I headed to my car to find something digestible. As I was driving down the road, heading to the local golden arches, what to my wondering eyes does seem but R.’s landscaping truck. I see him and his employee’s silhouette in the windows and I begin to follow him. He sees me, signals me to follow him and we drive towards his friends shop. His trailer is attached and I can tell it has a heavy item in it. We pull behind his friend’s garage, he comes and sits in my car with me. He tells me after my husband phoned him, he became frightened for his own safety, so he packed an overnight bag, and drove the two hours to where his wife was located with her family. He said she was upset he showed unexpectedly, but that weekend was his step sons birthday, so he used that as an excuse and they had stayed Friday night as well , to throw him a party. He explained he could not call, due to her family being around him constantly, and once he received my text on Saturday and had returned to our area, he had driven non stop through the parking lot of the hotel. He was in the process of delivering his truck to his friend’s garage, he said he used the excuse it needed repairs but he knew it was a matter of time before my husband called his wife and he wanted as much off her property as possible before that happened. He was in a hurry to get back home before red flags were raised, so we stepped out of my car and talked while he was unloading the truck from the trailer. Just beside his friends shop was a small brick home, the resident of the home pulled into the parking lot and was unable to get to her drive due to my car being in the way. I went to my car, moved it out of her way, and was completely horrified when I returned to R. to find him deep in a flirtatious conversation with the young woman of the house. I stood in awe as she flipped her hair, asked questions about his truck, stuck out her chest and batted her eyelashes: R.’s response was to jump into the truck, start it, offer her a ride, and partake in flirty banter. I know the tension and anger was blowing off of my chest because R.s employee glanced my way, then made a quick retreat back to the passenger side of the truck and the conversation was ended when Ms. Busty Boobs glanced my way and read my body language. Interestingly enough, R. never seemed to notice. I should have known that weekend, by his tucking his tail between his legs and running, as well as his need to carry on that particular conversation in my time of devastation, that R. was not going to stand by my side, but unfortunately, I didn’t. R. left with a promise to call me the next morning, as he was going to open his wifes store for her, so she could spend time with her family. Ummmm…thanks!

That evening, I phoned my husband, we had a short but mature conversation, and he told me I could come home, with my kids, and we would talk about what was going to happen from there. I crawled into the hotel bed, hopeful for a positive outcome from all of this. Early Sunday morning, my hotel phone rang, and I jumped from my bed, knowing it would be R. He was at their store, had worried about me all evening and was glad to hear I was ok. I told him about my conversation with my husband and he became angry. He did not feel it was a safe environment for me to return to and selfishly, he did not want me to go back. I explained, at that point, I had no other option. My son was due to leave for the USAF in one short week, my daughter had a few weeks left in her junior year of high school and I had no money to be able to get any housing at that point. Customers began to come into his store around that time and he explained he could not talk but would call me back. After I hung up the phone, my cell phone had died the previous evening, I plugged it into the charger, and was horrified to find a message from my husband telling me I was not allowed back into the home, he did not feel it would be a good idea. I phoned him that morning and was horrified for him to tell me my kids and I were not welcomed. I asked what brought about this change of heart and he refused to tell me. I asked where he had been the night before and he informed me he had been at his friend’s home, a highway patrolman house, a friend that never liked me and never treated me well. I knew, at that moment, he was allowing others to make his decisions for him and I told him so. He became irate, began his usual tirade of informing me of my low life status, all this was my fault and the insults flew over the phone. He stated he would be out of the home all day, if I needed to stop in and pick up anything, but he did not want to be anywhere near me….and that was it.

It was 10 a.m., housekeeping was beating on my door, checkout had been at 9. I had phoned the kids the night before and told them to come home. Other than my credit card, I had no money, and I was due back at work the next day at 8 a.m. R. had offered NO support, I was lost, destitute and had no idea how to begin to do anything, even function. I checked out of the hotel, was crossing the parking lot, and I see R.’s car pulling in. He pulls up with a smile, rolls down his window, and senses my mood. I explain my conversation with my husband and tell him of my circumstances. He offers no help, has no advice, only tells me he has to go and he will call me later. I look on the passenger side seat and there sits two hot to go plates from the diner down the street. I knew then, that his wife had arrived at her work and he had only came out to get her breakfast. He follows my gaze, looks guilt ridden and offers me one of the breakfasts! (really) I decline, tell him not to worry, though I have not eaten in three days, I need no one to take care of me, I begin to walk to my car, he slowly rolls up his window, and drives back to his wife.

I packed my car with my belongings, drove to the local coffee shop, purchased a small coffee and slowly sipped it while borrowing two hours of free internet. I searched every real estate site in the area, being we lived in a beach community, there were plenty of weekly or monthly rentals available on their web sites. The issues became obvious, this was April 22, peak season began May 1, if a place was available for rent, it was an extreme amount of money for simply one week and the monthly rentals were set to end on May 1 and become weekly rentals. The available long-term rentals I was able to find were all the same. They needed a completed credit application, rental application and background check before they even gave you the option to rent. I was in no place to even consider the option of a long-term rental. I was dismayed with every phone call, at the denial and rejection I felt. The rain moved in outside, the temps began to drop, and my mood was worsening every minute. Tired of me mooching their internet and only purchasing a 1.50 glass of coffee, the owners of the coffee shop began eyeing me down. I packed up my computer, threw away what was left of my undrank cup of coffee, and somehow returned to my car. I drove to the base of the high-rise bridge that enters the island and considered suicide. I looked around me, my belongings piled high, nowhere to go, no one to talk to and knew that I had one of two choices, end it all now or battle it through and not let this break me. I began to think of my kids, of my sons strength and desires to serve in our military, of my daughters last year of high school, and i knew I had to fight.

While I was at the coffee shop, I had phoned a real estate company in reference to a monthly rental, the woman on the opposite end of the phone was sympathetic and compassionate. I had explained my situation to her and she was saddened to tell me she could only offer me the one week until May 1. I was touched by the compassion in her voice and felt compelled to call her again. I phoned again, asked if she could contact the land lords and see if they would be sympathetic to my place and allow me to rent their condo until May 22. She obliged, phoned back within five minutes and happily told me they had agreed. I was parked directly across the street from the real estate company and made no hesitation at rushing in their office and paid for the next month. I drove to the condo and was excited to find a two bedroom, fully furnished, beach front home, in a resort who’s amenities included two pools, one indoor/one outdoor, a basketball court, miniature gold course, and a security gate with a guard present . I was so elated, this would be perfect for my sons last week at home, I could present it more as a vacation and that would distract his mind from what was really happening. As for my daughter, school would be out June 6, we had a month to stay at the said condo, that should give me enough time to secure a long-term rental and have a little stability before the summer arrived.

I ventured to the condo, unpacked my belongings from the car, took a nice hot shower, phoned my kids with the details and address and headed to the grocery store to stock the kitchen. I was strolling through the deli section when that familiar feeling of electricity coursed through my veins. I rounded the corner and there he was, R., with his little shopping cart, purchasing supper to cook for his wife. I half heartedly attempted to avoid him, but he saw me before I could make my break away. I let him know about the condo, where it was located and the status of my marriage. He seemed relived that I had found a place, even for a short time, but had to rush home, before his wife wondered why he was taking so long.

I cried in the parking lot of Foodlion, on the drive to the condo, and while waiting for the kids to arrive. What had just happened? Was this really my life now? How was I going to even venture another breath?

The Final stages

My relationship with Chris’s family was pretty close to being the same as the relationship with my husband. Getting to know his family, it was easy to see where his personality flaws came from.

Chris was the fourth in a family of five boys. When I met him, his father had passed away two years before but his mother was still living. The year I met him, was the year that he had moved out of his mom’s house and purchased the townhouse. After college, he had lived with a roommate in a neighboring town, but once his father died, he moved back in with his mother to take care of her. From an outside perspective, you would immediately think how sweet that is, but once I tell you the story, everything will be clear.

I remember the first time I met his mother, I was so nervous and excited all in one. My first marriage had ended with me still having a great relationship with my former in-laws. They were great people, with a big heart, who let me into their family and treated me as their own from the first day. I was excited to again get that same feeling of family, considering I had no relationship with my parents and am an only child. We went to her house to pick up Chris’s jet ski for a day out with friends. I was really shocked at our first meeting at what I encountered. Chris’ moms house was in horrible shape. She was a massive hoarders and there was barely a clean spot on any counter in the home and you had to make your way from room to room through pre-cut paths. She was an overweight woman, she had only 1/4 of her teeth remaining and during our entire visit she mainly sat in her recliner and stared at the TV that was not on. Chris introduced us and quickly went back outside to gather the items needed for our day trip. We sat in silence for a bit until I attempted to begin any kind of conversation with her. Before I could even utter the first sentence she begins to tell me of Chris’s ex girlfriend. She asks me if I have heard about her, then she proceeds to tell me not to expect to be in his life for long, that his ex is missing him and wants him back. What do you say to that? I replied with “that’s ok, I’m not very concerned”, to which she responded “you should be and don’t ever get sassy mouth in my home again.” We sat in complete silence until Chris returned. After we left, he asked how our time was. When I told him of the conversation, he began to chuckle, obviously thinking it much more funny than I did. When I seemed upset over his laughter he simply let me know that was his mom’s way and to get used to it. Again, I pushed my better judgement aside and let things be. Not a few weeks later, his mom came to our home for dinner. The very second that Chris left us alone to answer a phone call, she began again on the ex girlfriend conversation. She then proceeded to tell me that she did not like me and to never think that I was good enough for her son. This was the mentality that I dealt with for 11 years. On more occasions than need mention, I was informed that I did not belong and never would. I even remember a time when my ex mother in law was battling breast cancer: it was a few weeks before our wedding and I was sitting at her beside, feeding her ice chips after her mastectomy. My husband was reading the Bible to her, I accidentally dropped an ice chip on her bed when he sarcastically informed to “tighten up” and not make a mess. I responded for him to just mind his own business and keep reading. Before I could get the ice chip off of the bed, my mother in law looked at Chris and informed him there was still time to back out of the wedding, “I know you are not going to marry this damn dingbatter!” (a dingbatter is what people in our area call someone they think is retarded or really ignorant) My husband looked my way, began chuckling uncontrollably, and told his mom he was considering backing out. I put the ice cup down and spent the rest of the visit in the waiting room.

His four brothers were no better. We visited one of his brothers, a few years into our marriage, at his home that was 4 hours away from ours. The visit was going well until his brother began drinking moonshine. It was his brother and sister in-laws 15 year wedding anniversary. My husband, myself and his brother were sitting in the yard swing, when my sister-in-law attempted to join us. She had been in the house washing the dinner dishes. My brother-in-law informed her to get back in the house and finish her domestic duties, I thought he was joking with her, and encouraged her to ignore him and come out with us. He became angry and began yelling at me to not tell his wife to not listen to him, he was the one with the 15 year marriage, I was nothing more than a washed up, dried out divorcee, with three bastard children. I look over at my husband and he is in turn looking my way with the biggest shit eating grin on his face. He again, thought it was funny. I asked him if he was going to say anything and he responded, “I guess the truth hurts sometimes.” I entered their home, went directly to bed, cried all night and did not see my husband again until the next morning. Not one person, my husband or his brother, acknowledged the evening before in our awkward 6 hour stay that afternoon. I sat in silence, in the corner, praying to go home. Once we left, my husband began the four-hour assault on my personality and how embarrassed he was of my actions. When I tried to defend myself, his only explanation was “that’s just how my brother is.” I can tell you, I never stepped another foot in that mans home nor he in mine. I laid the law down and informed my husband that his brother was not allowed into my home until he could apologize. That one night, at his family’s home, created many fights between us for years to come. I was devastated that evening, to realize that my husband would never defend my honor, he agreed with the nasties that his family were throwing my way and I could never fully be a part of any of their lives.

Around that time, I realized our marriage was never going to be forever. I was suffocation in the world that I had allowed him to create for us and I needed some type of recreational therapy of my own. I enrolled in college and began my venture towards my two-year degree. I worked full-time, my sons never returned to my home full-time but my daughter did, so my days were spent around her, home and school. Our marriage began to unravel in that time period. Now the jealousy was focused on my time spent on myself and my children and the deprivation that was created in his life. None of his family or friends knew of my schooling, he never bragged to anyone about anything good that I was doing, and he did not ever want to discuss it in public, it was our private business he would state. In my lack of attention to him, he began to join fraternal organizations in multiples and our time actually spent together was, thankfully, few and far between. He became a mason, joined a rotary club and began attending every bible study session at our church. I worked, studied, cleaned the home, cooked and spent evenings with my daughter. I am assuming this is the only reason we were married as long as we were. Once I graduated college and obtained a full-time position in a neighboring town, life continued to be isolated and boring. I had to beg for date nights, evenings with friends were void (considering the only friends in our life were his), and any social interactions with us together were too stressful for my mind, so there were not any. My sons visit were becoming fewer, in this time frame they were in their teens, had drivers license and more interested in their friends than their mom. On the outside my world looked wonderful. We were living in a 2500 sq. foot home in a gated community, my teen daughter was thriving and activity in lots of school activities, I had the perfect professional job with a great income, and my husband was as smooth as a politician. Holding babies, shaking hands, and smiling to everyone he met, our community thought of him as a great man, who provided well for his family and participated in giving his time to his public activities. On the inside, my heart was empty, my life void and my soul was numb. I had everything in life that a woman could ask for, other than happiness, and I was miserable.

It was during this time that I began to drink on regular occasions. At first, I did not drink on work nights or alone. I would have the random mixed drink with my husband (who drank around a fifth in three nights) or on a weekend off, I would have a few drinks around the fireplace or on the porch. The numbing effects of alcohol became my reprieve and eased the awkward moments or de-stressed the painful nights that I had to listen to my husbands demeaning comments and rampant demands. Before I realized it, I began drinking on work nights and on weekends I would drink in the evenings until I passed out in a drunken stupor. Of course, this did nothing more than egg my husband on, not only was he married to an idiot but now I was an alcoholic as well. He would constantly tell me how embarrassing I was, even when it was just he and I sitting at home alone, he would tell me I had psychological issues and that I needed therapy and rehab. I, in turn, would drink more. In my drunken stupor, I would beg him to love me. I would ask him why he married me, why we did not have friends, why he was so embarrassed by me and he would ignore my questions with angry silence. I see now, that the pain was surfacing more rapidly than my mind could handle and I grasped onto the first thing that brought me comfort. I knew he did not love me, I was his play toy that he could control and I so desperately wanted to break those barriers. I wanted to break them with love, I wanted to see that look in his eyes when he looked at me, I wanted us to be together, happily in love, forever. Even at this point, I wasn’t ready to leave. I maintained the hope that one day I would be good enough. What I didn’t realize, was my life was beginning to spiral out of control in a dark abyss that would last for a few years.

Reflections of a life no longer

I was surprised to log into my word press and realize that it has been over a month since my last post. Time seems to be flying, though the days seem so long.

I am at a point in life now of reflection, I suppose. My daily activity is boring and routine and does not deserve a mention. I seem to have awakened in a transitional phase, that at the beginning, created lots of stress and was filled with rampant emotions. I am assume it is due to “survival mode” kicking in that I have come to find a peace in my life.

When my ex husband and I separated almost 8 months ago, I was catapulted into a world that I never realized existed. A cold, cruel, world filled with self-doubt, anger, loneliness and guilt. This divorce has honestly been the hardest thing I have ever had to face in my life.

Interestingly enough, it is not my first. When my first husband and I parted ways I was 25 years young and was raising three small children on my own. I do not remember times being so hard, trying or painful. I have spent hours upon days going over the events of my first divorce and cannot seem to recall the days being this difficult. Maybe it was due to the fact that we do have three children together and we were settled that we would be in each others lives regardless of where life took us. Our divorce was amicable, I met him when I was 15, he was 21. Our first child was born when I was 18, our second at 19 and our last at 22. With the whirlwind of youth, the force of having to grow up so fast and the age difference between us, time took us to a point where we no longer were the same people, we didn’t share the same dreams or ambitions in life, other than to raise our children with a loving, nurturing life. We agreed to disagree and parted ways, with a great understanding that our children needed us as parental units to stay mature towards each other. We did not have property to divide, we were poor and had lived very modestly for the duration of our marriage. I took the hope chest full of photos with me, making copies over time and sharing with him. We never hired attorneys, fought over child custody, or paid child support. As time passed, we would always communicate civilly and make decisions based on what our children’s needs were. There was pain involved in ending my first marriage, that much I remember, but as time passed, my first ex husband remained a great friend and confidant and a much respected person in my life. I remember reaching a point of re-entering the dating world. I was extremely overwhelmed, I had not dated since I was 15 and obviously did not have much experience before that. Though it was exciting being young and single and venturing into a new life for the first time in my life, I had the peace of knowing when times were hard, confusing or painful, I could call my first ex husband and talk for hours about what was happening. Sixteen years later, our children grown now, I still have that comfort, though not in the same form due to his new marriage. He has always remained a constant in my life, phoning me when old friends from home have life changing events, keeping me up to date on my mother whom I have not spoken with in over 7 years, etc. For his presence in my life, I am more than grateful. He knew me 25 years ago and we share that bond of a 25 year friendship that no one can break. We share our children’s life events together, photos of the kids, holidays, etc. Not many women are blessed to have that type of relationship in their life.

This time around, I have not been so fortunate. I remember when I met my estranged husband and we began dating seriously. He met my children, rushed quickly into my heart and captivated my dreams. After 9 months of dating, he asked me to marry him. I phoned my first ex husband to tell him the news and to pass onto the children. (they were in his care for the weekend) His response was one of silence and a long deep sigh. I waited for some words to come across the phone line but for minutes there was nothing but dead silence, to the extreme of my thinking that we had been disconnected somehow. Finally, he spoke. His tone was low and he sounded sad, really sad. “Don’t do it Christie!” My reaction was one of shock, disbelief and anger. How could the person who had been so close to me in my life not be happy for me? Was it jealousy? Anger? Worry over a new man in his kids life? What? I gathered my thoughts, took a deep breath of my own and asked why. He responded that he knew I was going to get hurt, he knew this man was not who I thought he was, and to put it honest, he told me he did not want to me to wake up one day, unhappily married to some bald, fat, abusive, control freak. I was horrified he could say these things. I was not very nice, spoke really nasty to him and hung up on him. I remember going to a private area in our home to cry, so my now estranged husband would not know about the conversation. In reflection, I see how right on the money my first ex was in calling him out. You see, when my estranged husband entered my life and met my kids he was all I had dreamed of: responsible, career oriented, established, drug free, handsome. When he met my children, he played sports with them, taught them to ride bikes, took them shopping, etc. When he met my ex husband, he treated him horribly, he was always jealous of the fact that I had been married before and it was a triple edged knife in the fact that I bore his three children. He never wanted the kids to talk about their dad or refer that they had any other man in their life but him: with that said, I obviously was to never discuss my first husband. He even ventured so far as to try to toss my first wedding albums photos in the trash, A memory that I have kept in my hope chest for my kids to cherish. After we were married, my first husbands envision of my future became true. I awoke way to quickly after our wedding, to find myself married to a cold, heartless, passive/aggressive personality who was not even a shell of the man I had met. It took me 10 years to finally find my way out of the marriage and you know, not once has my first husband ever mentioned an “I told you so!” The day I phoned him to tell him of the separation, he quietly listened, cleared his throat and offered a “I am truly sorry” and I could hear the tears in his voice.

Since the seperation, and even more since our daughter moved in with him, he phones or occasion or texts randomly to keep me up to date on holidays, our daughters activities, or to simply ask if I am ok.

My estranged husband, not so much a peep in eight months.

(to be continued)