I’m going to post a series of blogs to lay a foundation of the people in my life. This is the first – The Ex-Husband.
I’m going to call him Steve but we all know that isn’t his real name. Steve and I started dating just after high school. We’d known each other for several years but hadn’t really hung out in the same crowds. We had a mutual friend who was going away to college and we started dating after attending her party. Steve was a chivalrous gentleman in the beginning and he made me believe that he was a good match for me. Frankly, he could tell me NO and no one else could. After almost a year, I dumped him for being an ass. We didn’t talk for eight months. I spent those eight months looking for any guy that could possibly be a long term partner and failed miserably. I didn’t like men except as friends but I kept searching because that’s what I was supposed to do. After we’d been apart for eight months, my dearest best friend ran into him and convinced him that I wanted to date him again. She then called me and let me know that I wanted to date him again. She really didn’t like my string of boyfriends (and neither did I). We went out on one last date and I knew I was going to marry that boy. We dated for nearly two years before getting married. I was showered with gifts and fancy dinners, promises of a happy life where we worked together and trusted each other implicitly. And, I wanted out of my parents’ home so this made sense and I would make it work. In the beginning he was a hard working, fun and charismatic guy but within six months of our nuptials, I no longer trusted him to tell me the truth about most things. He had started lying. He was using tobacco and lying about it. He was drinking at work, then at home, and lying about how much it had been. He spent money and lied about how much it was. He created trust issues right off the bat. He was also a profound introvert and kept me from the experiences that I wanted out of life, like a circle of friends who hung out regularly and did “stuff” together. He never wanted to go anywhere so when I found out about an event I had to beg and plead and bribe, even more so if I wanted him to join me. When we got there he would sulk and pout in a corner far away from everyone else, drinking himself silly, and wanting to leave. So eventually my friends quit inviting us over. I was unhappy and unsatisfied but because of the way I was raised, divorce was not an option – I was told by my mom, who rarely wanted to get involved, that I just needed to work through it and pray about it. I was taught that you get up every day and pretend nothing is wrong putting on a mask that says everything is peachy while lying to the world around you to give an appearance of happiness – so I did for 15 years. We had two children together, first a girl now 12, then a boy now 9. They are the light of my life and my greatest treasures.
Steve and I had a fairly healthy sex life. Yup, I’m going to talk about sex… After all, it is a coming out journey. I had always known that I was not a fan of male genitalia. It flat out disgusted me to touch it but it’s what I was supposed to desire (right?) so I did what I was supposed to want to do. I married a boy and after a few years we started a family. I talked to friends and heard how exciting sex was for them and I just couldn’t ever understand how someone could enjoy sex that much. After all, it was gross but that’s what I was supposed to want so I kept having sex with my husband hoping for better results each time. For the first couple of years, we had a lot of sex but after having my daughter that all changed. We would go for months without sex and it wouldn’t even phase me until he pointed it out. I’d give in and we’d go a few more weeks or months before he begged again. I tried new positions, pornography, and online advice. Nothing made me want to have sex and it was still far less enjoyable than the sex my friends were having so I played the sex when I had to so that he was happy game for nearly 15 years. I now understand why I didn’t enjoy sex with my husband – I like girls.
About five years ago, I decided to move our family to the Portland, Oregon area after realizing our finances couldn’t sustain us where we were at. Steve was told to find a job but never did. His family berated him relentless for being unemployed and it clearly hurt him when they did. So I never admitted to anyone other than Steve that I wanted him to get a job. I told everyone else I was happy to be the bread winner and that I liked having a stay at home husband. I lied and it later bit me. (Don’t ever lie, it’s not worth it no matter how small the lie seems.) Steve and I were a pretty decent team for the most part until I realized how deep his lies were running. He had a habit of drinking when and where no one would see him. Then having a drink around me letting me think it was the only one. I had no idea he was drunk for most of our marriage. Shortly after our son was born, I had to ask him to stop drinking after walking into the kitchen and seeing him holding our infant son in one hand and a double scotch in the other at 6am on a work day. And he did, for awhile, but at some point he began drinking in total secrecy. I would call him from work and have a lengthy conversation about something detailed and important I needed him to do and he would claim we hadn’t talked. He would pass out on the couch as soon as I got home from work, most nights I couldn’t wake him up until I went to bed myself. He would have fits where he would stumble around the house and yell at the kids. He would have rambling incoherent conversations that made no sense but were sometimes funny. I started researching brain tumors and other neurological impairments – there was no way he was drinking, he had reassured me a thousand times. When I would ask if he’d been drinking, I would get an emphatic no. If I searched for alcohol or asked to see a receipt, he would act repugnant and hurt, so I quit looking or asking. And somehow I was stupid and naive enough to think he was just really tired and not drunk.
After 14+ years of marriage, I came home early from work on a Friday and found Steve stumbling down the driveway getting into his truck. He was intent on picking the kids up from school. I managed to get into the passenger seat before he drove away. By the time we reached the school, it was obvious to me that I had been a total fool, he was severely drunk and now driving in a school zone. We had a 45 minute wait for the kids to come out so I convinced him to come clean and took the keys away in the school parking lot. When we got home I put the kids into another room with a TV and some snacks, hiding Steve’s problems from them, and called Steve’s mother. I had been through this before but this time was different. I had no desire to fight for my marriage any more. I wasn’t pissed off or hurt, I was done but that wasn’t a choice because divorce is not an option. So after he sobered up, we talked. I let him know that I wasn’t okay with this and that he needed professional help, that I couldn’t be his source of stability because I was struggling to stay in the marriage and needed time to heal my own wounds. He chose to use me as his only source of support and it only managed to push me further away. We went on some get-away weekends, I prayed a lot, and we tried to go on dates but my heart was just not in the marriage and I knew I wanted out but I wasn’t allowed to consider divorce. It was hell.
Soon after, my friends noticed a drastic change in me. I wasn’t as carefree, when he was around I was angry and bitter toward him. He clearly could do no right in my eyes. I hated him. I hated my marriage. And I was trapped. They started to confide in me one by one that they didn’t think my marriage was healthy and that they could see that I was unhappy. Most often getting told that I became a different person that they didn’t like when he was around. More friends started going away, they didn’t want to be around the cancer that was my marriage. Steve increased his verbal abuse to a level where I hid from him most of the time. My daughter confessed that she was scared of her Dad. My son just cried a lot with little provocation. My marriage was over, my kids were brokenhearted, and my husband blamed me for everything that had gone wrong.
And then I met a girl who changed my life forever…