I’ve always been the “good girl”, trying my best, wanting acceptance and love from others. This desperation began most likely from the moment of conception. Fortunately, in my life’s journey, I have found that loving myself was the most important thing to not only my survival, but to my happiness, joy and fulfillment.
Because of my low self-esteem, I entered into my first marriage with people pleasing blinders on, and spent 29 years doing everything in my power to make this man love me. I had 3 children with him, and thought being the perfect wife and mother would keep his attention on me. Little did I know that his issues were the problem and not me. although, my insecurities surely enabled him to be abusive and unfaithful.
Somewhere along the line, I knew I needed help, I spent many years in traditional therapy, working on me. I knew that until I did some life altering changes, I would only trade one problem marriage for another. At least in this one, there was consistency that was familiar, I knew when to duck and hide. I stayed because I had seen so many other woman leaving, and yet still being manipulated in regards to their kids, not to mention the financial burden placed upon not only them, but their kids. Working through the shame of staying has been my recent recovery, as I know that guilt is about what we have done and it’s purpose is to move up. Shame on the other hand,is about who we are. It attacks our very souls. I knew that my feelings were more about shame and I got the help I needed to change that.
We had 29 years of marriage crossed off our list, I hesitate to say we celebrated, as he was aloof and distant. He was giving me his version of the silent treatment. He didn’t realize that I really appreciated his silence in some ways, as he wasn’t verbally attacking me. That December his attitude had become very angry, more than ever, our 3 children were now adults and over 21, and somehow I thought our relationship would get better. I was so wrong. After hearing him say under his breath, to our daughter, while working on our computer, “I’m going to kill your mother, she won’t show me how this works”, I asked him to see a therapist. He agreed, however by the time February had rolled around, he hadn’t taken a step in that direction.
Just before that time, I had seen the movie “The Secret” and realized that I attract what I am. I made “the list”, you know, the list of qualities I want, but I chose to put qualities in the relationship I wanted. No physical qualities, as I had a man that made a great living, he was tall, dark and handsome. I wanted respect, kindness, consideration, communication, humor and playfulness… the list went on. The conversation I had with God that day helped me to be all of these things in this marriage and if it’s meant to be, it will get better. Well, I did. I behaved like all of the qualities I wanted, no matter how he behaved. It was as if a magnet was repelling him away from me, he acted like he hated me, even more. I realized later how important this was to moving me in the right direction.
In February, I had to have gallbladder surgery, and he was so mean to me during the process. He refused to carry my bags into the hospital, and almost made me late to my 7am surgical appointment. I felt that I could have had better support from friends and left him at home. The last straw was his flirting with the nurses, leaving them little messages on the dry erase board in my hospital room. He was a pilot, and yes, thinking back, what you hear about pilots and having women all over the world, is most likely true in my case. I had such big blinders on, which were in the process of being taken away.
I am a quick healer, I had the surgery on a Thursday and was back teaching my middle school Home Economics classes on Monday. Later that week I went to see a lawyer to find out what my options were. I live in Florida and there is a no fault law, and financially everything is divided equally, I was told it would be a fairly easy divorce, especially since our kids were over 21 and the whole issue of child custody/support wasn’t applicable. He instructed me to make copies of all my family files and then tell my husband about the divorce.
I was so fortunate to have friends that had been through this before and gave me some valuable direction. I put some “getaway” money, clothes, personal items, and extra car keys in a bag and left them at a friend’s house. I also took any guns, rifles, etc. out of the house and had our neighbor next door to us hold them. I was taking care of me, and wasn’t concerned about his approval or not. That Sunday, we got into an argument. He had baited me in recent times, and I had been able to not take the bait. But this was different, he accused me of being a bad mother, and verbally attacked our children and their worth. I joined in the argument, and out of his mouth came “I don’t love you anymore, I want a divorce!”. I breathed a “thank you God”, and said great! The next day he sent 3 dozen roses to my work place with an apology. Many of my co-workers were so impressed with him sending roses to me at school, delivered to me in front of my students. See, his grand gestures were always public ones, he had to make himself look good.
Later that week he was served the divorce papers. Being a pilot, he was gone 3-4 days a week, I’m sure this was one of the reasons I stayed so long as well, I lead almost a dual life. I had my life when he was gone, and one when he was home. I’m a gemini, so I’m guessing that’s why it worked for such a long time. I thought the divorce would be quick, but he dragged his feet, taking a long time to fill out his financial paperwork. I could not afford to move out, and he refused, so for several months we were in the same house, he slept in one of the kid’s rooms. I had recently refinished our master bedroom, painting, wallpapering, and making curtains and pillows to match the new bedspread. After awhile, he decided he deserved the master bedroom, and I came home from work to find all of my things dumped into the center of one of the bedrooms and a lock on the master bedroom door. He had taken the family files and put them in the bedroom as well. Thankfully, I had made all of my copies earlier as suggested.
This divorce lasted until December of that year. Staying at my house was next to impossible when he was home, as he would stalk me, and bait me for arguments, yelling all kinds of obscenities and crueties. I ended up staying with friends on the days he was home, and when he was out of town, I slept at home. During this time, I was still teaching a full time position, and attending college, working on my Master’s Degree in Mental Health. At one point, he decided not to tell me when he was going out of town, or when he would be home. It was his way of still attempting to control me.
There are several things that occurred during the divorce that made it not only bearable, but something for me to be grateful for. I guess I’m the optimist queen, I am always looking for the silver lining – and guess what I’ve learned? What we are looking for, we usually find! Sometime in May, one of my male friends, started to show an interest in me and I in him. I checked with my lawyer and was told that Florida is a no fault state and that while he wouldn’t advise me to get into a relationship, he couldn’t tell me not to. Ray and I fell in love! That list that I had written was manifesting! We kept our relationship quiet, because of the divorce. Ray was such a rock for me during this time.
The real estate market was at it’s peak during my divorce. We owned 2 properties, one rental in Pensacola, Florida and the home in Pembroke Pines, Florida. The final settlement was to sell both properties and split the profit of the sales. The divorce was final in December and we were instructed to sell the houses. He chose the realtor, it was part of our agreement, and our home was put on the market. The realtor did nothing to sell the house, he let the grass grow tall, and sabotaged the sale. During this time, I was living half the time at my home (when he was gone) and the other half at Ray’s home with his family. On one of my ex’s trips, he decided to change all the locks on the house and locked me out. I still had a lot of my things there, and his real estate agent wouldn’t come and unlock the door to let me in. I stewed about it, but let it go. He was away for 3 weeks and during that time, had a skiing accident where he ended up in the hospital with a broken pelvis. One of my best friends said to me, “Bets, you’re too nice you won’t say this, but I will, God don’t like ugly”. There is a law of cause and effect and my guess is that he was experiencing it big time. When he came home, he called to tell me I had one day to get my belongings out of the house. I could’ve battled it with my lawyer, but I felt the need to remove myself from it all. My friend’s helped me pack what mattered to me the most of 29 years of my life into a small uhaul. I’ve never been back in the home that I raised my 3 children in, the home I put so much love into. I had to let go and let God, and I did.
The realtor didn’t sell our home. I got an email from my ex asking if I would sell him my half of both houses. He was willing to make monthly payments to me. Thankfully, I had grown some “kahones” and emailed him back saying I was willing to sell him my half of both houses, but I was not a mortgage company and he would have to find one. Within the month I got a check from the sale of both houses. This was a huge gift, one that I am so grateful for.
In June Ray and I got married at The Signature Grand with friends and family celebrating with us. My 3 children attended and his 4 that he raised were there. We’ve been married now for 8 years and it’s such an easy relationship. All of those qualities that I wanted are there in this relationship, mostly because I myself am the things that I wanted. It is what attracts them back to me. This week, one of my best friends is moving, and I am going down to help her pack, as she was one of the friends that helped me on that day that I had one day to move on. I am grateful for all that has moved me in this journey. She helped me start the next and happiest phase of my life.