Sycophant, thy name is Pop…
Blindsiding me, cheating on me, and leaving me with 2 small babies and no plan was…egregious. But I think one of the worst things done to me during that time didn’t actually come from Honey. It came from his dad. His dad has always been this tough nut I’d vowed to crack, but never could. I just couldn’t read him. I didn’t understand him, but I wanted to. He was quiet, aloof, and seemed grouchy most of the time, even though he usually wasn’t. It became my mission to win this man over.
So when we moved out of state to where they lived (no places, no names, remember?), I tried everything a person can try to get him to like me. Hell, he could have already liked me, but I’d never have known it by his stoic gaze. So, like an idiot, I’d always try to make a good impression. Nothing over the top, I just went out of my way to make him comfortable. Happy. I’d always speak respectfully to him. I’d always make coffee if he came over, fix his cup the way he liked it and bring it to him. That kind of thing. Acts of service to show love, big and small. And yet, I still just couldn’t figure out why it was I still felt like a stranger to him. Well, now I do.
See, people like Honey aren’t just freaks of nature, springing forth from the womb ready to mame and destroy people’s lives. Well, maybe some are, but this one was nurtured. Crafted. Cultivated. Lovingly shaped into an obtuse sociopathic asshat by none other than the man I referred to as ‘Pop’. As with everything in my story, there are lots of ‘aha!’ moments that came after the tsunami that, had they been interpreted differently and in advance, would have at least helped me see things coming. But nope. I lived in ignorant bliss about Pop’s true nature, and that of my husband, until it was all way too late.
One ‘aha’ moment in particular happened the morning of the ‘night of 1,000 horrors’, just before had Honey had left for good. I’d looked for comfort in the WRONG place by going over to my mother and father in law’s house. I had no idea how little warmth and compassion either of them possessed until I was sobbing on the floor of their living room, explaining that Honey had dropped this atomic bomb on me the night before. I got zero compassion. Mum immediately told Pop to go over to our house and speak to Honey, so he left.
After he left, his mom’s obtuse response was to repeatedly announce (in her heavy Scottish accent), ‘Well, I understand when people fall out of love, Dear.’ Gee, thanks for that. But you know what? One of us? One of us didn’t. In fact, one of us was so ‘all in’ that they just bled and suffered through two horrifically complicated pregnancies to bring him these babies he’s now walking out on. And those people who ‘fall out of love’? Those people have the freedom to speak words about it to their spouse to improve the marriage, or they can go file for divorce…they are not obligated to elaborately concoct thousands of lies for months on end, develop a relationship with a stripper whose children are already calling him daddy while leaving his own kids fatherless, all while keeping their partner unknowingly enslaved to a dead relationship because it’s more convenient for him if she cooks and cleans and raises his babies. So…thanks for sharing, Mumsy. But maybe now’s not the best time to be theorizing aloud to me about the complexities of love as though what your son did is somehow justifiable on this or any other planet.
So after about the 8th time of hearing that, I stood up, explained that I had to leave, loaded Baby Girl into her carseat, and drove home. In my head, I was screaming the following:
‘FALL OUT OF LOVE?! I JUST TOLD YOU THAT MY GUTS ARE ON THE FLOOR BECAUSE MY HUSBAND OF 14 YEARS WHO I LOVE HAS JUST DISCLOSED HE’S BEEN CHEATING ON ME AND IS DIVORCING ME FOR A STRIPPER THAT MIGHT BE PREGNANT WITH HIS BABY, LEAVING ME TO BE A SINGLE MOM TO OUR 1 AND 2 YEAR OLD CHILDREN, AND ALL YOU CAN SAY IS THAT YOU ‘UNDERSTAND THAT PEOPLE CAN FALL OUT OF LOVE?’ WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THIS FAMILY?!’
But of course, I didn’t say that to her. Nor did I say ‘Hey, a hug or an arm around me would be really appreciated’, though I longed for SOMEONE I considered to be my family to show even the slightest indication of love for me on that horrific day. Hell, even if you don’t love me, how about some basic human kindness? During the worst day of my entire life, no one laid a hand on me. Just hollow words and thoughtlessness. See, his entire family has always been extremely hard to get close to. For a while, I thought ‘Is it me? Am I doing something they don’t like, or being annoying without realizing it?’ So I racked my brain, but I couldn’t figure out where I may have gone wrong. If there’s any comfort to be found in this situation, it’s that I know I did my very best to make them my family, I loved them and thought they loved me, and I never treated them badly or disrespected them. Again, something’s seriously wrong with the members of that family.
3 days after Honey left me, he blocked me on Facebook. His only way to see photos and updates about us, about his family, about his children. I was stunned. But Honey had an email account (that he gave me full permission to check any time after the events of 2009, which will be for a later post), and in fact I’d set up the most recent password on it. He hadn’t changed it. I went in there to look for evidence of who this woman could be, and possible evidence of other affairs I was sure existed. That’s how I found out who HomeWrecker was, which is also how I later found her on FaceBook.
But before I ever found out who she was, I found out who Pop was. I found out he…hated me. Well, that may be too strong of a word. I think to hate me he’d have to have real ‘feelings’, which he doesn’t. What he does have is utter disregard for me as a human being. He could take me or leave me. I could be lying in the street and he might step over me, if he didn’t feel like walking around. I was devastated. It was as if I’d suddenly found out my life was a sham, on top of finding out that my life was a sham. On top of what Honey had just done? This was way too much for my tender psyche to absorb.
I read the emails pop wrote to Honey. He was dismissive of my pain. He mocked me. Called me ‘childish’ for reacting so strongly. Rather than recognize what his son had just done, he retroactively found every manner of fault with me, and NONE with Honey. He went on to say that I was ’emotionally stuck in high school’ and that ‘I’m sure she’ll want to get as much support out of you as she can so she can keep up with her sister’. Um, what? I have never once even remarked that I coveted or wanted what my sister has. Not once. And, she’s a kindergarten teacher who lives modestly, so I’m not even sure what he thinks I’m coveting. I’ve never been the jealous-of-your-stuff type. I am truly happy when someone has something great happen to them. For realsies. Not to mention the insulting implication that I’d simply skip the devastation and trauma of what was just done to my family, and jump right to ‘how many dollars a month can I get out of this?’ Heartless. As. Hell. (And, accessing these emails is also how, weeks later when I was in the hospital about to go into emergency surgery , I’d learn that Pop was encouraging Honey to try to ‘take the kids’ from me so he wouldn’t have to pay me so much child support. Yep.)
Not to mention the ’emotionally stuck in high school’ jab. Really? Because last time I checked, I’m a responsible housewife taking care of business every minute of the day, never going out, never gossiping or starting drama, putting everyone else’s needs first, never drinking, budgeting responsibly, never leaving my children for selfish pursuits, making all manner of adult sacrifices and sucking it up, all with the best smile I can muster…while your son secretly flees his responsibilities to go have affairs and drink and party with strippers on our dime, and then leaves his wife and kids with zero warning to go make that his full time life. So…yah. Revisionist history class can be fun, Pop.
In fact, I was constantly telling Honey that he needed to stop looking online for the next thing he wanted to buy. Stop always talking about getting a new truck. Stop coveting every single thing you don’t have and just be happy with what you have right now. He was always looking for that next shiny thing (foreshadowing? I think yes!) and I was constantly reigning him in. I wore faded tshirts. I saved money and cut and colored my hair myself. Didn’t own a purse worth more than $30. Didn’t have any real jewelry, except for my wedding ring. Didn’t care. I sacrificed for my family in large and small ways. Pop made it sound as though I was this money grubbing materialist. I hadn’t bought myself a new pair of shoes in almost a year at the moment he’d uttered those words. Didn’t you know me at all, Pop? Didn’t you observe the exact opposite of selfishness and materialism for years? Why is he suddenly finding these insensitive and (baseless) issues with me, especially when I’ve just been so deeply harmed? I think I know the answer to that. I’m guessing that it made it easier for him to swallow down the weak and selfish thing his son had just done. If I suddenly have a bunch of terrible qualities, I’m betting it made what Honey did to me and the kids far more palatable.
But, oh. How the damaged psyche betrays you in moments like this. How you can suddenly go from someone who knows who they are, secure in the love of your spouse and your God, confident about traits in yourself that you know to be solid and decent and lovely, yet careful to always examine your heart to make sure you’re treating others fairly, that motivations come from the right place, and when they don’t, giving yourself grace and nurturing correction so as to be pleasing in the sight of your creator……
……to suddenly being a fractured child, rejected by the softball team that picked everyone but you.
How once that self doubt begins, it gains speed as it goes. How suddenly, you become certain of your unworthiness. You conclude that you must have been truly stupid and blind to have not seen what these people clearly know is true. They can see how awful you are. You’re a very self aware person. How did you miss it? What else have I been blind to, aside from not knowing I’m actually a jackass and that my husband was having a metric ton of affairs?! I must really suck. No wonder he left me, no wonder Pop can take me or leave me.
To both of these selfish, cold-hearted excuses for men, I say this: Now that the full picture of Honey’s egregious actions and affairs have come to light, I don’t have to do that anymore. Yet, I still do. I remain plagued with rejection and problems of feeling unworthy, but I am not plagued by your callousness toward me, nor your opinion of me. I know who I am. And now? Now I know who you are, too. Am I saying I’m faultless? Absolutely not. But whatever my deficiencies, they weren’t the ones you were listing. At least I know the difference between reality and an inflated sense of myself. The reality was, I was a great wife. It’s really the only thing from my marriage that I can look back on with any degree of certainty. Everything else has been cast into doubt, thanks to your son. Whether this world thinks that I possess value unless I’m hanging upside down from a pole like HomeWrecker has yet to be seen. But at least, with regard to your allegations implying how I somehow deserved ANY of the horrific treatment I received, get comfy while I tell you a little story about sticking it and a place where the sun don’t shine.
So, in the freshness of my broken heart and scrambled brain, I was trying to come to grips with what just happened, and then I had to deal with this thing with Pop on top of that. I couldn’t believe it. It was as though I’d just found out that the people in my life that I’d loved all secretly couldn’t stand me. I just wanted to crawl in a hole and never come out. And then I remembered something.
The morning I’d made the epic mistake of going to see his parents, something had happened. I was beside myself, dealing with what Honey had just told me about Homewrecker’s ‘pregnancy scare’, and I told him I needed to get out of there for a while. Before I left, I said ‘Hey, I’m not going over to your parents house to ‘tattle’ on you, I just need some perspective, and these are the only people I know within 1,000 miles of here. I have to wonder, though, what your parents who’ve been married for 45 years are going to think of your choice to bail on your wife and kids. I doubt very much that they’ll be real supportive of it.’ And that’s when it happened.
I did a double take. Had…had he just smiled? Yep, that happened. Ok, processing…nope, no idea how smiling could EVER be the appropriate response here…beep boop booop beep…compiling data….nope, still getting an error message. W.T.F….
And then the smile was gone, as fast as it had appeared, and he walked into the kitchen without saying a word in reply.
I never forgot that bizarre exchange. And then, when I read these cruel, heartless emails from Pop, it occurred to me that Pop is not the person that I presumed he was. Much like Honey, for lack of direct evidence to the contrary, I had ascribed all manner of positive attributes to that man. Ones that were not deserved.
Because as these cruel emails would come to a close, only days after my kids were left fatherless and I was left husbandless, he writes ‘Take good care of (Homewrecker) and those kids’. My body not even cold yet, he is instructing his son who just left his wife and babies to be sure to take good care of that new woman and new family that you like better.
I say again, W. T. F………..
A few days after that, he’s clicking ‘Like’ on literally every one of Homewrecker’s dozen or more daily posts. Inappropriately over-sexual meme? Like! Talking about how cheaters are the scum of the earth? Like! This hoodie is a great pick for the fall season? Like! He has done this with sycophantic fervor every single day for months and months now. So I’m left wondering…are ya living vicariously through your son, since he’s gone to play house with a stripper, Pop? Me thinks I may have hit the nail on the head.
And since I now believe Honey knew that his mom is cold and that his dad is just like he is, I’m sure he didn’t have a care in the world that I was going to go talk to his parents.
And that would certainly explain the smile…