Ever Seen the Truman Show?
So, I went to work today thinking it would be just like any other Friday. It was, instead, one of the most life changing days of my entire life.
I awoke with a terrible cold and a delightful barking cough after my standard 5 hours
of sleep. I can no longer sleep normally since my life blew apart. I have to stay awake until I’m passing out or seeing double, so I can put my head on the pillow and go straight under. Lying there alert enough to ruminate on things is…unwise. I’ve learned my lesson. Painfully.
Got the kids up and got them dressed, got their teeth brushed, stopped a fight over a bath toy neither of them cared about, fed them breakfast, cleaned up the same mess 7 times, gulped down my coffee (failing to feed myself as usual) and somehow got out the door with Little Man in time for our early morning appointment. Honey’s treachery, behind me by 7 months now, sat on my heart and mind and gut, just as it has for the last 238 days. After a disappointing therapy appointment for Little Man, I took him for our special weekly mommy/son date (a donut and milk at a bakery together), got him back home and headed into work, unaware of the amazing gift that awaited me there.
I want to preface this story by first describing the two most notable things that have happened in this last week. First, the reason Little Man’s therapy appointment was disappointing is because Honey was instructed (for the second time, he blew off the first one) by the therapist to have ‘the big talk’ with Little Man on Thursday (last night). She told him he needed to explain that mommy didn’t make daddy leave, that he left because he wanted to and chose to, and to explain what divorce means. He enthusiastically agreed that he would. He never did.
The therapist also gave Honey suggestions about how to improve the Skype calls for the kids. They had been hell on me, and pure anarchy for the children. How many times can Honey ask Little Man ‘What’s in the cup, buddy? Got some juice in there? Cool!’ Little man, wanting to impress his daddy now more than ever, would start to speak gibberish, dance, flail, sing, do somersaults, you name it. Once he got like that, it was next to impossible to get him to come back from it. He couldn’t talk or be reasoned with, and it became painful to watch and pointless to stay on the call. On more than one occasion, Honey visibly became annoyed with him about it. I wanted to jump through the phone at him for this, but I know that there’s no point. And since we don’t speak to each other during Skype calls (or at all), I felt helpless to do anything about my circumstances. Again.
The therapist called Honey and explained that his support for little man during therapy would be invaluable. She suggested keeping Skype calls 15 minutes max (can do longer as they get older or their attention span increases). Have a definitive beginning, middle and end to the call, and in the middle, do up to 3 ‘activities’ to keep them engaged so they don’t go spinning and jumping away from the IPad like little howler monkeys on crack. Many examples were given. He enthusiastically agreed that he would. He never did. Here were the suggestions:
Middle: Activities, maximum of three during a call. 1 or 2 is better.
*Have Little Man show you his favorite toy and tell you all about it. Ask specific, detailed questions.
*Have him show you art he did at church or things he’s drawn. Ask specific, detailed questions.
*Offer to read him a book (and give him a choice of books, so go buy a few)
*Get a pen/paper and ask Little Man and/or Baby Girl to do the same and you can both draw a rabbit (or whatever) and then compare them. Discuss the differences and similarities.
*Mail Little Man some fake mustaches (or any silly wearable thing) and then ask him to wear one and you wear one while you’re talking.
*Buy 2 of the same thing and when Little Man opens his on Skype, you show him you have the same thing (toy, shirt, pen set, whatever).
*Whatever other engaging activity that will work for a three year old that won’t require mom to do anything elaborate to prepare or participate, and won’t take longer than the call.
Honey sent a response to my email. He was gushing about how this was so helpful to hear. How he would definitely do this. How he would go buy books. It’s been a couple of months since he wrote that email, and he has not done one single thing she suggested. Wait! I take that back. Once during a Skype call, he looks down and starts writing or scribbling something. A minute later, he holds up a piece of paper and says ‘Look, Buddy! I drew a rabbit.’ That was his ‘activity’ with little man. Way to read instructions, way to include little man, and way to strive for mediocrity. S****y parenting within s****y parenting…like a turducken. How lazy can you be? What a joke. Except that it’s not remotely funny.
The therapist said ‘Honey’s told me he’ll cooperate, but he’s not. He missed both phone calls to Little Man. He isn’t changing the Skype behaviors. So sorry. I see exactly what you’ve been saying about him. He acts very humble, says please and yes ma’am…even acts self effacing. He gets excited and says he’s going to jump on board and do what’s best for Little Man. But he’s all talk. He hasn’t done any of it. You really are totally on your own with everything. And from what I can see, that’s a good thing. But you’re doing a phenomenal job, ok? I can see how worried you are about doing and saying the right things about his daddy leaving, and you are. Little man is a very bright, very special little boy. YOU should be very proud of that.’ As nice as this was to hear, it’s cold comfort. I know that I can’t ever fix this for little man. And that kills me.
The other notable thing that happened this week was that HomeWrecker had seen fit to make a photo collage featuring my kids and her kids on it, and posted it to her FB page. I could have powered the entire city of Cincinnati with the rage energy this generated in my body. I texted Honey to tell her she needed to remove them. He texted back to inform me that this ‘wasn’t my place to say’. Shortly after this, I saw her post a picture of a care package for Halloween that read ‘A care package for the babies! Happy Halloween!’ The comments below it praised her for being so thoughtful. Oh, no. You…you can’t possibly be talking about sending that to my children, HomeWrecker. I’d better not see that crap arrive on our doorstep. It may meet a fiery death on the front lawn if so. Where was your concern for them when you knowingly got involved with a married man that would have to move out of their lives to be in yours?! But it was for them. It arrived today. The chances are very good that Honey didn’t pick it, ship it, or write on the package or card (I know his handwriting). I was married to him, remember? I’ve picked, wrapped and shipped on his behalf enough for 10 lifetimes. It’s from her, really, yet the return address said his name. So, I got a grip and calmed down as best I could. No chocolate candy bonfire. I’m not really into incarceration for mail tampering.
The third notable thing…did I say two? I meant three. The third notable thing was that I was driving to work last week and a song came on that made me think about this amazing road trip that Honey and I had gone on together a few years ago. Instantly, I was picturing one hand out the window of his truck flying up and down in the wind, the other resting on his thigh, feeling free and happy and in love as we drove under an amazing Arizona sky. Then, I snap back to reality, and the fleeting happiness I felt from that memory becomes like acid in my mouth, as all memories with Honey now do. For months, things like this have served to grow and enlarge the toxic cocktail of rage and sorrow building in my torso. Lately, it’s felt as though these emotions have begun to form a physical ‘thing’ inside of me. Suddenly enraged, I whispered ‘Get it out of me, Lord.’
Then, something happened. I finally had my primal scream. Van insisted this was coming. He told me it would help me, and not to fight it when it came. He said ‘when it’s time, just let it fly and you will feel so much better, babygirl.’ So there, stopped at a red light in broad daylight, unconcerned with who might see or hear, I raised my voice with every word until I was screaming at the top of my lungs ‘God, either kill me or take it out of me, because I can’t live like this anymore. Get it out. GET. IT. OUT. GET IT OUT OF ME, GOD!!
Immediately I became aware of two things. First, primal screams really hurt your throat. Second, I didn’t feel better. I felt exhausted and destroyed and I had to walk into work with active tears and hide everything. Again. But looking back at it now, I can see it for what it really was. It was a prayer. It was the most awful, guttural and sincere prayer I’ve ever prayed.
And it was heard. I know it beyond a shadow of a doubt, because I can say with confidence that God answered it today.
Upon arriving at work, I joined my longtime friend and boss in the conference room to eat. She’s graciously bought lunch for all of the employees. As soon as everyone had trickled out and it was just her and I, she closed the door. ‘I have something to tell you. It’s about Honey.’ My stomach dropped. How could she have news about Honey?
Her husband had spoken to someone named Dave who had just come from the jobsite Honey is on out of state. Turns out, Dave didn’t just work on the same job, he was one Honey’s roommates in the rental place they all stayed in. My heart quickened and I felt as though I was going to throw up at the anticipation of what she would say next.
Her husband told Dave that Honey was a lowlife and a coward, and if he ever saw him again, he would have a number of choice words for him and given the chance, may even knock his teeth down his throat. Dave was shocked and said he’d liked Honey, why would you hate him? Her husband laid out the real story about how Honey had lied, cheated, blindsided and abandoned his family. Dave was in total disbelief.
‘He had a wife and kids waiting for him at home? That’s not what Honey told all of us. He told us all from day one when he moved into the rental in September of ‘13 that he was separated.’ I couldn’t breathe. Separated?? I’m sorry, what?? I’d just kissed him goodbye the day before. I’d cleaned his clothes and made him lunch. I’d helped him pack his bag while we laughed and played with the kids one last time before we all would be painfully parted from each other yet again. Separated???
It gets worse.
Dave went on to say that Honey had called dispatch at the hall and actually requested to go out of state because he was separated from his wife and wanted to get out of town.’ I couldn’t breathe. He’d asked to go. The dozens of conversations that we had about how he hated to have to go out of state, but there was just absolutely no work nearby. How sorry he was that he had to leave me alone with all of the work the babies entail. How much he would miss me. How strong of a woman I was, how much of a great wife I was to hold down the fort while he went to earn money so we could get out of debt. Talking to me on the phone or Skype every single day of the 5 months that he was gone, no hint of a problem, telling me he loved me and couldn’t wait to come home to me and the babies. And me, stroking his ego at every turn. Praising him for the sacrifice he was making for our family, telling him how much I admired and appreciated him. And in return, he’d tell me what an awesome wife I was. Every single word he’d uttered…LIES.
He was planning to go cheat and act like a single man before he’d even left to go on the road. Before he’d ever met HomeWrecker. There’s was not some once in a lifetime encounter where passion and love and fate conspired to match them. I no longer had to imagine that they were ‘powerless’ to this romance, that it was written in the stars (whereas mine wasn’t). I don’t have to feel jealousy or despair that theirs must be a match superior to mine in every way, one so strong it compelled him to make the ultimate ‘tough choice’ to leave his young family…or risk denying a love meant to be from the dawn of time. It is none of those things. It was merely a byproduct of his philandering and lies. And now, though he said she ‘knows everything’, I suspect that that’s the farthest thing from the truth. She has no idea about any of this. Oh my God.
He went on the road a bunch of other times, too. All those times, he claimed there was ‘no work in town’ and he had to travel. All of the words were the same. All of the actions were the same. So that means…years and years and years of lying to me, telling me he loved me, getting me pregnant…making a fool out of me, and without a shadow of a doubt, cheating on me at every opportunity. It’s just that this time, he happened upon someone shiny and new who bought his lies and who could provide him with the acclaim and praise and exciting new sexual adventures that his postpartum wife couldn’t.
Dave went on to say ‘Yah, he would go out all the time and go to the bars and the clubs and hit on all the women, and eventually he hooked up with some stripper and he’s still there with her I think.’
I was sure I was going to vomit the awesome lunch she’d been so kind to provide.
This was some of the worst news I’d ever been given in my entire life. I’d just received confirmation that I’d been married to a pathological liar. It went waaay beyond that, though. To trick and lie and deceive like that for years decries a much larger underlying problem. I firmly believe he’s a very well-concealed sociopath with narcissistic personality disorder (who also has a sex addiction). I’ll post the definition and behaviors typical of these disorders in another post. It reads like Honey’s bio. So, why did he stay? That’s another part of it. If he wanted to sleep with anything that walked, and be single, why didn’t he simply go and do just that? Why did he have to betray me and lie to me hundreds and hundreds of times?? Respectability. He couldn’t have anyone see him for what he really is. He had to appear the good guy, the family man. Needing people to perceive him positively is a component of how a sociopath uses their circumstances to their advantage. I was useful for a season, and then I wasn’t. And when I no longer was, I saw the ‘switch flipped’ and this is why the night he left he had zero emotion toward me, toward leaving his kids, nothing. I do believe he loves his kids; as much as a sociopath can, anyway. But it’s not agape love. It’s not the selfless love required of a parent. He may believe that it is, but self delusion is all part of the fun jubilee of personality disorders he’s battling.
And then I flashed to the conversation I had about 4 weeks after Honey left. I called him, despite being told not to by my mediator, because I had to have certain things answered. During the hour long call, he was silent for most of it. He would either simply not answer, or he’d sigh. But amazingly, I asked him something he did answer, something that has sat in the back of my head for months now. I asked ‘how could you do this, Honey? More importantly, how could you do this in the way that you did it? You blindsided me and then you were just gone. You left me to handle everything right after being emotionally destroyed. You had no plan. You left us with no assets. No way to see your children again. How could you do that?’ He said, in one of his only honest moments, ‘Because I hadn’t planned on telling you.’ I said ‘Wait. Let me make sure I’m hearing you right. Do you mean to say that you would have just lived a double life with both of us until you felt like leaving or you got caught?’ He was silent. I said ‘Answer me. I deserve an answer to this. Look, the bomb’s gone off. Our life is exploded in pieces all around us. Just tell me.’ And then he said ‘Yes.’
So, if HomeWrecker believes she’s found her prince charming, I truly do feel sympathy for her from a place in my heart that rage can’t penetrate. That cynicism can’t touch. I truly, deeply feel horrible for her for the first time in this whole thing. Her actions and attitude have been ugly and awful, but still. Damn. Poor girl.
After processing everything I’d learned, I took inventory of how this all made me feel. I was shocked to find that I was at peace. That toxic cocktail of pain and rage? Dissolving. A sense of calm came over me that I haven’t felt in 7 months, 3 weeks and 2 days. Relief flooded my body. There wasn’t something I ‘did’ or ‘didn’t do’ that caused the death of my marriage. There wasn’t any need for self hatred over his relationship with this other women, or his lying. Does that mean I was a perfect spouse? God no. But whatever my issues, they are not why my marriage died and they are not why my kids won’t grow up without a dad. No. This is all on him.
There’s no more ‘what ifs’ for me. What if he’d just realized how vulnerable our circumstances had made him? What if I’d done this or said that? What if he’d just made the effort in realizing babies plus health problems plus being apart for work equals loneliness and risky behavior?’ Nope. That man didn’t ‘not protect our marriage’ out of some inability to see warning signs…he didn’t protect our marriage by design. He’d rather be in another state than be at home being a husband, helping his wife that just bore his children. He’d rather be in another state, trolling bars and strip clubs for some strange instead of seeing his children take their first steps or say their first words. And he’d rather call me every day from the road to tell me how much he misses us, all while seeking out things that would put him as far away from us as possible. So. I don’t need to waste another second on those what ifs. How…freeing.
I don’t even feel anywhere near as much rage towards HomeWrecker as I did five minutes ago. I feel…light. Unburdened. I got my answer about what was really going on, and I got it because God answered my prayer.
I even felt the need to pray for him. And, get this…I even prayed for HomeWrecker. No, not the ‘may her parts dry up and fall off’ prayer. A legitimate, unselfish prayer for her protection. This is…mind-blowing to me. There is something so deeply damaged in this man and I believe that without some major intervention, he won’t even be able to save himself from himself at this point Now, another family is involved. May God protect them from him, just as he has for me and mine.
Ever seen The Truman Show? It stars Jim Carrey as Truman, the first baby to be adopted by a TV network. They put him in this giant set and thousands of cameras are on him 24/7 as he grows up, totally unaware that his parents, his best friend, even his wife, they’re all just actors on the set. Eventually he suspects something is off, but he just isn’t sure what. He tries to leave, and they try to stop him. He sails on the ‘ocean’ to get away (just a set, too) and eventually, his boat crashes into the wall of the set. He takes his hand and puts it on the wall, hanging his head. He doesn’t say any words, but he makes a sad, deep sound in his throat that somehow perfectly conveys ‘Aaaahaaaaa. I get it. I knew it somewhere, deep down, all along. You were deceiving me, and I have a long painful road ahead, but now at least I have the peace that comes with knowing I’M NOT CRAZY.’
So today, as I learned what is now simultaneously the worst and best news I’ve ever heard, I thought of this scene endlessly for some reason. When I got ‘home’ to my parent’s house, I walked into the hall where the framed picture of me, Honey, Little Man and Baby Girl hangs as a shrine to my late family. I put my hand on it and I hung my head and I made that sound, and I finally said goodbye to the great husband and father I’d invented in my head for so very long.
And I’ve felt at peace ever since.