Welcome to my nightmare!
These are the words I'd utter to myself every morning when I awoke and remembered I was in the middle of my divorce. Of course, reaching this point didn't happen overnight. The journey to divorce really begins with a series of missteps. At first, you don't even recognize them for what they are: warning signs. Without knowing, they become chits tossed into a pile, one that grows bigger with each misunderstanding, until finally one spouse is ready to trade them all in for their ticket out of the marriage.
The slip-ups begin innocently enough. A quarrel, here. Someone forgets to do a chore, or isn't in the mood for intimacy. It continues with a little white lie that the other doesn't notice--at first. A roving eye. Or, perhaps, it's as innocuous as an annoying laugh. Maybe there's a disagreement involving money, followed by a long, frosty silence that can last days, weeks and months. Before you know it, you wake up one morning with the realization that you've grown apart.
I cannot tell you exactly how it was for me. Except that you can almost call it a classic case. Much like an old vaudeville joke. Ever hear the one about the man from Schenectady who wore his pants too short? Mine would have gone something like this:
Ever hear the one about the lady from Queens who put her hubby through school, and when he finally got his degree, he dumped her for a younger woman?
Yeah, that's my story in a nutshell. Only, when I lived through it, I didn't see the signs and I became a pro at finding ways to justify what was right under my nose. In a way, I became my spouse's partner in crime, helping him splice our marriage to bits, by hiding the lies and sweeping the evidence under the rug.
Like the long hours he spent at work. Or how he stopped going on vacation with me and the kids. The reason he gave was always the same--swamped at work--and I believed him. Even when he said he was too tired to come home, and would be spending the night on the office couch. I fell for that one, twice.
I wore my blinders until I couldn't anymore, on account of a nagging feeling that had burrowed itself into my head. A feeling propelled by one simple fact: the distance between us had become vast and infinite.
Apparently, ignoring our broken home had not made the cobwebs and cracked windows disappear. So, overcoming my fears, I drummed up the nerve to ask the question that would forever put me on the final stretch to divorce. And while I may have lamented the outcome, I never regretted the question. I asked my husband if he still loved me.
When he said no, without any hesitation, I still held out hope. Holding on to old habits, I did my best to rationalize his response away, grasping at every straw I could find. But, when that didn't help, I asked a friend for her fresh perspective. Immediately, she saw the bigger picture and asked me, "Do you think he's seeing someone?"
I was horrified by her suggestion and rejected the idea outright. But the thought persisted and that evening, I confronted my husband, and asked if there was someone else. He shook his head, and relief flooded over me for about five seconds. It was completely wiped away by his continued apathy toward me. Unable to bear it any longer, I gathered up my wherewithal and, in the middle of the night, snuck down the stairs in search of any proof, one way or another.
I searched through his briefcase, one file folder at a time. Nothing. I looked through all the pockets and compartments. Still nothing. I was about to sigh with gratitude, joyous to clear his name of infidelity. One more compartment to go and then we'd be home free, and I could tell my friend she was wrong. And that's when I opened the last section of the briefcase and found a powder blue greeting card.
What is it they say? Oh, yeah. When you care enough to send the very best. I pulled the card out of the pocket and there, on the envelope, were the words I had to see in order to believe:
"To My Lover"
And that was it. We were now well on our way on this journey to divorce. So many mishaps leading to this point. My marriage had unraveled and, as I felt myself freefalling into the precipice of my divorce, my only thought was,
Welcome to my nightmare!