Contact from the husband and contact with the female parental unit began slowly. A phone call every few days from the wombed one, or an email from the husband gradually became almost daily contact with each of them. I decided to use the opened lines of communication with the husband to get divorce proceedings started. I used a website service to generate divorce papers, and agreed to meet with the husband for the sole purpose of having him sign the papers.
We agreed on a neutral location, and I brought my daughter with me as back up (just in case 911 would be needed). When the husband saw me, he told me how glad he was to see me, how good I looked, yada yada yada. I sat with him at a table in the mall food court, and allowed him to speak his peace. When he was done, I slid the divorce paperwork over to him, and told him that all I asked was that he get the papers signed and notarized so I could move on with my life. He replied that he did not want to get a divorce. I found this to be the most ridiculous thing in the world! I reminded him that he had been living with another woman most of the time we had been apart, and to my knowledge was still living with her. I told him it was time he made an honest woman out of her, and that I was getting out of their way. He finally agreed to sign and get the paperwork notarized. Freedom was on the horizon.. or so I thought.
Meanwhile, the female parental unit asked for some money. I didn’t have any money to give her. The husband, however, offered to pay my daughter’s senior class dues. He said he wanted to be a good husband now to make up for all the hell he’d put me through. I took the money, and gave most of it to the wombed one. She began visiting my apartment at that point, at least once a week. I was focusing on my M. Ed. and was no longer working. I lived off school loans and my retirement money that I’d cashed in. Both the husband and the female parental unit were impressed by the fact that I was able to maintain my household without a job. They each came up with ways to separate me from my savings.
The husband began a love-bombing crusade that eventually swept me off my feet. In less than a year, he had moved in to my apartment and had agreed to pay half the bills. I was not happy about the arrangement, but he would not allow for anything else. He told me that it had worked for him and the other woman, and it would work for us. He said we would not have any shared bank accounts, and all the bills would remain in my name. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, but let me not get ahead of myself.
The wombed one had financial crisis after financial crisis, and I was the only one who could help her. She had a harder time getting back into my good graces, so she decided to get married to someone she’d known just a few months. My husband, my daughter and I attended the wedding. It was a small, simple wedding. Soon after the wedding, the female parental unit began coming by more frequently, ravenously hungry and exhausted. She was clearly getting quite thin. When I asked her what was going on, she said she and her husband were having financial troubles. Queue the superhero music! Superdaughter to the rescue! I began cooking extra so she would have food to take home with her. Sometimes I’d take her out to a buffet to eat. I still would not give her money, but I would buy things she wanted or help with groceries. What is that saying about a fool and their money?
On the home-front, life with the husband became a living nightmare. He wouldn’t come home after work. He wouldn’t call or text. He wouldn’t pay bills on time. He didn’t want to have sex with me, but would “remember” us having sex recently. I realized that he was cheating on me, and this time I didn’t launch a full scale investigation to prove it. I just knew. He began threatening to body slam me, or spray me with chemical agent (used on inmates) or put additives in my food to make me gain weight. He refused to be held accountable for his actions, and kept making excuses for why he needed to spend money he didn’t have and why he couldn’t pay bills. It dawned on me that his financial irresponsibility was draining my savings faster than I had planned. At the rate things were going, I was going to be broke in a few months.
I had gone to court regarding the divorce papers many months before, and the judge had refused to grant the divorce, claiming that the paperwork was incorrect and scolding me for using a website instead of getting a lawyer. I felt stuck with a man who didn’t love me, and who couldn’t be a husband to me or anyone else. The last straw for me came when he told me that he was going to nursing school, and that I would need to support him in his education the same way he’d supported me. Mindeffery, anyone? I let him know that if he meant he was going to save up and pay half the bills (more often all the bills) as I’d been doing, then certainly, I’d support him. I had no intention of supporting him while he went to school and screwed around, however. I prayed earnestly for wisdom.
I confided in the wombed one that things were not going well in the marriage. She confided in me that things were not going well in her marriage, either. Her husband was a crackhead. She knew it when she married him, but claimed to not know what that meant. She said he seemed to be normal, so she didn’t think he used drugs. Whatever. I didn’t have the mental energy for her problem. I was trying to get my own straightened out.
I decided to write a letter to the husband to get my thoughts sorted out. In the letter, I outlined my major reasons for no longer wanting to be with the man. I also outlined the reasons it seemed clear to me that he no longer wanted to be with me. When he read the letter, he seemed surprised. He told me that we both were at fault for the problems in the marriage. I asked him to explain. He said that I did not support him. I pointed out all the times I’d missed sleep to help him with his college papers, agreed to him not paying bills so he could spend money on his children, and agreed to him spending money on things he wanted that had nothing to do with me or my interests. The “conversation” lasted for many hours, and by 4 a.m., I was curled up in the fetal position on the couch, not knowing what I thought anymore. He then took me to bed and proceeded to have sex with me. Later on that day, he left for an out of town trip he’d planned without me, and told me he’d be back on Father’s Day.
When he left, I was more determined than ever that it was over between us. I went looking for a card on Father’s Day evening. I really didn’t want to buy him a card. He’d told me if we couldn’t agree on how to spend a dime, he didn’t want to have a child with me. He now had nine children with 6 different women. When daughter had been away at college, he refused to chip in to help with her tuition. The cards that were left on the shelves of the shops I went into were either over the top romantic or very generic. I decided not to buy him a card. I wasn’t going to play pretend to spare his feelings. It was the best decision I ever made.
He arrived home, very excited about Father’s Day. He told me about what his children and their mothers had done for him, then asked me what I’d gotten him. I told him I didn’t buy him anything. He immediately became angry. He told me he’d rushed home expecting that his WIFE would have something for him for Father’s Day. He said one of the children’s mothers was planning to buy him an expensive smartphone, and I should be ashamed that she was getting something for him and I wasn’t. I told him that I didn’t want to be married to him anymore. He EXPLODED. He knocked my pretty things off my dresser, and started coming at me. I picked up the phone to dial 911, but he pulled the phone out of the wall. I prayed silently as he stood over me, huffing and puffing. I said quietly, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” He left soon afterward. I called the wombed one and asked her to stay with me so I wouldn’t be alone if he came back. She arrived about an hour after I called. She saw the damage he’d done, and told me that if he wasn’t going to leave, I could come live with her. We made plans that night, but I still had difficulty falling asleep.
Within weeks, I was packed and out of the apartment. I let the husband know that the utilities would be turned off by July 15th, and he needed to be out by then. What I couldn’t put in storage, or fit in the wombed one’s apartment, I gave away. I went away to Seattle for my birthday, and while I was away, I received a strange phone call from the husband. He basically said that my daughter was accusing him of sexually abusing her, but that it wasn’t true. I told him that I was on vacation, and couldn’t talk to him. I hung up on him, my mind reeling. I knew him to be a liar about things important or insignificant. If he said my daughter was lying, I did not believe him.
I began remembering incidents that seemed odd, that felt “off.” And just like I knew he’d been cheating on me, I knew he’d been raping my daughter. I felt so angry, so helpless, so STUPID. How could it have happened? I never left her alone with him when she was younger. How could it have happened and I not know? Suddenly, so many things made sense. I had to acknowledge that there was a part of me that always felt on edge if there was the chance that she would be alone with the husband. I could never put my finger on anything, but the uneasiness was always there. Like Scarlett, I told myself, “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”