Tomorrow would have been mine and Chef’s 25th wedding anniversary. It sounds strange saying it to myself. We’ve been apart for 6 years now, and my life looks nothing like it did when we were together. So, while I acknowledge this would have been a milestone, a big part of me just doesn’t care.
You have to understand, I didn’t let Chef go easily or quickly. When that stupid drug showed up, I had all the faith and hope in the world that together, we’d be able to get him off of it and back on the right path again. I considered this problem to be huge, but fixable. I did what most spouses do when they find themselves up against an addiction – enabled, cried, begged, threatened, enabled some more, cried, begged, prayed, threatened. Finally, I started carrying out some of my threats. I left him. I stopped giving him money. I stopped making excuses for him. And, almost 2 years later, I stopped waiting for him. I had ceased to believe our marriage could ever survive the hell we had been through.
The drugged out Chef did a lot of things that were plain horrible. He cheated on me. He stole things from me and gave them to his girlfriend. He told elaborate, terrible lies about me to our friends. He said things to me that were so completely evil, it scared me. He hit me. He stalked me. He was just a whole different, terrible other person.
What I learned from the whole experience was quite profound though. I learned that love really can bear all things. Love is powerful, and it doesn’t give up easily. As quick as I was able to forgive one betrayal, another would would surface, and I’d cry, make excuses for him to myself, forgive, and then another one would pop up. I was off kilter for over 2 years thinking that I needed to somehow save this man because I loved him.
What I didn’t see at each terrible moment was that the way I felt about Chef was taking a hit. I had survived the lying, the cheating, the hitting, the stealing, the stalking, and yet I still felt like I needed to save him. I felt stuck because he was my husband, and because that’s what you do when you love someone.
I don’t know if other people get a lightening bolt moment when they realize their relationship is truly over. I just know that I did. I sat in my little one bedroom apartment, finally understanding that the relationship I had been so sadly trying to save had been gone a long time now, and what I was hoping for could never exist again. In fact, the minute he lied to me the very first time, the relationship I’d loved so long and so hard had already ended.
Here’s the thing.
A relationship where two people trusted each other changes the minute that trust is betrayed. Can you get passed it? Sure. But the damage has been done. Your relationship is different now. When you cheat on a spouse, or hit them, or steal from them, you’ve introduced knowledge about who you are and what you will do, to the other person in that relationship, and no matter how much they don’t want to believe it, the other person can’t not know what he/she now knows.
That’s what I tried to do for a long time. I tried not to know that my husband had the ability to lie straight to my face. I tried not to know he would and did cheat on me. I tried not to know he had all these terrible things within him to do me and others around him. I tried to not know that this is who Chef really was.
I finally had to accept that I did know who he really was now, in his heart of hearts, and it wasn’t someone I wanted a relationship with.
I know I gave my marriage all my effort to save; but when I realized I would never see this person in the same light ever again, I had to walk away.
- I don’t owe someone allegiance who has shown none to me.
- I don’t owe a liar the truth,
- I don’t owe a thief money.
- I don’t owe respect to an abuser.
- I don’t owe fidelity to a cheater.
And because I won’t be a liar, a thief, an abuser, or a cheater, I can’t be with him. I’m not equipped to be that kind of wife.
There are consequences in life, and it’s sometimes hard but necessary to separate yourself from someone else’s.