Remember that game you played with your friends before the beginning of any other game such as tag….where you would exclaim, “NOT IT!” And if you were the one who yelled not it first you were exempt from being, well…It!
I feel that is a good analogy with my divorce. Let me be accountable and clear. I entered into a relationship while married. Was it something I jumped into? NO. Was it something immediately physical? NO. Was it the reason my marriage ended? Of course not. Anyone who believes an affair ends a relationship is naive. What ended my marriage was years of neglect, lack of affection, disrespect and as I’ve come to realize cruelty and betrayal.
When asked by my husband if I was having an affair, I fessed up. I told the truth. It was something I was not proud of but after 4 kids and 20 years with someone, you kind of have to be a wee bit honest. I felt awful. While I knew that this relationship was not the reason our marriage was where it was but rather a result of where our relationship was, it didn’t make it feel any better.
Living in a small town, word spreads fast. I was married to someone who is extremely well liked. He’s the nice guy, usually as a friend pointed out because he has no opinions. He got drunk one night and told his version of the story, which by all accounts was not totally to damage my reputation…. In fact he told a story of a broken marriage that had some major problems and he was not surprised I sought someone outside of it.
OK I don’t care how nice of a guy you are, but if your wife was banging the guy who built your house, you are not just going to as Elsa says…”Let it GO!” I actually asked that question to a friend, does no one question why he isn’t angry? Why he’s seemingly ok with it? Does everyone really think he’s just that “nice”? Call me a sceptic but if someone was telling me this I would be calling Paul Harvey himself and asking for the rest of the story.
I could have told plenty of stories…my suspicions of his affair. His belligerent drunkenness, coming home in peeing in my kitchen trash cans. His addiction to porn while I was pregnant with our first child where he wracked up hundreds of dollars in cable bills while I was getting my EMT certification so I could be on the volunteer emergency squad. His endless drunkenness. His wracking up tons of debt without my knowing and me working my butt off to pay it off. When you date someone since you were 18 years old, there are going to be a lot of stories. (But the peeing in the trash can was 6 months prior to my affair. It wasn’t all ancient history).
I was finally honest about a few points with a friend. She said to me “How do you keep your mouth shut?” My response, “Who wins?” I wouldn’t gain anything. Everyone in this town has not only embroidered a scarlet letter on my sweater. They have branded it into my flesh. If I say anything it’s just sour grapes. He doesn’t win. And ultimately my children do not win while we sling mud back and forth at one another. That’s what keeps me quiet.
I have encountered 4 years of being shunned at school, ball games, every social engagement you can think of. I’m not sure if it’s because we were a pretty well known family in small town, people thought they knew us, knew our kids and it’s just hard for them to believe. Or if they are really that bored and dissatisfied with their own lives that they feel the need to feed off others. They have written letters, been outwardly rude and mean….all for something that has no impact on them whatsoever.
Well recently my Ex FINALLY fessed up to having several affairs during our marriage. He has watched the mother of his children be excluded, ridiculed, exiled, branded whatever you want to call it. He has watched me lose my church, my family, my friends and sat back and called “NOT IT”. It was so bad after one letter that was written that I wrote my own letter. A suicide letter wracked with guilt and the inability to bring shame to my kids. He read it, didn’t speak up. It takes a special kind of cruelty and cowardice to watch the person with whom you had 4 kids, spent 20 years and took 1/2 their retirement to sit back and watch the lynching.
So, I’m still left with being last to the “NOT IT”. I think there is some satisfaction in not bearing the sole responsibility of the dissolution of our marriage. Regardless the actual cause of a divorce. If you step out of that relationship – you end up bearing the guilt. So I guess I’m glad that weight has shifted somewhat. But here I am 3-4 years later learning that my entire life was a farce. I still am the one the community blames. For some reason they allow themselves to be judge and jury in a relationship that they were no part of. I’m still the one volunteering at school – where no moms will speak to me. I’m still the one that does the bulk of the parenting. But I didn’t call “NOT IT”