|I finished writing this after the divorce was finalized, and it has been a release for me. "Jackieland", another memoir, nails a specific incident that happened during the marriage in August of 2009. Re-reading "Jackieland" reminds me of how angry I was at the time. This memoir serves as a testament for how my experiences have shaped my narrative and writing style. Names have been changed to protect the individuals involved.
Near the end, I was peppy because I smoked half a pack of cigarettes daily. Or a pack, or more than a pack; it was difficult to keep track of because it wasn’t really a habit I had control over. It was more of a strange addiction than a habit, and I didn’t care about it at all and I didn’t care about the money. All I wanted was my next cigarette because it was all I cared about when I was smoking it.
I always had a crapload of caffeine in my system. I was sleeping 4 hours a night. I was getting up at 5 am and downing a cup of green tea with my pills. I was rushing down to the basement and smoking a cigarette. I was running my crazed, nicotine-induced self into the kitchen and hurriedly making a lunch of white crackers, peanut butter and protein bars, and then I was drinking the coffee I‘d set to brew the night before. The coffee was for James of course, in an attempt to save us money so he wouldn’t buy a latte, but he ignored it anyway. I‘d get to work and down four or five or six cups of green tea throughout the day and scurry off to the gym, and then I would come home and park myself in front of the computer and chain smoke for six hours while playing World of Warcraft in the basement until 1 am. Or I was Facebooking. Or some combination thereof. And then I was doing the same thing the next day.
I made James his usual concoctions for dinner: shake n’ baked chicken legs with rice-a-roni, pan-fried pork chops with mashed potatoes - and I walked a lovely meal, perfectly prepared, downstairs to him every evening that he essentially ignored while he was absorbed with his games. I lived on protein bars, cigarettes, green tea, and almost a gallon of water a day, often cooking a green veggie of some sort with James‘s dinner (saving it only for myself since he wouldn’t eat it anyway) as a side to go with my Double Chocolate Crunch brick of purgatorial injustice. I had convinced myself that I was FINE. I wasn’t missing work, even when I was sick. I had been shitting my brains out for six months, but I was still fine. I built up a ton of muscle. I lost 50 pounds. My Jazzercise instructor convinced me to go to a movement screening and asked me to go to an instructor training. Things improved at work, mostly. I got hot. Men - and women - paid attention to me, and it was great. Because James paid no attention to me at all.
It was late spring. I found a new friend in a friend’s younger brother, John Charles. We found we had far more in common than she and I did, which, of course, became a bone of contention between girlfriends, and she became incredibly overprotective of her younger brother. But I told her to shove it in not so many words. I didn’t give a shit about people anymore. She gave me a chance to have Charlie as a friend, and she became indifferent to me. I told myself I didn't care. I wanted my life and I was out of control because James was so in control of me I couldn’t stand it. I did what I could to control what I had left.
If it was warm and if we had time, Charlie and I would take walks with his dog around the lake or in the park on the weekends or in the evenings. He was teaching me how to play Magic the Gathering. If you play that card game, you will be dubbed one of the superest nerds in existence, which was what I wanted. Maybe I wanted to be nerdy to get James’s attention. Maybe I wanted to be nerdy to get the attention of OTHER nerds and THEN get James’s attention. It didn’t matter. I just wanted the attention that my husband wasn’t giving me - the attention I was missing.
Aaron, James’s long-time friend, was at our house frequently because he had just ended a five year relationship and needed a place to keep his computer while he looked for a new place to live. So, while he was there, I was having 24-hour World of Warcraft marathons on weekends with Aaron and John Charles. The two of them had become my best friends, and they were seemingly the only people I trusted. James didn’t play WoW with us because it was just too uncool for school, but he did conveniently jury-rig the basement with multiple computer ports to enable mini-LANs, which weren’t really LANs at all, I guess maybe to prove his worth or intelligence or something. Our friends would drag their computers over and share our company while we nerded-out into the wee hours of dawn.
As time wore on, backyard barbecues at 11 pm filled the air of mid-summer and fed ever hungering gamers. I crushed on John Charles, but I found a trust and a relationship with Aaron. I confided in him the troubles of my marriage, and I fell in love with him. I felt my disdain for my husband growing as my love for James slipped out the window. I let my heart fill with resentment for his awful mistreatment and neglect. I was forgetting my life by being embroiled in the middle of it.
Charlie and Aaron were coming over to hang out with me in the basement while James ignored all three of us. James thought he was paying attention to me by installing the four 1-gigabit ports so those he now referred to as “my” friends could play WoW, and EVE, and whatever else with me, and as long as the company was there, James didn't give a shit about me at all. He ignored all of us and went about his own gaming business with his Star Trek Online buddies in New York and Hawaii and Sweden on his personal Teamspeak channel, purchased - by him - with our bank account. Specifically for them. A private chat channel, just for all of them. He stopped playing Call of Duty with Aaron altogether. He snubbed the three of us. With his kiddie game from the bottom ranks of MMO-RPG land.
My life ended on July 30th when I told him I wanted a divorce.
* * *
During those last sort of latency months, which I suppose really were the candor of the entire relationship, although I became fed up to the point of finding my own independence in January or so of 2010, I expressed my sorrow to James about the loss of our friendship to his ever-changing world and his solidarity and our change in lifestyle and habits. We’d grown apart. We had gone separate ways. Completely. We stopped spending time together. I had found a niche at the gym because I had finally been able to lose weight even though it was related to the loss of control over my life. He was also depressed and hiding in his man-cave, but my attempts to address the situation were met with few remarks, if any, and those that came were negative and foolish and they pushed me away further.
He seemed uncomfortable around me, as if he didn’t know how to spend time with me anymore since I‘d become more fit. He acted as if he didn’t want to be with his wife any longer because I felt more attractive. I was no longer his comfortable “Little Liz-mo”: round, soft, and pudgy; somewhat demure and controllable. I was some new, untouchable being with a new life and an entirely new personality that was even larger than before, and he had no idea what to do with me.
He despised the very thing that had made me into what he wanted: thin. He loathed that he had no control over what I ate, or how I worked out, or how I built muscle or burned fat. And yet, he tried to control what I ate by telling me that I couldn’t eat certain things because they would make me fat. He poked fun at my butt when I stood naked in the bathroom if I hadn’t been to the gym in a few weeks if I had been ill. He would point out what I should and shouldn’t wear with honesty but without compassion, which made me obsessed that I was still fat. I still saw a fat, 190-pound woman in the mirror, and that made me obsess more over myself.
In our last days together, I think he was aware that I was working out to the point that it was becoming unhealthy. He was concerned, but he wasn’t sure how to handle it. He told me, “You need to stop body building! You look like a man!”
He yelled at me that my biceps were too big and that I needed to do more cardio. I snapped back at him that I did plenty of cardio and told him to piss off. I loved my biceps. They gave me confidence and courage and strength in a physical way even if I was naked. They hid my problem areas by redirecting attention and focus. I could show them off to anyone at any time. They were the epitome of hard work and my dedication to weight-loss. They were trophies I could wear.
He became cold. Weary. He never slept in bed with me, which had already been a habit from his Intalco days, but it was exacerbated by his lack of attraction to me. He ignored my requests for help with simple tasks. His life returned to his computers, and I felt like I was taking care of a teenager and not sharing the responsibilities of an adult life with my husband and life partner. I had completely lost my best friend. I was completely, and utterly, lost.
I was in so much pain. I was alone in an empty bed. I slept there as little as possible. Every chore at home was my own. I worked 44 hours a week and came home to a mess every night which I took care of myself without thinking. James was in school, so he was home often, and he had a nocturnal routine that had him sleeping on the couch during the day. When I came home in the evenings, James was already downstairs. I walked in the house and habitually moved into the living room to remove cans of flat Coca-Cola and bowls of half-eaten soup from the coffee table, and plates of partially consumed frozen pizza, most of which was on the floor or under the couch because the cats had already had their way with the leftovers. Barbecue sauce stained the carpet. I would tidy the couch, sometimes taking the time to vacuum the rug and maybe empty the trash if it needed it. I would sweep, fill the dish washer, spray a bit of air freshener, take out some frozen meat to thaw for James’s dinner, and then I would head down into the basement to light my next cigarette.
Once in the basement, if I bothered to interrupt James’s conversation with his gamer buddies, I might have been met with a greeting of some sort. If I further bothered to ask, “How was school?” or “Did you take out the trash?” disdainful “hmms” or grunts may have followed. “Did you do your homework?” was no longer on the list. Finding topics to discuss was nearly impossible. I was trying to talk to my teenager. Except he was an adult who had every right to make his own choices and set his own rules.
The few times I broached the subject of marital counseling, I was told the following:
-marriage counseling breaks up marriages
-go talk to your mother
-I don’t want to talk about it
-we will survive anything
-we can’t afford it, we don’t need it, we’re fine
My end-all solution to the problem was to go out with my male friends who I found to be safe. And not drink. I felt that as long as I stayed sober, I was in control. And as long as I was with friends, I was in control. And safe. I was receiving the attention I needed, and I wasn’t doing anything wrong, and James wasn’t questioning it. He didn’t care. I had some semblance of my independence back.
I woke up every morning and sat down on the toilet and told myself, “You can do this, you can stay married to him, you can do this for another 25, 30, 50 years. He’ll do something that will make you fall in love with him again. Just give it time.” And I would cry. I would go to gatherings with our friends and see other happy couples together laughing and giggling, and I was the loner. The MARRIED loner. I would sit and feel sorry for myself. Why don’t I have that? Isn’t that what a marriage is supposed to have? What don’t I have THAT? I would think to myself. And I would always die just a little bit inside.
When we moved into the new office building at work, the building wasn’t finished. One of the contractors found the candy dish on my desk, and he came by repeatedly to take candy from the dish. He would stand by my desk for a while each time, and we would exchange banter about our spouses and our families and talk about our jobs. He eventually ended up eating all of the candy, so upon returning from my lunch one Friday afternoon, I found a Subway sugar cookie on my desk with a note attached to it that read, “Thank you for all the candy!” I ran into the contractor down the hall later that day and thanked him sincerely for the cookie.
He told me, “You act like you don’t get things…”
I nearly burst into tears. I told him honestly, “Well, no, not really. Not all the time.”
He looked at me and said, “Well, you deserve nice things.”
I became choked up and had to go to the bathroom and watch myself cry into the mirror in a pathetic mess of self-pity. One of many crying fits, unfortunately, since I had been considering the divorce for a while. The following Monday morning I came to work to three more cookies on my desk with another note: “Enjoy the cookies!”
I decided to come straight home from work that evening instead of heading to the gym. It was July and it was warm, and I wanted to enjoy the serenity of the summer at my home instead of drowning myself in the dreariness of the basement of the Bellingham Athletic Club. Still, knowing I would feel guilty if I didn’t do at least some sort of activity, I wanted to do a few Jazzercise moves while I had the use of the living room and the media center with its terabytes of music - and the surround sound system. Typically, when I Jazzercised at home, I was relegated to the bedroom where I had no room to move about, and I was stuck using my Zune and earbuds, which would slip from my sweaty ears over and over. I was ecstatic because I had the ability to use the living room and its amenities, including the ceiling fan. I went downstairs, said hello to James and gave him a kiss, and I ran back upstairs to begin my workout.
Two songs into my routine, James surprisingly emerged from the basement and removed a plate of chicken nuggets from the microwave. He stood in the kitchen and looked at me with a blank stare. I bounced around in the living room from side to side, not understanding his look but expecting some sort of remark to burst forth from his mouth in jest such as, “You look like and idiot!” or some other mocking movement poking fun at me. But his blank stare continued as he held his plate of chicken nuggets, so I bounced over toward him in rhythm to the music and looked up at him as cutely as I could.
“Go do that in the bedroom,” he yelled at me, over the music.
“What? Why?” I asked, continuing my bouncing.
“I was here first,” he said.
“What?” I was dumbfounded. He was here first.
“I was here first. Go do that in the bedroom,” he said, protesting my bouncing.
“What do you mean ‘you were here first’? I’ve been in here for at least ten minutes! Can’t you give me another 20 to finish my routine?” I said. Suddenly this was a territorial thing?
“I’m tired from school and my back hurts from yard work,” he whined.
Yard work? I thought. I knew he had been mowing the lawn on the rider while drinking vodka and smoking cigarettes. I wasn't sure how that qualified as exhausting "work". I was incensed. Until I remembered he had been in the process of beautifully mutilating the butterfly bush to its death behind the house over the past several days.
“I was looking forward to watching the new Stargate and laying on the couch," he continued. "Look, my chicken nuggets were obviously in the microwave while I was letting them cool. I was here first. Go get your Zune and do that in the bedroom!”
I was completely flabbergasted by what he just said. Tears sprang from my eyes.
“You selfish asshole.”
“How am I being selfish? You can go do that in the bedroom!” he yelled back at me.
I turned off the music.
I yelled at him, “You’re a selfish asshole because you can’t wait 20 minutes for me to finish my routine. You can’t go eat your chicken nuggets somewhere else? Can’t you go back into the basement and eat them down there? Can’t you go into the bedroom and watch your new Stargate in there and lay on the bed while I finish my routine? I don’t have access to the surround sound, or the fan, or this awesome array of music on my Zune! Or all of this space! And I don’t see how your 'having chicken nuggets in the microwave' means you ‘were here first’, and that is a completely asinine thing to say, you fucking immature bastard!”
He turned to walk away from me, back toward the basement, with his head hung low. I had kicked the dog for pulling a steak from the counter. I felt immediately guilty.
“Wait,” I said, “It’s fine, I’ll go use my Zune in the bedroom.” I never knew why I always felt so bad after yelling at him. Maybe it was because I felt as if he didn’t stand up for himself. Maybe it was because I thought he made sense.
“What?” he said to me, “What do you mean? You’ve changed your mind that quickly? Would you make up your damned mind?”
“It’s fine,” I said. I had admitted defeat in a battle I’d apparently won. “Your back hurts. Go eat your fucking nuggets in the living room and lay on your couch.” I knew how much he hated the bed. I hated his TV. That 42” Samsung Flat Panel was my Jamaican honeymoon in his living room. The bedroom was my domain. He could go have his “upstairs space” that I had apparently invaded for the last ten minutes.
I was too fuming mad from adrenalin to do any more dancing. I’d burned all of the calories I’d needed to burn with cardio from yelling at my husband. I unrolled my yoga mat and laid on the floor and did crunches instead. In the middle of my set of crunches, I heard him enter the kitchen and deposit his dirty plate in the sink - amazing. He opened the bedroom door. He said something to me. I think he apologized. I wasn’t sure because I started blasting Swedish Death Metal through my headphones the moment I heard him in the kitchen. I grunted something back at him. He closed the door. He may have slammed it.
I sat up, sweaty, mostly from the heat of the summer in the closed space of the bedroom, and sent Aaron a text message.
“When are you coming over, asshat?” Aaron was coming over daily now to play games and be with his computer. I was very fond of him.
“Asshat? Is everything ok?” he replied in text.
“Yes, everything is fine, James just yelled at me for Jazzercising in the living room.” I responded.
Aaron told me he’d just stepped out of the shower but he’d be over in a little bit. He told me he needed to go to Best Buy to pick up a new mouse. He said I was welcome to go with him, and he thought it might be a good idea if I got out of the house. I told him I was all sweaty and gross, and crying, I looked like shit, and I was smoking a cigarette after trying to work out in my own living room. Aaron was quickly losing respect for James. He told me I’d better be Jazzercising my ass off when he showed up. It made me smile a bit, but I rolled my eyes and tears rolled down my cheeks.
When Aaron arrived, I’d managed to clean myself up enough to make myself presentable. I was afraid to leave the house without James. I was afraid of what James might think. Aaron didn’t think it would be a big deal. Just to make sure, I offered to have James come with us. James was completely disinterested and nearly passed out on the couch. I didn’t know what he’d taken or what he’d had to drink so I let him be, and Aaron and I got in his car and headed off.
The ride in the car was mostly silent. We talked about his car and his planned modifications, his little tonberry hanging from the rear-view mirror, and we eventually touched on the subject of my marriage. Aaron mentioned that he didn’t like the way James ordered me around at gatherings, calling me “wife” and “woman”, and he certainly didn’t like his general disrespectful nature toward me. While we were in Best Buy, we found they didn’t have the mouse Aaron wanted, but we discussed my relationship further. Aaron asked me why I stayed with James.
I told him, “When you’re married, it’s just what you do."
Aaron told me that he thought he had been doing everything right in his own relationship and they still split, and James was doing everything wrong and I still stood by him. He was in disbelief.
* * *
I recall several occasions when I asked James to take out the trash and it didn’t happen, and I would wake him in the mornings before I went to work to check and see if he had done it, often leaving for work and finding he still had not done it. I called him from the street as I was in my truck, running late, begging him to take it to the street as I saw the garbage truck pulling up. Trash would pile up behind the house because James simply would not take it out.
One incident was so severe that it spurred a fight to the point where I cried myself to sleep. I came home that evening and asked him to take the trash out at 6:30. Then again at 7:30. And once per hour until midnight. I simply asked him to take out the trash - the one and only chore I requested of him at that point - so I could empty the cat boxes. I resorted to standing behind his office chair in the basement and repeating the words, “Please take out the trash,” over and over. I counted 26 repeats. He told me over and over he would not respond to that. What was he going to respond to? He yelled back at me, and he never took out the trash. Neither did I. The cat boxes were not emptied that evening. I went to bed and cried myself to sleep. My husband was unreliable. I was married to a child.
I called my mom the next day and talked to her at length about my marriage. I was losing my will and didn’t know what to do. He wouldn’t go to marriage counseling. So, at his suggestion, I was taking him up on his offer and talking to my mother, since after all, "That’s what she was for." I was terrified of what was going to happen to me after my parents passed away, or moved to Idaho, if that ever happened, since my father was so hell-bent on purchasing a damned RV park once their property sold. I couldn’t rely on James to take care of me. His mother had “disowned” him (for the better), and his father was a loose cannon who chose to live in the woods and wear a tinfoil hat. Having my parents more than eight hours away terrified me because I felt like they were my only support system. I especially didn’t know what I was going to do if I lost my mother. I simply could not rely on James to man-up. What was worse: I no longer had a viable mate. I wanted children so badly, but I was to the point where I was certain I could not have them with this man. He was not suitable father material. I was looking for a new mate. If he was going to dump all of the responsibilities of caring for house and home on top of working a full-time job on me, considering my mental state and inability to control my life, how was I ever going to take care of a child on my own also? I was already caring for one. All James was to me was a paycheck. A paycheck from the Employment Security Department.
Unfortunately, that very fact made it impossible for me to ever be independent of him. We had amassed so much debt that it was impossible for me to escape him at all. I wanted to leave him before I ever even found the love of another. But, I was looking. Still, it was impossible for me to escape. Our bank accounts were completely entwined. We had loans together. We had debt together. And, my checking account had been overdrawn to its max limit for over a year. I had tried to bring things current and bring debts out of collections, and when I had just “taken care” of a few things when we had the funds to do so, he yelled at me that, “Collections was our way of saving money!!” I wanted to kick him. Our debt may have been our fault together, but none of the "cool shit” was ever for me. It was my fault because, in his own words, “You never said no.” I did say no, many, MANY times. He just said, “Please?” and wouldn’t stop begging and giving me puppy-dog look until I caved to get him to shut the fuck up.
I had tried to talk to a few friends in early spring of 2010 who were aware of some of the goings on of our relationship. James had confided in them that he was afraid he was losing me, but after spilling quite a bit of my side of the story, the end result of the conversation with my friends was, “You’re just going through a rough patch right now, you’ll get through it, try to find some things you guys have in common and do that.”
I talked to another friend late that spring who told me that there were other fish in the sea, and she told me that if I had already contemplated divorce and how we would split things that I was ready for it. In midsummer, I confided in a very close friend who knew it was coming all along. Although she definitely had concerns regarding my blossoming relationship with Aaron, she knew how unhappy I truly was with James. She warned me to be careful but encouraged me to do what I needed to make sure I found happiness.
What finally did me in was sitting at my parents’ house and contemplating the pros and cons of a divorce. As my father sat listening to me, I know he could see the pain in my face and the tears in my eyes. No parent likes to see their child in pain. His own fatherly words of advice were, "It's time to split the sheets." My parents gave me a family hug and after that, they hugged each other. For the first time in my life, I saw my parents as a couple. A couple of people and not my parents. Even after all of the shit they had been through, just seeing them hold each other as a loving couple of people who are married and who love each other still, after 30 years of marriage and not as “mom and dad” made me lose my will. I burst into tears.
“Why can’t I have that?” I said. I was done. That happened before I even fell for Aaron.
Aaron’s regular visits were so routine that we found ourselves taking care of James as if he was our child. I couldn’t wait for the evenings at home when I got to see Aaron. He was my replacement husband which was exactly what I called him. Both Aaron and Charlie came over in the evenings to play video games, and they brought with them some sort of food to contribute to the nightly barbecue with Aaron providing the majority of the meal. Near dinner time, James would prepare the coals, although after a while he stopped participating in dinner and Aaron and Charlie would help prepare the meal. Dinner became later and later, eventually becoming less like dinner and more like a snack. After dinner, James would run downstairs to meet the rest of his “fleet”, or whatever he called them, and Aaron and Charlie would help me clean up. On nights when Charlie didn’t come over, Aaron would help me tend to the mess. Subtle pleasantries like “please” and “thank you” came from him. He was polite. He was kind. He helped me do things. I couldn’t believe there was such a man in existence.
One night, Aaron and I had a discussion about children. I asked him about a girl he was dating and if he saw her as someone he could possibly marry and settle down with. He said possibly yes, and I asked him if she seemed like someone he could have children with. He told me he never wanted children which was the reason his previous girlfriend was “fixed”. I was beside myself.
“You don’t want children?” I asked him. He shook his head in an obvious no. “For the love of God - why not?” I said.
“You know, what if they come out ‘wrong’? Or ‘not right’? You never know with genetics,” he said. “There are too many variables.”
I couldn’t contain myself. “Variables?” I exclaimed. “Who gives a shit about variables! That child is your OWN. The one piece of yourself you have created with another; you have created with the one person you love more than anything. You have given yourself to this child, and its life - its existence - becomes paramount above all else. It does not matter if your child doesn’t come out ‘perfect’, because, in your eyes, it is…’perfect’.”
He looked at me, and at that moment...he loved me.
I stayed a night away from home on July 29th. After those 24 hours, I went home the next day and was greeted with abrasive texts from James as if they were coming from an upset teenager. I was locked out of my basement and I was told, in text, as I begged to be let into my basement so I could talk to him, "YOU NEED TO THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU DID! YOU LEFT ME ALONE FOR 24 HOURS! DO YOU REALIZE WHAT YOU DID???" It was unbelievable.
When I was finally let into the basement to “talk”, I was given the silent treatment. I had no choice. I let it out.
“James, I want a divorce.” He didn’t believe me. It took a few attempts. After the third, he burst into tears and started banging his head against the concrete floor, crying. He looked like a three year-old who had just lost his mother in a car accident. I couldn’t deal with it. I couldn’t talk to him. I had to leave. I told him I was sorry, and I walked away.
I returned to the house a few times, and he had plastered pictures of us together all over the place. He had a camera roll of our wedding photos running non-stop to romantic music on the television, and he had posted bizarre reminder signs everywhere with strange remarks such as “take out the trash” and “clean the cat boxes” and “pay attention to wife” and “Is she home? Get off computer!”. It fucking freaked me out. I stayed away from that house as long as I could. If it weren’t for some very good friends of mine who let me crash with them, I would have had to stay in that house with my crazy ex-husband. Any nights I had to stay home were wretched and awful. James tried to act like a roommate husband which was uncomfortable to say the least. He tried to pick up after himself. He cleaned. He changed. He made me feel awkward. I wanted to vomit but couldn't.
James finally sought marriage counseling after I told him I wanted a divorce, and he begged me to go with him. I went, but at that point it was too little too late. The counselor told him in so many words, "So you might as well make the decision: either you go, or she goes. She's letting you decide if you want to keep the house. She's done, James." After a long and uncomfortable mediation process, I settled on his terms and took on more than half the debt just to finish the divorce. I don’t know how I’m going to pay for it. He got all of the awesome stuff, and I caved.
James never respected me. He loved me because I loved him. He always wanted me to be thinner. He wanted me to be some pretty, perfect little doll who kept her mouth shut and didn't speak her mind and was long and thin and looked like a yoga goddess and was smart and perfect and could do anything but was still a Barbie and didn't eat or slurp soup or fart or burp or listen to loud music and who wanted to drive a minivan with six kids and cleaned the toilet four times a day while watching Desperate Housewives but still supported him and let him do whatever he wanted. THAT was not me. I loved James because I loved James, and there wasn't anything I could do to stop it.
It will take me forever to forgive him. He didn’t appreciate how I put up with his mother. He didn’t appreciate how I took care of her when he couldn’t because he was ill himself. He didn’t appreciate that I put up with his father’s drunken advances on me when he wasn’t watching. He didn’t understand that it was our miserable existence together that was making me ill. And, James was becoming an alcoholic and a junkie, always drinking vodka and ordering pills from India. James was drunk and high on Vicodin on our wedding day. I couldn't live like that. I wish I had never made such a mistake.
I fell for Aaron because he is beautiful and fun and loving and absolutely willing to swim through sharks for me. He will stand by me 100 per-cent. He believes in me, and I believe in him. He knows I can accomplish anything; I just have to do it myself. He provides the guidance; he helps me find the solutions. But, he never tells me what to do. I am my own person again, mostly. He's helping me find that I love my life again.
Aaron has a real family who are real people who love him, and he has an incredible amount of life experience and an amazing intellect. I have life experience also, especially after this divorce, but nothing compares to what he is able to bring to our relationship. Above everything, though, I love him, and not simply because he loves me. He is a well-rounded individual who has found himself in a sea of individuals. He brings peace and calm to a mess of chaos, and he loves me for me. In all of my arrogance and narcissism I use to cover my lack of feeling of self-worth, he still believes in me, and he still loves me. And I love him for him.
I had an outburst in the kitchen in front of Aaron where I shook my head from side to side, banging my ears against my shoulders just so I could feel my hair flail in a fit of confusion, and I spouted nonsense on purpose just to do it. I asked Aaron why he'd want to put up with me. James always recoiled away into a ball and gave me the silent treatment. Aaron reminded me that he wasn’t James. I didn't scare him and whatever I needed we'd get it for me, and if it wasn't him, we'd still get it for me. She, he, it; it didn't matter, we would get it for me because I obviously needed something, and he wasn't it. But I didn't scare him, and backing away from it was pointless. I no longer feel alone, and I’m finding myself again. My individuality and independence while being with my other. I’m finding my own courage and strength with his guidance, but I’m not relying on him to provide it for me. I hope to be able to provide this for him when he needs it.
And I have never, in my life, had this much fun with my other. I don't know how I have lived my life without him.
There are no words to describe my feelings for Aaron. Only that I know I cannot breathe without him, yet because of what he has taught me, I know I’ll be a better woman should I ever find myself on my own. I love him. More than he knows.
It's depressing to think that my marriage didn't work out for many reasons. That I was foolish to get married the way I did. And then that I couldn't keep it working. And THEN that I left the way I did. But dwelling doesn't solve anything. I did what I did, things worked out the way they did, I'm going where I want to go. It was the inevitable. I had to gnaw off my leg to save the rest of myself I think, to an extent. Sometimes I wonder if I've been shunned by some who may be envious because I actually had the balls to defy society's injustices and just do what was right for myself and say, "Fuck you." I didn't hurt anyone. So I hurt James. James hurt me. James would have acted the same regardless of circumstance to the words, “I want a divorce.” Convenient for him - Aaron was wrapped into it.
If gossip whores have chosen to be opinionated about this divorce, as if James and I are really that important that our divorce should be that much of a topic of conversation; if they choose sides because I ruined our marriage without giving it a chance, they had the chance to listen. This isn't society's problem. This isn‘t their problem. It was my problem, and this was my solution. They're welcome to your opinion, I guess. But this was my marriage. I’ll be happy for anyone who gets married. My own opinion? I don’t give a fuck what you do in your divorce.
I couldn't remain in a marriage that was killing me any longer just to save face. Look what I got out of it: a loving relationship, a blossoming future, and I'm proud to say I've taken back my life in strides rather than baby steps. Even if I feel like I'm just taking baby steps, these are strides. My leg grew back.
This is the butterfly effect: sensitive dependence on initial conditions. Without ever getting involved with James, I never would have met Aaron. I never would have become that chaotic mess of an individual. It will make me stronger, or it will be my own undoing. I have everything I wanted. I am almost finished making repairs to my life.
It could be worse. I could actually be missing a leg.