I’ve been sitting here for 30 minutes watching the sweat build on my whiskey and coke glass and listening to the ice pop and break. I have written this blog post (in my head) 500 times already but now that it’s time to put the pen to paper, I am completely drawing a blank. I’m just going to start from the beginning and hope that the words find me along the way…
Jarrod was unfaithful.
Like, really really REALLY unfaithful. So unfaithful in fact that there was never a point in our entire relationship that he was ever loyal to me. Never ever. And I had no idea. None. The lengths he went to in order to hide this “double life” were extreme and incredibly strategic. I am (now) privy to all of the gory details of his rampant infidelity but those don’t need to be aired out on the internet – the whos, whens, and wheres make no difference. What matters is that it happened and it happened a lot over the course of almost 7 years. And sometimes it’s not always the crime that’s the worst part, sometimes it’s the coverup. That is not to say that I would’ve excused his behavior but what I struggled with the most in the aftermath of it all was how I didn’t have a single clue. I am typically a highly observant person, fairly intuitive. He knew that about me though and used it against me to make sure that I wouldn’t find out. But I did.
Because his own brain, his own psyche, his own conscience betrayed him.
He confessed his indiscretions to me at the start of what was believed to be a brief psychotic break. I won’t go into further details on that, that’s Jarrod’s story to tell and those are his demons to battle. I mention it solely to point out that it’s the only way I found out and I actually didn’t believe him when he confessed. Everything started unraveling on a Monday morning when I flew out of town and by Tuesday night I was back home and he was admitted to an inpatient facility for observation. The facility let me see him for 10 minutes even though it was 10:30 at night and visiting hours ended at 8. In a cold and gross office, with a guard at the door and a video camera aimed at us, he confessed that he had been unfaithful me. I said, “that’s not true, you would never do that to me” and went back to our home and worked to prove to him that he had created false memories of cheating on me. Less than 12 hours after his confession, I was alone in our bedroom at 7:30 in the morning when I discovered that what he had told me was 100% true. My world stopped. Instantly.
Our friends and family had been on standby when things started unfolding on that Monday, they were ready to do whatever needed to be done to get him the help that he needed. But this discovery shifted things. Well, it shifted everything. It became “me versus him” because this was his fault – he wasn’t the victim anymore. He was the perpetrator. They rallied behind me and did everything for me while I stumbled around in sweatpants crying. Right away, my focus became about self-preservation and protection. I was forced to make fast, logical decisions in the most emotional moment of my entire life. To this day, I am unsure of how I functioned at all. I wasn’t sleeping or eating, barely drinking. And my brain was disallowing me to make short-term memories to protect me from the extreme trauma of it all – the STD tests I had to have done out of an abundance of precaution, the logistics of packing up and moving half of my life, the legalities of navigating a divorce, etc. Those first few days were all a blur but I journaled every night before bed for the first two weeks so that I could try to process and streamline my thoughts. Even looking back on those entries now I can tell that I was traumatized and teetering between denial and full-on Hulk level rage. Heavy use of expletives, capital letters, and exclamation points.
We had put an offer in on a house and it was accepted the week before. We had been trying to get pregnant. And then suddenly, none of that existed anymore. In the blink of an eye, everything that I thought I knew was completely gone and I was staring at a harsh new reality that I wanted nothing to do with. It was ugly and menacing and exhausting. Several times I caught myself doing that thing where you think “OK IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP FROM THE BAD DREAM NOW” but you don’t and then you just think “…. well fuck THIS.” My friends and family helped me gently accept my new reality. No one, not even his friends, expected this. Everyone was shell-shocked and we were all helping each other manage the different phases of grief as they came and went. The dialogues we had played a huge part in my acceptance and moving forward; talking about it, as shitty and painful and repetitive as it was, was healing. I found comfort in “thinking out loud”, my friends quickly shooting down any notion I entertained that suggested that this was in any way my fault. I was flooded (in the best way) with calls, texts, facetimes, DMs, visits and offers to visits, meals, and care packages. During a time where I was consumed with anger, hatred, and feeling generally unworthy of love – I was surrounded by the antithesis of those emotions. My therapist told me that the most resilient people she’s worked with are always the ones who lean into help and support when offered. Well I didn’t just lean in, I dove in. Head first. Or maybe belly-flopped. But no matter the method, diving or belly-flopping, the only reason I even surfaced was because of them. The irony is not lost on me: feeling the most loved I have EVER felt while going through a divorce. It’s what saved me, it’s what saved my heart.
Jarrod was discharged on that Friday. He came home to grab some essentials and then packed up his car with his father and moved to Texas. We said our final goodbyes as husband and wife on Valentine’s Day. Fucking perfect, right? It was devastating and at that point in the week, almost everyone knew what was happening. Everyone began watching the clock when we were told he was being discharged. It was challenging for me to be deprived of privacy but our friends and family had been put on notice when we all thought that we just needed to make sure that Jarrod got the help he needed; I couldn’t just say “oh nevermind!” when all the shit hit the fan in terms of our marriage. My whole life was ransacked, literally every aspect was being managed, attended, or questioned by someone else. But sometimes privacy is a defense mechanism. Sometimes keeping people out allows you to waver, lets self-doubt and negative thinking pull rank over self-worth and confidence. You tell yourself that people can’t judge you on things they don’t know about so you veil your toxic secrecy as “privacy”. But I needed the transparency, it held me accountable and helped my support system build me back up in the right way. They knew the ins and outs, experienced it with me in real time, and understood that there was no going back for me. Cheaters don’t change and this was pathological in more ways than one; I didn’t even have to make a choice, it was made for me. At 7:31 AM that Wednesday, it was crystal clear what I had to do even though I had no idea how to do it.
Since then, I’ve been practicing a TON of self-care. I continue to discuss my healing and thoughts/feelings with friends and family. I meditate when I feel anxious or restless. I’ve been practicing grace with myself while navigating this clusterfuck, definitely do not recommend divorce btw, 0/5 stars. And I’ve been listening to my body more, relying on my gut instinct and intuition – something I tuned out with a lot of anxious internal over-analyzing. I’m past the survival phase and racing towards the thriving phase, as soon as Coronavirus ends and lets me out of my house.
My life is completely different than what I thought it would be. I’m re-evaluating and re-prioritizing while focusing on my future and what I want out of it. Maybe the dreams I had need to be updated, it’s been 7 years since I’ve done things MY way. Maybe my future includes a second marriage (looking at you, Zac Efron) or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe I move to Italy and eat whole baguettes while drowning in red wine. Or maybe I go to outer space. I literally don’t know but for the first time, it kinda feels good to not have a plan. It feels good to reclaim my life and move at my own pace in the way that I want. I am healing, I am okay, and I will always be okay.
We all know someone who has been divorced, right? I certainly do. A LOT. But when I started going through it, I only had two friends openly discuss their divorces with me. They guided me through the steps, the emotions, the turmoil of it all because they had been there, done that. I decided to share my story because I recognized quickly that divorce, and break ups in general, are still portrayed as taboo or shameful. Why aren’t we talking about it and just deleting pictures of our exes off social media and posting pics sans-wedding rings? I understand that some situations and circumstances demand confidentiality and I also respect that not everyone wants the world to know their personal business. To each their own, but I don’t fall into any of those categories. I am learning from this and maybe somewhere down the road I can be that support person for someone else like my two sweet friends were for me. It’s not easy, but having forthcoming friends like them certainly helped me feel less alone and confused – less like the only person stranded on a deserted “I’M GETTING DIVORCED” island wondering where everyone else was. I’m not burying my head in the sand, I’m not ignoring this very obvious and huge shift in my life. It’s not easy, it’s a lot of bullshit but it’s doable. Divorce never killed anyone and neither did talking about it.
THANK YOU X INFINITY TO EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. WHO HAS REACHED OUT TO ME THROUGHOUT ALL OF THIS. I may not have picked my husband right but I sure as hell hit the jackpot with y’all. You all have been my bright stars in a dark night and I hope you know how much even one text meant to me. I am eternally grateful for each and every one of you because you are, without a doubt, the reason my heart is whole again.