I was in kindergarten and kissed a pudgy little boy beside me on the playground. My little friends pointed and laughed. I wanted to die. I did not, because I made a choice.
I was in the fifth grade and my classmates noticed I had boobs. My friends pointed and laughed. I wanted to die. I did not, because I made a choice.
I was in high school and suffered through the angst of a breakup. His friends pointed and laughed. I wanted to die. I did not, because I made a choice.
I had a huge fight with my parents and disappointed them. I wanted to die. I did not, because I made a choice.
The choice? Tomorrow would be a better day if I lived.
My husband of twelve years stuck a gun in his mouth and made a different choice. He left behind three daughters under five years of age. He died because, to him, there was no other choice.
We were finally ending a long divorce – a divorce spawned from years of domestic abuse due to his mental illness. For almost 12 years – 365 days and nights of tears, I woke up and thought tomorrow would be a better day if I lived.
Often times, I felt it was his “grace” that allowed me to live. Every now and then, in the grips of pain from a fist or a kick, I wanted to die. Still, I always made a choice to live.
For weeks after he left this earth, I asked, “Why?”
I needed an explanation – a resolution – for his choice.
Most of us have had those moments in which we think we don’t want to live through the day. We think for a split-second, “What would it matter if I was gone?”
We think we don’t matter. We wonder if we’d be missed. I wish that, before he ended his life, I could’ve answered these questions for him.
Since I cannot, I will do it here:
“What would it matter if I was gone?”
Regardless of our marital state, you helped me create three daughters.
Before the first one goes to school, I will have to explain that her father is dead. Before she learns to write her name, she will understand what a grave is.
The two youngest daughters will not have a decent memory of their father to carry through their adult lives. They will look back and only know your face because there is a picture. They will only know stories – not through their own recollection – but because I will fill in the blanks.
They will never be able to take their father to a “Daddy/Daughter” dance. They will not have the man who helped give them life give them away on their wedding days. Father’s Day will always leave their hearts heavy. They will, one day, know that you didn’t consider living for them, loving them, that they were not enough for you.
“Would I be missed?”
A few days after your death, I had to sit down on the bed and explain to the children that their father would never come back. Ever. The day has not come yet that they haven’t cried for you in some fashion. The oldest has a picture of you in her room on her nightstand. She talks to you when she has something important to say. She tells you about her birthday, her missing tooth, her new puppy, and when Mommy has made her mad. When she is frightened, she screams for you to help her, because Daddies are big and strong.
The man who didn’t feel like he had a choice went into a rage that day. He broke things, he screamed, and he broke down. He walked into the room filled with all the children’s things and did not see any of them. All he saw was that he didn’t have another choice, that he didn’t matter, that he wouldn’t be missed.
In front of a rack of his children’s clothes, ranging from size 18 months to 5T, standing before a toddler bed and dozens of smiling stuffed animals on the floor, he thought that the only thing that mattered was taking himself out of everyone’s life.
Ceasing to exist.
Becoming a memory and nothing more.
Later, I stood in a funeral home to pick out a casket for my husband. I wanted to die. I did not.
I made a choice to live. Sitting in the living room looking at the Christmas tree, stockings lined up bearing the children’s names and a dozen smiling stuffed animals on the floor, I see the only thing that matters: making memories and so much more.
Tomorrow will be a better day because I live.
I make that choice.
I believe in love. I believe in forever.
But I chose to walk away.
Unlike many other stories here on The Band, my ex-husband didn’t beat me or abuse me, but I during my marriage, I started to lose my sense of self.
I went to a therapist a few years into our marriage for some issues that were mine, and in therapy, I came to realize that he had some issues, too. I had some issues with depression which I worked through with medication and my therapist.
My ex used to give me grief for going and working out – complaining that I “never spent any time with him,” although he spent hours a day glued to online computer games. He also had anxiety and some Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, but never wanted to admit it.
When our son was born, I did more than 95% of the parenting. I was a single parent who happened to be married.
He installed the security system for our son’s daycare, and, three weeks later, it was broken into. So he was called in the middle of the night to go to the daycare and make a DVD copy of the security video for the cops. This event apparently triggered flashbacks of the trauma that occurred several years earlier, when he walked in on someone burglarizing our house.
A month after the daycare break-in, he had a huge breakdown. We’d gotten a baby sitter and gone out to have a few drinks – nothing really crazy. That night was spent with him curled in a ball on the bathroom floor as I tried to calm him down. Eventually, he agreed to allow me take him to the emergency room for help. He was agitated, irritated, and anxious. They sent us home, advising us it was a panic attack, and told him to see his regular doctor.
He promised he would see the regular doctor and he did…but he refused all types of treatment – no drugs or therapist for him. He told me he knew his triggers – he had it under control. But I began to notice his behaviors getting worse – he didn’t like being out at night. He didn’t sleep well. He didn’t like being home at night when I wasn’t there, if I had a work function to attend.
He complained that we didn’t have sex enough. I worked a full-time stressful job outside of the home and came home every night to perform the majority of childcare and the house.
He liked the money I made, but never let me vent about my job, like a partner is supposed to do. I spoke to my OB/GYN about medication to help to increase my sex drive. My OB told me that I also needed to have consistent time to myself every week to recharge – just an hour or two would do. So I told him that. He told me our schedules didn’t allow for that, even though for years he had gone to a foreign language class once a week and, at one time, also had two evenings each week to himself to play online games.
That was the last straw for me.
I began to sleep more. I stopped taking care of myself. So I called my OB and resumed my medication. I told my friends what I needed to do and they hashed through all the good, bad, and ugly issues with me, strengthening my purpose and resolve.
We tried marriage counseling, and the counselor affirmed my concerns regarding his anxiety issues. She helped give me the courage to walk away.
I did not want to be a statistic. I got married believing it was forever. I loathed the thought of letting go of that dream, breaking up my family. However, I knew that my son deserved to know his mom was happy and healthy.
And I am. I’m off my medications for anxiety or depression, though I wouldn’t hesitate to call someone if I needed it. I have a great support network of family and friends who all helped me through the rough transition.
My divorce was final on December 14. I walked down those steps outside the courthouse and wasn’t sure how to feel. It wasn’t exactly something to celebrate, and part of me mourns what I lost, but I know that I can move forward now.
Dear Little-Kid Me,
Please appreciate being a child.
Take the time to inhale your grandfather’s scent – he’s the last grandparent you have and you won’t have him much longer.
Embrace the Puppy Love at age eleven with that boy who you will still think you love.
Try to remember every second of dying Easter eggs with your Mum – when you dye them with your own kids, every year, you will question how she made them so beautiful.
Don’t take your big brothers for granted – they have taken care of you since you were born, and not all teenagers would’ve been so willing to let their baby sister tag along as much as you did.
Embrace your whole childhood – when you get older and watch your nieces suffer, you will realize how very lucky you were.
Dear Pre-Teen Me,
Don’t “dump” your boyfriend five-hundred times. At twenty-eight, you will still regret being such a jerk. Also don’t take him for granted – he was a decent, patient, kind boyfriend for an eleven-year old kid. Take the time to look at each of your boyfriends in a different light; one day you will learn they could’ve been more, but you were too blind to realize it.
Realize that just saying you think you will have big boobs doesn’t mean it will happen.
At least not naturally :-).
Dear Teenager Me,
Don’t be such a bitch.
As you get older, you realize that having bitchiness ingrained in you makes it difficult to have friends. People aren’t as accommodating as your teenage friends were.
Don’t let that one man pressure you into something you’re not ready for – sixteen really is too young to make the commitment you made. You will always question that decision.
When you are nineteen and fully disgruntled with life, you will meet a man who will make you realize that life outside of this still exists. He will be there for you, no matter what, for the next ten years (and counting). You did good not pushing him away.
Also, physical abuse is never okay. It gets better – it stops, but you should’ve spoken up when it happened.
Life could’ve been so different for you.
Dear Twenty-Something Me,
DON’T sleep with that man.
Even though neither of you wanted to regret the act, you both will. An affair is never okay – regardless of how “in love” you are, regardless of your reasoning.
It will ruin your friendship for awhile, it will ruin your marriage for awhile (although, not enough to make you strong enough to leave), and it will ruin your soul forever. Even when everyone else has forgiven you, you will not have forgiven yourself.
IT IS NOT WORTH IT.
Please realize that your husband will never change. He will change long enough to keep you around whenever he senses you may be gearing up to leave, but he will not change.
He can’t be someone he’s not, and you can’t either.
Stop trying – just being you is enough for someone, even if it’s not for him.
Your twenties aren’t all bad.
Your two children will be worth it – you will see so much of yourself in your daughter. Know that entire first year of constant crying, up five+ times a night, constant demands to be held does get better. She will not be the angelic infant your son was, but you will see her fighting spirit every second of the way.
Embrace their differences – this will be difficult sometimes, but overall, you are doing a decent job.
Dear Current Me,
GROW SOME BALLS AND LEAVE ALREADY.
That man you met at nineteen still feels like he’s The One.
He’s still your support, your encouragement, your confidante, everything that your husband isn’t – and never will be.
Every ounce of your being (his too) screams that you belong together.
Act on it – make it happen.
Don’t keep letting fear hold you back. Don’t waste another ten years without that love. Your excuses aren’t particularly valid, no matter how you package them.
And quite frankly, an innate desire or moral conviction to only get married one time isn’t worth the unhappiness you’re causing yourself.
You / Me
So, The Band, I need your opinion:
Can a person be held fully responsible for her actions if she is not of the mental capacity to understand her actions? Can the Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) wife be held accountable for her uncontrollable rage? Can she be held accountable for manipulating someone when she has no idea she’s doing it?
According to our court system, a person who is declared insane does not receive full accountability for a crime she commits. But does that line of thinking apply to mundane day-to-day actions?
Should I no longer hold my husband accountable for his emotional breakdown? The one that lead to him to order me to quit my job years ago, leading to a long period of poverty, near homelessness, my own breakdown and our thousands in debt?
Are we being too tough on those in our lives who have obvious limitations? Or is insanity simply a convenient excuse to the affair between a BPD woman and her white knight lover?
Right is right and wrong will always and forever be wrong, after all.
What do you think, The Band?
I have been single for the past 5 years.
This time of year where people getting engaged is hard for someone like me who wishes for it to be my turn. So here is my heartbreaking letter to my once future husband that I cannot send.
Dear Future Husband,
I am going to be honest; I don’t think you exist.
Once a upon a time, I used to dream of the day I’d meet you; we’d have a lovely courtship, an amazing proposal on top of a Ferris Wheel (because you know how much I love them), then a wedding of my dreams (which, I’ll admit, has changed throughout my life but still involves these great pair of heels that have been sitting quietly in my closet, sadly collecting dust) and the rest of our lives together.
You know, the whole white picket fence bit.
But now? I am no longer wearing white, I’m wearing black.
I’m no longer walking down the aisle to you, I don’t see your face light up with the biggest, cheesiest smile as I walk to you.
I’m very sad, standing in dark forest, all alone. So lonely. My heart has been broken too many times to count. A piece of you, of our life, fades with each piece of my heartbreak, and now you’re gone. Disappeared. No longer are you parts my hopes and dreams, now you’re nothing but an afterthought.
Maybe you’re really out there, but I am not so convinced of – even though my friends have told me otherwise. They’ve told me to to be patient, God has a plan for you, the list goes on.
They don’t know how I fear that I’m that I’ll never find yo; that we’ll never have our own happily ever after.
In fact (this is really horrible of me) but I stopped praying for God to keep you safe, to watch over you, that your heart is pure, that you have undying faith.
I began to feel that I was wasting God’s time by praying for someone who doesn’t exist; someone I’m never going to find.
I used to believe that love conquered al; that it was stronger than anything. That I could love you despite never meeting you. Recently, it sounds silly and downright depressing. I am desperately afraid that it’s going to be too late for me – I’m not getting any younger and my clock is ticking.
I sort of feel that I have given up on us. I used to fight so hard to find you, but now I am exhausted and I can’t wait anymore for you.
I wish I didn’t feel this way. I’ve tried to fight it.
I hope you understand and will forgive me someday and that you find another woman to love just as much you would have loved me.
Your Once-Future Wife
I’m really lonely.
Yet I’m married, have four amazing kids and a dog. Yet, I am so lonely that it sometimes feels like my chest will explode.
I used to have friends. I used to be the life of the party. I was always the one that did the crazy stunts or stayed up for two days drinking and having a good time. I used to have a great marriage, and the kids and I always had fun and went and explored.
But then I lost everything.
Money, cars, my house, my mobility, my health. I became disabled in September of 2005. I won’t go into all the boring details but let’s just say that I will be lucky to be able to walk in a few years, even if the rate of progression stays slow like it is now.
I lost almost every friend.
People I had always been there for. People I loved, loaned money to, made soup for when they were sick, gave a shoulder to cry on, etc. Yet, at a pretty steady pace, all these people no longer cared about me. I could no longer party, no longer stay up late, no longer hike or camp with them, no longer go on long car rides. So they replaced me or just stopped calling.
Yet I could have still had a glass of wine with them or played video or board games; shit man I even knit. Yet it wasn’t good enough. And like a fool, I called, emailed, texted and IM’d all of them all the time. No response. Instead, I torture myself by reading their Facebook posts. I see the pictures of them having fun and hanging out, hugging and laughing. I see them interacting and carrying on like I never existed. It hurts. It hurts so bad that I cry a few times a week as I look at the pictures and see the joy in their face.
But what about my wife you say?
My wife has since become a roommate. She has had a long term affair with another man and acted like it was no big deal when I found out. She is never home and leaves me here with the kids all day every day. She can go three or four days without saying more than a single word to me and the kids. I’ve been with her since I was 17 years old. I’m now 33. So that makes the heart hurt worse, the tears burn a bit more and the darkness just that little bit thicker.
The kids, four boys who I live and would die for, try and understand. They don’t, and I don’t want them to know it all. It would scare them. They don’t get why I can’t give them piggy back rides, wrestle with them or just sit on the floor and play. So they aren’t around much. They go to my mom’s house to play over there, go to their friends’ house, or sit in their rooms and play games on the computer. They see the pharmacy on my night stand and see me cry out in pain. They’ve seen me fall down and they’ve seen me in the hospital.
And that, my invisible internet friends? That makes it all hurt so much more than anything that’s ever been done to me.
I sit here day after day. I look out the same window and wonder what other people are doing. I wonder if my name ever comes up in conversation or if people see old pictures of me and ask what happened to me.
I wonder if I will ever have somebody to sit with and tell them how I feel? Someone I can cry to and explain my fears to. Someone I can laugh with, and for just a minute forget what my life has become. Someone who will hold my hand, or brush a stray hair from my cheek or maybe a rouge tear or two, or many.
I want to feel again. I want to smile and laugh. I want to feel wanted and appreciated and not cold and angry.
So, I sit here. I write these words. Maybe a person or two will read this. In the end though, none of my old friends will read this. None of them will realize how bad they’ve hurt me. My wife will never change, and it’s too late for that anyway. The divorce papers are sitting in my sock drawer, waiting to be signed.
I never would have thought that the final years of my cut-short life would be spent in such physical and emotional pain. I never knew that loneliness would seem like it’s killing me faster than any disease and disability could.
This is just me venting. This is a great way to express what I really feel, without having to keep it all bottled up. If I had to keep this bottled up, it would drive me down, it would pull me under. I can’t let that happen. I have to be able to find small joys in life, like singing to the kids, making fun of Jenny McCarthy, and just living life to the best of my ability!
I love this site and the writers on here. You all are amazing people, and Aunt Becky is my hero!
(ed note: I love you. I’m glad you wrote this out. We’re all here for you. xo, AB)