I learned of my husband’s engagement one late November day. I had driven to San Clemente to visit a favorite, wonderful college friend, whom I actually hadn’t seen in a couple of years. We met for lunch in a little burger shack by the coast. As we sipped our frosty beers, I assured my dear friend that I was doing well, and I was happy to be moving forward.
She was proud of me.
She then told me that my husband had recently breezed through her office. She works for a magazine that pays him to write stories. She explained that it was really difficult to see him. All she could do was flip him off.
I laughed. It made me feel good to know that I had such loyal friends. After all, we had all gone to college together. Even though she was my good friend first, she had been a part of both of our lives. She was a bridesmaid in our wedding. She knew of all the intricacies of our relationship from day one.
And she knew something more.
“I don’t know how to tell you this, Leslie,” she hesitated, after we had enjoyed an evening of dominating karaoke at the local sushi bar. (She is amazing, and is reigning karaoke champion!)
“But I really feel like I should…”
My heart sank. I did not want to learn that my husband had actually been cheating on me for years, or that he was dying of an incurable STD he had contracted from one of his lovers. I really just didn’t want to feel like more of a fool than I already was. Nevertheless, I braced myself for impact.
“What is it?! Tell me! JUST TELL ME,” I implored her. I wanted to hear it and just get it over with.
My friend took a deep breath, grabbed my hand and held it tightly.
“He’s engaged. He has been since May.”
I swirled the small bit of wine in my glass, and furrowed my brow as I allowed the information to wash over me.
“Well, that makes sense,” I said, as I looked up with a smile. (I had gotten good at smiling through the pain.)
And it did. Strangely enough, it made total sense – why he kept running off, why he was so eager to get rid of our house; why he didn’t put any effort into repairing or ending our marriage; why he couldn’t look me in the eye.
Then I started to do the math.
“Wait a minute. I filed for divorce on April 2nd, without him even knowing. He was served divorce papers on April 30th. He was engaged in MAY?”
And then, to my (even further) surprise, I learned that his fiancée wasn’t the Ukrainian. She wasn’t even the Investment Banker.
She was an older woman in “the business” that had a lot of money. It was no secret, either. My husband had come into the magazine’s office, bragging about his engagement, the trips he was taking, the cars he was driving and how much money she had.
He was set for life.
I felt the vomit rise to the back of my throat, but swallowed it. I then washed it down with the remainder of my glass of white wine.
“Well, they deserve each other,” was all I could manage to say.
I didn’t want him back under any circumstances. At the same time, I was hurt, and shocked at how quickly my husband was able to move on. Was I missing something here?
My longtime friend apologized over and over for being the one to tell me, but I profusely thanked her for being the one – and, also, for telling me in the first place. Sure, I felt like a total idiot, and as a wave of embarrassment set in, so did the pain. Only, this time, the pain was totally unfamiliar. Uncharted territory.
I had spent so much time healing. I was done being wounded. Now it felt like someone had just shot me, point-blank in the chest, with a hollow point bullet. I felt every ounce of agonizing pain as the bullet entered my flesh, tearing through and maximizing the damage to my already-fragmented heart.
On the drive back to Pasadena, the reality started to sink in: I had been played. The uncontrollable sobs began again. I hated being back in this place. I hated crying over him. I hated the injustice of the situation. I hated being miserable, and I really hated the thought of him being happy and in love. How dare he?!
I just learned that X is engaged to be married. He lives with her, was all I managed to write the next day.
It hurts, God. I feel like a fool but I also know I am free. Definitely free but also beat down. I need You. I need strength.
Ten days later, true to (laughable, insane and unpredictable) fashion, I received an email from my husband.
(My “husband”. Yes, he was still legally my husband, even though he was engaged to someone else!) He wrote to let me know that he was still working on extracting the retirement money that he owed me. He assured me that he would write me a check.
I was angry. I wrote back immediately, careful to not acknowledge his new relationship status. A flurry of quick email exchanges followed, a la text messaging.
Great, you can tell the judge on December 22nd, I responded.
He replied and told me that we didn’t need to go to court. His understanding was that our judgment would be ruled, and we didn’t need to be present in court.
I just don’t even know how to respond to that. Good luck.
I was shocked. What was happening? Was he really this checked out? Drugged out? Or just plain stupid? He couldn’t even communicate in proper English. I started to panic. I knew we had a court date in a few weeks, and I wanted our divorce to be final more than anything. I reasoned that if he didn’t show up – AGAIN – our case would be extended, AGAIN, and I’d continue to live in limbo.
I am convinced that limbo is much worse than actual hell.
I wrote once more, and tried to be as clear, rational and business-like as possible. I even provided him with a link to our personal case via the Superior Court’s website. I had been checking it religiously to see if the paperwork had been approved. There was no reason for the divorce to not go through, but I couldn’t risk missing the December court date. Surely the judge would grant our divorce in person, if nothing else.
We have a court hearing on December 22, 2010 at 8:30 a.m., I wrote, as calmly as I could.
The reason why we have another court date is because you failed to appear at the first hearing on August 23, 2010.
Our divorce is not final. If it were, we would have already received something official in the mail. You can check the status of the divorce here. Type in the case number. Else, be looking for an official notice in the mail to notify you if the hearing has been canceled.
Yes, the paperwork has been completed and submitted, but it is up to the judge to make the official ruling.
I am sure we both do not want it to drag on any longer.
I am keeping a copy of this email to submit to the court if necessary.
He never wrote back. I would quickly learn why.
He was in deep, dark trouble.