(Third post in a series, you can find the first part here, and the second part here.)
When the ex told me he’d tested positive and it was obviously a result of my affair 5 weeks earlier, I was stunned beyond belief. We’d had sex only the one time after I got back. Paul and I hadn’t used condoms that weekend as I’d gone on the pill. Surely, surely Paul would have told me he had herpes. But what if he didn’t know. Even worse…what if this was something I’d already had and didn’t know? What if I’d somehow had it, not known, and I’d passed it on to both of them?? The sheer amount of guilt and self-flagellation that can go through a person’s mind in the space of a few minutes is immeasurable, as I found out that afternoon. I knew, KNEW that one way or the other, this mess was my fault. Similar to the oddity of being more afraid of the PTA women than my ex’s anger, it never really dawned on me to be concerned that I had somehow gotten herpes. Instead I was torn between worrying about the two men concerned- the ex, for if my affair was now causing him more grief than just the end of our marriage, and Paul for if it HAD come from me and the possibility of giving it to him.
Truly, I really should find some way of monetizing guilt; I’d be rich by now.
I called Paul crying my eyes out. Poor guy was in the bathtub preparing for a business trip to England the next day with FuelMyBlog. I expected..Fuck, what does anyone expect when you call them with news like this? I didn’t know what to expect, but my biggest fear was that this would be what pushed us over the edge. That he would say this was just one drama too many, and he’d kiss me goodbye. Once again he surprised me. After assuring me he’d been tested less than a year previous and was negative, he went on to tell me that no matter what, this didn’t change a thing. He very calmly explained that no matter how it went down, the fact is we’d all three likely had been exposed, and beating myself up over something that may or may not have come from me would be pointless. He still loved me, and he wasn’t leaving me over something so stupid.
A few days later, after he got back from his trip, he booked tickets to come to the States for a visit. He felt like we needed the time together to recharge, and I couldn’t agree more. At the end of August he flew to Mobile and stayed for a week. I saw him during the day while the kids were in school, and a couple of times in the evening. (Obviously I didn’t tell the ex he was here, and I didn’t bring him near the house or my kids. We made the decision early on that if we made it that far, he wouldn’t meet my kids until the divorce was final and things were settled. Their world was going to be changed enough with the divorce itself, they didn’t need any other confusion thrown in.) It was wonderful to see him again, and he got to meet a couple of my close friends while he was here.
Somewhere around September 12th, I had a meeting scheduled with my lawyer. Our court date for the divorce was to be on November 6th, and I assumed we were going to start preparing for that. When I got in we chit-chatted about this and that, and then he handed me some papers, saying they had just received these from my husband’s lawyer, and I needed to read them. Completely clueless as to why he looked so grim, I started to read.
the ex’s lawyer had filed an amendment to the divorce, counter-claiming for medical damages and physical and emotional distress due to my reckless and wanton behavior which he claimed had resulted in the appearance of an STD.
My husband was suing me for giving him herpes.
Remember that part above about guilt and self-flagellation? Take two, with a side order of hysterical panic attack, to go. Literally, I called Paul again, crying like someone had died. As usual with these things, the timing was terrible, as he was back in Denmark for a day to deal with his own court stuff. In the brief call we were able to have, he calmed me down, and pointed out the obvious- A. We didn’t know if I even had herpes yet, as I had been advised to hold off on getting tested previously, and B. If I did have it, we had no way of knowing who’d had it first, so proving such a thing in court would be near impossible. As he also quite sensibly pointed out, while the ex was trying to get custody of the kids, the court was not going to hand them over to him based on contracting an STD. I got off the phone feeling much better, and headed home to make an appointment to get tested. (My lawyer said I’d eventually be ordered to be tested, so we might as well be pro-active with it.) I went in on I believe a Friday to get the blood drawn, September 15th.
I was nervous as hell waiting on my results to come back, and I was told it would be about 5 days, so I was surprised when 3 days later I got a call back from my doctor’s office.
Shock. Confusion. Relief. Anger. General WTF?!?… All there. Though we’d been very close to filing a settlement that week, I backed off and said no. The agreement would have meant allowing child support to be reduced by half, and I realized then that with the fear of the herpes thing off my back, I had no reason to fear going to court.
In the meantime, Paul was going through his own legal roller coasters with his wife. She was fighting the divorce with no end in sight, when he realized there was another way to get his own legalities passed through easier. In what can only be called an insane stroke of genius, Paul had his lawyer abandon his paperwork, stop the process and re-file. I’m pretty sure on that day he became one of the only people in the world to file for divorce on the legal grounds of adultery. His OWN adultery. This involved a form being signed by me, him and his wife, all acknowledging that he and I had slept together. This might have been odd at any other time, but given that I’d already at that point had to stand up twice in court and admit what I’d done, signing this piece of paper was pretty darn easy. Once that was filed, it would just be a matter of time until his divorce was processed. I wished mine would be so easy.
The stress of the legal stuff, the distance, and everything else began to get to us, and Paul and I began to argue, often over things so trivial they seem almost laughable now. I can’t even remember what started it, but on October 2nd we got into it so bad I said fuck it, I can’t take this, and broke up with him. It was his 30th birthday, and though we patched things over the next day, the big day itself was ruined.
November 5th rolled around, and I hadn’t heard anything from my lawyer. With court the next day, how were we supposed to prepare for this? Apparently we weren’t. In the most random decision ever, the judge on the case decided to order us to mediation. I went from about-to-be-divorced to waiting for a mediation date of December 19th. I was dissapointed, but kept my fingers crossed we’d be able to work something out. I didn’t relish the idea of court, and I doubt the ex had either.
On November 12th, I turned 30. Paul and I had been talking about the fact that in December, the ex was taking the kids to Disney for a week. Previously a family vacation, it would now become something he would do with his family with the kids. They enjoy it, so I had no objections, but it also meant I had a child-free week on my hands while the kids were out of state. Paul wanted to see me again, so for my 30th birthday, he gave me a round-trip ticket to Ireland for the week of the kids’ vacation.
the ex was understandably angry about the trip, claiming that I was abandoning the kids. A few months before I’d probably have given in and not gone (the same reason I’d canceled my sponsor-paid trip to BlogHer in July last year), but the fact is they were going to be out of state, and I had already told them I was flying to Virginia to see my best friend. My lawyer advised this might look bad to the court, but I couldn’t see how sitting home all week alone while my kids weren’t there somehow made me out to be a better mother.
Early the first week of December, I got a call from my lawyer. the ex’s lawyer had filed a motion claiming that due to the upcoming mediation date, it was urgent I be tested to find out if I had contracted herpes due to my affair.
They wanted me re-tested, and the case was not being dropped. Despite testing negative once already, I was still being sued for giving the ex herpes.
To be continued…