Chicago

The Truth Shall Set You Free..Part II

*Second post in a series, part I can be found here.*

When the plane touched down in Chicago, I kept flashing between excitement and nausea. Months of talking over text, voice, and video chat had left few stones unturned as far as getting to know each other, but I was still horribly nervous, because for the first time we would be seeing each other in person. We both said we were going in without expectations, but that did little to help my nerves. This wasn’t some random hookup, neither of us would have been willing to do something like that. We went to Chicago to meet and find out if  our love for each other was real, and worth acting on.

I wish I could even begin to recapture that weekend in words. When we got back to the hotel, before anything happened between us, we stood for a moment and held each other. He has told me many times since then that that was the exact moment he knew that what we had was not something he could ever walk away from, and that he go to the ends of the earth to be with me. The rest of the weekend was a blur of conference activities, the high of being together, and those pangs of nervousness I would get calling home. The last night in Chicago we talked a lot about the future, and how we knew it would be awhile before we would be together(he planned to file for his divorce in October) but we would make it work. We would get the legalities done with, and he would move to the States to be with me. (My moving was never considered, due to the kids and my ex’s family being here.)

I got home the next evening to the ex barely speaking to me. There was no hug, no kiss, no “How was it?”.  After spending a weekend with someone being so loving and affectionate towards me, his usual indifference and lack of interest in the conference felt like a slap in the face. The next morning he was quite insistent about having sex. I didn’t particularly want to, but it was easier to give in and be done with it than have a huge fight over it. If I’d known later what was to come of things, I’d have taken the argument.

That evening I had to run to Walmart to pick up some things for the PTA for Teacher Appreciation Week. He and I argued before I left, one of the reasons being what had happened that morning. I told him if he couldn’t be bothered to do more than use me, just don’t bother. I was walking around Walmart about 20 minutes later when my cell phone rang, and it was the ex.

“I just read your email, I know what happened with you and Paul in Chicago. Get home, NOW.”

I don’t know if it was shock, relief, or just plain disbelief that I responded the way I did- “I’m happy for you. I’ll be home when I’m done shopping.”  Looking back, that was probably not the smartest thing to say. It’s also possible that that I should have gone home then, instead of continuing to shop for the items on my list. As odd as it sounds, I was considerably more scared of facing the PTA women without the stuff we needed than I was heading home to face the man who’d just discovered my affair. At that point I was just in shock.

Due to the legalities of it, I will offer nothing here other than a summary of what was presented later in court.

When I got home from the store, the ex was waiting for me in the driveway, allegedly to talk to me about what he’d discovered. The kids were in the house asleep, as it was around 9pm at night. I took the stand and testified in court that I was pulled the from the car to the ground and kicked repeatedly on the backside. His testimony stated that he took my keys, I lunged at him, and fell to the ground, hitting my backside on the step into my car. Pictures of severe bruising to my backside and minor bruising to my ankle, arms and shin were entered as evidence, along with a report from the doctor I saw the next day. Several police that came to the scene testified that I was hysterical and changed my story, the detective on the case testified that I was consistent and the bruises he observed were in his experience exactly in line with what I claimed happened. The judge on the case said due to the lack of witnesses and conflicting testimony, there was reasonable doubt, and the ex was acquitted of any charges.

That incident occurred on May 5th. On May 7th, I filed for divorce on grounds of general incompatibility.

the ex and I talked quite a bit the night all that happened, and the following day. To his credit, he told me more times than I can count how much he loved me, how sorry he was, and offered everything from marriage counceling to getting his vasectomy reversed because he thought maybe having more kids was what I was after. It’s hard to explain, but I don’t hate him for what happened. I don’t trust him(as I’m sure he doesn’t me) but I can’t say what I would or wouldn’t do when confronted with the information he came across. Anger and shock can be very powerful, and in the heat of the moment, I think emotions just ran too high. I don’t forgive him, and I certainly don’t condone anything, but in a small way I think I can understand.

When I told the ex I’d filed the divorce papers, he then focused on (and succeeded in) making sure Paul’s wife knew what had happened in Chicago.

This was probably the worst part of the entire ordeal. I knew that Paul had told me he loved me and that he planned to divorce his wife. I also listen and read enough to know that this is a common line for people in affairs, and though I wanted to believe it, I was still numb and running on auto-pilot dealing with police, my lawyer, and everything else. I loved him, but given the circumstances, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he decided it was too much to deal with, and stayed where he was. Working on his marriage would have been considerably easier than divorcing and moving to another country. During this time he was in contact with most of my friends, making sure they knew they could get in touch with him, and trying to be sure as best he could to make sure I had the support I needed, despite him being over 4,000 miles away.

A good friend emailed him and made it clear she would be extremely upset if he didn’t stand by me through all this, and that he’d better not just be stringing me along.

He responded by sending  her back with a copy of the itinerary for his one-way flight to Ireland the next week.

In what I can only imagine must have been a very difficult time, Paul returned to Ireland from Denmark around the third week of May, and filed for divorce less than 2 weeks later.

I knew in that moment no one has ever loved me like he has. I knew in that moment I’d never love anyone the way I love him.

He had made his choice, and he wasn’t going to walk away from us, no matter how hard the circumstances.

Three weeks later, the ex came to me and told me he’d tested positive for genital herpes.

To be continued…

The Truth Shall Set You Free…Part I

Driving home from preschool drop-off, I had ideas about how this story would go. I knew how to title it, I knew how many posts it would be broken into, and I knew what I wanted to say.

As I sit here in front of my keyboard, I’m not finding it so easy.  Words are failing me, and my emotions are everywhere. I have tears streaming down my face and I don’t have the slightest idea why. I thought this would be easier.

The past 10 months of my life have been…indescribable. Although I have hinted at things here and there, I have kept quiet about the details on my lawyer’s advice, and fear of the unknown.

I can’t continue to live my life based on fear. Especially not fear of my own making. The divorce is dragging on, and after nearly a year, the silence is suffocating me. I can’t do it any more.

The things I have to tell you may come as a surprise, or it may not. Just know that while there will be a lot left out so as not to let this series of posts turn into a novel, everything I put here will be the truth as I see it. I will not make any one person the bad guy, because the fact is in turn we all played a part in some way. Just as there are no villains, there are also no victims. No princess, no white horse, no dragons.

Real life isn’t a fairy tale.

—————————————————————————————————————————-

Part I

the ex and I were together nearly 10 years, married nearly 7 when I realized that my relationship was over. If you asked me, I probably would have told you I felt like the maid who was required to put out every so often. If you asked my ex, he probably would say that he worked long hours, only to come home to a wife who didn’t appreciate anything and couldn’t keep house well enough. The truth, as always, is probably somewhere in between.We weren’t the kind of couple who has arguments a lot, there was just a lot of nothing. Little sex, little emotional intimacy, little time spent together. If he felt the distance, he didn’t comment on it, and as for me, I had long given up coming out and asking for the affection that I so desperately wanted. We didn’t talk about any of it, we just functioned.

It was this kind of emotional climate that drove me to blogging. Putting words to paper(or screen as the case may be) has always been therapy for me, and the community that I became a part of in the process gave me some of the affirmation I needed but didn’t get in the real-life job as a stay at home mom. No one gives out awards for making a great pb&j, but adding a well-written post to the blogosphere brings recognition and a sense of accomplishment, however small. I relished being able to use my words to connect to others.

It was during this time that I came to meet Paul. He was an Irish technology blogger living in Denmark, and had it not been for the most random reading by one of his friends, our paths likely never would have crossed. We clashed over the topic of an online contest, and then we coolly went our separate ways, or so I thought. He came back to my blog a few weeks later, and I returned the visit a couple weeks after that. In the age of Google Reader it seems odd to bookmark a blog and only visit every few weeks, but that’s what we did from June till November of 2007.

Somewhere around the very beginning of December, Paul started livecasting on Ustream. He sent the link out over Twitter, and with nothing else going on that afternoon, I logged in to check it out. I had seen him on his vidcasts on his own site, but getting to see him live and chat with him was a different experience. This most casual of online aquiantances became very real. Real enough that we began to chat online. Real enough that we started opening up and sharing things about our lives and our troubled relationships. Real enough that feelings began to develop, on both sides.

At this point I didn’t talk to anyone about what was happening. How could I? What could be said? Hey, I know I’m married, and he’s married, but I have these feelings about this guy who lives ohhh, 4000 miles away, but you totally understand, right??

The whole thing seemed impossibly insane until he arranged an opportunity for us to meet in Chicago for SOBcon 2008. We would go to host a party and provide blogging coverage of the conference with FuelMyBlog, and in the process, meet and see if what seemed so real online would hold up in the light of day.

On May 1st, 2008 I boarded the plane for Chicago.

To be continued…