The Truth Will Set You Free
A couple weeks ago on a Saturday night, I picked up the phone, and to my shock, horror, and surprise, there was a Facebook message from the woman that I believed my ex was cheating on me with during a portion of my marriage.
That would make her the woman that he was cheating with, before the woman that he was cheating with and left me for.
Does that make sense?
Hopefully, because we are moving on.
I almost hesitate to write about it because the timing of it coming right after my resolution to let go of the anger, most likely makes it seem completely staged, but it wasn’t. It really happened and if you care to stick around and hear about it, sweet deal, and if you don’t want to believe me, then you can mosey on along and it’s no sweat off my back.
But anyway, years ago when I was still married, my ex had everything electronic in our house on lock down. I couldn’t use the desktop computer without him unlocking it, he had his own laptop that I could never get into, and he had his phone locked and refused to ever let me use it.
Then, one night while I was sitting there nursing our son and paying some bills, I asked him to get my phone so that I could use the calculator. Being too lazy to actually get up and get it, he, for the first time ever, unlocked his phone and handed it to me.
Now everyone knows that the first time someone gives you access to something that you have been never been allowed to access before, that the smart thing to do would be to earn some trust by proving that you can be trusted, and not snoop.
Too bad I never do the “right” thing.
So while saying random numbers out loud and pretending to get frustrated with his cellphone calculator, I was actually going through his text messages, and low and behold, there was a message from his college girlfriend that said “I just want you to be happy. In whatever way you need, just know that I’m always going to be there for you.”
My stomach dropped.
Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to read the entire thread because saying numbers out loud and reading at the same time was not a task that I was able to manage efficiently enough that I wouldn’t risk getting caught, so I ended up panicking and closing the screen when I saw him look over in my direction.
Knowing that something was going on, but not really having any solid evidence of what that might be, well that sucked.
It’s tough to live with a man who you know is living a double life, and not say anything about the proof you found, but at the time I had bigger issues to deal with concerning him. And at the end of the day, arguing with him about his cheating ways wasn’t going to do me any favors, and it was actually irrelevant in my quest to get out of my marriage altogether.
So I didn’t say anything to him about it at all, but it wasn’t something that I pushed out of my mind either, and when I would come across an opportunity to further my intel, well let’s just say that I always took the opportunity.
So months later when he left his computer open for the first time EVER, I took the opportunity to you know… check things out.
I saw an account that I didn’t even know he had, filled with messages between him and the same college girlfriend (it was the same time that I realized he was hiring escorts of Craigslist). And in those messages, she was clearly telling him that it was OK to leave me.
He did leave me very, very shortly after that, but not for that woman. But I didn’t know that. So after he left and I was desperate to know where he went, I searched this woman out on Facebook, and I sent her a message.
Which she apparently didn’t get until a Facebook update pushed all her filtered messages into her inbox last week.
Four years after I sent her my message, she messaged me back.
Not really remembering what I had said to her all those years ago, I decided to play it friendly and see where the conversation went. But if I’m being honest here, my feelings towards throughout these years have not felt very friendly.
Regardless, any answers that I can get these days are better than no answers at all, and being a Christian myself, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe this was some God-answered prayer to help me move past the anger that I’m so desperately trying to relinquish. And so I kept the conversation going. I admitted that I really couldn’t remember what I had sent her back then, that I had sent it because he had disappeared, and that I had just been trying to find him.
In return, she admitted that she had been talking to him, but that he had disappeared on her too, and that she also had some questions of her own. When she seemed willing to talk, I asked if we could talk on the phone.
I then basically vomited because how freaking weird is this and what the hell was I doing??
Pacing a circle in The Guy’s living room (where I had literally barricaded myself off), my whole story poured out and into the phone. I don’t know why I felt the desire to share such intimate details of my life to the woman who may have had a hand in helping to ruin it, but I just couldn’t stop myself.
And then, before I could even catch my breath, her story spilled out too.
She had been talking to him for quite a while, and over the stories he told her about me and “how awful” I was (which I had guessed was the case), she did tell him that if he thought he would be happier, that he should leave me. She doesn’t live in this state, and there was no physical contact between them, but they were talking every day, and she did drive to his old house when she came back for a visit (but was too scared to go to the door).
She explained that he had reached out to her, and while in a rocky place in her own marriage, that they had rekindled their friendship. She admitted that she never thought of what she was doing as cheating, until the day that her husband oversaw the messages between them, and in her own words “I saw the horrified look on his face, and my heart dropped. When he began to question me about what was going on, I knew that it had gone much further than I intended. Then, thinking of you, I just became sick with myself.” I won’t put words in her mouth and say that she admitted to cheating, and I myself can’t even say for sure what the nature of their friendship was, but either way it was completely inappropriate.
This woman, who had absolutely no idea who I was, was supporting my husband wanting to leave his wife.
I’m not sure what transpired between the conversation with her husband and when my ex stopped talking to her, but she said that once she looked at everything with fresh eyes, she began to question some of the things that he had been telling her. “A lot of his stories just didn’t make sense” she said to me, “and I decided that it was probably time to reach out to you and let you know what was going on. He had told me so many unflattering stories about you and I had been telling him that it was OK to leave you, but now I was questioning if he was telling me the truth, and I wanted to let you know what was going on.”
But, having a common name and the fact that my ex leaves a trail of confusion behind him, she couldn’t find me. And the more time it took her to figure out who I was, the less confident she became of what she would even say to me.
“Who would I introduce myself as?” she somewhat laughed. “I mean how do I even begin to tell you who I am, and what your ex is telling me, without sounding crazy?”
Very shortly after that he cut her off completely, and she thought that maybe I had found out, and we were working things out, which is why he no longer needed her. She stopped looking for me, but never let the issue completely slip her mind.
“I feel like he reached out to me because he was looking for someone that thought he was a good person, and he wanted to get some kind of permission that it was OK for him to leave” she suggested. “And I’m not really sure what to say, but I truly am sorry for everything.”
She really did sound sorry.
So I forgave her.
We spent the next forty-five minutes talking, and some of it was hard to hear. He treated her very well back in college, and all these years later, he came back into her life during a really rocky time, and gave her a whole lot of lies that added up into being exactly what she needed right in that moment. She was saddened to hear of how much he had changed, and in turn, she told me how her first marriage ended when her husband became addicted to drugs, and how she can completely see how my ex might have also changed over the years.
And I don’t know why, but that meant something to me. Not even the part about her understanding how he changed, but knowing that her and I, we aren’t that different after all. She shared a few more things that I won’t share here out of respect for her, but we went through some of the same things in our younger years, and we both ended up with drug addicts as husbands; her first husband, and then mine, who was coincidentally also one of her first loves, that I just happened to get at a different stage in life than when she had him.
Yet different stage or not, we both got played by him in the end…
She isn’t all that different from me, she just made a choice that I would like to think I would not have made, but it’s not my place to judge. What she did has really weighed on her mind all these years, and if I’m really as willing as I say I am to want to let go of the anger, then this seems like a great place to start.
I forgive her, and I more than just forgive her, I accept what happened, and I understand. I told her that although I was sorry that my ex could never be what I needed him to be for me, that I was glad that back in college he was able to be what she needed.
We are not as different as I’d like to think we are, and for some reason, it makes me able to accept what transpired.
She told my husband he could leave me.
And I’m totally fine with that.
Of course I woke up in the middle of the night panicking and freaking out that maybe I should have given her the piece of my mind that I’d been choking back all these years, but when the sun came up and a new day started, I was fine.
My husband left me, maybe because the only woman who he never cast his ugly side on, told him that he could… and I’m OK with that.
She gave him the choice, and his answer gave her the truth, and in turn, her truth is helping to set me free.
Four years ago my husband left me amidst a web of lies, and mind altering confusion. I was forced to face the realization that I had been living a life I had no idea I was a part of, and was thrust into a life that I never saw coming. Over the last four years, I’ve spent many nights lying awake, going over every detail of my life with my ex; desperately trying to piece together something that makes sense, and something that I can wrap my mind around to clarify the unknown.
But it just wasn’t possible. It seemed like with every lie I’d unravel, it would just reveal another layer of confusion that I couldn’t make any sense of.
There is insanity in the chronic unknown.
It’s amazing how so many painful realizations, can pave the path towards a better future.
I have my answers now.
I can stop looking behind me to see what might be lurking off to the side, because the pieces have come together, and a light has shone on the shadows.
The monsters that I’ve felt sneaking around behind me that I could never get a good solid look at, well some of them turned out to be real; but I’ve finally seen them for what they truly are. I’ve learned of their existence, and I’ve faced them.
And you know what?
It’s going to be OK.
I’m going to be alright.
I am alright.
It’s been a long, and really, really, painful process, but I finally know what I’m dealing with, and after four years (and all the years before that), I can truly start dealing with it. All these years in counseling where I’ve been trying to make sense of a life that never really made a whole lot of sense, well it’s been understandably difficult and at many points the best that I could do in order to try and move on, was to accept that I may not ever understand my life.
But it’s really hard to heal like that, and I’m excited that my next step in healing from the trauma, is to go back and begin to truly understand.
I’m going to be alright, because not only do I know where I’m going, I finally know where I’m coming from.