He’s not a bad guy. Really he’s not. I believe he’s a narcissistic sociopath (although I am not a medical professional and not trained to make that determination on a psychological level) but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy. Well maybe it really does.
I fell hard for him. And I fell fast. Too fast. There were some red flags but, like most of us who are completely insane with infatuation, I ignored them. There was a lot about him I didn’t know. We met at the end of July and were married in mid-December. I felt I had known him all my life. In the end, I would come to find out that I barely knew him at all.
In the beginning, he was strong when I was weak. He was solid. I needed that. There are too many people in my past who proved unreliable. Finally, I had found someone who was the Yang to my Yin. I could drop the Tough Girl Act and relax.
And I did. For two years.
Looking back, that’s when I felt my life begin to slip away. The Happily Ever After Fairy Tale began to show some cracks. It wasn’t all his fault. I had a hard time trusting. I got really sick and, for a while, no one could figure out why. It was very stressful for both of us for several months.
Fast forward to mid-May, 2016. My health was improving. I thought the stress was finally easing up. Boy, was I wrong. Something monumental had happened, and I didn’t even realize it. As an experienced Litigation Paralegal, I usually notice changes in behavior and energy. I missed it completely.
Out of the blue (or so I thought) one evening, he looked at me and said something like “we’re not compatible and we don’t have anything in common”. I don’t remember exactly what he said. All I remember is feeling like I was falling off a cliff in slow motion.
It didn’t make sense to me. None of it. My training and experience tells me that there’s always a way to fit the puzzle pieces together so you can understand the whole picture. I was baffled.
So I did what any well trained paralegal would do, I started checking his cell phone, our cell phone records and his tablet. Daily. (Big Hint here: If you find yourself in a relationship where you feel the need to check cell phones, phone records, etc., get out. Get out now. You deserve better.)
I found out some things I didn’t know: He changed the beneficiary on his work life insurance policy to his son without discussing it with me. That really pissed me off but I chose not to confront him about it. I just kept my eyes and ears open.
He was also sending Facebook messages to someone that were, in my opinion, inappropriate. But he was not unaccounted for and his behavior hadn’t really changed except he was becoming more and more withdrawn and quiet. So I didn’t suspect, at that time, that he was having an affair physically or emotionally.
We went to marriage counseling later that summer, but he labelled everything the counselor suggested as “ridiculous” or “the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard“. So after a few sessions, I just never made another appointment. It was obvious to me he either didn’t want to change things or he didn’t have the emotional fortitude to. I decided he was the one who was unhappy, and it wasn’t my job to fix it for him.
As my friend, Ronnie Dunn, says, he’s a “grown damn man“.
Fast forward to January, 2017, he did it again. Out of the blue, he said it again – “not compatible and nothing in common“.
I admit I was extremely frustrated with him but still I thought we were going to get through it to live, if not happily ever after, at least contentedly ever after.
April 14th, 2017: My whole world fell apart. I caught him on an online dating site. I was devastated and so very angry.
The next week, I made my first mistake. I confronted him. He didn’t deny being on the site. He gave me the most bizarre reason: he wanted to make “snide” comments about the women on there.
“Seriously? You’re such an ass that you set up an online profile complete with someone else’s photos so you can make fun of lonely women??!!?? Do I look like I have STUPID tattooed on my forehead?”
I demanded he close the account, and told him that not only did we need marriage counseling but he needed individual counseling for his obvious issues.
All he would say was, “I just think I would be happier alone“. Man, if I had $20 for every time he’s said that to me this year! It didn’t ring true the first time he said it, and it didn’t ring true the last time he said it because he’s still hunting for his next victim online.
So I waited a week before I said anything else about it. Guess what he did during that week? Yep! NOTHING.
But I did. I bought a micro voice recorder so I wouldn’t have to use my phone to record our conversations – that was awkward and too easy for him to spot. I bought a GPS vehicle tracking unit. I had already renewed the subscription on the Webcam in our den that we had used to watch our dog sitters. I got a credit card in my name only. And I crafted a plan to find out exactly what was going on.
That week, I confronted him again. Mostly about his inability to do anything to make any changes whatsoever in what was happening. I told him that night that his inactivity led me to believe that he was “already gone“. His incredibly stupid response was, “well almost“.
Something rose up in me that I haven’t felt in years. The Tough Girl. I looked over at him and said, “We’re done. You don’t have to worry about being able to make a real, adult decision. I’m making it. We’re through.”
He got up and went inside the house. And, for the first time, I completely lost it. All I could so was sit there and cry.
The first weekend in May, I had to go to North Carolina to take care of some of my family’s business. By then, all I had was the webcam up and running but that was enough. I was barely out of town before he left the house and stayed out all night.
Again, I was devastated. Then I got angry. Very, very angry.
I hired a lawyer – well my employer – and he was livid when he found out what was going on. After he got over his shock, he looked at me and said:
“Not on my watch!”
And he has had my back through thick and thin ever since.
I found some other folks to support me as well. We drafted the lawsuits, discussed the strategies, and honed The Plan.
By this time, my husband had developed the habit of going out to dinner during the middle of the week. I guess he thought I either didn’t notice or would think he was eating alone.
All I could think was, “Oh please underestimate me! That will be fun!“
Just goes to show how stupid some people can be when they are in the midst of new attention – he completely forgot what a pitbull, highly trained, very experienced paralegal his wife is. That was only one of his many mistakes. But I’ve come to understand that he made so many mistakes because he wanted me to catch him.
He wanted me to be the one to decide. I swear that man never could make a decision! He obviously didn’t have any trouble making the decision to ask HER out though, did he?
So I followed him one night. Sure enough, he came waltzing out of the Outback Steakhouse with a woman I didn’t know. I got lucky – they were in separate cars, and she was so oblivious that she let me follow her straight home.
Once I had her license plate number and her address, in about 15 minutes I knew more about her than I knew about me. The Internet is a wonderful thing! So is being in the legal field and knowing the best Private Investigator* in town!
The stars aligned to give me a plausible excuse so I set him up to think I was going out of town for a family event the next Friday. In reality, I got a hotel room and had him followed everywhere he went from the time I allegedly left town. We hit paydirt when he went over to HER house that Friday night shortly after 11:00 p.m.
It’s still hard to describe my emotions when I drove up and saw his car parked brazenly in HER driveway. HER house was dark. I parked across the street and just sat there.
Dumbfounded. How long had he been seeing her?
I still didn’t understand what had happened over a year before when he first said that he believed we were incompatible. She was recent. His relationship with HER had not been going on for a year.
There were no texts and no phone calls to any strange numbers on our cell phone bill all year. He either had a burn phone or he was using his work cell phone.
I instinctively knew it was the latter because miraculously his work cell had started coming home with him every night a few months before. And it was around that same time that he got a new personal cell phone and never took the fingerprint password off it. BIG RED FLAGS! I noticed them and I believed them and I trusted them.
So I sat there in the dark on the street across from HER house.
South Carolina law requires only opportunity and intent to prove adultery. I didn’t need pictures of them in “the act”. A couple of hours alone when his wife was “out of town” in another woman’s dark house was enough evidence of adultery for any Family Court Judge in this state. I had everything I needed to file the lawsuits.
I hadn’t really decided how I was going to confront him – I only knew that I was going to be the one to confront him. He was my husband. He told me repeatedly I was the “Love of his Life”. No way was I going to allow my lawyer or my private investigator to confront him. The pleasure in that was all mine.
I didn’t care about HER. She was just a gullible enough woman to buy his Good Guy Act. Hell, I even knew how she felt. I had fallen for it myself years earlier!
As I sat there, I began to decide how I was going to handle things. Around 2:30 a.m., I left and drove home.
I parked my truck in our garage, and turned on almost every light in the house. He was in for a surprise when he came home because I wasn’t due home from “Florida” until late the next day. His personal cell phone was on the kitchen counter charging.
I called his work phone at 2:40 a.m. It went to voicemail. I didn’t leave a message.
Lo and behold, 10 minutes later, here he comes through the back door. I was shocked! (Not really – I was sitting there on the sofa rehearsing everything I had discussed with my lawyer. At that point, I was way past anything he did or said being shocking.)
“Hey babe! Did you decide to come home early?”
“Yeah, something like that.”
That was May 26th, 2017, and even though I had declared our marriage over, we were still living together and were still very much married in the eyes of the State of South Carolina. Until that day, I guess there was still some, small part of me that thought we might be able to work things out. That part of me died that night.
We separated on June 9, 2017.
Today is July 7, 2017. I’ve had some really bad days since then. I’ve done some things I’m not proud of. I’ve made some mistakes because of the blinding pain I was in. When I look at him now, I feel nothing but indifference. Maybe someday I’ll be able to look at him with some sort of human compassion. But not yet.
I’m 100% certain I’ll be fine without him. Who wants to be married to a man like that? We all deserve better than that.
My strength isn’t an act. My intellect isn’t an act. My perseverance isn’t an act. I’m learning to be soft AND strong. I have him to thank for that.
And just last week, I got my answers as to what had happened in April, 2016. It was nothing I would have ever known about or even realized until all the puzzle pieces came together and fit so perfectly.
I will always, always be grateful to the woman who helped me put those pieces together. She was brave enough to contact me and share what she knew with me. There are angels who show up when we need them. She’s one of mine.
She helped me understand that he conned me from Day One. He married me for the prospect of money. And he planned to divorce me for the prospect of even more money. At least I have been able to complete the puzzle. I have my answers.
Thank you, Debbie Whittle!!
I’m here to tell you that my life is already quantum leaps better than before. I’m thriving. I’m crafting the rest of my life exactly the way I want it.
And you can, too.
Hold your head up. You’re going to be better than before.
*Thank you, Tracy Hoshell, for your wise counsel, devious ideas, and most importantly, friendship, care and love. Kindred spirits from the day I confided in you – you had my back when I needed it. I will never forget your kindness.