“HEADS UP: click here for the first blog that shares what happened the Night Before my midlife awakening, before you read about the Day After.”
Swimming in mud. It mummifies my remains. I drink it in. Full.
I move slowly, drowning in its rich green mold. The smell of earth, a fragrance both foreign and familiar. Sweet and pungent.
I strain to progress; to move toward the light.
It blinds me, and I sink again. There are others; I reach for them. But they are calm…releasing their power.
Comforted by the darkness.
The abyss is vast. The panic sets in.
I won’t go down. Not with you.
-Written by Cherry Maggiore, April 2015
Before reading this, please be prepared for a harsh reveal; a very private matter shared. This is not a confession, but my truth. There is no, one, single person at fault and this is merely my side of the story. And as much as it hurts and is hard to discuss, I think many people have sadly been in my shoes and some who still are. And if, in addition to helping free me of this burden, it helps you feel connected or understood or inspired, then it will be even more worthwhile. And so we pick up where I left off, from my very first blog… ❤🍒
“GARBAGE!!!” “YOU ARE TRASH!” “Worthless garbage!!” “I know what you did…you piece of shit.”
What a fucking nightmare!
Wait. No. It’s not a nightmare. This is my 8 am Saturday morning wake up call.
As my eyes open I see the very red, very enraged face of the Chupacabra of Joy (translation: Vampire of Joy). My now ex-husband.
Remnants and awful memories of the night before return with a vengeance. Still, don’t know where I am.
I feel something in my hand. Oh, I’m clutching a stuffed bear on my daughters’ trundle. I must have slept in her room because I was too afraid to go to bed with him.
Right. Now, I remember.
It’s all coming back quickly, like a time-lapse zipping through my mind. The morning after my Friday night in-office breakdown.
FUCK! I’m in for a storm like never before. He’s screaming at the top of his lungs. And all I could think was, where is MSP (my daughter, Miss Sassy Pants)?
So I ask him where she is, and he says “like you fucking care!” Yes, motherfucker. I do care. I care so much. What I don’t care for, is YOU!
He tells me she’s at Tae Kwon Do class with his parents. Right. His parents. Ugh!! Can this get worse? And right when I ask myself that question, it sure does…
As he stands over me, the barrage, or more accurately, the assault of insults continue…his humiliation and harassment are relentless. I sit there on the trundle holding the stuffed bear and weep quietly; taking it because I felt I deserved it.
Sidebar: This is very hard to write about, and I’ve never really talked or wrote about this experience. Please bear with me while I try to capture the truth and the terror of this entire mess of a life I was leading. I’m so ready to release this moment into the universe and move forward. Yes. That’s me. Relentlessly failing forward.
While I cry and beg for his forgiveness, He squats down to meet me face to face, as I was still on the trundle unable to move. He glares at me and with all the anger and knowing he could muster says, “I know what you did. And you need to come clean.”
With those words, I had a decision to make. Come clean and face the consequences or continue to lie as I had for the past three months. Lie to him, even more, lie to myself…
See, it was our 10th anniversary that past November 2013. And on our 10th anniversary that I had planned in the city, we nearly got divorced…AGAIN. Not what you’d expect from a 10th-anniversary celebration. Certainly not what I expected, but there we were threatening divorce as we finished our dinner at a restaurant on the east side; followed by loudly fighting as we stormed crosstown to our hotel on the West side.
Before this moment, we had separated four different times, nearly divorced twice. We’ve been to four or five different therapists, individually and together. We fucking tried to make it work. Well, in retrospect, WE never worked, but we tried to co-exist.
There were fundamental differences. And if I go back to the seven connections, we only had three. At the time when I was 28 and thinking about a family, three out of seven wasn’t bad. We lacked one major one, and I knew it from our first kiss… but my bar was so very low and my want of love so very high.
It was difficult to describe to people because on paper he was “perfect” and I was very far from “perfect.” In fact, throughout our relationship, I was often reminded how perfect he was by his family and friends, and by him.
According to his calculations, he was morally superior to everyone else. Committed. Loyal. Handsome. He cooked and cleaned. He didn’t go out with the guys (like, NEVER). He worked out regularly. He didn’t lie or cheat. Not a party animal or a drinker. Never did drugs or smoked a cigarette. He was an eco-feminist (yes, he said that. And yes, I believed him). Like me, a survivor and success story, after a childhood trauma. A college graduate from the “hood.” All these things were true, and he was, for all intense and purposes, a great guy.
Not great for me, not even close. He was affectionately and emotionally absent. Fiercely judgmental. Possessively divisive with anyone he had to share me with. Anxious and depressed. He looked down on everything I was, and am, and wanted to be. But these are not things you see; they aren’t black and white. These are things that are experienced one-on-one, behind closed doors.
He hated my career and my love of it. He hated my friends; tolerated my family. I became disengaged in everything and everyone I loved during our time together. And most of all he hated my “Work hard. Play harder” habits. He hated that I was kind to people who he didn’t like (which was most everyone). He also didn’t believe in mistakes, only perfection. Of course, my errors of judgment and missteps used to be filed religiously, as he built his superiority case against me.
Admittedly, I was not a traditional wife nor did I pretend to be; nor did I want to be. I was a workaholic. Fiercely insecure. Significantly overweight older woman (I am 5 years older than him) who loved to dance but hated working out. A cigarette smoking college drop-out with short hair (he preferred long as do most guys). A social butterfly who liked to work, drink and party. A lot. I used to lie about shopping for myself (especially shoes) because he used to get pissed about me spending money (just for the record, I was and am the breadwinner).
I realize now these were my coping mechanisms; the work, the weight, the alcohol and the shoes. These were issues throughout my life and it got progressively worse with him. He wanted to exert his control in all things using judgment as a way to guilt and suppress me.
I cried almost every night and used to sit in the driveway for 15 minutes dreading opening that door; even when my daughter was there. As much as I wanted her and to be with her every second, I couldn’t bear his presence.
So each night I had to gather my courage to unlock that fucking door and face him. To sink in the mud.
I missed feeling loved. I wanted so much to be cherished because of, and despite, all of my flaws and mistakes. I wanted someone to lift my spirit, not suck the life from me. To inspire me to grow and thrive; who I could also inspire. That just wasn’t him, it wasn’t us. I didn’t love myself enough, nor did he love me enough.
I often imagined what my life would be like without him. I lived in that dream world every moment I was with him. Never present, always longing for another life. He didn’t deserve that. Neither did I; no one does. I wish I had the courage to finally make the divorce final…any of the four times. I stayed because of my girl. I stayed because of hope. I stayed out of respect and tradition. I stayed because, in my family, divorce is taboo. I stayed because I didn’t think I would find anyone else to love me. I stayed because I was afraid he’d take my daughter from me. I just couldn’t get out…
However, there was one thing we always said was beyond repair, beyond forgiveness. That if either of us had an affair, it would be over. To us, it was the worst kind of pain and disrespect to your partner. It was above reproach.
At the moment he said, “I know what you did. You need to come clean,” I realized this was my moment of reckoning.
Do I tell the truth? Or do I lie? Do I finally release myself from this misery by unleashing more misery? Or do I stay and suffer?
This is my chance. This is my choice. This is my only way out.
God, help me.
I looked him in the face and said words I often regret, yet the words that finally set me free…
“Yes, I cheated on you.”
And with that, the world went dark for a long time. I drowned in the mud. But then I got a fucking rope and began to pull myself out. Scratching and clawing all the way toward the light.