I am not exactly sure when the beginning is. As I write this, I sit in a comfy upstairs apartment in Capitola Village that I share with my ex. We trade-off between here and our family home in Rio Del Mar. For those of you keeping score, yes, both of the neighborhoods we live in saw extensive damage from those crazy storms that came through California in early January. Joe Biden visited both places, he was within 400 meters of both places, but luckily, neither of the actual buildings we call home sustained any damage. I am currently feeling great. I am happy. A little stressed out but confident. This arrangement is not the beginning and I definitely didn’t feel this way then, in Chapter 1. For reference, I would say I’m in the third chapter? Maybe fourth?
The first Chapter, for me anyway, was on 8/4/18 when I found my then wife of 15-years with another man (ironically not even 200 meters from where I sit now). I found them because I went looking. I told my three kids I was going to go to the store really quick and I walked down the street to the promenade in Capitola Village and found them arm in arm just standing there. Thinking back, I was not expecting what I found but I guess I can’t say I was surprised. I had asked her if there was someone else many times in many ways over the months leading up to that night and was always told no. If you are asking that, can you say you were surprised (pro-tip, if you feel the need to ask your partner if there is someone else, even if there really isn’t, you need help!)? I was of course both angry and hurt. After I let all that wash over me I made a choice. I felt like I had just started living my dream of being a teacher (I was about to start my 5th year). We were six-days away from closing on an awesome beach house in the neighborhood we had been waiting for and my daughter was going to be in my class in two years. I just didn’t want to give any of that up. I vividly remember telling on of my best friends, Danny (the other one is also name Danny so for clarity’s sake they will forever from here forward be referred to as Schutlzy and DJ), that I knew I would never be able to feel the same way about her again and that if we didn’t have kids I would pack up and go and never speak to her again but that I decided I was just going to ride it out as long as possible so I could enjoy my beach house, my job and my kids; my dream.
Problem with dreams for most of us is you wake-up and they are over. That over simplifies things and it is way more complex but, at least for this post, sufficed to say, I woke up and the dream was over. That was chapter two, holding on to a dead marriage for fear of losing the dream, and I did it for about two-years. Unfortunately, right as I was waking up in 2020 a little thing called COVID happened. That extended chapter two all the way to 2022 as COVID became all-consuming and made things like being in love with or even trusting your spouse at all seem unimportant. What was a little loneliness and marital discord in the face of the end of the world?
The world didn’t end. We went back to school and pretty much normal in 2021 which was my daughter’s first year in high school. The joy of being with her, we went to school together, had class together and drove home together, pretty much all day every day, kept me going and helped me ignore the marriage that I knew was coming to an end. I guess chapter three was accepting that the marriage was coming to an end. Different post but I want you to know I tried things. I read books, I went to therapy, we went to therapy but it didn’t work. Sadly, and I really mean that, it was very sad, I came to realize that I needed out. That is such an awkward stage. The knowing you are getting out but not exactly when or how. At that point, I really didn’t have any anger left. Lots of sadness and I was able to be triggered to anger but I was mostly just numb. Pro-tip, if you do it the way I did, trying to make a dead marriage work for years, you will not even notice that you don’t really feel anymore until you get out. You become so used to it you think its normal. It’s not and you deserve better. The worst part of chapter three is coming to terms with spreading out the pain, sadness and deadness you’ve been living with. It is especially hard when you are spreading it out to your kids. You will do that. It is inevitable if you have them.
Wow, that was a quick hitting summary that gets you up to where I am now. The annoying “it gets better” chapter four person. Right? I hate those people. “It gets better”, “you’ll be better off”, “it’s worth it”. I remember all that. Seems like crap in chapters one, two and three. But here I am. Another chapter four loser telling you to suck it up and it will get better. Sorry. So where are you at? Which chapter was the hardest? Let’ hear from some people in chapters 5 and beyond maybe?