Every sad or happy story has a beginning. My sad story started with a giant hurricane blowing through our community in August of 2017. I now call that day “D Day”.
One the outside, I was living the American dream. Married to an amazing successful man, three incredibly beautiful children and a very comfortable life. I confirmed my husband had a secret life 23 years into our marriage. This would probably be a surprise to many happily married women. but what’s different about my story is that I knew he had secrets and I had become an expert at snooping.
Rewind to fall of 1991. I was working my first job in Chicago, Il. and met this incredibly handsome man who worked on the other side of the building. There was just something about him. It’s like fireworks went off when I looked into his eyes. He asked me out and from that first date, we never stopped being lovers. It moved fast and passionately and that is how we lived. Fun was never in short supply, friends, parties, late nights out. This was a collision of two fun loving, outgoing, party animals who decided they couldn’t live apart. We became husband and wife 3 years later. Our wedding was a blast. The definition of traditional, our parents were both still married and each set loved us like their own.
I’m going to refer to my husband from here on out as music man. Because that is who he really is. Sure he works a real job, but on the weekends and any other time he had to spare, he was and is still playing music. Guitar, Bass, Drums, Piano, he did it all. Music Man was hysterically funny but music man also had a dark side. It was a side I didn’t realize until after we had our first child. There was a temper in him that became a beast following the burden and responsibility of having children. There were still many good days, but to avoid him getting upset too often, I learned to walk on eggshells. I kind of wish he was the type of man who physically abused me, because then I would have left. But this was emotional abuse and I never really understood that it was happening. When our firstborn was 3 months old, we had a party at our house for Music Mans 30th birthday. I dropped our baby off with my parentes and returned home to celebrate. When I think back to this night, I’m sure there must have been signs I overlooked. A subtle touch or a glance. There was a lot of drinking and I remember towards the end of the night I was sitting down on our couch and saw my husband go into our room to change out of his bathing suit (we were hot tubing). But then, I a saw a female friend of ours go into the room. She moved quickly and I sat for a second wondering if I really saw Megan go into our room and shut the door. After a second I was like “yep” that’s what just happened. I got up and went to the bathroom connected to our bedroom to find the door locked. I began to pound and my husband said “hang on” I was about to walk outside and kick in a window, but the door flung open and Megan rushed past me. I stepped into the bathroom to find my drunken husband in our closet acting like he had been changing the whole time. That night, I wrote “fucken cheater” on the bathroom mirror with bright red lipstick and went to my parents. He called me all night and into the next morning. When I finally came home he spent the day swearing nothing happened. In my heart I knew they had at least made out. I knew there had been no time for too much to happen. But still he denied even kissing her. And this was the beginning of what I now know is “gaslighting” an emotionally abusive tactic. It would become a way of life in our home.
After a few days, the more I insisted he at least kissed Megan, the angrier he became. I can’t believe I didn’t see the pattern of gaslighting, but I did not. Finally, about 3 weeks into it, he admitted that yes, she came into the bathroom, pushed him against the wall and they began to make out hard when I banged on the door. That’s when we started marriage therapy for the first time.
He was sorry. Very sorry, but that didn’t stop him from cheating off and on throughout our 23 years of marriage.