The Worst Day of my Life

If you ask me what the best day of my life was, I could not give a consistent or even cohesive answer. It is more an amalgamation of many instances that literally made my day, week , year or even life. There are the fleeting moments of otherwise mundane days that were somehow filled with sexual or religious ecstasy, or the realization that my favorite team really did when the championship. Then there are the whole days that seemed somehow perfect, whether spent alone outdoors or inside listening to music,  or perhaps with a companion—be it a seemingly endless make-out session with a partner or just a concert, movie or show with a good friend. Maybe the best days were the “big ones,” like a wedding day or finally graduating from college with high honors at age 37. And of course all of those are dwarfed by life-changing reality that goes far beyond what could ever happen in a single day—the whole process of finding out I’ll be a father (and a father again, and again, and again!) through finding out through the process of marriage or parenting that I really can somehow love more deeply and intimately than I did seemingly moments before. Even the most mundane of days can easily be remembered joyfully when taken in as the context of the whole of what is really a pretty average life.

Ask me about the worst day, though, and I can answer without hesitation. Yes, I’ve had some very bad days. There was the hernia repair surgery was painful beyond my previous imagining, though I’m sure many people have suffered much worse. There were countless trips to Emergency Departments where mental illness had gotten the best of me and I was convinced I was dying from an a hidden illness that the doctors simply had not found yet. There were temporary setbacks, like the loss of a job, and the more profound losses, like the deaths of family members, friends or classmates. There was more profound and prolonged mental illness that left me largely confined to my room for the greater part of a year, barely wanting to eat and becoming hooked on pain-killers because my family doctor was treating the symptoms or abdominal pain without realizing that is was mere somatization from undiagnosed bi-polar disorder.

Then there is the worst day—September 22nd, 2013. That was the day my wife of 16 years and mother of my children came home from pretending to be at church and confessed to having an affair before quietly packing up a few belongings and leaving for good. When she told the kids she was leaving, they at first thought she meant it was for a trip before she explained that she was “divorced going away.” Up until a few weeks before, things seemed to be going fine. It was probably the year I would remember most fondly in retrospect. I was finally making enough money to buy her gifts that I knew she always wanted but could never afford. We took an amazing trip together to Chicago that included a chance to see the Book of Mormon musical. We were featured in Christianity Today magazine as an example of a couple that excelled despite our religious differences. Her band was getting more and more gigs and commanding greater and greater pay.  Her podcast (largely about our sex life) was gaining popularity. Her agent indicated that a book deal was probably forthcoming. If ever there was a year for celebration, 2013 was it.

And then it was not. The feature in Christianity Today brought to fruition the double life hiding behind all of success. He was a mutual friend. Our families took a trip to the zoo together. He was the paid worship leader at her church and the guitar player in her wedding and dance band. The two of them had always gotten along exceptionally well, even speaking at a conference about how gender should not get in the way of a good friendship—and most people believed them, including his wife and me. As it turned out, I was one of the last to know. They had already told the worship team at church that they intended to leave their respective families for one another. His wife had already moved out after catching them making out in the driveway (among much more damning evidence). He had cheated before, but this was the last straw, and he wanted out of the marriage anyway.

The divorce was quick and clean, avoiding even a court date. She did not want anything she had not already taken. There was no money left in savings and little in checking. All of the utilities were set to be cutoff. Homeowner’s insurance had lapsed for want of home repairs I didn’t know anything about. I called the credit card companies and auto-insurance and cut her off.  I would keep the house, the stuff the retirement account, and custody of the kids. She only wanted him. I found myself wishing she had died rather than left, because at least then I would not have suffered the personal rejection. She was pregnant with his baby before either divorce even made it through. So much for Christian morals.

I wish I could say that it all worked out in the end. Maybe kids are resilient and adaptable to this sort of change. But they are not. They went from being stars in the gifted program to failing nearly every class. They have wrestled with thoughts of suicide, in some cases requiring inpatient care and intensive therapy.  Maybe I would find a woman who loved me more deeply than I could imagine and my kids as her own, but I have not. The women I dated all flatly stated that my life is simply too complicated for them to contemplate anything deeper. I have, for the moment, given up on trying to meet anyone else.

The reality is that six kids and two exes struggle every day with the financial and emotional devastation wrought by this fiasco, while the perpetrators live as carefree newlyweds. Sometimes there is Child Support, and often there is not. Sometimes the kids have great days at school and home and it feels like the our non-traditional family could not be better, but often it is a mess.  For me, it is a struggle to even get out of bed. I like my job and love my kids, but I’m just wired to love and be loved. I often have dreams where my ex and I just do ordinary, everyday tasks together, but then I wake up alone on my side of an otherwise empty queen-size bed.

My ex and I don’t really talk much beyond the logistics of when she’ll pick up the kids every other weekend or help get them to this or that appointment. Sometimes I wish we did. I would really like to be in a position to ask “was it worth it? Emotionally crippling the kids, getting kicked out of church, losing professional creditability, and ultimately suffering through a stillbirth—for what?  But I’m afraid of the answer. I asked about her most hurtful statements once before the divorce and she flatly stated that she meant it all. Maybe it really is worth it—and what does that say about me? I guess I’ll never know. It is probably better that I don’t.


Posted on March 25, 2015, in Life and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Ouch. I feel for you.

    The only silver lining is that you don’t have to try and deal with a wife you doesn’t want to be with you. My now ex had a number of secret affairs. Inside, she was unhappy with me (but wouldn’t bring it out in the open). As a result I went through years of pain as I tried to make her happy but just didn’t seem to be able. … Getting divorced from her was the BEST thing that happened. Far more painful would have been to try to muddle through several more years of trying to make the marriage work.

    • Thank you for your support. It would have been so much easier if I had known there were problems. She really promoted our marriage as being ideal in multiple forums, and I and many others believed her. It just didn’t make any sense. One night we made love, and the next night I came home from work with roses and a bottle of her favorite wine, only to be told that she didn’t really love me anymore. She insisted that there was no one else and that she was willing to go through marriage counseling. A couple of nights later she didn’t come home, claiming she was too tired after a gig with her band to safely drive any further. The next day, she was gone for good.

      I can’t imagine things are actually better for her now. For a while I read her blog, looking for clues as to what I’d done wrong, but I never could find anything. Investigations lead me to the truth of how brazen the two of them were. It’s laughably absurd, really. Then I realized what their selfishness has done to all of these kids and how angry that makes me. Now I just assume that one or both of them will cheat on the other, if they aren’t already. How could there ever be trust in a relationship like that? I know I don’t deserve to be alone, but I’m considering the possibility that those two might just deserve one another.

  2. I know it’s been rough, but it seems like things are getting slightly better for you and the kids. Hang in there.

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