Yesterday I posted the song, “Better Off”, by Sara Evan’s. I know it’s easy to get fired up by a song and then when the music stops and life returns to normal we’re left thinking, “Oh sure, Sara, it’s easy enough for you to say! You’re not living my life! You’re not left in poverty. You’re not raising my kids. And I love him (or her)! So today I will talk about real life and how it gets better.
When the Mobster and I first started talking he told me about the day his wife left. She had grabbed a bag or two of belongings, supposedly because she was going to stay with friends “for a few days”. As he watched her leave he said to her, “You’re moving out. You’re never coming back, are you?” He said a look of surprise came over her face and she then thanked him for putting up with her shit all of these years.
About a month later when she brought the other man to their kid’s soccer game and she showed her ass once again he finally decided it was really over. Whatever hope he’d had before was gone. Whatever thoughts of reconciliation had existed were banished. He had had enough. Later that night he went into the basement and sobbed. His son found him there and assured him that he still had them, meaning his kids.
I’m fairly certain it was that same night while talking he told me, just matter-of-factly, as though it was simply the way these things work, that he would always love her. That was the point in the conversation where I rolled my eyes and sadly acknowledged to myself that this would never turn into anything because I wasn’t going to compete with the memory of his always loved wife.
We have a little disagreement over what happened next because he says that’s when I brought him to his senses and told him, no, he wouldn’t love her forever. I don’t exactly recall what I said but I’m pretty sure I mentioned Chump Lady. On second thought I probably did say something like, “You only think you’ll always love her. Give it some time and distance.”
Anyway…. my point is this. If you ask him today if he’s better off he will tell you that he is absolutely, 100% better off. He looks back on that relationship and wonders why he wasted so much time trying to fix things. He looks back now and admits he did crazy things, like always sniffing her drinks to try to figure out if she had alcohol in it or not, or starting his day super early and busting through his workday so that he could get back home early in the afternoon before she had a chance to drink herself into a stupor, or meet up with other men. With a little bit of time and distance he was able to say, “She is a really toxic person and our relationship was very dysfunctional. I felt like I had a fifth child.”
You’re gonna find someone who’ll love you like he should have
And when you finally feel the difference you’ll be so glad
You gave yourself the chance to move on
You’ll wonder why it took you so long
And why you wasted so much time on him
Those words are so true. He often remarks that things are so different with me. He would tell you it’s incredible finally being with someone who gives back as opposed to only taking.
Our first time meeting I brought him a little gift. It was a toy helicopter because he had said he wished he had one so he could fly to see me anytime he wanted to and it wouldn’t take the 10.5 hours it takes to drive.
He was so touched. I will always remember him saying, “I didn’t get you anything. I feel so bad! I’m the one that usually does stuff like this.”
That same evening I gave him the letter I had written to his wife. I had commented one time that I should write to her and thank her for letting him go because he was so amazing. He thought that was an amazing idea. So I did it. I never mailed it to her; ultimately, it was for him. It brought him to tears after I read it out loud to him. “That’s a really nice letter,” he told me.
He still wonders what life would have been like had he left when he found that first bottle back in 2005. Or what he might have accomplished if he’d had someone who had supported him and been a full partner to him.
I can’t help with what all he might have accomplished, but I do practically point out that back in 2005 his kids were all still young. His oldest was only 12 at that point. The youngest would have been 4.
Her drinking was not out of control; in fact, the only reason he knew about it was because he found the bottle. I don’t think 50/50 custody was that common back then, the kids wouldn’t have been old enough to say they wanted to go with him, and she was a stay at home mom who homeschooled her kids. They would have been with her full time and he would have had, at best, every other weekend and maybe a Wednesday evening.
You can worry yourself to death thinking about how things could have been, or what you should have done differently. None of that matters, though. The past is gone. Realize now, in this moment, that you deserve better. Choose you. Choose a future free from someone who doesn’t appreciate you, who mistreats you, who cheats on you, who lies to you, and/or who badmouths you to anyone who will listen. You will be so much better off.