The Beginning of the Story
When I was 21 years old I married my best friend. We had dated for three years at that point but we were friends in high school before that. He was in the Navy so I did the military wife thing and moved across the country to start a life with the man I loved. I married my Prince Charming and I expected my fairy tale to unfold before me. There were bumps in the road, marriage is hard. It isn’t 50-50 like I expected, it’s 100-100 and my husband was selfish as was I back then, and I was insecure and maybe had some issues with control as a result. Living halfway across the country from my family and every one of my friends was harder than I ever imagined. We survived those first three years (well, I will talk more about how mistaken I was about that another time). Things got easier after the Navy and seven years after we married we welcomed a baby boy, we moved into our own home in a smallish town, I was running a business full time so I could quit my corporate job and be home with my son and life was good. A couple of years later we welcomed a beautiful baby girl. My business was thriving, my heart was full, and if you asked me, my life was pure perfection.
The fairy “tail”.
Being a Mom to these two cutie pies was more than I could have ever imagined, and I loved working for myself and making a home for the love of my life. We moved into a bigger better house in a new town, and I thought that I had achieved the fairy tale. Seriously…the dream home, the good life. The economy took a bit of a digger and I started doing daycare in our new home and I loved spending my day with clients who doled out hugs and kisses all day. Then I injured my back and started living a life with chronic pain. I had to scale back my business. I eventually had to close my daycare and watch the babies, that I had raised, go to other daycares. I could no longer do the things I wanted to do with my own kids. I was in constant pain unless I was medicated, and popping narcotics is just not something you can do with two small children. And I was sooo depressed!!
Eventually, I worked through it, and I got stronger…but there was always something different after that. My husband had grown distant and moody—our sex life was nonexistent. But he was still my best friend. And I worked to try to be happy with this changed version of my life.
I loved being a Mom. These kids are the best things that I have ever done and they bring joy into my life every single day. And he was an okay Dad. He was just okay, and I am not saying that to be mean, it just is what it is. He liked to sit and snuggle the kids in front of the TV, feed them a bottle, and he would watch movies with them…and… yeah, he was a great couch Dad. He wasn’t the Dad who would have a tea party or throw a ball…I didn’t realize to what extent that was true until later But you know what? It didn’t matter, he was good enough because I was a great Mom and together we were good parents and had really great kids.
I had closed my business at some point because he no longer was supportive of it and with a back injury, there was so much I couldn’t do on my own . I really believe it is impossible to be successful in something if your partner is against it. And I wanted him to be happy. It was all I wanted…for my family to be truly happy.
Reconnecting. Or was I?
By that time I was working a full-time job in a convenience store. It was long hours and I missed my kids, but my relationship seemed to be good again. I set up a night out with some good friends. It was three couples. We went to see a comedian and then out for drinks. It was so much fun and I was so excited that my love and I were reconnecting—he even joked with the other guys that if he didn’t screw it up, that he would be “getting some”. As we walked through downtown one of the guys said: “Don’t screw it up “Gary” (not his real name). When the evening was over and it was time to go home, my friend, let’s call her “Carol” and my husband were nowhere to be found. I went looking for them, and I found them.
Yep, you probably already guessed, it. I found them in a stall in the lady’s bathroom locked in a passionate embrace. It didn’t occur to me at that moment, but it was obviously not the first time they had been in that position. Oh wait, let’s rewind just a bit… (insert flashback music here) I said we were out with other couples, which is true, (yeah, she was married too) but I left out one key point. The woman in the bathroom, the one with one leg wrapped around my husband was more than just my good friend. She was also my children’s daycare provider someone I trusted with my most precious people…someone I would have and did trust with everything I had.
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And we’re back…
So my good friend slash daycare provider and my husband were making out in the stall of a public bathroom. Yes, very classy. If you have ever experienced a moment like that…you know that the primary emotion is one of pure shock. And in that moment I lied to myself. I saw what I saw and I told myself I didn’t see it. I nearly convinced myself that she must have been getting sick and that he was in there with her to help. Like he was holding her hair or something. What a great guy… But wait, why were the toes of their shoes together. Why did they jump when I came in? Why did he run? On the way to the car he tried to pull me aside to talk about what I saw in the bathroom and I told him I was sure it was nothing, that I trusted him. I told him cheerfully (yup, cuz bitches be crazy) that if I couldn’t trust him, we were done…so of course, I trusted him. The rest of the night was kind of a blur and he didn’t come home with me but instead chose HER couch while I carried my babies out to the car and went home alone.
When he walked in the next morning, before I had even admitted to myself what I had seen and denied seeing, out of my mouth came the words, “How’s your conscience this morning?” He felt terrible, he said. It was a one-time thing he said, brought on by alcohol he said. He wanted to work it out. He told me that he would do anything to work it out. And because I denied even to myself what I knew to be truth, I felt like I had dodged a bullet. I would work harder too, we would still have our happily ever after. I believed it.
It was over already…
But it was over already. Two weeks later, in the middle of a birthday party I had thrown for him, that he wanted a divorce. I begged him to try counseling, to see a doctor (because I thought he was on drugs or had gone crazy) , and to please reconsider. I tried to get him to talk about “why” he would do this to our family only to find out that he had a long list of things he hated about me, and that he had been waiting for, what he called, the right time, for me to be financially secure enough that he could pull the plug on our marriage. That was enough for me.
Whatever I felt that we had and I knew our marriage had issues…but we had been best friends at that point for almost TWENTY years. I thought we were unbreakable, but obviously, nothing that I believed we had had really existed . He asked me to leave (well at first he wanted me to stay—but we will talk about that another time) and when he wouldn’t stop yelling at me…remember he never yelled before that birthday party…I started to fear for what all of this would do to the kids.
So I left. I left without most of my belongings, again a topic for another time, but not without my kids. I packed up my babies, then 7 and 5. We left our big beautiful home, the home our dreams were supposed to flourish in, and on a dark gray snowy slushy December day in Minnesota, I left those dreams behind.
It took you “how long” to get divorced?
Nearly three years later after and –a custody evaluation and several days (including Valentine’s day—oh sweet irony) the judge granted us a divorce and granted me sole custody of our children. I really…I know super naïve Tracey, thought that would be the end of it. I would be so mistaken. But I can’t tell you all of it at once…it would ruin the suspense!
I don’t want yo pity…
Now I don’t tell you this story so that you will feel sorry for me. Please don’t, because I don’t feel sorry for myself. And I never really did—well after those first 30 days anyway. While I got plenty of comedic mileage out of the fact that my husband left me for the daycare lady, it is what it is. The real meat of the story comes in the tidbits of things that happened in the months to follow. Like when he essentially kidnapped our children, my first date after being with the same man for 18 years (dating is terrifying!!), and trying to convince our friends that they didn’t have to choose between us. I will share many of those moments with you and help you see why they were just stepping stones, helping me on my journey to finding my best self. And my hope is that if you have obstacles in your life that you are facing, that you will share them with me, so we can work through them together…and I promise that it won’t always be so heavy. You have to find a little humor in this crazy life. Please, if you have feedback or questions or want to propose a topic for a future episode, go to FindingYourBestSelf.com/contact and send me a message. I would LOVE to hear from you. Thank you so much for coming along with me on this journey. Until next time!