I’m writing to you from a place slightly further down the path than, I suspect, many of your correspondents.
When pressed for a reason he simply said that I was a difficult woman to love
In September 2018 my husband of 22 years announced, out of the blue, that he was leaving. Tellingly, he was leaving at some point in the future – when he had a permanent job and a place to live. In the meantime, I was to continue to support him financially but accept that the marriage was over with no logical reason given. When pressed for a reason he simply said that I was a difficult woman to love.
What he didn’t tell me was that he had met another woman who was obviously much easier to love. He also didn’t tell me she was 25 – just 3 years older than our daughter. I found this out gradually and painfully. His need to present his choice as simply a result of a marriage breakdown and not an affair meant that he covered his tracks well, instead shifting the blame on to me and even his 17-year-old son.
Rock bottom really has proved to be the foundation of the rest of my life
Like all marriages we had ups and downs, but I genuinely thought there was light at the end of the tunnel – our kids were growing up and we were looking forward to the next stage of our lives together. In the six months to his decision, we went on 3 holidays without the kids and had a great time. What I didn’t know was that the light for him was a young woman with no baggage who adored him.
I won’t describe the detail of what I went through – you and your readers know all about it. I suffered a breakdown in July 2019. But rock bottom really has proved to be the foundation of the rest of my life. Down there, in hell, I realised my husband’s need for adoration had nothing to do with me. Our marriage was one of equals and laughter (so much laughter) but he needed to be worshipped and the only opinion of putting him on a pedestal that I’d have had was that it’d be one more damn thing to dust (and he would have laughed at that). The gaslighting, the blaming, was borne out of an understandable need to experience and see his new relationship as ‘pure’ and ‘true love’ – not the adulterous wrecking of a long marriage. And not the indulgence of a pathetic middle-aged man or the delusions of a young woman. Definitely not a cliché.
Once I had reached that conclusion I started to rise. Slowly, almost imperceptibly. I read books – including yours – and self-analysed in true Oprah style. I challenged myself and everyday found something about being single which was better than being married. In May 2021 I took myself off for a solo-hike: 100 miles to walk away from an old life and into a new. I’m now healthy, and happy in a way that 6 months ago I would not have been able to imagine. The biggest revelation has been that I am glad I experienced what I did – the pain and the torment, the financial worry, has all been worth it because I am now in a place that I would not have been had I continued to see the world by gas light. I have met a really nice man, we have dated a few times and we are enjoying each other’s company. Whether it goes anywhere remains to be seen but I am happy to enjoy each day and relish the excitement of the unknown, the yet to experience.
So…for everyone walking this same road…keep going. One step at a time. Eventually the scenery changes from barren to lush, verdant and varied.
And to the man who told me I was difficult to love…thank you for my freedom, my peace and my everyday joy.