The Man I Fell in Love with is Gone

And I don’t know who this other guy is.

Yesterday was my second court appearance for my divorce.

The first didn’t really count — it was just an appearance to set dates for the appearances that would follow. My husband and I both showed up with our lawyers. Neither of us got to say anything of substance to the judge. They set dates, we wrote them down, the judge left, and we left. Simple.

Yesterday’s appearance was different. Yesterday, we were each put on the witness stand and questioned by the two attorneys. At stake was who would be able to live in the house and use my hangar until the divorce was finalized.

I don’t want to go into detail about what was said and done. Two reasons. First, I don’t want to save the experience forever on the pages of this blog. It was extremely painful to me on so many levels. Second, my lawyers would probably scold me, depending on how much detail I provided and what I said. It’s not worth pissing off my lawyers or getting into trouble. My legal team rocks.

But I do want to briefly touch upon what I realized when my husband came to the stand and began answering questions that he and his lawyer had likely rehearsed in advance: he was not the man I fell in love with.

It’s funny, in a way, because it looked like him and it sounded like him. But the things he said were not the kinds of things the man I fell in love with would say about me. The man I fell in love with loved me just as much as I loved him — if not more. He always spoke kindly to and of me. He always defended me.

This man, however, was in attack mode, bending and stretching the truth (almost beyond recognition) to make a case against me. The man I fell in love with would never do that.

No Real Surprise

I don’t know why this surprised me so much. I knew the man I fell in love with was gone. I knew it this summer.

In June, while going through a pile of papers that I’d brought with me to Washington to sort out when I had time, I came across two greeting cards that the man I fell in love with had sent me years ago. They were the kinds of cards people in love share with each other, sometimes for no apparent reason other than to express their love. I can’t remember exactly what they said, but I do recall one of them mentioning “love” and “forever.”

I sat on the floor in my RV, looking at the two cards and thinking about the man who had sent them to me years ago. And as I thought about it, I realized that that man was gone — dead, I thought. The man I’d left in Arizona in May didn’t give me cards or flowers or anything else for no special reason. The man I left in Arizona spent most of his time glaring at me when I did something he didn’t like. The man I left in Arizona seemed almost too eager for me to leave.

So I wrote a letter to the man I’d left in Arizona — who is apparently the same man who showed up in court yesterday. I appealed to him to remember the old days, the days when he told me that I needed to “make it happen,” the days when he was an idealistic dreamer and inventor. I asked him what happened to that man. I told him what I suspected: that that man was dead.

I didn’t know it, but as I was writing that letter, the man I’d left in Arizona had already found my replacement. His response to my letter arrived in my mailbox, forwarded with my mail, the day after my birthday, the day after he told me he wanted a divorce.

Right now, all I regret is sending the man I’d left in Arizona those cards. They’re gone now, along with the man who sent them to me, the man I fell in love with. I’d really like to have them back to help me remember him and the way things were.

The Upside

Amazing as it may seem, there is an upside to all this.

Listening to the man in the witness box bend and stretch the truth to build a case against me was like a slap in the face — a slap of reality. Although he’s spread the word among family and friends — and even to me in email messages and written notes — that he still cares about me, that’s so obviously not true. It’s just another lie in a long series of lies that were likely spun to put me off guard about what’s to come. The man in the witness box doesn’t give a shit about me and the 29 years he and the man I fell in love with spent with me. The man in the witness box is simply seeking revenge for imagined offenses. The man in the witness box cares only about himself.

And knowing that now, without a shadow of a doubt, will help me begin my healing process.

19 thoughts on “The Man I Fell in Love with is Gone

  1. As I was reading this, I tried to put myself in your place and my wife of 40 years in the place of your husband. Could my wife be that cruel in similar circumstances? I don’t think so, and I hope that I never find out because I would be crushed. I could never hate her no matter what she said. I think that sadness would be the overwhelming emotion. I hope that you mend quickly. I’m rooting for you.

  2. “Crushed” pretty much covers it. I still can’t believe that he’s done this to me and is treating me like he is. But seeing him on the stand yesterday and listening to the crap he was spouting to make his case really woke me up. He is NOT the same man. He’s a stranger. The man I fell in love with is dead. I need grief counseling now.

  3. Hi Maria,
    I wrote you a comment a month or so ago, but it seems it got erased somehow… and since it was long as hell I just haven’t had the energy to rewrite it. Firstly, I wanted to say that I’m so very sorry for you having to go through this experience. I do not know divorce, but I know loss. My fianc√© Andrew Ridge passed away in June in a helicopter crash up in Wenatchee (from reading your blog, you probably know of this crash). I’ve been devastated… i’ve left my entire old life behind because I could not face my job, my apartment, or even the city I lived in with him. I just felt that trying to go on living “our” life without him in it wasn’t right for me. Now, I am staying with family and working to heal myself as well as pursuing my dream of being a successful writer and artist… my true heart’s passion.

    I’m rambling, forgive me! I just wanted to tell you that Andrew was the one who shared your blog with me a few months before he passed on… we enjoyed reading of your adventures together, and i continue to. It wasn’t until after he passed that I realized you also did cherry drying. And another coincidence I just realized.. that your company is based in Arizona – Andrew’s mom and I just took a trip 2 weeks ago to Sedona and the Grand Canyon to attempt some way to celebrate my 30th birthday in adventure. What a beautiful place… your recent post of your Sedona hike really made me smile.

    Hang in there. I cannot imagine how difficult it is to have to show up in court with this “other person” who is so totally not the love of your life but is carrying around in his body. I wish you strength and peace as you begin to heal from this experience… and I wish for it to make you even more fierce and beautiful and brilliant than the world has ever known.

    • Ah! I see what happened. Your comment was posted on a blog post that I pulled offline — at least temporarily — to avoid possible repercussions from my husband and his lawyers. My comment was similarly taken offline with yours.

      I will email you with the contents of your original comment and my response. I was extremely touched by what you had to say — just as I’m touched by what you said above.

      Grief is a horrible thing. Loss of a loved one — no matter how that loss happens — is extremely difficult to deal with. I’m in the process of tracking down a local grief counselor. If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend that you do. Everyone I’ve spoken to in my shoes who has worked with one has highly recommended it. I bet it would help you, too.

      Best wishes always. And look for my email.

      • Hi Maria!

        I received your email – well thank goodness i’m not going insane and it did exist somewhere! lol

        Thank you so much for your kind reply. I did see a counselor for about a month after it initially happened, but haven’t found a new one since moving… but i agree with you. I’m a huge supporter of going to counselors to help sort out the hard parts of our lives – i went to one in my early 20’s for some stuff and it was very helpful.

        Wishing you the best in this process. I’m so glad you are writing about it, i dont know about you, but for me it has been incredibly healing to write about this whole thing and share it with others. if you’d ever like to get to know this wonderful pilot in my life – feel free to hop on over to my blog, our1000days.com

        Take care of yourself!

  4. Maria – feel free just to read this and then delete it, I hate seeing my words on the internet…..

    You are so true. After only 16 years of marriage, my wife filed for a divorce. The court appearances were such a work of fiction even I wondered what had become of the woman I spent many happy years with. I won’t lie, we both cried signing the final papers. We had gone in different directions and drifted too far apart for us to stay together. I honestly cannot say if it was me or if it was her.
    We parted ways for almost 3 years. We would talk regularly (about mailing my financial responsibilities primarily). the dating scene is a nightmare (or maybe changing ourselves just for marketing purposes was too difficult). Although your hurt is extremely fresh and every day it fails to recede, mine carried on for those 3 years. It screwed up any potential mates ultimately as we had done so much together that when a date asked questions it would always start out as WE did that back in 199x etc.
    On the plus side, our anger turned into friendship once more, then a hint of romance once again Nobody compared to what I had been, and although I was the one thrown to the side, nobody compared to her. Our bi-monthly dinner meetings turned into regular dates.
    Let me tell you, the “second” first kiss was as good as the first one. We’re now planning whats left of our lives together, forgiving (or more importantly forgetting the bad past), and I can only hope that the man you met, and the man you love wakes up and realizes what he had with you can never be replaced, I’m sure it will never be comparable. I remember you and him working the Buckeye Air Show back in 2007 and you both looked so happy.
    I hope those days return for you and him. I’m not a religious kind of a guy, but I guess the only words that would work are that I’d pray for that happiness to re-enter your life once again. You deserve it – you may be a harsh New Yorker on the outside, but the past months have shown a unique person who does not deserve to go through the pain you feel.

    Nick

    • Nick,

      Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences. You’re not the first person to share a story like this. But in my case, there will be no second first kiss. There’s been far too much betrayal — I could never trust him again. And after Wednesday’s performance on the stand, I hope he gets everything he truly deserves. What comes around, goes around. Karma.

      As for all the times we worked together, well, I thought we were happy, too. We sure seemed to have fun together. Unfortunately, he’s now reporting his assistance as some sort of slave labor that I “owe” him for. And he doesn’t seem to remember all the things I did for him over the years. It’s all one-sided, with me as the bad guy. How could I ever think of renewing a relationship with a man like that?

      As someone recently told me, you can’t walk forward when you’re looking back. I’m looking ahead to my future and my future will never include the man I fell in love with 29 years ago. He’s gone for good.

      Maria

      • Thanks Maria. Most importantly I just hope you find happiness again and sooner rather than later.
        I agree with your sentiments, about looking back, moving forwards. I know my situation is slightly different as I’m losing the battle against cancer right now, so the girl I fell in love with many years ago has been a comfort to me.
        That said we came back to Phoenix a few weeks ago and she echoed my sentiments about feeling like we were home – especially the good friends we made during the good years. Sounds like you feel the same way about Washington state. Again positive, although Arizona will be losing a fine aviator and vocalist for aviation in AZ.
        Wishing you all the best

        Nick

  5. Maria,
    Karmically speaking, what comes around does go around –I am familiar with what you are experiencing –My ex-husband even brought his new girlfriend with him to the courtroom during our divorce proceedings. –Eventually he married the girlfriend but his life did not turn out as he expected. The inheritance disappeared with Enron. Alcohol and drugs largely fill his days. –I, on the other hand, found a wonderful man. We have a great life together. Maria, you will be fine and he will get what he deserves for all the lies and deceit.

    Sharon

    • Thanks, Sharon. I know you are right. He has found a certain “type” of woman — if you know what I mean — and even if he does stick with her in the years to come, I suspect he’ll be spending the rest of his life working to get her out of debt and support her. Not something I’d want to face at his stage in life.

  6. Hello Maria,

    I stumbled upon your blog looking idly for helicopter-related things, but I am so glad I have found these posts as well. The way you describe this – that it’s like the person you loved is dead – is *exactly* how my divorce four years ago felt, and that’s considering that we had no assets to split and I got out much earlier.

    Like yours, my ex reneged on promises to stay close; worse, refused to even consider counseling, and generally just didn’t seem to take the commitment seriously. I struggled with many of your same questions. How could a woman who had sworn a commitment, as I had, until death, treat it so callously? How could the woman I loved and the woman to whom I found myself married could be the same person?

    …That is, for the latter, until I realized what you did; that they weren’t the same person; that the woman I loved was gone. There are times when I still miss that woman she was, but I am nothing but happy to be apart from the woman she has become.

    I get the distinct feeling from your writings that your husband resented your success, which is not only petty, but tragic, as you seem to have been so eager to share it with him. I hope your new life treats you better than your old one did, and I see every reason it should.

    -Jonathan

    • First, thanks for taking the time to write. A lot of my divorce-tagged posts have received attention from folks in similar situations who, like me, are struggling to understand and/or get closure. I understand a lot more now than I did when everything started in late June 2012, but I’ll never fully understand.

      Second, I’m so sorry you had to deal with the same kind of loss — the death of a spouse. You understand the situation perfectly having lived it yourself. I’ve learned to see my wasband as two different people: the good and honest man I loved who died and the greedy lying bastard who took his place and continues to fight me. I mourn for the loss for one man — what else can I do? — and defend what’s mine from the other.

      And yes, I know now that he resented my success and blamed me for all of his failures. I helped him achieve his goals however I could, but I could not do everything for him and he apparently lacked the strength to do it himself. So he sees my success and the few times he helped me out and claims he was instrumental in building my business while I prevented him from achieving his goals and ruined his life. It’s amazing how the human mind can twist the facts to form the basis of delusions. I built a life we could both enjoy, but he could never accept it. His loss.

      You and I are both better off without them. Life’s too short to put up with bullshit from people who vowed to “love, honor, and cherish” until death. Life’s too short for negative people.

      Best wishes to you in your rebooted life!

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