The End of the Beginning: Intro to my 2nd Act
My Life, the Shortish Version…
I grew up an Air Force brat with two sisters and one brother. Life was always changing so you learned to adapt. Our family was dysfunctional in the classical sense that we didn’t realize we were; mostly because everyone’s family was just as dysfunctional. We had good times and bad times; I’m not going to point fingers and trash my parents. They did the best they could with the tools they had and they did a lot of things right. For the rest, I have forgiven them for things they said or didn’t say; did or didn’t do; just as I hope my kids will do the same for me.
I only mention my family of origin, because that is partially what shaped me to be who I was; a woman who never really felt like she deserved to be loved. A woman who worked too hard to be accepted but never really felt embraced. A woman who would marry a young gay man to bring some twisted sense of redemption into her own life as well as his.
The first 15 years of our marriage, we worked part-time in the church as Music Minsters. He was very talented, and it just warmed my heart to hear him sing and play piano. I directed the choir and led worship with him. I have never felt an anointing like that anywhere else in my life. I’m still sad to have lost it.
Life with Larry wasn’t too bad. He was my best friend, and many people voiced envy at how well we got along. We had our two boys early in our marriage, after which my husband entirely lost interest in me. A first he said he was bisexual, by this point there was no denying he was just gay. We tried counseling which resulted in our agreeing to be celibate and keep our family intact.
I kept my end of the bargain, he did not. Not only was he gay, he was a narcissist. Lies came easily, and I was blissfully ignorant, as a well groomed co-dependent. We got along well, because he always knew what to say or do to avoid conflict with me. I saw what I wanted to see and believed what I wanted to believe. I knew lots of people, but no one was close enough to know the truth about us. I guarded our secrets, I was good at secrets. Even in 2008, when I first discovered he had been cheating on me; he swore it was only once and never again. I “stood by my man” even though word got out in the church (he told someone) and we lost our ministry.
On August 20, 2012, life as we knew it ended. While standing guard over him in the ER after a suicide attempt, I looked at his phone and discovered he was having affairs with three different men. I wanted to finish him off, but continued caring for him, because that was my job.
In the days that followed, as he recovered in the psych ward, the boys and I received blow after blow on the events that triggered his attempt. He was a Financial Adviser and had apparently been conducting a Ponzi Scheme with a woman who I thought was our friend. He used the money to fund his gambling addiction as well as be a Sugar Daddy to his many lovers (I lost count of how many). I realized that I didn’t even know the man that I had slept next to for the past 19 years. His stories evolved and twisted, it took forever to get to what I thought was the truth. To this day, I don’t know a lot of the details because I just stopped digging.
Though I understood in a few days that there was no coming back from all of this, it took quite a while to peel away from the man. If you have ever known anyone who has tried to leave a narcissist, you will understand. We can go more into that later.
In the end, he was sued by about 35 people, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and served 2 ½. He is now “out” in every sense of the word and I do my best to be civil while maintaining a healthy distance. He is my kid’s dad, and will always be family of sorts, though I feel like I don’t really know him at all now. He is like a wayward cousin. It’s strange.
As for me, over the next few years, I finished raising my kids alone. Luckily, they were older teens and are well adjusted human beings, though I still worry about them. I was lumped into a half dozen lawsuits though never had a judgement against me. I suppose they thought that I was sheltering assets because of the divorce, maybe they thought I had something to do with the scheme. I didn’t. I stayed out of his business, thank God!
I was saddled with a house I couldn’t afford, too many lawsuits, lawyers, bills from a far-too lavish lifestyle… Though I had a good job, I ended up filing bankruptcy and lost my home. My kid’s cars were taken away from them in the asset hearings.
I had to stop taking the local newspaper or watching the news, I never knew when we would be the lead story. Larry had received death threats, and someone even broke into our house one night as the boys and I were in bed. It was a shaky time and I was isolated. I had been very involved in the community but had to quit all my volunteer work. I was doused in shame and hated to go outside. Most of the people he had stolen money from were friends of ours, the majority of which we had met in church.
There were many twists and turns, even our poor little dog died in the middle of it. Though I lost so much, what I found was priceless. I won’t blow Polly-Anna sunshine at you; it was CRAPPY! The whole mess! But I survived, and now even thrive. I benefited from counseling, and joined Celebrate Recovery to deal with my pain, there I found a whole pack of Divas to help me navigate all the plot twists. I feel that if I can use my story to help any other women to navigate their trials, it will have all been worth it.
I’ll tell you more of my story as this blog unfolds. Suffice it to say, now I am smarter about relationships, I’m stronger than I ever dreamed, I have new trust in my God, I have fallen in love and married a trusted old friend, and I have learned to be Reasonably Happy. My 2nd Act is starting out pretty great!