I doubt you’ll ever read this, but this isn’t for you. I thought I’d write as I enter a new decade. As I will see our son turn 21 years old this year. As I will celebrate with him, just as I have with his high school graduation, learning to drive, first job, taking pride in his physical and emotional strides. He boxes now. Did you know that? No, of course you don’t. He’s a runner. And a good one. And he is an amazing photographer and editor. More so, he’s just a person people want to know – handsome, charming, kind and funny.
I’ve said it many times and will say it until the end, the only good thing you’ve ever done is help give life to two beautiful children. I’m glad they are close and have one another, even though you have nothing to do with your son. I will never understand that. Unfortunately, that is my son’s burden to bear, though I hope he doesn’t carry too heavy of a load regarding your absence because he has had a stepfather who is wonderful to him, and he knows you only would’ve made his life worse. Though, knowing and feeling a thing are two entirely different matters sometimes, but all I can do is be there for my son for as long as I’m here on this earth. Because that is what being a true parent is. And heaven knows, the little you were in his life harmed him considerably.
You might wonder why I’m writing now. Well, I actually saw a film earlier today, and there was a scene that made me think of you. A simple scene, but sad. True. A young woman was trying to excuse her boyfriend of four years for forgetting her birthday. She said it was her fault for forgetting to remind him ahead of time. And I realized I used to have to do the very same thing. Remind you of upcoming Valentine’s dates, anniversaries, birthdays… I immediately reminded myself that those are decades old memories, and just that, memories. I don’t have to live with you anymore. Suffer at your hands. Endure you anymore.
Do you remember when you announced you wanted a divorce, and I begged, pleaded, and fought for almost a year for us to stay together? It wasn’t because I wanted to be with you. It was because I knew that without me there to protect our son, you would hurt him. And that you did. And that you allowed. But he is healing.
As for me individually, I never had the chance to say what I really wanted to say, because even divorced, I had to be careful for my child’s sake. What I wanted to say was that I was finally free. That I felt lighter. Safer. As if I might have a chance to be happy in life, thereafter.
You were abysmal from the beginning, but I was in no state of mind to see the truth. You knew what was going on with me; my circumstances, and boy did you come prepared to take advantage.
I want to say, all those times you cheated, like from the beginning, I knew. You didn’t “pull one over on me.” Did I actually know certain dates, certain women? No. But in my core, did I know? Yes. You became upset when I started gaining weight. I was “eating my feelings,” as they call it these days. Because something inside of me knew who and what you were. Are.
I want you to know that when you were furious I wouldn’t go to your friends’ parties and get-togethers, and I said it’s because I wasn’t feeling up to it, that was only partly true. I did not feel up to it, that’s for sure. It was exhausting pretending I loved you… pretending I liked you. But it was also because I knew how much you would drink and how you would insist on driving home anyway, drunk as you were.
Remember when you graduated from Basic Training when you joined the Army, and I was incredibly late? You were mad at first, just fuming, but our son was an infant, and so I explained I had to pull over for much longer than expected during our drive from Texas to Missouri. Then, you decided that was reasonable, and I was excused. Truth is, he was a sweet little baby who slept almost the entire way. Truth is, I didn’t want to be at your graduation ceremony. I didn’t want to see you.
You were such an awful boyfriend, husband, person… can you truly be surprised by any of this?
Do you remember when I began working part time to “earn extra money to help out?” I just wanted to get away from you.
Do you remember when your second (what are you, on number three or four now… I forget) wife insisted there was no way our son could actually be yours because he didn’t look like you? Do you know how I prayed you would listen to her and leave the both of us alone? But you didn’t. You actually took a paternity test. What would you have done had it come back as negative? Just stop loving him?
Do you remember when I was almost 30 minutes late walking down the aisle at our wedding. I sat there unable to move, trying to decide if my nails looked okay, listening to inner dialogue. “Don’t do it. Don’t do it. It’s not too late. Don’t do it.” But when my best friend came to get me, even though I wish I would’ve confided in her, I stood up and smiled and said I was ready to go. I wasn’t ready to go. That dress weighed a thousand pounds. That veil did not provide cover or protection.
Now, though. Now, I’m ready to finally say goodbye. Those horrible memories, horrible times, horrible days, horrible hours, horrible minutes… they no longer haunt me. Because Ex-Husband, my life and my memories, just like this letter, are not for you. They are for me.