Why I Left…

walking away

My fellow Trash the Dress Facebook girls decided to post the seven reasons why they decided to get a divorce. I loved the idea of getting it all out there and decided to follow suit and post mine as well.  My hopes were that someone else could relate to what I went through and see that no matter how far down another person can drag you down, you can always claw your way back up.  I have those same hopes for my first Trash the Dress Blog post.  So…here we go!

  1. My ex-husband is an addict.  I knew this going into the relationship but he had been clean for about five years.  To this day I do not know what triggered him to start using again but he was using all of our savings to get high for the last year of our marriage.
  2. I found out he was using because he overdosed twice.  The first time, I stuck by him, got him help, got him in rehab and myself and my family rallied around him and provided him with a wonderful support system.  He overdosed again about three months later, I woke up in the morning and had our son in my arms, walked down the stairs and found him slumped over the kitchen table, covered in sweat and overdosing on three different drugs, two of which he was injecting.
  3. Affairs, affairs, affairs.  I found a pair of underwear in our laundry pile and he swore up and down and even picked a fight with me when I confronted him with them.  He promised me he had no idea where they came from and vowed to “get to the bottom of it.”  Crazy I know and I hate to even sit here and type that incident because it makes me so mad at myself to this day that I even believed him.
  4. While he was in the hospital recovering from his last overdose I looked in his phone for the first time in our entire relationship (red flag again I know).  It was there that I found he was a member of ashleymadison.com, that disgusting website for married people to go on and have affairs. Seriously, the tag line is “life’s short, have an affair.” He took the best picture of us and cut me out of it and used it as his profile picture.  Makes my stomach turn thinking about it.
  5. He tried to alienate me from my friends.  He would always encourage me to go out with them but when I was out the texts and phone calls wouldn’t stop.  One time when I was out to dinner he called and accused me of cheating on him and demanded I come home right away.  I did (stupidly but I was so upset that staying through a dinner wasn’t an option) and we got into the worst fight I have ever been in in my life.  When it was all over he just looked at me and said “I know you would never cheat on me, I’m sorry.”
  6. He lost a lot of weight when he started using again and to mask that he started doing steroids so I and his/my family wouldn’t notice his weight loss right away.  Let me just say that “roid rage” has a whole new meaning to me now.  Not only was it the overall way he treated me but I saw him break a standing fan right in half when I refused to hand over my debit card so he could get money out of the ATM “to help his friend fix his car.”  I have never been so afraid for not only myself but our baby that was sleeping right in the next room.  That was one of the scariest nights of my life.
  7. The lies to cover up the lies that cover up the lies.  I loved that man with every inch of my soul, with everything I had and he constantly lied, cheated and stole from me and my family.  I used to believe in forever and fairy tales, he slapped me right into reality.  My hope is that one day I will meet someone and forever will truly mean just that.

 

My Ex-Husband Text Me for the First Time In Four Years

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On the day of my first wedding with Trash the Dress member, Roe.  I cropped out our ex-husbands. If we only knew! She was my Maid of Honor when I remarried this month.

I haven’t spoken to my ex-husband since we divorced about four years ago.  If I recall correctly, the last time we communicated was through text message when I asked him something about the sale of our condo so I could file my taxes.  He responded with a little message about how that would probably be the last time we would speak – I don’t even really remember what he said but I am sure I documented the verbiage in my diary—and that was it.

Last night, right before I went to bed, I checked my phone and saw in my notifications that he had sent me a message. What?!  Yes.  I kinda didn’t believe it at first and debated even checking my texts because I really wanted to go to sleep and didn’t feel like dealing with anything. But of course I couldn’t go to sleep wondering if and why he text me, so I read it.

He told me that his friend ran into a mutual acquaintance / former co-worker of mine at a baby shower and I guess they naturally gossiped about me.  Word got back to my ex-husband that I recently remarried and that one of my dogs died (that actually happened last Christmas Day but I guess he is behind on my happenings!).

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Skye’s birthday just past so I made this collage.

“Even though we don’t talk anymore I still wanted to wish you all the best of luck,” he wrote me.  He continued to express condolences for the loss of my beautiful husky Skye and said that even though I might not think so, he loved her and it’s because of me and Skye that he learned to love dogs so much.   He concluded by saying that Skye and Lucky (my Korean Jindo) will always have a special spot in his heart.

I was seriously shocked. That was a nice gesture on his part. The interesting part is that a huge reason behind our divorce was my dogs. He didn’t like them at the time. And the day I rescued Lucky we had the biggest fight in our relationship (up until the “I want a divorce” fight, that is). I wish my book was already published  so you could read about that!

This morning I responded thanking him for the well wishes, saying it’s nice to hear he likes dogs now and that I hope he is well.

It’s bittersweet. I miss my Skye so much everyday and she played a big part in my relationship with him. I actually stopped talking to him when we first met because he didn’t like dogs. Then he came around. But in the end, I don’t think he could handle the responsibility of living with one and then two dogs.  And dogs have my heart. (“Luckily” my new husband loves them as much as I do).

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My ex-husband and I honeymooned in Antigua, where I befriended the stray dogs on the beach, wishing I could take them home.

It’s weird. My phone recently synced with my old email addresses and blogs or something because all my old photo albums, including my old wedding album, are suddenly on my phone gallery. I couldn’t help but flip through. We looked perfect together, but looks were deceiving.  It seems like another lifetime ago, and actually it was another ME. I’m stronger, smarter and a lot happier.

My husband asked me why I still have my ex’s number in my phone. (Yes, I was honest and told him as soon as I read the text). I never thought to delete the number, really. I’m one to always hold onto things in case one day there is an emergency and I need it. With all the legal paperwork you need to show from divorce, etc I didn’t know if one day I would need to contact him. I have never had a desire to communicate with him, but I’m glad he reached out and I know that he’s doing well enough to be able to wish me good luck. Because even though he initiated the divorce, I know it killed him inside that he tore apart both our lives by getting married when he really didn’t want to. And I don’t want to see anyone in mental distress, even as much as I hated him for what he did. I made peace with the situation, know that this is the path I am supposed to be taking in life and I’m enjoying walking along it!

Skye’s death brought closure for me in a few areas of my life, the first coming when my ex-best friend and former Maid of Honor reached out to me last year when she found out Skye died. This is of course the second act. If anything “good” can come from the sudden, tragic loss of a beloved pet/ fur-child, then I guess this is it. Well, those letters and my new little girl Lulu that my husband and I adopted!  New beginnings all around.

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Lulu and Lucky, our babies! Until we have real babies. And then they will still be our babies, too!

On a side note, I’m a little annoyed that someone I used to know but don’t talk to anymore would use my Facebook info to gossip with someone from my ex’s camp. But my life is becoming public information, so I guess I should be used to it and at least the gossip is about how well I am doing post-divorce!

Cliché or Bitter Truth?

If I could give just one piece of advice to anyone going through a divorce, it’s the classic cliché – “actions speak louder than words.”

Ladies, don’t believe the “I love you, but I’m not in love with you,” or “let’s be friends,” or the plethora of other s*** that your ex is selling. I wasted too much time wanting his empty words to be true and wanting some sign that he meant them or actually cared. I can say with absolute clarity now that his actions have beyond a reasonable doubt, proven time and time again, that he could care less about me. And while that’s a tough pill to swallow, and I struggled to get it down, it’s true. He wasn’t thinking about me or feeling bad about what he did. I was the only person mourning the loss of my marriage.

He could quite honestly have cared less, and part of me always knew it. Yet, I would still get lost in his words. His words are exactly that, just words, spoken for HIS benefit, not yours. They are spoken only to bring him solace and absolve him of his own sins; they bring him peace, not you. When it comes to divorce – actions speak so much for loudly than words; in fact, they f***** scream at you. He’s not the nice guy you want him to be or he wants to believe he is, so don’t fall for it. I did, and it allowed him to further manipulate me into thinking he was a good guy, while he screwed me over on the other end. He’s not a good guy, good guys don’t act like a******.

Write this on a post-it: ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. His actions are the words he can’t speak.


Walking Away isn’t Failure

When it comes to matters of the heart, I’ve learned the importance of letting go. Of knowing when something becomes toxic, or at least accepting that it’s always been toxic. I was married 3.5 years, and it took me all that time to accept that I couldn’t purify the toxic marriage I was in. I couldn’t fix something that was never whole. And that’s a hard reality to face. Every day I would try to be the best that I could be for him, yet every day I would face the abuse and see it as me not being good enough. Me not being able to fulfill something for him. And somehow along the way I forgot the importance of me in the equation.

I was so willing to do whatever it took to make him happy, that I convinced myself that his happiness equaled my happiness. I convinced myself to be so lost in his identity that I lost my own. And the only thing worse than losing your identity is losing it before you ever even really found it. When I left my ex husband it was a decision I made on my own, without any one else’s force. I made the decision the day I was pinned against a dresser staring at a fist. And after six months of emotional preparation, I walked out the door. I walked out the door with a newfound appreciation for life, realizing that I was receiving a second chance to live.

Soon, some would say too soon, after that I began my first post-divorce relationship. It was great, I felt appreciated, and it was a whirlwind. I felt this excitement again, and deep down I really thought I had found something powerful. As time passed, the wedge between us formed. My past was no longer forgotten, and the whirlwind turned into a hurricane. My gut was telling me that something wasn’t right. I tried to ignore it, much like I had when I was married. He would say my heart was too hard because of my broken marriage, but it was so much more than that. Most of my life I ignored my gut instincts, but this time I didn’t.

I ended things.

I faced these feelings of failing once again. Of wondering why I’m always the one who’s ended things. Of wondering if maybe my heart WAS too hard, and wondering if maybe I just wasn’t capable of a successful relationship. But as the truth surfaced, I discovered that the man I had been in a relationship with wasn’t capable of establishing boundaries. What in his mind was him showing me examples of being a good “family man” with his step sister, was more of an example of being a good boyfriend.

In having these truths surface, I realized that ending a bad relationship and marriage isn’t failure. When you let go of the bad and the toxic, you allow yourself to see things with a new appreciation. You realize that life is too short to take it for granted. My abusive marriage, followed immediately by a whirlwind relationship showed me that I was too afraid to be alone. Afraid of the person I am meant to be. But walking away on my own allowed me to face my fears and feel the excitement ahead of me. The excitement of no longer having to answer to anyone, or plan around anyone. The excitement of no longer living in fear of someone, or losing myself in someone. I learned my own strength, and if I can survive what I’ve survived I can handle anything.

And what I’m learning is that this person that I am apart from a man, is pretty awesome… and someday I’ll be a great catch, but not until I’ve lived some of this amazing thing called life – on my own!

Beyond the Darkest Days: Trash the Dress Member Opens Up About Attempted Suicide and How Awesome Her Life is Now

Since I’m sure there are some Trash the Dress blog lurkers out there who are contemplating divorce in their twenties or are maybe not quite ready to join our Trash the Dress online divorce support group, I wanted to share something that one of our members posted today. It’s very inspiring and provides proof that there is hope beyond your darkest days. Here you go:

A little Friday hope for you guys:

After I got married, I thought my then-husband was going to change (like a lot of us did). Instead, he refused to apply for jobs, babysat on the weekends (the only free time we had that was correlating) and let our marriage crumble right in front of us.

During that time, I was working a miserable job making very little for my education and supporting us. My performance at work began to deteriorate and I was “let go” because of a disagreement I had with my boss.

Five months after getting married, I lost my job. We had nothing and during the next few weeks, as I tried to recoup and applied endlessly for new jobs, my ex slept in and continued his path of laziness. Mind you, we lived in a small studio apartment at the time. My parents extended the offer to me that I move back in with them with our dogs and I took them up on it.

The next day, I tried to commit suicide.

It was the lowest point of my life. I had lost my job and I was losing my marriage – and I could not handle it. Regardless, I continued to apply for job after job until a month later when I got extended an offer from an amazing company.

Fast forward to today:

After almost a year and a half at this company, I am getting promoted!

It may not seem like much, but a little over a year and a half ago, I was so low that I tried to end my own life, and I never imagined myself where I am today.

Yes, I am divorced and young, but if it had not happened, I would not be where I am – and the happiest I’ve EVER been.

So ladies, no matter how sad you are or how hard it gets, it DOES get better. You could be in unimaginable places in the not-so distant future. So hold your head high and keep hope that you WILL be happy!

Debating Divorce? Here are Signs of a Toxic Relationship

Is your marriage on the rocks but you’re denying the reality? Is your spouse making you doubt your decision to divorce?

Take this “Are you in a Toxic Relationship?”quiz, adapted from “The Emotionally Destructive Relationship: Seeing It! Stopping It! Surviving It!” By Leslie Vernick (Harvest House Publishers, 2007).

The objective results might be all the confirmation you need.

Relationship Advice from Johnny Depp

Heather’s Divorce Tattoo and Everything That Led Up to It

Today we have a guest blog from Trash the Dress private support group member Heather, who recently got a divorce tattoo. You’ll learn another inspiring way Heather celebrated her divorce in my upcoming book, Trash the Dress: Stories of Celebrating Divorce in your 20s. But right now, Heather shares a bit of her colorful dating history and how one word, “believe,” helped her move on from marriage.

How Can You Still…

I figure I will start with a little dating and love history to help you get a better picture of me.  When I was 18, my high school boyfriend said “I love you” and I said, “thank you.” Of course, a few weeks later I reciprocated this “love.” I don’t know if I ever really loved him, but I wanted to fit that mold of every other high school girl with the perfect boyfriend, so I went along with it.

Two weeks into my freshman year of college, I broke up with him because there were just so many boys at my school and I couldn’t possibly give him what he wanted at that time. He actually proposed with a tiny ring. I think it was more to keep me faithful, but in my mind it was holding me back!

I went through five years of college (hey, it was so much fun I wanted to stay a little longer) and my longest relationship was with a frat boy with whom I was smitten. However, he ended up cheating on me, and even after 7+ months together, we never exchanged the L-word!

It’s obvious “I love you’s” don’t come easily from my mouth, despite what people may think!  I went through boy after boy in college, or “flavor of the month” as my dad and I affectionately called them.  Even the ones I really, really liked were all very, very wrong for me:

  • The boy on my dorm floor, who was just convenient
  • The artsy-fartsy dude, who was too sensitive
  • The ACC athlete, who was a total playboy
  • The bartender, who was never growing up and said I deserved better. And I did! (Note: he is still bartending and managing the same college bar. Is this a good use of a college degree?)
  • The coast guard, who I met studying abroad.

So, that was my young college dating history in a nutshell. When I was younger, at times it seemed a lot more dramatic. But written down now I can see they were all nothing compared to what my future had in store for me.  I had said, “I love you” twice and I don’t think I ever really meant it—I can honestly say that now.

But I digress. First, I must tell you about post-college life.  I was a grown-up now, with a grown-up job, a grown-up apartment, and grown-up goals.  I had a ten year plan people; it was time to get serious and get started!

The first guy I ever lived with was wrong on every level:

  • He was too old to still have been living the wild single life
  • He was still a bartender when we met (he eventually got a real job and a real car when we started dating because I encouraged him, but he was a partying, playboy at heart still)
  • He was a bookie (OK that should have been reason enough to dump him, but we were living together by the time I realized how deep he was in it)
  • Simply put, I was never attracted to him (I kept telling myself stop being shallow and that looks aren’t everything–and they aren’t, but you have to want to see the person naked and I faked being asleep more times than I can count- you know you’ve all done it!).

He said “I love you first,” but I definitely didn’t feel that way towards him and didn’t say it for a while.  However, I was of the age that all my friends were either in relationships or were getting married so I figured, “What the heck? Let’s try this.” RED FLAG!  I “loved him” mostly only when drinks were involved, and let’s be honest, I loved my bar stool and Cheetos by 2 a.m. too, so I wasn’t exactly picky!  My 10-year-plan was in motion—job, man, house, Masters degree, kid…WRONG!

Never make plans. God will laugh and do it his way!  I wanted so badly to be a bride and a wife and a mom that I ignored every single red flag and just kept trucking on. Plus, I was too afraid to admit to my family and friends that I was so very, very wrong about this one that I needed help getting out!  I bet you think I married and later divorced this guy. Nope!  I eventually did get out of that terribly controlling relationship.  I packed up one day after a huge fight where I was convinced he was going to beat me and moved out while he was at work and let him come home to an empty house and one roll of toilet paper—he’s lucky he got a roll!  Whew, I dodged a bullet there right? Well, with that one anyway!

So there I was, 25 years old and unwed and god-forbid, also unattached! The next year, I truly enjoyed being single and independent!  I had my first apartment and no roommates!  I started my Masters and enjoyed my job.  I had a good group of friends to hang out with on the weekends and I liked my life.  I got a dog and dated a few guys, but nothing too serious and never any “love.”  There were one or two that I thought had potential, but they weren’t ready to settle down and so I moved on, not heartbroken.

I still wanted to be married and wanted to have kids, especially since now all my friends who were getting married before started having families of their own!  I was the single friend and it didn’t bother me…yet.  My mom sometimes said I was too picky, but I did not want to settle so at the end of that year of being single, I was ready to be serious with someone again…que “my best friend set us up.”

My best friend lived in Dallas.  One day, she told me about this “great guy” whom she wanted to set me up with over Thanksgiving.  He just happened to be her ex-boyfriend, but they were such good friends so she didn’t mind…yikes!  She casually mentioned I should come by her dad’s house for Thanksgiving because he would be there.  I wasn’t overly thrilled about this kind of set-up, but figured, “What the heck? People always say you should meet through friends!”

We didn’t meet up at her dad’s, but a week or so later he messages me on MySpace (wow, that just seems lame and old!). We chatted for a while and eventually met up at a football game and had our first date. After the date I didn’t feel that spark and told my girlfriend that he was nice, but he wasn’t right for me.  She convinced me to go out with him one more time. Well, a girl’s gotta eat right?!?!  Our second date was much better and I definitely wanted to see where it might go.  The third date was scheduled, but my grandma passed away and I didn’t want to be alone, so instead of canceling I asked him to come over for Chinese.  At that moment, I truly fell hard for him because only a really great guy would hang out with you during a death, right?

The next few months were intense and fast.  I fell in love and I fell hard. We were together 24-7 and it was a serious co-dependent type of relationship.  I know this to be very unhealthy now, but at the time I was head over heels and nothing else mattered—the heart wants what the heart wants!

There was nothing that spectacular about him, but I was in love so it didn’t matter.  Six months in we discussed living together and he suggested buying a place together.  My heart swooned—my 10-year-plan was really in motion! This guy wanted to settle down and wanted to do it with me!!! So we house hunted and three months later we moved in to our first place, as a dating couple…not engaged…not married. RED FLAGS!  He was a lazy slob and cared more about hanging out with his friends than with me, but all that would change if we got married right?! You know the answer to that question.

Three months after we moved in, we got engaged and seven months later I planned my perfect, dream, beach wedding.  I used all my good wedding stuff I had been planning for years. I had a wedding file I had been building for like eight years.  This was pre-Pinterest when people actually used file folders to save ideas!  I picked out everything from colors to songs to location to favors!  I was in love and marrying my best friend, or so I thought.  It was the happiest day of my life.

I was a bride and then a wife.  I was going to have a family of my own and I was going to be normal just like everyone else.  I got pregnant way too quickly (two months after our wedding) and that’s when the trouble started! He was still lazy and refused to grow up and be the man he should be as a husband and the father our son deserved.  I still helplessly loved him and wanted him to love me the way I deserved.  Four months after my son was born, I moved out for a week.  Most people would say “Well, there’s your sign, stupid!” But I was more in love than I had ever been in my life and I wasn’t prepared to break up my family.

I begged him to go to counseling. After two sessions he stormed out! I spent 10 months on eggshells until everything imploded around me…restraining orders, separation, custody battle, and divorce.  I had never been that heartbroken in my entire life.  How was I supposed to move on?  I had never felt love like that.  I cried anytime I was alone and didn’t think I’d ever stop the tears.

Divorce is the worst feeling ever and the roller coaster of emotions I experienced was unreal—I loved him, I hated him, I despised him, I pitied him, and at the end of the day I thought I would always, always, always love him.  It was even harder sharing my son and finally seeing him be the “dad” I had always begged him to be for our family.  In the back of my mind I always knew that he could never, ever be the husband I wanted and deserved.  I always told him that we needed to be best friends because once our kids were grown it was just me and him, that would have been a miserable time; I know that now!

It took a long, LONG time, but I finally feel I am at the point now where, although I love him because he is the father of my son, I am no longer in love with him.  I look at pictures of him (he has a no contact order so luckily we haven’t seen each other in two years this March) and I honestly see a stranger who I don’t know and definitely don’t want to be with anymore.  I still miss the idea of that “perfect family,” but I don’t miss him!

And that brings us to today.  I still want to find someone to share my life with–a best friend for the good, the bad, and the ugly and I definitely want at least one more kid, and that whole “family-thing,” but I’m not willing to settle for just “good enough” like last time.  I am a hopeful romantic. I know love is out there and that it will find me and I deserve that!  I am a cheerleader for love and I want that feeling again.  I don’t know if I will ever love anyone as much as I loved him, but I know now that our love was unhealthy and uneven and wrong!

Love is not just a feeling; it’s actions, thoughts and life.  I want to find someone who compliments my personality, who loves me for all my great qualities, and wants to stay with me despite my bad ones; someone who makes me think and makes me grow as a person, and most of all someone I want to grow old with forever.  Someone to sit on a park bench with me holding hands and reminiscing about all the good and bad we had in our lives.  Cue every post divorce empowerment song I have blasted in my car or bedroom—Kelly Clarkson, P!nk, Katy Perry, Adele…you get the point!  I want to find someone who is not willing to give up on love just like myself.  I want someone who is willing to work through the tough times and truly enjoy the good times and that is why I can still say that I believe.

And that, my friends, is the way too long story of what brought me to the tattoo parlor the day before Valentine’s Day to get inked.  It’s a simple tattoo and just one word, but it means more than what you think on the surface.  I believe in love, I believe in family, I believe in life, I believe in God, I believe in happiness, I believe in people, and most of all I believe in me!

Divorced on Valentine’s Day? Here’s a laugh.

I tried not to laugh at this. I really did. Watch this video of goats yelling like humans.


Furever Love

Skye on her birthday last year. We broke out the pearl necklace.

Today my fur-child, Skye, turns 10 years old. My Siberian husky/German shepherd mix almost stopped me from even dating my ex-husband. He hated dogs. Especially dogs that shed enough fur to make a human’s winter coat. When I first met my ex, I actually stopped talking to him because if he didn’t like dogs, we clearly had no future. I even brought Skye with me once to meet him for a quick chat at 711 because she would be my excuse to leave. Then something happened… he warmed up to Skye so I decided to give him a chance.

Hawaiian-themed birthday bash.

During our marriage, he complained about the responsibility of dogs and of course, the shedding. Once I rescued another dog, it was all downhill. He saw two big shed machines whereas I felt unconditional love and considered them two big furry pillows.

Hello Kitty birthday soiree. 

I should’ve trusted my instincts. Animals are a mega important part of my life. I’ve been campaigning to save the tigers and adopt shelter dogs since middle school. So why did I even consider trying to convert my ex-husband into an animal-friendly person? Maybe it was a personal mission. I work in PR so promoting beliefs/products/bands etc is in my nature. In my world, dogs are amazing creatures and I want everyone to share my feelings. One dog adopted equals campaign success.

Me and my girl. A few years ago.

I succeeded the challenge- for a little. But alas, lesson learned: If he doesn’t love animals or share a common goal of raising pets, he will never want to raise children with you. But you can read more about that in my upcoming book!

Frank, my fiancé, and I on our one-year anniversary. Family portrait. Sorta.

Today, I’m grateful to have a fiancé who loves dogs (he even rescued a shelter dog of his own before we met) and has become a “father” to my dogs. He bathes them, cooks turkey on their birthdays and even carries them home from the vet when they are too sedated to walk out on their own legs. We even have a wish list of future dog breeds to rescue.

My dream man, giving Skye a bath. This was maybe the second time he met her.

Tonight we will celebrate our senior citizen daughter (she is about 70 years old in dog years!) and participate in a new family tradition: dog birthday parties. You can bet the hot pink feather boa is coming out for a doggy photo shoot!

I am that crazy person who has matching charms with her dogs.

Here’s a video blog I made last year about my dogs: