I was a happy woman, or so it seemed to everyone. I lived in the shadow of a man who controlled my life. He never knew how to differentiate his relationship with me from that with his mother.
He beat me whenever I complained. I insulted him as a result. As a young wife, I was left with his mom and her friends, who always cussed, while he went out with his friends. I started cussing, too, in order to blend with his family.
I always knew that my husband liked flirting with other women, but he had a relationship with another woman and beat me when I confronted him—not about his relationship, but of his attitude toward me.
I asked for my second divorce from him, over five years ago. This is when I collapsed, feeling humiliated, abandoned, my femininity gone and, above all, taken for granted when he refused for months to divorce me because of our “societal image.” What drove me each time to ask for divorce was that I love him dearly, but I can’t share him with another.
Divorce left me unbalanced and desperate to find another man. I started chatting with men on the net and dating, but it never worked out. I was so confused and needed to find my true self.
Being devastated, I didn’t realize that I was being stabbed in the back by my assistant at work. I was in a good job, but I resigned because I was engulfed by my own personal problems instead of being alert to what was going on at work.
I was unhappy away from my husband of 33 years. I thought I wanted him back and started signing online for every book, webinar, and tips to guide me. But I always ended up fighting with my ex about his unfaithfulness during our marriage. I just couldn’t forgive him.
Two and a half years after divorce, I discovered I have cancer. I was shocked, and so was my family, even my ex. I was unable to cope at first with the situation. I didn’t want to die, so I denied my cancer, pretending that it didn’t exist. I took my chemotherapy, but worked so hard and moved around like nothing was happening.
I managed to beat the cancer after four months. I was ready for a transplant, but had no money for it. My ex cheated me in my divorce settlement, giving me only half of what we verbally agreed on, but I was desperate, so I took the money no matter how much it was. I never forgave him for cheating me out of money, not till now.
I worked with him in his business consultancy most of my life while he made the big money and I managed the office and the design work. He refused to make me his partner or to give me money for the effort and work I did. I always thought that I could trust him and that, whenever I needed financial support, he would be there. What an idiot I was!
My relationship with my children started getting worse because I was complaining and whining about their dad’s wrongdoings and asking them to deal with him, as I couldn’t. I treated them as my saviors from him. How he treated me was completely crazy; one day he was good, the next day, he treated me so badly.
I traveled to the UK to consult with a British doctor, and within a few weeks, my school friends had created a fund to get the money for the transplant. My ex didn’t support me financially or emotionally, and this hurt a lot. Moreover, he started telling my children that it wasn’t honorable to accept money from my friends. But I traveled, no matter what anyone said. It was my life I was fighting for.
While in the UK, I suddenly heard that my ex was coming to be with me for my transplant. My young daughter even said her dad was going to stay with us in the rented apartment. I thought this was a good sign that he wanted our relationship to become better. But weeks after my transplant, he got married—and this is when I understood that he is a man I could not trust anymore. I even knew that he was being sweet with me because, at that time, he had left the woman he ended up marrying. I decided to get him totally out of my mind and to take care of myself, and only myself.
One year after my transplant, I went back to work. I was offered the position of vice dean in a private university. Before, I had worked in the same department as my ex. I shared all my life and career with him, and maybe that is what was hurting.
We were college colleagues as youngsters. We fell in love, even got married while we were still students because I thought I was pregnant. While we were engaged, we did fight a lot because of our different social backgrounds and lifestyles.
At work, my ex lied to our colleagues, telling them that he was supporting me financially and emotionally in my battle with cancer. It wasn’t true. I needed to stay busy so I wouldn’t think about being a divorced woman who probably still loved her ex, who was sick, with no money, and who had bad relationships with her sons.
So I accepted the vice dean job. Earning good money allowed me to travel to my son and his wife and have a nice time, and also to other places in Europe.
I worked, even though my body couldn’t support me, commuting three to four hours each day. At the time, I made a wrong deduction of my health situation, thinking that the fatigue I was experiencing was due to the chemo pills. After four months, I asked my oncologist for a break from chemo. I wish he hadn’t agreed, because five months into the break, I discovered the cancer had come back and was worse.
I was feeling abandoned by my children. My ex had gotten divorced, and one day I was talking to him about not having the kind of care that I needed. I had totally lost interest in life and decided I wouldn’t take chemo ever again. I wanted to be left alone to die.
I had lost my faith in God’s fairness. I wanted God to punish my ex, as I felt all my life conditions—health-wise, financially, personally, and family-wise—were a punishment, while he the abuser, the liar, the unfaithful one had a good life.
But on that phone call, he offered that I could live in the ground floor of the villa we built together before our divorce. It was the same property he had refused to give me in the divorce settlement. He said he would take care of me, but established a boundary that neither of us should interfere in the other one’s life. He also said that I shouldn’t expect him to be around all day because of his work.
Moreover, he invited me out. His sister-in-law saw us, and he told me she surely must have thought we were love birds. He said that none of what he was doing before, which I thought meant outside relationships and flirting with other women, existed any more.
I was happy we were going to be friends or, maybe even get back together. I started spending time with him as friends in his space in the villa, as mine wasn’t ready yet.
He was nice. He treated me well and was making efforts to be with me and to make me feel cared for. When I left him home alone, he was unhappy and disappointed, but at the same time he commented about me taking over his refrigerator and kitchen with my stuff.
One night, he called on me to watch a movie with him, as we did every night. I was so tired that I couldn’t. I didn’t answer him and slept instead.
After awhile, I woke up hungry and decided to eat. As I passed his open bedroom door, I heard him flirting with another woman, and also talking to his ex. I was devastated and confused. The next day, I confronted him. This was the downfall of his attempt to treat me well. We were back again at point zero. I told him I could never share a life with him again.
I traveled for a vacation to the beaches of Greece, and when I returned, I had decided to fight my cancer again. He, too, had decided to help with my treatment expenses, but I was already hurt for the hundredth time by him. I began fighting with him again about trivial things because I was boiling inside. Things between us got worse, and one time he beat me. We never got back again to being friends, and he no longer supports me in any way. Neither is he giving me the money he owes me.
Still, I’m on my way to beat my cancer again.
I’m back working like hell. Though I love teaching, the teaching load I accepted is too much. It is necessary, though, to make money to support myself. And now my body isn’t bearing all this.
But I decided never to be in need again to him or to anyone, even if I lose my life in the middle of it. I’m doing what I want—painting, singing and working. I live all alone, quite lonely sometimes, and miss having a companion, but that’s the fact of life.
I am happy because I just became a grandma and am looking forward to a new role in life. But I wish for no problems with my children.
Through my battle with cancer, I’ve seen how popular and loved I am by others. I’m surrounded by friends’ love and care. I will forever be the giving and caring mother and friend I’ve always been, but my young daughter blames me for not taking care of her at the age of 16, when I decided to concentrate on finding my true self. My middle daughter says the same, although she was 25 when her dad and I divorced.
My ex and I no longer talk. He is not worthy of me, of my love, of my faithfulness, of my care or of my companionship. I will manage to get him out of my life for good, even if he is around, because now I know that this is who he is—a man who plays with women’s emotions while having no emotions for them. I can’t be with him anymore. I can’t be with an untrustworthy man.