We Deserve Better

I just spent six months obsessing, feeling anxious and depressed, and in the worst funk I’ve ever experienced.

I was married for 22 years. I spent the next seven years raising children. I finally mustered the nerve to create a profile on a dating site. That’s how I met J in 2015. He was so sweet, kind, and loving. At first, J moved too fast for me. We were only together about a month before he told me he loved me. I asked him to slow down, knowing all along that I had very strong feelings. Within months, I was sure this man was my partner for life, my lover and best friend.

There were so many signs that I ignored. On our first coffee date, I jokingly (but seriously) asked if he paid his bills. He said he had excellent credit. Then there were the texts from his ex-wife claiming he was late on bill payments. He told me he was paying her. It was months before I noticed that the registration on his truck had not been paid for two years. I asked him about it, and he took care of it. Then there was the succession of jobs. He was fired from the first one, and four jobs later, he seemed to settle in.

Finally, there was the big confession: He had not been paying his bills for a long time. He owed years of back taxes. His ex-wife was asking for continued support, even though she was living with another man. I encouraged J to fight this. She was claiming that he had not been paying her. He insisted that he was. A mediation was scheduled. I offered to attend to support him. He did not want me to go. Later, he told me that his attorney said nothing during the mediation and left him hung out to dry. I stupidly believed this and encouraged him to file for bankruptcy.

I truly felt that if he could get through all of this—the bankruptcy and paying off the ex-wife—he could catch up, feel better, and we could make plans for our life. I could wait.

I began to get leery, and there were times I felt like we were probably going nowhere. After I discovered the first few lies, I told J to not tell me he loved me anymore. We took a couple of breaks and mostly saw each other on the weekends.

Three years into the relationship, I developed high-risk HPV. I was tested by my doctor during the previous eight visits—all negative. Was he faithful to me? I’ll never know.

During this time, I bought a house and obtained my bachelor’s degree. I finally had time to travel and start enjoying life again. I did some hard thinking and wondered how J would fit in. He had paid off the ex-wife and said he was paying his bills. I thought it was time to take our relationship to the next level (again) and was going to ask him to move in. I purchased a cruise for his birthday and was going to surprise him in December 2018.

While out of town, I texted J and said, “You mentioned that you’re paying your bills. Do you mind proving it?”

His reply: “I don’t feel I should have to since I am not financially responsible for you.” I replied that I knew I had my answer. The man who loved me would have proven it.

That was November 2018. I never heard from him again. His December birthday came and went. So did Christmas. He had done this before. When his guilty conscience caught up with him, he would just avoid me for a time. In January, I contacted him and asked if he would like to pick up his things from my house. I met him for coffee, gave him his things; we hugged and I left. I honestly thought, He’ll get it together and contact me when he is ready.

I tried to reach him a couple of times in January. No response. In February, I received a text from J. He meant to text someone else: “Looking forward to seeing you this Friday. I’m bringing my girlfriend, Lesley.” I was devastated. How could he find someone so fast? I looked on Match.com—there he was. I looked on Instagram—he had deleted me. Lesley “liked” all the pictures of things he had done with me.

I couldn’t eat or sleep. I finally received an email from him in April, saying he had met someone. What a coward.

Six months has gone by. I went on the cruise with a friend. It was difficult, but I managed a few good days.

I’ve lost 17 pounds. I journaled. I made lists of what I missed about our relationship and what the negative aspects were. I cried a lot.

It is now June 2019. I spent six months wondering so many things. I was driving home from yoga last night and made a mental list of the things I missed in our relationship: the affection, tenderness, ease of our conversations, and the fun we always had on outings. Then I listed the negatives: the habitual lying, mismanagement of finances, and the disrespect he showed me in the end.

I deserved so much better. Ladies, we deserve better. I still don’t know all the answers. At what point do we say “enough”? I truly believe we have the inner strength to pick ourselves up and move on. I can’t waste any more time wondering when I should have ended things.

I was and am worth fighting for.

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About the Author | T. H.

T. H. is a mother of three adults who is learning to welcome self-love and mindfulness. She is an educator, and she enjoys yoga and cycling. A California native, Terri wishes to share her experience and help women empower themselves.

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