To the woman marrying my ex husband,
First and foremost, congratulations. In the whirlwind of the last nine or ten months since you met my ex-husband, I never got to congratulate you on your engagement.
Weddings are a time of joy, a celebration of love and/or settling, and spending way too much money on catered food.
I know you wanted to meet for coffee, and pick my brain before agreeing to marry the man who forced me to sign divorce papers one year ago. At the time that idea was overwhelming; I didn't know you at all and had no idea how honest to be. I didn't want to subconsciously sabotage your relationship, but I also didn't want to do you a disservice by not telling you what might save you years of emotional pain and psychological anguish. So, I did the safest thing I could think to do, and backed away slowly with my hands in the air, hoping you would interpret it in a way that served you best. Or chickened out, either explanation works.
Now mutual friends tell me that you are getting married on Sunday. I've even seen pictures on Instagram that make me hate myself for ever learning what the fuck Instagram was. Or looking at your Instagram. again, either works.
I am still happy for you; I am a giant sucker for weddings and love and happily ever after, and the idea of someone somewhere getting that thrills me. But I was married to that man for five years, lived with him, shared holidays with him, and loved him. So I may still have some insight into his personality that you may not be privy to.
When we first got together it was very similar; whirlwind romance, overwhelming attraction and swift commitment. We were married within six months of meeting. The romance and passion were heavy from the start, which leads me to Lesson One: with the highs come lows.
All those wildly passionate kisses and gestures were matched by heated arguments peppered with increasingly hurtful personal insults to me, my character, and the characters of those I love. Threats of violence came slowly, but punctuated the really passionate fights in ways that still color my memory. Violent actions became a kind of relief from the building tension of verbal venom, and I found myself waiting for a moment that would finally cross the line into Undeniably Inappropriate, so that I could rationalize leaving this man whom everyone loved so much.
Which dovetails nicely into Lesson Two: He is a textbook narcisist.
I say this clinically and lovingly, because I found it to be true. While enthralled, I believed he was better than even he thought himself, and repeated in my own voice his words, that I would never find anyone as good as him. Even after breaking his hold and going off on my own, I lived in fear of confessing that I'd actually left him certain that scores of mutual friends would instantly shun me as the inferior half of the couple. Making friends again on my own, something I used to relish, was one of the hardest and most terrifying things I had to do after leaving him. Second only to actually leaving him, which leads to Lesson Three: When his calm rational breaks, you will realize he is capable of anything. And I mean anything. I have pre-dialed police phone numbers into my phone, and received pictures on my phone that haunt me to this day. I do not pray much, so I hope against all hope that you never learn what his limits are.
Lesson Four: You may never be enough. Speaking of limits, I was stretched to mine within the context of that relationship. It was a blessing and a curse in that I found out I was stronger and more capable than I ever believed, but I faced some of my darkest moments, too, when pushed beyond my limits to that dark empty space where your soul can't reach. I hosted holidays with limited resources during finals week while working. I slept 8 hours a week to complete tasks, and made international phone calls at 1 am while he rested. Maybe it was my personality, but no matter how much I gave it was never enough. I caution you against giving away yourself.
He loves well, with his full heart, but he pushes people away. He demands absolute compliance with his plans, and perfection in execution of anything. But if you can give him this, you can both be very happy.
Above all, he wants to be cared for and laugh, and enjoy the good things in life. So, if you can give him those things without questions or qualms, you both may be very happy together.
And I wish that for you. But also, hold tight to your sense of self, lest it wander away some late night and you have to spend months seeking it, as I did.
I'd like to tell you to call me anytime with questions or concerns, like I tell my students, but let's be realistic. You will never read this, and just as you will never fully understand my failed marriage to your future husband, I am certain I will never understand your relationship. But still, into the void of infinate ears and eyes that is the internet, I shout, "Good luck!"
The Woman Who Left Him For You to Find