I’m asked regularly about having guest posters on my blog. Although I’ve entertained the idea, I have yet to embrace it for various reasons.
Recently, I was talking with a sweet young woman I’ve known for some time who asked me if I would edit an open letter she wrote for the purpose of removing anger and pain caused by a recent breakup. A catharsis, as she put it. I agreed. I was so touched by the letter, I asked her if I could post it when I was through. She agreed.
So, even though this isn’t directly related to my work or writing tips, as most of my posts are, it is writing from the heart and shouldn’t that be where writing begins?
She has asked that I not include her name. Here is the letter in its entirety:
Dear girl who dates my husband,
The first and probably most important thing I want you to know is that I don’t hate you. I’m sure you think I do, but honestly I don’t. I feel sorry for you. Not in the condescending sense of the word, but in the sympathetic sense because I’ve been where you’re going.
I’m not mad at you for dating him nor am I mad that you slept with him while we were married and still together. I’m sure the reasons he’s given you for straying showed me in a bad light and probably tugged on your sympathy strings. He’s good at playing the victim. You may be a completely normal person who has simply made a bad choice, or you may sleep with everyone. I don’t know nor do I really care. It’s irrelevant. But one thing you should keep in mind is that he has already proven to you that he is capable of cheating. He has proven it to me more times than I have tears for. I hope you don’t need as much proof as I needed to be convinced.
This letter comes to you from my heart, which is on the mend, and with wishes for luck because you will need luck—and patience, and forgiveness, and understanding, and second, third and fourth chances, and thick skin if you have any hope of your new relationship lasting past the first couple arguments.
There are also a few things you’ll have to enjoy. You’ll have to enjoy being a maid, because that duty is not optional. You may not be playing the part now, but you’ve only been with him a short time. He actually knows how to do for himself and will in the beginning. He’ll also do for you in the beginning. He’ll be chivalrous, open doors, say please and thank you, ask rather than demand, and buy your dinner and movie ticket, which shows me that his parents raised him right and he does understand what proper treatment is.
He will be good at sex in the beginning and will love to fall asleep cuddling. He will make you feel like the center of his world offering backrubs, taking couples selfies to post to Facebook along with statuses telling the world of your new romance. One day, he’ll surprise you with your name tattooed somewhere on his body. Yours won’t be the first girl’s name he’s had inked onto his skin though, so the prime real estate has already been used. In fact, you’ll be number four, but it’s the thought that counts, right? All these corny little couple things are sure make to you feel like you’ve hit the relationship lottery. I know because that’s how it made me feel.
I hear you have a child. I’ll bet he treats him/her very well, makes a big fuss over him/her, and plays the part of surrogate daddy to the hilt. He did that with the child of the second woman he cheated on me with. But what she doesn’t know is that once the affair was over and he was knee-deep making apologies, he told me he could never have felt about her daughter as he would one of his own. But I’m sure you’ll think he’ll be different with yours. If asked, he’ll tell you that either I’m lying, or it was “that” particular child. Well, in all fairness you should know, I am able to get pregnant, but not without medical intervention. Knowing this and the length of time it could take to happen, I made the mistake of suggesting adoption. My suggestion was met with, “I would never have a kid of my own at all before I’d take someone else’s brat. They’ll have my blood or I won’t have kids.” I’ll leave you to interpret that whichever way you’d like.
Recently, and in his typically callous fashion, he made it a point to let me, his wife, know that he had gotten you, his mistress, pregnant. (Screenshot included) Wasn’t that thoughtful? Knowing him as I do, it may or may not be true. It could be a fabrication created for the sole purpose of hurting me. Time will tell. But for now, I am going to assume it is true, so I suppose congratulations are in order. But, if you are going to accept my congratulations, you should also consider accepting my advice.
I can go on and on about him, after all, we do have a 5-year history, but until you begin to see all of it for yourself, you’ll live under the illusion that your world is all ponies and rainbows. You will be high on love and won’t see the changes when they first begin to happen. It won’t go from all good days to all bad days overnight. The bad days will creep into your life, slowly and accompanied by sporadic apologies. You’ll want to believe him so you’ll make excuses. You’ll justify. But one day, you’ll realize that the bad days have outnumbered the good and the apologies are nothing more than empty words. My advice: enjoy the good days. They are numbered.
The good, happy, lovey traits he displays now won’t last long either. I’m sure you think you know him as well as I know him and I’m sure you think you know me because I know he’s told you all about his wife, the boring, nagging bitch. Keep in mind, you only know the carefully chosen version of “me” he has presented to you. I’m here to assure you, you don’t know me. One day you will because one day you will be me. Laugh me off now, but to show you what kind of a person I am, when that day comes, I won’t even say “I told you so,” although in all fairness, it would be deserved. On the day you become the newest in his rapidly-growing list of jilted exes, you can reach out to me because I will have been where you are and will understand better than anyone else what you’re feeling.
In the beginning, I thought he was loving and maybe a bit jealous. It was a nice feeling to think I meant that much to someone and I reveled in it. He always wanted to know where I was and hated when we weren’t together. I thought it was because he loved me and wanted to spend all his time with me. Only later would I learn it was an attempt to control me to quiet his own insecurities. First, he no longer wanted me to work even though there were no kids to care for at home and we desperately needed the money. My staying home solved many issues for him. I wasn’t likely to meet anyone that might treat me better. I wasn’t likely to see for myself how others’ healthy relationships work. He didn’t have to do for himself because I was always around to do for him. On the day I stopped working, so did he. He forgot how to work the stove, the washing machine, and the vacuum, skills he possessed when we first met. He also lost his memory. Yes, he forgot how to take out the trash, feed the dogs, or clean up after himself. I had to pick out his clothes morning and night because he was too lazy to learn where they were kept in the bedroom. I was made to pull his boots and socks off and tie them when he didn’t feel like bending over. It was his job to drink like a fish and my job to discard the beer cans before he got up the following afternoon. And the longer you’re together, the greater the number of cans will become.
You will also have to enjoy being his secretary because he has a boatload of fines and you’ll be in charge of seeing that they get paid. You will also be in charge of figuring out where the money to pay them will come from even when you’re so broke you can’t afford Ramen noodles, which will be much of the time. He will expect you to sell whatever you can get your hands on to pay them so that the law stays off his back. If you don’t/can’t, he will become angry and will express that anger however he sees fit. But don’t worry… it was years before he laid a hand on me. You still have time.
Before you know it, everything will be your fault. From running out of ranch dip for his fries to the dog chewing up one of his socks to his dropping the toilet paper in the toilet, it will all be your fault. I’ll bet you’re rolling your eyes and thinking, “She’s even crazier than he said she was.” I understand. You’re still in new relationship mode and he looks a lot like Prince Charming. How do I know this? Because he used to be my Prince Charming.
But eventually, you’ll notice Prince Charming becomes less enthusiastic about sex. Oh, you can bet he’ll still want it, but will no longer play an active role in it. It will become your job to please him, and trust me on this, when that point comes, it is a job. He’s not overly creative or energentic, if you know what I mean. You might think the sex is good now. I thought so in the beginning, too. But considering he was my first and to this day the only man I’ve ever been with, I had nothing to compare him to. From what I understand, you have quite an advantage over me in that department, so you might be a better judge. Recently, I was told how it is supposed to be by a number of more experienced people and now I realize that what I thought was good, was mediocre at best. I certainly was naïve, but again, when you have nothing to compare it to…
After the sex changes, you’ll notice he’s drinking more, partying more, and ignoring you more. That’s because he started talking to a new girl recently and she’s got his undivided attention. Next thing you know, he’ll invite her to your house to drink, along with several other friends (for cover). There will come a point around 2 or 3 AM where everyone either passes out or leaves and he will tell you to go to bed and he’ll be right there. He’ll never make it. In the morning, you’ll find him and his new young “friend” under a blanket on the living room floor. He’ll tell you nothing happened, he simply passed out while watching the end of a show, but the look in her eyes will tell you the truth. Once she’s gone and you attempt to discuss it, he will become angry and accuse you of trying to sabotage his friendships. From that point on, he will lie to you about her, what he’s doing when he’s away, and where he is when he won’t allow you join him, even though I will bet that right now, he wants you to join him everywhere he goes. His best friend will not only lie to you about his cheating, but will cover for him when needed, as he did to me, so never consider him a source of honesty or information. Only after you find out he’s cheating, will most of his friends step forward with their condolences. You won’t know he’s cheating until it’s a full blown affair. There will be one telltale sign though. He will share his password to his phone and tablet, in the beginning. And then one day, they will be locked, and will remain locked. When you ask why, he will make up a reason that sounds good— only to him, but you’ll know the truth. That will be when the affair has begun.
You will also have to enjoy playing hide and seek because he will always be hiding something from you. Some of his favorite things to hide will be girlfriends, money, and details about his illegal past. He’s on both parole and probation, as I’m sure he’s told you. You probably believe he told you because he’s just an honest straightforward guy like that. Wrong. Very wrong. He’s told you because he’d be hard-pressed to find more than three people in a tri-state area that don’t know about his dark past and it looked better for him if he got to you first. But just because he admitted that he’s on parole and probation, don’t for a second think he’s going to tell you everything, or even the truth about what he has shared. I’d be willing to place a friendly wager that his version, or what you get of it, would never match the version you’d get from the police or the people involved. In his version, he didn’t do anything wrong. In his version, “they” made it up to get him in trouble. That’s something you’ll learn quickly. It’s always someone else’s fault and now that you’re his new girlfriend, most often, it will be yours. I almost went to jail for believing his version, for standing beside and believing the man I loved. I was threatened with prosecution for helping him. Once he was in jail, I was berated almost daily for not being able to come up with money for his phone card and commissary or the many thousands of dollars he needed for an attorney. I did tell you how HE didn’t want me to work, didn’t I? But that didn’t stop him from demanding I come up with money. A lot of money. He didn’t care where or how I came up with it, as long as I did. I spent $800 in one month on phone calls so he didn’t have to sit there alone with no one to talk to only to have him yell at me during every call that I needed to find $3000 for the attorney. No matter what I did for him, it was never enough. I begged relatives and alienated the majority of my family trying to help him, and it wasn’t enough.
I could show you letters he sent to me while he was in jail, all about how sorry he was for putting me through it, how thankful he was for my sticking by him, and how eager he was to get out and start our life together. We got married eight days after his release and in less than 2 months, he was cheating on me with affair #1, right under my nose and in my own home.
But what you’ll have to enjoy most of all is being mentally and emotionally abused. Regardless of what you might think now, while you’re still in the early stages of love, abuse is part of the package. It’s as much a part of who he is as are his tattoos. Right now, he tells you that you’re beautiful, understanding, and the love of his life. Am I right? Soon, he’ll be telling you that you’re worthless, a dumb bitch, ugly, stupid, and have no common sense. He won’t allow you to make any of the decisions, and he won’t allow you to question his. He’ll tell you none of his friends like you, although you won’t know why since they will act as though they do. He won’t remember to bring home something you asked him to pick up, but he’ll never forget something you did a year ago that made him mad and he’ll throw it in your face during every fight.
And you must enjoy fighting. He won’t like it when you voice your opinion, so you’ll fight. He won’t like it when you tell him he’s wrong even when he is, so you’ll fight. He won’t like it when you accuse him of the affair you will catch him having, so you’ll fight. He won’t like it if you tell him no to anything he wants, so you’ll fight. And when he drinks, which is often, you’ll fight harder.
You’ll have to enjoy playing nursemaid to a hostile patient. He was diagnosed as being bi-polar while in jail. They put him on medication that seemed to help “the episodes”, but once he got out, he refused to take them anymore. Seemingly, he knows more than the doctors. Trust me, the episodes can become so bad you’ll be tempted to steal your doctor’s prescription pad and write it out yourself. Seriously.
You will have to enjoy playing detective because that is the only way you will ever know what he’s really up to. Be prepared for the mood swings, the attitude, and the occasional push or shove. Once this behavior starts, whatever you do, don’t touch his money, even when it doesn’t belong to him. I once tried to take money that he got for the sale of my relative’s car and he bent my fingers back so far, I thought he was going to break them. To top it off, he kept the money that didn’t belong to him. Not the first time he’s taken and kept money that didn’t belong to him.
Dear girl who dates my husband, I know none of this is what you want to hear. I also know that none of this is something you’re ready to believe. I didn’t want to either. I tried to make it work. I tried hard. I tried everything from keeping my mouth shut to fighting back. I tried to get him back on the meds. I tried to keep him faithful. I tried my hardest. I tried to be everything I thought he wanted and needed. I tried to reinvent myself almost daily to make him happy. In return, he cost me many friends. He cost me the reputation I went into the relationship with. He cost me the trust in human nature I was born with.
After you’ve been cheated on countless times with countless girls, pregnant, married, ages 14 to 43, after you can’t stand the emotional abuse anymore, after you have been told how stupid you are so many times that you begin to believe it yourself, you, too, will walk away. My hope for you would have been that this came before there were kids involved.
I can only hope you read this, and realize I have no reason to lie to you. I walked away from the marriage when I learned about you. He’s been with 26 women, and not one of the 26 speak to him anymore. Why do you suppose that is? I can only hope you understand he’s a pathological liar and cheater. If you think you’ll change him, you’ll be sorely disappointed. If you can accept this about him and you decide to stay with him, at least you can’t say you were blindsided later. I wish someone had given me that same head’s up. By the time I received any friendly warnings, it was too late. My husband will never change. Not for me. Not for you. And not for whoever comes along behind you. He has burned every bridge he has ever crossed, some while he was still standing on them. He has screwed over his family and his wives. Ask his last wife what he did to her. He’ll tell you that she beat herself in the face until her eyes swelled shut. He’ll tell you that she choked herself to within a breath of consciousness. Are you familiar with Google? Look into his record. He will tell you it’s stuff he’s been accused of, but didn’t do. Sounds like something that someone who has been in trouble would say, doesn’t it? Ask his first steady girlfriend why she had to have her brother lure him away so she was able to move out of the house they shared without the violent repercussions. His father won’t talk to him nor will his mother. He has screwed each of them over so many times. When he got in trouble, his mother did everything in her power to protect him, as I did. He’s borrowed money off his sister and mother countless times with the promise to repay. They’ve never seen a dime of his promises.
Don’t think you’ll be any different. I made that mistake. Even after I began hearing some of the stories, I thought I was different. I thought I could fix him. I thought I could teach him to be good, that I could tame him. Truth is, he is heartless, vile, and has no emotions or conscience. You may think he does, he’s good at the act, but in the end you will see I was right about him. The advantage I have over you… five long years. It stands to reason you learn a thing or two in five years that you can’t squeeze into a month.
He’s narcissistic and has no regard for anyone’s feelings. For the most part, he has destroyed his life, his name, his reputation, his relationships, and even his freedom. I hope he doesn’t destroy yours too. I hope you are smarter than I was and get out before he completely destroys your self-esteem. No matter how confident and secure you may feel now, his brand of love is designed to chip away at that until it’s gone.
I meant to post this a month ago. I wrote it to get it off my chest when our five year relationship ended. One year ago this week, he was running from the law and look how much has happened since then. You won’t see the time pass or the changes as they come, but what an eye-full you’ll get in hindsight.
I wasn’t going to say anything to you, because I certainly don’t owe you anything. But now that I know you’re pregnant, I feel like I have to. I really do. I feel bad that your child will most likely grow up without his/her real father playing an active role in his/her life, unless weekly visitations are enough for you. Do you know that one slip and a violation of parole will get him 25 years in jail? That’s how it works. And he slips all the time. I know this from experience. He slipped while we were still together, unless supplying alcohol to underage “friends” isn’t against the law anymore. How about bashing and running down random mailboxes. Is that against the law or just good ol’ boys having fun? How about claiming to live in one county while shacking up with your mistress in another while on parole? Oh well, that’s for someone else to figure out. Maybe when he messes up, you will find yourself a nice guy to take care of you and your kids. I wish that for you and my husband’s child. He has no patience, no real emotions, and no heart to raise a child for the long term. He will not make a great father, no matter how well he tries to play the part while trying to win you over. You have to understand what his controlling and domineering ways will mean for you. Now that there is a baby involved, when your relationship doesn’t work out, if he’s not in jail he will fight you to the death for that baby. That child will become a possession and he won’t stand for anyone taking his possessions, it’s always the other way around. At that point, I don’t feel bad for you or him. I feel badly for the innocent life created by an adulterer and the woman who knew he was married. One month into an adulterous relationship, I’m sure he seems like your knight in shining armor. I once thought that too.
For what it’s worth, I’d like to make a suggestion on behalf of your unborn child. Regardless of what he’s told you, his mother is a wonderful woman. A child deserves to have every wonderful family member they have in their lives. At some point I hope you’ll reach out to her and be willing to share her grandchild with her. Your child will benefit by having her in their life.
Once I learned of his affairs, I hoped and prayed he would be sterile. It wasn’t a selfish prayer and had nothing to do with my not wanting him to have a child with someone else. It was because it would not be fair to the child. But now that I know there is a child on the way, I pray that you are strong and can be both mother and father to the life you created. I also hope you are able to shield him/her from the ugly truths about his/her father. The truths that I have learned and you have yet to learn.
I’m sorry if this letter bored you. I’m even sorrier if it entertained you. It was meant to enlighten and warn you. I’m also sorry if it makes you feel cheap or dirty every time I refer to your lover as “my husband,” but for the time being, that’s what he is. I don’t like being married to him anymore than you like me being married to him. But, since he was the one who strayed… and strayed… and strayed again, I think it’s only fitting that he incurs the cost of the divorce. I walk around with a pen in anticipation.
Again dear girl who dates my husband, I don’t hate you. I am you… five years ago.
One of His Bridges