To be honest, my marriage was over before it even began. When I met my soon to be ex husband, Lan back in 2007, I was coming out of an abusive relationship with a guy who almost killed me. Lying on a bed with the man I was in a relationship with with his hands wrapped around my throat and anger in his eyes, put a lot of things in perspective for me. All I could think of was, “God, don’t let me die in here like this.” God heard my prayers, and my life was spared. From that moment on, I knew that I was done being too-nice-for-my-own-good (something many people had told me before) gullible, naive Joyce. It’s those qualities that time and time again, landed me in the company of jealous, domineering, controlling, abusive men.
After that relationship ended, I was happily single for several months. I wasn’t thinking about another man. For once, I didn’t have to explain where I was, what I was doing, what I was wearing, who I was talking to. I was free and I loved my freedom. But, I can’t lie, I was lonely at times. When Lan came along, it was totally random. He was working at a fast food restaurant that my baby sister also worked at. She was living with me, and I’d taken her to work. It was warm that day, and I’d told her to go inside and bring me back something to drink. When she returned to the car, she told me the guy in the drive-thru window wanted to “see what I looked like”. Normally, he would have gotten a mouthful, but I was amused that that was the best pick-up line he could come up with. Obviously, I looked okay, because a few hours later, my sister called and asked if she could give him my number. I’d been single for several months by this point, so I said sure…even though his pick-up line was corny.
So began our dreadful relationship. There were many red flags from day one, but I ignored them. He too had just ended a five-year relationship (so he said). The problem was, his ex didn’t realize or didn’t care to realize that he was ready to move on. She was an issue from the beginning. I’m a few years older than Lan, and I’ve been in quite a few relationships prior to him, so I was no fool. I knew that she was hanging around because he was still entertaining her in some way. Still taking her calls, still giving her rides to and from work…she was still in the picture, and I wasn’t interested in going down that road again…the lying, the two-timing, the cheating…nope, wasn’t interested and I told him that. We broke up literally one month after meeting that day when I dropped my sister off at work. In hindsight, I should have let that door stay closed and never bothered answering it when he came back knocking about a month later.
The thing I’d learned about Lan was he likes to think he’s a smooth talker who can make a woman believe any and everything her tells her..and he might can; I’m just not that woman. By the time I’d met him, my trust in men was non-existent. I was leery of ALL OF THEM. So when he came back a month later and said it was definitely over with his ex and wanted another chance, something told me not to believe it. But, loneliness and feeling like the clock is ticking for a woman to find a man who wants her, will have a lot of women going against her better judgement. Against my better judgement, I allowed him back into my life. That was the worst mistake of my life. Not only was the ex-girlfriend still an issue, he’d also slept with another much older woman, and gotten her pregnant. Why I believed him when he told me that while he would provide for his child, he had no interest in being with the woman…that I was who he wanted, I have no idea. But, that’s what happened. I stayed with him. So now, there’s not one, but two other women I’m basically competing with.
Over the course of a few years, there was nothing but drama from him, those two other women, and more of his exes who came out of the woodworks. It seemed like every time I turned around, I was having some confrontation with one of his exes. I was ambushed and jumped by the ex who was always popping up from the beginning. I learned from the pregnant one that even though he’d claimed not to want her, they had still been very much involved from the beginning…it was hell. I wish I could say that it was his dashing good looks, or his bedroom skills, or even his money that kept me with him when I should have ran as fast as I could and never looked back, but I can’t. I was getting up in age; I had two kids from two previous relationships myself, and I told myself, “Finding a man to accept a woman with one child is hard…finding a man to accept a woman with two kids….girl just be happy he’s interested in you.” Low self-esteem and a fear of growing old alone, like most of the other women in my family, made me stay in that relationship. From the moment we started dating, he’d told me how much debt he was in; when we met, his license were suspended from a DUI he’d gotten, he was even on a curfew and the only place he was allowed to drive was to work. I saw all these negative qualities in him, but foolishly, I ignored them. Slowly but surely, I was going backwards…back into the same type of abusive relationship I’d just come out of and swore to myself I’d never be in again.
I really wish I’d had a Madea type mother figure who could have said, “What the hell is wrong with you, girl? I ought to punch you in the face for being so stupid!” As months turned into years, and I’d dealt with so much from him and all of his side-piece’s, I think there was a part of me that said, “Hell, after all you’ve been through, you’d better marry him, or else you went through all of that drama for nothing.” In some strange way, I felt like, even though I’d been through so much with him and his side-chicks, he still chose to marry me and not them. It wasn’t like I felt like I was winning some big prize, but it did make me feel like I’d won the battle and come out victorious over those crazy ass women I’d had to deal with. After four miserable years of dating, he finally asked me to marry him in 2011. And, because he has not a romantic bone in his body, I didn’t get a romantic, memorable proposal. Nope, it was a few mumbled words about how we were finally going to be together..just us, and he handed me a ring, which I learned earlier today wasn’t even real. That diamond was cubic zirconia.
So, we’re now married. Nothing has changed. I was still confronted and baited into silly arguments with his exes who kept popping up. He drinks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner…so he constantly reeks of stale beer, which makes it extremely hard to want to be around him or have him kiss or hug me. Sex…it was never the greatest. And not even so much as performance-wise. He has the notion that sex has to be rough, quick, fast…it was never sensual or romantic, not even in the beginning. I often felt like his whore. I felt dirty, and even cried a few times after sex with him. I hated it and I would try to do any and everything I could to avoid doing it. Knowing that he’d cheated on me for so many years didn’t help things in the bedroom department, either, because in the back of my mind, I never trusted him and was always thinking he was still cheating. I will say that he’s always kept two jobs ever since we’ve met- one during the day, and another overnight. It came to a point where I would be so happy when he was at work. I felt more peaceful when I wasn’t around him. When he’d come home, it’s like he brought the negative energy in the door with him. Also, because he worked two jobs, that left me home alone a lot, so it was always like I was married, but still single, because we rarely ever saw each other. If we did see each other, it was in passing- either he was coming home from work and I was going, or vice versa. Being by myself so much put even more distance between us, I realize that. There was no connection or intimacy between us outside of the bedroom, so of course, there was no connection in the bedroom, either. I started writing to fill the void. I don’t talk to many people about my problems, so writing stories and books with characters who were a direct reflection of me, was how I vented what I was feeling. In almost all of my books, the female characters represent me in some shape, form, or fashion.
As with most married couples, money would be what caused our marriage to finally come to an end. For some reason, he felt like because he worked two jobs, and I only had one, he was carrying me. I don’t know how he came to that notion, seeing as how the only things he paid were the rent and water bill. Everything else was on me. Yes, I work part- time, because I have two kids who are both in school and have school activities (my son is 16 and plays football and my daughter is 11 and is in band) so as any mom would, I want to be able to attend my kid’s activities. I’m lucky to have a boss who works with me so I can do that. So even though I don’t work two jobs, there had never been a time when the lights, gas, DirecTV, or any of the most important utilities that I was responsible for paying, have been disconnected. EVER. I have been noticing for months now that if I do have to ask him to give me a few dollars to hold me until next pay check, he would give me attitude. I had no idea he felt like I was leeching off of him until this past Friday. It was like a slap in the face when he insinuated that I do absolutely nothing compared to him. Wow, okay. In case he didn’t notice, being a wife and a mother is a full-time job in itself. My work is never done. But, whatever..to him, it doesn’t compare.
I’m full of pride, almost to a fault. I got my first job at the age of 16 when I was a junior in high school. I’m 37 now, and I’ve never not had a job doing something for longer than a month at a time since then. I literally hate having to depend on anybody for anything. Even though we were married, I still kept my own job and money. I take care of everything and everybody else first, and constantly put myself last, so him basically calling me lazy was like, the last strike for me. After all the years of drama, lies, cheating, and everything else, if I can’t ask my husband for $10.00 without him getting an attitude, I’m definitely in the wrong marriage with the wrong man. All it took was a five minute argument for me to say enough was enough. For almost five years, I put on this front to people in public, acting like I had the perfect marriage with the perfect man. Trips, vacations, concerts…you name it, I was posting pics of the fabulous time we were having on Facebook… I had to, just in case some of those crazy ex-girlfriends were somehow lurking in the background watching. I wanted them to see (and think) that “Yes, he married me, bitch…and we’re as happy as any couple could be.” All the while, I was lying to the public and most of all, to myself. I was never happy with my husband. I was an actress and this was a role that I was playing, and with each year that we were together, I got better and better at that role. From the outside looking in, nobody would ever know that I was suffering, miserable, and just plain sick of pretending to be in love with this man who has treated me like shit for almost nine years. The worst part of it all was, I’d allowed him to treat me like shit for that long, and I had nobody to blame but myself.
In all honesty, had it not been for my children, I would have been gone. But, I’d grown up in a two-parent home. I had a mom and a dad at home. I wanted the same for my children. Yes, they have two different father’s, and while my daughter’s dad has always been there for her, my son’s has not. As I mentioned, he’s 16 and next year he will be graduating. His father has never really been around, but the one thing I can say is Lan was a good step-dad to the kids. He would make sure they had what they needed, spend time with them, my son looks up to him. I didn’t want to take the only father figure he’s ever had away from him. So, I told myself to just deal with it…at least until the kids graduate. And I really intended to do that. But, I just couldn’t anymore. I love my children and would give my life for them, but it wasn’t doing me or them any good to stay with my husband and I wasn’t happy. It was getting harder and harder to pretend in front of them. There were always arguments over one thing or another, which led to days of us walking around not speaking to each other. No matter how much I tried to keep the fights just between us, they knew when something was up and we were mad at each other. It just wasn’t worth it for me to keep pretending.
Over the last several months, I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion about getting a divorce. And his nonchalant responses of, “Well, if that’s what you want,” only made me realize that he wanted out of this marriage as much as I did, but he wasn’t going to be the one to say it. So, I did us both a favor.And I feel a sense of relief now that I’ve finally said it. Am I scared of starting over? Yes! But I know that I settled for someone I never should have, and it wasn’t going to work anyway. It’s kind of surreal to me, because this time, I know it’s really over. There have been many break-up’s and make-up’s in the last eight years, but this time, it’s final. I just can’t anymore. I’ve gotten lots of advice over the last few days from people who thought we were the perfect couple, and while the majority think I’m joking and I’ll suddenly post on Facebook “Ha, ha…I got y’all…I was just joking about getting a divorce,” there are some people who know that I’m very serious and have offered some words of encouragement. I feel like I’ve disappointed everybody- my kids, my friends…but the main person I disappointed was MYSELF. For even letting it go on for this long. It’s not easy. I’ve laughed and cried since Friday…but for once, I made the best decision for me.