Today’s post is the first installment of “My Story Mondays” with our favorite naked redhead, The Naked Redhead. We’ll be crossing over every Monday this month, talking about our respective experiences with divorce. And no, we weren’t married to each other. You can jump any time over to TNR’s post and read about how she came to be married in the first place by clicking here.
The Story – How I Came to be Married in the First Place
M and I were married May 3, 2002 at 11AM in the chapel at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington DC. We decided to get married there because we spent a lot of time in the cemetery, running the dogs. The cemetery has been full for a long time and is maintained by the Congressional Dogwalkers Association. It’s a 30-acre piece of land in Southeast DC where we could run our dogs off lead. M and I were active pit bull rescuers while we lived in DC. We spent a lot of time and made a lot of friends (four- and two-footed) in that cemetery, so we thought it fitting that we exchange vows there.
M and I met sometime in early- or mid-2000, toward the end of my first year of law school. M and the girl I was wooing at the time had a mutual friend. The girl I was wooing had a part time job bartending at Thai Roma, a little Thai restaurant two doors down from the bar that I managed. The bar didn’t get many patrons, so it was an easy place to get a drink without dealing with a crowd – it was quiet and conversation was easy. I was visiting my girl and M and her friends walked in.
This wasn’t a love-at-first-sight situation, because I’m a total monogamist – I only have eyes for one girl at a time. Well, I guess that’s not exactly true: the girl I was wooing was more the girl I was tryingto woo. She was a couple of years older than me and had some issues/baggage of her own, and just couldn’t get with the concept of dating me. I certainly bought her dinner and made out with her a lot, though. There was also another girl with whom I was sleeping on a semi-regular basis. Mmm…Monica: best kisser I’ve ever met. But I digress. I suppose the point is that I met M while I was a swingin’ bachelor with a rock-star bar gig by night and a bright future as a law student by day.
I don’t know whether M and I met later on with the same crowd or what, but at some point we talked about how she was taking classes at Gallaudet, DC’s (and I think America’s) deaf university. I drove past Gallaudet every day on my way to school, and remarked that it was right around the corner from my apartment. So M and I started getting together at my place every Saturday morning for coffee after she got out of class. She was living in Arlington VA at the time. This would have been the end of the summer of 2000. We became very good friends; it was awesome. She had a sardonic rapier wit and a penchant for the dark side, and I dug that.
The fall rolled in and I was getting ready to head out of town for Thanksgiving at my parents’ house. M didn’t know what she was going to do. Her mother lives in Florida, and her stepfather had passed away a few years before. She was going to be alone on my favorite day of the year, so I invited her to spend Thanksgiving with my family. I remember doing so as a kind of knee-jerk afterthought, and being a bit nervous about whether we’d have enough to talk about on the 4.5 hour car ride up to northern NJ. We did.
At this point, we were still just good friends. As a matter of fact, just before I left, I arranged to have Thanksgiving flower baskets sent to the girl I was trying to woo and her and M’s mutual friend. My note to the girl was “I’m thankful for you” and to the friend was “You’re a good man, Charlie Brown”.
It was between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2000 that I fell in love with M. The girl I was wooing told me that she was going to be attending a wedding “with another man”, and effectively ended my desire to pursue her any further. The “other man” turned out to be a mutual friend in whom she had no romantic interest, but having that conversation with me was good enough to kill my desire to woo her anymore. She tried to rekindle my feelings, but it was too late. Monica and I didn’t have any relationship of which to speak, so there was no action needed there. I kissed M for the first time while sitting in my 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais (“Uncle Louie”) in my parents’ driveway the evening of December 25th, 2000.
After that, things moved pretty quickly. M and her two dogs moved into my studio and we lived the halcyon days of being in love – spending every possible moment together and enjoying them all. Sometime in the summer of 2001, found a little jewelry shop in Old Town Alexandria and gave them $100 to hold an antique miner’s engagement ring for me. I started finding excuses to be in Old Town on Saturdays, or waking up especially early to zip down there and back before M woke up, so that I could continue making payments on the $6,500 white gold ring with a .9 carat diamond and marquis-cut emeralds (M’s birthstone) on the sides. My only job at the time was bartending for $2.77/hour, plus tips.
Our courtship felt pre-ordained, everything was so smooth. I proposed to M just about every day since our first kiss, but was finally able to do so ring-in-hand during the spring of 2001, while walking the dogs in a park down the street from my apartment. The cherry blossoms were blowing in the air and gathering in drifts like snow. She said yes, like she always did, but this time with tears in her eyes.
Like any other couple, now engaged, we started making plans for the rest of our lives. We found a bigger apartment – one within walking distance of the cemetery, and above a dog-groomer’s, of all places. We sub-let my old place to a friend and started hanging out with a realtor friend of ours, looking for a house. My last finals for law school were the week after we got married, and I graduated a couple of weeks later and started working temp jobs during the day, still managing the bar at night.
At this point, M was working at the bar at night and doing temp accounting work during the day. We’d often call out of work, just to spend the day together.
Things turned sour around the spring of 2003. We were both working all day long and the same shifts at the bar – but she’d be working the bar upstairs and I’d be downstairs. We were spending less and less time together and I was frustrated with this. I spit the bit on taking the bar exam because I was afraid of failure and my student loans had started to come due. I thought we were making plenty of money, but I wasn’t the one paying the bills, so I imagine that my debt-structure became a bit overwhelming for M. I think she may have tried to talk to me about it, but I was even more cavalier back then than I am now, so I’m sure if she did, I just brushed her concerns off as unimportant.
M made friends with people I didn’t know, and started spending more and more time after day-work with them. They were working on a website, and she said she had a lot of Photoshop work to do, as she was the one in the group with that experience. I wasn’t necessarily jealous of her friendships, but I was pissed that she was starting to spend the few hours a week in which we weren’t working with them, instead of with me. I confronted her several times about this, even to the point of sketching out the days of the week and what blocks of time we were working and were able to spend together.
Whether because of our decreased time together or for other reasons, I was also frustrated with the people with whom I worked at my daytime temp jobs. I don’t think there were very many positive things coming out of my mouth during that time, and I talked incessantly. M started pulling away. She was coming home later and later, and finally didn’t come home at all one night. This was during the second week of July in 2003.
She didn’t come home after work the next day, either. Whether I called her first, I don’t remember, but I went over to the house of the guy who owned the website to see if M was there. A dude with whom I was barely acquainted answered the door, after repeated knocks and rings on my part. He told me that my wife was upstairs and asked me to wait outside while he found her. My wife appeared at the top of the stairs and started yelling at me that I wasn’t welcome there and that I should go home. So I went home. I vaguely noted that the clothes she was wearing were not her own.
That evening, as I was getting very drunk, I checked the website on which she purported to be spending so much time, to see if the guy who owned the site had actually put up any of her shots, or if she was getting the credit for which she was working so hard. What I found was naked pictures of my wife on the internet. And not what I would call “artistic nudes”. Not porn, but not particularly tasteful, in my opinion. I knew that M enjoyed taking photos of nude models, and had even discussed with her that I was a bit uneasy about that – and would be really uncomfortable if she were the one naked in the pictures.
So what does a drunk husband do in such a situation? I went back to the guy’s house and stormed in. They should have locked the door. I went upstairs to find my wife naked with a female friend of ours, clad in her undies, and a couple of dudes taking pictures. I was pretty pissed and various forms of mayhem ensued. My wife and I went into a separate room and had a heated conversation.
And I set forth the ultimatum: come home now, or it’s over. She said it’s over. I said fine, then don’t come home tonight and stay somewhere else tomorrow night, and I’ll be gone the day after tomorrow.
I stayed drunk for the next couple of days. I ordered a U-Haul truck and started haphazardly packing. I called my brother and sister to tell them what happened, and they showed up the next morning with the box truck from work and moved me out. This bears repeating: they moved me out. I was liquid at that point – nothing to me but tears and booze; I was incapable of anything.
They brought me back to our parents’ house and I stayed drunk for a good long time.
I can’t possibly begin to relate my feelings at that point. I always thought “a broken heart” was a metaphor. It’s not. The pain in my chest was unbearable for at least a week. I couldn’t eat or do much of anything except lapse back into crying jags. Even when I was all “cried out”, I was somehow still able to sob painfully. It was pretty much the only way I was able to breathe.
The closest simile I can come up with is that the next few weeks and months felt like someone had scooped a handful of my brain out of my head. Everything I was or thought about somehow touched M, and having to be or think without her was like running sandpaper over the raw nerves in every part of my body. Having a wife was all I ever wanted out of life, and one day I had everything, and the next I had nothing.
Yeah, so that was pretty depressing. I’m glad I can end this post now. Over the course of the Mondays in June, TNR and I will be digging back into our respective divorces, so stay tuned. There’s a lot more to the story than I’ve related here. There are things I did and shouldn’t have done during my marriage that contributed to my divorce. Like any relationship, divorce is not a one-way street. And I’m still walking around and functioning in society, so there’s plenty of post-divorce stuff to talk about as well.
Let me know if there’s anything you want to know about – divorce-related posts don’t have to be relegated to June Mondays only. I’ve done a handful of things to “deal” with my divorce, but this will be the most complete account of the events and my feelings so far. While it would certainly be nice if someone else gets something positive from my experiences, this is pretty much a wholly selfish exercise on my part: I need the catharsis.
Don’t forget to jump over to TNR’s post to read her story.