We bought the worst house possible. Several months after moving in (and having to move onto the front porch just to be able to breath) husband was injured while at work and eventually lost his job while still on work comp for being unable to perform his job duties. He was in pain and now unemployed. Soon I had to move back in with my parents because I couldn’t stay at that house even on the front porch due to all the mold. We didn’t live together for over 4 months, although husband had 2 of his friends living at the house with him. During that time I only saw him a couple of times a week. He was always in a bad mood and it was hard on our relationship. I didn’t know it but he was taking prescription pain pills (he didn’t have a prescription for) on top of all the pot he was smoking. He hid that from me and I also heard rumors that he was having an ex girlfriend visiting him at nights. I asked that we go to counseling. He rejected the idea. His behavior became so dark, and his mold poisoning so bad, that eventually I dragged him literally kicking and screaming from the mold house of doom under threat of commitment in a mental facility and divorce if he didn’t.
After several days at my parent’s house he seemed to be feeling better and started acting more normal. I didn’t realize it at the time but he was detoxing from the pain pills. I attributed it to mold but the problem was deeper. I tried to repair the fractured relationship I had with him. I wasn’t ready to call it quits yet even though a large part of me wanted to. If I had known then what I know now things would have gone differently. Instead we forged ahead. He began working on the house again, trying to strip it down to the studs so we could spray it down to treat the mold and rebuild it all. The next 11 months were hard. Progress on the house was slow. I was paying a mortgage on a place I couldn’t live at and contributing to my parent’s house, my commute to work was long and I was miserable at my job. I was burning through my savings because husband was still unemployed and not receiving any income. At the point where my money was just about to run out and I was going to have to decide which bills weren’t going to get paid husband finally found a new job. It paid next to nothing but it was just enough to keep us from defaulting on the mortgage.
He moved back to the mold house and continued working on it in his evenings after work. Part of me was relieved to have free weeknights to spend with my friends. I didn’t really feel married and deep down I was happy about that. One morning on Halloween of 2011 husband woke me up at 4am to tell me that the house was on fire. I groggily got up and drove the 30 miles to the house, arriving after the fire had been put out. While husband and the insurance agent were discussing money out front someone broke in and stole our laptop and a TV husband had in the back bedroom he’d been sleeping in that was untouched by the fire. Shortly after we realized the fire was still smoldering in the roofline and reignited causing the fire department to make a second trip out there. This time they smashed every window and sprayed every inch with a foam retardant. The house and foundation were soaked through and through and winter was coming. The foundation ended up crumbling as a result. In the aftermath of the fire husband and I clung to one another, who had time to contemplate how broken we were when we had just lost so much?
It would take almost a year to get insurance to settle with us on a total loss payout. The contractor we eventually hired was the absolute worst and in the unending saga of drama that was my life with husband I continued to ignore the signs that we were not right for one another. We were living in a condo (temporary housing) and husband didn’t wait more than 2 months to offer our spare room to one of his friends, rent free I might add. This was a pattern of behavior I had never understood. In all the time I have lived with that man less than a year of it has been alone with him. He seemed unable or unwilling to live with just me and I took it personally that I had had to put up with him housing so many of his friends. This friend was probably the best one he had and I have been grateful many times over the years that he has been our roommate (still lives with us now) but it was still a blow to me at the time that he seemed to need a buffer in the house.
That year in the condo ended up being the happiest year I had in my marriage. I was close to my friends and my job and I loved living there. Still, eventually the new house that was being built was ready to move into. It wasn’t actually finished but our allotted money for temporary housing had dried up and we didn’t have a choice. Back to St. Paul I went, back to a house I still didn’t want to be at. I figured I would make the best of a stressful situation and put all my efforts into working on my marriage and that stupid neverending fucking house. I tried to be happy but husband was emotionally abusive and clearly so unhappy himself. He eventually got a better job and then another better job and I was hoping that him bringing in more money than me would finally help alleviate some of my frustrations about paying for everything. He just started spending even more money on non-bills the more he made so that I was still stuck paying for all the necessities while he splurged on non-essentials.
Then my niece died unexpectedly and it hit me very hard. I grieved for months and while I grieved he was creating dating profiles online and signing up for hook-up sites because he felt like I was ignoring him. He was never sober and I felt like nothing was ever going to change. I felt trapped. I vowed if nothing got better I was going to file for divorce but another year went by and I was too drained to do anything but hope my life would get better. I watched my family fall apart after my niece died and tried to hold it together but I was more overwhelmed than I let on even to myself. I took my brother on a 3 week road trip with husband and I hoping it would help him in his grieving. I tried to repair all my damaged relationships but kept wondering at what point do you just throw in the towel? I made the decision to put in one last ditch effort to do everything I could to make my marriage work. To accept that I would just have to pay for everything and that husband would always smoke pot and I would have to be ok with that because he wasn’t going to change.
Then my dad died unexpectedly. Not even a week later the police came to my house to do a search and seize my laptop thanks to husband’s late night antics. I was deep in grief and in that moment I realized I had just lost my past and my future. No father to lean on and no children to raise, it destroyed something inside me. If my father hadn’t just died I would have kicked husband out. Instead I was an emotional wreck and couldn’t handle losing them both at the same time. I tried to make myself believe husband when he swore the police wouldn’t find anything on the computer and this was all a mistake. I told him if he was lying it would be the end of us. He promised he wasn’t lying. I waited and tried to compose myself. It took a little over 3 months but the police came back one day to arrest him and charge him with 14 felony counts of possession. I knew then that my marriage had to end. Not over what he was being charged with (although that alone was more than enough reason) but because I would never be able to trust him again and more than that I had to be able to trust myself and if I went back on what I said would be a consequence I would compromise something I wasn’t willing to compromise.
I stood by him while he faced court appearances but I was pulling away every day, little by little. I didn’t want him to use my leaving as an excuse to avoid facing his demons. I started focusing on making changes in my life that were positive. I had lived for so long ignoring what I wanted and needed because I was focused on making sure he was ok (so I wouldn’t have to deal with emotional abuse or manipulation) and happy. I was done with the dysfunction but the ties that bound us were so damn intricately tied together. I had become dependent on his ability to get things done that I didn’t know how or didn’t want to do. I didn’t know if I was ready to take on the responsibility of the entire house and knew for sure I wasn’t able to swing things financially on my own. I was scared to make that clean break. During this time husband resisted admitting he was guilty of his charges. He lashed out at me and tried to share the blame for his actions with me, stating I had let him down and he was in this mess because of me. That was the final push I needed. I filed for divorce and was granted it in a matter of days. Except he was still living there and nothing seemed any different even though I wasn’t legally tied to him anymore.
In the subsequent months since I got divorced ex-husband has suddenly decided that all the things he would criticize me for are now amazingly attractive traits. Now he wants to change all his bad habits and become the man I always deserved. He doesn’t understand that I have just had enough and all I want now is to start over. Even in his attempts to be nice and spoil me he is being disrespectful because he is essentially telling me that what he wants is more important than what I want. He is trying to convince me that if I refuse to have a romantic relationship with him he will go to jail because he will have too much therapy to complete before his next court date. He is still trying to manipulate and control me so that his life can be better. He says he wants me to be happy but if that were true he would respect my decision. It took the better part of a decade but in the end our relationship died…slowly but surely. Now I just need to figure out a way to put that final THE END on it once and for all.