When my husband of less than two years ghosted me, instead of coming to New York as planned, I lost it. He, the Parisian, and me, the New Yorker, split our time between the two cities and after leaving Paris in July 2015, it was his turn to come to New York in September. Instead, somewhere around mid-August, he called to tell me that he was thinking that maybe we should possibly get a divorce.
Emotionally, I was already out the door, having had enough of his laziness and inability to deliver on all the things he promised he would—for starters, being an equal partner. But still, for him to say this, came out of left field. He wanted to divorce me? He said he would call the following day, but he never did. I wouldn’t hear from him until almost three months later.
When that call never came in August, I turned to champagne. In my mind, champagne was a celebratory beverage that could lift my spirits and convince myself I was celebrating my freedom. But, once I got to the end of that first bottle, I either reached for a second or started drinking something else. Before the night would be over, I always managed to inundate his voicemail and email inbox with pure vileness. Not that he didn’t deserve it, but it would have been nice if that vileness was at least eloquent in nature. It was not, because nothing is eloquent when you’re drunk and on the verge of blacking out.
Nothing is eloquent when you’re drunk and on the verge of blacking out.
By the time the weekend of Halloween rolled around, I was done guessing. I was over wondering where he’d gone and, after several martinis with a friend, I decided it was time to figure shit out. I took to Facebook, set up a fake account (because he had blocked me) and got to work. What I discovered made me lose it even more than when he ghosted me. My husband, 48 years of age, over a decade older than me, was now living with a 20-year-old girl. It’s when you discover these sort of things that something snaps. Your grasp on reality goes out the window and all bets on behaving even remotely sane are off in seconds—for me, anyway.
I did what I thought anyone would do in my situation: I ran downstairs to the bodega, got a bunch of beer, and proceed to rain fury on his life. I set up a Facebook page with his name and his mistress’ name, declaring him a cheater and she a homewrecker. She, the mistress, had a public Facebook and I covered it in profanity and language I would never use in regards to another woman, but I was, for lack of a better phrase, out of my mind.
I even emailed his daughter, who was only two years younger than the mistress and accused her of introducing them. When I was done, I emailed his sister, pointing out how she never liked me because I wanted my husband to get a proper job. Each email was drunkenly written and riddled with expletives and accusations that, to this day, I can’t recall specifically since I can’t bear to go back and look at them.
It was only after all this that my husband was forced to finally respond. He called at 8 a.m. New York time on a Sunday. He then proceeded to yell at me and told me to quit harassing his “soulmate.” Before I could process what he was saying, the mistress sent me a poem about her love for my husband. Then the bottom really fell out.
I Googled what one can send to a cheating husband and found a site that delivered horse shit to anyone in the world. I ordered him some. Next, I took to Craigslist and put every piece of furniture I had bought for our apartment in Paris up for sale. How much? One Euro for all of it.
Then I sobered up, but only briefly. Then I got drunk again.
After the end of every relationship, alcohol has been my crutch. When Matthew broke up with me in college for the lead singer in his band, my roommate and I downed a large bottle of Grey Goose. Then we walked to his house to dump Chinese food on his car. When Timothy, my first love, broke up with me, it was beer, again with my roommate at the time. Then we proceeded to set up fake emails to harass him until he figured out it was me. When Christoffer, after four drunken, on-again, off-again years, finally said goodbye (a messy, drunk, cruel goodbye), it was wine, beer, martinis—anything that would numb the pain. Then I ripped him apart with words in emails, texts, Facebook—all of it. Of course, he blocked me. As did a few of his friends, because I had words for them, too.
In each situation, the alcohol made everything worse and my behavior exploded like a bomb all over the lives of these men. I did and said things that, soberly, I probably wouldn’t have done. (Except send the horse shit; I would have still done that under the circumstances.)
I’d sober up, see the situation for what it was, be grateful he was gone. Then I’d get drunk again.
While sober I could see the end of my marriage for what it was: a man who needed the validation that I could no longer give him, drunkenly I didn’t see it the same way. Soaking in alcohol, all I could see was the fact that he humiliated me. It wasn’t even a matter of a broken heart—broken hearts are nothing compared to humiliation—it was the thinking that he, a man with nothing to offer, gave up me, an educated woman with a career who financially provided for him, for an uneducated, uncultured, child. It was too cliché, too much of a punchline, too predictable in too many ways.
I didn’t sober up for a long time after my marriage. I’d have moments of clarity—I did still have to work after all—but for the most part, I was crazed and, well, drunk. I threw myself a divorce party at The Plaza, although we’d never get a chance to divorce. Then I went to New Orleans to learn about Voodoo, in the hopes of destroying his life. I wrote up a will in which I only left him a dollar and talked to a divorce lawyer about taking him for every penny he didn’t have. Not a day went by that a drunken email wasn’t sent his way. Sometimes he’d respond; sometimes he wouldn’t. Then I’d sober up, see the situation for what it was, be grateful he was gone. Then I’d get drunk again.
When I finally sobered up for more than a couple days, without out even a taste of alcohol touching my lips for a few months, I was able to see how much I could have avoided. In energy wasted, alone, so much could have been saved if only I had stayed sober. So much vileness could have been swallowed—along with my pride—if only I didn’t keep reaching for something to drink.
I know this to be true because even now, as I sit here writing this, I’ve just gone through another devastating break-up, but because I’m sober at the moment my latest ex hasn’t heard from me at all—not even a peep, and, believe me, I have words for him, too. In fact, it’s the fear of what I might do or say if I do drink that’s keeping me from going even remotely close to any alcohol at all. I don’t want to be that person again. I hated that person then, and I hate that person even more now.
I eventually forgave my husband for cheating, because I had to for my sanity. I was sober long enough that I could say the words out loud. In turn, he forgave me and we made a deal to be friends. Although I’m not usually in the market of forgiving people who wronged me, something pushed me to do it with him. I’m so happy I did because just a few months after I forgave him he died of a heart attack. I don’t think I could have ever gotten over losing him, permanently, had we not reconciled. I also don’t think I could have been able to forgive him had I not been sober. It was only when I put down the bottle that I could see what a mess I’d created and find the strength to rise above it all.