Dear Bitter Ex Wife, Thorn in My Side,

This letter represents an important part of a letting-go ritual that I have initiated to heal/move on from your unhealthy, unproductive habits and insincere, abusive demeanor arising from your ongoing enmeshment with your first husband, and from a vicious triangle that was the by-product of poor boundaries between you, him, and the “formerly-gullible” new wife…me.   Tomorrow I am heading into a frightening gauntlet of tests and surgeries, several states away, to try to prolong and/or save my life.  I write this to make it clear where I stand, now and forever, while letting go of any resentments toward you for never having a chance to embrace the fullness of life freely with my husband, largely as a result of your spinelessness, dishonesty, and lies.  I wish you the very best in contending with the insecurities that caused you to treat me so despicably.  I leave you to your life, wherever it shall bring you; after this letter, I walk on in peace, wherever fate may lead.

Although you may freely choose to deny the truth, though you may deflect and throw painful realities about this blended family failure into some trash can, inside the dark, subconscious crevices of your black-and-white-thinking frame, this letter shall remain, beyond my passing, a testament, a footprint of my visibility in a realm of non-fiction, as well as a tribute to my honesty and inner strength.  I remain a viable and radiant woman worthy of respect, and therefore shed the role of “Patsy” in your unrelenting, warped, limited worldview, a universe in which family is defined by “blood relatives,” which you alone seem to have been able to control and manipulate cunningly for years, via a myopic, controlling, and matriarchal perspective.  I no longer permit you to malign the reputation of anyone I care about, for it is the unsavory actions that YOU chose which alone led to the demise of your marriage.  I will no longer be the butt of years of lies, slander, gossip, fiction-making, either in your church, in the community, or through the catalyst of my husband and your wonderful sons, who I have always loved deeply, unconditionally, and as if they were my own blood, without any expectation or recognition that I have ever existed in their lives at all.  In spite of malice, I have given love invisibly, as a catalyst, one who would never be considered by you as worthy of existing as a mother, never mind as one who has helped tirelessly, behind the scenes, to mitigate damage left by your behavior.  Case in point:  About a year ago, your son was brave enough to invite me to an event that was important to him, for the first time, knowing that doing so would incur your wrath, hatred, and rejection of his father from participating in things that are healthy for him.  You responded by blaming his father, citing that he “forced” your son to invite me.  At the age of 22, certainly sons are capable of making healthy decisions for themselves.  In addition, your unprofessional demeanor with another woman, discussing problems with second wives in front of an entire IEP team, was unconscionably unprofessional, embarrassing, and oogy.

As a wife, I WILL never again tolerate remaining in the role you’ve manufactured for me of invisibility, allowing myself to be twisted by your words into a fiction of “other woman” through catty gossip to your church circle so that you can deliberately use lies to deflect people from seeing your long-term hidden truth, which is this:

YOU chose to end your marriage in 2004 by cheating on your husband, physically/emotionally or BOTH, which is the reason he is no longer with you.  Even as you confessed to him that the only reason for your separation after over 20 years of marriage was to fulfill your desire for intimacy with another man (his own best friend), a false pretense became the ONLY excuse that you would use to dump your loving husband, without any warning or explanation two ½ years before I met him.  Even as he felt hurt and confused, it took him nearly a year to find the courage to move out of his house with you; he is the most kind, loving, loyal human you never realized you had, but who you have dismissed callously away in the detritus of your fear of love.

It is most painful to him, since you never apologized nor realized how kind and unassuming he was, that he now has to protect cautiously within, all those gifts he used to give so openly to you.  As a result of your clever manipulative machinations, I may never have the grace of experiencing from him (or any man, ever, for that matter), ALL the beautiful things he offered to you from his loyal, devoted essence that you ignored for over twenty years.  I never earned that.  You alone squashed his essence, his creativity, and his spirit, to the degree that I have worked, like a dog, every day, to breathe life and love back into him.  In short, you traumatized him emotionally so his chances to trust another woman would be ruined. He was so enmeshed with the idea of what he’d given to you so innocently, he couldn’t handle the pain of actually seeing that what you were doing to him was deliberately emotionally controlling and dismissive for years.  Instead, he chose to see you as merely needy, depressed, and deserving of placating, mostly because he feared for the safety of his sons.    His purity in love kept him from seeing your insincerity, manipulative and emotionally abusive nature, and you used his best qualities to cheat on him, to manipulate him, and lastly, to demoralize him for having the courage to walk on.  You never said you believed that he loved you, but you never saw that his spirit and his love were purer than you’d ever earned from him.  That’s why he was so excited to share with you that he’d met someone as like-minded to him as me!  You threw that back down his throat, too.

You’ve called him blind on so many occasions that now he thinks he cannot see.  Today, he begins the long process of mourning, while also blossoming into the essence I once saw immediately, through the same evolutionary grace that brought him to me on May 7, 2006- he was akin to a Phoenix, brave enough to transcend the ashes of your warped worldview and unrealistic expectations of everyone.  Only now, after letting the dysfunctional relationship go, is he truly free to rediscover all the squelched down parts in all the lost dark recesses of his years with you.   Just remember:  No one has the right to mourn the loss of a thing tossed away.

Even as you announced at the end of marriage that you wanted to have (or continue without guilt) a secret affair back in 2004, even more than you wanted to work at the goal of intimacy with your husband, you also wanted to ensure that you could “use” and “keep” your innocent husband tied to your apron strings, on the way out, as you simultaneously kicked his soul callously to the curb.

One wonders:   How can anyone manage to do this?  Some would say that anyone who could do this “must” be extraordinarily intelligent; however, the definition of intelligence REQUIRES that one possess the nature to follow the Golden Rule.  In terms of the goal of using an affair to win your marriage back, your choices demonstrate ample evidence that you are truly devoid of intelligence, sincerity and integrity.  Well, I give you this:  you are savvy, snakelike, sneaky, and obsequious.  You convinced him, with veiled threats, to stay in your house in 2004, by holding his authentic love for your sons up as bait, for several months after your surprise attack- the revelation of your indiscretion.  Years before I met him, you maintained power over his right to see his kids while also ensuring his services as cleaning man, father and chauffeur, working at home full-time.  He remained at your beck and call for as long as he could tolerate this insanity, and/or finally give up on the idea of ever getting the likes of you back.  Even as he has always brought in full-time pay, has always been successful, brilliant, and more educated than you, you’ve treated him as if he were a lousy housewife, as if the amazing work he did never counted.  Even as you’ve always only worked part-time, for full-time pay, all you ever did was complain about what a rotten, lousy deal of a job you had.  You resented my musicianship, my creativity, capacity to transcend, and my fearlessness to use my skills to share with the world.  You used the mere threat of going into a severe depression every time he asked you if it was time to leave you or tell the boys the truth; this was a conscious ploy that you used to keep his truth about the separation to his sons at bay,  while keeping your lover and husband solely under your control and “in check.”  And while he worked, he also raised and cared for the kids; he cleaned your dishes, clothing, created beautiful rock gardens, wiped your windows and fixtures, while honoring your unreasonable post-separation edict that your sons were not to be told about the separation, for nearly eight months, all to uphold your fake family facade as a show for the “neither-open-nor-spiritual” community you once both shared.

In 2005, You and he agreed in writing that it was time to move on (romantically and otherwise), and so this sounded effortless for you (because you already had rejected him- behind his back!)   But when HE moved on with his life later, you changed the rules of the game, insisting that you, he, and your sons (and, of course your boyfriend, depending on whether or not he was “on the in” or “on the out” that particular week) remain the only family to whom he was to ever stay loyal.  You convinced him that to remain in a contrived role as part of an “intact” family (as if you could always pretend to stay married forever, without the sex, leaving the next poor woman dupe with all the carnal duties but no space for belonging or emotional connection), was the only “healthy” choice for your sons as they burgeoned into adulthood.  You refused to allow anyone “in” that you did not deem “appropriate,” according to your world view.  If he decided to reject your limited definition of family, you would merrily say that he was welcome to come to any holiday gathering, but that only HE would ever be welcome, forever and ever, Amen.  Dumping him from your family was, as you would say in the end, “his loss,” even as you treated him as if he were a leper when he chose to spend holidays with me, punishing him cruelly for the “error” of loving “someone” like me, a once successful, talented and sincere person of deep openness, wisdom, purity and integrity.  Rejecting him was your loss, to your community, to him, to my chances for love, and to all of our beautiful children.

Two and a half years after you started an affair with my husband’s friend to justify separation (without working on any of the issues in the marriage), I entered (completely clueless as to the enmeshment), into this warped picture.  As your affair was expertly hidden prior to my arrival, and as your husband was so loving and kind to everyone, you took liberties with others’ rights by turning rabid, pointing the blame finger at me, blabbing to everyone you knew, including your ex, “as if” I were some kind of dangerous interloper, and then by bringing your boyfriend imperceptibly into the visible world, lamely making it appear falsely as if I came into the picture before your long-term boyfriend did!  This was all insane.  When I met your ex, I was free, single, and ready for a real relationship.  Aside from the enmeshment, he seemed eager to move on, and as part of the goal of creating a healthy, blended family, to introduce me to you.  In the meantime, he was too frightened of your taking away contact with his sons to seize the courage to stand up to you when you rejected me, to call you on your cheating ways or to set any boundaries; he ALWAYS chose to put his needs second to yours, third to his boys, and fourth to my own, which of course you reveled in, thinking that his purpose was to give you hope that he’d come back to you.  He chose to remain a friend to your boyfriend, following each and every mandate of your lofty personage, served at your beck and call, whenever you needed him to drop everything and help you, or to accompany you to events, dinners, vacations and holidays.  So, for three years, you lived the life of Marie Antoinette, along with enjoyment of the contrived courtship of TWO men doting on you, one a full-time lover, the other a full-time father and best friend, all the while openly deceiving your family and community, and turning me and my beautiful daughter into a totally raunchy and wretched fiction. When I came into the picture frame, (after a year of your insisting that he “hide” me, and keep from being seen in public with him and you), you deliberately turned the church community against me by making up lies and gossip (I have independent confirmation on this).  You alienated and betrayed the friendship of your divorced husband by convincing your family, the one to which he used to belong, to be angry with him for some silly, contrived “wrongdoing” (for example, his daring to bring a book to one of your past boring family parties in which he was deliberately ignored – unless he was doing something to help out).  Even as you acted abysmally, after you finally deigned to meet me one night, at his house, he stood by your supposed “veracity” (which, by the way, I never saw any evidence of in 5 ½ years), and remained steadfast in the goal of blending our families, for the boys’ sake.  For two years, I was friendly to your family, even as they snubbed me for no reason.  I purchased gifts and cards for you; I helped your boys stay out of the fray of the enmeshment (to my own peril); I invited your friendship.  I worked diligently to respond kindly and to fire-stop your curt, nasty emails, no matter how many lies and meanness defined those letters. We hid the meanness you wrote from the boys; frankly, the more desperate you got to have your old “foursome” back, the more you put the kids in the middle, which was unconscionably unfair!  You already knew how some of your words might hurt, as you always intended them to maim, but I never let you know that fact.  At night, I cried, sitting alone in our new home, while he attended your obligatory family meetings to micromanage the sons, and to events at which your boyfriend and he were invited to carouse and break bread with your family, while I was left alone- this went on right up to the year of our marriage.  Over time, I could not swallow the unfairness, and became upset with my fiance, as he didn’t know how to set boundaries yet, and therefore could not protect me from your vindictiveness.  Yet, as moral human beings, he and I turned the other cheek; we let the lies zoom over our heads.  Gradually, however, I reached my last straw when you made up a lie that forced me to have to write to the pastor; I, and then my husband, dropped all connections with the church.  Competing with a rabid queen is not in my nature, particularly when dealing with spirituality, or in this community’s case, “so-called” spirituality.  Besides, as I am a musician, your refusal to allow me into “YOUR” choir (which you do not direct) was the tipping point; it was nauseating to sit and watch you sing every week, while I was told that I couldn’t join the most joyful aspect of church because you’d feel “mortified,” so I just gave up.  I’ve found more spirituality in books than in people, so I guess that was my very last attempt at joining any kind of community.

People’s cattiness can ruin the most sacred things, but it cannot sully truths.   Your main purpose in life is to fictionalize others while working to instigate trauma inside the mind as a means of power over, because I think you fear love; however, this behavior has become intractable.  Your gossip may be far reaching, but the four walls in which we reside are lined with love.

Yet I am no longer willing to remain invisible, as I am a respected member of my own home, and as wife to my new husband, no longer capable of waving goodbye with a fake smile and a bottle of wine spent alone, for every evening he used to run over to your house into the wee hours, or to the church, for small and large family dinners, weekly “family” meetings (notice how I was NEVER invited, nor considered “family”), chauffeur routines, random events, holidays, school meetings, picking up your cat barf on the floor, house sales, random cleaning events, including keeping all things sparkly perfect, (including those all-important condiment bottles), concerts, IEPs, random emails filled with bitterness and longing for what you called the “foursome.”  I will no longer invest in the false imagining that we will somehow become a happy family, even as I feel utterly confident that I have already tried more to befriend you than anyone would, and therefore, can now freely walk on without your hatred, your insinuations, and your covetous and manipulative nature; this will be better, in the long run, for all of us.

I’m weary, waiting for my husband to assimilate the years of trauma caused by you; he is scared of what repercussions may come, (should he stand up to your lies, slander and devious maliciousness in your letters and calls to him), to set some kind of boundary and limit on what you can do to continue to ruin my reputation, freedom, peace, my right to enjoy the second half of my life, and my capacity to build a community of my own with my man, who also happens to be the same person that has given every ounce of strength to raise his sons, with only complaints and lies from you in return for his undying love.

No one has the right to mourn the loss of a thing tossed away.

For awhile, I fell for the “stupid pet girlfriend trick” that led me into a trap:   that goal, insisted upon by you, was that I earn my way into becoming part of your resentful family, rather than for us to invite you to earn your way into our family.  Enmeshment kept me from being part of my right to belong to a a family since 2006.  When I finally did start to feel at home, and when he finally started feeling actually married to me, one year after our wedding, you decided to choose our first anniversary to send your latest round of poison pen letters, demand that he sit and listen to pages of your bitterness by phone, as he’d already told you if you abused us in writing again he would delete all the emails.  The last person I would EVER ask in this or any parallel universe to join my circle today would be you, not because you are an ex, but because you have been so blatantly and deliberately slanderous, insincere to me, and even more so to him. This has made courtship, marriage and newlywed life like walking through an unrelenting gauntlet of sharpened knives aimed at our backs.  I know you will smirk at reading this, thinking secretly to yourself that it brings you comfort to hear that our marriage has suffered because of your lies, but I also know that underneath that smirk lies a very sad, vulnerable person whose mask is a twisted, cracked identity.  Even as I feel deep sadness for the vulnerable person inside you, I can only forgive you if I have a safe space in which to speak the truth just once, while also keeping any contact with you to a bare minimum, for the sanity and health of our fragile, precious marriage.

One of the things that I am struggling to let go of today is why he let you do this to himself as well as to me and our new relationship.  Why did he choose to let you get away with emotional murder, during our entire time in courtship and dating, for so very long, without setting any boundaries? These facts sit heavily in my heart, as I face a likely terminal health prognosis.  All I have left in the ruins of a life lived with integrity is the right to speak, and to set the facts straight.  Sometimes, as Mom once wisely said, “It takes a long time for the dead bodies to float to the surface,” meaning that sometimes it takes a long time for the truth to emerge.  My only solace lies in that he and I honor family as it is meant to be, a growing, freely expanding entity.  For him to return to the same family that rejected his love because of your lies, should I die in the next year, would be a waste of his precious life.

Don’t hold your breath, even as I know that you do, as you’ve said so in plaintive letters to him.  I’ve done nothing to earn your rejection, so I know that eventually the truth of your life lived in contrivance and artifice will end up revealing itself to the world, along with your affair, your fake demeanor, and your blatant stupidity for never appreciating his value in your life. Your wooden nickel shall someday be revealed. God give me strength, for I must forgive what is unforgivable, endure what is untenable, all without the grace of a chance at a happy, healthy, evenly balanced marriage.   But yes, there is yet faith, but the faith and the hope and the love are all in the waiting.   I shall wait, as long as it takes. God give him strength to avoid you like the plague, and should I die, for me to have let go of your venom.  My life is precious, too.

As WH Auden said, “O wear your tribulation like a rose.”  That you will never understand.


The Rose

~ by Stepfamily Letter Project on January 3, 2012.

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