You all know that something big has been going on in my life the past couple of months. If you know me at all in real life, then you already probably know what it is. But for the rest of you, I think I am finally in a place where I can talk about it. It’s not that I have everything sorted in my mind and heart, because I certainly don’t. But I do think that I am finally past the shock and disbelief that this is my life, and I’m not going to magically wake up to things as they were before. And part of the healing is putting it all out there so I can tell my story honestly – and hopefully help someone else in the process.
Almost two months ago, my husband and I bought our dream house. We signed on the dotted line on a Monday, and were ecstatic to be homeowners. Between that and trying to get pregnant, it looked like all of my dreams were just within reach.
Two days later, I got a call on the phone that he had been arrested. Allegedly, he was caught in a co-worker’s home trying to steal her underwear while she was not at home. She was young, pretty, and thin (necessary details, thank you very much, detectives). Apparently, they searched the car and found a duffel bag containing other items belonging to various women in baggies that were labelled with their names. I have no idea who these women are, but I fear they may have been some of our friends. And so, my husband is in jail.
Obviously, I was completely blindsided. I never had any reason to suspect anything like this. For days, I was unable to think, eat, or breathe without difficulty. I walked around in a haze, unable to even respond to questions. My whole life shattered around and inside me, leaving a shell to survive my life.
And just when I started to get myself together, to think that maybe a day would come when I would be able to breathe, the media ran story after story after story about the situation. I watched my husband’s face pop up on my computer screen, my tv…. and I saw the eyes of a stranger. A local news station posted the article to their Facebook page with the status, “Mr. Gross lives up to his name.” (Don’t get me started on how unprofessional that is…) Our local newspaper and a local website went so far as to list an approximation of our new address – leading to a neighbor confronting my step-dad and demanding answers on behalf of “all the neighbors.”
Meanwhile, shell-shocked, I attempted to sort through my feelings. Even now, when people ask how I feel about him, I tell them: I feel everything. I love him. I hate him. I want to save him. I want to ruin him. I miss him. I hate myself for missing him. The truth is that there is not a single emotion I have not felt in the past two months.
He is not a violent person, and I absolutely believe that this stemmed from untreated and well-hidden mental health issues. It kills me to see him suffering in jail, to know that if he goes to prison… he will never be the same. And even all these weeks later, my brain can’t even fathom that he is one person. It’s like I have two husbands – the one who rubbed my back and brushed my hair in the evenings while we watched Doctor Who, and the one who stole my love and trust away and shattered my dreams. And yet, I know that they are both the same person… that it is impossible for me to have a life with one without choosing a life with the other. And I just don’t know what to do.
There’s a beautiful song from Alison Krauss (you know she sings my soul’s songs) that is one of my anthems at the moment.
“I’m sorry if I’m keeping you apart from other conversation. I’m hung up on all my doubt, trying to sort the whole thing out. You tell me that I’m smart enough to deal with all the information spinning inside my head – every word he ever said. Maybe I can stand alone. Maybe I’m strong as stone.”
I know, everyone wants to know what I’m going to do. Even the people who are nice enough not to tell me their opinion have one. Some people assume I will stay with him because they know I am merciful, love him, and also that I believe strongly that marriage is forever. Others can’t imagine how I would even consider staying with him after what he has put me through. And honestly… they are all right. As I stated before, my mind and my heart are literally divided. I have no answers.
The truth is that I am terrified of being alone. I can’t even imagine starting over – of being so close to realizing all of my biggest dreams and then landing right back at the beginning. I can’t imagine giving up the dreams that I have spent 4 years dreaming up with my husband.
And yet, I know that regardless of what I choose, those dreams are dead. I don’t know if I can ever trust him again. I don’t know if I can have children with him. I don’t know if I can ever respect him or admire him the way a woman should respect and admire her husband. I want to be a wife, not a probation officer, mother, and guardian angel.
I have been doing absolutely everything I can not to let this experience harden me. It would be easier to numb my heart, but I know that the pain is a necessary part of healing… and if I don’t allow myself to feel it, I will never be happy again.
And obviously, it’s far more complicated than just our relationship. The responsibilities that were once shared between us all rest firmly on my shoulders along with the added responsibilities of homeownership. While a couple months ago, I was free to pursue my dreams of freelancing and building a web-based empire (slowly but steadily), I now have to start subbing in order to have a steady and reliable income stream.
So, my life has changed… and my dreams must change with it. My husband is in jail. I am alone. I do not know when I will be able to start living again – rather than simply surviving. But I do know that happiness is a choice… and it is one I will make every day until the smiles and laughs are no longer covering tears.
To everyone who has supported me in this journey, I thank you. I could not get through this without your love.
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