Learning to really let go
My story is kind of complicated, so I'll just go ahead and start with the important details in chronological order. I met my ex-wife at age 18 in our freshman year of college. I had seen her the previous year in a music competition, and I couldn't take my eyes off of her. We ended up in music theory class together, and we got to know each other a little bit through class. After the Christmas break, we started dating - it turns out we had a crush on each other. We were both completely in love, and our lives seemed to revolve around each other. We got engaged four months into the relationship, but we planned to wait until after college to get married. I changed my major from jazz studies to music education so I could get a "real job" and be a good husband and provider. We postponed sexual activity for quite a while into the relationship because we wanted to try to do things right and wait until we were married - we eventually gave in after several years. Everything felt easy and happy for the first three and a half years, at least from my perspective. She ended up doing an eight month (it was originally supposed to be six month) internship far away from home, and it was hard to accept her being gone that long. We got into a couple of little fights over it, but I tried my best not to act jealous or clingy because I was afraid of pushing her away. She returned home after the internship, and we were married less than a year later. About a year and a half into the marriage, we took a week long vacation. On that trip, she told me that she felt that I was putting music before her, and she posed the question "are you going to start putting me first?" Unfortunately, I felt threatened that she was asking me to give up my dream, and I didn't give her the answer that she wanted - I really regretted that immediately afterward. That was the beginning of the end. Less than two months after that trip, we were split up, and she had filed for a divorce. Throughout the nine months of divorce proceedings, we had four almost-reconciliations. We saw a counselor who pegged me as ADD, and essentially took her side with no real apparent concern for my feelings or hearing my side of the story. After all of this back and forth business, my ex let the divorce finalize.
She called me about two months after the divorce was final and asked to reconcile. Despite my concern over her sincerity, it was what I had wanted all along, so I accepted. We were back together for close to two years, and I had learned a hard lesson from my mistakes. My heart was in the right place, and my priorities where straight when we got back together. Everything seemed fine until less than a week before she left me for good. I was totally blindsided and in shock. I was teaching at the time, but I was completely miserable with my job, and the school year (and my job) had just come to an end - I had put in my resignation prior to the end of the school year. She claimed that she did me a favor by waiting until I finished the school year to drop the bomb on me. She pulled out the same old arguments from the original breakup, and claimed that she had "told me things" but that I just didn't listen. She accused me of abusing her - in her words "you neglected me, and that's a form of abuse." I reminded her that I told her I loved her every day, that I called her from work on my breaks, that I spent most evenings with her and regularly went out on dates with her, and that I cooked and cleaned the apartment and dropped her off at her class. I never raised a hand to her or said anything verbally abusive to her. She was simply looking for any excuse, no matter how outrageous, to justify herself. I ended up finding out seven months later from her sister that she had left me for an online tutor that she was communicating with while we were still together, and she was about to get remarried in a month. A review of some old cell phone bills further confirmed the affair. I was infinitely more devastated than the first time. During the first breakup, I waited around for almost a year in hopes of reconciling - this time I knew it really was over for good and that I had been betrayed in a big way.
In retrospect, I realized that there were several other suspicious occurrences throughout our relationship in which I had probably given her the benefit of the doubt when she didn't deserve it. The most glaring one was during her internship. There was one situation where I couldn't get in touch with her at all one night, and I found out from her the next morning that she went to a party with coworkers the night before and had fallen asleep on the train ride home. It was the last train of the night, and she ended up back where she started, so she had to stay the night at the host's place on the couch (the host was a guy). It didn't sit well with me at all, but I was too hurt not only at the thought of betrayal, but at the thought of this girl who I had put up on a pedestal being capable of actually cheating. The clincher is that she hung out with this guy a lot (she later showed me pictures of them skiing together), and to top it off, he moved to our city for an extended period to do an internship. This all happened before we got married. She and I were together so much when she returned that I can't imagine she would have had much time to try to hook up with him, but I'm sure his motive for following her had something to do with whatever happened between them while she was away on her internship. Another thing that bothered me after the fact was that she acted very different sexually once we reconciled, and I am convinced that she had some encounters while we were split up during the divorce. As I said before, I waited around for her that whole time, and I didn't allow myself to "go there." I was so blinded by my inability to accept the truth about her that I must have seemed like a complete fool, but in my defense, when you really deeply love someone, you want to believe the best about them. Once the blinders were off, I started finding all of these inconsistencies and imagining how many of my friends and acquaintances she might have had affairs with. I became pretty untrusting and downright paranoid and withdrawn.
Today, I can say that things are much better. I am now married to an amazing woman, and we have a beautiful, incredible little boy together. My life is much richer than it was with my ex, and my marriage is so much stronger than my first one - I am very thankful for what I have. My wife and I communicate very well about everything, including what I went through in the past. I want to clarify that I do not pine for my ex or wish that I had my old relationship back. It's just that I haven't been able to let go of the sense of betrayal, and more importantly, the lack of closure with my ex. Just before she married the online tutor, I wrote her a letter letting her know that I knew all about what had been going on. She responded by denying that she cheated and accusing me of being bitter and hostile. We have never spoken since in any form, and I have had to go through her parents on several occasions to get documents forwarded to her to sign - she treats me as if I'm some kind of abusive creep that poses a threat to her. Believe me, I would never think of trying to pursue her for many reasons, the biggest of which is because I love my wife and my little boy. Her second marriage to the online tutor failed after about six years, and I received a letter from the Catholic church shortly afterward petitioning for an annulment on the grounds that I was an unfit husband - they granted it to her despite my detailed account of everything. This left me not only feeling betrayed, but also taken advantage of, and I have held a grudge against the Catholic church since then. She is now married again for the third time. I've done a lot of soul searching over the years, and I feel that I have a firm grasp of the situation, not only from my perspective, but also from hers - I don't feel that she ever bothered to try to see things from my point of view. I apologized to her for all the mistakes I made, but I've never received an apology or any sign of forgiveness from her, and I don't expect that I ever will. I'm sure it's mostly my ego that's hurt, and it's probably safe to say that I haven't truly forgiven her, or myself for that matter. Despite my hard feelings, I have no ill will toward her. I just want to figure out how to really get rid the hurt and the resentment I have carried for so long so I can make peace with the situation.