The Man I Loved

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One of the hardest parts of writing this blog and starting to speak about my life is the questioning and doubt that assault me at any given time in my day concerning my husband. I have had a few people who have thought that I hated him. To be honest, hating him would have probably been much easier to get through everything and moving forward. But the fact is, I loved him so much. I still love him, but now with a heavy heart. It doesn’t make sense in so many ways, but it is truth. That’s why the choices made and the fallout from them have been so devastating.

I have also had feelings come at me that I’m talking about parts of his life and character that leave bad impressions of him so I shouldn’t do it. However, the truth is, he asked me to do just this thing in his suicide letter. He wanted me to use his life as an example so that maybe others would not make the same bad choices he made. I believe this was an honest, heartfelt request. Others did not and don’t agree with me, but based on the conversations we had right before his death and the content of his final letter, I know this to be what he wanted. I think, maybe for the first time in his life, he was speaking from an honest, broken heart that was open to the desires of God’s heart. He was able to see the fullness of what he had made of his life and he knew it was something he didn’t want anyone else to have to experience.

While I write often about the hurtful things that were said and done, I want you to also know the man who I considered to be my best friend for many years and the one with whom I fell in love. This man made me laugh so much. That is a characteristic beyond important to me. I love to laugh and he accomplished it with ease. He was smart and could learn to do whatever was given to him to accomplish and, if he really committed to it, he would excel at it. He would help anyone who asked and he wasn’t afraid to work hard. He never met a stranger and he loved to be around people. He was friendly, easy to talk to and was very unassuming to the point most people felt at ease with him upon first meeting him. He had so many good qualities; I never questioned why I had fallen in love with him.

Unfortunately, there were parts to him and his character that I didn’t know or notice as much. I knew he wasn’t perfect and he could have some dark times where he wasn’t kind or where he seemed to be harsh concerning others or me. But those times weren’t terribly often and, after all, we all have times when we’re not the sweetest of people. That’s all I thought. These were hard times to be with him, but it wasn’t enough to take away from the fullness of the person I thought him to be.

As the years went on, though, I saw more and more of this person and less and less of the person I thought him to be or who he once was. Things he had chosen to do came into the light and they tore my life apart over the years, bit by bit. When he first went to counseling, I was told that he needed support. The counselor made me feel like I had no choice but to stand by him even though the level of hurt his actions placed on me were overwhelming. He made me feel like I had to stay beside him to see him through it all because, if I didn’t and he couldn’t find his way out of whatever was bothering him, it would be my fault. I wanted the best for him. I wanted him to get through whatever he was going through, or had been through, that would tempt him to act the way he did and find his way back to the man I knew and still saw. So, I stayed and I fought for him. He, of course, made it through that time as well as through other times, and, after each, our relationship and life would seem to be good. But it never lasted for long.

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Over the 27 years I knew him and in the time we were married, we had some great times, but right before he died, after I had discovered the affair with a “friend”, he asked me if I had any good memories. I told him there were many, but they all were marred by the choices I would always seem to find out he was doing at the time that would lead to yet another heartbreak and horrible time to get through with him. The hard thing was, after every one of these times, a little more of him disappeared never to be seen again. I started to experience him saying and doing more and more things I never would have thought he would do to the point I barely recognized him. He was harder and harder to live with and I was always on guard for when he would get angry or throw out insults. And each time it happened it became harder and harder to recover, to the point I lived with open emotional wounds. I realized, after he died, that some of these wounds started even before we were married. I also discovered a whole other part of this man I would have never realized he could be. My life as I knew it and had known it to be was shattered. Nothing I “knew” to be true was really true.

Please understand that I am in no way saying that I was perfect either or that I was wonderful to live with at all times. Growing up, I had learned that I had to be tough and not complain or talk about the hurts or sadness. So, one of the things I did was bury the bad feelings I felt and the hurts inside until I could no longer handle them. Then, I would blow up for one or two days until I got it all out. The times between those blowups became less and less as life became harder and harder. I would also shut down when I was really hurt. I know that is not a healthy way to live, but it is how I had learned to live and he didn’t seem to have any problem with it. Instead, he embraced it and it was something he ended up using, I later found in some paperwork he did during counseling, on days he knew he was going to be doing something he shouldn’t. He stated that he would set out to upset or anger me so I didn’t try to contact him through those days. That was one of the hardest things I have ever read. But, I want it to be clear that I know there were times he was totally justified to be angry with me.

The things I talk about in this blog or elsewhere and that I speak about, though, aren’t the normal failings when I talk about my husband. They are the choices he made to live another life entirely outside of what he knew he should live. It hurts to think of these times, but I know it’s what God wants me to do and it is something my husband wanted me to do also. The pain is sometimes excruciating. When I look at pictures of him now, I only see a stranger looking back at me. I’ve only come across a few pictures where he has the great smile I loved and I can see the man with whom I fell in love. However, as I go through these pictures, I’ve realized that person and that smile were less and less present over the years.

To write about him is what I know I need to do, but even referring to him as my husband is like a knife stuck into my heart because I have come to realize he really wasn’t living as my husband. His life didn’t reflect a husband who had a wife that he was proud to call his own and that he wanted to protect. In fact, I have discovered times when he put me in danger. I really don’t know how to refer to him in a way that won’t cut so deeply or make it hard to understand the legal relationship we had. I’ve decided that I will refer to him, at least for now, as “the one I loved” or “Toil”. It stands for how I always felt about him but also the life we lived.

I pray that this is a clear picture of who the one I loved was, with his good qualities and the man I fell in love with in full view. I told him so often over the years that all I ever really wanted him to be is totally sold out to Jesus. I knew if he did this that everything else would have fallen into place. It gives me some solace to know that he knew this fully at the end because he wrote about it in his final letter. I only wish he could have lived it and realized all God had made him to be. I wish we could have experienced together all He had planned for him and for our future. Unfortunately, that is something we’ll never know.

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