It Needs to be Said: A Gut-Wrenching Open Letter to my Ex-Husband

How did you do it?

How did you manage to trick us all?

Was it just easier for us to be tricked into believing you, to be charmed by you, than to pull down our life like a house of cards? Or was it really a brilliant disguise?

Are you conniving and smart, or do you simply stumble through life, making it up as you go along?

There were, of course, those who could see through you. There were the people back “home,” back in Ireland, who warned me you were no good. But then they all had vested interests and I didn’t listen. I thought they were jealous.

I believed you when you said we would travel the world together.

We never did.

I believed you when you said you were ill. I sat by your side and worried and you let me, because you liked the attention.

What was it about you that first caught my eye? Was it your promises, promises that were easy to believe, promises about a life of adventure and roaming the world? People do do that, and you had lived here and there. So why would I think you were lying?

Was it your charm? Your sarcastic wit? Your confidence, which in the end, was all put-on?

My friends back home, friends you’d never met, warned me off you when I wrote to them about you. But how could they know? What did they know? I thought they were just dubious of the unconventional life we dreamed of. They, with their steady jobs and steady homes and steady days, how could they understand the wandering, possession-free life that we dreamed for ourselves?

We arrived in Canada on a cold January afternoon and even the immigration officials questioned you. And then there was my mother. She hated you, vehemently, at first. Though later she would be duped, too, charmed by a man who managed reflect back, in some small way, the people who surrounded him.

But you were never, really, anything like my people.

My father never trusted you. He said you were a con man. And how right he was, though he was always suspicious of that kind of thing, so I dismissed him.

You said you had money, that it would take some time to have it transferred, but in the meantime could I just pay for this and that, and some more. And you would pay me back. But you never did.

And there was no money. Not ever. And now, all mine has gone to. It slipped through your fingers like foul water.

To this day, you accuse me of taking all your money, though of course, it was the other way around. I can’t fathom how you could accuse me of that, after all I have paid for, after all you have extorted, after all the others from whom you have stolen.

But I think even you believe your lies now.

If only I had listened to all those people. If only I had run far away. If only when, eight months later, I was sure you were lying and drinking and hiding while I worked, if only I had left you then.

If only…

We would all be free.

But instead, I believed you. I thought the best of you. And slowly, I trusted you again. I stayed to long. I left when it was too late.

Now we are all tied together forever.

And I will never be free.

I will always live with a dark shadow of fear hanging over me, the fear that one day you will come to reclaim your son. Not out of love, but out of spite. And that you will twist him, twist his mind and his sweet heart, that you will mar the one beautiful, pure creation you had a hand in forming.

It should never have been you.

I chose so very wrong.

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25 thoughts on “It Needs to be Said: A Gut-Wrenching Open Letter to my Ex-Husband

  1. I hope this is just a journal entry occasioned by a ‘prompt’ and not something you went through. No one should have to go through such a thing. But how can I know? Just in case, I couldn’t just say “Oh, well” and move on. As a prompt you have created a heart-wrenching scene. Your writing is beyond ‘good’ it is devastating. I have enjoyed your posts of the past and wish you well in the future, free of even the memory in case this one was based on reality.

    • Thank you for your sympathetic and complimentary words. Sadly, this is very much the truth and a not-distant-enough memory. Today it just flowed because of the prompt from a few days ago – I had been mulling over my response in the meantime. There are days I don’t think about it at all, and then there are days it sticks right with me.

      • Bless you. I’m so sorry to know it is real, but I know from experience that I often write from my own life’s experiences. You must turn it loose, and of course for most things time is a great healer, but the child will always remind you. One of my daughters has had a similar experience with five children to constantly remind her. What it means is that to some extent he will always be in our lives. That is perhaps more difficult than forgiving. Please let me say that while you can’t completely keep him out of your life, you can learn to forgive. That doesn’t mean you take him into your life and act as if nothing happened. It means that you quit hurting yourself by
        letting it chew you up. I pray for your peace.

  2. “It should never have been you.”

    Who knows?

    Doing his job, drunken stupor, losing everything… yep, check…

    Writing from empathy not sympathy and a couple of decades later… sometimes these heartbreaking, gut-wrenching things can be the best that could happen to us… they can be the gifts that allow us to find our strength and grow into ourselves.

    • Thank you for the positive perspective and empathy, Sue. You are quite right. I suppose the days I wonder whether I did grow are the days people ask me what I ever saw in him and how I ever made such a poor choice. Must be nice to not understand how someone could be hoodwinked!

    • Thanks, Jen. I appreciate your acknowledgement. I had written about him ages ago but I generally try not to dwell or give him much of my thoughts. Between the prompt and a conversation I had in the morning, I thought I should try writing more of this part of my life out.

  3. Wow sorry to hear that this really happened to you. I can only imagine how tough it was and it still is, to have the shadows and what might possible happen lurking the background.

    • Thank you for your kind words. And yes, the lurking is the worst thing. If he had done all the awful things he did and we’d walked away and washed our hands of him, that would be one thing.

  4. Well, friend I’m not going to click “like” on this because I’m just really sad something like this happened to you. So many of us are so trusting. What could possibly go bad? I have always had this motto that someone is “innocent until proven guilty” so you always give people the benefit of doubt. Of course, that did get me in trouble too. Not really with girl friends, but with guys. Yeah. As Sue said above, you know looking back in hindsight, you see how far you have come, and have grown since as a person. Really good to look at it that way. You certainly know you won’t be duped again, right?

    • Thanks, Robin. And you put your finger on part of the issue: our trusting natures. Not being someone who plays games or is dishonest, I find I am still taken aback, even after all my experiences, by those who lie, cheat, steal the way my ex did. Yes, I know there are people of poor moral character out there, but that’s just it, they’re “out there.” I hope I wouldn’t be duped again, but I don’t know. Because I still have a tendency to see the good in people. Of course, my current husband is lovely and the total opposite of my ex, so I wouldn’t be duped in the same way again, but maybe by others in other areas of my life. Who knows? I’d like to think I’ve learned!

  5. For times like these I wish there was a button that would allow me to show you that I care.

    I am sorry that your path has taken you through this dark cold place but I assure you from personal experience that there is a sunrise ahead waiting to bring light back into your day.

  6. Beautiful and painful at the same time. As a child of a bitter divorce and one who watched her mother make hard choices, I can say that I understand at least a small portion of what it feels like to be tricked. My biological father tricked my brother and I, especially me, into believing he loved us so much. He tried hard at one time to take my brother and I from her. She won in the end. It wasn’t easy but I can tell you this- one day your son may have a choice to know his father. One day he may speak with him and your ex may try to charm him as well. If you’re as wonderful a mother as I think you are, you will not have to worry. Actions speak so much louder than words. You are raising him, you love him, you support him. No one could take that from you. My father tried and failed miserably. My mother never went out of her way to speak ill of him but she raised me right and I saw as an adult what a disappointment he was. I saw how little he compared to my mother. Your son will too

    • Parents can be so selfish and bitter – and then others can be so selfless and strong. You sound very lucky to have the mother you do, and you sound like you have a good head on your shoulders. I hope my son comes to similar conclusions. He understands his dad has let him down, but he also idolizes him and, despite having a wonderful and supportive father in law, desperately tries to fill the hole he left with as many father figures as he can find.
      A good friend is standing by while her son goes to live with his dad after years of the father being absent and disinterested. That’s what scares me, mostly because my ex would make awful decisions for our son. I’m lucky my son and I are close, though.
      Anyway, thank you for your heartfelt and heartwarming comment. It made me feel better, more hopeful 🙂

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