Better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all. Bullshit. At least if I didn’t love her then my pain would be less. Maybe even non-existent. I know that things didn’t work out the way we planned. I know I wasn’t keeping my end of the deal. But at least I know I’m not the only one. There are many people out there that are going through the same situation as I am. It seems to me more and more everyday that people get married with the idea that every day after is going to be the best day of their lives. Well I don’t know what fairy tale world their living in but it would be nice to think that way and actually believe it. The thing is I used to be that way. My marriage was great and I loved her every moment, everything I did was for her and my children. Every job I ever had, every penny I scrapped to save, every house or apartment we ever moved to was all up to me, and I did it willingly for my family. But when I fell on hard times and couldn’t find work anymore, she left. She left without saying a word. And I let her. No, more than that. I told her to. Ten years gone.
One morning while walking down the hall at school, minding my own business, something catches my eye. I stop to look again and I see her in the classroom sitting at her desk. She was waving to me. I wave back shyly as if to say, “Me?” She smiles. Yeah she’s cute but I don’t give it much thought. Keep on walking. On my way to my locker, she stops me and introduces herself. Oscar Z. Acosta once wrote about a similar situation. “I’m not the sort of person people approach. Perhaps it’s my bearing. They say I scowl, that I’m overzealous, threatening in appearance. I call attention to myself. Yet when I speak my voice is soft and medium in tone and unless I’m pissed, pleasant to hear. But girls and women never speak to me first.” Maybe that’s why I fell in love her almost instantly. I had only had two other girlfriends before then. The first one was back in second and third grade and the other just a year before I met my wife. Neither of them really captured my heart the way she did.
Fifteen years later, I can’t even remember why we broke up the first time. Something one of us said or did to the other. And still I cared enough about her that not even a year later, I wrote to her and asked her to call or write to me. We talked on the phone every night and our feelings grew stronger each time. Our first date was at the zoo when our athletic department held a banquet at the end of the school year. There wasn’t much going on that night and she had to be back early so my parents and I took her home where we met her mother. I remember Jan saying her daughter was very mature for her age. My parents said that I was kind of immature for my age so that may be the perfect match. Looking back, I think that might have been my problem all along. Our second date was at the carnival in town where we had a great time until she started talking to one of the ride operators while I was inside. It was only our second date and she was already showing that she couldn’t be faithful.
But being blinded by what I thought was love I continued to show my affection. I continued to spend my money. I sacrificed all that I was to be with her every moment that I could. Soon I came to depend on her company and couldn’t stand to think of her elsewhere. One day she told me that she wanted me to deliver a letter for her. I looked at the envelope and it was to another guy that she had been seeing before. This was not a good sign. Curiosity finally got the best of me and I opened the letter and read it. She talked very graphically about what they should do the next time they saw each other. Jealousy and outrage washed over me and I spent the night crying and thinking of how to deal with the pain she was causing me. Then the guilt of having invaded her privacy coupled with my feelings of mistrust led me to walking to her house at three in the morning to talk to her about it. Needless to say this was cause for a mutual breakup. However, we continued to remain “just friends”.
After a couple of years and more reuniting and eventual breakups, we finally made the decision to get engaged and start our family. Jonathan was born while she was still in school and I was beginning my career in the construction industry. Just as we started to become comfortable in our new home, I was fired from Wright Construction and found ourselves in financial hardship. I took a job in the automotive field and still we did not have the means to support ourselves on our own. We moved back into my parents’ house and tried to find a new home and start over.
Our first apartment was on the west side of Fort Worth and thanks to government housing, we managed to stay there for almost three years. Several jobs came and went and we started to have an open marriage to disrupt the boredom of staying home on the weekends. Of course this reopened the wound of unfaithfulness. My daughter Maryann was born in the middle of all this turmoil. Questions of whether she was truly my child began to strain my desire to remain married. Along with my continued failures of keeping steady and reliable work, our relationship began to falter. One night we got into an argument that turned very violent and she told me to leave. I packed my things and moved in with my best friend in Cleburne and vowed to forget her and move on with my life. She had someone move in with her who she thought would be a greater man than I was.
After only a couple of months, my feelings changed dramatically. Loneliness began to get the best of me and I began to ask for her forgiveness and vowed to do my best to do what was expected of me. I lost my job at Auto Zone when it was found out that I was selling parts under the table and pocketing the profits. When I couldn’t find work, I moved back to my parents’ house. My friend’s job eventually folded and he moved in with his parents as well. After a few weeks of continued pleading and her discovery that her new boyfriend was not all he seemed to be, she agreed to take me back and I returned home.
I began a new job again in the construction business under the supervision of my father on his crew. Although I was making good money, I began to squander my earnings and grew selfish and wanted my freedom. After less than a year, our marriage was on the rocks again and she was pregnant with Angelina. This time I left without warning. I rented an apartment and my friend moved in with me to help out with the rent. After he lost his job, I paid the rent on my own and kept a roof over our heads for the next four months. My wife and I began to reconcile our relationship and I moved back in while continuing to pay the rent at the other apartment while my friend tried to find work. Eventually the money got tight and had to let him know that I was no longer able to finance his stay there. He moved out and returned to Fort Davis to live with his parents.
Soon after we moved back to Lake Worth, Angelina was born and life was good. I was working hard and reaping the benefits of a great and prosperous career. The house we were renting was only two bedrooms and the need for space led us to an apartment overlooking the lake. The rent was high but with careful planning and bugeting, we made it work. But once again unemployment threatened our situation. I was fired from Jackson Construction when I couldn’t afford the gas to get back and forth to work. I took a temporary job working at a warehouse to try and keep the apartment but eventually that job also fell out and we moved back into my parents’ house.
After three years of temporary jobs coming and going, and several times in jail for traffic tickets, it began to seem that a steady job simply was not in my future. My wife became bored and underappreciated. She began to look for work herself while I stayed home with the children. When she got a job working at a day care, I was grateful that she found a job that was easy and came natural to her. But I didn’t show my appreciation the way she needed to be shown. I was still unemployed and we were not making any headway in getting out on our own again. She began to talk with another man that she had met through a website she was on. Eventually, she began to talk well into the night with him on the phone and rarely came to bed. Unfaithfulness on her part and apathy on mine began to dissolve our marriage again. I became jealous and outraged at this separation. One night we again began to have words on the matter and in the heat of the moment, I told her if she wanted to be with him so badly, she should take the kids and go, easily the worst mistake I’ve ever made in my life. And yet at the same time, I feel relief that we are both moving on with our lives.
I just started my second week of an online IT Associates degree and I must say I simply cant understand why I waited so long to do this. Perhaps lack of funds and the staggering unemployment rate kept me in the dark as to what my full potential could be. Hopefully I can take this college thing all the way to the end and make a better living for myself. As far as saving my marriage, I’m beginning to think she was right, “We made it work for ten years. We gave it a shot.” Apparently she got used to calling the shots for so long, that I just faded into the background… Ten Years Gone.