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I found that there are many positive things that have come out of this divorce. We both have met other people and I hope that you are making similar experiences as I do. I am sharing with friends some of the experiences I make as, I am sure, you do as well. And there is one particular experience, which I am infinitely grateful for, beyond learning that I can go out, open up my heart and talk to people and that I am perceived as a decent human being who can find new friendship, a type of friendship I had forgotten exists. That experience relates to the question and answer of: Did I give you the attention you wanted?
I know I worked a lot and most likely too much, even if I would make a similar decision today again to keep my family safe. In the beginning I felt you might be right. There was not much time we shared. In a way, we may have grown apart, even if I did not feel that way. About 6 years ago, I had serious doubts whether this marriage is what I wanted. We had virtually no intimate time with each other. Every single time I approached you, I was rejected. Months passed before we spent intimate time with each other. I stopped approaching you because I hated the rejection. I could not watch certain TV shows anymore, TV shows that showed happy couples. But I felt this may be what marriage becomes after a few years. You just don’t have this desire for intimacy anymore. And we never had real passionate intimacy anyway, if you look at it realistically.
I was wondering if I should spend some extra time on our sexual life in this letter. I won’t since I always felt you were uncomfortable with everything that relates to sex, at least I believed that until I saw the chat log with Chris and learned what you really liked. I just felt that our sexuality was virtually non-existent over most of our marriage and that is a sad story in itself. I do not think that we both were really happy with what we received romantically from the other at any time during our marriage. I will leave it at that.
So, if I did not get intimacy with you, maybe I just needed to adjust? I was scared that my sexual life was virtually over at age 30. In the way I perceived it, it hadn’t even begun. And even if you said I did not give you the attention you were expecting, I remembered that every hug I gave you, every time I tried to hold your hand and every kiss I tried to give you was met with a feeling of your rejection. I cannot remember when you ever reached out for my hand in a truly sincere way. Maybe I simply forgot, but in my mind sticks the feeling that I was reaching out for you, always, hoping that I could feel the warmth in your hand, the blood flow in your veins and the heart beat as a sign for our love. I can’t remember it anymore.
If we are honest, this marriage, as far as the two of us are concerned, has not existed for a long time, perhaps not for several years. In the months after we verbally agreed to separate, after you took off your rings, I was scared at first, but I learned to breathe free and I learned that I was starving for attention and affection. It was a feeling so intense that I felt I would suffocate at any moment. I was afraid if I had the strength and luck to find what I so desperately desired.
I was afraid of being alone. How is it to wake up alone? How is it to have lunch alone? How will it be not hearing the voices of my children in my home, not the voice of my wife talking on the phone with a friend? How is it to watch TV alone? How is it to celebrate Thanksgiving alone and your ex-wife is cruel enough to take your children away on that day? Remember, I have no family in this country. I learned that I was deeply hurt and depressed. And I wanted to know if that what I was looking for, I told you about it in a list of 20 things I really want in a relationship, was also desired by other people or if I was the only one with these scarily romantic thoughts in this world. Lending my hand to someone else and receiving the same back was what I wanted. I wanted to see if there is someone who would not be afraid opening her heart to me and our children.
So I followed your advice and decided that I needed to find friends. And possibly someone who would be more than a friend.
But how do you find friends if you have not gone to school here, if you have no co-workers, if you have no family? Where do you start? I decided on a few different possibilities.
I think I had half a dozen different approaches I wanted to try and, in retrospective, given the situation I was in, there were some pretty smart choices, some obvious ones, but also some I should have better left alone. Lesson learned: Craigslist is not the place to look for friends. You get what you pay for. But we all make mistakes, right? And I felt I had the right to make mistakes. I lived in a shell, retracted for more than a decade, with no desire to find friends. I worked in my home office, with no outside contacts in our immediate vicinity. Now I had the desire for friends and possibly more. I deserved not to be alone.
All of those approaches had something in common. I learned to be more open and in fact I did find a few dozen people. In the end, I was surprised that if you focus on yourself and remember how you met friends in high school, you can meet new people. You most certainly are not compatible with 90% of them. But 10% may be worth a friendship and perhaps 2% work out for more.
I still find it interesting that even if I did what you told me to do, to go out and find friends, that my friends are not worth as much as yours, in your mind. Had we met those people during our marriage, I am certain they could have become very close friends to both of us, even if I admit that they are more compatible with me and less with you, if I look at your friends such as Danielle.
You know that I never liked Danielle. There are really nice people in your family, but I was never able to connect with your friends. They were either in an entirely different age range, and there was no real friendship interest beyond talk about school or work. I felt, sometimes, you were stuck in the past with your friends. And then there were those who liked to pretend that they were more than they really were. The only person I actually liked among your friends was Danielle’s husband Craig. He is a very natural, honest guy.
In a way, your friends were all people you loved to surround yourself with during our marriage and I believe your friends show a bit of yourself, the person you are.
When I think of Danielle, I think of the person you would have wanted to be. And she is so much not the person I would have wanted you to be. I always felt like a fifth wheel with your friends, someone who never fit in, someone you never tried to fit in. With the three guys you spent your teenage years with, you have never left the past and I believe you still would wish to be playing Basketball with them every day.
I always believed that you were hurt in some way that you could not see them anymore, partly because they have moved on as well. It was sometimes amazing to see you next to your old friends, Ron who tried to impress you with whatever he was wearing and Steve and Mike who really never took you seriously and made fun of you. But you wanted to be their friend so desperately.
You often began looking for friends and yes, it was my fault not to have come up with more ways to find friends for us. Later on, you said your hospital had become your family. But I was wondering if that really was the case and if those people were willing to give up as much for you as you were willing to give up for them. This is exactly what is important to me in friends.
I learned to socialize again. The few good friends I have met have given me a sense that I am not worthless and useless like you did in the past few months. They helped me stand up, realize what my life will be, that there is a future to look forward to in so many different ways. They gave me purpose beyond my primary purpose as a father. They taught me that every day is worth watching the sun go up and down, go to sleep and look forward to a new day full of new opportunities. These are reasons to smile. There are reasons to shed tears. There are reasons why you can enjoy emotional music. There are those reasons why you have this deep desire to spend lots of time with someone special in your life. There are enough reasons to believe that I will be happy again. Perhaps you noticed that change in me.
I learned that friends were key to go down that path and would be my key to recovery. You were so right with your advice to find friends, but yet you were so wrong about the real reason why I wanted and needed friends. You never knew what friends eventually would mean to me, what those I would find would be willing to do for me. I wish I had found those friends years earlier.
You pushed me away, they welcomed me with open arms. You laughed, they smile. You took, they gave.
More Lifecasts: Allison Nazarian | Shannon Ball | Letters To A Cheating Spouse
About the Author: A man sends letters to his cheating spouse. Read how the story developed, his experiences and lessons over time.