(As told to Team Bonobology)
When I left my love marriage and filed for divorce from my controlling and manipulative husband, there were several areas in which I faced challenges. They were tough to overcome, but I offer proof that indeed you can stay strong and come out a winner.
The manipulative husband and the rumours
Keeping sane after being battered by insults, lies and horrid stories continuously is where my strength stemmed from. The hardest part of a divorce is to not react. That somebody you loved so dearly, shared a bed and life with, considered a part of you can say such things is heart wrenching. It takes courage to stand alone and face the situation, aware that you’ve been betrayed by the closest people in your life; and especially when the rumours being spread are so downright nasty, horrible and largely untrue.
The only way to withstand this is to constantly remind yourself: I don’t want this marriage, I am never going back there, and his words are just words.
The rumours that he and his ‘team’ spread about me were plenty, and almost laughable. The worst stories he spread were of my family, blaming them for the breakdown. That’s the thing about narcissists – they refuse to take blame for anything. They point fingers (he also blamed my best friend for the divorce, and then went on to sleep with her).
The truth is, my parents had no idea to what extent I was suffering and unhappy. I told them I wanted a divorce on the morning of the day that I left his home. I had gone to the lawyers by myself before. This was my decision and I wanted to take responsibility for my own life. Him targeting my family was also proof that he had nothing else substantial to throw at me, because everyone had seen me do everything right in my marriage.
The day I left, I was already aware of his activities behind my back. Over the initial weeks, so much more information came my way that made me realise battling for friends was not worth it. I had already gauged his next steps and he proved me right. I did not want to involve more people in such a personal family matter. It also helped that I was in no mood to talk or socialise with anyone.
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What surprised me the most was that in this separation period his friends all reached out to me and stood by me, while my best friend started sleeping with him and divorced her own unsuspecting poor husband. And she joined him in assassinating my character. She called me names, labelled me crazy and maligned my family. His friends did nothing but compliment and praise me.
It’s true when they say in hard times you see the true integrity in people. Some people even called me to tell me what was going on behind my back because they felt guilty at not having spoken out before – these revelations helped me understand so many of the fights that hadn’t made sense to me earlier. He had a whole life and personality behind my back that I had been clueless about. He still doesn’t know how much I know about him and his disgusting activities, and still badmouths me at any given chance – it’s been over a year. It doesn’t even hurt me anymore.
I wanted nothing but to be free of him. I did a breakup cleanse – deleted all pictures, threw away anything that offered even a subtle reminder of my husband and the marriage. During this period it was so easy to get caught up in the hatred against them for creating more problems even though I left them completely alone.
I stopped hating him and her and everyone else. The hate had given me insomnia and disturbed my focus – I instead realised I should thank both of them. I thank her for having had this affair with him so early on before we started a family and showing what he really was made of before it was too late, and I thank him for making me realise what a strong and brave person I am.
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I studied for a new course, I travelled. I didn’t call anyone up to discuss my divorce or make anyone pick sides. That’s the worst thing you can do, after being influenced by people with other motives.
I don’t hate anyone that I ‘lost’ in the divorce, instead it has helped me understand and judge people in a better way. I’m now a lot more guarded when it comes to trusting. I adopted a healthier lifestyle and stayed away from any vices that had the slightest capability to bring me down – this is a lot easier to do when you live with your family who fully support you.
Being the bigger person
Not once did I address the rumours; I maintained silence throughout. This was the hardest thing to do, and tends to affect you in many ways. I constantly told myself that in time the truth will come out for all to see.
I never said a bad word for any of them, because honestly I don’t care; my marriage was over long before we filed, and him doing anything with anyone doesn’t hurt me, but relieved me that he would just sign the papers and leave me alone. And this motivation alone kept me strong. I started working again in a new career that I had been thinking about for long. I started smiling and laughing again, I travelled, I ate good food. I was living a good life again.
Don’t lose hope
In times like this, you realise the importance of people with a backbone and that there is no such thing as black and white, but every shade of grey instead. Sure, friends reached out and stayed in touch. But they also kept quiet when he went below the belt about my family and me. Nobody wants to get involved in a ‘family’ matter. However, these people also went out and said ‘she is a lovely person, who has carried herself with such grace despite all that he’s doing’.
I have the silent support of so many people, which counts in the long run. It’s been a year and the truths have already surfaced and everyone’s characters are on display for people to judge. I learnt people don’t really care what is being said – if you’re a good person it comes through eventually.
And the result of my polite, mature behaviour: my friends who supported him are now being judged for it and have gotten a taste of his infamous bad behaviour treatment; he’s lost all his closest friends.
Going out to social events is still daunting and I avoid them as much as possible. I remain nervous in big crowded parties. I still believe in love, friendship and marriage but I’m in no hurry. I’ve found my true friends and I’m grateful for all the beautiful things life has to offer. And most importantly, I’ve never been this happy and sure in my life. Today I’m free as a bird.