I was a teenage mother, married at a young age to my high school 'sweetheart'.
We grew up in a small town, and I wanted adventure. We moved around alot, he was in the military. The military slowly changed him, made him hard, difficult, selfish, angry, manipulative.
the man I loved slowly disappeared into someone that I grew to hate, despite sharing two children with him. he worked all the time, and I stayed home and took care of our kids, but never got the respect or love I wanted. he always had hobbies, other things he would do, but would never share with me, the things I loved either. And it always had to be his way. He tried to inflict his predjudices on me, he tried to make my children predjudiced against other races, he tried to stop me reading all the time, tried to berate me for using words that he didn't know, tried to prevent me from embarassing him, because he was so proud. He used me, as a carer for his children, telling me that to work would cause us hardship. He was vindictive, controlling. He never hit me, but then... he didn't have to.
Turns out after 7 years the man I married was nothing like me.
I met a man online, on a telnet gaming server, from far away that I quickly became friends with. And for a long time thats all it was, friends chatting online about friend stuff, every day things, things we enjoyed, things we didn't. Then one day when I suffered another spate of neglect, I left my husband. The first person I called was the man I'd made friends with, who lived oh so far away. I felt deep fear for the first time.
My ex, he hounded me. Threatened to take my kids away, threatened to send the cops after me if I left state lines, said horrible things. Then begged, and pleaded and cried, and promised me to change, and promised he would be more of a partner to me, instead of a roomate.
Eventually I went back. But I was afraid, I was 25, never had a job, never had much of a social life. I had no family, just me, my kids and the husband I hated.
After that, a very intense love affair started, and I couldn't pull myself away. My lover was warm, attentitve, eloquent, kind, understanding, sensitive, sweet, and a fantastic lover, despite the distance and incredibly sexy to me.
It went on for a long time. Chats online, phone calls. One or two visits where I went away to a 'friends' for a couple weeks. (I've never known such torment. To love someone, who I shouldnt. To hate someone that I shouldn't. To hate myself for being weak, for lacking courage. It went on so long that I am ashamed at not having left my husband sooner.
I had agonized over whether to tell him. I agonized over whether I would be able to keep my children, how I would be able to afford to stay in the area, so he could see them regularly, I tortured myself. I cried so many tears, and then came a long period of alcoholism, to try and hide from myself what I was doing, to try and falsify happiness. Finally I felt I had to do something. I put myself back in school, and got my diploma. I started working, and just as I thought I might get free, might be able to stand on my own feet and leave, he found out about it.
An accidental chat log, that had been deposited in my document folder, that I wasn't aware was there. (I'd been so incredibly careful)
When he did, I felt such releif, I had fought my way from being a frightened mousy housewife to having a job and what I hoped to be turning into a career.
I felt relief, that now my husband hated me for what I'd done to him, almost as much as I hated him. I could walk away now, now that he wouldn't want me.
But... to see the suffering that he went through because he had been betrayed, was the most horrible thing I've ever done to another human being. I've never known I was capable of hurting someone so badly, tearing his life down around his ears after 9 years.
But I felt it, freedom tugging at my feet, giving me wings. At 27 I was finally free to be my own woman...At such a great cost.
I'll never forget the emotional scars, the shame, the despair, the fear, the hoplessness, the tremulous first steps of freedom, full of exhultation, ready and rearing to go and mostly the regret. That I hadn't had the courage all along to do what I knew was best, and I shattered my family because of it. I was so selfishly staying beacuse I thought it would be better for my children. But it wasn't. They were hurt worse by their fathers pain, I should have spared them that. I should ahve seen it coming, but I was blind. I was oblivious to what it would cost them as well.
I have had to pay for that selfishness, by losing them. They had to stay with him. He had the house, the car, the money, I'd never worked and he used it against me along with my guilt, and I let him. I felt I'd deserved the punishment. But it hurt my children more.
Sometimes to do nothing, is the worst choice of all.