When my husband and I mutually agreed to separate (me: “I think we need a break”. him: “OK…See ya…Bye”) it was the weekend after Fathers Day. X had started a new job in April. One I had wholeheartedly championed him toward. I’ve always been that kind of person…the one who put her needs before her kids and especially her husband. X is a physician I met during his residency. We met, fell in love and married two years later. We moved from state to state in the first 8 years of our marriage ….he continuing his education and specialization, and I packing, moving, setting up, tearing down, getting pregnant, raising kids, etc… We were a team, at least that’s what I thought.
I hadn’t really thought about it all those years until now… that is, why I never thought about what I would want to do for myself? I was raised in a home where Dad worked and mom raised 6 kids at home. I myself worked until I got pregnant with my oldest daughter and moved cross country twice in two and a half years. We actually moved 8 times in those 8 years. I was young and thought it was exciting. People complimented me on how I held it together and what a great mom I was being able to go off to new places and start over. Those years went by in a blink of an eye before we moved to PA, had our youngest daughter and decided to settle down and grow roots while the kids were in school. School years were full for me. My oldest has a learning disability and not having another school aged child to compare I was left to navigate what was age appropriate and acceptable learning ability. X started working in Pharmaceuticals, traveling the world. In fact, when the boys started school and my youngest was born he was working 2 weeks out of the month in another country. But, hey…I was super mom! I could handle it! My mother-in-law applauded me for “doing it all”. “Wasn’t it wonderful that X is such a good provider?” “That he could give you all this wonderful life?” “That you could stay home with your children?” Sure it was. I loved being with my kids. I was so busy with science projects and changing diapers in the back seat of the cars at soccer games I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to do! We were a team…or so I thought….
From the moment X moved out I became “the controlling wife”. The one who always needed to know X’s business (he was spending hand over fist in strip clubs, in my defense)… the one who needed to get a job and do something with her life…
I was left with 14 and 16 year old girls at home, a menagerie of pets and a house that was falling apart overhead. X had cashed in his pension from a previous job….literally all of our money for retirement…and blocked me from having access. He was out at nightclubs and strip clubs nightly, and said that his new job coupled with the split had him depressed and anxious. He HAD to go out to relieve his anxiety. As for his “friend”, she was just a friend who he was “helping out”. I actually heard the words “her life is worse that yours and the kids! You don’t understand!” I thought he was going through a huge midlife crisis. He would go out every night walking around until 3am, buying pizzas for the homeless; giving a bartender he met $300 for rent. He felt he was doing this to help the world…to make himself a better person. I begged him to get help and he’d say that he would, but that I was pushing him to make changes too quickly. I realized soon that his pushing back and saying he needed more time was his way to feed his addiction…because thats what it was/is….an addiction. Nights out for dinner/drinks became financing her apartment…then taking her in a 9 day 15k vacation (with his brother & wife!)
I begged a few trusted members of his family to help him…and I was told to lean on my own family.
In the end X was fired from his job and hundreds of thousand of dollars were spent before I could get a court order to freeze the accounts. My retirement gone. College tuition gone. Oh, and by the way… the 23 y.o. GF gone when she was told she had no more access to the moolah….
So, midlife crisis vs mental illness? I’d say a little crisis and a lot of illness. X is in the process of moving back into the house next month because we have no extra money and we need to coexist until we can sell the house. He’s quite depressed, well, with no job, no 23 y.o. hottie, no money. Our days are spent avoiding each other and talking politely around the girls, who are still trying to figure out who X is and what he did with their Dad. The next few months will be interesting…