What I’m about to tell you is a true story. It’s something that I believe deserves mentioning. It’s a situation that so many of us face everyday, yet we somehow blow if off and tell ourselves that it’s not true. I was 23 years old when this happened. I was young, vulnerable, and a soul who needed to feel loved. It was also a very confusing time for me, as I had only been married one year and wondered if I had made the biggest mistake of my life. You see, my ex-husband was a big-time player back then, and he didn’t want the responsibility of being tied-down. He thought that he could come and go as he pleased, despite my efforts in trying to keep him at bay.
Well one day, I received a phone call from a friend who happened to mention that a group of mutual friends, from the bar where we hung out, were going to Atlantic City that afternoon. The plan was for everyone to meet up at the bar at 4:00 in the afternoon to take a chartered bus. As she continued talking, my mind was playing back the conversation I had with my husband before I had left the house for work that morning. He had told me that he had to do something for his father, and it would take him most of the night. I didn’t think to question him so I let the conversation drop from my mind and headed out the door. But as my friend continued to talk, I began to suspect that I had been lied to and that he would be joining the group who were going out that night.
When I hung up the phone, I found that my instincts couldn’t be ignored, and I did what I felt was necessary to catch him: I left work early.
He had no idea that I was on my way home, so when I got there, I quickly changed my clothes, grabbed my car keys, and headed over to the local pub. As I was driving, my heart was pounding through my chest. I was so determined to catch him that I was weaving in and out of traffic–I even went through red lights. As I approached the block of the bar, I could see in the distance the silver bus parked in front, and next to it, the large crowd waiting to board. I knew this was going to be it. I was going to catch him.
I pulled my car over and quickly jumped out; and as I ran towards the group I could plainly see my husband chatting away with one of the girls. The line was moving quickly onto the bus, and he and the girl were almost near the door when I yelled out to him.
“Don’t even try it!”
He spun around, and upon noticing me, displayed a dropped jaw and bulging eyes. He was cold-busted.
“Where the hell do you think you’re going?” I yelled.
He stepped off the line and walked towards me. “What?” he said, playing dumb.
“You heard me. Where do you think you’re going?”
“I’m going to hang out for a while,” he stammered.
I was now in front of his face. “You said you were helping your father tonight. So you lied?”
He turned to look at the line getting onto the bus and then turned to look at me. “I didn’t lie. My father said that he didn’t need any help, so I figured I would go with my friends. What’s the big deal?”
“What’s the big deal?” I shrieked.
He didn’t answer me. He just kept turning to look at his friends, who were heckling him.
“You must really wanna get on that bus? Don’t ya?” I said.
He rolled his eyes.
Right there I had my answer. He wanted to be with his friends, and had planned on being on the bus and long gone before I got home from work. It was like–play now, deal with it later. The betrayal was almost crushing. To think that my husband was lying right to my face and didn’t even care that I was hurt. I turned around and began walking back to my car.
“So you’re mad?” he called out.
I stopped walking to look back to him.
“You get on that bus, and I’m calling a lawyer.”
I started to walk away.
He took a step toward me. “Oh, great. Okay, fine. I won’t go. Bitch.”
I just kept walking.
“What? No snappy comeback?” he called out.
I wouldn’t turn around. I opened my car door and got in. As I put my key in the ignition, I looked into my rearview mirror. He was getting into his car which was parked on the corner behind me. For some reason, I had a feeling that he wasn’t going home so I did what any girl would do.
As he pulled out of his spot, I pulled out of mine and banged a U-turn. He went down one street, I went down the street which was parallel and cut him off. We met up on the adjoining avenue. When he saw me, he stepped on the gas and made a hard left down the next street. Oh yeah, I yelled out loud. Can’t lose me!
And as the chase continued, him trying to get away from me and me cutting him off at every turn, it suddenly occurred to me that I was running after someone who didn’t want to be caught. I was trying to catch up to someone who didn’t want me around. The revelation was mind-blowing. It was huge! I was married to someone who I loved, but who didn’t love me back. As this truth unfolded, I began to feel stupid. I felt the harshness of the realization creep into my stomach and into my head. Suddenly I felt like I didn’t belong–didn’t fit in–wasn’t wanted– and that perhaps I never was wanted. I pulled my car over to the nearest empty spot and turned it off, and just stared out the window. The only thing I could hear was the bare whisper of my own stupidity leaving my lips, Val, he doesn’t want you. Stop chasing him.
I must have sat there for fifteen minutes before I could even move. The truth was hardcore. It was devastating, but most of all, it was real. I turned on the ignition and pulled out of the spot and went home.
Sometimes the truth is the most terrifying of fears that we must face. It can break our spirits. It can be so painful. It can make us curl into fetal positions wishing we had never been born. It was that day when I learned that you can’t make someone love you when they just don’t.
Looking back, I can say that my ex-husband didn’t love me. And maybe it was all for the best. Life has a way of delivering the truth. But it’s up to us to recognize it, and to face it–to learn from it and to move on. When someone doesn’t love you, they just don’t, and nothing you could do can change it.