Chapter 3: This was calculated.

The next morning, I sat on the sofa in my dressing gown. Empty. Lifeless. Comatose.

I watched the clock in my lounge room tick. For hours and hours. I just sat on the sofa and watched those clock hands move. How did this happen?! My brain worked in overdrive dissecting every aspect of our marriage. I mentally trawled through the past few years trying to detect the slightest hint of trouble.

But I actually struggled to find anything that could be remotely responsible for THIS to be unfolding!!

Our marriage was the Titanic. A stunningly beautiful vision. Impressive. Inspiring. UNSINKABLE.

And we’d just had our ice berg moment.

A massive tear in the hull of our marriage.

This was me assessing the damage. Is this fixable? Can we patch it up and keep going? Is water pouring in? Are we going under?

I looked through photos from our recent road trip in November 2012. That was only three months prior to this. Happy times. And I have the happy snaps to prove it. We took Rommet with us. It was my very first camping trip. I thought it went beautifully.

We’d also just bought a second house in November 2012 which we planned would be our family home one day. We had already arranged to rent it out in the meantime. Talk about entrepreneurial, successful DINKs!

My assessment? Life was sweet!

But, there was one small ‘negative’ that I could pinpoint. And it was all I could find to offer some kind of explanation for this nightmare….

We were trying to have a baby. And it wasn’t happening for us. Coming up to a year and a half.

And we were one week off starting IVF.

On the morning of that ‘Disaster Friday’, I got my period. And I’d told Mr Ex that. It was the ‘green light’ – so to speak – that I, once again, was not pregnant and we would therefore go full-steam ahead for IVF the following week. Injections and tablets were all lined up. This is our time!

We had an amazing fertility doctor and her team were super supportive. Good to chat to. Easy going. Light-hearted. And that’s exactly what you want in a fertility team, considering they’re required to insert probes to suss out the thickness of your uterus lining, ask awkward questions about your sex life and examine your sperm under a microscope.

It wasn’t doom and gloom though.

We had been told that we had unusually excellent chances with IVF due to our young age and the tip-top condition of my insides. We would be good for their statistics.

So, that all seemed really positive. To me, at least.

I was actually excited!!

Mr Ex and I often chatted about baby names. I liked the name Amelia. He wanted Neave. He said he liked Irish names (remember that; it’ll be a useful piece of the puzzle down the track!). Mr Ex was a complete natural with children. Like, even better than me and I work with kids! That was one of the many things that drew me to Mr Ex, actually. I knew he’d be a brilliant dad.

So anyway, the only reasoning that I could find for ‘problems’ in our marriage was the fertility journey. Maybe it has affected Mr Ex harder than me? I wondered.

I then looked through my 2012 diary trying to determine dates and times when Mr Ex may have had an opportunity to be having an affair (when was he ‘working late’ or perhaps when he may have been acting strangely?). I couldn’t find much of a window for an affair though. We spent SO. MUCH. time together! Admittedly, yes, I acknowledged he had been a little stressed in the previous weeks, but he was in the running for a significant promotion at work – soon to be earning over $100,000/year at work – and a little bit of stress is only natural in the circumstances… right?

So, to me, it just didn’t make sense.

He has a high-income lawyer job. Two houses. Excellent IVF chances. Holidays. Church. Great couple friends also having babies. Life’s predictable and sensible and safe and, well, once that baby comes along, it’ll be 110% perfect!

(Yes, I’m hoping you are starting to see cracks, even though grieving Ess was completely oblivious!).

Again, how did this happen?!

This ship is unsinkable!! Everyone said so!! So, how is this even possible?

I always thought that when a relationship was in trouble, both people would realise. Surely both people could sense if there was an issue. Both would know that something was not right. But I never saw this coming. I AM HEAD OVER HEELS IN LOVE WITH HIM , I thought.

The ice berg was completely unforeseen.

Mum and Aly were at my house. There was nothing anyone could say to change the situation. They couldn’t give me any answers. They just listened to me ramble on and on whilst going around in circles trying to find answers. And they sat in comforting silence with me when I couldn’t speak.

At 2pm, Mr Ex made contact.

He texted me.

He said that he wasn’t coming home any time soon.

But I remembered that he was going sailing that weekend. He must be texting me just before he sets sail, I thought. OK, that’s not too bad. He just needs some thinking time. Sailing will clear away the cobwebs. The fresh sea air will do him a world of good.

“You’re better than this,” I texted, trying to encourage him. “Come back to me. Come back to reality. Come back to God. We will get through this and be stronger for it. I love you no matter what.”

No reply though.

“Are you sure he’s actually gone sailing?” Mum asked me.

Of course I am sure! This is a man with integrity and honesty.  I know my husband.  I mean, he obviously couldn’t live a lie long-term so that’s why he fessed up and told me the truth. He couldn’t live with the guilt so he came clean. That’s a good sign, right?

We had been a couple since I was 17 and he was 19. I had spent seven years defending him, backing him up, and standing by him. That instinct and reflex to defend your spouse is not easy to override.

But my ever-thinking mum rang the sailing club.

There were no boat races that weekend.

My body went into a cold sweat as the realisation sank in. He is not sailing. When he told me weeks ago about the race, it was all a lie. And he is still lying. He is not crossing the gulf. He has been plotting, scheming, LYING for weeks, maybe months!!!!!!

Was it all a big lie to spend the weekend with her?

Things had suddenly changed.

This is not a spur of the moment thing.

This was calculated.

And yes, just like the Titanic, that was that gut-wrenching, earth-shattering, heart-stopping moment where I realise that there aren’t enough lifeboats on-board.

Everyone knew that this incredible ocean liner – aka our marriage – was a beacon of perfection. Seemingly faultless, impeccable and magnificent. So, surely, it doesn’t require lifeboats for everyone on board. Because IT IS UNSINKABLE!! But, here we are. Icy water is pouring in. Rapidly.

Suddenly, the world’s most perfect ship has obvious fatal flaws. And there’s nothing anyone can do.

I had moments of disbelief:  Who needs lifeboats if a ship is unsinkable?! There is absolutely, irrevocably and undoubtedly NO chance of this going under!

And, I had moments of reality: We’re taking on water and this ship will be on the bottom of the ocean in a matter of hours, unless there is some kind of miracle.

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Chapter 1: Disaster Friday

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.

So here goes…

Nearly two years ago, my husband came home from work and told me that he was having an affair. We had been married for nearly four years. Four very happy years filled with life’s abundant blessings.

I was 24 and he was 26.

It was the Friday night of the January 2013 long weekend as well as the last day of Summer school holidays. I was on cloud 9 because, as a co-ordinator at a popular Vacation Care service for children, the end of school holidays meant the end of our busiest season. Woohoo! So I came home that evening feeling totally exhausted after six weeks of school holidays filled with taking sixty chaotic children, aged between four and twelve, to the zoo, co-ordinating games of Stuck in the Mud, making fruit skewers and fashioning crocodiles out of cereal boxes and egg cartons (ahh, the memories of multiple burns on my fingers from the hot glue gun!).

My husband – for privacy’s sake, let’s call him Mr Ex – had texted me earlier in the day saying, “I love you, Ess. I’ll pick up ciders on my way home to celebrate you surviving [Vacation Care]!”

After getting home and changing into an oversized t-shirt and comfy leggings, I was sitting on the floor in the lounge room watching TV. Nothing in particular; just blankly watching TV to fill in the time before my beloved husband returned home from work.

Rommet, our fur baby, heard his papa’s car pulling up and started barking excitedly.

Next came the sound of his keys in the door.

“I survived!!” I cried out with a smile from ear to ear, thinking of the busyness at work over the past six weeks.

No reply came.

That’s odd.

Mr Ex is a lawyer. He walked into the room, putting his briefcase onto a kitchen chair and my celebratory ciders on the bench, and came over to stand in between me – still sitting on the floor – and the TV.

“Essie, I have something to tell you and it is going to hurt you,” he began.

I braced myself and hit the mute button on the TV remote control.

“I have been seeing someone else.”

My instant reaction was to laugh. I didn’t. But his statement was 100% far-fetched, impossible, out of the question, ridiculous, laughable, etc. etc. I mean, that was my best friend standing in front of me. My soul mate. My other half. The only other person in this world who really ‘got’ me. A person who could never lie or cheat or do the wrong thing by me. A person with a heart of gold and compassion to match. So his statement was ludicrous in every possible and impossible way.

It must be a joke. That’s the only explanation.

Within milliseconds, I realised this was not a joke.

I started crying and shrivelled into a little ball, expecting him to come down to my level, hug me, and tell me how much he regretted it and that I was the only girl for him.

He didn’t.

He continued standing over me with a horrifying look of vacuity.

Who is this person?!

I got up and wiped away the tears, realising that sobbing on the floor was futile.

“Who is she?”, “How long has this been going on for?” …all the questions that you hear jilted wives asking on soapies. Mr Ex didn’t say much though. Instead, he walked back to the kitchen bench, buried his head in his hands, and said that he wanted some space away from me.

WHAT?! He hasn’t “needed space” away from me in the past seven years!!

Occasionally, he was a crew member on a sailing boat that competed in races. The races were always during the daytime, but he’d told me for the past couple of weeks that he was doing his first overnight race that long weekend, leaving Saturday morning and returning Sunday afternoon. I had made a note of that in my diary with a sad face. I’d absolutely hated the thought of being home alone overnight. In fact, I’d absolutely hated the thought of being without him for any period of time.

“I’m going to stay with a friend tonight and then I’m still going sailing tomorrow,” he quietly told me, still with his head in his hands. I tried to pull his hands away from his face. I wanted to talk. I wanted answers. I wanted to know details. But he muttered, “We might both get lucky and I’ll fall overboard and drown.”

“Don’t say that!” I snapped.

In exasperation, I stamped my foot. I begged him to stay. I begged him to talk.

But it didn’t work.

He slowly removed his face from his hands and looked deeply at me.

“Can I call someone for you to talk to?” he asked. He seemed strangely calm.

“I only want to talk to you!” I slapped his forearm in desperation. A pitiful little girl slap. He looked at me with a face of sympathy and sorrow, then he grabbed some sailing things and walked out the front door.

With Rommet at my feet, I walked to the glass sliding door and looked out into the backyard. All I could see in the darkness was my reflection.

How to describe this moment?

Utter devastation. Disorientation. Confusion. Trauma.

I started uncontrollably bellowing.

How in all the WORLD did this HAPPEN to us?! He’s my EVERYTHING!! I’m NOTHING without him! We’ve been INSEPARABLE for the past SEVEN YEARS!! We met in CHURCH! We are CHRISTIANS!! We have friends who are Christians!! If there REALLY is a loving God out there, he would NOT let this happen!! What went WRONG???

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