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I asked for a sign. I'm spiritual but not religious; I pray for help occasionally, but I don't go to church. I was crying, desperate. I just didn't know what else to do. I asked God, the Angels, the universe - whoever or whatever was out there and could hear me - to please send me some kind of sign that would help me decide what to do.  

Things were unbearable with Jeff. He was depressed and mopey more often than not. He was still trying to make our relationship work, but his hold was slipping. He had absolutely ruined my birthday - came home early from work that day, not so we could have sex, not so he could give me a massage or just spend some extra quality time with me; no, he came home early because he was depressed. Mind you, he had managed to have business meetings all morning and eat lunch with a client, but when he walked in the door on my birthday, all he could manage for me was a peck on the cheek and "I'm going to lie down." He didn't even ask me how my early morning volleyball games had been or whom I'd heard from that day. When I brought it up to him later, he defended himself with "I was depressed. There was nothing I could do about it." Certainly reminded me of plenty of birthdays I'd had as a child - my mother depressed and unable to pull it out for me either. Is that what I wanted for my future children - "Sorry; I know it's your birthday, son, but Daddy's depressed today"? Is that what I wanted for myself?

I cut him a little slack; I figured that I was extra sensitive since I wasn't getting along with my family at that time. I was feeling particularly alone at the time of my birthday, and I probably would have been upset no matter how wonderfully he might have responded. We left a week later for a trip to San Francisco, a second chance at a celebration. He ruined that too. I shouldn't say that - I had a good time for much of it; I was determined to enjoy the chance to travel and relished seeing another part of the country, and we did have some pleasant moments. But overall, he could not bring himself to have fun. Even with so much natural beauty, standing next to the ocean in the rain at dawn - a sense of awe alone should have affected something - he was numb. I realized that it wasn't that he couldn't have fun for me or plan fun things for us to do together - he couldn't do it for himself.  

Ever since he had moved into the condo, he had treated it like a bastard stepchild. He did not give it love. Any remodeling, fixing, furniture purchases, redecorating - all had been initiated by me. He did not care about the home he had purchased - a huge accomplishment! - he paid no attention to it at all. Maybe he didn't think he deserved to have a nice environment to live in. He hardly seemed to notice his surroundings. He never made an effort to get to know the new area we were living in, to really make it his home. On weekends he would roll out of bed and turn on the TV. He didn't seem to want to do anything fun or interesting even for himself.  

The week before I asked for the sign, things were going great. We'd had a fight on the weekend, a big ugly one with me screaming and him calming me down - predicated again by his not being able to commit and my huge insecurity because of it. I had felt unimportant my entire life, and here it was again, a man unable to appreciate me enough to be with me forever. It triggered me to madness. We made up; I apologized; we talked it all out; we had sex and felt closer than ever. Yes, that was our pattern, but as long as I got to the point of feeling close again, I was okay with it. We had a few days of his being in a great mood, renewing his efforts towards our relationship, us having fun. It was wonderful. Until his family called.  

Of course, if his family hadn't called, something else would have happened to bring him down. He didn't seem to be able to handle being happy for very long. I guess the terror of commitment would set in. His all-perfect, all-wonderful family that he was not able to say "no" to was planning a family vacation in January and Jeff wanted us to go. It was November, and we weren't in a good place with our relationship. I didn't imagine things would be much better in January. I asked him how I could go and spend a week with his family. Was I supposed to lie and pretend that things were fine? Was I going to discuss plans for the upcoming wedding that I wasn't sure would even happen? Would he go off to play with his nieces and nephews and just ignore me the entire time? He didn't have many vacation days. Shouldn't we be using the time he did have to go back east and check out places for the wedding reception? Or better yet, if he did have extra days, shouldn't we be using them to take a trip ourselves, to reconnect?  

Jeff agreed with me. Completely. He asserted that I was right and that of course there was no way we could go on the family trip. He was still getting settled in his new home and had a wedding to plan. He certainly had enough on his plate that should excuse him from a family vacation. He wasn't upset or sad when we discussed it; he was still upbeat and enthusiastic about our relationship. He went off to work with a smile and big kiss for me.  

Later that afternoon he called and left me a message. I could tell from his voice that he was depressed again. Shit! I careened back down into insecurity and doubt, all the rougher of a tumble for having been riding high on his recent good mood. I cried. And cried. And cried. I was so frustrated, so stuck, so unable to fix the situation. I just didn't know what to do. That's when I asked for a sign.  

I was lying on our bed when he got home. He burst into the room, agitated. "We need to separate!" So much for breaking it to me gently. Separate? We weren't even married yet. He'd had dinner with a friend who had been separated from his wife previously - it must have been his word. Had it been his idea too? I never knew which ideas were really Jeff's, if any of them were. I rolled my eyes at the ceiling in annoyance. It wasn't exactly the sign I had been hoping for. My heart sank into the pit of my stomach.  

He hadn't thought it through; he didn't really want us to break up, and at the end of our two-hour conversation, he was taking it all back and apologizing. I was angry; I was rattled; I was scared. How could I feel safe living in his condo? I had thought it was ours now, had embraced it and was making it a home, but was it? Was I always to feel like I could be kicked out on to the street at any moment? (Not that he would, of course, but that was how I felt.) He hugged me; he soothed me. He told me he loved me and that everything would be all right.  

I turned away from him and began to calm down. It was just another one of his freak-outs, and again I had overreacted. I was never able to identify them clearly when my own fear of abandonment entered. He crawled out of bed on to the floor. I looked over to see what he was doing.

"Who are you texting at one in the morning?!"

"Just leave it alone."

"Leave it alone? Leave it alone? "

"Yes, just go to bed. Don't worry about it."


"My brother. I was just texting him that we were all right."

His brother.  I wasn't even sure that we were all right, but it was crucially important that his brother know right away - 4 AM east coast time. And then I understood. That was the sign.  

He had been in a good mood until he talked to his brother and told him that we wouldn't be going on the family vacation. His brother gave him a hard time. "What do you mean you aren't going on the family vacation? We go every year. You have to go!" To save himself, Jeff threw me under the bus. I didn't want to go on the family vacation because we were having problems. To illustrate his point, Jeff went into excruciating detail about our most recent fight: every nasty thing I said, which swear words I'd used, how I'd pummeled his arms after he released me from the vice grip meant to calm me down. Never mind that we'd talked it out and resolved it. Jeff rehashed it. Never mind that we'd had a conversation about his not discussing our conflicts with his family and he'd promised not to do it again. This was the third time he'd done it since he promised. Clearly, he was not going to change. I felt completely betrayed. I had felt terrible after our fight, ashamed, and now he had shared that shame with his entire family - people I was supposed to be visiting for Thanksgiving.  

It was a few more weeks until I gave the ring back, but that was the definitive moment. I moved out right after the new year. We spent the last month really trying to enjoy each other before I left. It wasn't easy, was often sad, but I felt myself expanding as I loved actively and appreciated what I did have, though it grew less each day. It was hard to let go of the little bit of comfort and support I was getting, even though it wasn't enough. Forty percent seems so much better than zero percent when faced with the choice, though I know it's not. My lesson is to stop settling for less than I deserve. To say no to what is not enough. I will get there.  

It was actually pretty loving as far as breakups go, but I've been grieving and in incredible pain because of my own issues. I've pretty much been unable to write until now. I guess that's a sign too - that things are on the upswing.  

Thank you to those who shared this journey with me.

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Member Comments

    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Brimstone1968 wrote Jan 20, 2011
    • Every single relationship have problems some deal with them silently others in a more open manner but I thank the Lord that the lesson learned is that you recognised the sign no matter how hard it was to face.  Relationships are investment in time and in everything their is a grieving process as well so grieve if you have to the relationship but continue to be strong that you have stepped into making it all worth while for YOU.  No amount of excuses or fixes whould have changed him, he needed it for himself and I am so glad you are doing much better, take it one day at a time and healing will come in time.  Love yourself, you are smart and a special gem on this planet for a time like this.

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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Cathie Beck wrote Jan 21, 2011
    • I congratulate you. After 17 1/2 years of my being the only one with a sense of value of our marriage, the X decided himself in love with a 19 yr old daughter of a friend of ours.
      I thought I’d be treated with fairness and with respect to it being his choice and not mine.
      Nope, I was wrong there too. I think you‘re moving in the right direction because you are able to talk about it. I knew I was going to be Ok when I could talk about it myself.  

      You‘re going to be Ok... I can feel it, I can see it in you! And thanks for sharing with us.


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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      UK Girl wrote Jan 21, 2011
    • @Triggerhappy let me say you might be hurting but you’ll get better and trust me better to be alone than with someone who doesn’t value YOU heart

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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Mzd3 wrote Jan 21, 2011
    • Im sorry you went through this...and I hope you find what you are looking for. I can relate to your story but I was the one who was going thru the depression that Jeff is. I thank God that my husband stuck it out with me, I did get medicine to help with the depression and am feeling SO much better! I hope Jeff gets the help he needs.

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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Triggerhappy wrote Jan 21, 2011
    • Thanks ladies! All of your comments are very much appreciated. I know many of you have gone through similar pain and I’m happy that you are over it enough to offer solace to me. It’s hard for now, but I know I’ll be fine!

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