I don’t know if I ever told you about what I was going through when we met. I was in my seat, stuffed in the window as I had two very large people next to me, and I lost my breath when you entered the airplane. You were late, along with a few other passengers. I looked up from my seat and the moment I saw you, I was astonished, blown away! For some crazy ass reason, the moment I saw you, I knew I was going to marry you! I don’t know how I knew it, I just did. For all I knew you could have been gay and married but that didn’t cross my mind.

If it weren’t for leaving Las Vegas 2 1/2 years after we started dating long distance, life as I know it today would be very different. I most likely wouldn’t be alive right now. I found you and knew what had to be done. Many years later in looking back, it is hard to imagine the life from whence I came.

You have no idea what lifestyle I was living that you didn’t see. I would be at my friend’s house for countless nights drinking beer, partying like rock stars, playing games and just hanging out, night after night, until the wee hours of the morning. I was still dating while we were “together” even though our relationship was 2,500 miles apart. I wasn’t looking for something else, just companionship at the time. I needed my prince charming to rescue me and take me away from a life that was a horrible downward spiral. I needed a hero, a rescuer. You did just that.

In looking back to all of the hell you put me through, I want to thank you for it. If it weren’t for your incredible insecurities and your parental guilt because of a divorce, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. We wouldn’t have gone to the Tough Love meetings, and I wouldn’t have met Gerry Ohara!

Maybe it was your divorce and experience with your ex-wife cheating with your sister’s ex-husband that jaded you a bit. Maybe you were always a control freak but I will never know. When you became my husband, you became my parent. A partnership or being equal would have never crossed your brain.

For quite awhile, I didn’t mind being a lady of leisure hanging out in the duplex while you worked. I felt a little bit entitled and deserving when I would think back to the life I was living in Las Vegas. As the days would go by, and talk would start about me getting a job, that’s when your true insecurities hit the fan.

When I started working at the radio station, in the sales department as a secretary, did you really think I would sleep with the salesmen? I was married, just like they were, and the thought never crossed my brain! One day in the five months I worked there, we had a record breaking sales month. The department was able to go spend some money and buy everyone lunch. Why did you have to embarrass me by forcing me to quit working there, “because there were men at lunch?” I had all of the other girls at the radio station believing I had some Cinderella lifestyle. I painted one hell of a great picture on how we met, how romantic it all was… you kicked that story to the curb. Somehow though when I told it, I still believed it!

I don’t know how many times I tried to reassure you that I was a woman with a moral compass, and I would never cheat! Ever! Clearly I had a pretty messed up head; that was a given. Even then, I knew I would always be able to look at myself in the mirror and, although I truly hated myself, I couldn’t do something that would give me that kind of guilt. That is something I would never, ever do. You would never have believed me, regardless of what I would promise.

I promised myself that I would never in my life be in the space of a man that ever would lay a hand on me. My mother’s first four husbands were violent abusers, this was a promise I made to myself early on. Sadly, I didn’t know that physical abuse and emotional abuse could be so closely tied together. How was I to know that they both could scare me; only physical abuse could be visible on my body, emotional abuse is engrained in your mind. You were a pro, I’ll give you that.

I feel pretty sad for you today knowing how you let your kids down so terribly. I know you felt total guilt over breaking up your family because your wife cheated on you… spoiling them rotten was NOT the way to give them what they needed to survive as adults. Did you know that the night Eric took a knife to our kitchen, it was because you actually said the word “no” to him for the first time – at 15 years old? How in the hell was the kid supposed to react? He had never heard you say that before.

Buying your kids everything and anything you imagined they would want for Christmas was a pathetic thing to witness. You let them both just tear open each wrapped box in the huge pile you had for them under the tree. They would rip them open, grunting and groaning when they saw the contents. Once they opened each gift partially and saw what you bought them, they would just toss them aside looking dissatisfied with the gift and grab another box. There wasn’t as much as a “thank you” from either one of them. I couldn’t believe my eyes. You wanted so much to “buy” your kids happiness and sadly, it never worked. Did it?

I can’t believe you took your son’s side after the shower incident. Here I am safely locked in my bathroom and cleaning my body, enjoying my warm water and moment. Your perverted son gets a hanger and unlocks the door and is standing on the toilet seat watching me. When I saw him and screamed at the top of my lungs, pushing him off through the shower curtain, you felt a little sympathy for me for maybe an hour. You couldn’t understand after this event why I wouldn’t let your son near me. He always came up and gave me big bear hugs but now I knew it was to feel my boobs against his developing body! Here I thought he was just showing a little bit of affection because finally there was someone in his life that wasn’t so crazy in the head. I know you didn’t forget about the sexual abuse I told you about when I was young. That stuff just doesn’t go away.

Didn’t you find it odd, sad and rather scary that our sweet German Shepherd, Pepsi was scared to death of your son? Anytime I came back, and he had been alone with her, the poor dog was scared to death! Shaking, drooling, hiding behind me. You saw that too! My sweet dog was completely petrified of your teenager. What in the hell was he doing to my dog?

Remember when he had the pipe that he made in school, and you promised to take him to a jail and experience a scared straight program? Remember when you changed your mind two days later and believed what he told you, it was only a whistle, and you didn’t do jack shit about it? How is that all working for you now? Huh?

I got a call a few years ago from Child Protective Services trying to track a family member down so they could take care of his children while he was “indisposed.” All they saw was my name was the same as yours previously. They didn’t know we were divorced, and no longer did I have your last name. Because of this I was disqualified. As if I would have helped him?. That poor kid needed love and responsibility from an early age, and you never gave that to him.

You also didn’t know when we started going to the ‘Tough Love’ meetings that Gerry, the social worker that was doing the classes, was in front of me for a reason. He was the beginning of the end of our parent/child relationship.

How dare you think you can tell me what clothes are acceptable for me to wear? All of my life I’ve heard time and time again, one of my greatest assets are my legs. I am not Amish! I don’t need to cover my knees! When I wore the outfits you made me turn around and wear backward, did you think I left them that way all day? The second I was out of your sight they were turned back the way they were supposed to be. Perhaps a little too peek-a-boo for you but guess what, I still didn’t sleep with anyone else!

When I was doing the survey for the Human Ecology Institute about late night driving, do you have any idea how much of an ass I must have looked like to the other women? The one night we couldn’t do the survey because of the downpour of rain, so we all decide to go get a drink and get to know each other better. Those girls were laughing and having such fun while I was sipping one beer, questioning if I should even have it, knowing my ass would be in so much trouble when I got home. The entire drive home I felt like a kid about ready to get a beating! The sick feeling in my gut knew he would be yelling at me, just like a child. Man, I was one weak woman. Oh yes, I was in big trouble!

The time when you were going through my purse and throwing everything out, remember that? It’s because you saw the checkbook and somehow pieced together that I plan my visits to the grocery store mostly on Wednesdays; you just knew I was sleeping with someone at the grocery store! Really? In the back room? Butcher refrigerator? How did you live with yourself?

I guess becoming a big body builder was your answer. Bulk up and nobody would be messing with your wife, was that it? What would you ever accomplish by getting all big and muscular? Were you preparing yourself just in case some guy might walk by and accidentally look my way? What would you do? Punch him? Threaten his life? Seriously, who thinks like that. I never told you this although it wouldn’t have mattered, but I am so not attracted to guys with big muscles. It doesn’t do anything for me.

All of those times you threatened me by getting in my face and screaming, “if you do ____, we will get a divorce,” did you think I just brushed those comments off?

When I started going to bed early, for awhile I would just lay there and cry. After I found two books and started reading them, I started feeling the power I was meant to find. Two simple books would be the beginning of the rest of my life.

They were “Cinderella Complex” and “Looking out for Number One.” I randomly found them at the bookstore looking in the self-help section. The “Cinderella Complex” was about a women’s fear of independence – an unconscious desire to be taken care of by others… duh! And “Looking out for Number One” was a clear demonstration of how to get “from where you are now to where you want to be.” These books reminded me why I needed to get out of Las Vegas. Not to just get married and be a step mom to a man with such issues, I had a reason for being on this planet, and I needed to get back to me!

The night we went out with your sister and her new husband to the sports bar, that was one of the best nights during my life with you. We never really went out, especially to bars because, well, I would sleep with someone, right? That night I actually got up and sang karaoke songs all night long! I filled out a few request slips with the songs I loved to sing from before, let me tell you, I was in heaven. It got better when I found out that other people were putting in requests for songs for me to sing, some alone and some in duets. I was on a high like I had never experienced. I had a little confidence kicking in that night; I felt great.

Remember what happened when we got home? You see dear, I made a promise to myself the last time you threatened me with the words, “if you do ______, we will get a divorce.” I swore to myself that the next time you said it, no matter where or when, I would leave you. I would pack up my stuff and move out.

After we had sat at the kitchen table and you asked me if I had a good time, of course I raved about it. It was so special when you quietly said, “that’s good. If you ever sing at a bar again, we are getting a divorce.”

After those words had left your lips, it was really odd how a completely strange calm came over me. I got up and went to bed. Knowing my promise to myself would not be broken, I slept better that night than I had during most of the marriage. I knew ‘tomorrow’ would be the first day of the rest of my life.

Oh, and by the way, I continued to see Gerry for a little under a year. With his help, I was able to take my hundreds of resentments that had been built up for decades and reduce them to zero. I no longer blamed others for anything that happened in my life, I decided I would from this point forward start driving my bus. I have never experienced such power and happiness.

That was just the start of the incredible power that has overcome me moving forward with every new day of my life. The things I am now doing with my life never would never have been able to enter my mind. I thank you for the years and the broken road that brought me to where I am today.

This letter to my ex-husband won’t be seen by him; he would deny it all anyway, sadly.