Some of you over the years who are close to me may have heard this story. Now that it’s in the past – It is a colorful story….. Wasn’t so fun to go through at the time….. A little insight as to why I am the way I am….
Young, in love and stupid – I got married at 18.
Pete was in the Air Force at the time. Our relationship was tumultuous. It was good or bad and not much in between. A lot of the time there was misunderstanding, half-truths and full on secrets. Much of the time I felt like I was losing my mind because life would make no sense with him.
Growing up in Vermont with parents who were both very open honest people and in a town where values and morals were a basis for life I had never experienced anyone who lied compulsively and therefore took everyone for honest. I was naive to say the least.
The lies started before we were even married. While I was still in Vermont, he was stationed in California. He told me that he was being deployed to Somalia. Being the loving caring girlfriend that I was, I was worried sick. He would call when he could and my heart would jump into my throat when the phone would ring. Then one call, he said he had been shot and was being sent home. I was both sick to my stomach and relived that he was alive and going back to the USA.
When I graduated from High School, I moved to CA to be with him. We were married shortly after. At first things were wonderful, as they usually are in the very beginning of a relationship. Then strange little things began to pop up and life began making less and less sense.
He wasn’t like anyone else I had ever been around. He was evasive, secretive, moody, explosive, non-sensical and sometimes just plain weird. I loved him though and I wanted it to work. I tried to bend and compromise. Things would go through fluctuations – good for a while, then more fighting.
After two years of this in two states (we had moved from CA back to VT after he received a dishonorable discharge from the Air Force which stemmed from an innate inability to tell the truth to his superior officers even when faced head on with the facts). I was ready to leave. I had had enough. His mind games had him hiding bills from me charged on my credit cards without permission, writing checks we didn’t have money for and telling me he had told me things he hadn’t in an effort to make me think I was losing my memory – and I did believe that for a while.
Though we lived in the same house out of financial necessity for the time being, I was more than ready to walk out and call it quits.
Right around this time he became ill. Upon going to the hospital they told him that his stomach issues could be Crones Disease or possibly stomach cancer. Right inline with his nature of solitude he said he did not wish for me to go to the doctor with him. I respected that as we were not getting along very well and I know when I am sick, I really just prefer to be left alone.
The diagnosis, he said, was cancer. Stomach cancer – and a rare form of it at that.
I felt my world drop right out from under me in that instant. Though I didn’t much like Peter at this time anymore, I of course still loved him. He was my husband.
Fear gripped my heart and I couldn’t breathe. Not just at the thought of him dying but at the thought that I was now stuck. I couldn’t simply walk away and leave him now. Not like this. He wasn’t a strong soul to start with and this, all alone, would be too much for him. I have some blank spots in my memory from this time. It was a lot for a girl of 20 to deal with, the distinct possibility of becoming a widow before I was even allowed to drink legally.
He did not have health insurance at the time, though I did through work. Thankfully he said they were accepting him in to a study. It was an experimental treatment sponsored by Onyx Pharmaceuticals, a prestigious drug company.
I was thankful for this and for the fact that he would be able to get help.
Resigned to this new, really screwed up reality, I backed off on the divorce and decided for the sake of his health to try again to make things work.
He became more and more frail, dropping from a pretty well built 185 or so down to around 130… a shell of what he was – physically as well as emotionally and mentally. He was very hard to deal with. Sick daily, I felt terrible for him. I tried everything I could to make him feel better. Shoving away any of my own needs and life in the process.
After all, how could I ever leave a dying man? What kind of monster does that?
We moved to Florida for three reasons: to be closer to his father, to do the Onyx Pharmaceutical Sponsored treatments and in hopes that the warm weather and sun would make him (and me) feel better. It did for a while. We loved Florida. The problem is, wherever you go – there you are. Our fighting followed us, increasing over time to the point we really didn’t like to be in the same room.
The treatments were horrible and really hard on him. He would describe the tubes inserted down his throat and into his stomach for the chemotherapy and would come home and be incredibly sick for hours on end. It looked excruciating. He never wanted me to go with him or around him right afterwards and I respected that. Being that sick I felt If it was me I likely would not want anyone seeing me that way either. So I gave him his space as much as I could with it.
Living in a new place I wanted to venture out. I needed friends besides Peter. It didn’t take me too long to find them. Pete also had found a girlfriend. I was actually thankful for her… anything to keep him occupied at that point and us apart was good. Her and I got along quite well and as things began to escalate between Peter and I in so far as fighting she ultimately was my savoir.
I tried to invite Pete into my new circle of friends, but he wouldn’t leave the house and wanted nothing to do with them. He wanted me to sit and wallow and waste away with him and I just wouldn’t/couldn’t do it anymore.
I stopped home one day to get something and there he was again, in the bathroom throwing up… which of course the natural reaction is to go in, and help and do what you can to make them feel better.
The negativity emanating from him was palpable… He wasn’t simply physically sick, he was clearly emotionally and mentally ill. Grasping at me like a life raft. Something inside of me just snapped.
I stood there looking at this man. A man I once loved with all of my heart and thought I would spend the rest of my life with. That man was not there anymore. I’m not sure that man was ever real to begin with. In his place was a sad, weak, tortured soul who was sucking the very life out of me. It was like I was seeing through the layers to the pure simple truth of what was.
The only words I could manage to squeeze out of my lips were
“I love you Pete………and I’m so sorry…. I can’t stay any longer”.
We stared at one another for what seemed an eternity in silence. He looked at me like I had just stuck a sword through his heart.
I was about to do the one thing I swore I never would. Leave a dying man. I felt horrible. I knew though that if I choose to stay it wasn’t going to be just him experiencing a death. I was dying inside watching on the sidelines, helpless in all of this.
I had no idea when the words popped out of my mouth where I thought I was going. I just knew that I couldn’t stay. Having moved very recently I didn’t know hardly anyone. Lisa, his girlfriend, let me stay with her till I could afford my own apartment. I will forever be grateful to her for that.
When I left, he became suicidal. He had gone through with an attempt once before a year or so prior, so I knew he likely wasn’t just trying to get attention. I also knew that despite my natural urge to want to help, this time it couldn’t come from me.
Lisa tried to go over to the apartment to talk to him, but he had a loaded gun and with his mental state she didn’t feel safe in staying with him. In trying to decide what to do we didn’t want to call the police because that frankly would not help anything. We decided to try and call his doctor.
This is when the real fun began.
I called the hospital where he had been going for treatment and asked to speak with his doctor. I got bounced around from station to station only to be finally told that there was no doctor by that name that worked with their hospital. I was totally confused. I was sure there was some kind of mistake as he had been going now for well over a year. The only other thing I could think to do was call Onyx Pharmaceuticals directly and see if they could help me work out who I needed to talk to.
So in looking up the number for Onyx Pharmaceuticals I called and spoke with someone there. They had of course heard of and knew his doctor. I breathed a sigh of relief that finally something was making sense.
That feeling was fleeting.
The next words out of the receptionist’s mouth changed everything.
She said “I am sorry, but that doctor is a PhD in our research department not an M.D…. he doesn’t treat patients directly and he is not located in Florida.”……….
My whole body went numb and I swear the room began to spin.
“Can you please look up my husband’s name?” I asked, “He has been participating in your study.”
She agreed and I held my breath as she clicked away on the keyboard.
“No, I’m sorry. He is not on our list of patients”.
And there I had it.
There was no doctor.
There was no study.
There were no treatments.
There was no cancer.
2 Years of my life had been a completely fabricated lie.
He may not have been dying of cancer, but at that point I was ready to kill him myself. It is the single most hurt and most angry I have ever been at another human being in my entire life. I had ignored my feelings and my intuition for far to long, pushing down how I felt in favor of helping him…..
Reaching my boiling point and finally listening to my own higher self and following my intuition, finally – it had lead me to the painful truth.
He had lied to keep me with him.
I had spent 2 years of my life going against everything I felt in my heart in order to try and save him- both physically and emotionally.
The problem is – you cannot save anyone, especially from themselves.
The days, months and years after that came and went. Life changed for the better for the both of us. He was now forced to live in truth and make amends to everyone he had hurt with his lies.
The count was numerous – friends, family, even his father who had watched his mother wither away and die of cancer. To me that was the most unforgivable of all. To make his dad, a kind hearted loving man, who lost the love of his life to cancer believe that his son was now suffering the same fate. Cruel.
Karma stepped in years later. Peter ended up being the sole care provider for his dad, whom he loved, as he also died of cancer.
Peter and I, over time, made amends and were able to bridge a friendship based on the fact that he was getting help and making progress on his mental illness, which had now been diagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder.
People were always shocked that I was able to speak to him, let alone be friends after what had happened. I believe in forgiveness. I did my best to forgive him for what he had done.
That was until recent years. Over the years (our relationship and friendship had spanned over 20) every time he needed me as a friend I was there. Every time. Even loaning him multiple thousands of dollars when his father died as the will was stuck in probate. The one and only time I ever asked him for anything, he put off answering me for 6 days, despite being able to see his check in statuses online – going out to dinner with friends and such, until I finally just lost it and wrote him a email telling him what a bad friend he was being. His reaction was to delete and block me and stop talking to me entirely. Over one well deserved email… an email……………. After what he put me though.
I was furious and I have not spoken to him since.
In a very interesting turn of events his new girlfriend contacted me on Facebook asking me what had happened for Peter and I to break up.
Such a huge question…….. I asked was she really sure that she wanted to hear the whole story? She said she needed to.
She was dumbfounded. Not because it was outlandish, but because she now knew she wasn’t going crazy. His behavior patterns with me were duplicating themselves again with her. She was appalled at the cancer story.
Not three days later I get a message from her “You will not believe this…”
I responded back only to find out that after hearing what happened with us she sat him down and was trying to confront him on some of his bullshit, and what did he say?
You guessed it.
Once again…. He was diagnosed and dying of cancer….
Only THIS time, the reaction wasn’t “Oh poor Pete!”
It was “I talked to Sarah……………………………………”
I’m quite sure when she uttered those words he likely just about shit himself.
When she told me this I felt all the old buried rage and emotion I thought I had forgiven come bubbling back to the surface.
HOW could he think he was going to pull that crap again?!
I sat down and as calmly and focused as I could, wrote him a letter….
So… Where shall I begin?
I hear you are dying of fake cancer once again.
I’m so sorry, I know those fake treatments are a bitch to take.
So as you know by now, your girlfriend was lucky enough to talk to me before you tried to pull your bullshit scam once again.
Talk about timing… God is real Peter.
Not he nor I will allow you to do this to another group of people again.
You can call me “lying bitch” as you had so eloquently called me if you like, I prefer the term Karmic helper myself.
I cannot believe I was so stupid to believe you had changed.
To forgive you after what you did to me.
You are still on same circling karmic wheel unable to face yourself and jump off.
Truth, for whatever reason, scares the shit out of you.
For someone who has aligned himself so closely with a church to be living such a lie, I cannot even imagine how out of synch you must feel on a daily basis.
You are being a gigantic hypocrite and a coward.
Standing is the light MEANS speaking your truth, however painful.
NOT covering and lying to protect status quo that isn’t even anything more than illusion in the first place.
Will you ever dare to be yourself?
Under all of this layered bullshit I KNOW there IS a good man in there, but that really makes no difference because that guy? Isn’t seeing the light of day.
YOU wont allow him to.
You have two little kids who NEED a father they can look up to.
Not some enigma of a man who tells half-truths and stories hiding in the shadows because life is too tough.
I went on pure instinct when I stopped talking to you.
Year after year I helped you whenever you needed it for what, 20+ years?
The one and only time I ever have asked you for anything – you couldn’t even call me back………for 6 days!
You couldn’t take 5 minutes to pick up a phone and talk to me.
It wasn’t the money Pete. It was the fact that you could not get out of your own way enough to give a shit about the one person who stood by you through everything and despite everything.
You fucked up my world. You wasted years of my life living lie after lie.
I will not watch you do that again to other people.
Don’t doubt me.
Straighten your shit out…. Or expect to see me.
She said when he read it; he closed the laptop, stood up quietly and locked himself in the bedroom for 3 days. So far as I know, he has not pursued telling people that story again.
He did message me once after that looking for someone he trusted to talk to.
My only response was “you have to be kidding me…”
I know that everything happens as it should and for a reason. I learned a lot very young because of this relationship. I was also very deeply wounded because of it and am on some levels, even now all these years later, still healing.
Trust, lies, love, truth vs. illusion, motivations, secrets, fear, death, life – all wrapped up into one big fucked up ball.
(Oh and to clarify one of the first paragraphs in this story? – Turns out he was never stationed in Somalia and never shot.)
But incase anyone ever wondered why I am such a staunch supporter of speaking and living in your truth…. There you have it.