“Rethink the Dream”—A concept I am very familiar with but had never actually put into words until a few weeks ago when my friend, Jessica, approached me about this site. Her request to tell my story and help others make it through experiences similar to mine was intriguing and daunting at the same time. After all, I’m not in expert in anything but my own life—and I would even question my expertise in that. Turns out that was exactly what Jessica was looking for. An ordinary person’s perspective on how you make it through those big life changes you never saw coming. Well ordinary I am, so giving my perspective should be easy…right?
A few years ago my Dream was shattered with five simple words, spoken by my husband. “I’m in love with Tami.” The biggest problem with those words is my name isn’t Tami. My husband, who I’d been with for eight years at the time, told me those words over the phone on December 30th, after just not showing up at home after work. I was four months pregnant with our second son, we had a two year old, and we’d just moved into what I thought was our “permanent” house. I was devastated to say the least.
In the two months that followed, we argued, talked, went to therapy, blah, blah, blah. I had always said infidelity was the one unforgivable sin in our relationship. It’s amazing how your lines and limits can get a bit blurry over time. Suddenly I found myself thinking sex really could be “just” sex and that the life we’d built was much more important than his transgression. I had friends who thought I was nuts, friends that supported me, friends that would offer no opinion at all. But none of that mattered. What mattered was me and him. I wanted to make it work. He didn’t know what he wanted. Or that’s what we said to each other. The truth is part of me wanted to end it, and he wanted it to end but didn’t want to be the one to pull the trigger. Unfortunately neither of us knew how to get there.
Amazingly it was me who finally put a stop to it. For those two months he escalated his behavior—which I only realize in hindsight was his way of making it clear he wanted out. It was a $600 cell phone bill that pushed me over the edge. I still don’t know why, but it was as though someone were standing in front of me with a neon sign that said “You’re done.” I told him that day that he needed to give me a reason to work on our relationship. When he arrived home there were two suitcases in the front hall—one empty for him and one packed for me. I told him if he had nothing one of us was leaving that night. He left.
Sounds easy, right? Wrong. That was the hardest thing I’d ever done in my life. I was never someone to really stand up for myself. I was the “good” daughter, “devoted” wife, “loyal” friend. My goal in life was to make sure everyone around me was happy and comfortable. My needs came last. So what finally made me say no? A phone bill? That makes no sense. It wasn’t the bill itself. It was what it represented. This was someone he worked with, was around in some way, shape or form for eight plus hours a day, and yet he’d run up a massive cell phone bill with her in the shortest month of the year. It made me realize that he had no respect for me, no appreciation for me, no concern for our family. I had no choice but to see that the relationship was nothing like what I’d planned. My Dream didn’t exist. Possibly never had.
He was gone, and now I could have a happy life, right? Sure! I believe the Easter Bunny is going to bring me the winning Powerball numbers too. I thought the hard part was over, but I had no idea that my real work, my real journey was just beginning. It was at this point I had to figure out what my new Dream was. Which meant I had to figure out who I really was. What I really wanted in my life. It was my time to Rethink the Dream.