Moving back to Florida meant starting over with employment for both Bear and I. Of course, the seemingly biggest issue crept up again – money – which can bring out some real nastiness in people. A few weeks after moving into the house we rented, Bear found a job with a company he wanted but quickly realized he didn’t like the job. (He wasn’t one to do much research on anything, just listened to what others told him. Literally thought he could walk into any place and get hired as a manager before ever having stepped foot in the place. Not joking.) I had a hard time feeling bad for him, because he got his way once again and didn’t care for the outcome.
Bear was offered a really great paying job that would require him to leave the country for about eight months, but the pay was equivalent to about two to three years from a regular job locally. We discussed it, weighing the options, and it would have gotten us out of the moving debt we’d acquired. Plus, it sounded like a great way for him to get experience working a job that pays as much as he thinks he’s worth and make connections for future jobs like it. This is exactly what he wanted, and the universe presented it to him. But Bear declined, because all he really wanted to do was a government job to get another retirement. However, once again he did not do his research, because people are unable to collect federal retirement twice.
Unfortunately, the area we live doesn’t offer too many professional jobs (or jobs for the educated) except in education, and jobs can be scarce in the middle of a school year. I looked for other types of work while also scraping together what was left of my business. I always had some sort of income to pay smaller bills, but Bear could not for the life of me understand how much work is involved when trying to rebuild a business. He was angry at me for “not working,” and I had to constantly remind him I can’t make someone hire me, that I’m doing the best I can. Eventually, I found a part-time, bottom-of-the-barrel job in a law office, and while that kept him content for a minute, it wasn’t enough for Bear. He wanted me to get a full-time job, even though I hadn’t been offered anything else. I told him I am taking what I can get for now, remember who got us into this situation and, can’t you just be fucking happy about that!
Working in an office the way I had been simply was not for me, as I grew utterly bored by week three in the same way I had with any entry-level job. These were the same intellectually unstimulating jobs I did twenty years prior to attending college, so I felt I was moving backwards. The law office job lasted a few months until I landed a teaching job that paid better with more hours. Although the job was still “only” part-time, I was told it could lead to more hours and opportunities for more income. Finally, I was happy to have a creative job that I wanted to do and was good at doing. Now maybe Bear will lay off of me.
During this time, I had fixed up the home office that doubled as a guest room for my child’s visits from college. Between having such terrible back issues (most likely caused from ovarian cysts) and Bear’s snoring and heavy body flip-flopping on the bed keeping me up all night, I started sleeping in the guest room. It was the first time I slept peacefully and through the night since we left Florida before moving to Hawaii. I started sleeping in there regularly, which had me feeling better, made me happier. But Bear took it as a way of rejecting him. Even after explaining that I have married friends who sleep separately, because it’s better for them – Bear expected me to sleep next to him. I thought this was ridiculous and made no sense, because if we’re only sleeping, who cares? It was more about what he wanted rather than what I needed.
In waking life after work, I worked on lesson plans and business regrouping while Bear constantly looked at Facebook on his phone… always filling me in on everyone else’s lives, because that was more important than acknowledging his own marital problems. Two months into the school year, I came home from work to Bear being on a phone call. I thought he might have been talking to his sister, because it was obvious by the conversation it was someone he was close to and knows well. When he hung up, he told me it was Stacy, someone he went to high school with.
“Isn’t Stacy someone you dated?” I recall seeing a photo of them from 1990-something.
“Yeah, like twenty years ago. We were chatting back and forth on Facebook and decided it would just be easier to call. We talked for about a half hour.” He acted like it was just a one-time hello. I thought little of it.
A couple of years prior to this incident, Bear had an issue with some “crazy chick” on Facebook from his school days. She started calling him after adding his number to his profile. He claimed he barely knew her, that she’s done this to other people. Knowing he was a married man, she continued to call, so he blocked her. But this time was different. Bear started acting secretive, changing his phone passwords. I knew I needed to analyze this situation before making any moves, gather some evidence, and present the facts.
Then our phone bill arrived.
The phone bill had a list of texts sent and received (not what it actually said, just the day/time/number), as well as calls to and from and how long they lasted. I noticed a 90-minute phone call from Bear’s number and narrowed it down to Stacy on the day he claimed they spoke for 30 minutes. That’s quite a sizeable difference. Since I now knew Stacy’s number, I took notice that she and Bear were also sharing texts, although I couldn’t read them. Upon closer inspection, it was Bear initiating the texts, and Stacy wasn’t always the one responding.
I needed to read Bear’s private messages through Facebook (this was before messenger), but that would not happen with a password on his phone. Like clockwork, he got stupid drunk, so I asked him to show me something on his phone while standing behind him, watching him punch in his new password. Shortly after he passed out, I used the opportunity to inspect his Facebook.
My adrenaline was through the roof. My body, especially my hands, shook while I read through it all. Throat knotted. Felt like I was going to throw up. I wasn’t sure what I was going to find, but some things appeared deleted. I could barely breathe, and my heart pounded so hard it caused a headache. I specifically looked for messages from Stacy, and this one stood out:
Have things gotten better at home?
What in the absolute fuck! My mind raced:
What does she mean by that?!! Things were super tense, but not as bad as they had been. What was he telling this woman that he dated twenty fucking years ago???!!! Telling some woman he used to date about his marital problems without speaking to his wife about them? Calling and texting her behind my back? I will NOT be having that shit – EVER! That is crossing a line that cannot be uncrossed. Fuck that! I do not deserve to be cheated on, especially having been a faithful, loyal wife through all of that shit when I didn’t have to be!
I had to pretend I didn’t know a thing. Now I had to plan my way out of this marriage, and it was the worst timing ever.
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