Saturday, June 03, 2006

My Aha! Moment

During a break in Rick's deposition in November 2002, my attorney looked at me and said "Catherine, what did you see in this man". I responded to my attorney by saying that "the man sitting across the table from us is not the man I married". As the deposition dragged on that day, I desperately looked for any signs of guilt or remorse or empathy.

Later that day, as I was driving home from the depositions, I started to think about what I said to my attorney that moring and suddenly I realized that, in my opinion, who I saw that morning was the 'real' Rick. In my opinion, the personality traits and behavior that I had experienced since Rick walked out on me in December 2001, Rick's behavior in November 1998 and again in April 2001 - that was the real Rick. I believe that everything else was just about a man who had become what he thought I wanted him to be. The supportive leader who mentored me as a new manager, the attentive husband who appeared to care about my financial and emotional well-being. I started to cry and continued to cry as I pulled into my garage at home.

I remember feeling astonished by, in my opinion, Rick's ability to conceal who he really was and just how good he was at fooling everyone around him - family, friends and colleagues. I kept asking myself "how did I not know?" He appeared to be so honest and trustworthy, kind and compassionate. In my opinion, it was all about keeping up appearances and Rick kept up the appearances until the end. When I finally telephoned my parents to tell them that Rick had left me, my mother admitted that her first thoughts were "what did Catherine do wrong?" My mother and father had continued to see a 'devoted husband' when they were visiting for Christmas in December 2001. I realized that I had helped Rick conceal his behavior by not telling my family what he had put me through prior to their visit. I never told them about what he did to me in April 2001 just before we were to move into our new home. Then I started to think about Rick's own family. They had to know what he put his first wife through during the divorce process.

Not long after my aha! moment, I received a telephone call from a woman I worked with for a short time in Atlanta. Mary was a single mother, she was raising three children with virtually no financial support from her ex-husband. Mary's story was so unbelievable to me at the time. If I didn't know Mary, I probably would not have believed what I was hearing about her divorce and the extent to which her ex-husband went to cause pain for Mary. I invited Mary and her kids over for dinner one evening and Rick was so attentive to her kids. Mary thought I was so lucky to have a good husband. I eventually lost touch with Mary until November 2002. She called me on my cell phone out of the blue one day. I was so shocked to hear from her and wondered how she had gotten my telephone number. Turns out she had run into Rick on a flight from Boston to Raleigh one morning. She was on her way to Raleigh for an interview. She had no idea what was happening between Rick and I. When she asked Rick how I was doing, he told her the sad news that our marriage had problems that could not be resolved and that our divorce was almost final. Mary was shocked and didn't think things sounded right. She asked him for my telephone number but Rick said he couldn't remember the number. Mary pressed him and he finally said he had my cell phone number. When she reached me, I told her the truth, told her about Rick's affair and everything else I had learned about his past behavior. Mary was one person who understood how appearances could be deceiving. How ironic that Rick ran into her that day on a plane. Mary asked me why Rick was still wearing a wedding ring if our divorce was almost final. I told her that I had just seen Rick the week or two before and he didn't have a ring on that day but when she saw him, he had a ring on that looked like a wedding ring. I instantly thought about the ring he wore when I met him in 1995. It also looked like a wedding ring but he wasn't married then. At the time, Rick said it wasn't anything. In my opinion, it was about keeping up appearances.