“There must be millions of people all over the world who never get any love letters… I could be their leader.” (Charlie Brown)
Going from happily married for 20 years to what I discovered was traumatic. The idea of divorce, alone, was very traumatic to me, not to mention everything else. So to ease things for both of us in that moment on that day when everything was so shocking, new and unexpected (remember, my marriage never disintegrated over time, my reality simply shattered in a moment; I had yet to “fall out of love” with my husband) I said, “I see no other consequence to what you have done than divorce. The consequence of your choices IS divorce. It’s not something I’ve come to decide lightly. But that doesn’t mean when you get out of prison and I’m single that we couldn’t try to rebuild something–IF we decided we could love or trust each other again. But who knows? You may not even be interested in me at that point.”
I was married to a stranger who terrified me in the way finding out someone you have trusted and loved for two decades has been living not just a secret/double life, but a criminal life, and you NEVER HAD A CLUE. And when he didn’t think divorce was necessary…sometimes it just didn’t seem to me that he understood what he had done was as terrible and reprehensible as it was.
I moved to Utah.
He was taken into custody.
And our relationship transitioned from husband and wife, companionship, friendship and everything else we’d had to friendly former family members with the occasional strained relationship of what I assume is typical of divorced couples.
He wrote letters from jail. His letters expressed his sorrow for what he had done (that was appreciated) but they also contained expressions of love. To me.
I think he did that because he felt that way toward me, but also probably to build me up and to help me at such a hard time and when I was so shattered, so humiliated, felt so worthless and thought everyone could tell just by looking at me what a loser I was. But after our divorce, my move to Utah and my progression through the process of grieving and healing those expressions of love became a problem for me.
With each passing day and with each new realization I came to as I worked through the mess he had created and left for me, I felt increasingly uncomfortable with his expressions of love.
Some days they bothered me, as in irritated me.
Some days they hurt me, as in made me cry.
Some days I just didn’t want to hear them.
Some days they made me mad.
And around that same time, the fall of 2009, I realized I would never remarry him.
I’ve said it before: I believe in repentance and forgiveness. I just didn’t think I would ever be able to trust him completely, 100%, again–regardless of the changes he had made. And trust, to me, is a huge part of marriage. I didn’t want to wonder at any future date if my husband was telling me the truth; to wonder when he headed out the door to go to work, if that is really what he was doing and where he was going; or to live in fear of, heaven forbid, another Ponzi scheme or other such crime.
I was also afraid that regardless of the changes he made and the man he became, a part of me (if I stayed with him) would never quite feel he deserved me. And that isn’t right. If he changes and somehow through all he is enduring as a result of his choices finally becomes the man I always thought he was and that he always represented himself to be, he deserves to have a wife who completely loves, trusts, and feels he deserves her.
That will never be me. (I’m not a big enough person, I guess.) One day, while talking to a Colorado friend, I realized I would rather be alone the rest of my life than remarry Shawn Merriman. As soon as that came out of my mouth she stopped me and said, “Do you realize what you just said? That says a lot to me about how you feel to know that you would rather be alone the rest of your life than remarry Shawn.”
I guess it did.
It was an epiphany. I realized, truly, how I felt and what the future held for me: nothing.
I was going to be alone the rest of my life. Because I preferred that option to remarrying, someday, the man I had loved for 20 years. (Amazing what a Ponzi scheme, betrayals, and decades of lies can do, huh?)
I realized then and there that I had to put a stop to his confessions of love. I didn’t want to hear them. I didn’t want him to have any false hope, I felt that would be dishonest of me. So I told him how I felt, but he didn’t stop telling me what a wonderful wife I had always been, that he still loved me and always would, and that someday he was going to win me back.
I felt I had to put a stop to that, too. It made me feel uncomfortable. And I couldn’t let him believe one thing when I felt another. So to show him how completely serious I was, and how real my feelings were, I asked him to write a letter authorizing me to apply for a cancellation of our marriage/sealing that would allow me to remarry and be sealed to someone else in a L.D.S. temple.
I don’t think he expected that.