I don’t know exactly what rot lay at the heart of my doomed marriage. Like most people, I determined never to be like my parents & then married my mother & stayed in a relationship where questions were never welcome & always deflected, exactly as I grew up.

I know what my husband has told me. I know some stone cold facts from our shared bank account, & I know what the people he used to run with & old flames say about him. But he has thus far flat out refused to tell/is incapable of telling me why he had zero interest of any kind in me after 6 months, yet refused to let me go. No interest. Not as a friend. Not as a lover. Not as anything. I doubt he ever will tell me. He’s the killer who goes to the chair refusing to tell authorities where he buried the body.

But I did just have my first big insight into part of what else doomed us. We both grew up in fucked up families. My father was constantly out of the country or in jail, my mother was extremely neglectful & both were abusive alcoholics. I won’t get into his family details but suffice it so say: his mother makes mine look like a saint &, & his father, though seemingly a kind & definitely smart man, has serious problems of his own. As far as I know neither one drinks too much so they’ve got that.

Our similar pasts are what cemented me to him. I’d never met anyone else who grew up in as fucked a way as we did who also got out & became successful. He knew what it was like to be an unsafe kid, but was also smart & reasonably well read. He gave me (sort of, I spotted him some, bc we coddle their egos, don’t we?) a run for my money at Jeopardy. He understood where I came from in a way one can’t unless they’ve lived it.

However, though our pasts shared a lot of commonalities, I’m realizing we took very different lessons from them, & didn’t have enough of our current selves in common. Actually I realized that when part of our landlords paddock connected to the barn fence went down during a driving rainstorm, & she & i & her elderly mother fixed it all while he refused to come outside. Just one example of many in which he actively chose not to be kind, helpful or contribute to the world.

He once screamed at me that the only reason I volunteered for political campaigns was bc of him. That he “allowed it & made it possible,” bc he earns so much money. I nearly choked on my pop laughing.

“Sweetie, we met in 2010, Ive been volunteering since the mid 90s. Were you there when I ran an interview skills class at Dress for Success? Were you there when I was a literacy tutor in a major county jail? Were you fucking there when I was a goddamn fire service EMT for 5 fucking years?”

He knew he’d lost that one & went back to calling me a worthless bitch, but what I should’ve realized then was that doing that stuff is a core part of who I am, because of the way I grew up, & I’d just assumed he’d be the same – but he’s not & he’s not going to be.

I made a lot of excuses for his behavior without realizing it, but in retrospect, there were plenty of signs he just flat out didn’t care about anything or anyone, including himself.