Saturday, June 23, 2007

Attack of the Black Queen!: the Black Queen Story Part 7 (Final Part)

Eventually, I began to suspect that my marriage was in trouble. I'm not sure when the watershed event was, but I remember taking D---a and her two children to Hawaii, in December, 2001. During that trip, I spoke to my mother on the phone and she was warning me that my marriage was in trouble. Also during that trip, D---a refused to sleep in the same bed as me, claiming that my snoring was bothering her. The problem was that I had no idea what was wrong, nor how to fix it. In early 2002, D---a and I took a long weekend trip to Brussels. We travelled via the Eurostar, virtually repeating the trip that we went on when we got engaged. The only difference was that this time, we stayed in the five star, Le Meridien hotel. Both of us were earning more money. D---a later admitted that she hopped this trip would rekindle the magic that she felt during our first visit to Brussels, back in 1998. The trip went well and we didn't argue.
By Valentine's Day, 2002, things had slipped again. I remember giving her a Valentine's card, that morning, as we were getting ready to leave for work. She just tossed the envelope aside, without opening it. I told her I spent 45 minutes picking the card out, the least she could do was read it. In response, she tossed an envelope of her own at me, saying, "I figured you'd get me a card, so I got you one. I spent five seconds picking it out." I picked up the envelope she had tossed toward me and went away. Her son, Harry, noticed the exchange.
Harry called me into his room and when I was there, he asked, quietly, "why's mummy being so horrible to you?" This was a particularly poignant experience, as Harry was pretty inconsiderate of other people, generally. If he had noticed something was wrong, it had to be pretty bad. Ever loyal to my wife, I made excuses for her. I explained things away, telling him that even when people love each other, they can feel angry toward their loved one, at times. He asked me if D---a loved me and I had to admit that I didn't know. I told him that was something only she could say, but not to worry, everything would be fine.
In the months that followed, I suggested to D---a that we try marriage counseling. She countered by saying that I must think something was wrong with her, to suggest that. I explained that I thought a neutral party could help us. It didn't mean that anything was wrong with her. Maybe there was something wrong with me, but we should try and get help. She dismissed the idea, saying that she'd tried marriage counseling with her first husband and it hadn't helped. Bitterly, she told me that the counselor had taken her husband's side, so she wasn't interested in counselors.
One Sunday, while at her mother's for dinner, I went to cuddle D---a in the kitchen. I often did this, as I am a cuddly type of person. D---a shrugged me off and said, "don't touch me!" very sharply. She'd never done that before. In the spring of 2002, she'd begun withholding sex entirely. Now, it seemed that even a hug was off limits. Still, I pressed on with day to day life. I hoped that whatever anger she felt towards me would subside, eventually. In May, I heard that several jazz artists who I like were playing a concert in London. I told my wife about it and, when she seemed to agree to go along, I bought two tickets. D---a arranged for her ex-husband to have the kids for the night, so we could go to the concert. I had never before been to a concert with my wife and I was very excited. To me, it felt like a date. In the days before the date of the show, D---a suggested that I go with someone else. I was shocked. "there is no one else," I replied. "You're my wife and I want to go with you." She suggested taking a friend, but I was adamant that I had bought the tickets for us to go, together, and that is what I wanted. I would accept no substitute. She dropped her suggestion in the face of my resoluteness.
When the day of the concert arrived, I was back to my happy, excited state. As it was a weekday, I had arranged to be off work that evening. I worked as a travel agent and could have been assigned to work that night till 10PM, in our call centre. I left work at 4PM and drove home. At some point, I bought my wife a bouquet of flowers. D---a was very fussy about flowers. I was under strict instructions to never buy her roses and that I must never give her flowers as a way of apologizing, nor for any birthday or anniversary. They must only be given spontaneously. That day felt like a spontaneous occasion. When I arrived home, D---a's ex -husband was at the front door. He'd come to pick up the children. I parked my car and walked up to greet my wife. I handed her the flowers, in front of her ex. I felt particularly good about that, as she used to complain to me that he never bought her flowers, except to apologize for some wrong doing. That was why she instructed me never to do that. D---a looked at the flowers with a puzzled expression. "What are these for?" she asked.
"They aren't for anything," I said, "I just felt like giving you flowers." I entered the house and waited for D---a to finish getting ready. With the kids away, that didn't take long. Soon, we were on our way to London.
The night seemed enjoyable. The venue was the Hammersmith Apollo and we had good seats. The line up included Bob James, who's album, "Three," was the first jazz album I had ever bought. The headliners were the Rippingtons, a California band who were highly recommended by my good friend in Orange County, Richard Boddie. D---a seemed like she enjoyed herself. On our way out of the hall, she picked up some pamphlets advertising future shows at the venue. She spotted some show she said she'd like to take the kids to and I agreed. My wife went on to book the tickets in the days following, securing four, so that all of us could go.
A few weeks after our date, things came to a head. It was early June, 2002. The first round came when D---a announced to me, one day, that she didn't want me going with her and the kids to the show she'd bought tickets for. When I pointed out that she'd bought four tickets and that one would be wasted, she said her step-father was going in my place. While I was trying to come to grips with this, she fired off the next round. D---a told me that on the next Sunday, when we were supposed to be going to dinner at her parent's house, I wasn't welcome in her parent's home anymore. She and the kids would be going to dinner without me. I went off to work, feeling numb and puzzled. What had brought this all on? After a few days, I realized that I only had heard this from her. Maybe she'd made it up, I reasoned. I decided to email my father-in-law and verify it with him. To my horror, he emailed me back, confirming what D---a had said. I was no longer welcome in their house. No explanation for this move was given.
Not realizing the extent of things, I managed to get through about another week, when the big bombshell exploded. On June 13th, 2002, a letter arrived, addressed to me. It was from a firm of solicitors (lawyers). I tore open the envelope and read the letter. It informed me that my wife was filing for divorce and advised me to seek legal advice of my own. It was as if a formal declaration of war had been issued. With my wife's usual considerate timing, the letter arrived one week to the day before our wedding anniversary. I sat down, stunned, with the letter in one hand, tears streaming from my eyes. With hindsight, I now realized why D---a had been so hesitant about going to the concert with me and why she'd acted so guilty about receiving the flowers. She'd been planning this all along. In time, I gathered my wits about me and picked up the telephone directory. War had been declared and my defenses needed organizing. I looked through the ads for solicitors and picked out one who specialized in family law, and divorce. I called the office and made an appointment for an initial consultation.
There's something especially horrible about having a spouse turn on you. It's worse than having a loved one die. If he or she dies, it's not deliberate. When your spouse divorces you, he or she is overtly rejecting you. I had taken my marriage very seriously. All my adult life, I had wanted to be married and never divorced. This was because my parents had split up after weeks of marriage, and eventually divorced. I always wanted to show my mother how marriage should be done. D---a was taking away my life-long dream...forever. I remember the vows we took, to stay together until death parted us. To me, it seemed that D---a was violating her vow and that felt like a betrayal. During the months that followed, I never stopped trying to persuade her to reconcile. To me, our marriage was fixable. I didn't hit her or abuse her and there had been no infidelity. Years later I read "Mars and Venus: Perfect Together," by John Gray, author of "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus." Gray, a psychologist, confirmed my suspicions that our marriage was savable. He advises couples considering divorce to try counseling first. I wish I had read the book before I was divorced. Better still, I wish my wife had read it. I wore my wedding ring, right up to the day I received notice that our divorce was final. From that day, I vowed never to speak her name again. That's why, to this day, I refer to her only as "my evil ex-wife" and "the Black Queen." I feel that her betrayal of our marriage was an evil act and that her heart was black. For convenience, I have adopted the protocol of referring to her as "D---a," during this written chronicle, because I didn't think of her as evil, nor as the Black Queen, until she divorced me.
This is the final part in the Black Queen story, and the final in the series of blogs about the wonderful women who have broken my heart. I started the series in response to a request from my favorite, female, radio DJ, Opal Bonfante, a regular reader of my blog. I hope the rest of you also got something out of reading these tales of romance gone wrong. I apologize for them not being funny, as most of my work usually is, but even I can't be funny all of the time.

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