There are things that are necessary (like food, sleep, water) and there are things that are unnecessary (like slicing emotional wounds). Though I suppose it would depend upon your perspective. It very well could be necessary to your survival to inflict pain upon a past love over and over again.

In my view, it is unnecessary and falls into the realm of cruel. I have been "blessed" with the misfortune of having fallen in love with the wrong man. The same man who left me 2 1/2 years because I wasn't what he wanted any longer and refuses to allow me the time to heal.

Once upon a time, I would have chalked it up to insensitivity and callous disregard. That was in the time before I was shown a different side of the man I had married. He was the boy who aimed for cats walking along the side of the road with his car. This was the boy I would smack on the arm and say "knock it off" while laughing because I was certain he was just teasing. And now, I wonder...

There is a calculating cruel streak to the man I once shared a home with. It was turned full force onto me during the most tumultous chapter of my life. He still likes to pick at the scabs, even now, long after the divorce he wanted, long after he left me for someone else. It is not something I can just shrug and get over easy.

"You are replaceable", he said.

Those words and the sneer on his face when he looked at me in disdain time and again are shadows that I have been unable to erase. Your mate is supposed to BE your mate, back you up, be your rock. That is what I naively believed.

For better or worse, in good times and in bad

I took those words to heart. The love of your life is not supposed to tell you that you are replaceable. Yet, here he was spitting those words at me like venom. Since that time, so long ago, he has continued pulling at my scabs once I have started to settle down. Once I get to a relatively calm pool in the struggle of moving on, he finds it necessary to do or say things that are designed to make me remember that he discarded me like so much trash. It is exhaustive, this continual guard I have to keep up to protect a badly bruised soul.

My life with him was such that I gave up everything that I was to become absorbed into his life. (If I loved him enough I would do this for him, right?) It was a slow process. He never had to give up anything. I was the one that had to, more and more with each passing year.

It's the wife/mother's job, it's not the man's.

And thus, his friends became mine, his social circle became mine, his neighbors became my neighbors, his family became mine. We even bought the house he had grown up in, lived in the neighborhood he grew up in. I agreed to raise our children Catholic so we could be married in his church. It was all about him. And when he left, he took it all away. It would have been one thing had he been content to just leave me stranded across the country, but it is quite another what he actually did do.

He returned home several weeks before I did and lied to everyone that we knew. My family and his, our friends, our neighbors. He made certain that when I returned, all that I once knew would be gone. I was attacked on several fronts. It is a painful thing to be attacked by people who you thought knew you, who you thought were your friends, who you thought knew better than to take one side of a story at face value. The trouble was, they had known him since he was a boy. Twice as long as they had known me. I did not give them "the other side" of the story. What occurred between my husband and me, was between my husband and me. There is a tacit understanding. It is implied in the marriage contract. You back each other up. You trust each other to keep things between you. That is what a marriage is.

I can almost understand the fear he has. He does not want anyone to think bad of him. If the truth were to come out, his friends, family, the neighbors would not think too highly of him. He has always been concerned about appearances. It is important to him that he is well liked. For his self preservation, he had to paint me in a horrible light to justify what he had done. I tell myself things like this, because I have to come up with a "why". There needs to be a reason for the hell he has put me through the past few years.

To me, what he did was unnecessary. It wasn't anyone's business but our own. We could have split amicably. He chose to breach that trust. He broke the contract.

The holidays are an especially tough time for me. It used to be a joyous time with family, friends, neighbors. There was laughter, there was friendship, there were gatherings, food, wine. Eat, drink and be Merry! It was my favorite time of the year. My house would be decked out with homemade seasonal crafts. Woodsmoke curling up the chimney, baked goodies cooling on the porch. It was a time of closeness and togetherness.

That is gone now. What few things I was able to save have been in boxes for five years. One day, they will grace the walls of my home. I do not feel that I have one now. I have four walls and a roof, for that I am grateful.

Thanksgiving the kids spend with him. Always. I spend it working my arse off, so I don't have time to mope and dwell that I am alone. I will have the kids Christmas Eve, but he takes them Christmas Day, always. There is no laughter, no more hugs and camaraderie with the family. No more laughing with the neighbors. It is all gone. That chapter closed. And this time of year, well, it hurts like hell. It is all I can do to get through it with a minimum of pain in my heart.

He did not just take himself from my life. He took my social structure, he took my family. And he replaced me with someone new. And he pushes her into my face every chance he gets. It is cruel and unusual punishment.

This year, he brings her back to town for the annual fire department christmas dinner/dance. This was something I did not need to know. This was something he made sure that I knew. He could have come to town, taken his "replacement", and left with me being none the wiser. He could not pass up the opportunity to wound me. This was a dinner/dance I had attended with him for over 17 years. This was my social circle. These were my friends. This was a part of who I had become. He erased me from this part and etched in a new partner. He drove from six hours away to my neck of the woods and had to push it in my face yet again that he had replaced me and was taking the girlfriend to a function that we had always attended together.

I cried for an hour last night, sobbing uncontrollably, inconsolably. Grieving, not for so much for him, but for a life I once had because of him. A life that had died.

My daughter came into the room, knowing what had happened. Knowing why I was upset. I had tried to hide myself away so she would not see, but she knew anyway. She said to me, as she hugged me tight...

"Mom, Daddy is not worth crying over."

I don't know which was the sadder thing that night. Me crying in pillows over a man who cast me aside, or her telling me her father was not worth any tears.

Today he comes to the house before returning from whence he came and hands me a small box and with a small smile says... "Please be sure to give this to our daughter". It is a small gold box with the fire department label on it. I suppose this could have been the innocent way of bringing an unexpected gift to his daughter. Experience tells me, it was his way of being certain, if I missed the reference the night before, of where he was and with whom. Today, I was not upset about it. Mostly today, I find the whole thing...unnecessary.