Last year, in late spring, my husband’s grandmother, the matriarch of the family, passed away. Shortly after is when some of the secrets and lies started coming out. First with the recipe, then with the discovery of secret accounts, then when my whole world sort of imploded.
After all the initial shock and hurt wore off, I started my search for answers. I had a million puzzles pieces that didn’t seem like they belonged in the same puzzle.
Oh, but they did. I know I wrote before about seeing the whole picture, but it ended up being so much bigger than I ever could have imagined.
My husband’s family came from money. His hardworking grandfather built a business that was thriving. Then he passed away and his son and son in law ran it into the ground with their greed. My husband’s grandmother has a family reputation to uphold in that dated and old fashioned way. Her children lived off of her handouts, were never responsible with money, and they knew they would always get more. I could see even from the beginning how they used her for money...they weren’t really ever shy about talking about it, but they all let their requests from each other. My husband always felt very strongly about being disappointed in them for there behaviors and denounced every treating his grandmother like that.
My husband had a traumatic childhood...things he is just now facing in therapy. His grandmother was a huge part of bringing stability to his early life, and he always looked up to her for that. On the heels of being sexually abused by his stepmother when he was 12-13, he met his best friend and they fell in love...it was the only person he ever trusted completely. It was a secret that everyone knew and no one talked about. These two guys were never allowed on either side by family to live each other out loud. There was a lot of shame and guilt they both felt. A lot of pressure to be normal or straight.
My husband’s grandmother talked to him, told him how he needed to get over this phase he was going through. That it wasn’t how there family did things, and that it would be an embarrassment to the family. That he had met this nice girl and just get married to her, and to do what he needed to do in secret but by being married to a woman it would be easier to hide. And he had just met someone who he thought he was into, but realized he wasn’t...turns out she portrayed herself as one thing and he discovered who she really was...and he didn’t really even like her by then.
And she offered him an insane amount of money to “do the right thing” for the family. And he was hurt and confused by that. But it was his grandmother and he didn’t want to disappoint her or let his family down. So he made this deal with her...he would marry this girl, had to stay married for a year to get the lump sum, and would continue to get handouts as long as he stayed.
And so this charade went on for over two years. All of his friends told him he was making a mistake...by the best friend was the only one who mattered, and he wasn’t strong enough to declare his love out loud. My husband punished himself by staying with someone he was starting to outright hate. And I can confirm since I got to know her that she is a very manipulative person...someone who does nothing to help their situation, just played the victim. She claimed she loved him, but if she did she would have surely seen, especially since she knew about their relationship, how broken-hearted and torn he was. But instead she told him how terrible he was and that he needed to change...and fully admitted to me he just wanted him to love her the way she “loved” him. Which is so selfish and the opposite of love. And she still doesn’t see that, even now.
Everyone around him always told him he needed to change. Not friends, but his family, and this girl who claimed to love him. Not even his grandmother, who he trusted so much and held on such a high pedestal, was showing him love by her actions, and he fully realized this. He didn’t think he deserved love. I’m not sure if he even believed in it at that point. It was horrible for him, so much anger, so much self hate, holding on to such big secrets all alone.
I fell in love with him the second he looked up from the bar...instantly, like some cosmic thing washed over me. Being with him was so easy...like I was born to love him, like o had always loved him. It wasn’t a slow burn at all, it just felt like I had always loved him I just hadn’t found him yet.
And the universe is crazy...because there are a dozen places we were both at at the same time over the years but we had never met before that one fateful night.
And I am the only person who has ever fully loved him for him and not tried to change him, not once, not ever. And I could see him wrestling with things over the years but I never understood why. Even in our darkest times, he would never ask his grandmother for money or help. Ever. And I saw different conversations we had that were triggers.
His grandmother being the puppet master was the last piece I finally figured out...it wasn’t as obvious and I had to dig deeper. I upset a lot of people in my quest for the truth, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something more, something I was missing. And her piece to the puzzle makes it so much more complicated for my husband. I told him I knew he didn’t tell me because “that’s your grandmother, you don’t want to think badly or have other people think badly of her” and he admitted that yes that was his big concern, and why this never came out when she was alive. He was worried that I would treat her differently had I known, so he again sacrificed himself and held the secret alone, all for her.
Only in her death was he ever going to have a chance at finding peace.