My Husband Of 6 Years Ghosted Me, Stole My Cat, And Moved To A Different State — All In One Weekend

Photo: Juan Francisco Gomez / Shutterstock
My Husband Of 6 Years Ghosted Me, Stole My Cat, And Moved To A Different State — All In One Weekend
Love

It ended with roses.

The night before my sixth wedding anniversary, my then-husband sent me a text. He had gone to Minnesota for a two-day event but the weather had turned; he wasn’t going to be able to make the roughly six-hour drive home in time to meet me for our anniversary dinner. He was going to stay at his coworker’s house until it cleared up enough to drive safely.

I was disappointed, but understanding. I’d rather have a delayed husband than a dead husband because of a weather-related accident.

He got home the morning after our anniversary, with a dozen roses and a mountain of apologies. I had to leave a couple of days later for a week-long work trip, so we quickly caught up and since it was a workday, I went back to my office. That night and the next one, he slept on the couch, claiming he was still too amped up from his trip to go to bed at a reasonable time.

The morning I had to leave for my trip, we got into an argument. He wanted me to watch a 30-minute video on YouTube but I didn’t have time, so I told him I couldn’t. His response? “I’m confused and I need some time to think. It’s a good thing you’ve got this trip.” 

I was shocked but ultimately not surprised; he’d had this response in the past when something didn’t go his way. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was a pro-level gaslighter, and this was one of his tactics. I just assumed he’d take a day to cool off, and things would be fine. He did, after all, see me off with an “I love you” and a “text me while you’re gone.” 

And so I did — but every text went unanswered. Two days into my trip, he finally called and said he was still angry, and we would talk when I got home the next week. That night, I got a notification that our home security camera was offline. We’d had a few break-in attempts at the house, so I texted him so he could restart it. Again, no response.

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At this point, I was a little worried. I hadn’t heard from him since the camera turned off—  he wasn’t answering my calls or texts and the camera never came back online. Concerned something was really wrong, I texted him to tell him I was coming home early. I was more than halfway back when I got another text: “I’m still mad. Can you give me another day to calm down and then we’ll talk when you come home?”

Again, trying to be understanding (and relieved he wasn’t killed by some intruder), I said sure and went to my friend’s to stay the night. In the morning, I headed home, ready to talk about what the actual problem was and why he was still so mad.

I was not expecting what I found when I got back. Half the house was cleaned out. Half my things were missing — my video game systems, some of my furniture, most of my kitchenware, and all the spices. Even my cat was gone.

All that remained of our life together? Decaying roses on the middle of the entertainment center.

I didn’t hear from him for two more days. My husband of six years had officially ghosted me. When he finally did make contact, it was with an email — one that said he had moved to Minnesota, the cat belonged to him (spoiler: it didn’t), he had filed for divorce, and we had nothing to talk about. He said that when the camera went off, he had actually unplugged it so I wouldn’t see him moving out. He did it in the middle of the night so the neighbors wouldn’t see. He didn’t want anything to tip me off.

I was at once devastated and incredibly angry. How long exactly had he been lying to me? Since I paid for our family cell phone plan, I looked at the call records to try and wrap my head around what was happening. Turns out the two nights he “slept on the couch,” and every night thereafter, he had hours-long phone calls in the middle of the night with the woman coworker he’d been in Minnesota with. I connected the dots on my own; I just don’t know how long he’d been having the affair — one he went public with on social media shortly after he bailed on me.

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A deep, pervasive sadness took over my life from that point on. I felt foolish, I felt abandoned, I felt like I wasn’t good enough for anything or anyone. A friend drove up from out of state and stayed with me through the worst of it. She probably doesn’t know how much she helped me — none of my friends or family likely do. They rallied around me. Every time I felt like I was falling deeper, they picked me up, dusted me off, and set me back on the right track.

For anyone in this same situation, please, lean on your loved ones. They’re invaluable in times like this. I’ve seen a lot of people try to keep things personal, not wanting to let their personal life out into the world. But please — air your laundry. You need people to care about you. You need people who will trash-talk your ex while also complimenting you and how awesome everyone knows you really are. It works, I promise.

With their help, I moved into the anger phase much quicker than I expected. I wasn’t sad he was gone; I was pissed he’d kept secrets. And that’s what ultimately got me out of it. I reminded myself of all the crappy things he’d done and knew in my soul that I didn’t deserve it. That he was a terrible person, not me. I refused to grieve for someone who treated me so poorly.

On the day I started my new life, I rearranged the furniture in the house to take up the empty spaces. I hung some art on the wall in the room he cleared out and moved in a desk, chair, and pile of books. I reclaimed my house and those spaces for myself. And then I went out and bought myself some new, better roses.

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Jennifer Billock is an award-winning writer and best-selling author. She's been published in The New York Times, Smithsonian, Wired, and National Geographic Traveler.