Welcome to our series, The Divorce Diaries. In the past thirteen instalments we’ve covered everything from the effect of lockdown on divorces to whether they’re contagious and have now spoken to dozens of women – including one whose husband announced he was leaving her to have an open relationship with a 19-year-old and another who was quite literally ghosted by her own husband.
This week we spoke to Naomi, who never understood why her husband had left, until – bizarely – an accidental Facebook post gave her all the answers…
“No way, no way, no way!” thought Naomi* as she saw the Facebook notification pop up. “Things are certainly taking a turn for the weird!”
She clicked on the link, in which she was tagged, and started reading the post made by David’s aunt, Liz. “Congratulations to David and Naomi…” it read. Which was already a little odd, because David and Naomi had fairly recently separated. She’d always liked Liz – she always made sure she sat next to her at family dinners because she hilarious, and she seemed to have a soft spot for Naomi. But, was she secretly happy they’d split or something? She wasn’t used to seeing them being congratulated for deciding to divorce.
But then, she kept reading.
“…and welcome to the world little Leonard Max! I can’t wait to meet my great-nephew! Apparently mother and baby are doing very well and Leonard has the family nose and lips. I can’t wait to see for myself.”
Naomi felt her vision go at the edges. What on earth was this message? WHO was Leonard Max?!? Obviously a mistake had been made, but what was the mistake? Had Liz tagged the wrong nephew into the message?
She took a screen shot and sent it to the What’s App group chat she had with her friends. “SOS. WHAT IS THIS?” She typed.
“What is Liz on?” came back her first friend. They fired messages back and forth, until another friend came on and said she’d just looked it up on Facebook, but it must have been deleted. Obviously, because a mistake had been made.
But… Aunty Liz did not have her profile set to private and if you went to her page, you could see the post still there, but altered. Naomi’s name had been removed, but otherwise the message was the same – a congratulations to David, who was tagged in (but they all seemed to be on restricted access of his page).
“I hate to say it,” typed her friend, “but we don’t think David has had a baby, do we?”
Naomi felt like she was either going to faint, be sick, or both.
It’d had been nearly exactly eight months since David had said to her on a Saturday afternoon that he loved her, but he wasn’t in love with her anymore. He said he’d been feeling that way for a long time now, and had tried to make it work, but he couldn’t do it anymore. He thought it was best they separate.
It came as something of a surprise to Naomi. She thought they’d been reasonably happy. They’d been together for 12 years and married for six of those years and most of them had been good years – but yes, this last year or so hadn’t been their best. “A shitload had happened that year,” tells Naomi. “He’d lost his mother, he’d started a new job and we had a miscarriage a couple of months before that, which we – well, I at least was still coming to terms with.”
Naomi suggested therapy, but David had made his mind up. “He was always stubborn like that,” she says.
He said he’d known it was the right thing to do for months, but there never seemed a good time – it had been her birthday, their wedding anniversary, or the anniversary of the miscarriage.
And so, they put their house up for sale and both moved out. Naomi moved into a little apartment where she could work out her next move. She’d started seeing a therapist to make sense of what happened. David had pretty much fallen off the face of the planet. She’d seen him once driving down a street near his work, but other than that, they’d had little contact. He’d helped her move her things out of the house and into storage and had hugged her when she burst into tears. He’d said how sorry he was that it hadn’t worked out.
“I blamed myself,” says Naomi. “I wondered if I hadn’t been enough for him. If I’d been sad for too long after the miscarriage.”
When she told her friends this, they baulked. They pointed out all the things that Naomi had gone above and beyond for her husband on – the funeral she almost single-handedly organised for his late mother, the house cleaning, the meals she cooked for him every day and all the mothering she did of him.
But now, it seemed they had broken up for a completely different reason.
Within an hour, two of her friends had arrived at her apartment with wine. Together they scoured the internet until they found the truth (after also making seven unanswered calls to David, and a private message to Aunt Liz which was answered immediately with a flood of apologies).
Aunt Liz seemed completely unaware that David and Naomi had broken up (Christmas was only a few weeks away, and last year they’d still been together). And, it appeared David had now just had a baby – with a new woman called Marie – and yes, Leonard was born just eight months after Naomi and David split up.
In the seven months that have passed, Naomi has fantasised about turning up at her ex-husband’s work, particularly after she sent Marie a private message and was promptly blocked. She’s written nasty letters, which she’s burned, on the advice of her therapist in an attempt to get some closure. But she still feels a hell of a lot of anger.
“I just want an explanation from my ex-husband,” says Naomi. “And you know what? An apology. I’d like one from this Marie woman too. She must have known she was sleeping with a married man.”
She toyed with the idea of using her full, real name to tell this story – but decided against “airing all their dirty laundry in public”. But she hopes David, or Marie, or someone who is still friends with them will read this and maybe reflect on what they’ve done.
“He can either face me now, or face me in court when we go through divorce proceedings…” she says.