All these posts about my ex have probably left you all wondering a couple of things. You may be wondering why on earth I stayed and put up with it all or how I can refer to him as “passive” when his behavior and actions, from the way I’ve described him thus far, just don’t sound “passive” at all. Well, you’re in good company because sometimes I wonder those very things myself!
An important piece of the puzzle, perhaps, is that when I first met my ex- husband, I was running away from something else in my life. I had left home and gone away to a small, conservative, college out in the middle of nowhere. I had reasons for attending that school, including a full scholarship, but I was also trying to get away from a lifestyle that I knew would be my downfall if I continued to live it, as well as from some of the people involved, one in particular.
My life as a teenager deserves a whole nother series of posts, or perhaps a book, lol. To try and explain it all here would be too much, but in short I was hanging out with folks that one man described as “crawdads in a bucket”. As he put it, when one of us tried to climb out, the rest would grab on and pull that one back, so none of us were going anywhere. As we all know, the fate of a bunch of crawdads in a bucket isn’t a good one and sad to say neither was the fate of many I left behind when I managed to get out of there.
I know far too many people who are now in prison, or dead. The ex -boyfriend that I most needed to get away from was in prison at the time I left and as far as I know still is (though he may have gotten released and put back in a few times since). I couldn’t risk him knowing where I was, should he get out, due to his stalking behaviors and insane jealousy. Not only that but he was feared by many and the police associated me with his name and would follow me around questioning about him, forcing me to lie and deflect information. They were convinced he was the “biggest gang member” in the area and surrounding counties, though small town cops do tend to exaggerate, lol. In any case he was bad news and even to this day it is hard to get disassociated with his name among the folks back home.
Yes, my lack of good judgment regarding the male gender seems to have gotten me into more than my fair share of trouble in life. My thug phase is long over but I still sometimes question my ability to make the right choices. I like to think I’ve learned a lot and am much better at screening them, but it’s hard to trust myself in that regard.
In my defense I had a horrible example. My mom’s choices in men were notoriously awful and left us with a trail of abusive stepfathers as well as have gotten her into all kinds of hot water since then. I try very hard not to emulate that and it’s one of the reasons I’m so afraid of bringing guys around my kids, no matter how nice they seem, and mostly avoid it. Even the Professor, who so far has been great to all of us, has spent a limited amount of time around them.
So anyway, I was still fairly fresh out of Dodge when I met my ex, the first semester I was in college. I already knew I needed to make some radical changes in my life and I guess someone like him and with his ideas, seemed like just the ticket. He wasn’t completely wrong saying I needed to get away from various folks in my life and get on a different path. It just all went….too far in the other direction. I was blind too, to his faults or that he was being “controlling” because compared to the likes of the guys I’d been with in the past he seemed extremely “tame”.
Also, outside of politics and religion or debating those topics, my ex really was very laid back. Even in a heated debate he would smile and come across as a “nice guy”. He’s very non-confrontational outside of discussing his beliefs. Post- divorce, in some ways, that’s a good thing and I also thought so in the early years of our marriage and child rearing but I’ve since come to acknowledge that he uses very passive aggressive tactics to get what he wants or to “get back” at people.
To give a recent example, he enjoys undermining my parenting by doing things he knows will cause trouble or make me upset. Like I would bring them for visits and he would load up the children with energy drinks right before sending them home in the evening. He even gave an energy drink to our two year old once. When I expressed serious concern about that he laughed and acted like it was a big joke. During our marriage he behaved similarly, making me out to be the “mean” parent who insisted on the children following rules and then would turn around and encourage them to disobey when he was there, laughing like it was funny.
If I tried leaving him with the kids for even long enough to go to the grocery store he seemed to make sure I regretted it. Some huge disaster would happen right after I left, the house would be completely trashed, he would call every 5 minutes asking questions about things as if he didn’t know what to do, anything to infringe upon my time alone. He actually still does this. Whenever the children are with him, he texts and harasses me endlessly, asking when I’m coming back even though I’ve been gone less than an hour. The Professor and other guys I am with will be like “ignore him, he can wait” and mostly now I do but he knows darn well that I am going to be on edge, worrying that it might be a real issue with one of the kids. He does this even when I’ve given a specific time that I am going to be back, and then acts to the kids as though I have failed to show up when I am “supposed to” and gets them calling me too, hours before we agreed upon. It’s all a continuation of his emotional sabotaging.
The behaviors were rarely “in your face”, though a couple of times he was outright cruel, telling me things like that the reason he wouldn’t sleep with me was because I was “ugly”. He later apologized but in a way that made me question his sincerity. I asked why he would marry someone he wasn’t attracted to and he said that’s not why you get married, you don’t base it on looks.
The thing that bothered me the most was that if he honestly found me unattractive there were so many other men who wouldn’t have. In marriage counseling, towards the end, when he fell in love with another woman, he also used the excuse of my “unattractiveness” but I’m not hearing that from anyone else. I think I’m actually, to most people, pretty decent looking. So he changed it to that I was “sexually unattractive” and well, I’ve never had another guy tell me that, ever, despite the crushing blows to my self- esteem. I’d go so far as to say the vast majority of men seem to find me quite fuckable!!
Those things hurt and caused me all kinds of stress but some of his behavior was just downright odd. Like his lack of protective instinct towards me and the kids. There were a couple instances, in the middle of the night, where I had to get up and deal with a possible intruder. Like once our dog was barking and it turned out to be a woman breaking into one of our vehicles and I opened the door and yelled out at her what was she doing and she ran off with a bunch of stuff she had taken and was eventually caught up with by the police, but the ex just lay there in bed and let me deal with it all, wide awake.
Another time the dog got out and was running circles around a man in the street, barking. I had to go and try to pull her away from him, but he was drunk and leering at me and acting aggressive towards the dog. I had tried to get my ex to come help but he refused to get up out of bed. Again, he wasn’t asleep, just didn’t want to deal with it.
When I had the affair, I once had to drive home late at night and my affair partner was freaking out that I would be all alone driving and telling me to call him if I needed anything and lock all my doors and keep the windows up and obviously all concerned. He could not understand how my ex could not be worried about me doing that but he didn’t give a lick. He wanted the car back so he could go somewhere in the morning and could care less about my safety on the road. His entire attitude made me feel so unloved.
Gosh I could go on and on about specific instances but I won’t because I’m emotionally wore out from just talking about it. I will point out the time he dumped out an entire bulk bag of shredded cheese through all the layers of the refrigerator just because he was mad that I hadn’t made his lunch for him before work and he had to make his own. I was dealing with a fussy nursing baby and unable to get to it in time. He knew darn well that I couldn’t just leave all that mess there while he was gone and would feel as though I had to clean it. It’s a perfect example because that was really typical, if exaggerated behavior on his part. While on the surface we rarely ever argued or even talked much outside of his lectures on politics and religion, he was doing things to deliberately get at me. Often it involved making big messes because he never cleaned and knew I was overwhelmed as it was trying to keep up with everything. So if he felt irritated with me he’d do things to make my job 10x harder.
So whyyyy did I stay?? What the hell was wrong with me?? I can only say that I didn’t feel like there was another option. We’d married “till death do us part” and I was so determined to honor those vows.
It’s funny how when you are married everyone chides you not to “give up” so easily and tells you how divorce shouldn’t be an option and how you need to “work harder” on your marriage. Then, after you get divorced they are all saying “why didn’t you leave earlier??” Umm… wait a minute! I thought I was supposed to be “making it work” and “fighting for my marriage”.
We’d married under some pretty old fashioned ideas about marriage and religion as well and were surrounded by like- minded folks. It wasn’t until I had my affair that a door was opened back into the “world” and freedom for me. It was the guy I had the affair with that reminded me that not only were men still attracted to me and wanted to have sex with me, but that someone could appreciate ME and my interests and my writing. He actually was a big part in encouraging me to get back to a more “normal” state of living as well. In order to continue on what we had I needed a cell phone and started getting away from the house to attend MOPS meetings (Moms of Preschoolers, they have on site babysitting in a church) and I even got DSL (like 10 years after everyone else, we finally had internet when I started the affair but it was dial up and very slow).
So while a lot of people look at affairs as evil, I don’t so much. Mine was my lifeline and it opened my eyes to what was going on and what I was missing. Not to say my affair was all candy and roses because we actually had a lot of emotional things to deal with and I cried A LOT over him. All those tears, that I’d held back for so long I was finally able to open up and express again. It wasn’t easy but in a lot of ways it was healing for me. He is also someone who had known me back in those turbulent teen years and just knowing that someone could love me without judgment when he’d been there and seen all my vile “sinful” past, meant a lot.
So I don’t regret it. It may have been dishonest but that was my ticket out for good. It also helped me cope when my ex “fell in love” with someone else that didn’t even want him and got a sexual harassment type charge filed against him at work. I don’t know how I would have gotten through that if my heart wasn’t already elsewhere. Divorce wasn’t easy but I’m so glad I’m not in that prison of a marriage any longer. You can read more about the affair in Confessions of a Cheater if you haven’t already.
This is also a continuation of the three previous posts about my ex husband and the spiritual and emotional abuse that occurred and his passive aggressive behavior.