No, REALLY the comments should work now. Damn you Word Press! — CL
Hi Chump Lady,
I’m struggling – and I should know better. I’ve posted on your site, told my story, listened to and dished out wisdom of someone in the trenches of chumpdom….yet, after all this time – to quote Godfather III – “Just when I thought I was out – they drag me back in.” The “they” of this latest twist are my own unicorns and what seems to be fated discoveries about the last years of my life with the ex.
I was rooting through old tax records yesterday for unrelated business, and in the 2004 returns I came across the “request for restoration of license” forms my ex submitted after he had a seizure and was forced to give up his license for 6 months until they got him medicated. I had been through those return boxes a million times looking for any evidence of what the hell happened to him when I found out about the 4 year affair (April 2006 – June 2010 – when I caught him) and I’d never come across this form before.
I wondered why I’d found it now – and I wondered if there was a reason (fate) that I did. When things were at their worst right after the split – the hardest thing to wrap my head around was how he’d gone from a man who for over 20 years had done nothing but be a great husband, loved me, laughed with me, cherished our family – to a guy who not only cheated but abandoned us, forced us into bankruptcy and basically told everyone that he and I were in a bad marriage (not from anything I ever saw) and how fantastic a wife the OW was going to be.
Honestly – it NEVER made sense. It wasn’t even a skein to unravel – it was like the Mirror Mirror episode of Star Trek — but instead of Spock with a beard — I had a husband who had become an evil parallel version of himself. A total flip.
So here I am in the garage, staring at this form, and suddenly it dawns on me that the location of the seizures in his brain were located in the right side of his brain – right in the area where they say that “judgment and right/wrong impulses” are controlled. (I looked it up online – so take that for what it’s worth.) And as I stood there – I feel this wave of “THIS is the answer” shoot over me. The seizures – for whatever reason – either triggered or altered or scared him – I don’t know. But the timing of when that happened fits perfectly with when he said he started being unhappy and then when the affair started and it all seemed too……convenient.
We are days from the final decree on our divorce. He is in full plan to marry the OW as soon as the ink dries – remember – she’s “going to be a fantastic wife” according to him. He has screwed me over every possible way he can, and I have gotten both myself and my children through it. But…..this was just – weird. Finding this put all sorts of “what if it was the seizures” back in play. It’s twisting me up because part of me wants to contact him, try and lay out the timing and ask him to at least consider that he might be affected by it in his choices by a physical condition.
Crazy, huh? Even as I write this I realize I sound like an idiot. He is not insane – he willfully and quite effectively cheated on me and definitely knew it was wrong. He left without a look back and just stopped caring about any aspect of his old life. He reinvented. And he would not listen to me about anything three years ago — so why would he listen now to any “discovery” I’d made?
But if you knew how good things had been for over two decades, and how the whole thing started to crumble definitely right when his health took a turn, you might understand how I can be given to think that maybe this is a sign. Or maybe I’m looking for validation that it was the seizures — something out of my hands and explainable — that made him stop loving me. That it wasn’t as simple as him not wanting me and finding someone new and really I’d been in love with a pretend person for most of my life.
I wish I could alter my brain to stop reaching back to a past that’s dead and see what’s in front of me. But he haunts me still. Even at the end of an almost 3 year divorce and knowing all I do – I cannot stop myself from these unicorn moments of “what if this is the answer?” moments. Please kick me in the ass and wake me up – I need to make these unicorns permanently extinct with some harsh reality checks. Thanks.
That’s a very tantalizing skein of fuckupedness you have presented there. Is he a heartless bastard, or did he have a seizure that made him a heartless bastard? I think what you are trying to untangle is — if it is the latter — the seizures made him do it — than you do not have to hold him culpable. You can still give yourself permission to love him. You can pity him. And (unicorn of unicorns), hope that he’ll heal and come to his senses, (his senses having been obliterated by seizures). And the Unicorn of unicorn of unicorns — the hope that this is a temporary condition, and if he was aware of it, he would change course. He would come back, and this divorce could be averted.
So a lot is riding on the seizure hypothesis.
Short answer — it doesn’t matter, Char. If he’s a heartless bastard because of seizures, or he’s a heartless bastard because he had a midlife crisis and is under the spell of some floozy — either way he is not husband material. He cannot be a full and loving partner to you any more. He’s gone. I’m sorry.
If it’s seizures that make him a heartless bastard, well, I suppose you can only expect that his affliction will manifest itself with the OW as well as you. Otherwise, it is a very selective affliction. If his brain is that degenerative that he can walk away from a 20 year shared life without regard, then he’s only a few misfiring synapses away from doing it to her. Perhaps he’ll forget who she is and she’ll wind up footing the dementia ward bill.
Longer answer — I’m not dismissing your Brain Chemistry Made Him Do It hypothesis. It’s all untangling the skein to go there, but I admit I find the behavioral science fascinating. Anecdotally, I have a friend whose ex-wife had an affair with a guy that turned out to have a brain tumor. She left my friend, this guy left his wife and kids — the schmoopies moved in together and six months later he was dead of brain cancer. Did the tumor make him do it? I’m sure it’s a heartbreaking question his children and ex-wife must ask themselves.
Strokes, accidents, and degenerative illnesses make people behave in all sorts of bizarre ways. Read the works of neuroscientist Oliver Sacks (“The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”). There are many accounts of brain injury leading to profoundly different social behaviors. For example, someone who was previously shy and reserved, after a stroke, becomes socially inappropriate, or sexually compulsive. Personality change can also be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease. (An academic review can be found here.)
Another brain wiring hypothesis could be that he was just really good at pretending to be someone he wasn’t. The whole anger at the divorce, at being nasty and “screwing you” and the kids over? That says narcissism and gross entitlement to me. If he had dementia, I would imagine he would just wander clumsily after his fantasy OW oblivious of the costs, just doing whatever to get to the magic rainbow. The blameshifting, once idolizing and now devaluing you, however, to me, says he has a character issue.
Speaking of which, here’s an interesting read about emerging science on sociopath’s ability to compartmentalize. Apparently, sociopaths “feel” but they cannot connect their actions to other people’s pain. More than a lack of empathy, sociopaths seem to have unique wiring that shelves “emotions” in a different part of the brain compared with non-sociopaths.
Char, whatever flavored of fucked up your soon-to-be-ex is, you must let go of the thought that you could save him. That bad case of “if only’s” will keep you stuck. If he is sick, part of his sickness is that he isn’t self aware enough to know he’s sick and cannot act in his best interests. And he has fired you from the job of caring for him. You don’t get to control that, as sad as that is. You can’t help people who don’t want help and can’t see that they need it.
As I’ve mentioned here before, I was married once to a man that was actually mentally ill. Had a neurological glitch in his brain (hoarding, OCD). Perfectly functional individual once upon a time in many other ways. Held a good job, had friends, was social, did well at school. Whatever made him tick, that disability/wiring problem got worse and worse over the years. Made it impossible for me, or anyone, to live with him. He refused treatment after being dragged to several doctors. He didn’t think he had a problem. Everyone ELSE was the problem. (Oh, and hey, guess what? That’s a sign of mental illness.)
So what was my choice in that situation? Unlike your dilemma, I had my “proof” — this thing wasn’t his fault. But he wouldn’t treat his illness. Now you can argue, part of his illness was that he was incapable of treating his illness. (I think this is true of many mental illnesses, like bipolar and schizophrenia — and it’s a hell of a societal problem when we cannot commit people). Was he culpable? What should I do? Martyr myself to a man who behaved self destructively and could not be a full partner to me, or a functioning father to our son? I struggled for many years with those thoughts, and in the end, I divorced him. He’s downward spiraled ever since. I jumped off a sinking ship. You cannot help people who will not (or cannot) help themselves. You must detach. With love or without love. Frankly, in my situation, I lost all respect for the man, and it’s hard to love someone you do not respect, however pitiable their condition.
Seizure or no seizure, Char, you have a no win situation. You were a good partner, and he cannot see that. All you can do is work from the reality presented, which is that he has checked out of the marriage. His fuckupedness is no reflection on you, your worth, or the 20 years you invested in him. The fact that you feel love or loyalty after such a shattering betrayal says beautiful things about your character and the depth of your love. But Char, it’s time to focus on yourself and let him go. If it makes you feel better to have an “answer” — it was the seizures — and that gives you a measure of comfort? I don’t see anything wrong with that.
But give up the hope, okay? Unicorns because he’s ill, or unicorns because he’s a narcissistic schmuck are still unicorns.