Dear Chump Lady,
I have found online dating profiles for my husband, secret emails, I have been gas-lighted in many ways, he has given away money meant for me to have medical work done and more — but what he did yesterday was a defining moment for me.
To set the stage, we live paycheck to paycheck…..he is terrible with money. I have a lot of personal debt because of him, my son lost his job a few months ago and is presently employed but struggling. Me and my parents are helping him when we can.
So, I am home talking to my son on the phone, we were discussing looking for jobs and money of course. My husband arrives home, so I say to my son, “Let me go.”
My husband says “Who’s that?” When I tell him my son, he says tell him to hold on and I think maybe he’s heard about someone hiring.
He says, “look at these!”
So I put my phone down and put it on speaker.
He hands me a small stack of scratch-off lottery tickets (not unusual for him). I see a few small winners and then I see one for $5,000!!! “Is this real?” I ask and he shakes his head yes.
I tell my son and he says “Wow!”
My mind is racing. I’m thinking I can pay off one of my credit cards and still have enough left over he wouldn’t complain about paying the credit card and maybe we could make a $200 car payment for my son.
Then I look up at my husband and he is laughing. “It’s a fake…” He says, “I spent a lot of time altering it.”
I threw the tickets at him and called him a “fucking shithead.” (I’ve never called him a name like that) and started to cry. It was that uncontrollable sobbing, like a switch was turned on and I couldn’t stop.
He was disgusted with me for crying. Mad actually.
I left the room. He never apologized, nothing.
Something totally died inside of me and something else came to life.
All the other cheating things he has done really weren’t about me and I’ve learned not to take it personally. But this was a planned out hateful prank directed at me and my son.
All the other things he has done are part of the “tangled skein” but there was nothing tangled about this. It was hateful, almost sadistic.
That moment the realization that I have to get out was cemented.
I’d like to know if you think it was as mean as I took it and also do most people have that defining moment?
Was it as mean as you took it? Jane, he is a sick motherfucker and yes it was mean. It wasn’t just mean, it was abusive. Not only did he cruelly raise your hopes of some needed financial relief — he made certain this prank was in front of your son — on speaker phone. Just to maximize your humiliation.
He is a piece of shit. And if the cheating wasn’t enough to leave him, I hope this “joke” is.
Please get the book (in the Amazon box, or find it your library) Lundy Bancroft’s “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men.” You’ll see that shitheads like your husband are quite common. (And why you’ve never called him a fucking shithead before is beyond me. It’s so descriptive and appropriate.) What he did was calculated to get an effect. Hell, he DOCTORED a LOTTERY TICKET! That took quite a bit of aforethought and malice. He absolutely wanted to hurt you.
And I would point out that your husband knew affairs would hurt you too (and dating profiles and gaslighting and overspending) but he doesn’t give a shit. He delights in control and his “you’re not the boss of me” lifestyle. If I had to guess, I’d say he’s not only passive aggressive, he’s aggressive aggressive. He resents any financial help going to your son, because that takes resources away from him. In his sick mind, he thinks you and your son deserve such “jokes.”
Your upset is part of the pay off for him. His contemptuousness is his high. Your tears just prove you are the lesser being.
I could go on about what an abusive freak your husband is, Jane. Read Bancroft’s book if you want to know what makes him tick, it’s the best road map to the skein out there. But it’s long past time to ask yourself — why the hell are you sitting there taking it? And what are you doing to get AWAY from it?
Because that’s where you energies need to go, Jane. Understanding why this sicko arrangement is acceptable to you, and making a plan to escape. Stop trying to decode his “jokes” and why he cheats. Trust that he sucks. I don’t even think you have to “trust” here, Jane. Trip over the obvious that he sucks.
Talk to a domestic abuse hotline. They can help you make an escape plan.
Now, to your question — did I have a defining moment? I had several. Sitting in a courthouse waiting for a protection from abuse order was one. There was a veteran abused wife there with her small son, who was playing with some Thomas the Tank engine trains. I was chatting with him. “Oh that’s Percy, that one is Edmund.” Then I excused myself to go to the bathroom to cry, because I was pretty hysterical at that point, and she came in after me and said “Hey! You gotta be tough! You get that order!” I felt pretty humbled that this woman whose life circumstances were infinitely worse than mine was giving me the pep talk.
Later I sat next to a nice Puerto Rican young thug who asked me what I was there for, and when I told him, he said he’d be happy to throw him through a window for me “because I’m just that kind of guy.”
I had a lot of surreal moments, Jane. I had four D-Days. I don’t fault you for being a slow learner. But Jane, these assholes don’t get better — they get BOLDER. Every time you assert yourself and then back down and don’t leave? They build those walls higher. It’s more “jokes” and more punishment to erode your self esteem so you don’t get so uppity the next time.
He might love bomb you too. Oh, I didn’t mean it, baby. I’m so sorry. He may hoover you back with some “nice.” This is the classic cycle of abuse. It may be at the point he doesn’t have to throw you a bone. You can just expect more of his crap.
Time to say NO MORE!
Don’t let the finances scare you. You would be so much better off without this guy’s financial recklessness in your life. You could captain your own ship. Other people have gone before you and made it — and you will too! You do NOT need him. Nothing is worth living with this sort of abuse.