After five years of being with my soon-to-be-ex husband, (4 years engaged, 10 best friends), I finally leapt off the proverbial cliff and tied the noose… err, knot. I suppose that I had given up on getting an answer back from God on whether I should marry him and succumbed to “making things right” in my religious beliefs. Sigh. For a month and a half, it was pure marital bliss! Then, I discovered his wretched porn addiction. Multiple times, splayed out on my sofa with his pants around his ankles, pretending to watch TV and gratifying himself to Pornhub, while I was lying in bed in strappy Victoria’s Secret lace, waiting for my newly wedded groom. (The full-length version of these discoveries is quite colorful and I’m certain my head nearly exploded, since we had both made a “no-masturbation pact” and extremely specific vows of purity to each other. Yes, so very Corinthians of us.) Who chooses porn over their attractive and 15 years younger bride that’s waiting to fuck you stupid? (I was told he was “teaching me a lesson.”)
That discovery led me to go asshole-deep into his phone that we had both saved each other’s fingerprints on, which led me to a few weeks of daily discoveries of all sorts of infidelity over the years, when, at one point, he was fucking 13 other women (and me!) all at the same time. He was organized enough to keep this tidily in an Excel spreadsheet with dates and times and locations. I found 9662 photos worth (I took photos of his phone with mine so I would have “proof” that couldn’t be deleted) of said bullshit, including three active dating profiles, and a lifetime worth of lies and cheater-depravity. He was even using the Caribbean vacation and scuba diving trip that I paid for and surprised him with to pick up on women.
I got both of us into a 12-step program for sex addicts, (him as the addict and me as the angry and betrayed) and was trying to wrap my mind around the idea of ever getting past any of this. I just kept finding out more and more and had two months of “staggered disclosure” when he finally snapped and physically assaulted me, permanently disabling my shoulder. (Former National Champion College Football Prick, you know). That was my non-negotiable. Blah blah, that led to Assault 4 and Felony Strangulation charges, two restraining orders (he kept violating the one the court put in place) and now we’re here, finally facing his trial later this month. Honestly, I hope he ends up having to do some legitimate prison time for this and finally has a dose of accountability for his actions.
More than a decade of forgiving the cheating bastard and arriving here isn’t my issue though; that’s my empathic stupid ass. The real betrayal? My mom has developed a crush on him and has taken his side in this. Even going so far as to participate in his fuckery, like looking through the spare phone that he bought and downloaded his backup onto, giving to her “so that he could prove to her he wasn’t ‘cheating’ with all of these women,” including meandering through the dick pics that he had saved on his phone. (Call me old-fashioned, but I really don’t want my mother peering at my husband’s sad boner.) I could go on for an hour about all the things that she and my stepfather have done for, or with him, but it didn’t stop at my cheater cooking them Thanksgiving dinner this year. I’m just crushed at this. She wasn’t even there for me for my shoulder surgery, trying to repair the damage that he caused. She will barely speak to me, if at all, but talks to him daily. They won’t come to my house because I’ve moved on and am finally dating again, but they go to his place now, after I included her address on the second restraining order I was granted. She buried his dog that died at her house and hung his collar on her fence! Ugh.
I’m not sure what to do with her, or how I can forgive her for any of this, let alone all of it. She did this with my first husband (an emotionally abusive cop, because I really know how to pick them!) and it took me years to forgive her, eventually ascribing it to her daddy issues. I’m an only child, too, so the failure of this relationship might cost her ending up alone in a nursing home if we can’t repair it. It just feels like the DNA has been forever altered now. What mother on the planet chooses this kind of POS over her own daughter?
Fool Me Twice
Dear Fool Me Twice,
So let’s recap. We’ve got two abusive ex-husbands, a conservative religious upbringing, and a mom who enjoys Thanksgiving dinner with the guy who strangled you.
I don’t even have words for how fucked up that is. And I have a LOT of words. Like, I make my living with words, and I’m all, where do I file this? Trust that they suck is not quite covering it.
Let’s start with mom.
She isn’t normal. For humans, or for the animal kingdom. Speaking as a mother, if someone were to threaten my child, my primal instinct is to tear off their face. In this respect, I am not unlike a grizzly bear. You get too close to a grizzly bear’s cub? Mama bear is coming for you.
It’s not just love, nature made us this way. Propagation of the species and all. It’s in our best interests to continue our lineage and protect our offspring. And when you bond, you protect.
It sounds to me like you were raised by a barbed wire monkey. A mother-approximation creature who isn’t bonded to you in the way a mother should be. There are no warning sirens going off for her when you’re hurt. She doesn’t protect you — WORSE, she sides with your abuser.
That betrayal, honestly, seems a million times worse than marriage to the PornHub Strangler. The person who should have your back here is saying through her actions that she’s okay with your abuse. She ratifies it. Go ahead and dislocate the other shoulder, heck, you deserve it.
I don’t know what’s in her head (bats? an endless moral void?), but she’s doing some sort of mental gymnastics that concludes that your abuse doesn’t matter.
Someone might jump in here and say, oh, that’s how abusers are, they turn everyone against you. They’re so wily and clever.
Yeah, no. That shit might work with your neighbor, or the dim woman who sat on a committee with you, but it should not work with your MOTHER. She’s made a choice of who to side with and it’s exactly what it looks like — she’s complicit in his abuse of you.
So fuck her. CN can weigh in on this. I’d put a lot of distance there. I’d probably give her a boundary that if he’s in her life, you will not be in her life. But of course, you cannot un-know this. I’m loathe to estrange a parent, even an abusive one, but that may be what’s called for here. Get a good therapist to help you proceed.
My point is — given your upbringing, abuse must feel normal to you. Healthy is going to feel disorienting. And no one modeled to you what to do when those sirens go off. (DANGER! DANGER!) Run? Fight? Or go make it a cup of a tea?
The good news is — boundaries can be learned. The even better news is — you’re a fighter. Despite your shit upbringing, you got out of one abusive relationship and you can get out of the second. You pressed charges. You’re having that trial. You’re imposing consequences. WELL DONE!
Sometimes, we have to learn to be our own mama grizzly.
So, here are a few pointers, I’m culling from your letter.
we had both made a “no-masturbation pact” and extremely specific vows of purity to each other. Yes, so very Corinthians of us.)
Marriage is a vow. And the rest of this seems all very marriage-police-ish to me. (But I’m not an evangelical Christian, so I’m probably slow on the purity pact thing.) You either have a partner you can trust and can be intimate with, or you don’t. No pact will make a dishonest person honest. And masturbation is fine and healthy and shouldn’t be policed, IMO.
We have to know our dealbreakers. The PornHub stuff is vile, (everyone go read Nicholas Kristoff on the Children of PornHub right now, please), but the egregious thing is how he used it to reject you. To set you up and punish you.
You can go down a rabbit hole of purity and wanking, but the real issue is that abusive dynamic.
I got both of us into a 12-step program for sex addicts, (him as the addict and me as the angry and betrayed)
Are you a sex addict? (Assuming that’s a thing. I don’t think it’s a thing.) Why on earth would you enlist in a program that BLAMES you for his behavior? And enlists YOU in fixing HIM? Cue my standard line — we don’t have superpowers. We don’t control other people. Sex addiction therapy is the same Reconciliation Industrial Complex bullshit. This isn’t an “us” problem, it’s an entitled fuckwit problem.
I’ve moved on and am finally dating again
Heal up first please. I’m not one of these people who thinks you need to wait years before you date, but you’re not out of a marriage with a guy who STRANGLED you yet and you have an upcoming trial. You’ve got no emotional bandwidth for a relationship now, and being wobbly gives you very good odds of choosing another fuckwit.
Blah blah, that led to Assault 4 and Felony Strangulation charges,
Not blah blah. You have a very breezy writing style. “I was married to a man who nearly killed me” isn’t the stuff of humorous dry understatement. (Trust me, I have a blog attempting this tragicomedy thing.) It’s the stuff of RED SIREN ALERT OMG OMG OMG!
Do not gloss over your abuse. That’s exactly how we got here.
Big ((hugs)) for the trial ahead. Please send us an update.