I recently found out that my husband of almost 21 years has been having an ongoing relationship with a woman for 11 years. He started having panic attacks and told me he wanted a divorce because he considered us ‘just friends’ and that it ‘had been fun’ but not fulfilling.
He’s a combat veteran who was deployed during the initial invasion of Iraq back in 2003. Because of all the hardships that brought, and a long military career that I have been supportive of since he enlisted, I had just chalked up his disassociation, hot temper, mental struggles and bouts of depression to PTSD and the various TBI’s he’s been diagnosed with. It turns out that they were woven into this secret life he had been carrying on with.
Before I found out about the affair, I had told him that we should do marriage counseling (something I’ve been pushing for 15 years anyway), work together to figure out what the issues are, and that I was willing to do anything that he thought was necessary to save the actual marriage. He was adamant that there was nothing left, he would never have sex with me again, and we were just friends. He insisted there was absolutely nothing that could be done.
And so I caved. I decided ok, if he wants a divorce to ‘figure everything out’, I would give it to him. I started moving forward with the logistics of it, inquiring about lawyers, how we would end up splitting community property, etc.
The thing is, he started acting weird. He would sneak into our bedroom, and I would hear the drawer of his nightstand slowly being opened, and then he would disappear into the bathroom for a minimum of an hour at a time. So of course, I decided to see what the hell was going on. I found my answer in the form of a hard drive hidden in his drawer.
Once plugged in I found 11 years worth — 308 to be precise — of photos and videos of him and one of my clients I’ve been tattooing on for — you guessed it — 11 years. Anywhere we got stationed around the country, she would fly out and spend the weekend with him fucking him in my house.
How did she accomplish this discreetly? She started to methodically integrate herself into my life — showing up at tattoo conventions to conveniently try to help. She followed my social media for when I wouldn’t be around as I’d be out working at other shops or conventions. She would introduce herself to my clients, my family and my friends. She dyed her hair similar to mine. She pretended to be me to my new neighbors and then would laugh about it since it was “so silly” since she and my husband were just “really good friends.” She told me what she would do if she was married to my husband. She caused an altercation between us because he confessed some really personal issues to her instead of me — his wife — and went on to brag about it after the fact.
Once I confronted him about it, I was told I was just a really jealous woman who couldn’t handle him having a really good friend who’s a woman. He got insanely angry during the confrontation which was done in front of my boss at the time and my long time good friends. It was very embarrassing. And he made me feel bad enough that I texted her an all out apology for jumping down his throat and thanking her for being his friend.
The mistress knew I liked Star Wars, and I introduced her to my passion for it and where it came from during a tattoo session. She started changing her story to match mine — that she got into Star Wars as a kid with her dad and loved it ever since. She started buying the same stuff that we have in our home. She started making all my friends, colleagues, other clients and family very uncomfortable with the things she would say to them. She came to the grand opening of my tattoo studio, and claimed she was my best friend from college when someone mistook her as that person.
I honestly am completely creeped out by everything that she has ever said to me, but took it as just her being some mentally unstable person who had latched onto us as a couple, and I would just continue to distance myself. There’s so much more — her getting tattooed and then wanting to go grab dinner and me feeling in my gut that something was wrong. But I would ask, and be told they were just friends.
The woman is mentally unstable. I am going to be divorced on December 13, 2022. My husband has admitted that he has a porn and sex addiction, and doesn’t even really like her that much. That it was just accessible all the time, and so he put himself into the easy thing of letting himself be with her instead of fixing the real problems.
We are both really close — we both are still very much in love with one another and as a former drug addict, I can understand some of it but not all of it of course. I’m going through with the divorce because a) he wanted it to begin with and after finding the hard drive, I realized that yes, he has a LOT to figure out and b) I can’t in good conscience keep a legal binding marriage contract with someone who has been with another woman for over half the marriage.
Things are amicable between the two of us as we try to get this all figured out, and I am open in the future (way in the future) of possibly being in a relationship with him if he goes and gets treatment and CONTINUES with treatment. But as I said this is WAY in the future, and not possible at this moment.
What I have been trying to do is get a restraining order on the mistress. Even a protection order. But due to the fact that she hasn’t sent anything threatening, my lawyer is saying she doesn’t think we CAN do that.
What advice or help or guidance do you think you could pass my way to help me feel safer on a personal level, protect my business, and be able to move forward mentally? It’s gotten so bad for me that I’m having trauma responses while tattooing. I get severe panic attacks, can’t put myself 100% there with my clients, start shaking, and just overall freaking the fuck out. I need some help. I’m in therapy — been there for 13 years now. She’s trying — but I need some sort of guidance from someone who might be able to help me when it comes to severely mental unstable affair partners. I feel like you’re my last chance.
There’s a lot to unpack here, but let’s start with — of course you’re getting panic attacks. You just got sucker punched by a double betrayal — your husband and your freak client — and it’s incredibly traumatic. Nothing feels safe right now, certainly not your place of work. Give yourself HUGE credit for lawyering up. Wherever your heart is right now (more on that in a moment), your head is in charge and moving toward divorce. YEA YOU.
That’s no small feat. Most of us are paralyzed for ages. You took the reins to navigate yourself out of this clusterfuck.
So, while everything feels suspect and frightening right now, realize that you can trust yourself to protect yourself. You have boundaries and you know how to use them. You’re way ahead of the class. So much of chumpdom is stuck in the what-is-a-boundary? Don’t-I-have-to-eat-this-pain? stage of misery. Not you. You’ve got your head screwed on straight.
Maybe it was that 13 years of therapy, or getting sober. But the way forward with Ms. Freak is more of what you’ve been doing — being your own best friend. You’d protect your best friend without hesitation, right? So, shut down Schmoopie hard.
I’m sure CN will weigh in with their Mentally Unstable Schmoopie strategies. FWIW, I had one of these nutters too. The cheater ex said she was a “bipolar alcoholic,” but who knows? (Lying liars lie.) She was, however, a stalker. Would call, email me as “Samuel Clemens” (yes, she tried to ruin Mark Twain), signed me up for spam, dating sites, political garbage. Would let me know she had my personal information. Hell, she showed up on my credit report. Like a lot of these FWs, she aspired to be the big bogeyman. Central real estate in my head. And while I was in the thick of it, she succeeded.
Until she didn’t. Here’s what helped me.
1.) Cold, hard no contact. Don’t poke the freak. Clearly she craves drama, don’t give it to her. As I’ve said here many times, nothing says “fuck off” louder to a FW than silence. Block, block, BLOCK. Also consider that all contact with this person is ammunition for her — more fodder to copy, more ways into your head. Deny her. Treat her like the pathetic, insignificant mental midget that she is. Oh, and if you want to do some skein untangling, read about personality disorders and mirroring.
2.) A lawyer letter. My one exception to total silence is a letter from your attorney. Consider it a shot across the bow. The one my lawyer sent said it was a notice. Any further harassment would result in formal criminal charges. It was cc-ed to her place of employment and the local police department. As her employer opened her mail, and she was an attorney, trust me, it got her attention.
Talk to your lawyer again. Can you charge her now? Perhaps not. But you absolutely CAN document what she’s doing — and let her know you have lawyers and law enforcement watching.
3.) Realize cheaters are not a prizes and she’s a sicko. Let her win the turd. Let him win the psycho. They’ve both gotten off on abusing you, which they could only do with their secret triangle. Remove yourself. Zero pick me dancing. Now they have each other, or more likely, some new victim to focus on. Refuse to be their chump. They could only pull this shit because you were unaware, but now you KNOW. That’s Kryptonite to their double life.
Speaking of pulling back from freaks — if they get scary and do the rage channel, do not hesitate to call law enforcement. If they go full self-pity dial and threaten suicide? You call 911 and get them committed for an involuntary psych evaluation.
They never get YOU — they get a third-party professional. You are doing the hard no contact.
Speaking of no contact…
We are both really close — we both are still very much in love with one another
Bargaining stage of grief. I’m sorry to be the cold bucket of water — he doesn’t love you. People who love you don’t conspire against you for 11 years. He doesn’t fuck around because he’s a combat veteran, or has PTSD, or addiction — he does it because he CHOOSES to do it. Many people have similar challenges — heck, you have had challenges — who did you abuse? Oh, right. No one. That difference is character.
To inflict this kind of harm on the person you purport to love, and to do it with someone so close to you, is someone who gets off on humiliating you. Who thrills to the power trip. That’s not love. It’s sick. This is not someone you can EVER feel safe around.
You did once feel safe out of habit. It was an illusion of security. Please, for your own health and sanity, live in reality. This man is NOT your friend and he doesn’t love you. His “love” is not healthy. Pedophiles “love” children. You’re his whipping post. The voodoo doll he takes his aggression out on. You’re his sicko fix.
I’m sorry. Everyone at CN has lived with the cognitive dissonance of this. Takes ages to work out. You can’t understand it because you’ve got a soul. Some people don’t.
((Big hugs)) to you.
So, CN, what are your Keep the Freak at Bay suggestions for TatChump?