It’s been a couple weeks since my last entry, and as your resident ornery bloggess I feel compelled to clarify a few things, to report a few things, and to observe a few things about the fallout that ensued after the last post was published. Here goes.
To Clarify: Primarily, I am not angry anymore. Really. My eldest niece called me that morning with grave and darling concern in her voice. She was worried about me. “Um, Auntie? Are you OK? It’s just that your last post seemed really angry. I mean, angrier than usual even.” I assured her that while recalling the incident and recreating it in words certainly gave renewed vigor to those moments of abject rage and unthinkable betrayal, they were only moments, and they are gone now. Seriously, folks – it’s been almost a year since I found all this out. I am not still reeling. Nor am I driven by any sort of lust for vengeance. My feeling on THAT subject is simple: Go Bobbit or Go Home. I went home. To my laptop. And wrote. Well, actually I went home to my couch and stayed there in a PTSD, carbs, and Valium coma for many months before I was even able to talk about it. But then, I wrote. I did not create that post in order to hurt anyone or “expose” my ex-husband as an emotional abuser or raving lunatic – trust me, he does not need my help in doing so. I wrote it to get it out, and indeed, it was a GREAT purge. But as far as I knew, anyone reading my minor-league musings was either a friend or family member and likely already knew the story. Never did I imagine the breadth and scope of readers that would find their way to my blog that day and enter the swirling brown vortex of doom that was my marriage and its Lifetime-worthy demise.
Secondly, I am no one’s bitch, and no one’s victim. If there’s anything I AM still angry about is that I allowed this to happen. It was with my total permission that my ex-husband and his son treated me with unconscionable disrespect, lived off of me without contribution, drained my resources and turned my home into a festering pit of refuse and despair. I allowed it. Every single day that I bellowed or cried or begged or threatened but didn’t leave, I allowed it. And I asked for more. I knew what I was getting when I married them (make no mistake, potential steps – it’s a package deal); this was not a post-wedding Worst Surprise Ever. I was not tricked or duped into thinking I was getting some great deal – I knew exactly what I was in for, and for me to expect different behaviors from my former husband and his son would have been like adopting a mastodon and then being outraged because it broke my house. Of course it did. It’s a mastodon. The fault is mine. I invited the chaos into my life, drew it a hot bath, gave it the guestroom and handed over my credit card. My job, now, is to figure out why I thought it was OK for as long as I did. Why I stayed, why I thought I deserved it. Why it took an unfathomable show of treachery for me to finally leave. Why I brought home that goddamned mastodon.
To Report: What followed was an Epic Shitstorm. Lines were drawn, double-dealers exposed, martyrs and hypocrites drawn out, friendships lost and broken. I was accused of launching a vicious “attack” upon the former stepson (age 17), and in truth, I have questioned my judgement and motive for bringing him into the re-telling at all. But the fact is that he was a part of it, and not in an “innocent bystander” kind of way….this has never been a secret. My stepson was an integral part of the marriage, but more precisely, the END of the marriage. This sideshow was my life – not a day or a week or a moment. My LIFE. For years. Judging me for telling the horrible things doesn’t magically excuse or erase the horrible things. It doesn’t work that way, to the great dismay of blame-deflectors everywhere. This is my story, and I don’t feel compelled to apologize or defend myself for telling it. Everything I said was true. And plenty more that I didn’t say - that I wouldn’t.
Next: many, many more people than I realized have endured similar torment. I had no idea. I heard from several women who have been stalked, “taken”, frightened, used, bullied, deceived, some even beaten - stories much worse than mine. They are afraid or embarrassed or ashamed to talk about it, and thanked me for being impertinent enough to tell my story publicly, as if by doing so I was also telling theirs. I am OK with that, speaking the Secrets of the Douchey Exes Sisterhood. And I would please like Cameron Diaz to play me in the movie. I’ll need a breezy sidekick.
To Observe: Hits, likes, reposts and shares on that article were more than double that of my second “biggest” day in the blog-ethers. Why? What does this say? Surely, people love a train-wreck, but I think it’s more than that. I think it’s partly that those who sometimes worry their lives have entered the dreaded Realm of the Mundane can dip their toes, ever-so-briefly, into the cesspool of deception and espionage and drama and dysfunction of such a tale and quickly run back to the safety of their lives and families, grateful for their certainties and permanence. People who have beachfront property at said cesspool, like me, read because we like to know we’re not alone, and that maybe someone else really does understand, and that maybe we can laugh about it together someday. Or cry, or scream, or even better – move to the suburbs.
But mostly, I think it’s because people truly care about others’ struggles (I know, very un-Misanthropista-ish…). And because we can frolic together on Facebook and play Words With Friends and meet for drinks and go to Rotary meetings and work side by side with people we truly care about, and have no idea what lies beneath. What they’re going through, where they’ve been, what they’ve survived, what they don’t tell. As for me, I am mostly glad I told. It came at a cost, to be sure, but I have to believe the gift outweighs the cost. To have told the tale is to be free of it. And that’s way better than a pet mastodon.
PS - To those who’ve deemed me cruel and inhuman for exposing this labyrinthine saga and its wily players to my tiny circle of readers, I say this: Call me when YOUR husband fashions an elaborate ploy to stalk and spy on you with a fake identity. Call me when some kid comes along and shits on YOUR lawn and on YOUR life. Call me when the betrayal finally beats you, and when everything you think you know is a lie. Then we’ll talk. In the meantime, fuck off.
So, you know how, like, you’re in this terrible marriage and you pretty much hate every miserable, goddamned moment of your wretched existence and you feel like you’ve spent forever putting up with things that no self-respecting human being would ever put up with even for a minute but you’ve put up with it for years and the whole sorry thing has left you so devoid of life or joy that you can’t even fathom people who feel those things anymore and you wake up every single morning and tell yourself that Today is The Day that you’ll leave, that you’ll just pack the car and grab the dogs and GO but you never do because something always comes up or you worry how you’ll explain it to your judgy big brother or you think, maybe – just maybe – if I tell the husband I’m leaving, he’ll be scared enough to lose me that he will pick up his Mount Fuji of crap on the closet floor or pay a goddamned bill or tell his awful child that it is not OK to shit on the lawn but he never does and still you try to stick it out and find things to make yourself happy but you realize you can’t possibly be happy when you are allowing yourself to be used financially and abused emotionally and ass-raped spiritually every single day and so you finally, finally screw up the nerve to end it only to be lured back in months later by an alleged “emotional crisis” and guilted into returning to the Pit of Despair that was your life before only this time it’s even worse because the “emotional crisis” was not so much an “emotional crisis” as a “Masterclass in Manipulation” and that guilting and shaming and ransacking of emails and phones and drive-by spying become daily occurrences and you find yourself begging for mercy and forgiveness just to make the crazy stop but it doesn’t stop and soon you realize that the crazy has actually made you sick and now you have ulcers and you’ve had three teeth crumble in your mouth from all of the grinding and clenching that you don’t even know you’re doing and you want so badly to run away (again) but you promised to try and you really are trying but the only thing that is keeping you alive aside from the fact that your pets need you is your profound Facebook friendship with the one person who seems to truly understand and make sense of the madness and talk you out of doing anything rash and who reminds you how great you thought your husband once was and how great you were together before All This and who somehow always manages to convince you that love is worth fighting for and that surely the ulcers were caused by something else entirely and that your teeth were just exploding because, well, you’re no spring chicken and if you just hang in there another day everything will be OK and you believe your friend because you feel like friends can sometimes see things you can’t and you’re sure this is one of those times and one of those friends and you carry on despite the torture and the nightmares and the fact that you are drinking a LOT more bourbon than usual which doesn’t really help the ulcers but definitely helps with the getting-through until finally, finally, one day the indignity becomes too much and despite your repeated promises to “keep trying” you just can’t anymore and you call it off again but that is not deemed acceptable by the other party who decides to stalk and torment you for the next five days while you sit holed up in your house with a very big gun just waiting for a chance to use it on this motherfucker but he is so busy calling you a cunt and a whore that he doesn’t give you the chance to shoot him, only to field the hundreds of texts and calls and emails calling you a cunt and a whore and you are so grateful to your special Facebook friend who is helping you through this yet again and you feel like you can tell him anything and that your secrets and rage and heartbreak are safe with him because you trust him implicitly and since he is the one friend who has seen you through the whole miserable affair from start to finish you know you don’t really have to explain anything and that he will understand why you had to do what you did – why you had to go, again – why you are getting off the hamster wheel and getting the fuck out of dodge and getting the fuck out of the marriage and you know your friend won’t judge you even though he does not agree with your decision because, well, that’s the kind of friend he is and when you have finally extricated yourself from the poisonous sham of a union and cut the cord that tied you to all that pain and torment and you feel exhilarated because the cancer is gone once and for all and you think nothing could possibly hurt you ever again now that you are free and everything is swell right up until the part when your special friend reveals to you that he is actually your husband pretending to be someone else and that he has spent the past year weaving this elaborate web of deception and using this fake identity to stalk you and commit emotional espionage on you and the whole time you were trying to reconcile, he looked you in the eye and lied and deceived you again and again and led two lives and kept them immaculately separate from each other and you never had a fucking clue so now you feel like the biggest asshole the world has ever made and you wonder how you could be so stupid and you are embarrassed because you were so handily duped but you are also sad because now you’ve lost the friend you trusted and you realize that your entire life has been turned upside down by duplicity and betrayal and you don’t even trust yourself to order a sandwich anymore because maybe the sandwich is pretending to be some other kind of sandwich behind your back but then you realize you sound completely fucking ridiculous and that you’re not actually fit for human company right now and maybe you’d better just take your weird imposter-sandwich and go back to bed for awhile like, say, 6ish months and never ever speak of it, because you can’t, until you can – and then you can speak of nothing else because you are so completely fucking broken by it all?
No? Oh. Me neither.