Still Hate That. (A Postlude.)
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.