Today’s post is not going to be about current events. Frankly, I’m once again feeling a bit saturated by what’s been going on in the world. A friend added me to a group for military wives against racism (not the actual name of the group), and it’s very busy. I spent a good part of yesterday looking at the constant stream of outrage about racism, and I’m just feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all… So, I’m not going to write about that today. Instead, I’m going to write about vindication.
Those of you who used to read my original blog already know that I wrote many times about my husband’s ex wife. More than once, people told me I was “crazy”, “bitter”, “petty”, or “bitchy”, because I wrote the truth about her. I had more than a few people try to blame me or Bill for what happened in his first marriage.
I suspect a lot of the people who felt qualified to opine about our situation were projecting shit from their own lives. Because, let’s face it, a lot of times, when a heterosexual marriage goes south, the man does bear a large part of the blame for what went wrong. More often than not, both parties are equally to blame, but it’s true that men are statistically more likely to be abusers, for instance. And a lot of times, men are less emotionally mature than women are, especially when they’re involved with the military or another line of work that is typically “male-centric”.
There were times over the years when I wondered if I was being fair in my assessments about Ex and all that went wrong. I wondered if I could be more charitable and understanding toward her, and the way she treats people. I did, on a conscious level, understand that she had been severely abused and neglected when she was growing up. I could understand on an intellectual plane how she turned into someone as cruel and mean spirited as she always seemed to be.
After awhile, once the kids became adults, I stopped caring as much about her. I wrote less often about her, although I still wrote some posts that drew negative comments from the peanut gallery. As recently as late 2018, someone commented that I shouldn’t “trash” Bill’s ex wife and air so much TMI “dirty laundry” on my blog. They implied that writing about this stuff made me less “classy”… as if I really care if someone who doesn’t know me personally thinks I have “class”. The fact is, I don’t (either care or have “class”). I know the truth about who I am, and what happened. I write about it for myself, and for those who can relate.
Bill’s daughter has been talking to him, and we’ve learned that the truth about what happened was actually even worse than we knew. I suspected on one level that things were probably bad in their house. I knew this intellectually, because of what I know about high conflict personalities. My husband’s ex wife definitely has one. It’s not as simple as dealing with someone who has a short fuse or is argumentative. She is seriously unable to cooperate, empathize, or relate with other people. She must have things her own way, even if it means messing things up for herself. She’ll go out of her way to set things up to prove people “wrong”, even if it hurts her or a loved one.
Here’s an example of what I mean. Back in 2006, Ex’s eldest child, a son from her first marriage, had turned 18 and wanted to move out of his mother’s house. Ex had set up the divorce decree (like, she literally wrote it up herself) so that the kids would get child support beyond age 18 if they met certain conditions. But when her son decided he wanted to move out, she realized that it didn’t suit her purposes for him to continue to get child support. So she called Bill and asked him not to pay child support for her son (and actually, Bill shouldn’t have been doing that anyway, since legally, he was not Bill’s responsibility).
Bill refused to honor her request and demanded to know what was going on with his daughters. She got very angry and sent him a hateful email full of bile about what an awful father he is, and how much the children hated me. Keep in mind, I have met Bill’s daughters just once. It was in July 2003, about seven months after we married. The girls were 9 and almost 12 years old. We got along just fine. After that, Ex would not let them visit. Before his visit this year to younger daughter, Bill had last seen them in December 2004. But here it was, April 2006, and Ex was claiming that they “hated” me. She also told Bill not to tell me what she wrote. In essence, Bill’s ex wife expected him to keep a secret from his current wife. Naturally, that didn’t sit well with me. One could argue that it’s not my business how she raises her children, but she had no right to ask Bill to keep secrets from me.
So I wrote her an email and basically ripped her a new one. I told her she was a terrible mother because every time she divorces, she forces her children to divorce their fathers. I also let her know that I would trust my own perceptions of what the girls thought of me over hers. Since we’d only met once, and I knew that we’d gotten along fine, I figured that if they truly “hated” me in 2006, it was not because of anything I did. I also lambasted her for denying her son access to his real dad and for changing her son’s original last name to Bill’s. Looking back on this, I realize that maybe I shouldn’t have written to her, although the one good thing that happened was that she quit sending Bill hateful emails and she never again tried to screw with me personally.
Three years passed. During that time, Bill was paying his former stepson child support. He was talking to him regularly, even though we were in Germany for a good part of that time. Then, on New Year’s Day 2009, I happened to make a discovery. At the time, I was a member of a messageboard for second wives and stepmoms. Sometime around Christmas 2008, someone in the group posted a link to a now defunct Web site called criminalsearches.com. You could enter people’s names into the site and it would show whether or not someone had been involved in criminal activity. This site actually went beyond the other, similar sites that make you pay. It was totally free, and even showed the official sites where you could find the information for yourself. Ex and her brood were in Arizona at the time, so the information was on Arizona’s court site.
One day, I was bored. I plugged in the names of all the adults in Ex’s household, to include ex stepson, Ex, and her current husband. Sure enough, they all had entries. But I got very worried because one entry was for someone with the same name as Ex’s husband (it’s a common name). The charges were very serious, involving crimes that would necessitate Bill’s intervention. After a little more sleuthing, I determined that the person with those crimes was someone who was actually two years younger than Ex’s current husband, but had the same name. I was relieved that it wasn’t Ex’s husband who was getting arrested for being drunk in public and stalking women. But then I came across a court entry for former stepson, indicating that he was going to change his last name. He had kept this big news a secret from Bill.
Let me state right now that neither Bill nor I had a problem with the young man’s decision to change his name. It never should have been changed to Bill’s last name in the first place. Moreover, her first ex husband should have been paying child support and having access to his son. He wanted to, but was not able to pay as much as Bill did. The issue was that the lad was changing his name without so much as a word to Bill about it. He was taking “child support” from Bill and sneaking around behind Bill’s back. It was very shady, ungrateful, and disrespectful behavior. So Bill called him out on it. Ex stepson’s reaction was one of anger. Clearly, he’d been led to believe that he could take this action and not be caught… and, in fact, he was only caught because I was bored and did some snooping. If the person in my group hadn’t posted that link, he probably would have gotten away with it.
It soon became clear that Ex had been working to get her son to detach from Bill for the past three years. She got her son back in touch with his dad, convinced him to change his last name to what it was originally, and led him to believe that he could do this and not be caught. And it was all because I told her she was wrong to deny him access to his real father. She was determined to make me “sorry” for telling her off in an email. I’m sure she hoped Bill would hate me for it, too. She probably suspected he would, because that would have been her reaction in the same situation. She seems to think everyone thinks the way she does.
I suspect she was surprised and even angry that Bill wasn’t upset that the boy had changed his name and reconnected with his real dad. She had intended to hurt Bill by doing that. She did hurt him, but not because the ex stepson rejected Bill in favor of his natural father. It was because Bill had been his “dad” for so many years, and the relationship all came down to money. In fact, the very last time Bill communicated with his ex stepson, it was in a message the lad had sent, begging for just one last payment of $500… and a promise that if Bill would only pay it, he’d never be “bothered” by ex stepson again.
Normal, loving, caring mothers would not do this to their children. They would welcome other people loving their children and helping them in life. But Ex deliberately screwed up her son’s relationship with Bill, which was mutually beneficial to both of them, because she was angry that I had told her off several years prior. Moreover, as the girls came of age, she refused to cooperate with Bill so that they could have valuable financial and emotional support from him. Younger daughter went to college with just the clothes on her back. If we had been in contact with her, she could have gotten child support and, perhaps, might have a college degree and less college debt now. Older daughter might not be saddled with as much student loan debt as she has.
So anyway… all of this leads up to why I titled today’s post “vindication”. Over the past months, it’s become clear that I wasn’t overreacting or being “petty” about Ex. I have suspected for a long time that she has serious mental health issues. Some of them are probably organic and could be helped with medication, but most are personality disorders. Personality disorders, unfortunately, are less likely to be curable because they are a part of a person’s psyche. A person with a personality disorder has to recognize that they have a problem and want to fix it. Sadly, most people with personality disorders, particularly those of the “cluster B” variety, do NOT want to get help. They think other people are the ones with the “problem”, even when it’s glaringly obvious that when problems arise, it almost always starts with them and their aberrant behaviors.
People love to hate “stepmothers” and second wives. I can’t tell you how many times people have assumed that I broke up my husband’s first marriage. Our ex landlady, who I think probably is a bit of a high conflict person herself, actually asked me point blank if Bill got divorced because of me. We have learned that Ex told her daughters that Bill cheated on her with me, which is a bald faced lie. In fact, if anyone was cheating, it was Ex. She moved her current husband into the house Bill was paying for before they had even divorced. I met Bill offline for the first time almost a year after he and his ex were officially divorced, and we didn’t even consummate our marriage until we were married for two weeks. Bill had to explain all of this to his younger daughter when they met in person back in March. Fortunately, she never entirely believed her mother’s lies and after meeting Bill again fifteen years after their last in person visit, realized that she’d been fed a lot of lies for years.
I’ve been on the receiving end of abuse from people who have commented on my blog posts, as well as people in RfM about my comments about Ex. Again, it’s usually people who are projecting their own situations onto ours. They don’t know me or Bill, but they know what happened in their situation. And somehow, they mostly figure it’s always the same story. The man is the one who screwed things up. The second wife/stepmom is an evil whore who wrecked the family home. And the ex wife is always just a victim, cast aside for a younger, prettier model.
Well… younger daughter has wisely been seeking professional help with what’s she’s been through as well as postpartum depression. And she has learned that her mother has real problems… mental health problems. The conclusion is much the same as the one I came to. Apparently, the therapist thinks the Ex is probably suffering from borderline personality disorder with psychosis. Originally, I thought maybe Ex had BPD too. She may very well have BPD, but personally, I think she’s also got full blown narcissistic personality disorder. I know that is a popular term right now and it’s being thrown around willy nilly by all kinds of people. I also know that I am not qualified to diagnose her. However, having done the work for master’s degrees in social work and public health, and having lived with the aftereffects of Bill’s relationship with his ex wife, this is what I’ve concluded about her. And it’s good to know that I’m not the only one who has come to this conclusion.
I am certainly not perfect. I have my own issues. I’ve sought psychiatric help myself in the past, mainly for depression and anxiety. Seeking help for a mental health condition is, by the way, a sign of strength, not weakness. But, as Bill often reassures me, I’m not at all like his ex wife. I don’t abuse him. I don’t cheat on him, squander his money, or sabotage his successes. In fact, I want him to do well, and I do all I can to support him. When he does well, we both reap the benefits. I love my husband very much and don’t see him as an adversary. I want him to be happy. I would wish for his happiness even if we split up someday, mainly because I know what kind of a person he is. He’s not an evil person, and honestly, he’s done so much for me I could never repay him anyway. But I don’t think we’ll split up, even though the state of the world has us both a bit stressed right now. We love each other too much. We are, in fact, pretty much perfect for each other.
I write about this because I know we’re not the only ones who have gone through this battle, as insane and farfetched as it may seem. Those who have never had to deal with someone who is legitimately mentally ill and refuses to get help will never know just how “crazy” it can be. I sometimes think my own dealings with mental health professionals just before Bill and I met were preparation for what was to come. Like I said, I do have my own craziness to deal with, but it’s on a much smaller scale than Ex’s is… and the fact that Bill divorced his ex wife is not a reflection on him. He tried for years to make the relationship work. She finally crossed a line that made it impossible to keep trying. And that’s when he ran straight into my arms.
I do feel somewhat vindicated as we’ve learned more about the truth of what happened. Hearing another perspective from another escapee of Ex’s crazy fantasy world has taught me that I’m not the one who’s crazy. I may seem bitter, petty, crazy, and wicked to those who read these posts without any backstory or insight. But the truth is, while I’m certainly not perfect, I’m also not the enemy… at least not to most people. I’ve only ever wanted to live my life in peace. Those who let me live in peace and don’t hurt me or the ones I love will get the same consideration. Those who don’t, at the very least, can expect that I’ll write about them. And the older I get, the more likely it is that I’ll take some other action, too. Even if it’s just to practice my guitar, which I’m going to do right now.