Editor’s note: Lovefraud received the following story from a reader who posts as Gigi2020, who says her whole marriage was a lie. Donna Andersen responds at the end of her story.
Letter from Gigi20
I just recently learned that my ex husband lied to me about what I’m guessing is everything, our whole marriage was a lie. I am having a hard time comprehending that he would be able to live his charade for 8 years.
I caught him in small lies our whole marriage but I would brush them off. When he drank, which was most of our relationship, but the last year and a half, the red flags were all over the place. However he had told me that he was in an explosion in Iraq, which caused a brain injury and migraines, so I thought the red flags were PTSD.
The last two years of our relationship were pure hell. His mother bought us a house. When we went to sign the lease she had crazy stuff in it like we couldn’t even change light switch covers. I refused to sign it; this is when she turned against me.
In the beginning my husband was totally on my side. The monster-in-law made up a new lease that I agreed to sign (still had crazy rules but I thought, “oh she’s just nervous, she will lighten up the longer we lived here). But was I mistaken. It got so bad that she was banned from coming over unless she have us 24 hr notice, like a landlord should have to. We put a lock on the door that prevented her from getting in while we were home.
The verbal abuse continued, the threats of kicking us out, she drove my husband crazy. This is when I started researching personality disorders and came across the antisocial personality disorder, it fits my x monster-in-law perfectly.
Husband says he attempted suicide
We moved in on July 1, my husband tried to commit suicide (that’s his story) the second week in November. He and I went to dinner that night, had a wonderful evening, he acted as if nothing was wrong. We picked up some beer on the way home and after a few hours he confessed to me and the kids (his daughter 14 and my son 17) that he had tried to commit suicide that morning. He says he loaded the gun, put it to his head, pulled the trigger and it didn’t go off.
The rest of the evening was awful, he was drunk and it was always bad when he was that drunk. I don’t remember the whole night but for hours his daughter begged him not to leave, he was packing his stuff in his big army backpack saying he was leaving on foot because he didn’t want to be with us anymore. We all finally fell asleep from exhaustion.
When we got up the next day he asked me to take him to the hospital to be admitted. For the next six months he went to counseling twice a week, but things didn’t get better.
He then started to pick on my son, to the point where they did nothing but argue so I made my son go live with his dad. My husband came home one night not long after that and my son was there, my husband came into the living room, pointed at my son and said wtf is he doing here.
I left him the next day, that was the following September after the suicide attempt But it didn’t end there.
We started going to counseling, we went thru three counselors before we find one he approved of, that counselor was on his side, telling me that maybe my son could move out on his own with some friends. I was furious, he wasn’t even out of high school, he was to graduate soon and wanted to go to college. I couldn’t abandon him now! And I couldn’t believe that he even thought that I would do that.
It took me six more months to finally say enough, he kept getting me back with his I’m sorry’s, and I swear I will change. I wanted things to work so bad, I love his daughter as if she were mine and I didn’t want to leave her there with him to fend for herself.
I stayed way too long at the expense of my own child for my bonus daughter. I received the divorce papers in February; I didn’t sign them until the end of May.
At first we still had contact because I could see his daughter. She went to see her mother for the summer and he says when she comes back I can’t see her. I was devastated, and so was she. Well she is a very strong willed young lady (now 16) and I get to see her, she has to ask every time with huge anxiety about how he is going to act, because usually he gives her his disappointed look or his tears because she still wants to see me.
She and I caught him in a lie just recently, a pretty serious one, she saw it for herself. She is having a really hard time comprehending that her daddy and grandma are the way they are.
Reading Dealing with a Sociopath
We are reading the book Dealing with a Sociopath, I am coming to grips with it, I feel really good about catching him in a lie, I have actual proof!!!
I hate that I can’t confront him! What I am struggling with is that he doesn’t fit the whole profile of a sociopath — or does he and I’m just blind. He never had a smear campaign (maybe because my bond is so strong with my friends and family, they all hated him by the way), he was always very supportive of me and his daughter, but everyone else was fair game to his anger. I dismissed this behavior also.
He didn’t leave me financially ruined. He did, however, force sex on me on a daily basis, he would put me down in little ways to make me doubt myself and convinced me there was no God.
Never in combat — her whole marriage was a lie
I talked to his first wife a few weeks ago and that’s when I started researching. She told me that he never seen combat in Iraq so that means no explosion and no brain injury!
I took care of him with his migraines for years, sometimes he was bed ridden for weeks or months, all to find out it’s a charade! He told me he was in the reserves when he moved back home, so for a year and a half he went every month for his reserve weekend and he was already retried out of the military forever! Where was he? Who was he with? Harsh reality, I need to go get a test for std’s.
My new boyfriend’s mom had been in a similar situation and told me about the book. Why am I still wanting to think that there is possibly some good in him and that he actually did love me and that he loves his daughter also? He was always so caring and attentive to me!
I am so confused. I can accept that he is a liar, but that he couldn’t possibly be capable of love — that hits hard. It makes me doubt everyone’s motives, right now; I don’t want to even meet new friends!!! I know this is not healthy.
His mother fits the whole profile, but he doesn’t. Or is it my brain that won’t accept that he is just like her? I hate that his daughter has no choice but to live with him, I want to protect her but I have no rights. How can I help her? She’s so afraid of being just like them, especially since the book says that it’s genetic.
Donna Andersen responds
I am so sorry for your experience, but very glad that you recognized that your ex-husband was disordered and got out of the marriage. I’ll address your questions below.
Why am I still wanting to think that there is possibly some good in him and that he actually did love me and that he loves his daughter also?
Gigi2020, if he is a sociopath — and the behavior you described certainly seems to be that of a sociopath — then no, he is not capable of authentic love. But you are. You fell in love with what he presented himself to be, and as a normal human being, you can’t just flip a switch to turn your emotions off.
You invested eight years into this relationship; you don’t want to think that it was all for nothing, that you wasted your time and love. You also don’t want to think that every time he said, “I love you,” he was lying. This is all very painful.
Finally, you may be feeling the effects of a trauma bond. A trauma bond is a strong emotional attachment to someone who is destructive to you. Trauma bonds are created by a power imbalance in your relationship, combined by intermittent good and bad treatment of you.
All of this is very painful, and if there were some good in him, the pain would be lessened. But that’s not the reality of your situation. So you’ll probably have to surf the pain for awhile, until you come to grips with his betrayal.
His mother fits the whole profile, but he doesn’t. Or is it my brain that won’t accept that he is just like her?
It is certainly possible for your monster-in-law (love the term) to be worse than your ex-husband.
Sociopaths are not all the same. The disorders are a collection of traits and behaviors, and any individual can exhibit the traits and behaviors to greater or lesser degrees.
So even though he’s not as bad as his mother, he still is not a suitable partner.
I hate that his daughter has no choice but to live with him, I want to protect her but I have no rights. How can I help her?
When children have no choice but to live with a disordered parent, having an adult in their lives who truly cares about them is like a shining star that helps them to persevere. You’ve already established a good relationship with her, so that certainly helps.
I suggest that you maintain contact in a limited, nonthreatening way, for the next two years. And by that I mean nonthreatening to your ex. If your ex perceives that you are “too close” with his daughter, he’ll clamp down. So figure out what he will tolerate — phone calls? Birthday and holiday cards? Keep in touch that way for the next two years. When she’s 18, she can do what she wants.
About the genetics — most people who have inherited the genes of disorder show signs by puberty. If she isn’t acting like him now, she probably is not a sociopath.
Gigi2020 — yes, it is painful to realize that the person you fell in love with did not exist. But imagine what a lesson this is for both of your kids! About 12% of the U.S. population is disordered. Teach them that when they encounter someone who is like your ex, turn and run in the other direction. Hopefully they will be able to avoid learning, in the future, that their whole marriage was a lie.
For other Lovefraud readers — here’s my book that Gigi2020 mentioned: