Editor’s note: The following article was sent by the reader who posts as Opal Rose.
July 24, 2012, was my 30th wedding anniversary. I found the Lovefraud web site in August 2009 after finding a directory on my computer put there by my husband while his computer was being repaired. Unbelievable and worse than I could have ever imagined — porn, violence-against-women-porn, sex dating sites for college age women, e-mails to specific responders to ads. The dude was busy. A frantic visit to my workplace Employee Assistance Program gave me the concept of “Narcissistic Personality Disorder,” but subsequent searches led me to the checklist for “Sociopath.” I distinctly remember my jaw dropping when I read that checklist. Bingo!! Learning about sociopaths reframed my entire life since I had a sociopath mother. I did confront him, but he got more verbally violent than I’ve ever seen him and physically threatening and I backed off. He loves his mask.
I’ve learned so much the past 3 years and taken practical steps to take care of myself. But I’m still struggling about staying in the marriage. Not sure if there is a good answer. I like what someone posted from “The Road Less Travelled” on the Lovefraud blog: “sound mental and emotional health depends on a constant dedication to reality at all costs.” It’s hard staying focused on that important piece of advice. I’ve set up a separate bank account and filled it to capacity. I’ve started requiring him to pay half of all bills all the time (so weird that I never “noticed” I paid all the bills and made every single house payment — talk about denial). I’ve stopped trying so hard and I’m getting as much sleep as I need with no guilt about feeling exhausted – that’s really different for me. I’ve started taking days off from work when he is at work so I can have the house to myself (without him there doing his constant tirades). I’m downsizing belongings, donating extra furniture, working to get some of my cats re-homed together and sold an extra car. I suppose it’s good he has not noticed. This babe is busy.
I’ve faced that he has had self-serving affairs the entire time I’ve been with him. I found out that he would set up dates whenever I was out of town our entire marriage. A rather tough betrayal for me to face since I work in public health (environmental health) and go to underserved areas once or twice a year, not fun business trips. He married me for my stable supply of money, for the faÃ§ade of decency, for a mother figure from whom he feels entitled to have constant entertainment and financial support. I would say for sex, but he never was able to be sexual without lots of porn, S&M fantasies and his version of “talking dirty.” His explanation was that every married woman knew to expect “this type of treatment” from their husbands. He once set me up with a therapist so I could get “straightened out.” I realize his definition of being “straightened out” meant that I would enjoy aberrant sex and abusive sex. Now I also know that he would have continued escalating no matter what I accepted.
So, I “get it,” I know what happened, I know how I got here. But I’m still here with him. I remember going No Contact with my mother after my father passed way when I was 32 years old. It was a bitter separation, but I counted my blessings so many times after going NC as it saved me from the ravages of her subsequent behavior. But, I’m having trouble with making that same decision now. I’m 57 years old. I would have to give him half of my substantial retirement whenever I finish my 30 years of service (7.5 years to go). I’m petrified at the smear campaign I know he would do if I have him leave. He is a respected professional — clinical psychologist — isn’t that great? I have no children, which is bitter-sweet (bitter because I wanted a family, sweet because I don’t have that added heartache of potential child abuse). He was almost giddy when on 2 separate occasions I lost children prior to birth and then he acted like it never even happened. It makes me crazy when he is so solicitous of families and children, even though I know his interest is faked.
I guess I need to work on the Trauma Bond. But it’s more than that. I have to be in this locale until I retire. It’s about fear of harassment. Fear of substantial financial loss. Fear of being caged until I can leave the area. But 32 years with a sociopathic mother and now 30 years with a sociopathic / exploitative husband, I think it’s enough. I pray for guidance and to get away from the extended nightmare.
Lately I find myself dreaming the hours away, trying to imagine a good life. I don’t know if this is a phase and somehow useful, or if this is not best for me. I’m thinking it’s an escape from the intense cognitive dissonance. How can my mother have been so pretty, so charming, so “religious” and so abusive? How can my husband be so glib, so popular, so confident and so mean? My solution for now is to continue laying the groundwork for leaving and doing all the practical things which could enable me to make a decision when I’m ready. That feels like the best I can do right now. Somehow staying busy with the process of “getting ready” helps so much, although I know it’s not the final important step.
So — Happy Anniversary. Thirty years married to a disordered person. Please send sympathy cards. ;-0