My ex-husband is a sports writer and with that comes a certain level of fame. Not the kind that brings autographs and paparazzi, but the kind of fame that causes family and friends to be somewhat enamored with his status and his proximity to NFL football players.
Throughout our marriage and even throughout our divorce, I’ve had friends and family ask me to be a go-between with my ex in order to get tickets, player autographs and his general opinion about various players, games and coaches. Many times I have been involved in conversations where my friends are impressed with what my ex-husband does for a living.
I have also watched my ex-husband write many, many stories about “bad behavior” of NFL players who have spit on each other during games, beat up their wives and girlfriends and run their relationships into the ground. And as he wrote about these abusers, he was beating his own wife.
There were times that I used to think to myself after he undercovered a story of NFL player abused against a wife, just what would they all think if they knew what my ex-husband was doing to me. But it also showed how far down both of us pushed this reality of our lives. And when my family and friends were impressed with my husband, there was a part of me that got to live the fantasy that we had a great life. In a life that was filled to the brim with pain, it was an oasis of happiness.
I don’t have any resentment about it, though anyone might have the right to feel that way. I was a willing participant in glorifying my husband for a long time. However, what I do see is the unhealthy feelings I had about it… in other words, it was another way I was denying the truth and hiding it away.
I really believed that if you add a lot of decoration to a marriage… aspects that make it look healthy and normal, then it just might become what you hoped it would be. The perfect house, the perfect kids, the right life decisions, responsible, clothes, friends, family, and on and on… then maybe this one little aspect… that my husband was treating me horribly… would go away. I stabbed at the problem, or so I thought, with therapy… trying to fix it. But my ex-husband didn’t want to fix it. His coping skills were working for him. Afterall, he had a great job, a perfect home and a way to get out of all responsibility and partnership whenever he wanted. He was totally in control of his circumstance and he didn’t do a thing that he was willing to do. He could sleep well at night.
But, when I began to come out of denial and into reality, my husband’s fame posed a big problem for me. A therapist kept telling me to call the police the next time he hit me. Well, I would play that out and it didn’t look good for anyone. I knew that the minute I called the police, was the minute the abuse went public, not just to friends and family, but it would be in the newspaper and local TV and maybe even national sports news.
My small children would have their world turned upside down at school. Their dad would go to jail, and that would be bad. But the story would be in the newspaper. I couldn’t imagine how I was going to explain it to them or handle their pain.
My husband would also loose his job and likely loose his career. Afterall, how many NFL players has he dogged for beating their wives? A lot. Reporters are not suppose to become part of the story or the story. It tends to make editors who hire reporters nervous about objectivity and whether those reporters can get the job done.
So calling the police, meant that my husband would be fired, my children would have to deal with the world talking about their dad, our income ending and the mortgage not getting paid and the complete collapse of all of our lives. At the time, it was a very scary choice. The beatings were hard to take, but at least that was the devil I knew.
I am so very thankful however, that I got into a therapist office that gave me the proper perspective. She helped me to see that I could not do anything to change my husband. He was an abuser and that was that. And she helped me to see how far down a road I had gone… that I had only two choices… Call the police and collapse my family structure or keep getting hit and risk death.
I had begged and begged therapist to give me another choice, one that would end happily. No beatings. No police. Just happily ever after and a husband who stopped beating me, lying to me, abandoning me.
But finally a very good therapist read between the lines and saw what I needed. The hard truth. She said to me, “You have two choices. Never comfront your husband about anything he does, wants, believes. Never argue with him and accept him 100 percent. Or you can leave. There are no other choices.”
Those words hit me very hard. I thought to myself. Can I accept my husband and what he does 100 percent and never be mad or disappointed, hurt, in a bad mood, wanting attention and honesty…. Heck no. So that left only one other choice.. I had to leave.
It’s sad, but it took so long for me to realize that my husband hit me because he wanted me to shut up and just go along with his desires and needs. He hit me to control me, as chattel in his world. I was never an individual in his world.
Once I felt it in my heart that I was leaving this marriage, then the fame was no longer a part of the equation. I was getting out and I was going to get out as fast as I could. Once I made that decision, I stopped interacting with my ex-husband, which cut the risk of further abuse. And within months, I was out without fanfare. My family and friends were completely surprised, but my ex-husband and I knew exactly why we were splitting up. And I think my ex-husband was relieved also that no police were involved. He still had his imagine in tack. In fact, he even used the divorce as a way to be the victim once again.
I think that my ex-husband feels like he got away with something that could have blown up his career and his desire for the fame it brings. I don’t know. But I do know that publicly today, my ex likes to play the understanding and helpful ex-husband, but privately with me, he still tries to control me and how I interact in his world. And sadly, I still find myself falling for it, again and again.
I have to remind myself over and over to stay away from him as much as possible. And to avoid the comments of people who are impressed with my ex’s career. I try to be polite when asked about my ex-husband the sports writer, but I have to work at saying to people, “I don’t know if he is going to the Super Bowl or if he is writing another book.”
It is the best thing that I can do for my own health.