A couple weeks ago, F and I finally signed our separation papers It seems that this fact isn’t going to speed things up for us as now I’m getting excuses as to why he can’t find time to sign the land transfer forms from the real estate lawyer. This is pretty standard fare for him and while he’s away with W on a mini-vacation, I’m working at my second job instead of being home with my kids in the middle of this 13 day stretch. The fact that I picked up my kids early the other day so that he could go away with her notwithstanding, I have been thinking a lot about them and the breakdown of my marriage. This was all triggered by the fact that my kids let it slip that F and W are looking at buying a house together and a rather annoying thread about hierarchy on a local poly group where W was her awful self. This and a couple other things had me thinking about the dysfunction in the way she interacted with F during our marriage and the way things appear to be going now.
I realized long ago that her insane need for privacy drove a wedge between F and I. I’m not talking personal privacy, things that are understandably none of my business, I wasn’t even allowed to know what they did on their dates, where they went, or who they were with. I never had a chance at compersion, because I didn’t know what was going on, ever. I remember F talking about her insecurity and how she is such a private person. How it was exhausting to him to have to reassure her and take steps to prevent her upset. I remember him questioning me and my motivations because he had heard something from her. He talked a lot about how she was so ethical and forceful in making sure people understood her perspective. I realized the other day, that what W did in those early months is classic abuser behaviour. She isolated F from his support system, she ensured the only messages he heard were hers, and insisted that none of what she communicated was shared with others. She manipulated him almost expertly and he fell for it, hook, line, and sinker.
I’m not saying that F was innocent, because he certainly wasn’t. We were headed to divorce either way, and his choice to believe her so blindly helped accelerate that. His passive aggressive manipulation as a way of communication was ever present in our marriage and truthfully, we had each stopped being present in our relationship years before. By “we”, I mean me too. I know that I wasn’t that great of a wife and that my apathy and sometimes outright contempt for him was years in the making. I realize now how much I want to do things for and work with my partners now, just because I love them, and that isn’t something I’ve felt since before F and I were married. You see, years of dysfunctional communication happens from both sides, and I certainly am to blame as well.
However, dysfunction aside, looking back on it, it feels so strange that F was so obviously manipulated. I suspect he was in love with the attention he was getting and the support she gave him. I suspect her demand for privacy and secrecy made him feel loved and desired, like it was a bit of a gift she was giving him, trusting him, so that he willingly cut me out more and more. It was strange to me that when I protested that secrecy to that level was unhealthy, he defended her, but I look back now and I see it is part of the abusive partner’s handbook, and she played that well.
The other day, she was making a point about how hierarchy exists as a function of couple’s privilege. I don’t disagree with this, but the idea that established relationships should be respected before expectations and demands are made by the newest partner seems like a given to me. Within a couple weeks of F meeting W, I was receiving complaints that W thought F having to parent our kids while I was on a night shift was hierarchy. As I read her thoughts on the hierarchy thread and as she argued that couple privilege is the basis of hierarchy, all I saw was the whining, insecurity, and need for control that was so pervasive when she was my metamour. Someone in the thread asked her to give an example of how privilege is hierarchy and she basically refused, at one point, she said that they fact that the person asking about examples of hierarchy was displaying hierarchy and privilege because she didn’t understand what W meant. This circular argument is all about semantics. On top of that, it strongly resembles gaslighting: she was basically saying that the person asking for clarification was wrong to want to have examples and understand, implying that she was stupid for not automatically accepting W’s point, even though W hadn’t actually made it, other than stating her opinion as fact.
Less than a week after we signed our separation papers, I found out that F is looking at houses to buy with W. The idea of being financially intertwined with anyone in the future makes me throw up a little in my mouth, while the idea of buying a property with someone when the ink isn’t dry on our separation papers is completely unfathomable. I think this is just another sign of how incredibly far he’s fallen into her clutches. She has three kids, he has four. She’s been a single mom for a long time, with apparently “good” relationships with the fathers of her children. She’s been renting for years. She has a job that doesn’t require anything more than high school education, so I’m guessing she doesn’t make more than just above the poverty line, plus her child support. Yet, just after F’s separation papers are signed, where he fought for every single penny and played victim through the whole negotiation, where it was obvious her words were coming out of his mouth, they are looking for a house. He is buying a house with his girlfriend, when he makes at least three times as much as she does a year. Under no circumstance, even without my jade(d)-colour glasses, does this seem like a good idea.
I am sad that F has been manipulated into this situation, but there is little I can or, truthfully, want to do, about it. He is an adult who gets to make his own decisions, no matter how stupid they are. My life is much better without him in it, despite the ongoing stress that I will have for the next 15 years as we parent these lovely beings that we created into adulthood. What bothers me is that my children will have this woman as their step-mother. Her kids as their step-siblings. That means that this horrible, manipulative, abusive, and all around nasty person will be a more permanent part of my children’s lives. It’s going to be hard enough helping my kids through dealing with the passive aggressive manipulation that F deals out, but having to do with W’s version too, and the effect it has on F is going to add to that stress. My heart breaks for my monkeys at the very thought of it.