Who Is He?

Who is that masked man
Who is that masked man (Photo credit: Aoife city womanchile)

The search engines have been busy the past couple of days answering queries about the identity of my ex-husband. I get it. You’re curious. It’s human nature. You want to scan his face and peer into his eyes looking for clues into his actions. I know, because I have done just that. Perhaps you want to know his name or his image as a warning, the one to stay away from. Unfortunately, this would be a false security, as is he but one person and not the only one that capable of deceit.

I know his name. His face. His birthday. His social security number. His family. Yet I still do not know who he is. However, I can tell you who he was. He was my best friend. My lover. My confidant. He was the man who built a toy chest for our friend’s son’s birthday. He was the man whose scent instantly calmed me and whose arms held me like they were molded from my frame. He was a voracious reader and he devoured science fiction and fantasy novels. His favorite series was The Dark Tower, by Stephen King. He hated tomatoes and loved Sweetwater IPA. He preferred dark clothes and refused to wear V-necks. He wore his watch on his right wrist, the face to the inside of his arm. He was the man who patiently built me an office and then rebuilt it for me when I grew weary of the desk where I spent hours writing papers. He was a quick learner, but a poor student in school. He was a fan of Apple, Banana Republic, and Alice in Chains. He was never athletic due to bad knees, although he started to work out once the pounds encroached with age.  He was the man who stayed up all night for a week with our third puppy who came to us with kennel cough. He was so confident that I would win Teacher of the Year, that he ordered flowers before the votes were announced. He was the man I turned to for advice and comfort. He was my everything.

He was all of these things, yet he was also the man who left his wife of ten years with a text message. He was the man who hid debts and stole money from accounts. He was the man who wooed an innocent woman, told her nothing but lies, and married her although he was already wed. He was the man that locked the dogs in the basement and drove off, not knowing that they would survive.

I do not know who he is. I don’t think he knows either. He is a man that has been consumed by whatever demons reside within him.

I have chosen not to reveal his identity for several reasons. First, it feels vindictive to put him out there. I am not his judge and jury, nor do I want to be. He has faced repercussions for his actions and, if he continues to live dishonestly, he will continue to see consequences. I don’t need to aid that; I’m confident he’ll do fine on his own. I also worry about the safety of his wife. I know they were together at the time of our divorce, eight months after the text, but I do not know her current situation. I want to protect her. I also don’t know his current situation with his parents. They have suffered enough; I don’t need to add to that. Finally, his identity does not matter. His eyes, even the dead ones in his mugshot, hold no answers. His name does not reveal any hidden truths. They are as much of a facade as everything I thought I knew about him.

So, to answer your question – who is he? He is a man. A man that was once loved deeply and who perhaps loved back. He is a man that took the wrong path at some point and chose to hide rather than seek help. Maybe by not knowing his name, you will be better able to recognize elements of him in those around you. Who is he? A man that can teach us the importance of asking for help, the value of truth, and the power of acceptance.

And, for those of you asking Google how to get away with bigamy? Just say no.

More Information: Where Is He Now?

A related post: Why I Choose Not to Play Criminal Pursuit

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38 thoughts on “Who Is He?

      1. Those were normal human nature shock and trauma reactions… Your values still didn’t allow you to do it. If I was your mama I’d be proud 🙂

      2. My sister told me about you yesterday, as she told me about the show, the parallels of what we both went through are hauntingly similiar. I still wonder if I was being used or if at some point, I was loved. Comfort in knowing I am not alone. Can’t wait to read your book. Thank You .

  1. I love it. Very well said and all oh so true.

    He was the son in law that I was so grateful for. I so appreciated how loving, kind, caring, giving, patient he was with Lisa. It was pure joy watching the two of them together, the laughter, the teamwork. They accomplished so much together. What they created with their house and yard was amazing and so beautiful. He was so gifted, so talented, so intelligent, so creative, so hard working.

    I lost a son. I will forever wonder, what in the world happened to the person I thought he was. The love they shared restored my belief in love, after my own divorce. I was always was so grateful for being able to feel he was there for her and that Lisa was safe with him, taken care of, with them living so far away.

    And yes, like all in the family, we were all stunned, in shock, in total disbelief when “The Text” arrived. We just couldn’t believe it. Though, as far as we know, he is still alive, the person we thought we knew has died. I grieve the loss of that person. I feel a deep sadness for whatever happened where apparently he made a series of choices that got him in deeper and deeper financially,, where he evidently became desperate enough to make the crazy decisions he made, losing himself in the process. We will most likely never know the answers to our many questions about what happened to him.

    Yes, the lessons here are about asking for help, being truthful, healing wounds from childhood, etc. There is wisdom and lessons to be learned for all. Meanwhile, may he and others like him, hopefully find their way back out of the darkness and back into life and the light.

    He is not alone in getting lost along the path of life. I agree with Lisa, who he is specifically, loses what the focus needs to be. The real focus is what can each of us learn from this tragedy? How can each of us be a better person in some way? Some of us may be in roles to reach out a hand to those in the dark who are struggling and wanting to heal and find their way back. And, at the same time, to be aware and have discernment and wisdom to see signs to indicate we may need to protect ourselves from others who have become, or are, destructive and toxic to be around, perhaps even dangerous, and to make decisions and take steps to protect ourselves and stay safe.

    Lisa’s Mom

  2. I’ve had quite a few people coming to my blog asking the same question as I assume you are getting (although my site doesn’t seem to appear on google when I type in that search term – weird!). Since the searches are coming from the UK, I kind of thought they were from one of my ex-relatives (this could, of course, be paranoia) because they were searching for comments I made on your posts. They seem to come once a month or so.

    Anyway, I love how you deal with these things. Well said. I also love what your mum has said and you do a great deal to help those of us looking to make sense of our own situations.
    🙂

    1. That’s strange. Hmmm…
      Thanks for the support and I’m glad it can help you make some sense out of nonsensical situations.

  3. This was so well-written and I applaud you for not naming names. Shows you are such a good person. I wanted to do the same thing, and it’s a natural response to being hurt so much. But you rose above all the crap and proved yourself to be a wonderful person. Bravo! 🙂

  4. Showing us both faces through your words was a very great way to tell the story. I have used in my own case of a man who was not who we all knew and loved these words, “He was broken.” And facing the fact that I could not have changed our story, moving forward, I don’t use names either.

    1. Thank you. I just kept thinking about how I didn’t know who he was either even though I knew so much. I also love the word “broken.” Despite what labels may apply, I can use this one with confidence.

      1. A little late with this reply, sorry! I am glad you like the word “broken” because I have used it a few times thanks to my minister who met with my 2nd husband and me. He said that something in my ex’s past or childhood had broken his value system. The minister felt that he had never really addressed it, found me to be a “mother figure” caring and nurturing, taken advantage of that naive nature. Maybe subconsciously even.

  5. Broken is a great word, and not being able to fix everything is also important yet difficult to remember. I thought I had healed, I guess not ~ this is opening up those cracks in my soul. Time to be mindful of what I feel agian….argggghhh, I don’t like this place of remembering.

  6. I find what both you and you Mother have written to be so true and honest. I can understand, all too well, how someone who was loved by all to turn into someone else, no one could imagine. When people question me about the father of my son, all I can say was it was a wonderful father and husband for 23 years, until I received the call, then the email. The hard part is trying to understand it in a logical way, when he acted so illogically. We just have to accept it and move forward. I am trying hard not to ask the questions and wonder why…..

    1. It is hard. In the book, I describe his two selves as oil and water and I have no emulsifier with which to blend them. In this case, I think you’re smart to focus on acceptance rather than understanding.

  7. All I feel as a person going through a divorce right now is hurt and loss. However, I do not know why. He has not been the man I married for quite some time now. We have basically been estranged but living in the same house for at least a year. Why did I not start grieving the loss of my marriage sooner? I do not know.Maybe I thought he would come around, and become the man I married, but now I know that was magical thinking. So, I filed for divorce. The marriage was long since over anyway. While he did none of the things your ex-husband did, he has his little and not so little ways of belittling and disrespecting me as a person not just as a wife. He blames me for the divorce, but, frankly I was tired of the “status quo” with which he had become comfortable with. What it really comes down to is that I have been in an emotionally and sometimes verbally abusive relationship for years. I knew it then as much as I know it now. But, now I am ready to be without him cluttering up my life. That sounds horrible.

  8. Oh my goodness, while our situations are not exactly the same, the similarities between our husbands make me feel ill. Thanks for sharing. I love coming and reading your blog, even if I don’t do it as regularly as I’d like. 🙂

    1. That’s the nice thing about blogs- you read when you want and you can always go back. It’s crazy how many people recognize their ex in the description of mine. That’s part of what I wanted to highlight – he could be anyone. Good luck on your journey:)

  9. (from Him) This is a great article. You write so well, and I appreciate your openness about your ex-husband’s good and bad qualities. That is a rare thing. What I think is missing, however, is an attempt to reconcile the positive and the negative in this person (although perhaps you’ve done it in a separate article).

    There’s often a kind of comfort in saying that an individual’s actions were inexplicable – that he had perhaps always been a devious liar, or had become mentally ill – but I’d like to suggest another line of thinking. This was a man who did a tremendous amount of good, as you so generously point out. His giving nature was not just a pose, it was a deep part of who he was. Building (and rebuilding) offices, making toy chests, nursing dogs, and all the listening you refer to, take hours and weeks and years of sustained effort. He didn’t charm you at a party for a few hours, he lived the best elements of his nature on a daily basis over a long time period.

    Even his most egregious betrayal, strangely enough, bespeaks a certain depth of character. We’re all familiar with the cad who lies to women for sexual ends and then disappears once he’s obtained his satisfaction, but I’ve always been intrigued by the bigamist. In an age when so many men cannot commit to the demands of a single marriage, this individual does it twice over. He takes on a surplus of responsibility rather than pursuing unbounded hedonism.

    So if we set aside the explanations of sociopath or mental illness, what possibilities are we left with? Most men seek a high level of affirmation from women. That affirmation can take the form of lavish praise or frequent sex, but preferably both. While some claim it as a birthright, a certain type of male will work extremely hard to earn it. These men are pleasers, and their motivations are primal. A woman may feel she is praising her man regularly, but not realize that her criticisms completely neutralize the effect. She may feel that their twice weekly sexual congress compares favorably with the national average, but he may desire it almost every day so that the other five days seem like rebukes. This is not about logic, but about a very specific kind of response to deeply-experienced evolutionary drives.

    Since he craves female approval so strongly, and feels what he interprets as disapproval so acutely, he will not complain. His wife will not know that there is anything wrong. He is trying to be the perfect man, and perfect men don’t complain. In fact, he may work increasingly hard to achieve the emotional security he longs for. If he doesn’t receive it, however, he will look for it elsewhere. This is especially true if he achieves some kind of social or business success. When this man undertakes an affair, he is not cold and distant. He is not a sexual predator. He will apply his energy and empathy to earn in the outside relationship what he can’t his marriage. He will try to be a fantastic partner, and in the extreme case will grant the other woman the affirmation of marriage to try to earn her favour. And he will use his reasoning skills to make sense of his actions to himself, even if he sounds completely irrational to an outsider.

    Eventually, however, either the strain of his herculean enterprise or some slip up will force his story into the open. He will not be able to contain it. Because he is completely incapable of facing the unhappiness of his wife, he may not feel himself capable of ending things face-to-face.

    In reading your article I felt I recognized your ex-husband because he is very much like me. Our stories played out differently, but I could relate to the emotional and behavioural forces at play immediately. I am not an evolutionary biologist, or a therapist, and I don’t know you or your ex – husband. I don’t think you did anything wrong, but I’m sympathetic to the forces that I believe led to your ex-husband’s disastrous course of action. So let me say with humility – I may have gotten things completely wrong. But I felt compelled to write this note in case it would be of any help in making sense of what happened.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful response. I see a lot in there that makes sense to me.

      I don’t think it describes my ex because of other actions he took – fraud (manipulated and lied about money for many years, included forged documents to keep me in the dark) and his drive to leave the country to avoid the fallout. When I talked to the other wife, I learned that she had been fed lies about him for the 3 months they knew each other. Nothing she had been told was true. And in 3 months, he had already maxed out her credit card. At that point, she was scared of him when she found life insurance policies in her name with her forged signature. She was convinced that he was going to try to kill her when they went to Uganda in a few days (she was a Ph.D. student in geography and had the trip planned for a long time- he jumped on the opportunity). Then, he attempted suicide and she went back with him. They were together at the time of our divorce, 8 months later.

      I know it sounds like a fictional soap opera. I still think that every time I tell it. Which, thank goodness, isn’t much anymore. My best guess with him is that shame and addiction (hidden from me but he admitted after in a text to my mom) led to fabricating a job and an income for years. As the secret debt piled up, so did the stress until he became desperate to find a way out. But the truth is, I’ll never really know – or understand- why he did what he did. And I no longer care. I did make sure that my second husband is the type of man who will address problems head-on instead of using the distract and cover strategy!

      Again, thank you for sharing your insight:)

      1. Well, thank you for your patient response. What started out as an effort to illuminate something for you actually (surprise, surprise!) helped me learn something about myself. I’m going to meander through more of your articles over the next few weeks, but I promise not to burden you with an essay every time.

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