We’re still talking about it because it still needs to be said

My ex-husband doxxed me, several years after our divorce.

Maybe doxxing isn’t the correct term. He didn’t have to search for my contact information; he knew it. Because he’d been my husband. It was his former address and phone number he gave out on his MySpace page, exhorting his readers to “do with it what you will.” For the sake of simplicity, I’ll call it doxxing.

I wouldn’t have ever known he’d done it, but as time passed after our divorce my anger toward him had softened. I had loved him once, after all. It was only natural that I wonder how he was doing. He’d moved away after our divorce, and we had no friends in common, so I had no idea what became of him.

A few seconds on Google led me to his MySpace. (This was before Facebook was a thing grown-ups used.) And his diatribes against me. Plus my full name, home address and phone number, and a challenge that, thankfully, his readers/friends did not take him up on.

I’d have felt better if someone had called him out on that post. But perhaps they did that privately. He had some pretty classy friends. I was sorry to lose them in the divorce.

I was sorry to lose him, too. At first. The failure of our marriage baffled and broke me. I went over and over everything in my mind. How had it all gone so very wrong?

The sour notes were few and far between in the early days of our relationship. He was sweet and loving and thoughtful, a little shy. Only occasionally an ass, so I brushed off those moments. A year later he proposed, and the mask began to crack. He spent so much of the six months between our engagement and marriage bashing me that I was flabbergasted to hear him say nice things about me during the premarital counseling sessions. I suspected he feared the minister would refuse to marry us if he told the truth.

Why did I still marry him? Well, I was young. Had less self-esteem than a potted plant. Wanted more than anything to be a wife and a mother. And I was really, really great at making excuses for him. Growing up, I had been told that no relationship was perfect. To expect little, forgive much. So I told myself he was stressed out about his new job, the wedding, the move. Things would get better. I could be better.

I tried to be better. But it was never enough.

The summer after we were married, I missed a period. He fumed and fretted until I took a pregnancy test. Then three more. Then had me call my doctor when I failed to start, so sure was he that I was pregnant. He wanted me to have an abortion. He didn’t want to deal with the hassle and expense of a baby.

I wasn’t pregnant, as it turned out. But my eyes had been opened to a side of him I could not unsee.

Ten months into the marriage, I reconnected with an old friend. While we were catching up on each other’s lives, he asked me how married life was. I told him it was an adjustment. Which is apparently what I’d said the last time he’d asked that question, shortly after the wedding. He asked me if I was happy. I finally admitted that I was not.

One final fight, at New Year’s. I ended up at my parents’. And I told them what was going on, after hiding it for the better part of two years. They were horrified. I’d hid well, it seems.

I went home the next day and told him I couldn’t go on like we had been. He said he would attend counseling, but he wasn’t going to help find the counselor, would not pay for counseling, and would not attend counseling sessions led by a member of any religious organization. He also told me he would not change, because “you knew what you were getting into when you married me.”

So I divorced him.

It’s only now, as I look back from outside it all, that I see how wrong the whole relationship was. How he gave me just enough affection to keep me from leaving and told me I was lucky to get it. How great he was at lying to everyone. Including, I imagine, himself.

I think back on the stories he told me of his ex. How he’d harped on how irritating she was, how fat, how stupid. How shocked he was when she left him.

Some time later, I watched a video of a guy gaslighting his girlfriend and saw in him my ex. Still, I’d never have thought he’d go so far as to dox me. I underestimated him.

Until you’ve been doxxed, you don’t realize how frightening it is. I was a young woman living alone, with no family or friends close by. He opened me up to all manner of violations, out of spite and pettiness, years after our split. In his MySpace posts, he talked about how he’d found love again and was so much happier than he’d been with me. Yet he tried to inflict harm on me, simply because he could.

It’s only now that I’ve moved and have a different phone number and name that I even feel brave enough to admit on a public forum what he did to me. Part of me is still nervous, to be honest. When someone who was so close to you violates your trust like that, it’s a little difficult to feel completely safe ever again.

I’ll likely never understand why my ex treated me the way he did. What it says about him as a person. But I would be willing to bet that he hates that Gillette commercial. Or that he gives it lip service but resents it privately. Because he’s the kind of guy who believes everything’s stacked against him. He thinks his failures are the result of external, rather than internal, factors. He sees himself as a victim, not a perpetrator.

Sound familiar?

My son is sitting on my lap as I type this. My sweet, loving boy, who still look at me like the sun rises and sets on my face. I consider it an important function of my job as his mother to make sure he doesn’t grow up to be the kind of guy who would be offended by the Gillette ad. I want him to be the kind of person who stands up against misogynists and bullies, even if those people are his friends. But I sincerely hope his friends don’t pull that crap, either. It’d be great if that sort of behavior were an embarrassing moment in history by the time my son is grown.

Let’s see what we can do about that, hm?

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