I tried to be friends with my abusive ex-husband

Nov 10, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. ET
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For quite some time after we got divorced, my ex-husband made a concerted effort to get me back. He did everything from getting another house in Allen (because he knew I loved living in that city) to getting me a car (I amended the divorce decree in order to make that thing legal and binding).

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There were times when he would call in the middle of the day, after the ink had dried on our divorce decree, just to talk. He said that it was going to take him a while to get me "out of his system" and that he couldn't just stop calling me because, after all, we had talked nearly every day of the prior 20 years. Initially, I didn't think we would have any problems because, for the sake of our son and granddaughter, I wanted to be his friend, which is something we had not been able to do while we were married.

Not at any point did I want to go back to him. He had abused me mentally and emotionally to the point that I had a brain hemorrhage. After everything he had done to me over those 19 years of marriage, I still wanted to at least be friendly because even though my son had been so badly damaged, he still loves his dad. I knew that we would both end up at Will's football games and there was no reason we couldn't be amicable and be there for him. It was my intention to be friends with him because, in my mind, there was no reason not to be. Sure, he had been the perpetrator of stupidity in the marriage, but I wasn't going to waste valuable energy on being angry with him. Why would I? Will had seen us fight his entire life. He was sick of it and so was I.

As I said, there was never a point when I considered taking him back. Probably 90 percent of people thought, even verbally expressed, that we would get back together. They didn't know about the abuse. All they could see was the man who was clearly torn apart by the dissolution of his marriage and the destruction of his family unit. They only saw the man whose only outward expression was contrition. That's all he showed me for a while. I received text after text telling me that he missed me. I never told him that I missed him because I didn't. He would send song lyrics; most times I wouldn't even reply. When I did, it was something very general.

He started getting ugly again during the 2014 Thanksgiving holiday season. He was supposed to come get our dog, Brutus, for the long weekend, and showed up after a four hour drive from Dallas fairly late the night the night of Thanksgiving Eve. He didn't reach my house until 10 p.m. and naturally said he was too tired to drive back. He ended up sleeping at my nephew's house which was right next door to my mine. The man I was seeing was also in town for the holiday.

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My ex-husband wanted to fight him. Before all was said and done that weekend, he launched an abusive text campaign against me that was one for the ages. The last text I received from him five days later contained the lyrics from Whitney Houston's, "I Will Always Love You." I never replied.

Shortly after that weekend, I learned that he had begun snorting coke again. I was told that he had slipped into a deep, deep depression. Depressed or not, he took to Facebook and found a woman to marry within the next couple of weeks. At the time, we were still friends on Facebook so he made sure to post a picture of her with a caption stating that she was his soulmate. The deluge of comments from his friends, my friends, and our friends were extremely funny because all of them knew he had just been declaring how much he missed me and our family just weeks before.

I had been married to him for 19 years and had seen the "miraculous" changes he could make when he wanted to. Sometimes those changes would last for weeks; sometimes they would be present for months. When I was pregnant, he didn't drink or smoke at all. When he had to prepare for a fight, he would stop drinking and smoking cold turkey. His abusive nature – that nasty mouth, the silent treatment, not eating what he asked me to cook – would also slither under the nearest rock whenever he wanted to pull me back in. In the beginning, I always believed him because I wanted so desperately for things to be good for us. I wanted to believe that just maybe, this time would be the time that the changes would be permanent. Life will teach you the lessons whether or not you want to learn them.
That emotional roller coaster that I rode with him for so many years restarted five days after he sent that barrage of horrible texts, with the last text spelling out Whitney Houston's lyrics. I knew it was just a matter of time before his true nature resurfaced. Once he realized he wasn't going to get a reaction directly from me, he began calling my son and repeatedly telling him to tell me he was getting married. To this day, I haven't reacted and I never will. People can most certainly change but in the case of chronic abusers, it's unlikely.