Hi Angie -
I’m so sorry for your pain. I will do what I can to help you, and thank you for understanding how painful this is for me too –this has been, by far, the most painful and confusing experience of my life, as I’m sure it is for you too. I lost 12 pounds in two weeks when I found out, and I’m not a big person, (and I was even dating someone else)!
Please understand that I really don’t want to know more about your relationship. It’s nothing personal. I think you are probably a wonderful person. It just took me a lot of work and struggle to get to this very good place now, and I’m never going back there and don’t want to relive or question any of it.
Here’s the insight I can offer:
First of all, you should get the book “The Gift of Betrayal” by Eve Wood. Read it all asap. I swear you will feel better and it will help you to understand how this all happened. You’re just going to have to learn to live with the fact that you will never understand him or what his true motives or intentions were for any of this. You will never get closure on this. But what you can do is learn your role in it and what drew you to him (and him to you) and how to avoid people like him in the future. You are not alone.
Ben is not normal. And I don’t think it’s just Aspergers. I am fairly certain he has a personality disorder on top of that. I will leave it to you to decide if you agree or not, and what that disorder is - it doesn’t matter to me what anyone else thinks at this point. I know what I lived through. When he got caught, the way he responded to me was so cold and inhumane, it was like nothing I had ever experienced before in a human being. And I know a lot of people. It was utterly chilling. And before that, he had never been anything but really really sweet to me. Never once had he been anything close to mean.
It left me convinced that our entire relationship was fake. He was just using me for the game of it all - most of all for the attention I’m sure, but also he must have loved the risk. Just like his addiction to poker. It must have been thrilling for him to concoct so many lies and be able to manipulate me so masterfully. To be able to respond to me like that when I confronted him, he had to have no conscience and no empathy. There was no sense of guilt and any true apology - it all felt very disingenuous. There was nothing real or compassionate about it - he was not remorseful or ashamed in any way. He was just hellbent on saving his ass and concocting some sort of story that you all could accept as somewhat plausible so you didn’t think he was a psychopath, and he had absolutely no problem throwing me under the bus the second it suited him. He’s really pretty much dead to me. I never understood it when people said that before, but now I do. The person I knew was not a real person. He was a fabrication. And the real person behind the facade is not at all someone I want to have anything to do with in my life.
After we broke up, I had to try to make sense of the relationship because it made no sense at all to me. We always had an amazingly fun time together. We never fought. We were in constant contact, even if we were long distance. You read our emails, you know. I really felt like he loved me. I really thought he was my best friend (even long after the breakup - ha!) Every single weekend we spent together we got closer, but then he would make it harder to schedule the next time together. It was the weirdest thing. And his health kept getting worse and worse (was that part made up too?). I always thought Ben had PTSD from 911 (and how much of that part was true? I really don’t trust that any of it was real) and I’ve had a lot of trauma and know a lot about it, so I just thought if I was gentle and patient and safe enough, he would eventually be able to really open up to me.
This wasn’t just a case of someone cheating. This is someone who thrived on duplicity. And he panicked once I told him I wanted to spend the summer in the west and then move to NYC. He knew he couldn’t pull it off if you and I were both in the same city. But I think he kept in contact with me because he still liked the attention. It was very confusing.
So, basically I will never understand him or what went on. He won’t be able to give you an answer. He can justify all his actions with his lies. He’s a very good actor. When I thought it was just Aspergers, it was when I saw him as a really sweet person, someone who meant well, but who just wasn’t wired to need what we need. But after his cruelty with me, I really have no idea. I think it’s much worse.
One thing I would love from you is the name and address of his therapist. I really want to write that guy and tell him the extent of the damage that Ben inflicts on people. He needs to know that this isn’t a harmless game for Ben that the therapist is enabling. There are people’s lives at stake, and because he chooses vulnerable, really nice people who are really trusting, he is someday going to cause someone serous harm. I know that I was extremely lucky to be out of it when I found out – I had a new boyfriend who is very kind and loving to me and he saved me. And I hope that because you have your kids, you can put your energy into them and not focus on him and the bad stuff he did. But someday he will victimize someone who can’t handle it. And it’s unconscionable that this therapist supports his behavior. I was abused as a child and have always struggled with believing that I was lovable enough. I suspect you have some of the same issues, which is why we were so easily manipulated and would both tolerate the paucity of true affection he put out. He knew how to play us. But that doesn’t mean his therapist should be encouraging his behavior. I believe he needs to know how it feels from the other side. If you know his full name or any information at all for him, I would greatly appreciate it.
Hang in there - it will get better. You will find someone who is so much better for you, and you will never again accept someone who is so unable to love or even really feel anything for anyone else. I’ll be thinking of you and wish you all the best.
ps - get that book!