Last Tuesday I decided to skip the gym, buy a bottle of wine, and order pizza. When Alex showed up to change into workout clothes, I greeted him with a glass of vino. We proceeded to get mildly tipsy by 7PM, at which point he randomly suggested I check my “Other” inbox on Facebook. I expected to find some equivalent of my previous goat-citing offer of marriage but was greeted with a message from a woman asking whether I’d filed a restraining order a couple years ago.
“I’m afraid I’ve been dating this same man since May,” she said.
Naturally, I consulted Facebook for moral guidance. I kept it to a private group where we all confess sordid personal details about our lives, and the majority of people told me to do whatever was necessary to take care of myself. Keeping my distance from a man who threatened to kill me and made my life a living hell for the better part two years is the obvious choice, but I just couldn’t stop laughing– It was so ridiculous for this to happen a week before the doomed August 20th anniversary. But beyond the dark hilarity of it all I couldn’t help worrying about how she’d mentioned having young children. Visions of news headlines danced in my head. I had to reply. Plus—I knew it would make for good blog fodder.
I replied with my email address and told her I would answer any questions she could think of. I heard back within the hour.
Apparently they met in a college course last Spring and had begun dating towards the end of the semester. His behavior had seemed normal and charming until she’d made reservations at a restaurant in my city. He’d freaked out and refused to drive here, saying he wanted nothing to do with the place. When she questioned him, he became angry and said he hated the city after living here for so long, and refused to go back. His reaction was so bizarre and violent that she began googling him and eventually ran a background check.
Her questions were straight forward– she wanted to know whether we’d been romantically involved, as he claimed to have been single for the last several years. I remember him telling me a similar thing, despite the fact he was in couple’s therapy with his girlfriend of a decade.
I replied with a bullet-point breakdown of the entire ordeal, condensing the 10,000 or so words from my domestic violence tab into one fact-based, emotionless email. I didn’t want to dilute it with my snark or any musings on his stupidity, plus there was a paranoid corner of my brain that couldn’t help wondering whether I was being catfished in some elaborate plot.
This paranoia and resolve to keep it all business-like fell away as we began comparing notes. I’d done the same thing with The Other Woman two years ago when we realized he’d dated both of us at the same time.
He seems to have rewritten a significant portion of his past, completely omitting his 25-year career at the psych hospital. He claimed to have been active duty military that entire time, and I couldn’t help asking if he’d ever told her the story of how he went AWOL for a year so he could track down and kill an entire family. “I’m afraid I missed that one,” she said, though he had told her some epic tale about killing cobras in the jungle and smuggling an unnamed family member of a past president into a top secret meeting with the Dalai Lama.
I asked whether he’d gotten another job somewhere else, but apparently he was back in school full time, pursuing his Masters at a private Christian University, which she lamented as “a good hunting ground for unsuspecting females.”
After a little online stalking and several email exchanges, I no longer worried she was catfishing me. She actually seemed like a really cool person and someone I’d want to know outside of the soap opera that is my life. Of course, we all know how that worked out last time.
“Needless to say,” she concluded, “I’m going to run for the hills.”
The next morning she sent me a play-by-play account of their breakup. She’d asked him to meet her at a public place on campus so she could return some things he’d left at her apartment. Using her new internship as an excuse, she told him she was no longer interested and didn’t want to see or hear from him again. I read every text with a mix of glee and fear—glee because I wanted to jump through her phone and assault him with my middle finger, screaming the word “KARMA!” and fear because I was worried she was about to provoke him into psycho stalking mode.
I cautioned her to be careful and not hesitate to call the police if he threatened her. She wasn’t all that worried about him coming after her because “his libido has left something to be desired” and he’d been embarrassed about it. Further cementing my respect for her, she added “I thought you might enjoy hearing that after what he put you through.”
Honestly, I can’t imagine a more positive and inspirational outcome. Knowing he can’t get it up and is too frightened to come near where I live is like the Aussa version of rainbows and unicorns. It’s almost as beautifully tragic as the naked photo I kept of him.
Have you ever been contacted by an ex’s new flame? Would YOU have replied to such a message? Do you find it satisfying to hear embarrassing things about someone who wronged you in the past?
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