If You Know, You Know

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This post links with Cyberstalking: A Protest, In Control: Warning Signs of a Controlling Partner; Dear Dubai Ex: Closure, How To Date An ArseholeIt’s Not Me, It’s YouGet Lit (Not Gaslighted…)Invisible Scars and Gaslighting Survival Guide.

When you first meet someone and you feel that ‘Wow’, the butterflies in the stomach, the magnetic pull towards them, the ‘I want to know everything about you’ impulse, it’s a special thing. Love makes us feel alive but it also makes us blind. When you have strong feelings for someone, your judgement becomes flawed. Realising that the person you have invested time, energy and love into, has repeatedly lied to you, manipulated you, betrayed your trust, is clearly not who they present themselves to be, is absolutely devastating. You blame yourself for not seeing the signs sooner, for accepting their lies, for being gullible, but it’s not your fault. You can’t beat yourself up for not knowing what you didn’t know.

In other blog posts I have written about my emotionally abusive, narcissistic, controlling ex not because I want to portray myself as a victim, but because I am motivated by a desire to educate and help others. I do not want anyone else to go through what I did. In October 2015 I blindly fell into a romantic situation that in the four years that followed caused utter havoc in my life, extreme emotional and mental distress, and nearly destroyed me. All because I fell in love with someone who is not as nice as the image he likes to portray. So many people have told me over the years that he is such a good man and implied that I must be responsible for the toxicity and abuse within our relationship. They are welcome to believe whatever they want. I have a collection of emails, WhatsApp messages and a voice recording that prove otherwise; the evidence speaks for itself. I know what I have been through and the impact the relationship has had on me and my life.

Gaslighters are highly effective convincing manipulators. They are adept at discrediting those who speak up about them. I am aware of the lies that have been told about me but here are the facts which I can prove:

  • My ex/boss initiated the relationship
  • He kissed me in his office during school hours
  • I refused to sleep with him as he was married
  • He sexually harassed me in the workplace
  • He refused to support me professionally if upset with me personally
  • There was retaliation in the workplace when our personal relationship was not good
  • He damaged my career and my relationships with co-workers when I worked for him
  • I tried to leave the relationship multiple times but he would always talk me round
  • He lied to and manipulated me throughout the relationship.
  • He has cyber stalked me since I left him last year and has been reported to UK police

When I left my job and Dubai, where we lived, to get away from him, I had thought that a difficult situation in my life was over. How wrong I was. How naive. I quite rightly reported my ex to the company we had worked for for his professional misconduct and expected him to be held accountable – after all, I had been told by them to ‘trust us to deal with him’. I didn’t trust them and I was right not to. After seeing a statement by the CEO proclaiming how proud she was of him, and his continued attempts to manipulate and control me did not stop, I began speaking out publicly about my experience. This is 2019 – NDAs can no longer be relied upon to stop women telling the truth. Had I been left alone to get on with my life, I probably would have shut up and gone away like so many trolls told me to but I’m afraid no man gets to damage my career and wellbeing, scapegoat and villainise me, and harass and cyberstalk me when I had to leave my job and my home in Dubai to get away from him. That’s not a situation that anyone should stay silent about and was certainly not one that I was willing to tolerate and accept. How a woman – who refused to sleep with her married boss – in this day and age can be punished for speaking the truth whilst the man concerned is protected and rewarded for his abuse of power is unbelievable. The refusal to be honest, to take responsibility, and lack of accountability, is on him and the company. Shame on all of them, those who continue to condone his behaviour, and those who tried to shame me and trolled me for speaking up when they do not know everything that happened in the relationship, or its aftermath, or how many times I tried to resolve the situation amicably. I didn’t deserve how I was treated by him personally and professionally when I worked for him and I do not deserve to continue to be abused when I am getting on with my life. It is not OK to villainise women who find the strength to walk away from, and speak up about, abusive situations just because you don’t like what they have to say. Pretending the truth does not exist does not make it go away. My ex/boss is the one who continued the situation and ignored requests to stop. Actions speak louder than words and his actions since I left him seem to indicate he feels he can still do whatever he wants and get away with it. However, no one is above accountability and what is done in the dark always comes to light.

I left Dubai over 18 months ago. Nearly two weeks ago I had to change my email address as yet another unwelcome email was received – containing porn and information only relevant to my ex and I – despite repeated requests to be left alone and warnings about legal action. Being cyberstalked is not simply annoying. It is not flattering. It’s not harmless. It is definitely not romantic. It is weird. It is frightening. It has been deeply upsetting and I cannot understand how someone I loved could put me through everything he has put me through over the last four years. I completely misjudged him and feel that I never really knew him. I fell in love with a facade. Had I known when I met him what he was really like and how fucked up our relationship would be, I obviously would never have gotten involved. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. To live my life in peace I have had to change my phone number, change my private email address, disable blog comments, restrict followers on my blog and Instagram and make everything as private as I can. You don’t know how easy you are making it for someone to track you, to monitor you, to invade your life, until it becomes an issue. I urge others to rethink how much information they share publicly – you have no idea how vulnerable you are to cyberstalking and identity theft until you find yourself the target of someone who wants to abuse the power they have.

As a result of my blog and Instagram many people know what I have been through, and the identity of my Dubai ex. I won’t mention his name here. If you know, you know. I hope by speaking publicly about our relationship, I have prevented him from doing this again to another colleague, or to another woman. I also hope that he seeks help, and if he can’t be honest with others about the things he has done, that he has at least been honest with himself to learn from this. Everything we experience in life is an opportunity to grow and become a better person. I am not the same person I was: I am stronger, wiser, more resilient, more humble. Because I know what I want in life and all that I have been through, I will never allow myself to be in a similar situation again. I have reclaimed my privacy and feel happier knowing my ex now has zero ways to contact me. I am sure karma will take care of him eventually. Even when you think you have gotten away with something, the Universe is always watching. What will be will be and he is thankfully not my problem any longer.

Only people who have been in toxic/emotionally abusive relationships themselves know and really understand how damaging such relationships are, and will be able to empathise with my experience. Just because someone appears charming, kind and loving in public, it does not mean that they are not capable of abusive behaviour in private – appearances can be deceptive as I have painfully learned. He and I both know what happened between us; only one of us has told the truth. There have honestly been times when I have seriously wondered if there was much point in going on with my life but each time I felt that low, I found a reason to be hopeful and kept going. Now living a life radically changed to my old Dubai life, I’m so glad I did. It has been a battle getting here but I have genuine peace at last.

Take care,

Lisa.

The Ex Effect

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Last edited: 11th July 2019

Throwback Thursday has got me thinking about an age-old conundrum: can you and should you stay friends with an ex? Staying friends with someone who was for a time significant within your life is often touted as a sign of maturity and, of course, there are circumstances which necessitate a continued involvement, such as co-parenting when two people have to put their possibly acrimonious feelings about each other aside for the sake of the children. Without the bind of offspring, maintaining a relationship with an ex has to be a matter of personal choice and that decision is probably dictated by the nature of the break up itself and the type of people you are.

I’m an all or nothing girl, always have been and always will be. Fiercely independent, I like my single life which allows me to do whatever I want when I want and being an introvert, I need lots of time on my own to recharge and reflect. So I only get involved with someone when my interest has been completely captured on all levels: mentally, emotionally, physically. When I’m in, I’m all in, fully committed. I’ve never really seen the point in doing anything half-arsed, including love.  I give relationships my all until things don’t work out; I don’t like to walk away unless I know I’ve done all I can or a relationship has proved itself unfixable or harmful to my wellbeing. I’ve had my heart broken and I’ve broken hearts. That’s life.

I don’t stay friends with exes. I just can’t do it, regardless of how good or not a person has been to me during the relationship. The boyfriends who cheated on me were easy to walk away from and I would rather rub marmite in my eyes than stay friends with them. I can see merit in staying on friendly terms with good guys though but in my experience, friendship is always way too complicated when feelings are or have been involved. Danger lies in unclear boundaries, false hope and jealousy. Oft-debated, Men and women definitely can be friends, I have several platonic male friends in my life who I truly value, but only if they are not and have never been attracted to each other. Attraction is the minefield.

My ex-husband – Mr DJ – and I had a fairly amicable divorce. We married young, grew up, grew apart and financial issues destroyed the relationship. Dealing with massive debt and bankruptcy in my mid-twenties was not what I had envisaged when I said I do and the relationship was not strong enough to survive when he just buried his head in denial and expected me to deal with it all: the persistent phone calls, the threatening letters, bailiffs at the door etc. An older man came into my life, the first man who just ‘got me’, and made me realise that I was with the wrong person. Telling Mr DJ that I didn’t love him anymore and he deserved to be with someone who did love him was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do but I’ve never regretted it. We were too young to be in a marriage that had no passion, no fire, just companionship and horrendously complicated finances. Leaving the marriage was like grieving for a death in the family but we supported each other through the process and were probably more honest with each other after our marriage ended than we had been during it. He started dating before I did and would often phone me asking for advice about the girls he was seeing. For me it wasn’t weird because I just wanted him to be happy and I didn’t feel anything for him anymore. We even exchanged Christmas presents eight months after we split. When he met someone he was serious about then the contact between us naturally faded and we both moved on. We’ve not spoken since the divorce was finalised years ago and that was best for both of us. I don’t miss him but think of him now and then. It was a different lifetime ago.

Thanks to Facebook I know Mr DJ has remarried and has kids now and I’m pleased for him. I hope the post-divorce years have been kind. Mr Control (who has featured in earlier blog posts) has a gorgeous little boy with his partner. Life has gone on for all of us. The prevalence of social media means it is now easier than ever to look up your ex. Not a good idea immediately after a break up (feels akin to sandpapering your heart) as that can prevent wounds from healing and encourage unhealthy attachments but after time has passed, it can be really quite cathartic to see that their life has continued without you, as yours has without them, and you know you have properly moved on when you can look at their pictures and feel nothing but pleasure to see them happy – or secretly pleased that they don’t look as attractive as they did when they were with you should that be the case ha ha. Apparently this is ‘The Ex Effect’, when you no longer view your ex as desirable without the rose-tinted glasses of lust and love you probably wore during your relationship. It’s just a natural part of the process. A relationship ends, you detach, focus on making yourself fulfilled and in time, new opportunities and new people come along. Staying friends with exes feels counter-intuitive to me. Just say goodbye, have a clean break and send them on their way with gratitude for what was shared and luck for the future. What is meant for you will not pass by you and you can’t make room for the things meant for you whilst still holding on to those that are not. Clear out the ex skeletons, refrain from constantly online stalking your ex (an occasional look up is fine, we all do it ha ha) and nostalgia-bingeing over past photos. Leave the past in the past, fully embrace the present and look forward to future experiences that may be better than those you have already enjoyed. Look after yourself and be happy.    

Take care, Lisa.