I've become so Numb, I can't feel you there ~ Linkin Park
This page is a glimpse into my personal life that I hope will serve as a warning to others who are so involved with the Internet. We have all heard of people these days who have found their mates through an internet romance. Even I know of a few people who have had wonderful success with these kinds of relationships. Not all of these love stories are wonderful though… and mine is one of them.
***Update 2017: I have since found my purpose and life path in being an energy practitioner in several modalities. I am happy to report that this experience is now a closed chapter, and just life lessons learned that can assist me in empowering others to find their purpose and to avoid the "mistakes" I have gone through. Read on for the details… ***
I had been alone for a number of years after my first divorce. Attempts at dating had not been successful. I had joked with my friends a few times that it would be nice to have a boyfriend for Christmas. Well, that wish came true Christmas 2001. I had decided not to make the six hour drive to my home town to spend Christmas with family. My children had gone with their father out of town for the holidays. (I usually have our Christmas a few days early to accommodate this.) So, on December 25, 2001, I was home alone on the computer chatting on MSN with my sister six hours away. I have never been one for random chat lines, but my sister liked these types of chat lines sometimes. She was chatting with someone and introduced 'Shaughnessy' to me. I chatted with this guy for a while and soon found that we got along quite well. So, well in fact that I gave him my phone number after a few hours, despite being wary. He called me the next day and we also got along quite well on the phone. He had a wonderful phone voice, too 🙂 I was feeling quite cautious of this new found friend, but he seemed like everything I was looking for in a guy, and he seemed to accept everything about me. About three days after we met, Shaughnessy wrote a long email to me expressing his aspirations in life, peppered with some humor throughout, and in a sense asking me to accept him. This email completely floored me. This guy was 12 years my junior. (he was 22). I do not have a problem with an age difference especially when some younger guys can be very mature. My sister was also just as shocked as me. He sent sweet emails regularly, sent songs to listen to, and was quite romantic. Well, this was the way things started.
Within just a few weeks were talking every day either through MSN chat or on the phone. Shaughnessy talked about coming to visit me to meet in person. He lived 4500 miles away in another country. We started making plans for this meeting. Our phone calls, I am sure, boosted stock markets for the telephone company. We would be on the phone for hours while going about our home activities. We got along so well. He was a kitchen manager in his home town, and also raced cars. He told me the details over a few days of a small local race he was going to be in, along with details of the after party, etc. He had won the race. He sent me a few pictures of the sports car he owned (apparently similar to the race car), along with some pictures of himself taken with a digital camera. The pictures weren't all that great, but they gave me an idea of all that he talked about. He also told me detailed stories of his work as a volunteer firefighter.
In the beginning of February 2002, Shaughnessy had a disagreement with his father and decided that he wanted a drastic change in his life. He asked me if he could just move here. He said he loved me and wanted to be with me forever… kids and all. He said he would ask me to marry him properly on bended knee when he got here. We talked about an impromptu wedding. I just wanted something simple but nice. We started to make definite plans for his move here, and on April 5, 2002 he arrived here by bus – a week long trip!
I was working two jobs and because of some scheduling difficulties, he was late getting in, and I was late for work. Our first impressions of each other weren't that great, but by the next day I realized that this was the guy I had fallen for over the internet and phone lines. He tried so hard to make good impressions with my friends, my children, and with me. He cooked meals, cleaned house while I was at work, gave me massages, ran bubble baths for me, let me rest when I needed it, and got along well with the kids. I felt like I was in a dream world…. this guy seemed so wonderful and treated us all so well. He wanted to pull his own weight, he said, because he would have to wait for immigration papers before he could get a job and work. Shaughnessy did propose on bended knee the evening of April 30, 2002. I said yes, and threw together our impromptu wedding. We assumed getting married quickly would also speed along permits for him. Everything fell into place wonderfully. There were so many little coincidences throughout this time that made me feel like this was all just meant to be. We had a small informal wedding on May 11, 2002. My family came, along with a few friends. Because we had such a quick wedding, his family didn't come, nor did his friends. It was just too far to come on such short notice. The ceremony was beautiful though, and the first few months following the wedding were wonderful also.
When an immigrant comes into the country, they have six months to visit before they have to leave or do something with their paperwork in order to stay longer. We looked into this paperwork, and had an official meeting with immigration. They weren't too happy that we had got married so quick and insisted on seeing our wedding pictures, and knowing the details of our meeting etc, to make sure this wasn't just a marriage of convenience. My new husband had told me that he had a conviction in the U.S.A. This according to him, was for an assault charge on his ex-wife. His story was that they had a fight, she stabbed him in the arm and out of reaction he back handed her. According to the laws in that state, he was charged for assault and not her. This always seemed fishy to me… but who was I to judge?? This conviction was the main reason that immigration told me that he should not have been able to enter Canada in the first place. They figure that he got through because he had been on a full bus and the border may have been busy. Immigration never did tell me the details that they had on file, other than to confirm the assault charge. So all along I believed what my husband said to be true. I had no other way to confirm his story. They allowed a work permit, but my husband would have to be on temporary visitor's permits until his probation ended.
About four months after we got married, we had a disagreement one evening, and I brought up a few things that over time had seemed confusing to me. He finally admitted that his whole story about the race he won when we first started chatting was all a lie… a story just to impress me. He didn't seem to understand that this not only didn't impress me now, it shattered my trust in other things he had told me which seemed fishy. He still always seemed to have logical answers for my questions though. His firefighter stories and the conviction story remained the same.
Financially, I completely supported my new husband for the first year being together. He finally got a job as a cook in a local hotel. We still seemed to be getting along, but there were some difficulties, and I was realizing how much he drained me. I was so glad to get him out of the house for a while each day. Within a few months after we had got married, he started to complain bitterly about all he HAD to do around the house and how no one else pulled their weight. I didn't think things were that bad. I was working two jobs, the kids were in school, and in activities as they always had been, and we were doing our best under the circumstances. My husband complained that we didn't get enough time together. If I called a friend, he would come into the room and sit with me. He would insist on being in the same room with me anywhere I went, or else he would be on the computer playing his online games constantly. He started to ground the kids for silly things and take away computer privileges so he could have more time on the computer and often skipped dinner with the family. He seemed to have a fantasy world online with those friends and an online journal to rant and rave on.
When I took the kids to their activities, or ran errands, he started to quiz me on where I was, and mentally keep track of the mileage and gas usage. I was embarrassed to take him out around my friends now, he always had to tell stories to anyone who would listen. Often he would bring up personal details. He would tell everyone about our internet meeting. That was fine, but over time the stories changed…. more and more he made it sound like I had chased him and snagged him. In the end his stories changed to reflect that I had used him. He exaggerated so many things that I felt uncomfortable. I felt like I had no privacy left, except when he went to work. He got his own bank account for his paychecks, but since he had his name on my account, he would start spending my paychecks before I even got home from work. We worked opposite shifts, and he would come home late and tell me about work and all the girls he flirted with. We tried going to marriage counseling, and things seemed to subside for a while. Slowly though, the awful feeling in my guts grew and grew until I was so frustrated I couldn't take it anymore! I had withdrawn from my friends, became depressed, and even gained weight. He teased me and the kids relentlessly beyond the scope of just playfulness. Although he bragged openly about his 'model' wife, in private he degraded me for my weight gain and my involvement with modeling. I went to marriage counseling alone. Now I could talk freely. I soon realized that there were many things Shaughnessy had told me that now – clearly – seemed to be exaggerated stories. I made up my mind that this was going to end. I broke up with him March 4, 2004. He hadn't worked much since Christmas so he didn't have much money of his own. He asked if he could just stay until the end of the month to organize his affairs. Over spring break (thankfully) the younger kids had gone with their father. Melissa (older daughter) was home on March 19 when Shaughnessy and I had a blow out argument after going to the marriage counselor together to officially end things. Melissa and I went for a drive and she went with her friends. When I got home, Shaughnessy and I continued our argument which didn't help matters. He accused me of having an affair, and told me that my friends had told him I was crazy and he shouldn't have married me. He tried to convince me that all my friends had turned on me. He finally went for a nap, and after Melissa came home he woke up. He looked awful and I asked him if he was alright. I had no clue things were so wrong! (I found out later that while Melissa and I had been gone earlier, he had overdosed on 4 bottles of prescription pills.) He had a seizure in front of me – I had never seen someone have a seizure. I have never been so scared in all my life. I screamed so much, and was so upset that Melissa had to call 911. The doctors told me not to let him come home again with me, and that this wasn't my fault. I had to call his parents, with whom I had only talked to a couple times over the time I had been married. I had only talked to his mother once, mainly because I had always heard bad things about her. When I told her that her son was in the hospital from attempted suicide, she didn't seem surprised. She told me this was not the first time he had tried this, that he was a pathological liar, and that they had had problems with him for a long time. The stories about volunteer firefighting, his conviction, and his mother, according to her, were exaggerated truths. He had only worked for the fire department for a month after high school.
Shortly after this episode, out of curiosity, I called his ex-wife, Christie. She was another person I had never spoke with, because I had always heard she was a drug addict who didn't take good care of their son. I did know my husband had a son, but he always told me such awful things about his ex-wife… example: she was vindictive and wouldn't let him see his son unless she could have Shaughnessy back. Well, I talked for about an hour with this "drug addict". Christie sounded to me like a wonderful (and I do assume drug-free!) mother. There was a whole other side to the story of how Shaughnessy made no attempts to be a father, that he had free loaded off her family and abused her as well. His stories of his previous crew foreman work and car racing were exaggerated. The conviction was for assault, but she hadn't stabbed him. (I had suspected this because he didn't have any obvious scars.) Together we assumed that he possibly came to Canada to escape paying child support to her. With this new information I confronted Shaughnessy. He finally admitted the truth about the conviction, but still tried to convince me that his other stories were true.
Some friends took him in after he got out of the hospital, but he had to leave Canada within a few months when his papers ran out. I filed for divorce. I figured out that while he had been with me, he had installed spy ware on the computer and read my emails, etc. He went through all of my personal belongings and stole some things, too. I have also since found out that he made my daughters uncomfortable (in recent months before the split) with some inappropriate things he said. After he moved out, I avoided his phone calls and blocked him on MSN chat. He kept sending emails, so I blocked those too. He posed as someone else on MSN chat just to talk to me, but I figured that out fairly quickly.
My whole experience, although it started out wonderfully and I have some very nice memories, turned into my internet nightmare. Now that I am away from him, each one of my friends have admitted that they sensed something wrong about my husband from the beginning. Because he is such a good story teller, and because I seemed so happy at first, no one could really say why they thought there was something so wrong. I am much more wary of the internet than I ever was. It is just too easy for someone to deceive and disguise themselves. The guy I fell for on the internet was so fun loving, mature, respectful and interesting. The person who lived with me was an insecure, immature, conniving person with a knack for computers. As far as I know, he may be back to his 'old self' on the internet until some other person falls for his lies. This whole experience has been hard for me because previous relationships I have had have not ended quite so badly. I am certainly not perfect, I do have my faults also, but this is one experience I would rather erase from my memory.
"At least I got myself out of a bad situation.
"Online" ~ Brad Paisley (I'm not usually one for country music, but the lyrics to this song are hilariously fitting).
Update January 2006: I have had so many responses to people reading this story in my site. The most common response has been a thank you for the warning, and also sympathy for what I have been through. I didn't write this for sympathy. This is life and it was a learning experience. One that I share here in hopes that it might save someone else from making such a stupid mistake in judgment as I have. I do have some good memories though, after all he was very romantic.
I have often been asked advice on avoiding stalkers, etc , and these sort of liars. I am only human, and I made a mistake in judgment. In September 2005, long after I had deleted any links associated with my ex-husband, he managed to add himself to my MSN list and tried to contact me. He also sent emails to my kids. We blocked him and are hoping that will be last of any contact with him, although I was not able to delete his links until just recently — he must have FINALLY taken me off his list. By this contact, I know he still has his online blog and a new girlfriend. The blog has the same kind of lies he has always written about, only now I am the ex he runs into the ground. Hopefully this new girlfriend will realize soon enough what a mess she has got herself into. I don't understand why he felt it necessary to contact us after so long if he has a new girlfriend. But then, I don't understand much of how he operates other than it is not normal. I am guessing he needs to find a way to build himself up by saying how I want him back yet he runs me into the ground. This is the same story he used on me about Christie. When I talked to her myself I found out quite the opposite — as it is with me also!
I am no expert, but from my own experiences, and things I have learned through various reading materials etc, I have made a list of things you can do to avoid the same kind of experience as I have had. Most things should be obvious, but when your head is clouded with romance it is easy to fall away from logic.
* The absolute number one thing to remember is to listen to your gut instincts!! If anything make you uneasy or makes you question your judgment, find out why before going ahead with your plans!! Everything in my experience here I should have known, I should have seen, yet he always had 'logical' answers for my questions and I could also find simple excuses to explain things I questioned. Yet for so long something was making me uneasy.
* If you are interested in an internet romance. Make arrangements to meet first, and NOT at your own home. Make sure there is an 'escape plan' if things don't go well. If he can not afford to make these arrangements, that should be a good sign there will be other trouble too. A promise of forth coming money won't get you through NOW. He told me he could afford to come here, but 'miraculously' he was mugged before he got here and all his money was stolen. Do I believe that now?? Not likely! I have come to believe that poverty is a choice. I have met many people over the years who have been in dire straits, but with will power and determination, they have got themselves out of bad situations. If someone has only excuses for their lack of money, and that excuse plays on your heart strings, that also should be a warning.
* There is good reason for the old idea of waiting at least six months before marrying someone. You can only live a lie for so long before things start to unravel. Better to know that before doing the legal thing.
* If you play on the computer, be knowledgeable enough to know how to recognize spy ware problems and know how to run spy ware cleaning programs etc. Delete temp web page files and cookies regularly. My ex had spy ware on my computer and was able to get passwords to my email and read everything in there, even though I changed my passwords regularly.
*This may not sound romantic, but in Canada you can go to any courthouse and use a public computer to search someone's criminal record. This is public information. (Unfortunately, this doesnt work for out of country). If you have any suspicions, this is a wise thing to do. I honestly believe that any respectable person wanting to be in your life romantically would not object to a search like this. Your past is what has built the person you are today and has shaped your morals. It is wise to find out if there is a history of violence or drugs or anything else detrimental. You owe it to your family and children to protect yourself. It is better to be upfront and honest about your past in case it may affect your future. I do also believe that there are many men who have a criminal past for things done in their crazy youth, and this should not be held against them if they are willing to prove themselves worthy and mature in pursuing a relationship in their later years.
These are mostly logical things to do to protect yourself. My best advice, though, is to find a book called "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker. This book has invaluable information on recognizing your own intuition and some helpful hints on recognizing potential problem people around you. I hope this helps you avoid similar problems. There is nothing like finding another human being with a shared experience to put things in perspective! ~Jackie
Update 2009: There were some events in my life which caused me to try to find my ex husband. I did find him on a popular social networking site. He seems to have grown up a bit now, and has apologized for everything he put me through which has given me some sense of closure. However, the emotional scars from this experience have kept me single for a long time and I am still not sure I am ready to allow someone new into my life. I am very leary of anyone who lies to me and I still second guess my judgements. I love the movie "Walk the Line". It gives me some hope that maybe some day a woman with a past such as mine will still find someone special to share life with.
Many people believe in the idea that you should never hit a woman. While this is true, physical scars can heal. It is emotional scars that are the most damaging.