Saturday, November 27, 2021

I was not made for him

You were made for me

I took you home and dressed you up in polyester

Princess of my dreams

Emotionless and cold as ice

All of the things I like

The way you look

The way you move

The sound you're making

~~ "Electric Barbarella" by Duran Duran

In a clear case of ‘I’ve got too much time on my hands,’ I looked up my ex-husband on Facebook. 

I knew nothing good could come from it, but I did it, anyway. Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop, doncha know? 

The initial findings were rather disgusting to me but it led to some genuine introspection about what exactly happened there and I realize how utterly miserable I’d have been if I’d stayed. So I turned something rather stomach-churning into something that didn’t make me hurl in disgust and anguish and humiliation, so I guess there’s that. 

Those who know me well know what happened there. I’ve even written a bit about it on Facebook, so anyone who read that knows at least a little about it, too. The bottom line is that a few years into our marriage he found Jesus. Not just in a quiet meditative way. He found him in a BIG BANG MOMENT kind of way, a fundamentalist kind of way. I have a fairly high tolerance level for someone’s religious beliefs—no, I really do!—but his newfound faith wasn’t a matter of personal growth and learning and a calm and quiet reaching out to others. No, it was more like…


In case you think I’m exaggerating (some of those close to me know that I am not), he once told me that he thought I was possessed by a demon. I realized just a few years ago that I had blocked a lot of that out, which was a bit of a Revelations to me. (See what I did there?) As I think about it now, I suppose that it was a real shock to my system to realize that while I thought I’d escaped that situation from my upbringing, as a young married woman, I was right back in that same controlling environment with my husband. 

That’s a real kick in the ass, so I suppose it’s no wonder that a part of me chose to hide it away for a while. Probably until I was strong enough to remember the details, don’t you think? I do. 

Anyway, he was relentless in his witnessing to me as well as his attempts to control me. I was definitely no angel but I wasn’t a total reprobate, either. Just a 20-something woman who wanted to get her ya-ya’s out. I liked to drink and go out to bars and dance and I smoked and I loved rock ‘n roll and I didn’t feel particularly evil about it. For the first two or three years, he was the same way and so was his family. We all had a blast together. 

Everything changed when he had his spiritual awakening. His main goal now was to convert others, and yours truly was first in line. I needed to clean up my act, quit wearing wild clothes, quit going out, start going to church, start being a model “biblical” wife (whatever the fuck that means), and when it came time to have kids, well, naturally, I’d stop working and stay home with them. 

You can imagine how that went over with me. If I recall correctly, my comment to his wanting me to stay at home full time with kids was, “What’re ya gonna do, chain me in a closet?” I did try a few times. I went to church with him once and turned around in time to see a woman behind me pointing to me and mouthing to him, “Is that her?!” like I was some sort of exotic species. I went to a cookout at the home of someone at his church. I was out on the porch talking to a bunch of the guys about current events and one of the wives came out and asked me, “Wouldn’t you be more comfortable with us women in the kitchen?” I said I was fine, thank you. That was also when I heard a woman say something that I have never forgotten, something that did more to drive me away from religion than just about anything: “I’m glad I have God to make decisions for me so I don’t have to make them myself.” 

Man, how long is this gonna be? I guess I have a lot to say on this matter. I haven’t even gotten into what I found on his Facebook page! But I’m almost there. 

All this prelude is to try to make you understand part of my journey to becoming an atheist. There’s a lot more there, but that chapter of my life was a big part of it. 

This is getting a wee bit heavy for me to think about right now, so I’m going to take a little break and get back to it later. These are not pleasant memories for me. 


I feel well-rested and I’m back at it! 

Still a little more to the prelude. After putting up with that nonsense for as long as I could tolerate it, I came to the decision that it wasn’t going to work and I wanted a divorce. I didn’t even bother suggesting counseling because I knew quite well what would happen: he would insist that we go to a pastor. Either his at his church or another one. That was a no-go with me because I had the suspicion that a pastor might be a tiny bit biased against me and my wishes. A wife is supposed to submit to her husband and all that rot. (And yes, my ex had gotten into a group called the Promise Keepers whose philosophy was exactly that. The man was to be the biblical head of the household.) I was done. It takes a lot to push me to that point, but once I’m there, I don’t change my mind and reverse course. 

He did not react well to the news. His first action was to find our wedding album and tear up all the pictures in it. His second was to phone my parents (who lived three hours away) and tell them, “Beth just told me she wants a divorce. Just thought you should know. Bye.” I had no idea he was doing this and I got a panicked phone call from my parents. It was an ugly scene. 

He left and ended up staying with a friend of his. He’d call me up occasionally and once told me, “I know that God is punishing me because I cheated on you.” I was a little bored by this crap by now and saw it for what it was: he wanted to lash out at me. But I still asked. “Oh yeah? When was this?” He said, “When I went to Officer’s Training School.” 

Well, that was about a month after we got married, when he joined the Air Force. Nice, huh? Oh, well. I was done, so it really didn’t matter. 

He didn’t really want to sign the papers initially but he finally saw that I wasn’t taking him back. So after five years of marriage and several months of separation, the divorce was final. 

Time jump! I moved on, so did he, and so did the world. I found out that he married a Chinese woman he met when on a missionary trip to China. His mother told my mother (they kept in touch for a while) that she “looks a bit like Beth but doesn’t speak much English.” That made me laugh then and it still does. I said, “So he got the package but she doesn’t talk back.” 

Now we get to the point where I saw his Facebook page. It’s public so it’s all out there. He got his kids (three of ‘em) and seems happy and content. I’m glad he is. What I’m not glad about is realizing that he’s kind of a right-wing jerk. There are posts about how this is the “most corrupt administration in history.” He’s also some kind of puritanical prude, talking about how “pornography is being taught in our schools.” (There’s a video of a school board meeting in Carmel, Indiana, where outraged parents are reading from novels available in the school libraries. There’s a young adult book that has an admittedly graphic sex scene, but hearing this PTA mom reading lines like “She was wet” and “He sucked her nipples” had me laughing my ass off!) 

Worst of all, he’s a vaccine skeptic. This is the guy who got his Master’s in Microbiology when we were dating! I was disgusted and appalled by that, not some Hausfrau and her ‘pornographic book’ reading! 

But wait! There’s more! Not only is he still super-religious, in looking at the comments from his family members (brothers and sister, especially), they’re all religious. He turned ‘em all! Even the people who were the wildest in that whole bunch (and let me tell ya, for someone who grew up in a very religious and straight-laced extended family, it was a little shocking for me at times) are now Bible thumpers. 

And this is where I had my epiphany. Something I realized only now, thirty-some years after I divorced him. He didn’t want a partner. 

He wanted a possession. 

He wanted someone he could tell how to think, what to do, what to believe. He wanted to be the all-knowing husband who dictated how his household would run. He wanted an Electric Barbarella who would listen to what he said, every day, in every way. 

Well, homegirl don’t play that game. No more than the dolly in the included video does. 

My epiphany generated both horror and relief. Horror at the thought of what it would have been like if I’d stayed. Not only would the onslaught of religious dogma and right-wing demagoguery from him have been unending, but I’d also have started getting it from the whole damn family. 

Talk about Hell on Earth! 

The relief came in knowing that I had the wherewithal and the means to get out when I did. It wasn’t easy. Divorce was still quite scandalous in my family and I worried about how my folks would take it. I was like the little mascot in the extended family and I felt like I would be judged as a failure. (All needless worries but I was still young and I worried about things like that.) Work wasn’t an issue and I had supportive friends there and elsewhere and yes, family. I was free.

I’m in a good place. If I’d stayed, I would not be. So I made a very good choice and I have no regrets about it.

Why am I telling you all of this? I’m really not sure. Mostly my own sorting-things-out, I suppose. Maybe a little bit of letting people know that it’s okay to extricate yourself from a situation in which you are dissatisfied and unhappy. A situation in which you understand you will not thrive. And it is always okay to demand equal rights in a relationship. “Being told what to do” is not a viable situation! 

It also gave me some insight as to both why I’m an atheist (at least one of the main reasons) and why I bristle at both mansplaining and being told what to do. I have very valid reasons for feeling the way I do. And oh, how tempting it is to write to him and let him know, “You’re one of the main reasons I’m an atheist. Just thought you should know how badly you failed at converting me. You should probably pray about it and think about how you failed.” 

Very tempting. But of course, I won’t. It’s enough for me to know. And maybe on some level, he knows it, too. 

No matter what age you are, I think it’s important to continue to learn things about yourself. Self-awareness is a very good thing and it very often brings comfort and strength. This whole thing wasn’t pleasant and dredged up a lot of bad memories for me. I have kept and will always keep many of those to myself. But I learned something about myself. 

I’m always cool with that. 


  1. I think we walk a fine line between submission and dominance. It feels like this is part of all relationships. Ideally, we can both lead or follow as the situation requires. Toxic relationships don't allow for that sort of give and take. I'm glad you are in a better place now.

  2. ...boy howdy..! I have always been fortunate that my appearance speaks for me... I have never been religious so I have had plenty of practice avoiding such a pairing... until recently..!

    I live with a woman who 'plays' religious. I did not know how "important" it was to her until we decided to move in with one another... since I told her about my spiritual mien when we first met, I had no problem with telling her that such iconographgy would not be welcome in my apartment... it has had me in a state of flux... but that is for my blog...

    It had to be difficult to watch someone who you knew as a secularist or in a worldly lifestyle suddenly have a literal come to Jesus moment... and as a man, I have to wonder if there was something threatening to his masculinity that had him look to becoming a Christian...


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?