Using the internet to learn about my husband’s ex: Why I am not a stalker

October 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Sometimes I fantasize about what it would be like to have an actual open relationship with my husband’s ex. It’s not that I want to know everything that happens in her life, but I’d like to know her beyond the six times I’ve seen her in court. I’d like to have more conversations than the few times she’s tried to hold me over a barrel on the phone when she doesn’t like how things are going when the s-kids are with us. I’d like her to just see me as a human being, talk to me like a normal person. She doesn’t have to like me, but we have these kids in common…shouldn’t she at least try? And hell, even if it wasn’t me having the relationship, I’d just like to have some goddamn open communication between our two houses rather than this thick black curtain the moment we send them home. There is some comfort to be had in knowing what life is like for the s-kids when we send them home. Are they happy? What kind of games do they play? What kind of clothes do they wear? At the very least, I’d like to know if things are still as terrible as they were when my husband was a part of her household (I think as second wives we all secretly crave for validation of our husbands’ side of the story, right?)  Somehow, what happens is that living in the dark about the s-kids creates this almost insatiable desire to know just what kind of person this ex-wife is, anyways.

Enter social media and the age of the internet.

You can find out a lot about a person through the power of Google. Even if that person doesn’t have much of an online presence or really want to be found. And the more that the person tries to cover her tracks, the better you become at finding all the breadcrumbs she doesn’t realize she’s leaving all over the internet, and the more you, the searcher, start to feel like a bit of a stalker. It’s human instinct, right? Eve tasted the apple because God told her not to.

I live in constant fear that somehow I will be found out and that looking at public information on the internet to try and get to know and understand the mother of my stepchildren will end up portraying me as a dangerous, harassing criminal instead of a normal, inquisitive human being. I try to quit looking altogether, but then we don’t hear from the s-kids and curiosity gets the better of me and I find myself looking at her newest profile picture staring at all of her flaws and wondering if she hates herself when she looks in the mirror, if she’s as insecure as her actions portray, just who, exactly, in the hell she thinks she is. I don’t think I am stalker, not by any criminal definition, at any rate. I just want to know more. I crave it. I feel compelled to find out as much as I can because otherwise I know nothing and I’m left to make assumptions, and I can’t help but assume the worst.

But then, I know that I am guilty of creating the same enigma. Everything about my real life online presence is on strict privacy lockdown. I do a regular monthly Google search to go erase any crumbs I’ve inadvertently left behind, I have a decoy (searchable, public) Facebook profile to keep her from prying into my real one, everything I do in public is under one of several pseudonyms and if a site requires I use my real name and location, then I just don’t use that site. I don’t want her looking at me, making judgments about me or assumptions about how I run my household, I just plain don’t want her in my life. I don’t trust her to not be who I have known her to be and I don’t want to make my friends and family open game for her to harass and manipulate at will.

Any yet, there is still that fantasy. What if tomorrow I just changed my privacy settings to public? What if I changed my name on Twitter to my real name? What if I stopped living in fear…would she respond in kind? I always have to question just how much of this situation I am imagining, how much is real, and how much my own actions are contributing to it. I feel like we are locked in some sort of distrustful stalemate and I it is exhausting to be so guarded all the time.

I know that things will likely never change, or at least not in the immediate future. The boundaries we have created are a result of learning the hard way and I’m none to eager to open myself up to get burned anytime soon. I guess I can’t blame her for feeling the same protectedness over her life, even if I have never done anything to violate her trust except marry her ex-husband.

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