Here is the copy and paste version:
Thank you for your letter. I’m hoping that by communicating in writing we can make progress that has proven impossible by communicating verbally because it’s clear from your letter that you either haven’t been listening to me or have failed to understand things I have expressed to you every which way, sometimes over many hours of agonizing, emotionally-draining dialogue.
Before I begin, here are some basic definitions so we can be on the same page:
Compulsive behavior: “Compulsive behaviors are actions that are engaged in repeatedly and consistently, despite the fact that they are experienced as aversive or troubling.” (Psychology Today)
Gaslighting: “Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that occurs in abusive relationships. It is an insidious and sometimes covert type of emotional abuse where the bully or abuser makes the target question their judgments and reality. Ultimately, the victim of gaslighting starts to wonder if they are losing their sanity.” (verywellmind.com)
“The core issue is trust that has diminished, and trust is essential foundation for ENM.”
I strongly disagree. I have repeatedly given you the reasons why I betrayed your trust. I felt trapped in a situation where there was no easy way out. I didn’t want my marriage to end and be faced with the prospect of being without my children if I were honest about the lack of sexual compatibility between us. (Exactly the turmoil we are facing now.) I was also mindful of the importance of my work and not wanting it to be disrupted in any form. So I found a balance that, though dysfunctional, at least kept things ticking over pretty well.
I hate that it involved lying, but I honestly saw no other option in order to fulfill both our needs and those of the children. Ever since the discovery of the photos I have been impeccably honest with you. There have been some questions from you that have been overly invasive and not something I’ve felt comfortable talking about or divulging at a given time (“Show me what porn you enjoy!”) and I made it clear from the beginning that I wouldn’t be going into details about all sexual encounters outside of our marriage. But aside from that I have been incredibly honest with you, even to the point where I have been pushed well and truly past my comfort zone in what has been divulged.
Our “core issue” is not trust. As I see it, our core issue is:
● Our relationship is sexually incompatible
● I have a greater need for sex in my life than you do
● You are not ready (and apparently will never be ready) for an ENM open marriage
“Over the years I tried to ignore my instincts, my gut and all the little signs. It never left me that feeling that something was off, but for the sake of our family happiness I tried to ignore it.”
Thank you for admitting that to at least some extent you too were involved in a deception and saw the need to perpetuate a dysfunctional personal relationship for the greater good of our family - at least up until now. This means you should be able to relate to the way I handled matters at least on some level.
“Only other day in the car we were talking about liars and I believe you remember what you said about liars and hypocrites. You can’t skip over 15 years of lying in matter of few days.”
I have explained the reasons for my lying, both verbally on multiple occasions and above. I deeply regret my lies and the fact that I felt forced to lie, but I believe you are referring to me talking about the lies of the Governing Body and how easily they unravel on closer scrutiny. My lies resulted in you being emotionally wounded, something I deeply regret. The lies of the Governing Body result in millions of people wasting their lives in a cult, in the cover-up of child sexual abuse, and in people dying through refusing blood. Context and not sensationalizing matters is very important when navigating what is happening in our relationship.
“…the trust was vanishing with each little clue I found, and you telling me it is all in my mind, or there is nothing going on.”
Some of your paranoias are/were genuinely in your mind. It’s important to remember that you are a naturally paranoid person. You are paranoid about mice. You are paranoid about electricity (for understandable reasons). You are paranoid about letting me go up ladders. You are paranoid about whether the car will break down. You are paranoid about what I do with my penis. Not every time I have reminded you of how paranoid you anything have there actually been happening that you should be paranoid about. Usually it has really just been in your mind. (“Is everything ok Lloyd? Is something happening? You look like something is wrong!”)
Over the last few years I can think of one occasion in particular where I was put in a situation where I had to lie to your face about my secret, and on that occasion I admit that I used the fact that you are paranoid to reassure you. It was the occasion on which you suddenly leapt up from your chair to see what was on my MacBook screen (I was on a dating site), which startled me and put me under immense pressure. I accept that what I did was wrong. But again, I was put under pressure and was desperate to keep a broken relationship going. The turmoil we are going through now only underscores for me that I was right to be so fearful of what was to come.
“I had right to know about your activities to protect myself. Had I known I would never given you unprotected blow-jobs or had unprotected sex with you. Especially since you are so against testing for STDs. Had I known I would probably sooner enter ENM in effort to try to find someone to fill my needs, instead of being sexually and emotionally deprived for years.”
STDs are always a risk when having sex with unknown partners, whether condoms are used or not. (I have never had penetrative sex, or even a blowjob, with anyone else without a condom.) There has only been one occasion where I feared I had an STD, and I went and sought medical attention for it (perhaps you remember). Whenever we have had unprotected sex - on the extremely rare occasions this has happened - I have been confident that my genitals are completely healthy. I would not have pursued sex with you otherwise. I object to you twisting/mischaraterizing my words, saying I am “so against” being tested. Testing for STDs is a much more painful process for men than for women (to my knowledge) but it is something I would be willing to go through if there were a sexual element to our relationship. If there were no sexual element to our relationship, I think it’s unreasonable to expect me to get tested even in cases where I consider myself healthy and even though we’re not having sex and there is no threat to you. That is what I have tried to convey, and that is my position on STD testing.
“It says a lot that I was crying next to you on the ferry from Vis without you even noticing, because there was no true romance or intimacy.”
I don’t remember the exact circumstances, or whether I was dozing or looking at my phone. You keep talking about this and only raise it now as almost a seminal moment in our relationship and the perfect illustration of my inadequacies as a husband. If that is the case I am wondering why you didn’t talk about it at the time and only mention it now as evidence of some profound failure on my part.
It feels very much like you are trying to scrape together evidence against me to suit your case and prove how undesirable I am as a partner. There is a reason I never brought up our sexual incompatibility issues with you, which I’ve put in writing above. I’m struggling to think of your reason for not bringing up the ferry incident with me, which happened months ago, if it was truly the deal-breaker you suggest.
“The issue is being in the room with you and feeling alone. Like your screen is always more important. We mostly talk about the cult and ex-jw stuff. There is so much more in me, in my mind and my passions that you are simply not interested in.”
What you are doing here is raising the fact that I am a workaholic and conflating that with our sexual incompatibility. As I see it they are two completely different issues. You have known for years that I am a workaholic and we have talked about it openly, yet you have persisted with our relationship and been quite happy to reap the dividends of my uneven work-life balance financially. It’s quite manipulative of you to try to merge the two issues in your efforts to muster a case against me and make me feel inadequate.
“There are many times when kids want your attention, and you say you are working but you are just scrolling.”
What you are doing here is speculating a scenario of me shrugging the children away in favor of “just scrolling.” In reality you have no way of knowing that I am “just scrolling” or precisely what I am doing on my computer in those situations. You are again seemingly clawing for a case against me to highlight my inadequacies. The reality is that usually in those instances I genuinely am working or attending to something urgent or requiring concentration. There have also been many occasions where I have stopped doing something urgent or work-related to pick the children up and give them a cuddle or talk to them. But I suppose those instances don’t suit the narrative you are trying to fabricate.
“When your compulsive behaviour starts, you don’t probably notice but you say often to me and now you have started with Jessica “stop being selfish”.”
This is the part where your letter starts to sink into gaslighting, i.e. trying to make me question my sanity. You are not a therapist or mental health professional and you have no credentials based on which you can diagnose me as having “compulsive behaviour.” As you will see above, compulsive behaviors “are actions that are engaged in repeatedly and consistently, despite the fact that they are experienced as aversive or troubling.”
As I have already explained to you, my sexuality is an undeniable part of my physiology but it does not define me or dictate my actions. I can go for long periods (usually once sexually satisfied in some way, whether by myself or by someone else) without even thinking about sex. If I truly had no control over my actions I would have (1) gone to Rijeka when you told me to, (2) had sex with almost anyone while I was in Austin just to “get laid”, (3) not let Javi stay in my hotel room the night he got stranded with his cancelled flight because it was getting in the way of me going out and meeting people (I stayed in the room that night just to avoid him getting a whiff that anything was wrong), or (4) left the house unexpectedly at any point over the last few years because someone online was offering me sex. None of those things have happened because my actions are not being controlled by my sexuality.
I am a sexual being, and my sexuality is not an abomination or something that needs fixing. I know you are enthusiastic about learning about psychology, but I would respectfully suggest you go to the trouble of studying it for years and gaining a diploma before dishing out diagnoses.
“It is not just about how you use your penis, it is all that comes with it.”
I’m afraid that’s exactly what it is. As I’ve already tried telling you: I am the same Lloyd I was over the past several years - the same Lloyd you gushed about in birthday and anniversary cards despite your current efforts to paint me as deeply inadequate over all that time. The most important things in my life are (and always have been) you, the girls, and my work. No matter how you try to blur the issue or confuse me about my behavior and physiology, I am frankly traumatized at the idea that something that makes up such a small (albeit significant and undeniable) fraction of my identity should dictate what happens to the overwhelming majority of who I am and what matters to me. And that small fraction is essentially my penis and what I do with it.
“When I told you on Tuesday that I wanted to tell you few more things before we properly start ENM and one of them is not having women in our cars, you got upset with me because you already made arrangements to pick up Zrinka from Rijeka. Rijeka is the town I originally wanted to be your place for your self care days, but to me you said “I am not driving to fucking Rijeka”. You insisted on Zagreb which I was uncomfortable with.”
We had already started the ENM relationship when the arrangements with Zrinka were made. And let’s be clear: you told me to go away on Wednesday afternoon for my “self-care day.” As I had already mentioned to you, it is not really a self-care day if the activities are being dictated by you. I made it clear I wanted to make my own plans. Nothing in my arrangements with Zrinka contravened what we had already agreed to for the ENM relationship (an agreement you later arbitrarily tore apart after a few hours). Hitting me with a last minute “Oh by the way I have a demand to make about cars” is hardly something I can be blamed for. I’m not clairvoyant, and even if I were I would need to agree to any changes to the agreement.
The Zagreb/Rijeka thing which you attempt to highlight as a double standard is actually just confusing the fact that on this particular occasion I needed to go to Rijeka but when we were first agreeing to the terms of the ENM relationship I refused your demand that I not pursue partners in Zagreb. I never precluded the possibility of going to Rijeka, I just objected to being forced to drive such distances on each and every “self-care day.”
At this point I am wondering why you need to keep blurring the lines and trying to confuse me. It’s actually helpful to see you doing this in writing because at least I can point out the fallacies whereas when you do it verbally it’s harder to remember or prove what was just said. Why do you need to do this? Why do you need to draw false comparisons in support of your arguments? Do you not see the deception and manipulation in this?
“When I told you I am distressed to the point that I stopped eating but will probably vomit when you go off with her, you said you now can’t go, but with anger. You were mad at me.”
I as mad at you because you reneged on a decision we arrived at after days of emotionally draining soul-baring. You went from being giddy like a school girl (“Thank you for setting me free Lloyd” / “I feel like a kid in a candy store”) to scrapping everything. My anger was justified because you effectively wasted both our time and led me along during one of the most stressful periods in my life. You rendered days of emotionally wrenching dialogue meaningless. You also made it impossible to communicate further because you demonstrated that nothing we decide has any actual currency and can be revoked by you at any point according to your whims.
“Off course I would try ENM, but the first instance where I showed hesitance, instead of reassuring me, that it is ok to be scared, all this being so new to me especially after traumatic discovery you were angry with me, because you were looking forward to first time having sex without paying.”
There’s very obvious manipulation and distortion of the facts here, whether you know you are doing it or not. Again, the problem you have this time is that it’s in writing. You obviously didn’t “try ENM” - you baled after just a few hours and without either of us meeting anyone. What you describe as “showing hesitance” I describe as ripping up an agreement we agonized over for days, rendering all communication essentially void and meaningless. Under those circumstances, any frustration on my part was entirely justifiable. And if I were so uninterested in your feelings I would have gone to Rijeka regardless. I didn’t. I cancelled my plans.
“Also a new discovery for me, but I have dimmed myself down for years now that it is no surprise that I haven’t read between the lines what you were saying earlier.”
I can’t be blamed for your failure to grasp what I told you when I was honest with you in our initial conversation. I told you that I had cheated and that I wouldn’t be drawn on any of the details. When you asked where I had cheated, I said “massage parlors.” All of that is entirely true. I have never yet had sex with someone who is not a sex worker, or that I have met through dating apps. You tried to characterize your epiphany that cheating obviously doesn’t preclude penetrative sex as though I had somehow misled you. Again, I fail to fathom how I can be blamed for this or, frankly, what actual difference it makes what orifice is involved during sex.
“My feelings will always come second to yours, and I believe it will happen same with our girls.”
If your feelings came second to mine I would have left years ago. I would never have gone to such lengths to make a dysfunctional arrangement work. I obviously went through all of that because I believed in our relationship - a relationship you only now seem to think has always been deeply undesirable on your side for all the reasons you’re only now listing in order to mount a case against me. And suggesting I care more about myself than the girls is just outright offensive. If I didn’t care about our girls I wouldn’t have been crying last night when I was cuddling them for what will likely be one of the final times in a long while.
“I really need to protect our girls from negativity, as they get older they are smart and will see things.”
I’m sure it’s very convenient for you to make this about the girls. In truth, by detonating our relationship to the point of being misleading and jumping through hoops to mischaracterize me what you are doing is sabotaging their childhood and engineering a situation where they are deprived of their father.
“I love you, I stayed with you for all my love for you, for the good in you. But now I have to start to love myself, for my girls.”
I don’t doubt that you did once love me but given your efforts at manipulation and contorting the facts I am beginning to question this claim.
“Creams and perfumes don’t fix things. Being present and making changes does.”
I have never suggested that creams and perfumes will fix things. I bought you items that you can’t get in Croatia for reasons entirely unconnected to our sexual problems. Again, I didn’t actually cheat in Austin, so I was not trying to buy you something out of guilt as you seem to be implying. As to “being present and making changes” - I have always been present. If anything you seem to be enthusiastically engineering a situation in which I am no longer present.
The “making changes” part I find very telling. Your love is conditional on me changing to suit the more desirable version of me that you have in your mind.
“I don’t want you to “chop your dick off” as you suggested, and I want you to be happy and fulfilled. And if you want to have third family and forget about us and be happy that way that will be your choice.”
You are again plucking words from their context. I fail to understand how this is a productive exercise for you because I can’t so easily be tricked into drawing the conclusions you seek to draw. I wrote the message on WhatsApp last night in my albeit inebriated state to highlight the mental grappling I’ve had over this problem, to the extent of wondering whether it would be worthwhile undergoing a procedure so that my sexuality is either biological stifled or removed from the equation entirely. But as I said in my WhatsApp message, I don’t see that mutilating myself or changing who I am as a person to suit the expectations of others is a realistic or healthy solution.
And I made the point about a third family not to suggest I want one, but to highlight how traumatizing this situation is as someone who has already lost the nuclear family of his childhood through death and shunning on religious grounds (something I can’t help), and now faces losing his second family due to demands over his sexuality (another thing I can’t help). But if you see profit in twisting my words, don’t let me stop you. Just let me be clear - none of this is my “choice” any more than it is my choice for my father to shun me, or my choice to have a penis and desire to use it.
“I have always said and mean it that I will always be your friend and love you and care for you”
You have a very interesting way of showing it at present.
“and your children will always be your children who will need you.”
Under the circumstances I can’t help but interpret this as a veiled attempt at asserting yourself as gatekeeper over my relationship with my children. I don’t need to be reminded of who my children are or how much they need me, thank you.
“Every decision you make is your choice not mine.”
It’s very convenient for you to say this and abnegate yourself from any responsibility over what is happening. Again, I don’t have a choice in how my body works, which is essentially what this is about. I also don’t have a choice if you and I reach an agreement after days of agonizing and then you decide to break it after just a few hours.
“I have tried to tell you that you might have compulsive sexual behaviour that inhibits your focus for weeks, and that it can be addressed with therapy but you are mad at me for even mentioning that it could be a condition for treatment. If it’s not than compulsive than it’s a choice.”
Yes, thanks for the free mental health counseling and diagnosis of my condition. I’ve certainly gotten what I’ve paid for with this gem.
Again, this is gaslighting. I am not crazy. There is nothing wrong with me. My sexuality is not some abomination that needs to be healed, and my actions are not uncontrollable as I have already explained and demonstrated over many years of marriage.
“My choice is to be healthy stable mother for the girls, to put them first.”
That’s an interesting manifesto pledge. I notice your first act in putting the girls first is to orchestrate a situation where they no longer have a father by gaslighting him, twisting his words, and removing the usefulness of any dialogue by going back on decisions that were made after days of it.
“They deserve the best, and I can give them best if I am not being dragged down by your behaviour.”
More manipulation. This is not about my behavior. This is about us not being sexually compatible.
“Announcing we are in ENM to the world will not fix years of lying or emptiness between us.”
I never said it would. And I don’t think that’s the reason you backtracked on the ENM relationship.
“I don’t want a divorce. I want us both to get our healing process done with little distance so we are not getting in each other’s process, and when I have my mind cleared, and you can be honest with yourself and me fully and completely, I can then talk without conflicting thoughts.”
I already am being honest “fully and completely.” I’m not sure you’re in a strong position to lecture on honesty given what you’ve written in this letter. I am not against any healing process and never have been. If you recall, regular counseling was part of my ENM proposal. For someone who doesn’t want a divorce, you sure do seem to be racing towards it having given the alternative just a few hours of trying.
“I know this is not what you want to hear and that you still blame me for all of this.”
I don’t blame you for all of this. It’s not a simple matter of apportioning blame (although you’ve done quite a lot of that in your letter). These are complicated matters involving human sexuality. What I do blame you for is severing our lines of communication by going back on our agreement after just a few hours, gaslighting me over your fixation with “compulsive behaviors”, not listening properly and/or misrepresenting my words on multiple occasions in this very letter just as you have done in conversation.
“I believe in philosophy Esther Parel talks about and I actually prefer non- marriage arrangements (I would have never married if it wasn’t expected from me at the time), but this issue is deeper than just where you put your penis and me ‘being limited by my cult upbringing’.”
I’m skeptical about that. I believe to a large part you are controlled by hang-ups that have been instilled in you by your cult upbringing and societal norms regarding monogamy, but that’s not something I blame you for. I will look into the material from Esther at some point but I am gravely skeptical that we can have a family without having a marriage. I think if I need to move on I will need to move on entirely and not be in some situation where I am holding a candle for a dead relationship. But again, I will try to stay open-minded. Needless to say, I will be skipping any links you send regarding “compulsive behaviors” for the reasons I have outlined, and I respectfully ask you to stop insulting me and trying to gaslight me in this way.