I’ve been following Jon Armstrong’s blog since he and Heather Dooce Armstrong split up. Today, he wrote that he will not publish any comments that discuss Heather and if anyone writes about her he will delete those comments because she “deserves” that. He is totally not in the petty backstabbing phase yet. If he believes there is still hope, then so can I.
Heather, please take Jon back. And if you won’t, then please explain why. I think you are making a huge mistake.
He admitted in another post that he didn’t want this separation. I feel for the guy, but that’s because I have read her blog for years and she seems like she’d be impossible to live with. Creative types often are. I’m not sure what comes first, the writing or the suicidal impulses, but the two frequently go together.
Medication helps, but mentally ill people are still challenging to have relationships with. I once dated with a man who had bipolar disorder (once called manic depression) who was also an alcoholic and an unemployed wake and baker. I initially typed “lived with a man who” but went back and changed it because I remembered that while he did move his stuff in, he moved it out again in the middle of the night while I was sleeping because “shit got too real” and he was convinced that I was trying to steal his favorite lamp. I had no interest in his stupid lamp, but that relationship was so messed up, when I finally broke it off, I DID steal his precious lamp. It’s actually in my garage right now.
Jon Armstrong has my sympathy, but at the same time, I have to wonder how bad he fucked up. Because it must be epic. This was not an “amicable” or “mutual” split. He had to have really screwed the pooch on this one. All he will say is that it’s hard to live with someone who doesn’t tell you you’ve been doing it wrong for years, and then when she finally tells you, it’s too late to fix it. He can’t mean banging someone else, because he’s just too smart to NOT know that counts as “doing it wrong.”
I find this so confusing because according to Dooce, the two of them have been going to therapy for years together. Dooce has praised her husband and openly loved him for years. I don’t get how this happened. Was she lying to us about how things really were?
I’ve noticed that many very successful and/or famous people do not stay with the partner they were with prior to that success and/or fame. But Dooce has been successful and famous for a long time now. The marriage had the outward appearance of surviving not only Heather’s mental illness, but also her career. Jon doesn’t seem like the kind of man who would begrudge Heather her success. He seems to really love and respect her.
There are two sides, though. No one knows what goes on in another person’s marriage. I have a friend who once told me that when she gets angry she name-calls, yells, and throws things. I would have never in a million years pegged her for a screamer nor prone to violence. She is the sweetest, most caring, giving woman I know. But her husband thinks she’s mean. I’m pretty open about my marriage here, but there is a lot you don’t know. Nor should you, because it’s private. One of my big struggles as a wife is that I come from a family where there is always a hidden agenda. So when Odie sits down and says about our daughter “I’ll bet she watches 20 hours a week of television” I hear “You are a shit mother. All you do is let our daughter watch television.” What he meant was “I am a shit father because I don’t do more fun stuff with my kid.” Or maybe he just meant she watches 20 hours a week of television.
For me, it would have to be something horrific for me to separate Odie from his girls. Like at least 24 hours a week of television. He loves them more than anything. If you had asked young single me how I felt about a future husband who loved our children more than me, I probably would have bristled. If I’m honest, it hurts a little bit. I’m slightly jealous. I’m also glad. When Viva says, “Daddy, will you play with me?” the answer is NEVER “No, honey, I have to work” or “I have to send emails” or “Sorry, baby, but Daddy’s busy.” The answer is always “YES! I would love to play with you. What are we playing?” It makes me love him even more that he’s so good with them.
What would it take for me to throw him out? I already put up with his shit. I’ve put up with his shit for almost ten years. His shit is TIRESOME. The qualities and characteristics that counterbalance his shit are magnificent.
Plus, he puts up with my shit. And my shit is TIRESOME.
Infidelity? It would ruin our marriage. I’m not saying it wouldn’t. But would it separate him from his kids? It depends. The world isn’t as black and white as I once thought.
On her blog, Heather got real mad. She spelled out “jerk” with alphabet blocks and balanced them on the head of her dog and took a picture. She said that she is so healthy that her therapist pronounced her cured and may even be moonwalking with joy and approval as I sit here typing. I have two family members who are therapists. They only moonwalk for the super sane ones.
Heather is tired of reading all the negative shit out there and wants to say “fuck you” to all of you. I don’t say “us” because I’m not sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for her to have a breakdown like the rest of them. People who hate her are legion and they are all salivating over her suffering. People are just like that.
I will say this. Girl needs to come clean. Jon loved her and stuck by her through hell and back by her own account. I read her book. He brought their infant to the mental hospital to visit her every day. And when she got out, he didn’t divorce her and take their kid. He stuck by her. He kept his vows.
When she was better and they had built her business together, they had a second daughter. I’ll bet they were both terrified. I didn’t follow her blog faithfully, so I don’t know how things went after baby #2, but I know she didn’t wind up in the looney bin that time. They bought her dream home. A home so big, they needed cell phones provided by sponsor Verizon just to keep in touch with each other inside their home. Not, it turns out, big enough for the two of them.
When Heather got attacked for blogging about her “life changing” trip to Bangladesh, Jon wrote passionately and eloquently to defend her. His love and respect for her shine through in his writing. There is no undertone of resentment or irony. Now, he sounds hurt but optimistic. He defends her. He clearly still loves her.
So, what is the story? Why does a handsome, tall, fit, smart, funny, supportive man get thrown out of his home and separated from his wife and children?