This is the fourth in a series of interviews with REAL dads and dudes starting over in life. From each of these stories, we can learn a great deal from each other and see that we are nowhere near alone in our quest to start over.

“Mario” is your typical “nice guy who married a mentally ill woman” story. His ex-wife was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder … and the details of their relationship leaves no doubt about that diagnosis.  What Mario hasn’t done is the hard work of emotionally separating from the intoxicating hold his ex-wife has on him, and the work of rebuilding his self-esteem and getting his life in order.

Like all addicts, he has a long road ahead of him and a lot of steps to complete before he can consider himself “cured”. This interview goes quickly into more of a “coaching” session as I soon realize this is a guy still freshly hurt and needing some guidance in a hurry. His life could very well depend on it.

DSO:
Okay, so if you could… give me a brief overview of you. Age, number of kids, are you married or divorced?

Mario:
I’m 38… divorced, 4 kids, 3 are living.
I’m a professional martial artist… I own an MMA school in Florida. In good shape, regular guy.

DSO:
Ages of kids?

Mario:
3-4-9 and would be 12.

DSO:
May I ask how your child passed?

Mario:
She had brain cancer. DIPG. My daughter Angela.

DSO:
So sorry to hear that. I can’t imagine the pain that must’ve caused. How long ago?

Mario:
That’s when I opened up my first martial arts school… after Angela was diagnosed. We needed money and we wanted freedom to do family things. 6 yrs ago. 2012.

DSO:
So let’s back way up first. Your family life as a kid. Tell me about it.

Mario:
Very close Italian family. I have 3 sisters. I’m the oldest. We come from NYC- Brooklyn and eventually moved to North Eastern Pennsylvania.

DSO:
And mom and dad always together? No divorce?

Mario:
Yes… mom and dad had an amazing marriage. Like I said very close Italian family.
Lots of fun and laughter.
Typical marriage though. Had ups and downs. Dad was a hard worker- construction. Mom was a home maker. Always there for us kids. Both supported us in everything .

DSO:
You have a lot of quality time with dad?

Mario:
Yea…we are very close. Dad was always around. Benefits of owning your own company. Still close to dad. Talk almost everyday.

DSO:
That’s great. Now, growing up… How was your luck with the girls?

Mario:
Not bad… my neighbor used to call me Baskin Robbins because she said I had a new girl every week. I won class flirt my 8th grade and senior year in school.

DSO:
So, here you are coming from a great and loving family. Good relationship with your parents. No problem with the girlfriends. And then…When did you meet your ex-wife?

Mario:
She came over from Paraguay to work as a camp counselor and when her job was done I met her at a pizzeria working with her uncle. My friend owned the restaurant. She was a model in her country and absolutely beautiful, and I was taken aback fast that she even liked me. We dated for a short time and decided let’s get married. We married before she went back to her country and we worked hard to get her back into the USA.

DSO:
But you were Mr. Ladies Man. Why would an attractive woman liking you be such a surprise?

Mario:
It’s hard to explain… I may have had “time fillers” but nothing like this. it was like the movies. The second I saw her, it’s like the heavens opened up and light shined upon her. I knew I wanted to marry her. It’s funny, I went home and told my mother that… and she would tell me ex that often. I just loved her from day 1.

DSO:
How long did you date before marriage?

Mario:
One month.

DSO:
Wow.

Mario:
Yea I know. Stupid… but she was leaving and I was 24-25 at the time and i was willing to move to Paraguay to be with her. Impulsive.

DSO:
So there was something SO powerful about this woman that caused you date her, marry her immediately and want to uproot and move to a far away land just to be with her. The power of the hoohah…

Mario:
Lol… yea I guess so. She was amazing. Funny, sexy, smart…At the time the total package.

DSO:
So she DOES end up returning home after you marry? How long is she gone for?

Mario:
2 months. I go to Paraguay like a month later and bust my butt filing paperwork to get her in the USA.

DSO:
I see. So… let’s talk more about her. What was her family like?

Mario:
Bad. Her dad kidnapped her away from her mom. They lived in the USA and while here he assumes she cheated and send her on a search for an imaginary job… while he grabs my ex and there documents and destroys moms documents and moved back to Paraguay leaving her birth mom in the USA.

Her and her birth mom have a strained relationship… badly… more like competition then mother and daughter. From what I heard it’s getting better but it has always been like that. They are good then they are bad.

DSO:
Wow. Well… this begs the question. WAS her mom cheating?

Mario:
I don’t know. Her dad cheated on her step mom all the time and step mom cheated on dad. often. In reality the whole family is built on infidelity. Dad is the product of the other woman.

DSO:
So an all around bad environment for a young kid to grow up in, it sounds like.

Mario:
100%. Dad was abusive to mom, and kids, and step mom

DSO:
Did you know all this when you married her?

Mario:
I didn’t.

DSO:
Would it have made a difference?

Mario:
I don’t know. Dad has caused a lot of problems between us. He didn’t like me because I didn’t agree with everything he said. I would speak up. I didn’t like how my ex’s family treated her and I would say so. He would come to visit my daughter when she was battling cancer but spent more time shopping then being with her. But I can’t expect a bad dad to be a good grandfather. But my ex doesn’t see anything wrong with it because he raised her.

DSO:
I see. So we can set aside her family for now and put them in the category of “beyond fucked up”.

Mario:
Yes 100%. To them, I’ve come to realize, you are disposable.

DSO:
So what does your family think of the situation when you announce you’re marrying this young foreign gal you met a month ago?

Mario:
My dad thought I was crazy. My mom loves everything about it. My mom just wants to see me happy. I married her… and my family took some time getting used to her, but dad took the biggest shine. He loved her. Still does… but is so hurt about us. He won’t say it… but I know it. He absolutely loved her.

DSO:
Ok. So… you are married. You run off to another country to bring home your bride for good. You eventually are both back in the states. How long before baby 1 comes along?

Mario:
When she came back we found out she was pregnant.

DSO:
Not wasting any time!

Mario:
Nope…Chemistry is a bitch. Lol.

DSO:
When do the wheels start to fall off the relationship? When do things start to get a little squirrelly?

Mario:
We lived regular lives. Ups and Downs. She accuses me of cheating 7 times and I never cheated on my wife. I assume either she was or wanted to.

DSO:
At the time you were thinking she was cheating or wanted to… or you were in the dark then?

Mario:
She pushes her insecurities off on me. She gained weight from the kids and from stress from Angela. I just thought she was being a pain in the ass. I never thought she would cheat. Nor did I ever have plans of cheating.

DSO:
So extreme bouts of jealousy. What other red flags did you see?

Mario:
After my last daughter was born she was weighing like 230-240 lbs.

DSO:
Oh wow.

Mario:
Always jealousy.

DSO:
So a completely different human after the kids.

Mario:
Yes. Hard to explain. I supported this women in everything. She wanted Hawaii trips. I did it. Cruises. I did it. Trip to Paraguay. Did it. She truly didn’t want for anything. Business idea that she wants. Hobbies that I would support.

DSO:
Sounds like you were quite the YES man. Did you ever turn her down for anything?

Mario:
Of course…

DSO:
How did she deal with rejection?

Mario:
Depends on what it was. She would normally deal with it fine from the outside. It seemed like that. But I wanted her happy… I loved her. Happy wife, happy life bullshit.

DSO:
Did you ever express your displeasure with her weight gain?

Mario:
Never. She would get mad and call me fat piece of shit, because we both gained weight. I would never call her fat or call her names. That’s the part that hurts also. I supported her and loved her when she was 260 lbs at her heaviest with a shaved head to support my daughter.

DSO:
So here’s a woman who you saved from an awful family life, brought to the states, gave her everything she wanted, watched her balloon to 260 lbs, never bad-mouthed her, supported her in everything.

Mario:
Yes.

DSO:
So you set aside all of the “shallow” superficial stuff because you loved her and were her husband.

Mario:
Yep. My mom was heavy. It’s like saying you won’t love the women who sacrificed her body to give you kids. There is no better way for a women to show she loves you then to give you children.

DSO:
So, she has the gastric bypass surgery, right?

Mario:
Yes.

DSO:
How much did she lose?

Mario:
Not sure she continued to lose after she left me. From what I heard she went down to 132.

DSO:
So she lost a bunch of weight and then what happened?

Mario:
Well while she was losing, she accuses me of cheating… meanwhile I wasn’t. I promise. I wanted to start a women’s BJJ class at my school and I found an instructor. And my ex hated it. Accused me of cheating so I never followed through with it. I’d rather her be happy. Now that woman teaches at another school and the class is huge. So I lost out on money.

Well, after that.. she starts going out with friends more. Staying out later. I was never jealous… I supported her. One day we get into a big argument and she tells me to leave so I go to my gym. While at my gym… for some reason I feel the need to log into her Facebook. I felt like something is up.

DSO:
This sounds familiar

Mario:
And boom I find her messaging with some guy. I died. I go home confront her on it… say I’m gonna fight for my wife. I’m a fighter and I’m gonna fight for my wife. Well that’s when she tells me… there is another guy who she has a crush on. As I write this my heart is beating like crazy. I’m sweating. Still upsets me.

DSO:
Well it was a very traumatic moment, I’m sure.

Mario:
I tell her to end it with this guy. And according to her she does. Me being a man I say I’m gonna kick his ass and this and that. She reaches out to him again.. telling him to ignore me. I’m even more pissed. But now… my “not good enough” insecurities come up… the why him and not me shit pops up. So now I’m jealous, insecure, controlling.

DSO:
All normal under the circumstances.

Mario:
Where you going, who you talking to? I fucked myself. I should’ve been cool. She asked me to be cool. But I was heart broken.

DSO:
How did you “fuck yourself”?

Mario:
She told me she met these guys at the bank where she works…And I said well what happens if they come back. She said she will ignore them. I was still unsure. She then told me she lied and didn’t meet them at the bank she met them at a club. I didn’t want her to go back to that club. She then changed it and said she met them at the bank again.

DSO:
So let’s stop for a moment and summarize this. Your ex was having affairs during your marriage. Probably early on… most definitely after the gastric bypass surgery.You find out, and you naturally go into “must save this marriage” mode.

Mario:
Not sure about affairs during… possible… but to her they weren’t affairs. I’ll get to that part.

DSO:
No no… stop

Mario:
Ok.

DSO:
We’re not going to go down that road. That was me guessing when I say “affairs during your marriage”… because that is most likely true.

Mario:
Well she met them on a dating app… match.com and there where like 6 more guys she was talking to. But never met them in person.

DSO:
So, let’s cut the BS about what she thinks and feels about the whole thing and just get to the meat of the issue. She sure liked having sex with other men outside of her marriage, and she got caught.

Mario:
While we tried working it out I was convinced into paying for tummy tuck and breast lift thinking it was a gift for me. She left me before it was healed.

DSO:
Oh boy. Let me just stop you here. You realize you lived out a perfect storm of the most stereotypical “wife cheated” stories all rolled into one? Your story is not unique AT ALL. I am nodding my head hearing your story because I saw some of this myself.

Mario:
Well that’s good to hear cause I feel like a complete loser.

DSO:
LOL… nope. You’re not even close to a loser. Your story is textbook.

Mario:
I would’ve never thought she would do this.

DSO:
Of course not, because you were in love.

Mario:
She is ruthless to me.

DSO:
Of course… was she diagnosed as having Borderline Personality Disorder?

Mario:
Yes.

DSO:
Well, there you go. You’re dealing with a mentally ill person.

Mario:
I know… it’s sad. She acts like I caused all this. She tries to hurt me at every twist and turn.

DSO:
Unfortunately her mental illness is one that manifests itself exactly how you are seeing it. Promiscuous sexual behavior, infidelity, lying, gaslighting, playing victim, fear of abandonment, etc. The bad news is that there is zero way you or anyone can fix her. The even worse news is that this is probably going to get worse before it gets better.

Mario:
I had to drop something off for her the other day… and while there her garbage was spilling out and she asked if I could get it. And boom a condom in it… I said no. And she made a joke… “Well at least you know I’m protecting myself!”

DSO:
Okay, so… here’s the awful truth. She’s a monster. She found in you the perfect victim: A “nice” guy who has a history of rolling over for her and doing what she wants, when she wants.

Mario:
I know.

DSO:
So she’s going to keep milking this cow until you literally die. You have to get away from this woman. You HAVE to. I know, this is easy for me to say as somebody outside of the relationship. But several years from now when the smoke clears you’re going to look back and say “WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?!”

Mario:
I separated myself from her… this week. I decided I can’t feel bad anymore. I chased after her for 11 months and nothing I have done made her love me again.

DSO:
Of course not… that’s now how all this works. Even if she wasn’t mentally ill, it wouldn’t work.

Mario:
So even when I separated myself she sent me 7 minutes of harassing texts yesterday calling me names.

DSO:
So, now this mentally ill woman with more baggage than LaGuardia has tried her damndest to ruin you. She sucked you dry of your time, love and resources. She has since detached and moved on to the next victim(s). Now what?

Mario:
Like i still love my ex and in a perfect world we would be able to work it out. But she caused a lot of pain.

DSO:
Stop it. You’re not allowed to talk that way when we’re chatting. It gets you exactly nowhere. So now what?

Mario:
I have reached out to some friends that aren’t in this state… Don’t have many friends in Florida. And I am having them keep me accountable. Helping me. I am setting up new hobbies and things I’m interested in. Keep myself so busy I have no time for her.

DSO:
That’s awesome. You and I briefly talked before on Facebook, and I suggested you make a to-do list. Have you done that?

Mario:
I haven’t.

DSO:
Ok, let’s put this into terms you can understand. You’re a fighter, right? MMA?

Mario:
Yes.

DSO:
So, you’re in a fight and I guy jumps on your back. You don’t even think. You just know from years of fighting, “Okay, pivot my hips, rotate, move my feet, change the center of gravity, blam… now I’m on top.”

Mario:
Yep.

DSO:
Those are a series of steps. Right now, keeping with the fighting analogy, you’re lying on the ground on your back while they guy is pounding away at your face…. “Oh well, this sucks.” You gotta put your guard up. Make the next step. And then the next. And the next.

Mario:
Yea…

DSO:
It’s all about momentum. You HAVE to get going.

Mario:
Just since it all… I have suffered bad insecurities, and shit.

DSO:
What you’re saying: “I would put my guard up… but my face really hurts and I think he broke my rib.”

How involved are you in your kids’ lives? See them often?

Mario:
I see them every day for about an hour and a half before mom picks them up at my mma school, plus every Wednesday and every other weekend. I wanted 50/50 but she fought me on it.

DSO:
You think your kids enjoy seeing you depressed?

Mario:
Not at all. My son Michael is my best friend and he cries everyday about it. And how he hears guys come over at night. He told her one time that he wants to live with me… and then she refused to buy him sneakers.

DSO:
Right now you’re showing Michael, “Women can ruin you… no matter what you do… they ruin you.” He sees the negative on mom’s side… then comes to dad and sees more negativity.

Mario:
You’re right.

DSO:
I think step 1 is attorney. Find out about getting more time with kids, building the case against mom.

Mario:
I spoke to my son about it the other day that he and I are gonna heal each other and help and live a great life together.

DSO:
How old is he?

Mario:
9

DSO:
Well, you run the risk of involving him too much and him being your buddy, instead of being your son. He needs that strong father figure that is there and powerful no matter what. Not the guy saying, “My life sucks right now and let me tell you why.”

Mario:
I try try to be both… I feel like he needs that. I never tell him my life sucks. I tell him that I’m hurt by his mom actions.

DSO:
Nope. Gotta leave mom out of it. Never bad mouth mom. He’s a kid… he can’t process it. He just internalizes it. “Mom is a whore… mom is bad… I came from mom… I must be bad.” Then the cycle continues. You are strong dad. You don’t emote to your son or go blaming others. You show him how to be strong.

Mario:
Ok

DSO:
So this has turned into a coaching session versus an interview! But your story is not unique. Don’t get bogged down in details of what she did, how she thinks, etc. She’s broken. Very very broken. There’s nothing you can do. That chapter is closed. And when you look back at the chapter it will be titled “Hot latina chick who got fat, was never happy, treated me like shit and ended up cheating on me and then continued treating me like shit.”

Mario:
I’m afraid it will affect my kids. For me it’s closed… what is she teaching my daughter and my sons that it’s ok for men to use women.

DSO:
Yes, they need to be in therapy, and they need a strong parent, or this will just continue on for generations. And YOU need to be chatting with somebody regularly. Preferably a man.

Mario:
Ok. I’ve got to check. Either find a therapist I can pay cash or get insurance.

DSO:
Yeah, step 2: insurance.

Just string together 7 good days. It’s exactly like quitting drugs or alcohol. One day at a time. Then a month at a time. Then years.

Mario:
Yes sir. That’s the goal.

DSO:
AND STAY AWAY FROM WOMEN.

Mario:
I have a lot of ideas to keep myself busy and hopefully good friends to keep me accountable. Not interested right now in dating. Got to get my head right.

DSO:
So you have some basic foundational stuff… attorney… insurance… job situation ok? Get that basic stuff squared away, then the hard stuff.

Alright, it was nice chatting! Keep in touch. I do offer coaching sessions for $$… but I think you should pursue the “Real” therapist avenue through insurance first.

Mario:
Most definitely… thanks for listening. I just need to get insurance first or find one with cash.

DSO:
I’m sure they will all gladly take your cash!

JOIN THE DAD STARTING OVER MAILING LIST!

Join my mailing list to receive notifications when new articles and podcasts are posted.

Thank you! Be sure to check your email to confirm your subscription.