This is part 2 of the 3 part life story by Jennifer Hintenberger.
Ok, so you now know about the child abuse, working in a strip club for years to escape home, my food addiction, the stressful lifestyle I had during my Undergrad and Masters degrees, the state of my health in my early 20s, my brother dying from cancer, the opening of my gym and the climax of my food addiction. I’m going to skip 5 years (Note: in these years I did most of my mental, emotional and physical healing while growing my gym from nothing to a profitable and reputable business… even though that meant living in my gym in a small room with a mattress on the floor and no kitchen or showers on site for 3 years).
There are 2 more chapters of my life that I was requested to write about: the time my long-term boyfriend was arrested and a mountain cliff accident I was in.
The 3+ years I dated this man were mostly spectacular. After just 2 months of dating he insisted that he leave the clinic he was working at (he was a Chiropractor in the USA) and move in with me as he couldn’t stand the distance and time away from me. I was nervous about this as I am very independent and love my space but I also figured, after 7 years of being single, that it was time to take a risk for the chance of him being “the one”. He was very persuasive and charming. He had to be as him moving to Canada meant that he couldn’t work and that I would be the one supporting us both financially 100%…and I did for over 3 years.
We were great together. I couldn’t believe how easy it was spending almost all of our time together. We’d wake up early and then I’d make us espresso followed by green smoothies that we would enjoy while working online. We would then have a morning run together (we liked to do trail races together) before I taught the noon class and then we would do our kettlebell sport training. For the first 2 years I would then teach the evening bootcamp classes (he acted as an assistant after this time) and then I would make us a vegan dinner (he was vegan as well) and we’d sit for hours eating different dishes, chatting about nutrition/training/family/clients/goals and working on each other to help recover for the next day. Life was easy with him. It was the first time in my life that I fully trusted someone and felt at peace in both my body and mind. I believed in him, us and what we were building together. Even more than this, the members at my gym. He fit in like the perfect final piece to the puzzle. He was already close to members from training beside them during classes and sharing advice about nutrition and training. The plan, long-term, was to open a bigger space with a clinic attached where he could open his practice once we were married and it was legal for him to work in Canada.
After 3 years, we were in the gym during a bootcamp class and 4 fully armed officers entered, told my boyfriend that they needed to speak with him and then swiftly pulled his arms behind his back, arrested him and drove him to the border where he was detained and then removed from Canada. To this day, I do not know the full details of the charges against him. I only know what was told to me through women (we’re talking over 100 accounts) who contacted me regarding themselves or women they knew who had ‘experiences’ with him. The first woman to contact me was the woman whose place I drove him to stay at while we were taking time to figure out how we would make things work and when he would be allowed back into Canada. I later found out from a Canadian judge who had access to this information that he will never be allowed back into Canada.
The woman contacted me because she was frustrated with my boyfriend after they had sex while he was staying with her during his first week away from me….and then she found out he had sex with two of her friends. She had also given him a job and found pictures that he took of himself naked in her store that he was sending to women. She called to “reassure” me that I needed to let him go and stop “suffering” over the heart-breaking process of being away from him and trying to get him back into Canada.
To be honest, this wasn’t the first time I heard that he was sending naked pictures of himself to other women. After dating him for 2 years, I had flown him to NYC to spend time with a mutual female friend (yes, I found out later she was on the list of women he was sleeping with and this time I was funding the trip), and during this time an ex-fiance of his messaged me. She said something along the lines of “Hello… I am contacting you because I know you are dating _____ and I believe you deserve to know this. I do not want to continue communication past this and I do not want anything to do with him ever again. The man you are dating is a con artist and sex addict. He is also violent and dangerous. He cheated on his ex-wife many times and is a diagnosed sex addict. In fact, he was also (and is likely still in contact with) having sex with his Sex Addiction Doctor that he started seeing to prove to his wife he wanted to make it work. His ex-wife eventually left him after physical abuse. He pled guilty to charges of physical abuse and assault with a deadly weapon. People like this do not change and I believe you deserve to know the kind of man you have in your life. He preys on women like you. You are his dream. He has always wanted a gym and to live the lifestyle you have together. He did the same with me and leeched off me for years as I am also a Chiropractor and have my own clinic. Aside from that, he is addicted to sex, alcohol, and pornography. He is also a narcissist. As I said, these people don’t change. I don’t want to discuss this. Simply open his email and I am sure you will see what I am talking about as he will inevitably be messaging many women with sexual context”. I was in utter disbelief and felt sick to my stomach about this possibility. I felt gutted.
I was extremely resistant to checking my boyfriend’s email as we had such a strong bond and I felt that I could trust him. That being said, I couldn’t understand why anyone would take the time to send me this information if it didn’t hold some truth. I also knew that she was correct about some things that I already knew such as his addiction to alcohol. I discovered this in our first year together as I would wake in the middle of the night and he would be drinking a bottle of wine while being online (yes, very very likely messaging several other women). He would tell me that he had to drink because he had nightmares from being raped as a child. I’m not sure if this is even true or just one of his narcissistic ways of manipulating me. Either way, the alcoholic part was correct and I couldn’t shake the message this woman sent me.
Going against every bit of who I am and how much I truly respect personal space, I opened his email. Sure enough, there it was. A countless number of emails from my boyfriend to other women sharing graphic pictures and even more graphic messages. The woman who messaged me was also correct about him still being in contact with his Sexual Addiction Therapist. I asked my boyfriend about her later and he told me she was married with two young kids and that they would meet in motels to have sex together. Their messages turned my stomach as she sent pictures they took when they were together and discussed the details of what they will do when they meet again.
I confronted my boyfriend when he returned from NYC and told him we could no longer go on. He lost his mind, took his laptop and threw it through the wall and then said he was going to kill himself because if he couldn’t have me there was no point in living. I immediately went into the role of “it’s ok, you don’t have to kill yourself, I love you but I can’t be with someone who cheats on me”. His response was that he wasn’t physically with anyone else and that he didn’t want to be. He said that he just wanted to feel desired and that he felt I was too good for him so he sought out women he felt were less than him so that he could feel worshipped. The women he preyed on were usually in unhappy marriages, physically or sexually abused, drug addicts or women with low self-esteem who didn’t feel wanted by men. He knew exactly how to praise these women to have them yearning for this “attractive, healthy, fit, charming, Chiropractor”.
I am NOT proud to say that I accepted the fact he told me that he would never physically cheat on me and that he only did it because of his depression and “demons” (as he called them). He also told me that it helped with his depression as sex or sexual talk helped to suppress his demons. This is even worse to admit and turns my stomach once again… After learning that he needed sex to keep from turning to other women, I began secretly scheduling in sex around my day of training and working. He didn’t know it was scheduled but I would throw myself at him at random planned times throughout the day (yep, ughh, not proud) to make sure he felt wanted and desired so that I didn’t have to see “the other guy”. By the other guy, I am referring to what even gym members saw and talked about over time. He would be his usual silly, playful self and then more and more often we would notice a quick turn to someone with dark, cold eyes and a similar demeanor. Some members walked on eggshells as he accused certain men of wanting to be with me. He was extremely jealous and aggressive about it. Instead of acknowledging all of this as red flags, I allowed this part of him to weaken me further. I LOVED when things were going well with this and I wanted to believe that if I did what I could to make him feel secure, sexy, confident and desired that he would stay that fun, silly, playful, loving partner that I enjoyed.
I deleted all of the men on Facebook that he felt were interested in me. I willingly gave him access to my facebook and email passwords as he was constantly concerned I was writing to other men (we now know why he was always thinking this… because it was what he was doing with women) and we shared the same phone so he had access to all of my sent and received texts. He also raged when his training sets didn’t go well and he would throw his shoes, lifting belt, chalkboard and anything near him across the room. He hated hearing about my training sets if his didn’t go well and mine did. I adapted by avoiding training when he did and then underplaying what I did in my training. He was also quite jealous when conversations would lead to praise or gratitude from others about something that I did so I developed skills to quickly turn the conversation to be about how he contributed.
Instead of being the strong, independent, fierce woman that I was before meeting him and the type of woman I encourage all girls to be, I completely bowed my head to him once I had fallen in love. I convinced myself that this was the right decision because “I love him and I want to be happy but making HIM happy IS what makes me happy so I don’t mind if I have to change”. Crazy, right? To think I made this mistake in the following 2 long-term relationships I was in as well. I guess sometimes we need more than one lesson to break certain weaknesses/patterns within our personalities. I now stand on solid ground with who I am and I have come to realize that I would rather be happy living my life alone being completely myself than to be with men who make me feel unworthy of their full love and loyalty.
Following the arrest and the information about my boyfriend sleeping with 3 different women during his first week away from me, I finally broke up with him. My inbox became flooded with messages from mutual kettlebell friends telling me that I should give him another chance. They didn’t know the story AT ALL. My boyfriend just reached out to them to get them to talk with me. He was his usual charming self telling them that he loved me more than anything and that we had a simple fight and that I (yes, “I”…..he has some nerve) had him removed from the country as a result of an argument. I was so sick of everyone emailing me and messaging me that I wrote some of the details of the truth and posted it on facebook. This led to something unexpected.. girls sending me endless messages about how they had been schemed by him as well. Some were even in contact with him and desperately in love with him. They would tell me how heartbroken they were and that he promised them he was going to marry them. Several even went so far as to look to me for support while they tried to “get over him” since I seemed to be so strong in letting him go. WHAT?! *Insert eye rolling emoji* Honestly, these women were his “side chicks” (lo) and reaching out to me to support them as they dealt with realizing they were amongst 10s if not over 100 women he was having the same intimate conversations with.
As you can imagine, there is a lot more before, during and after this relationship but I suppose the biggest point here is to show, yet again, that life can hit us time and time again. Just when I thought I found peace another bomb went off and sent my heart, mind, and body into places it never knew before this. I understood sadness but I never fully experienced depression until I was left feeling completed used – financially, emotionally and mentally. I felt as if my future, or what I had envisioned as my future, was once again taken from me. I spent a significant amount of time in bed, alone, away from friends and became minimally motivated to maintain my training and lifestyle. I didn’t understand why this had to happen.
Despite the cloud that was over me, previous life lessons left me with the reassurance that the pain would fade in time and that all would be well again. It’s been about 5 years since this time and I can’t say that all is well yet. You probably didn’t expect that sentence, did you? Those 5 years held 2 more relationships that left me feeling unworthy and unwanted, as well as, a mountain cliff accident that led to the anxiety that contributed significantly to the decision to close my gym. I do not have the same level of peace I had in the first year of that relationship (likely more to do with myself professionally right now after realizing what I let go of when I closed my gym) but I am the closest I have been to coming back to peace in a different form, as a renewed and more empowered, self-aware woman. The anxiety is what knocked me off track more than anything so I’ll finally bring this to a close by explaining the cause of my anxiety being at its most debilitating heights. I thought it was in relation to the experiences of how I felt in my relationships following the one described above, until my brain was assessed to uncover otherwise.