My Ex the Maybe Future Terrorist

I dated a man who could become a mass shooter one day. He’s got that terrorist impulse in him. That wasn’t obvious from the get go. I just thought he was a Nice Guy, and a cult survivor like me. We both came from abusive, shitty homes with that old time religion. The experience made me understanding, but it made him bitter and short-tempered. It made him want revenge. 

If I’d known from the start how nasty he was, how focused on the negative, I would have stayed far away. But I thought I’d found a kindred spirit, someone to nurture what was broken in me. Over the years I realized I was living with a would be terrorist who wouldn’t yet worked up the nerve. 

He hated all cops, stemming from an arrest when he was fifteen. When he first told the story they wrongfully arrested him for breaking into his own home, as random and uncalled for as racist police arresting a black professor who’d lost his keys. Over each retelling details slipped out until a new picture emerged: of an out of control teen having a violent reaction towards his mother until two officers pulled the six foot tall youth off the five foot woman. The story changed a lot. 

He liked revenge fantasies, the more violent the better. I was dating an abusive man when we first met. I just wanted an escape. He daydreamt retributions that terrified me in their details and made me uncomfortable. I asked him over and over not to include me in these, explaining that I could only ever imagine myself as the victim in these scenarios. I have no impulse to torture, only a strong desire not to be tortured. 

There is no tip line to call because your exboyfrirend hates cops and the government, and refuses mental health care because it might make it harder for him to buy a gun in the future. There is no way to report vague unformed plans, nor should there be. That would be chaos and easily open floodgates of abuse of process, especially against immigrants and men of color. But it sure does make me nervous just waiting for the day he commits an act of mass terrorism. 

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