Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Way Things Were

I woke up this morning and picked up my phone to look at the time and happened to notice the date.  I stopped and stared at the screen momentarily, wondering how I didn't realize what yesterday was.  In fact, I hadn't even thought about it... not for a year now, anyway.

Yesterday was the BTW's (boyfriend-that-was) birthday.

As I laid in bed I thought about all the things that had changed, the things that seemed to stay the same and all of the roads I have left to travel.  As the one year mark of “the breakup” looms closer, I've struggled with wanting to say so much and not having the right words to express how bad things really were, to acknowledge things I know in my head and heart but can’t say out loud yet, and to tell people a story I’m still ashamed to have been a part of.

A year ago, my life was totally different.  I was in an unhappy relationship. We had conversations only about dinner, work, and bills.  There was no intimacy, emotional or otherwise, other than when he would come in to use the bathroom while I was getting ready to go somewhere if that counts.  We basically just did the same thing day after day, both of us revolving around this idea of a relationship but not really having one and only really interacting on the weekends when we would fight on account of being forced to be awake and interact with each other for more than a few hours.

He had a daughter who would stay with us every other weekend.  She was a good kid and I like to think we loved each other.  Things eventually disintegrated to the point where the only reason I stayed was because I thought me being there made her life better and I thought if he could take out his bad behavior on me it wouldn't be solely directed at her.  A year ago on the weekends, he slept in late every morning, and spent the majority of his day ignoring her and playing video games while I did everything for her from giving her medicine to doing laundry and poop inspection when she drank too much red juice and thought something was wrong.  When she started having behavior problems and problems at home, I was the one reading articles on the internet and staying up late at night losing sleep and sick with worry while he snored in bed.  I will never forget when he told me that he paid child support and that meant that I didn't support his kid in spite of the fact that I had purchased every item of clothing we kept for her, the bed and bedding she slept on and had been the one paying the bills and buying the groceries during his unemployment and for most of our relationship when he didn't actually “live” with me but spent every weekend at my house.

For his birthday last year, he wanted to have his daughter a few extra days.  We fought about it because money was tight and we would have another mouth to feed for 4 extra days (not to mention the fact that somehow toilet paper use doubled due to the presence of a single nine year old).  I didn't see the point in having her there when he was just going to play video games and ignore her anyway and she should be home with friends enjoying summer instead of being cooped up in the house with her dad.  I eventually gave in and then spent days agonizing over the grocery bill, anxious as to how I was going to afford the ice cream cake he always insisted on and worried if the gift I was going to get him would be “good enough”.

Three days before I was to go and get his daughter for the extended weekend, he messaged me at work and threatened that if I did anything to celebrate his birthday I would regret it.  Yes… if I tried to do anything for his birthday there would be a fight, it didn't matter if his daughter was there or not because he wouldn't have anything to do with it and I would be made to regret it and the money spent would have been wasted.

He changed his mind and apologized the day before his birthday.  I should have not done anything instead of running around last minute doing all of the things I had been afraid to do four days before, but I was afraid not to.

Even now, thinking about it sends a twinge of irritation up my spine and leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

Looking back, the birthday incident was basically every incident in our relationship. I was damned if I did and damned if I didn't, and that feeling wasn't limited to his birthday because everything was like that.  Nothing I did was appreciated, nothing I sacrificed was acknowledged, and I was never respected.  If I demanded more out of the relationship or asked him to be an equal partner around the house, I was a nag and a bitch.  If I wanted do see or do something I had to beg him to get ready then deal with his rude and obnoxious behavior which ruined my good time, but when I quit trying to have interests and go places I was chastised for never wanting to go anywhere with him.  When I didn't “behave” and do what he expected, I was called a cunt.  When I cried, he laughed in my face.  When I shut down and stopped begging for attention and decency, when I quit setting myself up for his rejection, and when I no longer wanted his affection…I was accused of cheating and called a two-bit whore.  When I decided I no longer wanted to be in the relationship and tried to leave, he did the same thing he always did and fought with me until I could not fight anymore or did something so shocking and scary that I stopped fighting, then ignored me and continued staying in my house.

Eventually I started feeling like I was never going to be free of him.  We’d broken up before and I had been harassed for months.  He’d sent me a video of himself with a gun pointed to his head, I’d called the cops and they responded only to call me to say he made a bad choice but was “OK”.  He’d drive by my house at night.  He’d text from time to time.  In the end, none of it was enough to keep me from going back and making it worse for myself by letting him move in.  A year ago I wanted to get away from him so bad that I wanted to kill myself because it felt like the only way out.

Here I am a year later.  I forgot his birthday that caused me so much stress and anxiety for weeks beforehand last year.  I didn't worry about trying to be good to someone who threatened to make me pay if I did.  In fact, I kind of quit doing things for people who make me miserable.  I go to bed with my furry babies every night and I no longer cry myself to sleep; I don’t go to bed lonely and lay there wishing I were actually alone anymore.  I can go do things, explore things and see things that I’m interested in and make me happy without having to beg someone to get ready and come with or deal with anger, accusations or guilt if I don’t do the begging and just go alone.  I do things because I want to do them, not because I’m afraid to say no or because someone manipulated me into it.  I have goals and things I want to do.  I have people in my life who love me.  I have hope for the future.  It is amazing how much life can change in a year.

I'll probably never forget all of the things that happened.  But realizing this morning that I'd forgotten is kind of a birthday in itself... a rebirth of the person I used to be before what would become the worst relationship I've ever been in.  And that in itself is worth celebrating.


  1. I am sorry that you went through that but happy that you have grown through it.

    Kudos to removing the negativity and moving forward in life.

    Happy day to you :-)

  2. The feels better once you don't realize that you forgot. Been there and I feel for you. It will get better. It already has.

    1. My one year anniversary since leaving is coming up. And it's SO much better.