Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I Saw the Sign (Not Really)

This week marks One Year since leaving what may have been the worst relationship of my life.  I've debated whether or not to talk about it, because the details are hard and the story isn't pretty.  But at some point, you need to let go of the things you've been holding on to and that is what I'm doing.  If I can help one person, if one person can see something in my story that helps them... then it isn't in vain.  This is my story.  


It has been a year since I left what might have been the worst relationship of my life.  In the aftermath of the relationship with the Boyfriend-That-Was, I started to find myself again and as I did I began talking about the relationship I had been in, and the way things were.  More than once someone told me, "I never thought you'd let someone treat you like that" and "I didn't think you were that kind of woman".

Guess what?  Me neither.  Before this experience, I didn't think it COULD happen to me.  I literally and ridiculously believed that I was just too strong and I thought I knew what abusive relationships were, how they started and I thought I'd taken every precaution not to end up in one.  I was somewhat educated.  I had taken responsibility for my sexual and reproductive health at an early age, and while nothing is foolproof I'd done everything to the best of my ability to safeguard against an unwanted pregnancy that would tie me to someone I didn't choose to be with.  I'd worked two sometimes three jobs at a time to maintain financial independence, refusing to even consider a roommate.  I maintained my own household, supported myself, and enjoyed my own company.  I wasn't desperate or lonely.  I thought I had done everything a strong, smart, functional adult woman was supposed to do.

So how did it happen?

I never even saw it coming and for a long time I struggled with wondering how it happened, how and why I let someone say and do all of the things I swore I would never let someone say or do to me, and how I found myself overlooking or forgiving things I said I never would.  It wasn't until I started learning about Narcissistic Abuse that I realized that how subtle it all starts.  The fact that I didn't think it could happen to me was exactly why I didn't realize when it started.  Looking back, I was vulnerable to this specific kind of abuse because I didn't really know anything about it.  I knew about physical abuse, but the warning signs for an emotional/psychological abuser are so much more subtle.

You know when you first start seeing someone and you want to spend all of your time together?  It started before that.  In the beginning, he pursued me more aggressively than anyone ever had and it's hard to ignore because you mistakenly feel like someone is really interested in you and it's flattering.  While I didn't consider myself desperate, it HAD been awhile since someone showed genuine interest in me and I enjoyed the attention which was unlike anything I'd every experienced before and he was rather charming.

Within two weeks of seeing each other, he was spending days at my house at a time.  While that would be unusual with someone you had just met, we had known each other since we were teenagers so I wrote it off because we already "knew" each other and so there wasn't going to be a "getting to know each other" stage.    What wasn't normal was that when I wanted my own space or I didn't want him to come over for days at a time, he would casually say that if he couldn't come down and stay he wouldn't be coming down again for awhile because he just couldn't afford the gas (he lived 45 minutes away).  

It was so subtle that it was prevalent in every area of our relationship.  I don't remember what the first meal I ever made for him was, but I remember he took maybe two bites before looking at me and saying, "You know what would make this even better..." .  At first, I didn't mind because I thought he was just sharing his food preferences.  While I thought it was a little rude, I considered myself a good cook and I was still eager please this person who was so intensely interested in me.  In three years he never ate a single meal without a negative comment; He would criticize every meal at some point during the first plate, but that never stopped him from going back for seconds or thirds, and it certainly never stopped him from licking the plate.

A month and a half into our relationship, he called me a fucking bitch.   Who argues within 2 months of seeing each other?  And I tried to end it.  I remember sitting in the Wal-Mart parking lot on the phone telling him the fact that he called me that was NOT OK and that I didn't want to see him anymore.  The details get fuzzy, but I remember there profuse apologies.  There might have been some promises made, there might have even been flowers given.  I ignored the red flags in the beginning, and before I knew it my feelings for him snowballed just like the verbal abuse would.

I was always taking things “the wrong way”.  I was being “sensitive”.  I was “misunderstanding things” and always thinking the worst of him.  I will never forget the night we were laying in my bed together spooning and I was about to drift off to sleep when he casually said, “What would you do if I told you I had cheated on you?”.  He later assured me that he was just thinking stupid things out loud, but it is just another example of the way he liked to keep me insecure and on edge even in my most relaxing moments.

While things started out good, though intense, eventually our sexual relationship turned abusive as well.  I’m not meaning to imply that I was sexually assaulted or raped, however sex was used as a weapon against me in the form of subtle sexual abuse and sexual coercion.   When we first started dating, he had pictures of other womens' breasts on his phone and he often asked me for intimate photos.  I would be grabbed or fondled in public in ways that made me uncomfortable.  I was not allowed to go to bed mad.  If I did not want to engage in sexual activity, there would be nagging, then anger, then a fight with accusations of cheating that would last late into the night until I gave in.   He once told me I was “a cunt just like my ex-wife” because he wanted to have sex in his room at his parents’ house with his daughter sleeping in the room across the hall and I was on the verge of sleeping after not being allowed to sleep the night before, uncomfortable with the idea of doing it in his parents' house, and I had the nerve to turn him down.

I still didn't leave.

In fact, I wouldn't leave for 11 months when I ended our relationship during an argument after he left me embarrassed at a holiday and was not interested in exposing his behavior to my more judgmental extended family (who still talk about a guy I dated when I was 15-16).  I left the house when he got two inches away from my face and told me I was trash, and a two-bit fucking whore.

He left the house that day, but it wasn't long before he was calling and messaging me again  He would send me short videos of him taken with his cell phone, crying and begging me to talk to him.  The worst moment was a week before Christmas when he sent me a video of him standing in his bathroom and holding a gun to his head telling me that he loved me and just wanted to talk to me.  I called the police and the police officer who responded to the phone call called me after speaking with him and said that he’d made a bad decision and was fine.

The harassment continued turning into late night phone calls and driving past my house in the middle of the night when I wouldn't answer the phone, sometimes coming to a stop on the road my bedroom window faced and blaring the horn in the middle of the night.  I finally stopped talking to him after he showed up to my house in the middle of the night on Valentine’s Day, pounding on my door and screaming to let him in and demanding to know who was with me because I had refused to see him

I didn't speak to him again for months.  Then I hit a rough patch and he had been making himself "available", and I called him.  The cycle started again.

Then I found out he had been seeing someone, and while he was staying at my house he was still messaging her, telling her that he loved her and missed her while going to bed with me at night.   I chose to forgive him because at that point in time… I WAS desperate.  I didn't realize then how bad things were and it wasn't until months after I  left I started to be able to see just how deeply the relationship had affected me.

There were so many signs before we actually lived together.  He destroyed things.  If we got into an argument late at night and I told him I wanted him to leave, he would wake his daughter up in the middle of the night and make her pack her things.  I was expected to maintain the house, but he couldn't be asked to wipe the seat or hit the garbage can, and I would often find disgusting messes all over the house.  In the end, I went back for another round.  Which ended with the incident that lead to the break-up.

This power and control circle makes me cry because I look at it and I have a personal story of almost every single example listed.  

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse, please call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233  or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). They have people on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week who can offer support and lists of resources in your area. 

Other resources with information about Domestic Violence and Abuse:

2 comments:

  1. I am glad you found your inner strength and moved on.

    It is hard to break the cycle so happy one year anniversary you lovely woman on choosing to invest in yourself ❤

    ReplyDelete
  2. We never know how bad it is till we leave. It's like the cobwebs clear from our mind and rational thoughts come flooding back like a waterfall. Thank you for your courage, you're a brave beautiful woman. 💓

    ReplyDelete