Unwelcome

Today my soon to be ex-husband and former abuser gets to “survey” the condo to compile a list of what he believes to be his. My stomach is in knots, and all I can feel at this point is anxiety. I will not be there when he is, but just knowing he will be in my home leaves me feeling violated. There’s no other way of putting it. He is an unwelcome stranger in the place I, for now, call home.

It’s hard to wrap my head around how I used to live with his person. It was misery every single day. I feel like an idiot for being in such deep denial for so long. I don’t even know who that person was anymore. I value myself, my life, and the people I love today. That other person, the person I used to be, lived in fear and constant anxiety. I lived under the control of an abusive narcissist. Isolated by a sociopath, I was too afraid to leave and too miserable to stay. Every second around that person had me tearing myself apart inside. I hated it.

I fought harder than I ever had to get free of that. My home is now my haven. My place of safety and love. A place I share with my partner and my son. A place where we learn and love and cook and laugh. It is not a place for him to be.

Yet here we are. The day has come, and I suspect many more uncomfortable days will follow. I will have to focus on taking care of myself and the people I love. I will try my best not to let this intrusion bother me. He may be able to briefly step into my home, but he may no longer step into my heart. He was banned from there many years ago. Now, it is a fortified place, where only genuine love can dwell.

Honestly, as I am thinking about this, my condo is just a place. My home is elsewhere. I really shouldn’t worry about it, and so I think I won’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tilt-o-Whirl

Life is always such a carnival ride that I often find myself dizzied by the changes that happen weekly, daily, and sometimes hourly.

Almost two weeks ago, I found myself staring at the reality of going to trial to resolve this divorce. Although not much has changed on that front(the allocation agreement has finally been signed since starting this post), my lawyer has advised that there is a chance to avoid it. Neither I nor my soon to be ex-husband can afford the cost of a trial, and the lawyers are scrambling to get things resolved. Well, at least it seems that way.

So, I had my freak out moment when I was notified of the trial. Today I’m super sick, but calm. Thursday I’ll be on edge all day, because he gets to go into the condo for the first time in over a year and “survey” what he thinks is his. We already made a detailed list and told him it is all in the storage unit in the basement, but certainly I’m trying to take his clothes, figurines, and telescope for my own…

In his eyes, when we fought, everything was his. If he bought me a shirt at a concert, it was his. He wanted “his” ring back many times during fights which I would then offer, but he would quickly change his mind. He already took his bed and “his” couch that he got for free from his former boss. We traded it for a free couch that we got from my mom. Honestly, this whole thing is stupid.

I have clothes, a guitar (well…two), a computer, some jewelry, some books and pictures and that’s about it. I know what I own and what is his. I know what we acquired during our marriage, and I’m more than happy to give 50% or more of it to get rid of him. Take the black plates and red mugs. Take the old stained shower curtain and why not the curtain rod? Take the grill you never took the time to go buy a cover for or clean. Take the old coffee table, the lamps, the toaster, the dull knives and the table your son and I eat off of every day. Take it all. I just want this to be over with already.

I know my ex won’t be completely out of my life, but the day will come when I can change my name back to what it was and file for bankruptcy to get a fresh start. A second chance at life is waiting; one that looks like it will be full of happiness and learned lessons. I have grown up more in the past two years than I have in my entire lifetime. I have an amazing person in my life I can actually call my partner, an amazing son, and friends and family that care about me. As dark as things are right now, the future looks so bright. So lets get on with this already. I am more than ready to move on to the next chapter.

Unconventional Family

I never saw myself as the motherly type. Kids always annoyed me, and they just seemed disgusting in every single way. Boogers, poop, runny noses, blood curdling crying; that’s all I thought of when I thought of kids. Never mind the fact that both my family and my husband’s family is riddled with mental health and addition issues. I had absolutely no intention of bringing another life in to this messed up world, and I never thought I would have to do it all by myself.

It is true; however, that everything changes when it is your child. I have had every bodily fluid a child can produce on me and my clothes. Not that I enjoyed being crapped on, but it’s more like it doesn’t matter when it’s your child. They are your flesh and blood, and you do anything to take care of them the best you can. Well, at least that was the effect it had on me. My husband, did not have the same transformation. He may have changed 8 diapers in my son’s entire life. He never got up in the middle of the night to help take care of him, and my son never slept through the night until he was almost 2.

Today, I have a partner who feels/felt much the same as I did before I had my son. Despite that, he has been more involved and helpful in my son’s life that his father ever was. He puts him to bed, helps enforce rules and time out, and today he took care of him all day long, and even came along to the pediatrician as my son has a fever. All just so I can go to work. He has NO obligation to this child, and yet he is a better parent than his own father. It blows my mind and makes me unbelievable grateful to have him in our lives.

Neither of us are perfect, and we both have our bad days. Hell, we each have had REALLY bad days, but we never lose each other. Love is always there in our hearts, and my son’s life is so much better for it.

From Fear

I realized a couple days ago that I am starting to move past the fear I used to live in daily. I accepted a friend request from an old friend without a second thought and then it dawned on me. I would have never done that a year and a half ago. It would have incited such a terrible fight it would have felt like the end of the world. Under his reign of terror, the smallest thing could light the fuse.

I make no excuses about the fact that I am imperfect and played a part in all this, but I did not twist my entire way of thinking into something so grotesque all by myself. I thought I had to get permission to go out with a friend. I was isolated and had very few people I could talk to. Even those people, like my mother and a handful of friends, he treated as enemies. If I ever went out, which was rare, I was under extreme anxiety the entire time wondering just how angry he would be once I got home. I cut plans short or cancelled all the time to avoid this. I even had to be careful what I posted on social media, because if it was negative in any way, he took it as a personal attack on him. Poor, poor him! He would ask how I could treat him like that. Didn’t I know that I should shut up and be grateful for all the long hours he worked? Didn’t I know this was a complete and sufficient contribution to our family? Screw that!

I vividly remember the anxiety I experienced any time I heard the outside door to our condo building open and shut. Was it him? Most of the time it wasn’t, but I still felt the same fearful stab in my gut well after the plenary order of protection went into effect.

In an attempt to minimize fighting, I would try and cook or bake him things to keep him happy. It never did for long. We couldn’t go to the store together, because it always turned into a fight. Yet he would criticize things I bought as wasting money, despite spending hours combing over coupons, ads, and comparing prices and sales.

If I asked him to do anything when he got home, he would tell me I was nagging him. It was like that even before we got married. If I asked for his opinion or for help planning the wedding, I was nagging. The few dancing lessons we didn’t even have to pay for were “unnecessary,” even though I didn’t know how to dance. He criticized me mid lesson for not doing what I was supposed to. Before our son was born, I asked him to come to the store with me to pick out a color for the nursery area in our room. It was one small wall. We fought at the store and all the way the way home. Only after I had been baffled, bawling my eyes out for an hour did he turn the car around to go back and get one measly bucket of paint together.

As a single mother working full time, I understand the tiredness one feels after a long day at work. I get it. But, that is hardly an excuse to be a miserable, angry human being, taking it out on the people around you. I cannot count how many times I was called a b*tch, a nag, a c*nt, etc. Screw that!

He always had to know where I was, and if I developed any kind of autonomy as a person, he reacted as though I was having an affair. “Who is there? Whose d*ck are you sucking?” It went on like this for years. The thing is, I never cheated on him. He was the one who wound up having an affair after our son was born, because he “needed to feel appreciated.” He lost his restaurant and a huge promotion over it. Worse, he swore up and down it was all a rumor. I was supportive of him until the day I saw the proof. After years of verbal abuse, he did the very thing he harassed me about. Screw that!

We never were able to effectively communicate. I would assume he understood rational thought processes. He assumed I knew what he expected all the time. To this day this is a barrier. Even with a plenary order of protection in place limiting our communication to our son, he is still able to reach his hand into my life and shake shit up. Granted, I have grown and the extent of the damage he can cause is minimal, but it is still baffling to me. Who is this person? How could I have thought he ever cared about me in any real capacity? I think he is fundamentally incapable of compassion. I think he is completely incapable of looking outside of his very narrow view of life in which he is the center. Screw that!

I used to live in fear. I didn’t know how to be alone. I only found meaning in being with another person. “They” made me whole. This was my fatal flaw, and it nearly killed me being married to a narcissistic sociopath. Getting away from him was and remains one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I had to rip myself out of a world I thought was real and plunge into a completely foreign world called reality. It’s a world I was not used to and very uncomfortable being in. Change and discomfort aside, I am living a new life today. I am trying to thrive. I will never return to that hell I called a life; married to my worst enemy. Screw that! 

The Twisted Middle Part Two

One minute he would threaten to take everything away, the next, he was going to leave and never return. It was exhausting and it felt like I was watching some animal caught in a trap fighting for it’s life. But he was fighting for control back, not his life. He constantly threatening to kill himself if I left him. After saying it so many times, his mother, our second counselor, and I managed to get him committed. He was not happy about it. He took all the money out of our joint account and said he would only put it back if I got him out. I felt sad knowing he wouldn’t take advantage of the help provided in the hospital.

I knew it was only a temporary reprieve. It was a holiday weekend, and on January second, I went to court for an emergency order of protection. Since my husband was in the behavioral health unit, the judge did not see an imminent threat and did not grant it. However, a plenary order of protection was set for status.

It was granted by the skin of my teeth. The sheriff had attempted to serve him with the notice many times, but he was never home at his parents. I finally got a hold of the Sheriff’s office and gave them his work address. He was served at noon the day before court. Two years he was ordered to stay away from me, my home, and could only have supervised visitation with our son. I could breath again. I bought a new car since I didn’t have one, got a job, put my son in  the best daycare I could find, and spent two months trying to get free legal representation through the county. Free legal aid in my county is overburdened, and I realized nothing was going to happen quickly if I went down that path. So, I asked my dad for money to pay for a retainer, selected a lawyer I liked, and filed for divorce.

I was told in my consult, that I had a very good chance of getting soul custody of my son. This did not turn out to be the case. Since the abuse was only between my husband and I, the judge believed he should have rights and access to our son. I never kept our son away from him, but he would never spend time with him if I wasn’t there. If I was, it inevitably turned into a fight, and my son witnessed all of it in our small, one bedroom condo. No, my husband did not directly or physically abuse my son, but indirectly, he sure as hell did. In the eyes of the law, however, that doesn’t carry any weight.

So here we are, almost a year later, there have been multiple court dates for status, visitation proposals, unsuccessful mediation, and the money is all gone to fund my representation. What has been accomplished? Nothing. No parenting agreement, no debts nor assets divided. Only more court dates and fees to pay. I don’t know how this will all turn out, but the one thing I do know is that I am a million times happier today after taking that first scary step to get away from my abuser.

The Twisted Middle

After the birth of my son, I no longer had a 9-5 job to go to every day. I had a 24/7 job of keeping this tiny human alive, happy, and healthy. It’s both a terrifying and wonderful thing. After about three months, I started to feel like I had a grip on keeping the bundle of needs thriving, and I started to get stir crazy.

Longing for my old life, I started inviting old friends over. I could finally have a drink again! After all, I deserved it. Well, this is when I began down the path that would lead me to the rooms of AA. I knew I used to drink a lot. I classified myself as a “partier” in high school and college. I became a bar fly while my then boyfriend and I were dating. I was a connoisseur of fine beers. The bar we used to go to had 40 different beers on tap and a revolving door of new kinds. There was always an excuse to go. I thought it was normal to go there every day. It didn’t phase me when we weren’t able to afford the pricey micro-brews anymore and just ordered draft light beers that were cheap. None of it gave me pause.

It was only after I had my son that I started to realize it was not normal. I was home alone all day, every day. I was lonely and simultaneously dreaded my husband coming home. We fought all the time. I was exhausted from doing everything to take care of our son and home. He felt working all the time was doing his part and thought I was unappreciative. I began to drink every day. I got sick and was living off of soup, cold medicine, and beer. I realized I had a problem looking in the mirror one day. I saw a soulless, selfish person unable to stop herself. But I tried anyway and stopped cold turkey. I went through such bad withdrawal I had to go to the hospital over night. It was a wake up call.

I found two AA meetings with babysitting and never looked back. My husband resented this new part of my life. We grew farther and farther apart. My shame of being an alcoholic kept me from leaving him sooner. Every fight we had he would drag it up to sling in my face. A couple times he told me to go buy a bottle in anger. I stayed in the relationship out of shame until I finally forgave myself. I had healed, had a beautiful son, and decided to give my marriage one more truly all in chance. I let down all my guards and recommitted to being a partner to my husband.

The morning after we were intimate for the first time in a long time, I found out he was having an affair with his employee. Good ol’ Facebook Messenger tipped me off. My husband was asleep, he hardly used Facebook, and I was confused why the Messenger “ding” went off on his phone. It was a reply. “I love you too. Have a good day too,” followed by a mess of kissy faces and hearts. The words and hearts blurred, my husband woke up and snatched his phone before I could read much of it. He tried to play it off, but I’m no idiot. I was done.

I turned in to a paranoid creeper for a few weeks. Checking our phone text logs, his social media, etc. He met with her the night after I found out. He said he had to meet her in person “to end it.” That was a lie I wouldn’t find out until several months later.

Queue round two of marriage counseling. The counselor, although intelligent and compassionate, seemed hell bent on keeping us together. I was over the marriage at this point and was buying time until I could afford an attorney. I started a bartender job at a snooty Italian joint so I could save money from my tips without him knowing. He was very controlling and hated that I had a job. He eventually caught on to my motives for saving money.

I had to start recording my phone calls with him. He would threaten me with anything he could and deny it all to anyone else. I finally accepted that if I was ever going to get away from him, I had to be okay with the worst he threatened to do to me. It was a micro-step of faith in something outside of my miserable little world. Then, I was free. I was free of that horrible fear based grip, and he was pissed.

In the Beginning

Once upon a delusion, I desperately chased the “American” dream: The nuclear household with the husband working, the mother home with the kids, in some dystopian illusion from 1950. I thought that my life would be perfect only after I got a husband, got the home, and had the kids. With complete dedication to that dream and in complete denial of anything that could tarnish it; I got pretty far.

My high school was a societal bubble of very different economic, athletic and academic classes. Rich, athletic, and/or rich academic types dominated the school. Low income misfits, stoners, and goths were very few and far between. I didn’t really fit in to any group, but most glaringly not with the rich, athletic, or academic types. In high school, I never did anything impressive. I spent my time day dreaming of the perfect relationship, listening to music to drown everything else out, self-destructing in defiance and rage, or looking for someone to solve all my problems. There was so much angst and pessimism running rampant inside my head; not like in college.

College was a strange new world of seemingly limitless possibility. I found my passion for research and writing, and I was published for the first time. Finally, after relying on myself to pay for college, I graduated Manga Cum Loude with other academic honors. My future seemed bright, but it felt uncertain and terrifying.

I moved out from my childhood home, got engaged after an annoyingly long three year relationship, planned a decent wedding on a tiny budget, got married to the high school “sweet” heart I never knew I had, worked two jobs, managed to buy a small condo in a nice neighborhood, and bought the shiny new car. None of it got me to that happy dystopia I was chasing. In fact, I was completely miserable.

The relationship with my husband began to strain even before getting married. I ignored every warning sign. We fought a lot, and I hated it. After a few years of marriage, I was ready to leave. I was over the idea of having kids to fix everything, but I realize it too late. I wound up pregnant two weeks after making a firm plan to leave. I had even restarted taking my birth control. So, I stayed. Why? Because of a sworn upon promise, “the relationship [would] change. He [would] change.” He did not.

I should have left long ago. I was too busy enjoying being pregnant and learning how to care for a tiny human being. In a daze from lack of sleep, I was too drained to notice the miserable dynamics of our relationship were recurring with new gusto. We had a beautiful son. I could tune out the rest… for a while.