Thursday, February 10, 2011

I'm Sorry For "That" Night...

So, as it would seem, it is February. Once again. And it seems that every February, I commit myself to blogging, and follow through for like, a month. And then I find something else that takes my attention away, like Facebook or or something of that mind-numbing effect.

However, this time I am insisting that it be different, if only because I myself am looking for a mind-numbing effect--for myself. Sure, a little Klonopin is good, but only last so long, because before you know it, all those haunting thoughts are back.

Remember the guy I talked about in my last post, oh, about six months ago? Gushed about how he was perfect in every way? How I was convinced that he was my soul mate, and we'd be together forever and ever and ever? Turns out, I might have been just a little bit wrong...actually, more than just a little bit wrong.

After the arrival of the wild-cherry appliances that he so graciously bought me, things went downhill rapidly. This was around the time that we integrated our kids, so we then lived together full-time, officially. What I didn't realize by "live together full-time, officially", was that he thought this meant, "act as my slave and take care of my three children who will come and go at their own will, without any discussion with you, leave the house trashed and you can clean up the mess, because I am totally oblivious to the kids, much less the mess".

I was so determined to make this relationship work. So determined. First of all, after moving in together on a part-time basis, I had a lot of people to prove wrong--all those people who said it wouldn't work. Second, I once read in a book that the Kennedy family relied on two "rules": Kennedys don't cry and Kennedys don't fail. Failure was simply not an option for me. I could not fail at this relationship. No matter how badly things were going downhill, I would put up with anything and everything to avoid this so-called failure.

So, for about five months, I just took everything as it came, and spent much time defending my now-ex, who was quickly growing less and less favorable among my friends and family. I wish that I could tell you what I did during this time. I cannot. It's like my mind blocked it out, that I have no real memory of those months, other than a blur. I do know what I didn't do, a long list that includes reading a single magazine book, cleaning the house and doing really fun things, like drinking with my friends. After the relationship ended, my mom asked me what I did during all those months, and I had to admit that I had no clue. What did I do? Work all day, and then come home and worship him? This is what must I have been doing, because he was constantly glued to his computer, working on his medieval fiction "novel", so I should've had plenty of time for things, but I just didn't.

Sometimes, I think our minds block things out, or blur memories, just because we couldn't handle it if we had to re-live it like it was. I once had a horrible car accident, and I remember very little of it, despite the fact that I injured my shoulder and not my head. I've always credited this to the mind shielding you from such things, because if you really did remember what it was like, you may never drive again, in the example of a car accident. In this case of my deleted memories, I'd never date again if I fully realized what those eight months were like.

One of the things that my mind likes to block out is that the relationship turned from enchanting and perfect to abusive, just like that. At one point, I remember something irritating him, and I just saw the anger in his eyes, saw him grow cold. I even commented on it, about how I'd hate to see him truly angry. He smiled, but said nothing.

I got my first dose of his true anger when his teenage daughters were in my living room with my dog, and they both tried to rip a toy our of his mouth, because the dog has an awful habit of eating most every toy my daughter owns. He snarled and snapped, though he didn't actually bite or even make skin contact. But when my ex found this out, he hurt my dog. He literally beat my dog right in front of me. I was frozen, I was shaking and I couldn't move. At 32, it will always be a moment that I will remember as the loss of my own innocence, because no one had ever been violent like that in front of me. Shaking, I locked myself in the spare bedroom with my dog, not knowing what to do. I called the doctor the next day and asked for a prescription of Valium, only to be shot down because evidently, this is no longer the age of 'Valley of the Dolls'. Who knew?

And thus began the start of the demise of what we "had". I should've made him leave after that. A person that can hurt your animal is clearly void of feelings, and the bad news is that oftentimes, you are up next on the hit list. And I was. Not so many people knew, until the grand climax, the final event, when I was covered in bruises and could no longer hide it. I mean, c'mon. What can you really do in a situation like that? It's not like I could simply announce to my friends and coworkers, "Hey, I had a great day. I didn't get shoved into the wall today", even though that's what it was like. And "what it was like" is hard to put a label on. One of the few people who did know that there was some physical abuse in my relationship asked me after it was over...why did I put up with that? Why? As a criminal defense lawyer, he'd represented so many of these abusive jerks, but why me? Why would I stay, why would someone like me put up with that? After all, I wasn't the stereotype--I have a college education, my own house, my own income, I didn't share any children with him. I had no answer, but his question will always echo through my mind, because is there really a stereotypical woman that this happens to? As I learned, it can happen to any one of us...and you might not ever know.

By early December, I started to have "that feeling". You know, that instinctual feeling women have when they know deep down that their man isn't being faithful? Yeah, that feeling. And I was all-out paranoid, to the point of checking his phone and his Facebook and any other outlet I could find. And there was my evidence: his correspondence with some woman that he had a brief "relationship" with, who lived out of state. I saw the messages. I confronted. He admitted to the emotional affair. It was like someone had pulled the carpet out from under me. I mean...really? This woman was barely a two, and I am darn near a 10. Why on earth would he continue this "emotional affair" with this woman--a hamburger, no cheese--when he had me--filet mignon--at home?

We slept separately that night, me in the kids' room with my daughter, and him in my bed. The next day, he brought me roses, and I tossed them on the bed to die. That gesture didn't make a bit of difference. I mean, really? Did he really think that this would make up for the fact that he hadn't been emotionally faithful from day one?

I was so exhausted from the emotion that I took a nap that afternoon, and I awoke with a startle. Before I even opened the bedroom door, I knew that he was gone. I knew, because I could just sense it. And when I came out, all I had to do was look at the desk, and his laptop was gone. It was pretty clear at that point. But really? I mean, seriously? Who the hell just up and walks out on his live-in girlfriend with no warning, no reason--and while she's taking a nap, for God's sake? Suddenly, my life was playing out like a Lifetime Television for Women movie.

He didn't anticipate me being up when he walked back into the house to continue to gather his belongings. And when he did, the inevitable fight ensued, with him eventually getting to the point of throwing me against the wall, pinning me there and daring me to hit him in the face. Why? Probably because then he would've felt justified in punching me in the face. And all I knew--even at that moment--was that that would absolutely not happen. There are so few things that cannot be taken away from a person, and one of mine is my face. I'd made a "career" off that face, with years of pageants and local modeling. There was no way that I'd allow him even a split second to take a swing.

He backed off me at some point, and I calmly got my cell phone and called the police. He fled the house, taking off so quickly that he did not even bother to close his trunk before he left. The police were at my house in a matter of minutes, too soon for the physical bruises to show. There was no real evidence of what had happened. Sure, I could file a police report, but without physical evidence, little would come of it. So, I didn't.

And then I don't really know what happened for the rest of that night, and maybe even for that weekend, and the week after that and the week after that. My bruises were glowing for all to see by Monday, and I should've followed through and filed the police report. But I didn't. I was truly scared. Scared that he would come back and hurt me, or my daughter or my dogs. So I let it go, a decision that I regret to this day. Had I pressed charges, at least it would've been on his record, right? It's typical practice for me to run a criminal background check on all of my dates, as downright creeper-ish as that sounds. And he only had a few speeding tickets--big deal. But would I have changed my mind if he'd had domestic assault charges on his record? I don't know...

I have so little memory of the week that would follow. I still wonder, why? Why was I pushing myself so hard to just jump back into my regular life, even though this break-up was the equivalent of going through another divorce--two divorces in one year. How strong did I have to be? Why could I not allow myself time and space to grieve what was truly a gigantic loss?

My friend H came over the night that he left me. That I do remember, but I don't remember how she got there...did I call or text her? Obviously, I must've, because as great as she is, I don't think she would've had the psychic ability to show up at that exact moment, wine bottle in hand. And I remember that I let her smoke in my house, and for the next few weeks sat the wine bottle stuffed with cigarettes from that night. I simply didn't have the energy to even put it in the recycling bin. A few nights later, H sent her boyfriend over, and I just remember sobbing--all out gasping sobbing--on his shoulder, and asking the inevitable question of why, why, why. WHY? Why would a man just up and leave like that? But there is no answer, no answer that would ever make sense. By the end of the first week, I did virtually did nothing but cry, work, and cry. I went to my primary care doctor to announce my nervous breakdown, and she looked at me like I was a drug addict when I announced that I wanted something stronger than Klonopin to take the edge off the pain I was feeling. Again, I was shot down. I totally don't understand this. Evidently, from the impression I've been given, these prescription drugs used to be widely prescribed in the 1960s. What about me? Is this to say that I have less pain that someone would've had in the 1960s, and that I should just tough it out? I think not.

The only good thing that came of my doctor's visit was that she wrote me an excuse to get me out of work for a few days. It sounds silly now: "Please excuse J because she is having a nervous breakdown from a recent breakup". And then since I got to stay home, I could orchestrate my schedule of cry, sleep, cry. And it was during this time that I learned that my ex had beautifully executed his escape: I realized that his mail was no longer coming to my house. He'd already changed his address. He'd already arranged for help in moving his kids' beds out of my house, and had I delved further into his Facebook messages, I would've discovered that. Not only did he leave me, he PLANNED to leave me, all while pretending he loved me and that we would be together forever.

To get over the pain, I figured the absolute best thing to do would be to date. As quickly as possible, as much as possible. I went out with four men, within four weeks. The first one came along before I'd even disposed of the infamous wine bottle. But with each of these guys, I found their flaws, virtually immediately. "Red flags", everyone tells me they are called. And it would seem that by analyzing the red flags I'd been handed, each and every one of these men was interested in one thing: bashing me to build himself up.

Needless to say, I discontinued dating, because now it just seems like some half-assed sitcom that comes on in the middle of a season to fill time. It'll likely get cancelled because it sucks. Now I deal with my self-fulfilling prophecy of being alone for the rest of my life. And everyone asks, would that really be so terrible? Really? After all you've been through? But yeah. It would really be that terrible. Sometimes, I am consumed with hatred for my life. This wasn't at all what it was supposed to be, and the majority of that was caused by my own poor decisions. But where's my happy ending?

The entire thing--maybe even the entire relationship, looking back with perspective--was so hurtful that I wish, more than anything, that I could just give the whole thing back. I'd give back every single minute of those eight months, just to re-gain my own innocence and to un-break my own heart, not to mention that of my daughter's. She still asks when we will get a "new boyfriend", still tells me that she loves my ex, still calls his oldest daughter "my girl". And now I am lost...I brought him into my life, believing that he was it. And now what? He wasn't. My daughter is now four. I don't want to have a revolving door of men around her, so now I will forever question every relationship, every everything. I don't known when--or even IF--I'd allow a man to meet my daughter.

My heart is heavy with the implications of what I did: I allowed someone to move into my house, and I didn't even know him. Even if I didn't fail at the relationship, because so much of what happened was his doing, I failed myself and I failed my daughter. I have to swallow my own pride, and apologize to the two of us for "that" night, when I was so enchanted by this guy--this stranger--that I drew him completely into our worlds, and then eight months later, all of my beautifully executed plans imploded. I have to learn to forgive myself for that, for what may be the poorest decision of my adulthood. I'd like to say that my daughter won't remember this experience, but she will. And with all of me, I hope that she knows that was not okay, and the way Mommy allowed herself to be treated is not okay, ever.

As far as the ex...I don't really know what happened to him, where he lives, what he's doing. He hasn't contacted me since he left me. For the first couple of weeks, I had a really strong feeling that he was around--like that mid-1980s song that Michael Jackson did the chorus of, "I always feel like somebody's watching me...". And then, conveniently, my ex-husband ran into him at the gas station. For all the crappy things that happened throughout our marriage, the guy still does care, and it is in my benefit that he has the size advantage over my ex. After the gas station run-in--and my ex-husband did not even have a conversation with my ex-boyfriend--that feeling of being watched disappeared.

There's little consolation in those wasted eight months, other than what he left behind materially: my wild-cherry appliances. A battery for my car. A partially-finished room in my basement. A very stinky chihuahua. Everyone asks why I kept the chihuahua: isn't it just a memory of my ex? The chihuahua showed up a few weeks before my ex left me--a left-over from his previous marriage, and unwanted by everyone. And then the chihuahua stayed with me, and I decided not to let him go. I don't know what he's seen, how he was treated, especially after I watched my ex attack my dog. The chihuahua is named Charles; I jokingly refer to him as Charles the Consolation Chihuahua. I've tried to change his name to Patrick, as it would be much more fitting with my other dog, Kennedy. Charles just won't go for it, though, and my daughter also loudly protests the name change. Charles does, however, go for his new way of living at my house, in which he generally spends about 23.75 hours of every day in bed. I even serve him his meals in bed, to make sure my golden doesn't eat all of his food. He sleeps in my bed, under the covers. He is fiercely protective at me, and wants no one to talk to me, because he believes that I am his possession. Come to think of it, I think Charles the Consolation Chihuahua might have some abusive traits, in his issues with possession. However, I am very proud over the fact that he has grown his first fat roll, a huge difference from when he first arrived, and you could count the vertebrae on his spine, because he was so skinny. If there's a reason for everything, maybe that's why my ex came into my life: to make me the saver of the life of Charles.

Last week, one of my mom's coworkers was going through her Facebook, when she discovered a friend had changed her profile picture. The picture was now of this girl--with my ex. After this, I found out that this girl works with my ex's ex-wife, whom must apparently either hate this girl or be so oblivious to the fact that she was treated badly by my ex, because I am sure that she got a lot of the same treatment I did. I certainly wouldn't wish the guy upon any of my friends, that's for sure.

H is an ace creeper. The only thing she hasn't managed to crack are military records, which is unfortunate. She presented me with photos of the "new girlfriend", and much to our excitement, the girl is extremely overweight. As in, no amount of dieting, exercise or surgery could fix her shape. I described her as having the shape of a Weeble: Weebles Wobble But They Don't Fall Down. And for her sake, I sure hope she's got the "won't fall down" part taken care of, because if her new boyfriend manages to pull the same act, it will be hard for her to not fall down. If he could take me down, it wouldn't be hard to do the same to each and every woman that comes into his life, probably forever and always, from that night and beyond.

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