While clicking through the Internet earlier today, I read through several articles / blog posts by women who’ve had bad relationships. And it got me thinking about my Bad Relationship. The Evil Ex. The one whose name might as well have a Taboo on it, because I refer to him as He Who Must Not Be Named. Even thinking the name gives me a sort of sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Several months ago, I heard from a mutual friend that his wife, in the process of divorcing him, was seeking full custody of their son (who’s younger than two, I think). I emailed her, offering my assistance, because the thought of him raising a son is terrifying, and it’s been over a month since I’ve received her reply. I kept putting off writing the response, because then I’d have to think about that time in my life and all the things that went horribly wrong.
I wrote to her today. A few minutes ago, in fact.
And it left me feeling very delicate, like a breeze could blow right through me.
But I know that now that I dug up some of those memories I’d buried, I need to actually do something about them. So here, in no particular order, are some of the things that contributed to what was probably the worst year-ish of my life. (*taking deep breaths*)
- He pulled me out of a dip too fast, causing me to re-injure my knee. He got so angry at having to drop out of that contradance that we had a fight in the basement of the dance hall where he threatened to break up with me.
- I have vague memories of a Facebook conversation with a woman from a nearby dance, where she told me that he spent the night with her and that he cheated on me. I didn’t believe her.
- He wanted a threesome, but only with another woman. I’m straight, and the only woman I felt comfortable enough with was in a committed, monogamous relationship. So he twisted both our arms into a threesome. Twice. Which, BTW, was not an enjoyable experience for me, either time. Too much insecurity, I think. That, and lady bits don’t do much for me.
- I couldn’t find the ticket stub for the MassPike, to determine how much our toll should be, and he got really upset that he had to pay the maximum amount. I had been dead asleep until we were at the toll booth.
- He wasn’t feeling well, so I drove almost 2 hours to visit him and make him soup, and he didn’t even pretend to like it, because it was canned soup and not from scratch.
- The weekend we were at Falcon Ridge, he kinda ruined my tent poles despite my explicit directions on set-up. That’s small potatoes, though, as one night he started to have sex with me while I was still asleep. It took me a long time to recognize that as rape, because I couldn’t string two words together, never mind give consent. It was terrifying, flickering between awake and dream-scape and having no idea who was having sex with me.
- He convinced me to take out $2000 of extra student loan debt. I don’t even remember what I used the payout for. I’m still paying back the loan.
- He ruined my relationships with just about everyone; my parents, my friends, folks in my dance community. (This is still having repercussions today, five years later.) He was very abraisive and opinionated, so when the inevitable arguments happened I supported him because I loved him, and that pretty well isolated me.
- And then he told me that we were spending too much time together and he felt smothered.
- He broke up with me in the middle of a 3-day dance weekend in Burlington (at least 5 hours’ drive from home), when we’d carpooled and were couchsurfing together. I completely fell apart. The next morning I told him about a dream I’d had that night, and he kinda pouted and said that he felt like I was drifting away from him. (Looking back on this… what?!?)
- Exactly a week after he broke up with me, he started dating one of my college professors.
- And then he cheated on her, with me. (I still loved him, so it didn’t bother me.) For maybe a month or two.
- He was reluctant to give me back Big Dog, the stuffed animal I’ve had since I was two, when we exchanged stuff so none of my things were at his place anymore & vice versa.
- The attitude he’d cultivated in me, of “I should say yes because I don’t have a good reason to say no,” landed me a one-night stand after a friend’s birthday party. I tried to go on a date with the guy the next week, but he kept putting his hand down my dress during the movie, and he didn’t want to come dancing with me.
- My self-esteem plummeted; I was unemployed and didn’t qualify for unemployment and couldn’t find a job and started to feel like all I was good for was sex. It seemed like that was the only times he’d spend time with me. I vaguely considered offering guys sex in exchange for dance admissions. And when I brought this up with He Who Must Not Be Named, he got a little down and said that he had to go because his girlfriend expected him to be at home when she got out of class.
- Ah yes, and all of our sexual encounters had no protection, because he refused to wear condoms. All of them. Including that instance of anal sex without lube. (No, that was not fun, either.) He rationalized it by saying his low sperm count meant he didn’t need them. (His fathering a child proves this false. Thank all the gods above & below that I took my pills religiously.)
- I broke up with a pretty amazing guy to be with this asshole. I sincerely regret everything about that, and am so so glad that amazing guy and I have now become such great friends.
- While we were at NEFFA, our couchsurfing hosts apparently offered to swing with us, and You Know Who was ok with this. I totally missed that cue (if it was even actually there), and he seemed amused at my reaction when he told me (which was a resounding NO, because they were like, my parents’ age).
In the span of writing this, his ex-wife emailed me back. She & her therapist agree with me that He Who Must Not Be Named is a narcissist. She said there’s nothing to grieve, because none of it was real.
It may not have been real to him, but it was real for me. I don’t grieve the loss of … anything having to do with him, really; I grieve the loss of the relationships I had with my parents and friends, and what was left of my innocence. I think I have to finally recognize all the agony he put me through. The pain and fear associated with a rollercoaster of emotions and never knowing what might spark a threat of breaking up. I’m pretty sure this is emotional abuse.
I wish I could reach back in time and slap my younger self for being an idiot. And then I’d hug me, for a long time, and tell younger me that I’m awesome and will be even more awesome without him and all his drama. That I’d end up with amazing friends who love how nerdy / geeky I am. That I shouldn’t drop hobbies and activities I love out of my life just because the current boyfriend doesn’t like them, too.
The only good thing to happen during this year or so disaster is that I learned how to lead while dancing. And it turns out I’m pretty damn good at it. I’m popular now, and the guy you thought you stole me from is now my best friend. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Voldemort.