Even though things are amazing in my life right now, there was a time that they were anything but. After my daughters father and I divorced (I was 19 – our marriage lasted eight months), I met a man on Match.com that I should have stayed away from. He was the dark, foreboding type of man that I thought I could change just by being who I was. I thought that perhaps he had a bad streak of luck of women that didn’t appreciate him. I thought I could be different. We will call him The Abuser.
Back when Circuit City existed, that’s the parking lot I met him in for our date. He pulled up and I could instantly tell that he was disappointed in what he saw in me. But, he did take me to Subway and we talked. We went back to his house and sat there in awkward silence, and then he drove me the thirty minutes back to my car, and I went home. I knew that I would never hear from him again.
That night I was at the store doing some grocery shopping and my cell phone rang. It was him, and I was surprised. He begged me to come over and stay the night. He was gorgeous. Almost six foot tall, six pack, looked like a mixture between Keith Urban and Ethan Hawk. He was unlike anyone I had ever been with. I’m 5’9″ and a bigger girl. I carry it pretty well because I’m so tall, but I am still on the bigger side, and I had warned him of this before we ever met. He said he didn’t care, but I could see the disappointment in his eyes when he did meet me. I figured maybe he would grow to like me because of my witty sense of humor and personality.
In the end, I went over there and we watched TV and then we went to his room and lay there and talked all night. We talked until the sun came up and he had to go to work. We talked about his ex-wife leaving him. We talked about his other ex-wife leaving him. He seemed like he had really gotten the shit-end of the deal. My heart hurt for him. I wanted to make it better.
Fast forward from July 4th to October. We found a place together and moved in with each other. My daughter was a little over a year old, I was twenty, he was twenty-four. He was an electrician that worked for his dad’s company, and for whatever reason, I just thought the sun rose and set at his feet.
I can’t remember the first time he said something degrading to me and hurt my feelings. I think I have blocked out a lot of things that happened, though I remember so many of them. I worked really hard to lose the weight that was on me. I did it for him. I did it for the wrong reasons. No matter how small I got, it was never good enough for him. One time I asked him to rub my back, and he told me he would rub me when I got down to the weight I was supposed to be. One time we were play fighting and I almost fell off the bed and he told me to be careful because I would go right through the floor.
It started off like that. Then it progressed. The first time he put his hands on me was because my daughter was sick and I wanted to lie down with her because she wasn’t feeling well. His mom was at the house and he went into a rampage because I was being rude by not entertaining her. He put his hands around my throat until I started to black out. His mom stood there and did nothing. One time he grabbed my arm and threw me on the couch. I told him he wouldn’t put his hands on me again, and he told me he’d put me through the living room window. The Abuser was a lot of things but he wasn’t a liar about his intentions. One night I brought a beer home to drink after work, and he ripped the bathroom door from its hinges and broke it across my back. He punched one of my front teeth out and then told me not to smile because it was disgusting to look at.
I had the stomach flu one Christmas and he still made me ride to all of his families homes and mine while I was throwing up everywhere. When I wasn’t festive enough, he screamed at me and told me I ruined Christmas. Two days later he had the stomach flu and couldn’t get out of bed. He apologized. He always did eventually. No matter what he did.
There were two different times he was ‘confused’ because an ex from his far past would come into his life. He didn’t know if he still had feelings for them. The first time wasn’t long after we moved in together. I told him to go meet her, see if there was something there. I didn’t want to hold him back and live miserably with me if he could be happier elsewhere. Already I was putting myself last in order to make sure he was happy. He went and had dinner with her, he came home confused. We had a discussion that was hours and hours long. We had a lot of those. In the end, he stayed.
The second time he did it, it was for a girl that he claimed he had been in love with but couldn’t really be with ten years before. She found him on Myspace and they talked about the past. She was skinny (all of the women were) and he asked me if he could meet her at the flea market and walk around and catch up. At first I was okay with it, but then I had a feeling in my gut that something wasn’t right. I figured out his password (ImIn2Me – how fitting that was) … and I read an email he sent to her. About how she would always be the one that got away, how much he loved her and always would. It broke my heart, and I called him out on it. In the end he went to her house and he stayed the night. Both him and his younger brother. He came back the next day and told me that he was going to see where this all went. He stayed the entire weekend with her and I sat outside on our back porch, thought seriously about drowning myself in our pond but decided against it since I had a little girl that depended on me. I fell asleep each night sobbing and sobbing. He would come and go as he wanted to get more things, shave his entire face, or whatever else it is he needed to do. One Sunday he came home to change into church clothes and told me he was going to church with her. He never went to church. On the way there, his car broke down on the side of the highway and he called me to come and get him. And I did. Stupid, confused, broken me saw an opportunity that he needed me, and I wanted to prove to him that I was still there.
In the end, it didn’t work out between them because she asked too many questions. The Abuser didn’t like to be questioned or second-guessed about anything he said or did. It ended before it ever really began and he came back to our house and we had another long talk into the night about the things he expected from our relationship, why he was unhappy, what he was thinking when he left me. I wish I could justify why I put up with it, why I stayed with him. All I can honestly say is that I loved him. I loved him more than I loved myself.
The third time it happened, I told him I wasn’t in love with him anymore and I was leaving. I moved out, he moved his first cousin in because she was having marital problems, and they ended up living together as boyfriend and girlfriend. Sleeping together, shopping together, and they even got tattoo’s of each others names. He got her name on his lower abdomen. She got his name tattooed on her crotch. It lasted about six weeks and he threw her out for being a crazy bitch. He begged me to come back. And I did. And my insecurities were through the roof, even more-so than before I left him.
Somehow, along the way, I had convinced myself that it was my fault that he treated me the way that he did. I told myself that I had to work harder to be perfect for him. He would come home from work and throw his keys on the counter and tell me his truck needed gas, even though he had passed a gas station on the way home. While I was out I had to pick up a carton of cigarettes. He never once went grocery shopping with me, and he never helped me unload them and put them away. Money came in and he spent it and then yelled at me because we were broke. He was happy as long as he had something new to play with. When we couldn’t afford his spending habits, he took it out on me. My job wasn’t good enough, I didn’t make enough, where was the money? He admitted that the first time he saw me in the parking lot, his first thought was that he should have kept driving.
The fourth and last time it happened, we were in a rough patch and we decided that we were both going to go out for the night and hang out with our separate friends. I told him I was going to my guy-friends house to see him because it had been years. I told him that he had to trust me. We agreed that we would be home no later than 2 in the morning. I hung out with my friend, and despite his attempt to get me to sleep with him, I wouldn’t do it. I was home by 1:30. The Abuser didn’t come home all night. By the time he finally rolled into the driveway, it was 9 in the morning. He claimed he had fallen asleep on his friends couch watching a movie. I knew he was full of shit. It was only a few weeks later that he told me we were through, that he was getting back together with a girl he grew up with and had known since they were children. She was skinny with a lazy eye and had told him everything he needed to hear. I remember packing mine and my daughters things, and I sat on the couch beside him and sobbed on his chest because I knew that this was it. I couldn’t take it anymore, and he didn’t want me anymore. I was too fat, too ugly, he couldn’t lift me up against a wall and have sex with me like he wanted to do. I wasn’t successful enough. I wasn’t anything. I was nothing. I didn’t matter.
The Abuser and Lazy Eye were married a couple of years later. His entire family hates her with a passion and they still keep in regular contact with me. They have split up and gotten back together countless times. He tried to hit her one time and she took her steel toe boot and cracked him in his temple. She’s a pill addict and a drunk. They have a child together. They split up this past Thanksgiving after seven years and the first person he contacted was me. He just assumed that we would get back together. He claimed that he never fell out of love with me, and he realized what an asshole he had been. He automatically started looking for a house for us and sending me links. I told him that was all well and good, but I was getting married in March. I wasn’t going to leave this wonderful man for someone that beat the shit out of me and ruined every bit of self-esteem I have. He tried a few more times to convince me why he was the better choice. I didn’t budge and I didn’t give it a second thought. Rather than being alone and getting his life worked out, he went back to her. He blocked me on Facebook (I have always tried to maintain some form of friendship with him because I know he’s Bipolar and he has an anxiety disorder) and I haven’t heard from him in over a month. And I’m not even sad about it. I would have loved to be his friend, because I’m just that kind of person. I forgave him a long time ago for what he did to me, and he can’t hurt me anymore. But with him it’s all or nothing. He won’t be my friend if he can’t have me when he wants me.
And even still, there are some mornings that I wake up and look in the mirror and all I can hear is all of the terrible shit he has ever said about me. It messes me up. It makes me hate myself. I will always feel like the way I am is my fault.
Abuse is no joke; it sticks with you forever.