Nearly a month ago, I got out of an emotionally abusive relationship with an alcoholic. You hear about women who get caught in the cycle of such a relationship, and I’ll be honest, I never thought I would be one of them.
You don’t see the patterns of abuse when you’re inside the vortex of cruelty that comes and goes, especially with an alcoholic. And Lord do I wish I had. We dated for 10 months, but if felt like it could have been 10 years.
I constantly felt like I was his mistress; his first and true loves being Jameson and Heineken. No matter what time he said he would meet me he was always an hour or so late at least. There was always something that took precedence, and it was usually another bar. I was never important enough for him to realize the commitment that is implied and expected when you are in a relationship. And God help me if there was an Irish man in whichever bar that my ex and I were in together; I simply didn’t exist until the Irish man, or Irish men left. Then all of a sudden it was like I had just arrived. Although that feeling only lasted about 5 minutes, and then he would go off and find something else to do, a game of pool, darts, or game that involved a ring on a string that you had to swing onto a hook that was screwed into the wall. And I was definitely not allowed to voice an opinion.
More often than not he misread my text messages and rather than ask for clarification he would jump down my throat (so to speak) and rant and rave at me for being stupid and as the time we spent together grew, so did his ‘shut down’ line of ‘Get out of my house’. I tried to argue most of the time to get him to understand that he was in the wrong. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Most of the time though I wound up apologizing to him!
If something went wrong at work, I was the one he took his frustrations out on verbally. If he received too many text messages and/or phone calls during the day, somehow it was my fault. I was always getting the blame for miscellaneous happenings that I had absolutely nothing to do with for the most part, I mean, yes I would send him text messages from time to time, but I started to realize I was expected to keep absolute silence, after all – the relationship was being run on his terms, and if I didn’t like it, I knew what to do – as I was so often told when I chided him for being juvenile. (In case you’re wondering – leaving was what I knew I could do if I didn’t like the way I was being treated. Don’t ask why it took me so long to realize nothing would ever change.)
Of late, he’s still doing things his way, and because of his way I’ve had to change my phone number and get my name unlisted. Because of his way I’ve got the most hateful, cruel, downright nasty voicemail messages on my phone that I’ve saved in case I need to file a restraining order. Because of his way I’ve got saved on my phone the vilest, seething text messages dripping with venom that sinks in and stings to my very core that I’ve saved for the people who tell me he’s not a mean man, or that I’m over reacting, or that he’d never hurt me. Because of his way, I’ve been finding myself looking over my shoulder every time I hear a car coming down the block, I stare at every two door black compact car that approaches and I pray that it’s not him because deep down, I’m terrified to run into him to be completely candid. Because of his way, I may need to orchestrate a Civil Standby with the SFPD to get my belongings that are still in his apartment back. Because of his way, I find myself staring down his threats and cowering in my bed at night, praying that every car I hear approaching the house that I live in and slowing to a stop isn’t him, coming to make good on his last threat – to bring my belongings back personally and empty a pack of vicious lies into my grandmother’s ear.
I’ve heard too many people tell me that I’m over reacting, that I’m being silly, that I have to move on and let it go, and that he wouldn’t ever hurt anyone. To you all I say this; you were not in my relationship with him. You don’t know what I suffered and what I endured. You don’t know how many times I heard him say ‘I’m sorry’ only to have him turn around the very next day and do the exact same thing. You don’t know how many times I would sit alone and cry because of the wicked things he said to me either in person, over the phone, or in text message. And last but not least, you don’t know what it feels like to hear someone tell you that they love you each night before you both go to sleep only to find out at the final break up that he never meant it; that on Christmas day when I got a long distance phone call from him to tell me for the first time that he loved me, what he really meant was that he wanted to love me, but never could quite get there because he refuses to let part of his past go.
There’s no cure for the hurt you feel after learning something like that. You end up in a tail spin so violent that you’re certain there’s only one way it will end as you freefall deeper and deeper into the dark pit of despair. Then, when you hit rock bottom, he realizes he’s not done, and lets you know in no uncertain terms.
I’ve been emotionally scarred, because of his way I’m not sure that I can ever let myself fall in love again. I gave my heart to him and he shattered it time and time again. I feel caught in his web of deception.
I’m seeing someone new, someone very exciting, someone whom I know would NEVER do anything to hurt me in any way shape or form, someone with whom I’ve talked more in the past three weeks, than the ex and I ever did during 10 months of dating, someone whom I know cares for me truly, and best of all someone who makes me feel like I’m not just taking up space in their life, but more like they are making time for me in their life.
To my ex, if you do ever read this and I hope you do – I hope someone you know reads it first and sends you the link, I want you to understand that I’ve spoken the absolute truth here, and when you do realize that this is all the absolute truth, you realize that doing things your way only ruins other people’s lives, even though I’m sure you sleep just fine at night it’s rare these days that I can sleep more than four hours at a time.
You can’t expect life to play by your rules, you have to play by life’s rules or God help you – and no, that’s not a threat, it’s just a fact. Your ego can only get you so far, but honesty and hope get you almost everywhere. You didn’t have to lie to me every night since you came back from your trip at Christmas, I could have done without that – especially when you finally found the courage somewhere to come clean and tell me that you never did love me at all, that’s a scar that I’ll carry for the rest of my life, you gave me something that I thought was so precious on a very extraordinary day and now I’m dreading facing Christmas day this year, you ruined what should be a day focused on faith and family, with your malicious lie.
You brought me down so far, and made me feel so low, I’d love to know how you sleep at night knowing exactly what went on between us. I never did anything to deserve the pure unadulterated hatred that seems to ooze from your very soul towards me, and I can’t make right the wrongs that were done to you, though you know I tried. And yet, no matter what I did, how much effort I gave, how much of myself I put into fostering a sense of pride within you for, oh, so many things, it was never enough. Nothing ever was.
There are times these days when I’m alone and thinking back on all that has transpired between us, I hear a tiny voice from deep within, wondering loudly – might it not have been better for things to have turned out differently the night of the fire?
I’m glad each and every day I get to wake up beside the new man in my life, because I finally know what it feels like to have someone who actually gives a damn about me, who listens when I talk, and with whom I can share the most exquisite of emotions. And I wouldn’t wish to change that for anything.
And the journey continues.