Wednesday, January 13, 2016

How I knew it was time to go

There are many listicles out there giving readers "20 Signs You Are Dating a Narcissist" or "10 Ways to Know You are Being Abused." I can say with certainty that I read essentially all of them over the last three years, yet I wasn't really to fully accept them until I started to create my own list.

One night in June 2015, I stayed in a hotel after I'd discovered what I believed was my husband having an affair (which turned out to be true, even though he never admitted it). That night, I stayed up, alone, in my hotel room, writing out every reason I could think of to leave him, and every reason I could think of to stay.

I came up with 29 compelling reasons to divorce him and only one reason to stay ("1. I love him").

Here's the incomplete list of reasons I decided to leave. I urge anyone in a similar situation to come up with their own lists...and let me know in the comments if any of these hit home for you:

  1. He lied to me time and time again, while looking me in the eyes, sometimes while crying. He is an excellent liar, and does it with no remorse.
  2. He ignores me over and over again because he's out with other women
  3. He tried to gaslight me and make me feel crazy and guilty for asking questions about the other woman (which would have worked, if I hadn’t snooped.) I CAN NEVER TRUST HIM, EVER AGAIN.
  4. Things have started to get more physical. When we got into the first argument over the other woman, and I told him I didn’t want to be with him, I asked him to please pay me for his cell phone, since I had been paying for it and he had been using it to have an affair. He said he wasn’t going to pay a penny because the divorce wasn’t his idea. So I said “Ok, I’m going to turn your phone off right now then.” As I sat at the computer to do that, he threatened to throw the monitor. “It’s expensive,” he said. I told him to do it, and he’d go to jail, because I would call the police for abuse. I really thought he might do it. The following week, we weren’t fighting, and things were ok, but I was sitting on the couch. He took his lighter and flicked it three times in my crotch. I yelled and told him to stop and it wasn’t funny. He got angry at me for that, because “How did I burn you?! You can’t even feel it! You’re being a child!” A few minutes later, I was laying watching tv, and he threw his passport at me, hard, hitting me in the face on my cheekbone, just under my eye. I flipped out at him, and he swore it was an accident, and was angry that I was angry. THIS IS HOW PHYSICAL ABUSE STARTS. IT ESCALATES.
  5. The sex is not just terrible and unfulfilling, but actually physically painful. And then he tells me how many women he’s been with, and how none of them have ever cared about coming, and no one else has ever complained before, and sex should be all about the journey and I shouldn’t have to come every time (except that I come never--or when I DO take charge and come, he can’t stay hard and completely checks out).
  6. We only have sex when he declares it. He'll exclaim things like "Suck my dick," and then get angry if I say no or call him out on how ridiculous it is for him to do that. He doesn’t respond to my advances, denies me, calls me a pervert or a nymphomaniac. And when he wants it, it doesn’t matter if I’m turned on or not. He enters me without turning me on, even when I tell him not to or pull away. He refuses to do anything I like, and then turns it against me saying that I should be “all about giving” and I should just let him do what he wants because it turns HIM on even if I don’t like it or it doesn’t turn me on.
  7. I can’t talk to him. I can’t share my feelings with him. My feelings are always viewed as an attack on him, no matter how gently I word things, and how careful I am with his feelings. He then attacks me back. This is the worst when I am crying, being so vulnerable, pouring my heart out, and he calls me “immature” and a “baby.”
  8. My friends and family all hate him. Also, he says that I can hang out with my friends, but when I try to, he then can’t believe that I’m not inviting him, that I would leave him alone, that I don’t want to make him a part of my life...which brings me to:
  9. He actually uses my own direct words against me, but not well. When I complain that I feel like I’m not part of his life, he will then use those exact words later that day or the next day, but against me, and completely out of context. It’s clear he’s just making shit up to try to get to me, but it doesn’t even fit the situation.
  10. He doesn’t want to actually share his life with me. He sees his life as HIS life, and I’m not a part of that. We are only allowed to have “our” life, but that doesn’t involve him sharing any part of HIS life with me (wouldn’t take me on set, won’t introduce me to colleagues or friends, wouldn’t let me mention why he was here when I was applying to auditions for him).
  11. The entire time we were together he applied to exactly zero jobs, neither acting or otherwise. He claims he’s depressed, yet he had no sympathy for my own depression but expects me to have it for him.
  12. He wants to have free reign to hang out with and make new single, female friends. It’s a huge source of contention. I WILL NEVER BE COMFORTABLE WITH THAT, yet when I express my discomfort, he calls me a "crazy, jealous bitch" and reminds me how much he "hates jealousy."
  13. He has not contributed financially, to anything, EVER. The only thing he paid for was my gym bootcamp.
  14. He believes that if I’m strong or in control, he is “my bitch” and he gives me attitude accordingly. This is the hallmark of an abuser. HE DOES NOT SEE US AS 50/50. HE SEES THAT HE MUST BE IN CONTROL, OTHERWISE HE IS “WEAK.”
  15. He does not know how to be physically gentle or comforting. He tells me he hates holding hands. He never kisses me passionately (and never has). At most he gives a peck. When I literally ask him to hold me, he won’t. Being with him in person is physically not much different than being 3000 miles away.
  16. He continues to call me “immature” and “insecure” and says I’m just “afraid of being alone.” He continually brings up my weight and how I should be exercising and how I’m just “bitter about fit, healthy people.”
  17. He beats our dog for the tiniest of things, as "punishment," to the point that the dog pees when he sees him come near him. I could never, ever have a child with him, and I think his animal abuse is absolutely appalling and disgusting.
  18. He will always do whatever he pleases, regardless of how it affects me. He will leave and come into my life when he pleases, despite how his leaving affects me and our life "together." He would be (and is) a father who leaves his children.
  19. I feel constantly stressed, tired, drained around him. He disrupts my sleep (literally, he comes in and shakes me awake, just to wake me up, and then laughs and leaves the room).
  20. He is violent in his sleep and hurts me.
  21. He says he wants nothing to do with my friends or family, doesn’t give a “flying fuck” what they think, said he would watch my best friend die and walk away from her if she needed help.
  22. He went from never giving me gifts on occasions (birthday, Christmas, anniversary--never) to giving me gifts he got for free to giving me gifts which are just awful or ones that HE wanted and then took for himself.
  23. He’s not willing to go to therapy. He thinks it’s stupid. “We should just be adults.” And the one time I did get him to go to therapy, he used it to prove that he was right and I was wrong. Didn't view it as a team effort--still viewed it as a way for him to "win."
  24. I’m getting physical symptoms from the stress of being with him. Acne, new rosacea, loss of appetite, actually retching and vomiting from stress. I lost 30 lbs because I can't eat.
  25. He is not nice. He is hyper critical of everyone. He makes rude comments to everyone. He treats waiters terribly. I’m constantly apologizing for him and embarrassed by him.
  26. I need a “safe space to grow.” He is not safe and is not interested in becoming safe.
  27. He blames me for everything. No matter what, it’s my fault. He will not take any responsibility for anything.
  28. I get nothing out of the relationship--no physical needs being met, no emotional needs being met, no financial help, we disagree on spiritual matters...I'm not being supported in any way.
  29. I deserve to have the love I give be returned. I deserve a real partner and a real marriage.

Monday, January 11, 2016

On the fear of dirty dishes (Or My New Relationship, Or Updates: Part II)

Happy 2016!

As I mentioned in my last post last year, in September 2015 I decided to re-enter the world try out dating again, which was huge, since I'd spent the latter part of 2014 and three quarters of 2015 literally googling Buddhist monasteries and thinking that I would never again so much as kiss another human being.

As it turned out, there are still good men still in the world. There were also a couple of other monsters, but the good thing was that I spotted them within approximately 2 hours of meeting them. One was a professional basketball player who legit drove a batmobile. I knew he was bad news, but I needed the see it through to the end to make sure my gut was right. It was right, and his final text to me was a flurry of "You don't know me!" and expletives. Problem is, I *did* know him. I married someone just like him. And I knew that I didn't deserve to be blown off for weeks on end. He didn't like that I called him on it. Another one had a girlfriend, and when I let him know that facebook had suggested I become friends with his ACTUAL facebook profile (the one in which his profile picture was him and a girl, and her picture was her and him), he called me crazy and blocked me, only to unblock me the next day and pretend like nothing ever happened, and, without any apology, tell me to "just get over it and stop being mad." No. Just no.

But aside from those couple of mega-duds, I had good experiences on my dates. And in November, I met a sweet, kind, funny, smart, handsome, all-around amazing man.

And I am terrified.

I had no idea how much fear I still had in me. Though my heart and mind have moved on, I'm still so scared, and the tiniest of things trigger me now. It really is a form of PTSD. The other day, I left a dish in the sink. My new guy washed it and commented on how nice it was to have a clean sink, and I immediately began to cry and apologize for leaving a dirty dish. What he didn't know, and what I didn't realize was triggering me until a bit later, was that my ex-husband constantly "joked" about how he was my servant (or some days, my "little bitch" or "little dog") any time he would do housework of any sort, even voluntarily. For Valentine's Day, my ex bought a card that was meant to be from a wife to a husband, and gave it to me, expressing what a great "husband" I was because he felt that I was the "man" since I was the one who worked and he was the "woman" since he was the one who stayed home all day cleaning. His machismo wouldn't let him accept that our gender roles were reversed (and, fact is, he could have gotten a job at any time but chose not to) so all he could do was "joke" about what a good man I was and was a subservient little housewife he was. I felt terrible about it, and tried to reassure him that I loved him whether he was working or not and whether he did chores or not while I was at work, and I was happy to do chores once I got home. Of course, I realize now that it was all part of his manipulation and mind games, and that he felt emasculated if he wasn't "winning" and the ultimate alpha-male in every situation. Nothing I did or didn't do could have helped. It's just how his brain was wired, and he got off on the subtle put-down of it all.

Point is, I am struggling with being with a man who loves me and actually wants to spend time with me, and who doesn't put me down. For the past three years, I got used to apologizing for absolutely everything. My ex constantly reminded me of how "overly sensitive" I was, and how "clumsy" [or insert other veiled put-down here] I was. So when I accidentally poked my boyfriend as I rolled over in bed, I began to tear up and say "Oh my gosh, I am so sorry! I didn't mean to do that! I am so sorry!" and his response was "It's ok babe, it was an accident! I know you didn't mean to! You don't have to apologize like that." Which only made me cry harder. I am so jumpy from my last relationship, where the tiniest of accidents were ARMAGEDDON and elicited shouts of "YOU ARE SO CLUMSY! WATCH WHAT YOU ARE DOING! MY GOD, YOU COULD HAVE REALLY HURT ME!" that a simple "It's ok babe, it was an accident!" moves me immeasurably.

Accepting love is hard, as it turns out, when you're not used to being truly loved unconditionally.

I had become so accustomed to the pattern of me doing something "wrong" and then working hard to win my ex's love back that I don't how how to handle being loved and appreciated for who I am, the way I am, doing nothing to "deserve" it (even when I "mess up"). But I know now that that's actually how healthy relationships are, and though I've always given that kind of unconditional love, I've not felt it in return, and have to just allow it to be. Helping one another, without keeping score and without condition, is what healthy, normal people do when they love each other.

There's also this persistent fear that at any moment, the other shoe will drop and I'll find out that my boyfriend is not, in fact, the wonderful man that I think he is (and that my friends and family think he is), but instead, a terrible person concealing horrible secrets and living a double life. If I was so wrong about my ex-husband, and so blind to what everyone else could clearly see, how do I know that I'm not wrong again this time? I've been having recurring nightmares where my boyfriend tells me he's actually married, or that he's cheating on me. I feel sometimes that I'm just waiting for the bomb to drop and for my life to shatter again. But I really don't think it will this time. I have guards up where I never had them before, but still, I think that he is actually who he says he is, and that what I see is what I get. I know that I have learned to trust my gut, and I'm looking for EVERY possible red flag, and not finding any. I keep telling myself that I saw it in the others I dated before him, and I called them out and got rid of them, and I know that if I need to I can do that again. But I don't think I'm going to need to. I truly think that I learned my lessons and learned how to spot the badness before I commit to a life with it. I think he's genuine (and just to be safe, I've introduced him to all of my friends and family, and they have all approved whole-heartedly--which couldn't be more different from my last situation).

Undoubtedly, there will be more meltdowns, and more of me crying just because my boyfriend hugs me when I need it instead of telling me to "get over it" or "stop crying", or when he does a chore without my asking and without holding it against me. But I know that I'm healing, and I'm becoming more and more comfortable with being in a healthy relationship, and I believe I've found someone who is willing to be my soft spot for me to fall and a safe place for me to continue to heal from what came before him.

PS - You may be wondering if my ex has signed the divorce papers yet? Hahahaha, no. Why would he sign the papers in which I ask him for nothing and am legally stating, for the record that he "did nothing wrong" as I filed for no-fault divorce? Because he isn't in control of the situation. He continues to try to manipulate and in December, sent his best friend as well as the other woman to tell me how much he loves me and misses me and wants another chance, even going so far as to have his friend try to convinced me that he "never cheated" and "wouldn't do that." I let them both know that another chance was never going to happen, as I'd already given him unlimited chances in the three years we were together before I filed for divorce. I sent him a text asking him if he was ready to sign the papers my lawyer sent him, and he didn't respond. The saga continues...but I have moved on, and will continue to do so.

PPS - A huge shout-out and thanks to for the repost of a couple of my blogs, and welcome to any new readers who found me through there! In TrueLoveScam's words:

"We are awesome, amazing, loyal, smart, magnanimous women – that is why the predatory sociopath selected us to cast his spell upon. He needed our power to do his bidding. Our admirable humanistic traits and deep values are what allowed us to see behind the mask. It is us ourselves who will set us free. We’re supportive and forgiving, we hold humanity in high regard – some of the best of the best are the prey of sociopaths. Celebrate how wonderful we are. There is a way out of the labyrinth of hell. It is you. It is our inner beauty, strength, kindness and compassion… shine them on ourselves. Embrace your life. You are awesome."