invasion of the barbarians: safe space

To support NaNoWriMo this month, I’m finishing the 30+ odd drafts laying about and posting them through the month of November.

I wrote a charming man sometime in 2008, but never posted it. I wrote a companion piece, Friends don’t let friends waste wine when there’s stories to sell over on LiveJournal within a day or two of a charming man, but that one I posted with glee. Why I posted one and not the other, I have no fucking idea. It is what it is, but it’s important to note that they were written the same day or within days of the other.

These two pieces are related to the the piece below, which I wrote sometime in late 2010 when I found out by sheer happenstance, almost right before TheHusband and I moved back to Grand Rapids, the TheEx was living and working in the Royal Oak area where TheHusband and I were still living. While nearly 2.5 years had passed since TheEx and I had seen each other at the time that I wrote the piece, I spent my remaining days living in the area on high alert that either he was going to find me or I would see him and kill him.

My idea, I believe, in writing this piece was to convey several ideas; namely that no matter how much you work through the pain and tragedy, no matter how much you can forgive, you are still always carrying around shrapnel of that hurt. And all it can take is just a very small trigger to bring the full experience back to life again. The second idea was that I felt, even selfishly, that I had pissed around Royal Oak, marking it as my own and how dare he come to MY land and disturb MY world. Irrational? Fuck yes, but I am thinking that I wanted to write that no matter how far you have come from somewhere, there is always at least something that can send you right back to that space, if not physically, at least emotionally.

The end does not finish cleanly, which I’m leaving as I wrote it last year. I remember now that I struggled so much writing the below, even without having read Friends don’t let friends waste wine when there’s stories to sell.

It’s been 3.5 years since that night when the events of a charming man/Friends don’t let friends waste wine when there’s stories to sell take place and I have not seen TheEx.

I hope I never see him again.

[This post may contains verbiage and/or descriptions that may be triggering to those who have suffered physical, sexual or verbal abuse. Educate yourself: Globally, 1 in 3 women will be abused in her lifetime. ]

I am a survivor of:

  • Physical abuse
  • Attempted gang rape
  • Several date rapes

This in addition to physical, emotional and verbal abuse at the hands of several partners.

Do I have your attention now?

Good.

I need for you to know the background in order to understand the various levels emotions that are going to spill out. In “normal” circumstances, finding out an ex-lover is living in your city is typically nothing to note. Finding out the abusive, predatory jackass you were once involved in, whom you thought lived far, far away, is another. Realising that you’re dedicated safe space has been invaded, even if unintentionally, can be traumatizing. If the safe space isn’t really “safe,” then where else do you have left to go?

Now let me begin.

A few years ago I met and dated someone I thought was the bees knees. I have referred to him, on and off, in the past as TheEx. We met, we fell in love, we lived together. Shit got bad. Shit got worse. Shit got downright awful.

The stereotype of what they say about abusers is true: They are charming, sweep you off your feet as if you were ever the only one and you have NO IDEA they are manipulative, controlling abusive assholes until your knee deep in their bullshit and wondering how the fuck you got here, because you’re a smart girl and you’d NEVER be blindsided by this shit. And then there is a slight humiliation to the whole thing because you thought you were “better than that” and by “better than that” I mean you thought would not fall for such trickery. You are, of course, wrong.

I knew TheEx had “problems” with his ex but his spin was the marriage had gone bad, there may have been a little something but it was a one time occurrence. TheEx was under advisement of several medical and psychological doctors, so how bad can it be? He’s getting help, right? Pish! It was nothing! Merely a trifle.

TheEx, of course, spun HisEx as the crazy bitch from hell and that in the grand scheme of things, he was the spurned one (of course). Even his mother would jump on this proverbial bandwagon that HisEx was a money grubbing harlot, low class with no talent who hurt her baby boy. Sure, TheEx has problems! But, who doesn’t?! And he’s under medical and psychiatric care so it’s not like the problems are being addressed! Who am I to worry!

Right.

And the fact that HisEx, after the divorce, not only left the state but would not give TheEx her address or contact info under any reason should have been a big red signal, but it wasn’t. Because the seeds had already been planted by him, for weeks at this point, about how he was scorned one and etc. And he so pitched the woo to me that I scoffed at the circumstances. Naive, I know. But my reasoning was that I had been involved myself with crazy people and while not abusive, there were some levels you just do not want to cross. I put HisEx in that category.

My burning hatred, which is now simmering embers but could go up at any time, can be best explained in this post on LiveJournal, which has been private for the better part of two years. It was public for a short duration, after it was written, and then made private a month or two later.1

1. The striking difference of my LiveJournal (before I started x-posting blog entries from here to there) and anywhere else was the easy, openness and laxness in which I wrote. Most of which was due to having security controls for each entry individually rather than an all or nothing setting found in most social networks. I could freely discuss my sex life, which I did regularly, without ramifications since I could privatize those entries. Upon beginning my MLIS program in 2008, I locked down the entire journal from public view to prevent any kind of “misunderstandings” about the content.

A charming man

To support NaNoWriMo this month, I’m finishing the 30+ odd drafts laying about and posting them through the month of November.

Late summer or early fall of 2007, TheEx and I made the joint agreement to apply to grad schools together. The plan of attack was to apply to schools that offered programs for both of interests (he, urban planning; me, library and info sciences). We made plans, contingent plans, and back-up plans for almost every possible outcome.

Except for breaking up.

I mention this because on in August of 2008, TheEx moved to Ann Arbor to attend U of M while I’m moved somewhere in the general Detroit area (location undetermined as of yet) to attend Wayne State for my MLIS program. Over the course of the summer of 2008, shortly after we broke up, we’ve started hanging out once or twice a week by going to movies, seeing concerts, and having dinner.

After a few awkward steps of figuring out the deal with how to proceed with the fallout of the break-up, since I came back from the U.K. in mid-June of 2008, things have gone fairly well. We see each other when we see each other, I honestly didn’t think twice about the arrangement (And no, I’m not kidding myself.) and just thought that things being as they were, I was/am okay with the set-up.

And for the better part of that summer, I was told over and over and OVER again by everyone and sundry that I was making a huge mistake. I was making things worse by continuing to be involved with someone when the healing process of the break-up had yet to begin. I was putting myself on the line for something that may or may not ever pan out, regardless of which direction. I sought out therapy (paid and friends), walking, knitting, trips, yoga, doing sage cleanses, and seeing a palm reader. (Who, incidentally enough, predicted the break-up two days before it happened in which I poo-poohed her decision. I thought everything was fine between TheEx and I, only to find out said two days later, it clearly wasn’t.

And I’m stubborn.

I ignored the commentary from well-meaning friends, because if I was okay with how things were going, then isn’t that the main concern? And if I could reconcile the past and put forth energy into the future with being friends with him, and was totally okay with that, isn’t that what it is ultimately all about?

And lastly, I had already thought long and hard about the probability of him seeing someone else, thus, knowing I wasn’t going to be happy about it (more so with my ego over anything else), but you know, I’m an over educated woman of the ’00s, I’ve been around the block a few times, I know how these things work. You meet someone, you date, it ends, you grieve for X amount of time, you move on.

But how the relationship ended, why it ended and the after math were different from prior relationships I have ever been in and thus, I had no road map to work from. I made mistakes in the beginning of the break-up, lost some footing and floundered once or twice, but I always quickly regained my steps and I made sure to always put myself first before anything else.

Because he was leaving G-Rap (more than likely for good), we decided to get together for one final hang out session. Change is afoot and change is never really easy, as we all know. I picked him up and we opted to head for dinner at a place we’ve frequented before and for ice cream afterwards; a typical TheEx and Lisa evening. Dinner was fine, we were having a good time talking about our upcoming school plans and walked over to grab ice cream afterwards only to discover the line was too long. We then opted to head to another favorite place, walking there from his current adobe and enjoying the same brand of ice cream with very little wait.

As we’re sitting outside, he totally getting into his mint chocolate chip in a waffle cone and me attempting to eat a very messy soft serv Twist dipped in hardshell, TheEx brings up that he has to talk to me about heavy topics.

“Is this about the New York Times billing?”, I inquire while ice cream drips all over my hands and onto the ground.
“No,” says he.

He then launches into what now sounds like a pre-rehearsed monologue about how he may begin dating in three weeks, three months or three years and I need to be happy for him. And if I’m not happy for him, then the onus is on myself. (I’m paraphrasing the later, not the former.)

I’m stunned.

I toss my now soggy cone into the garbage and attempt to collect my thoughts but I find that I don’t really have anything to say. Prior to our meeting, I had thought of some things I wanted to say to him this fine August evening but decided that by doing so would be pointless, some things were just better left unsaid. I just assumed that our relationship, with the change in geography and lifestyles, would eventually peter out and we would go on with our own lives in much different directions. I had maintained the relationship for most of the summer by almost sheer force of Lisa-ness: Most of the planning, getting together and encouraging friendship was my idea. At some level, he really is an ultra-cool guy but he’s a loner, who barely sees anyone outside of his family even when he was working and had cultivated work relationships. Most of his friends, his longtime friends, lived outside of the city or even the state. Those in city are busy with their own lives, as people are wont to do. Our social life when we were together was cultivated by my social circle, not his and when we split, he moved back into hermit mode once again.

And we talked about this, his lack of making the effort for anything when we were together as a couple and later, as we attempted to build a friendship. A lot of the decision process in regards to social activity always tended to lay on my shoulders and I was growing more frustrated as our intimate relationship grew and later our platonic relationship and he said he knew that was a problem with him and he needed to “work on it.” Whatever the hell that means, I’m now guessing.

We stumble over conversation for a bit and it was getting difficult to talk while people were coming in and out of the ice cream store. I requested that we head back to his place and sit on the front porch to finish this discussion. We walk back in silence and I’m attempting to formulate my thoughts but I find that I’m angry? Pissed? Upset? I can’t name the emotion that is bubbling towards the surface. Other than a drunken faux paus I made last weekend when we were at a wedding together, I had not made the moves towards him romantically — I can’t handle a romantic relationship with anyone right now. Yes, deep in my heart of hearts, perhaps I did want us to “date” again but when things were better, when stuff was more settled and I could handle knowing what I know and reconcile all of this together. Dating him now would be too easy, it wouldn’t be worthwhile for me emotionally to go through all of this again.

I know this, rationally and logically, I have gone over this a gazillion times with my shrink, my friends and with myself. I know a lot of things about why this relationship wouldn’t work, why I would ultimately would not be happy and why I am doing nothing but beating myself up against the wall. But there is something, something I cannot name that pulls me to him. When he calls or when I’m around him, I’m like a 15 year old girl. Call it love, call it infatuation, call it a crush but one thing that is agreed upon by people who know him is that he is a charming man.

I don’t know how long we “talked,” an hour? More? Less? I keep trying to put together the conversations, stilted.

“I did not or have not felt romantically towards you all summer and I have no desire to pursue a relationship with you now, or ever.”
“Did you fall out of love with me,” I asked.
“I guess, if you want to call it that” says he.
“Are you still attracted to me,” I venture further. (Masochist, I am.)
“That’s irrelevant,” he responds. “I cannot be in a relationship with you because I cannot commit emotionally or physically with you or with anyone. I do not want to get your hopes up. It doesn’t feel good, for me, to think that way.”

——————————

The above was written sometime in late 2008, before TheHusband I got back together and when I was still reeling from the aftermath of my relationship with TheEx. There is quite a few more posts about TheEx lurking about my draft box, hundreds of words that I cannot bear to trash and that need to be made public to the world.

Update: September, 2013
I haven’t spoken to TheEx or seen him since the above conversation took place five years ago. Reading this now, one would think the relationship broke off due to any myriad of usual breaking off reasons. TheEx and I broke up because he hit me. We broke up because he has a long history of physically assaulting his women, which I had found out via happenstance when we were still together of the depth and breadth of the assaults that lead to police charges and jail time.

TheEx is also Bipolar, with various other mental ailments but on a much larger, and more dangerous, scale then I could ever be. Whether or not his physical abuse is tied to his mental issues is a blurred line, but despite the 2x a week shrink he was seeing by the time we met and the rainbow of drugs in his life, these treatments were obviously not enough.

I thought I could change him, having just come off my time in behavioral therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder. I thought I had changed him. I was wrong. After he had hit me, and the furor had died down, and he had moved out, I wanted to immediately protect him. I wanted to comfort him and tell him that it was a one time thing and would never happen again. I wanted to forget he had hit because he would never do it again, previous history of police charges notwithstanding.

His close friends and his family all blamed the brain disease – this wasn’t TheEx! This was the chemical problem that lead to these problems. It didn’t matter it had been going on for nearly 20 years, that he had run ins with police and safety departments, and so forth and so on. This wasn’t him!

While I was the victim, they turned him into a martyr. I was shut out from his family, from his friends who had offered up phone numbers in support “in case something happens,” and treated as a non-entity when I called for help. He was back to being protected and that is all that mattered.

I was pretty angry after we broke up, ever more so after those close to us disavowed me. I was the one who was abused but he was the one who must be protected. I wouldn’t go to Ann Arbor, where I knew he was living for fear of running into him. I found out a few months before TheHusband and I were to move from Royal Oak, he was now living there and then I found it difficult to leave the house for fear of seeing him.

In some ways my life was crippled because of this and I have yet to find the freedom in letting go.

Friends don’t let friends waste wine when there’s stories to sell

What you need to know is that it took every freakin’ ounce of my being to not drive ~200 miles today to remove your cock with a rusty spork, throw a smoldering cigarette into the open wound and then hang said penis off to dry from the balcony while I merrily drove home.

And I’ll explain this to you one more time since you clearly didn’t get it the first time: Your problems are everyone’s problems. Even on a platonic level, your actions involve everyone around you, not just yourself. You have never quite grasped, as every other normal human has, that their actions reverberate to those around them, involved or not. And your problems trickled over into my life when I was involved, regardless of what capacity. Your issues have effected not just me, but your family and your friends. The psychological, emotional, verbal and physical hurt you inflicted has cost me time, money (spent on therapy), self-doubt, lack of self-worth, and even to some extent sexual crisis. This is to name but a few. You have no idea how much pain and suffering you have inflicted because you have no conscience. Your big outpouring a few months ago on how terribly sorry you were to have hurt me, you were going to spend a lifetime making it up to me, you were going to get your shit together and you had never meant to be like this, add, rinse, repeat. You may have meant it, at the time, but what has become clear in the recent months is that your words mean nothing. It was a facade because someone (me) told you that you had to make amends for the hurt, pain and suffering you had caused. And I also told you that I could not tell you when or how or where this amendment was going to take place and I was suddenly to believe that you were getting your shit straight only a few months later? Clearly, I am naive, gullible and way to quick to believe that everyone can change that quick.

You believed it to be sincere because you wanted or needed it to be sincere. I told you what you needed to do and that’s what you did. It’s how you run your life. Someone dictates that you need to do X in Y circumstance and that is what you do. Every. Single. Time. You cannot make your own decisions without running to 15 different people to tell you what to do. It’s sickening.

You know why I hung out with you this summer? Because I believed in you. I believed that underneath the hurt, the pain, the abuse and every other cliche was a good man. That ultimately, standing by you and supporting you, as I promised I would to the very end, would be its own reward.

And this is why I’m pissed. I’m so beyond pissed right now that it has taken every once of will power and restraint to not murder you, you fucking bastard.

What I want you to ultimately know is that I’m pissed because you made a mockery of me, my friendship and of my love. You turned what could have been a pleasant memory of a something into nothing more than a horror film that I can’t stop watching. Especially so since you still have NO idea what the fuck you did. It took every once of my strength that day to not lean over and strangle the crap out of you. Or knock some sense into your head.

And to add insult to injury to tell me that you were “thinking” that perhaps in 3 weeks, 3 months, or 3 years that you were going to start dating again and that I had better be happy for you and if I wasn’t, then so what? And to even add more salt to the wound, to then suggest your surprise that I wasn’t currently dating someone? WHAT SELF-ABSORPTION IS THIS? Please tell me. No wait, I’ll tell you. Clearly, you do not know me, to have gone through what I did with you for nearly ~2 years with you, standing by you, loving you, encouraging you to be a better man, to get on the right path to life and then to have you, hahaha, tell me that I needed to be happy for you to go frolic with someone else? I love(d) you and when you love someone, you don’t let them down, you don’t let them go and you stand by their side through thick and thin. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Really, this is a joke right? You think I could easily transfer all that emotion, energy, desire and love to someone else because we were no longer together? What am I? The whore of Babylon? Seriously! Do you think emotions run that quick and that shallow that I could transfer what I felt for you onto someone else? That sir, took the fucking cake.

And I’ll tell you why I’m not in a relationship with someone else: After finding out about your costly porn addiction, the mere act of having sexual intercourse with anyone makes me nauseated. I may talk about sex, I may flirt, I may proposition but the actual thinking about having sex with someone other than myself makes me queasy. It took me FOUR MONTHS to even feel normal to masturbate again. So do not tell me, fucker, that your problems do not effect anyone else.

1 in 3 women are or were in an abusive relationship.
1 in 3.

You may not have beaten me to a bloody pulp but what you did was just as bad and the effects are just as lasting. The lying, the manipulation, the crying game when you were out of control, the begging for forgiveness, the deception, the duplicitous of your actions. Everything.

I thought that being jailed AND found guilty of assault against your ex, nearly killing me LAST WEEK in the car due to your uncontrollable road rage/anger issues, getting us evicted from a local grocery store for picking a fist fight last summer, the fact that you’ve lost friends and burned relationships all because you are so out of fucking control would be the wake-up call. Clearly, I was wrong.

You. Do. Not. Get. It.

You are out of fucking control and you need some serious fucking help. Moving ~200 miles away and burning your bridges with me is not going to solve your fucking problems.

I’m well aware that the picture painted from you to your friends, family and anyone else is that I am the woman scorned. I am the manipulative, duplicitous hussy who was after your money (hahahahahaha. That’s a good one.), who treated you badly and connived and manipulated my way into your heart and your family. I know this. I know how this will run. And I also know that I cannot warn any future women you date, that I cannot tell them your history and that I can’t, by the act of sisterhood, convince people to string you from your fucking balls and remove your penis.

It’s unfortunate, but, I can’t.

You fucked up. You fucked up so goddamn hard and so fucking often with me that I cannot imagine, in a million fucking years, how I could ever let you back into my life again. I’m sure one day I’ll find forgiveness, towards you, but you sir are to never darken my doorstep again. Ever.
I thought I had worked on forgiving you, but, clearly with the rage that I feel towards you right now that isn’t happening anytime soon.

You cannot make it with “anyone,” because you cannot make it with yourself.

I’ve deliberately removed your name from this post, after thinking long and hard, because I really want to come out of this with my dignity and grace intact. I am me, you almost sucked me dry, but you didn’t.  But everyone knows who I’m talking about. And I have no fucking qualms about airing your dirty little secrets because well, I didn’t name YOU did I? Because clearly, I could be talking about anyone.  And you can’t get me for slander or libel because your arrest record is public record and I have either character witnesses or surprise, surprise, records culled from public places where other acts of violence took place. Since your name is not mentioned here, you would have to prove beyond all shadow of doubt that I am naming you specifically (which I’m not) and that I’m harming you professionally or personally in some way that detracts from professional or personal dealings.

And the $500 (for grad school apps and the such) I owe you? You’ll be getting that, as I promised as I would, when the disbursement kicks in a month or two. And I’m doing that so that my conscience is clear, that I followed through with my promise and I am not beholden to you anymore for ANY. THING.

For almost 2 years I lived in a smoke screen, lying to people about how “happy” I was with you, because clearly I did not know any better and that I truly “loved” you and this was just a blip! I can make him happy, I can make him overcome his demons, my love will be shining through! Fuck. That. I’m no longer to going to lie, use subterfuge, and deceit to cover YOUR problems and issues which became MY problems and issues.  And I have to come to terms with the fact that I was in an abusive relationship that I will be cursing your fucking name when I start seeking therapy at battered womens crisis center. Thank you, for that. I’m sure I’ll really fucking enjoy it.

You are not a “good” man underneath.
Your family, knowing your problems (because OH! They know! He once was violent towards me AND his parents! How lovely was that!), shied you from reality of your situation and cover your tracks with money and false promises.
I do not love you anymore. (Man, that was easy.)
I no longer believe in you.
I do not support you.
May your “soul” rot in fucking everlasting hell, you motherfucking asshole.

It’s finished.

P.S. And I don’t know when you’ll read this, it may be three hours, three weeks, three months or hell, even three years. But I’m totally okay with that, because it means I no longer have to actually deal with YOU because since clearly you did not listen to me the first time, all those months ago when I wrote something nearly similar, to get you to even CONSIDER your complete fucktardness, then airing everything in public? I’m so totally okay with that. You have no fucking idea. I am no longer protecting you. You can kiss my luscious ass goodbye.