I have a story to tell, and it’s a long one, but it’s necessary to tell in order to explain what is going on right now, so I would appreciate your patience if you are curious at all about that.
I will not get every single detail in. I will get in enough to give you a general idea. So if you were there and want to go “well you forgot to mention this,” if I remembered to mention every single thing that might be pertinent here, I might as well write a novel. You going to pay me? No, you will not. So shut it.
From 1995 until the very first part of that year, I was with a guy named Mike. We married no more than two to three months after we officially became a couple. We officially became a couple in something like January or early February of ’95 and were married by mid-March, literally, to give you an idea. January 1999 was when we split. I could go find you the exact date, but I’m trying not to make this ridiculously long. It was his idea to marry, because I was about to get out of the Army at the time, and it was his immediate fault that we split. See, after a decent-ish Army career involving two or three Good Conduct medals, a promotion to corporal when almost no one got corporal anymore, AND admission to Special Forces (Green Beret) medic school, he suddenly decided what he wanted to be most in the world was a felon.
He and our roommate, who was also in his SF classes, broke into a building on Fort Bragg (North Carolina) and stole a bunch of computer equipment and a Xerox copier, then brought it all back to our house off-post. They had been planning it for six months. Mike told me to “just think of it as a ‘disgruntled employee’ kind of thing.” He didn’t even do it to resell any of it. Just for the thrill of getting away with it.
Because apparently he thought I was too stupid, immoral, or cowed to ever go to the cops.
The blowup from Mike’s arrest and incarceration involved completely cutting me off from pay and benefits I was entitled to: the pay for six months, the benefits until we divorced. I was totally on my own. So not long after Mike’s arrest in ’99, I had to send my son to live with Mike’s mother. She immediately sued for custody even though I made arrangements so that she could make legal and medical decisions for him. Apparently I had not been contrite enough for doing what the fuck I was supposed to do when my husband brought stolen property into our fucking house.
Then she wanted to adopt Sean, and I was in no position to say no.
That was finalized Halloween 2000.
That colored my entire life from then on.
Divorce was final in April.
I need to double-check but I’m pretty sure it was the same date as my high-school prom nine years earlier.
By the time September rolled around, my life had already been destroyed. I wasn’t sorry to be done with Mike (okay, I missed him a little… only a little), but I had paid one hell of a price.
Went to a festival in Indiana. Met Matt, someone I’d known from an email list since about 1997 or so.
His most prominent memory of me was a huge fight we’d had one day on-list, one I could not recall. That should have been a red flag.
He was married, but we were in a community that practiced polyamory, and he promptly told me he’d had a crush on me for years, charmed the pants almost literally off me, and told me yes, we could be involved.
Soon after that my existing boyfriend dumped me out of probable jealousy (that was not the claimed pretext, but the breakup was really weird and it was pretty obvious from the signs) and I moved to Ohio, where Matt was.
Matt’s wife Vivien and I hit it off at first, but it soon became apparent that she was frustrated and seemed threatened by my involvement with him. I was confused, because he seemed to adore her and frequently flirted with her, sought out her attention, and wrote flattering things about her. Also, she had a girlfriend and two boyfriends on top of being married to him. He for his part had another girlfriend besides me who got along with Vivien fine.
I was still reeling from the loss of my son and still somewhat lost and confused over the whole marriage-ending thing, and was also trying to figure out my beliefs about life and politics and stuff in general, and oftentimes I tried to work those issues out in an online journal I was keeping, which only complicated matters.
We went to this thing in Toledo and this other guy and I hit it off a little bit and wanted to spend a little alone time together. Matt got jealous and cried even though he had two other partners. Another red flag.
Despite Matt constantly buttering me up and claiming that he lurrrrrved me and we were meant to be together and blah, blah, blah, it was clear to me that I was the odd person out and I could never quite put my finger on why. Conflicts developed. People hurt each other’s feelings. I dumped Matt a few times (I’ve lost count) during this period and each time he wanted me back. Not taking my No: Another red flag.
Eventually, at the next festival of the same type as the one where we met, we had a group counseling session. It came out that Matt and Vivien had had an agreement in their marriage that he wouldn’t take up with anyone who wasn’t bisexual.
Instead of working out some way to make it right, Matt just sat there in the session and beat himself up to evoke pity. Another red flag.
By the end of that year I was living with them.
There was talk of trying for a baby. I had told him from the very first week we met that I wanted another baby. (Never mind I had no business having one, I was in no way materially secure.) He asked me when I wanted to start trying. I was in school by then and I said, “let’s wait another year and let me get some school in.” Okay. He kept having unprotected sex with me, though. Another red flag.
My birthday’s in January. We all three had regular scheduled times with Matt, and having our birthdays with him should have been a no-brainer. Indeed, he wanted to take me out for my birthday, but first he wanted to “spend time with” Vivien. No specifications on what he meant by “time.” Their bedroom door was not all the way closed and I realized the sort of time he wanted was horizontal.
On my birthday.
He had not made absolutely sure that was all right with me.
Sometime in the midst of the first part of that year (if not earlier; my memory’s fuzzy) I gave him crap about wanting more girlfriends. He said no, three partners were more than enough on his plate. That’s almost verbatim.
He started going on treatment for “bipolar” that year. I had never thought he had any serious problem, in fact when he was “manic” I had a strong sense he was faking it, but I wasn’t the expert so I didn’t say anything. He went on meds. The meds were weird.
In March I found out I was pregnant. Shit hit the fan. I seriously considered getting an abortion, because I couldn’t see how I could go through things with everyone around me being fucking insane and assuming the worst. I couldn’t go through with the abortion, though.
I developed some mysterious inflammatory condition that had most of my major joints swollen and painful. Labs came back with elevated inflammation markers and they actually tested me for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, which both came back negative. It literally hurt to turn over in bed. Nobody would prescribe me painkillers that actually worked. I ended up on naproxen, which is not labeled safe for pregnancy so that was an additional worry, even though it helped somewhat. Matt responded to the whole situation by swanning off to California with his wife to visit her family, with me having no idea when I would get better or if I would get worse. His fucking cats took better care of me than he did.
Sometime between then and May I noticed Matt and I had more and more distance between us. At the same time he was blatantly flirting with some random woman I had never heard of. I called him on his flirtiness one day, and he used that against me later to say he thought I knew they were involved. Another red flag.
Her name was Yvette Nameth. She and Vivien and Michele became immediately friendly but she never once said a word to me. Her being cagey and his constant lying to me and my noticing that she was in good with the other two women really wore me down. And he kept using her as a pretext to get away from me, more and more. Here I was with his kid on the way and he couldn’t be bothered, really. She had bipolar too(? unless he really was faking, I suppose I’ll never know), so they bonded over that.
It was driving me crazy the way he kept pushing me away and making excuses, and here I had our kid on the way. I did things I’m not proud of. I called Yvette nasty names, I gave them both nine shades of shit, I even snooped in his email because he’d been dumb enough to give me the password. (For something else, but he said he used it for everything. He doesn’t do that anymore. He’s a programmer, y’all.) I found out that he was absolutely smitten with her, more “in love” with her than he was with me and likely was with his own wife, and that they were plotting for him to move to Seattle where she was.
Meanwhile as I’m going bonkers over all this shit, Vivien’s over on the side stoking the flames, encouraging him to sneak off and meet Yvette for a weekend together (when I got him on the phone, he said they hadn’t had sex; when he came back, he had hickeys on his chest and then admitted to it), and basically rounding up the whole household against me. Because apparently it was my fault her damn husband couldn’t keep his marriage agreements.
At one point I got suicidal, mentioned it online, and wound up with some friends visiting from across town to check on me. Meanwhile Matt was downstairs, knew my mental state, and didn’t budge to check on me. “I heard you walking around.” Reader, I was not walking around.
By July he was fed up with me and broke up with me and told me to leave. He’d pay for the apartment — he was making over $100k a year at this point and other adults in the house also had jobs — but I had to go.
Kid was due in early November. I spent the next three to four months mostly alone in a poor, high-crime neighborhood with no car and no on-site laundry. You can imagine.
Ironically, Matt and Yvette broke up that August. He told me later that it turned out she was “crazy.” And I suppose you’re a model of perfect sanity, asshole.
When our daughter was born he was there, but Vivien got “lonely” for him and called him home. I was in the hospital for four days thanks to a c-section, and fifteen minutes after Matt got me home, he left me alone with a newborn and a bellyful of stitches.
I was weeping.
You can see it in the photos he took.
He didn’t care.
Ex-mother-in-law showed up with my son, the one time my kids have ever met, and she bought me a bunch of furniture since my daughter’s own dad apparently expected us to live in a fucking cave or something. All I could think was it would have been nice had she shown up like that when her own son fucked up, but what can you do.
By the beginning of that year Matt and I were reconciled, Glob knows why. Kiddo was having colicky crying episodes every evening around 7pm, almost like clockwork. (I think we actually put a friend of ours off of ever having kids after kiddo had a meltdown at her place.) Other than that, things seemed to be going well.
Then in February, shit hit the fan again. Apparently Vivien had made Matt promise to never get back together with me. He agreed. Then she found out through my online journal that he had gone back on it. I had no idea what was going on, just like when he broke their marriage agreement in the beginning. Another red flag.
She moved out. He lost it. Said something about having had impulses to hurt the baby. I freaked out and called the cops (non-emergency, I think) and asked for advice, and they said don’t let him come over. Ex-mother-in-law, who had been following my situation since Mike and I broke up, stepped in and offered to take me to Florida, where she and my son lived. Matt asked if he could bring Michele over to say goodbye. She sat there rocking and weeping, totally inappropriate in front of a small child.
In the midst of all this, the baby had a well-baby appointment and some shots. She developed a slight fever, which is normal after infant vaccinations, and had had a couple minor things go weird around the same time. Ex-mother-in-law showed up, I tried to pack, it got to the point kiddo kept waking up crying. We finally took her to the ER. Ex-MIL couldn’t hang through all the tests, she was getting too tired, so Matt stayed with me and she went back to my place. We got far enough to find out that the baby didn’t have a telescoping intestine as was originally feared, but they needed her to follow up at the doctor’s office. We went back to Matt’s place and talked. He told me he’d only said that bit about impulses to hurt the baby in the hopes I’d leave and then he could kill himself. Another red flag.
I was disinclined to deprive both my children of a chance to grow up with both their parents, bad enough my son was doing without his, so I made Matt promise that if he ever did really have an impulse like that, he’d go check himself into a hospital and get help. He agreed to this. Given all the agreements he’d broken already, I don’t know what I was thinking, but as far as I know this is the one time he agreed to something and actually stuck to it.
If I ever find out otherwise, I’ll fucking gut him. And then feed his shit-stinking ruptured intestines to him. All at once. With a poker. I’ll jab hard, too.
Ex-MIL questioned me harshly the next day and basically harangued me into changing my mind about leaving. I was tired, and also tired of her games, and I just gave up.
There was more in that vein that resulted in more alienation between me and my son because when my daughter and I went in for followup, kiddo picked that moment to have a meltdown and I couldn’t hear what the doctor was recommending and Matt didn’t tell me afterwards, so we missed an important appointment and had to reschedule, causing me to miss my son’s birthday. But eventually I found out my daughter had issues with her ureters, the tubes going from the kidneys to the bladder, and needed regular preventative antibiotics until she grew some more and they figured out how much surgical correction they’d have to do. The fever she’d had was from a urinary tract infection to which children with this condition are far more prone and, with the urine sometimes running backwards, this was dangerous for her kidneys if not prevented. We were delayed in diagnosis because her dipshit father wasn’t paying attention. Matt’s never gotten any better at relaying medical information since then, either.
(Remember the 7pm colic episodes I mentioned several paragraphs up? Yeah, after kiddo went on antibiotics, those… stopped. I asked her urologist whether any of his patients ever felt this particular condition and he said no, he saw maybe one patient like that per year. Well, I thought, you’ve just seen your one for this year.)
Life went on. As we got later in the year, though, I began to notice that Matt was pulling away from me again. More red flags. I broke up with him.
After this, we went to the co-op grocery one day, and ran into this woman I had never seen before. I think Matt introduced us. Her name was Joanna. I found out not long after that that he was seeing her and that’s why he had been distracted. Didn’t ask me. Didn’t check with me. Just went ahead and did it.
Rage time again.
He already wasn’t around enough and now he had a new shiny distraction to take him away. She wasn’t the only one, either; he was also in a long-distance thing with a woman named Becky. In fact he took me to dinner with Becky and Vivien and a bunch of other people at some point prior to this and I was basically just the baby-holding prop so Matt could show off what a great dad he was. But I knew Becky already from online interaction. She and I had at least exchanged conversation — well before I’d met Matt, mind you — and she didn’t live near us so Matt didn’t see her much. Joanna was a different story. Once again I was snubbed. Once again I was on the back burner in priority. It had been understandable before the baby and before Matt ruined his own marriage, but at this point we were parents and Vivien was gone anyway and I was beyond tired of Matt’s shit. Joanna even got to shit-talking me behind-my-back-but-not-really with some people I already knew from our friend/acquaintance community, where she knew I’d see it. Matt said nothing. Matt did nothing.
In the midst of this my dad and I got back in touch and he asked me how things were going. I told him they weren’t great. He said if I needed a place to go he’d gladly help me move south to live with him. I accepted.
Then I told Matt that either he dumped Joanna or I’d go home.
I left and took the baby with me.
Stayed with Dad in Louisiana nearly six months. Literally got to Louisiana on New Year’s Day. While this was all going on Matt was crying about how he missed us and wanted to get back together with me. He even came to visit once. But he wasn’t paying the full support amount anymore because he wanted to keep paying rent on that shit apartment even though I wasn’t living in it. He was even letting people steal things out of my apartment instead of sending me my things. With not even $200 a month I couldn’t hope to get myself a car, Dad had a standard-transmission vehicle I couldn’t drive (he didn’t have the patience to teach me), and I was basically stuck out in the boonies. Eventually I realized there was no pediatric urologist near me and I knew I needed to keep Thea on her antibiotic or she’d be in real trouble. Meanwhile, in Columbus, a peds urologist was maybe a 20-minute bus ride away. I caved and went back to Ohio.
I don’t remember when dipshit and ms. dipshit broke up, it was either while I’d been gone or soon after I got back. But Matt was already on very thin ice.
Conversation ensued about having another baby. I expressed to Matt that I was afraid to get pregnant again because when I’d had the joint inflammation issue last time it had lasted one to two weeks. What if it lasted the whole pregnancy this time? He expressed understanding… and thirty seconds later started talking about it again.
That’s it, I thought. Fun park’s closed. We never had sex again.
There was one more time afterwards that we kissed, and it was nice, and then I remembered and shut it all down.
Moved into a better apartment in Clintonville. Playground and recreational center and library right across the street.
Matt said we had to move in together to save money. He might have couched it as a question, or so he says, but I can’t remember — whether it was a question or a declaration, I took it to mean I didn’t have a choice in the matter. He found a house to buy and I gave up my apartment. I was very depressed about that.
At some point after we moved in together, I made digs at him about online girlfriends. He wanted to know what my issue with that was since we were no longer together.
He wrote me some kind of letter that I peeked at enough to know it was him whining that he wanted me back, and then I ignored the rest of it.
I never trusted him again, either.
Matt’s ex-girlfriend Crys came to visit “as a friend.” They cuddled a lot and he had a penchant for disappearing with her various places. I was not consulted about her visiting even though allegedly it was “my” house too and I supposedly was part of his “family.”
I tried to get back together with an ex at this point, who had found me online and struck up a conversation. He let me think that was what he wanted for a while and then it turned out he was just leading me down the primrose path to get back at me for having dumped him in the first place. 18 years gone, y’all.
Tried to take up with an Ohio guy and we did meet three times but that was weird and turned out badly. He wasn’t mean to me, but I’m not sure what happened there, and I’ll probably never know. Didn’t make it Matt’s issue or Matt’s business. Just told him it was a friend. Far as I’m concerned that’s all it turned out to be anyway, just a weird temporary friendship.
At the same time that went kerblooey, I found out that another local guy I had been crushing on had gotten married.
I kind of gave up after that.
Crys visited again. Again I was not consulted. Again he cuddled with her and then went and ran off. I couldn’t even get hold of him by text, he just ignored me.
For either this visit or the previous one, he had insisted I clean up before she arrived. That’s right, I’m a fucking maid for Matt’s girlfriends now.
Pandemic began and Matt began working from home. He holed up in the basement almost constantly. At the same time my daughter went into a mental health crisis that we are still navigating today, and I was left mostly alone to deal. He went with her into mental health assessment at the hospital once because with the pandemic, only one parent was allowed. That was pretty much the extent of it. We had had to nag him to get her into therapy appointments, too.
At first it was family therapy and at one point I complained about having to do 99% of the housework because he didn’t lift a finger and he said, “Do you want more money?” I had had an allowance since we’d moved in together. No, dipshit. The money isn’t the central problem. The central problem is you’re a pig and I’m the only one who ever really cleans up, and it’s ten times more work than it should be, thanks to you.
Between that and some other elements I had a problem with, I kind of shut down and let the family therapy run its course and did not ask for more sessions. I couldn’t see how his and the therapist’s being as dense as they were about various issues was going to help me OR all of us.
Kid started going to a one-on-one therapist who seems pretty good, though.
I’ve hated living with him all along. He takes me for granted, he’s lazy, he’s a pig, he hoards cats and doesn’t take care of them, he’s shit at providing more than the bare basic necessities for the kid (other than completely pointless shit which we have no space to store, weird articles of clothing I have to either hand-wash or air-dry, and tons of books she’ll never use) and then I have to make up the lack, and even the job he “works” at that makes so much money is mostly him typing, reading, typing some more, and talking to co-workers. He doesn’t have to work with the general public. He doesn’t have to go through retail stress. He gets paid decent salary for sitting on his ass. I mean, sure, it’s work, but it’s not WORK work. And I can’t even expect him to make dinner anymore, where previously that was pretty much the only chore he ever did. He just flings mess everywhere, and if I want to so much as vacuum I have to pick up all his crap first. The house stays covered in fur because I refuse to kill myself over his deliberate nastiness.
He’d come up with any excuse to leave the house, often with kid in tow, on the weekends to go fuck off instead of helping to clean up around the house. If anything got clean, I was the one doing it.
For several years I had to pretty much forget it was my birthday because he just had to go to this convention in Sandusky that took most of a week and take us along, and that had me playing babysitter most of the time even when I was bored and tired and wanted to be left alone. I got a few crap presents (the curse of a January birthday anyway, regardless of circumstance) but that was it. My fortieth birthday, a major milestone, came and went. Nada. He used to throw parties for Vivien’s birthdays. Me, I’ve been nothing.
I had to buy shelving for the kitchen because we have so much crap in there that we’d run out of places to put things away. He should have been paying for his own damn kitchen instead of taking from my allowance. He did not do that. I had to take the initiative. I get left with all the greasy messes and food everywhere that he leaves no matter what he does. He can’t even pop popcorn without leaving like a third of it all over the floor and countertop. Spills foods and beverages down the fronts of the lower cabinets and doesn’t wipe it up. Don’t even get me started on the state of the stove and oven. There would be lakes of grease there sometimes. And then there’s the state of his personal bathroom and his bedroom and the places he stores his crap. He’s completely disgusting.
I came to realize that when he’d strike up conversations with me, those few times he bothered venturing upstairs, it was always something about him or his fucking job. He’d do a perfunctory “how are you” like he was even going to listen if I told him, and then launch off. Fucking boring. Not relevant to my life at all. He’d just spent the whole damn day talking about work with his co-workers and here he was again. He has since accused me of rolling my eyes any time he tried to talk to me. This was when I rolled my eyes. Also when he’d talk politics, because while Trump was in office he’d obsess over Trump and constantly complain about him. Everything was about Matt. Everything centered Matt. If it didn’t, I was bad.
This all fucked with my head because it’s like he thinks I’m an entertainment/cleaning vending machine, throw money at me and I’ll do for him. Like a prostitute but without the sex. And this is why I don’t give a shit that he gives me money or a roof over my head. It is empty and meaningless. I’m just an obligation. Like when he had fifteen gazillion women to fuck back in the day and had to schedule us all in for sexytimes. Kind of the polar opposite of A Meaningful Relationship. Never even remotely what I had wanted. Even with the fact I do not now want to be in a romantic arrangement with him, this all still rankled. I’ve wasted nearly two decades of my life for this???
In the midst of all this, he suddenly decided he had to start taking trips to California.
Except, when I pressed him, it turned out Crys had invited him.
First time he came back it was, “We aren’t going to start a relationship until kid is in college.”
Second time he went and came back it was “We are in a relationship, and I didn’t see this coming.”
Then he went a third time.
Now she’s in town. And he “went to dinner” with her and it was, “See you tomorrow.”
It’s been pretty much mostly a ragefest from May or June onward. I don’t even remember now.
As is usual with his pieces of ass, she’s said nothing to me; even when she visited before and I had actual interaction with her, she had attitude like I was beneath her somehow. I haven’t seen her this time. I don’t want to. I want her to stay away from me. And from my kid, but he already facilitated them talking behind my back, without asking me.
I’m just his fucking babysitter while he runs off and gets laid. I haven’t even had a real boyfriend since I quit him, I’ve just had idiots disrupting my life for nothing. (Sorry, Sam, but you really were stupid with me.) I have almost no chance of getting a boyfriend. I ruined my body and my health so he could say he’s a damn father and I’ve never been able to really improve my earning power because everything had to revolve around him, his career, and his fucking ego. He played around and did whatever he wanted while I suffered. Now it is more of the same. I told him this feels just like 2004. He doesn’t care.
Three of my four grandparents died of cerebrovascular events. I’ve had migraines off and on since I was 17, so for more than thirty years now, and sometimes they were severe enough to disrupt vision (and in one case, even thinking). My blood pressure already does interesting things when I’m stressed, and I am massively stressed now. I don’t want to die.
I need to get out of here.
He says he’ll help me transition to living on my own. That will take at least a few more months. And that was before he pulled this shit this weekend. Didn’t even tell me Crys was coming to town before she got here. I’m done. I can’t take this anymore.
So I’m going to put feelers out to see if Dad wants any live-in help. He’s got some stuff going on himself, maybe he’d welcome it. I’m really hoping he says yes because if he does, that means I can get the fuck out of here NOW.
I don’t want to leave my child, but she’s already had to see me and her dad fight one too many times and I doubt she will want to go with me. And it’s high time he found out what it’s like to have to do it all. She’s nearly seventeen and isn’t going to forget me, and worst case scenario he sues for custody that only lasts a little over a year. I could be more worried than I am. I don’t see the point.
We’ll see what happens.
If I stroke out, he killed me. Just so you know.
Okay. Sorry for the text wall. I just don’t want there to be any doubt what is going on here. I’m tired of always being the bad guy when I have this emotional abuser lying to me, gaslighting me, and trying to pass himself off as the rational one. If he’d been rational from day one like he says he was, we would not be in this mess now.
And yes, I know I was an idiot and an asshole too. Granted. Doesn’t mean it’s fair or right I have to keep going through this. He should have left me the fuck alone the first time I dumped him, and we’d still not be in this mess now. I was in no shape to push someone away who seemed to want me around after all the rejections and losses I’d already suffered. He wasn’t lacking. He had a hell of a lot more than I did. He should have had some basic fucking compassion and backed the fuck off. It was the least he owed me if I’m a so-called “human being.” But here we fucking are.