It was a quiet week the other week.
Quiet as in…I received no threatening texts insulting me. There were no ludicrous demands or conversations. I had no need to text the Trollup and ask to please tell her boyfriend to back the fuck off, again. I had little anxiety and the exchange of children at various times during the week went smoothly and without opposition.
And sometimes, in those quiet moments, I start reflecting back and I find myself a little shaken that I can’t remember before. I mean, of course I can (and if I couldn’t, I have years upon years of photobooks, journals, and blogs that I could resurrect). But I found myself thinking I couldn’t remember all the things about PC. His mannerisms. What in the world we talked about. How he felt. I had to think, and dig. I go to our deserted, forlorn marital home to feed the cat. The place I was once so attached to that now feels like a big, abandoned tomb. And going there every other day is like Groundhog’s Day. Nothing changes, other than the weeds that continue to multiply.
While I would not go so far as to say, in those silent moments in an echoing house with its smell of forgotten life, that I miss the past, I do find myself a bit unnerved how quickly it is slipping away. How a person who was a daily constant for 17 years is simply fading.
And then…like clockwork. PC strikes again with middle of the night harassing texts and I am reminded, as I have been over and over and over, what a royal douchebag he is. That he must certainly be mentally ill, a narcissist, or a sociopath. That normal human beings who fall out of love, become angry or simply want to run away do not just completely cut off all caring for the human being they spent most of their adulthood with. That normal human beings to not harbor such unjustified hatred.
So when PC texts me at 10pm on a Saturday night while he has our kids and requests that I “negotiate” and then proceeds, after 20 minutes of radio silence from me, to call me a “drunk” and “druggie” and claim I’m too busy being drunk to be a parent? Well that just reminds me. It reminds me why I can’t let myself recall details too fondly. Why its better to focus on the future and not the past. (Spoiler: I was not being a drunk druggie, sorry PC. I was watching “Peace Love and Misunderstanding” in my pajamas on a Saturday night.)
So I started a list. At first it was just for fun…just to have something to remind myself that the crazy is really crazy. That each individual thing he has done in and of itself warrants questioning of mental stability…but lumping them all together? Well. It reminds me. And it helps me remember why I’m not backing down, giving in, or regretting. Why I am going to rack up thousands in billable legal hours to fight for my right to live without this nonsense. Why the fact that he continues to do whatever the fuck he wants with no consequences cannot, in fact, continue. My list has 45 items on it and grows every day.
- The initial idea that he was leaving me for someone else but he was going to live in the basement and come and go as he pleased.
- Claiming I was sleeping with Trollup’s ex-boyfriend and that “The PNC bank teller told me”
- Telling me, the day he left our marriage, that “Trollup is going to be a part of our lives, so you’d better get used to it.
- Telling me that he and Trollup would “be fair to you, but not in excess. You’ve had it good for years, its someone else’s turn now” in regards to his idea on how to split up finances.
- Breaking down a steel door because I had the nerve to put the chain up and “its my house!”
- Picking up our sick son from school, texting me about what a shitty mother I am because I didn’t pick up, and then refusing to tell me where he had him so that I could come get him.
- Telling lawyers, insurance agents, and his mother that I was “drunk driving” when I swerved a deer and hit a tree. Then went to the body shop and told them he also owned the car and “do not fix it”. Completely fabricated yet to this day his mother brings it up as if it’s the truth.
- Claiming he was forced to be unfaithful because I was too busy being in love with my best friend (apparently my lesbian lover)…this one will never get old.
- Claiming he was going to “sue” me because I refused to list our house until I had a place to move to.
- Accusing me on legal documents of “marital misconduct” because I supposedly “lied to him about my hearing loss for the duration of our marriage”
- Refused to take our daughter to her dance recital unless I gave him a copy of our mortgage statement (that he could obtain himself) and went as far as to say he would “take her out of state” to ensure that she would miss it. (Disclaimer: with the involvement of grandparents and his girlfriend, my daughter did in fact make it to her recital, no thanks to her deadbeat father)
- Texting at midnight to tell me if I did not return zoo tickets from a million months ago “in the next 15 min” I will be calling the state police and reporting you for theft!”
This is just a handful. I initially began to write thinking I’d include everything on my list but its overwhelming. The threats. The insults and the nasty name calling. The refusal to cooperate, pay money, or put the kids’ best interests first. The situation he has created is that it is virtually impossible for me to communicate with him about anything. The simplest of questions will lead to him berating or threatening me. And when he sends me a text that shows any semblance of normal, I brace myself. Because its coming. He’s baiting me to converse and then if I do he’ll throw in his next plan of attack.
And so. I just continue on. I think back over the past 8, nearly 9 months. I’m not even close to being the same person I used to be. I can’t remember, really, what it felt like to hide all the imperfections, all the things that gnawed at my gut that something just wasn’t right with PC. Except, like layers, I wasn’t even aware that I was hiding it. Our life was just our life. PC called the shots, I smiled and took care of everything. And it will never, ever matter what he says about me: I know I did that well. I was a good wife, and I am a good mother.
In the beginning, PC, your tactics worked. You wore me down. You broke my heart, you made me feel like I was going crazy. You landed me in therapy and put me in a position where I needed medication to function. You cut me off financially and made me frightened about my future. You took away my security and trust and turned me into an anxious ball of uncertainty.
But you know what you didn’t do? You didn’t succeed. And you still aren’t succeeding. You haven’t, actually, worn me down. I picked myself up, I’m pulling myself together. I’m realizing how much happier I am without having to placate you and all your needs with no thoughts to my own. I continue to mother my children and I swear to God they are happier as well. I continue to spend time with my friends and it occurred to me the other week that despite this? This divorce, moving, this crazy Jerry Springer life? I’m having a pretty good summer. I’ve had fun with my kids. I’ve spent many a night chatting on my back porch with friends and many a day at the pool. My family has been working tirelessly on my fixer-upper house and so that has translated to a lot of quality time.
There’s an authenticity to my life that wasn’t there before. Its buried under the grungy carpets and the dirty summer faces of my children. Its peeking through in the evening walks we take and the lack of structure and the messy house and my newfound ability to sometimes, just stop and smell the roses. There’s a darker side to this authenticity…middle of the night anxiety, times spent crying on my back porch, the utter frustration and anger that I cannot extrapolate myself from this situation anytime soon.
The list is a reminder. Not just a reminder that I dodged a bullet. That I’m actually lucky that this has happened. It’s a reminder of what I’ve stood up against. It’s a reminder of what has not yet worn me down. A reminder of the lessons I’ve learned about temperance and keeping my canvas blank and staying faithful to truth and goodness. A reminder to seek the humor in even the worst of times…sometimes you just have to laugh at how bad it is.
A reminder that no one else controls how I feel, how I live my life, or what decisions I make. I’ve learned what battles are worth fighting (trust me, many of them aren’t) and what battles are. Getting myself to this point where what PC says and does doesn’t affect me because it has nothing to do with me. It’s a reflection of him…not me. I may be unrecognizable anymore as the person I once was…but I’ve never wavered from my inner truth.
And that, PC, is how you gain power.