I need to give up on trying to understand
I emailed Greg last week that I wasn't going to change my mind, that I wanted a divorce. I'd seen my counselor earlier in the day and boned up on how to respond to his various strategies or manipulation and emailing seemed the easiest thing to do. Talking to him is like falling down the rabbit hole. In that email I asked him to please respond to my lawyer when he heard from her. She emailed him letter #2, asking for a response, and hinting that I may need to turn to the courts if he won't respond and let them know his intentions. Silence. Finally, late in the next day, Friday, he clearly had his attorney respond to her and I was copied on it. Meanwhile, it's a holiday weekend here in the States. Greg had emailed me Wednesday or Thursday that his sister and family would be going to Lake Tillery this weekend and did I want to go with him and the boys, or could he just go with the boys if I didn't want to go. I consulted my group (a few friends that I chat with on FB now that I no longer live close by. They're mostly lawyers and are a good resource). They recommended that while it would most definitely be uncomfortable, it would probably be worth it to go, versus staying at home and worrying about the boys, and having to come up with yet another lie about why I wasn't going someplace with them. I couldn't figure out why Greg would want me to come, and I most definitely didn't want to come. In his email he said that it could just be a day trip, or maybe spending the night. I'd hoped for day trip. Friday night the boys and I settled in for our traditional "Friday Night Movie Night" and Greg came home unexpectedly early. He sat on the couch with us and watched the movie (very odd, not like him at all). And when we went upstairs to snuggle in bed and wind down with something else on the Disney Channel (the boys have been doing sleepovers in my bed on weekends), he came up and lay on one end of the bed until it was time for the boys to go to sleep. Again, odd.
So we packed up Saturday morning and drove down. It was fine. I was miserable and basically counting the minutes until we left. Max clung to me but it was fine. The more their dad and I fight in front of them, the more their behavior deteriorates. They are fighting with each other more, and they are taking sides. Danny goes with his dad and Max goes with me. (Meanwhile when we snuggle together, Danny reaches down and takes my hand and won't let go). Saturday got worse as the day went on. Max was tired and cranky after his first exhausting week of Kindergarten. He kept asking if he could lay down and go to bed, and this started before dinner time. Of course Greg's crew had their own plans, and we had dinner, went to some concert, etc. Max's behavior continued to deteriorate as he grew more tired and irrational. I didn't know how to get back to the camper, and no one was suggesting this as an option, so I did my best to keep him calm. He finally fell asleep laying on my chest as he and I sat there with the other adults. They were drinking beer, watching bands, as the other kids played in the pool. It was almost 11:00 at night, but as long as Max was quiet, I guess nobody really cared. We finally walked back to the camper and he and I got in a bed together where we got kinda interrupted sleep. He kept waking up from time to time, disoriented, sitting straight up in bed. This went on throughout the night, which I know, as he woke me up each time he woke up. We survived the night, though.
Yesterday morning is when it got worse. Max, tired, was sitting on the floor of the camper trying to eat a bowl of cereal. Naturally he spilled his bowl and Greg roared at me "Jesus! What did you think was going to happen?!!!" I snapped back, Greg's sister tried to soothe things, and we got it cleaned up. Max tried to eat the remaining cereal and naturally spilled the cup a second time. This really pissed Greg off, he yelled again, and Max ended up laying on a couch crying. Where I had to whisper in his ear that if he didn't stop crying, his dad was going to spank him (because that's what happens in our house - if you cry you get spanked, if you are mad you get spanked, if you don't act quickly enough you get spanked, if you whine you get spanked, etc.). Eventually breakfast was done and the boys and the men went to the playground and I was left alone with my sister in law. She didn't understand why I was upset at Greg yelling at Max, because everybody gets frustrated at times. And he loves us and he loves his family. And he's a good man. And marriage is for life and you don't just give up on it. Even if it means you're in marriage counseling for years and years. Ah. Good to know.
Nevertheless, I survived the rest of the day by sitting miserably and counting the minutes until we could leave. I'm sure I was a complete wet blanket, but that was all I could do. We got home last night, I got the kids showered, and I let them watch a few minutes of TV (they wanted another sleepover in my bed since there was no school the next day). Again Greg came in and lay with us until it was time for bed. Awkward, but I figured he'd leave as soon as I turned the TV off, which he did.
Except that he came back. I was awakened at 1:00 by him whispering at me (I was disoriented so he had to say it a few times). He said that he couldn't sleep and could he just crawl in bed with us. I said fine (he was crawling in on the opposite side and the kids were in between us). I was half asleep and my default position when surprised is to be nice, so that's how he got in there. I couldn't sleep though once he got in bed because I was pissed at him, and because I was squished. Once he got in bed the kids glued themselves even tighter to each side of me and it was very uncomfortable. So I crawled out and walked down the hall to sleep in Danny's bed. Fell asleep again and again was woken up by Greg. (What the hell???) He wanted to know why I'd left the bed and if it was because of him. Um, it was 4 in the morning at this point, and again my default kicked in and I said that I didn't have any room and please just leave me alone and let me go back to sleep. Of course Max found his way into Danny's room and my bed sometime after that. And then Danny at some point too.
What's up with the middle of the night waking me up though?
That was a fitting way to start today though. First Greg tried to take me aside upstairs and ask if we could talk. I said no, not if it was the same conversation we've had 100 times before. He said it wasn't, but it was. He's confused, he's having a hard time with this, is this really what I want, blah blah blah. I walked away and went back downstairs to drink some coffee. He got me a little bit later, asked if I had any objections to him taking the boys bike riding this morning. I said no that's fine, but if they don't want to go, don't call them names or try to make them feel bad. He said fine. And then naturally, when he asked the boys if they wanted to go bike riding and Max said no, Greg argued with him (just like he'd agreed not to). And kept arguing with him. And when I asked him to knock it off, he then argued with me in front of the boys, asking what is my problem with wanting them to get exercise, etc. and why can't I be an adult about it. Long story short, Max stuck to his guns and told his dad he wanted to go to the grocery store with me and they agreed to go to the trampoline gym later on in the afternoon.
Cue lunch time. I was agitated and pacing doing things while the boys ate. I was in and out of the laundry room and at one point walked in and Greg walked in behind me. We have a fairly narrow laundry room, so when he walked in behind me and closed the door behind him I was trapped. Again he wanted to just talk to me. He's concerned. This is just not like me. Something is going on. This is not like me. Back in 2007 I had post-partum depression but this time he just doesn't understand what's going on but I'm going to ruin our marriage and destroy our family if I don't stop. I escalated quickly because I felt trapped (even though fortunately our laundry room has two doors - one that opens out to the driveway and one that opens out to the den right next to the kitchen table, where my two boys sat eating their lunch and listening as their mom's voice got louder and louder). I told Greg I wasn't going to talk about it and he needed to leave me alone. I told him he needed to move aside and let me out. He wouldn't move. I told him several more times, my voice getting louder, that he needed to move aside and let me out. He wouldn't. I then told him that he needed to move aside and let me out or I was going to go out the side door and call the police. He still didn't move. I told him once or twice more and nothing. I turned and started unlocking the door to get out, and only then did he back up and say okay and let me out. Where 15 feet away our two boys sat. And where they sat as they asked what was wrong mommy, why were you saying you were going to call the police mommy. Greg told them everything was fine and I just tried to stop shaking.
He then asked them if they were ready to go to the trampoline place, and they went out into the garage to get their shoes on. And Greg started trying to talk to me again - "can we just talk about this? Leah, something is wrong..." I kept telling him to stop, that he's just harassing me at this point, please just leave. He kept talking and I walked away, planning on walking out the front door just to escape him. He said fine, I'll go and they left.
If I wasn't actually living it, I'd have a hard time understanding it all. It probably all sounds so inocuous and like I'm overreacting. But he's trying to push me over the edge. It's called "gaslighting." He's trying desperately to convince me that things that happened didn't actually happen. He's stuck on trying to convince me that we separated in 2007 because I had post-partum depression. He called our old therapist and says that she agrees that it was just post-partum depression. Meanwhile she was the one who advised me to move out in the middle of the week so that I could stay safe. And not to let him know where I was staying with Danny, etc. She advised me based on the advice you'd give someone in an abusive relationship. But then she met Greg, got sucked in, and by the time we were done she had convinced me that I was overreacting, and according to my blog entries at the time, I ended up feeling guilty for doubting and misunderstanding him. (Shakes head sadly).
Greg is so good at playing the victim, and at acting like a decent person when he wants to (he was so polite and thoughtful towards me this past weekend when we were with his family - except for when he was yelling at Max for spilling his milk, or when he snapped at me that I was uncouth because his sister had put Max in their bed to sleep and Greg decided that I had asked for this). He's trying so so hard to convince me that I just keep misunderstanding him or misinterpreting his actions, and that clearly I have something wrong with me - "Leah this isn't you. I don't know what's going on. This isn't you. You don't act like this."
I've emailed my lawyer with an update but again I doubt there's anything she or the courts can do. Greg didn't lay a finger on me this afternoon, and while I was scared, I had an escape route. But I am scared. What if our laundry room only had the one door. What if the kids weren't sitting 15 feet away.