Infertility, yoga and chocolate

An IF vet still digesting her good fortune.

Monday, September 07, 2015

I need to give up on trying to understand

It just doesn't seem real.  Crazy things are happening and it's amazing how quickly the defense mechanism "denial" kicks in.  I need to write things down because it is just too much.

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.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

dear boys,

Dear boys,

It may be many many years before you understand. You might not ever understand. But I need to divorce your dad so that I can save you. I have started this process of divorcing your dad because if I don't, I am failing to protect you. And that is my job. I cannot knowingly allow you to stay in a situation that hurts you repeatedly.

You're only 8 and 5 now, but I can see his influence on you.  Danny, you're afraid to speak up for yourself. You won't ask your afterschool teachers for help on homework. You wanted to ask your dad for something, that was rightfully yours (your grandpa had given it to you) this past Sunday. You couldn't make eye contact with your dad. You shifted uncomfortably. You couldn't make eye contact with him. You looked at me and smiled, because that's what you do when you're unsure. You started crying. You looked to me for help.  You just couldn't do it. You could not talk to your dad about something that was important to you because you are afraid of him. And this was while I was sitting next to you. I can't even imagine how difficult things are for you when I'm not sitting next to you as backup. You question yourself. You ignore your own feelings or wants just to make sure that others are okay. You just want everyone to be happy and okay. Sometimes you do speak up for yourself, and it's too aggressive, and usually directed towards your brother because he's little and the only one you can vent your feelings on. You don't know how to find the balance between too passive and too aggressive.  I know that living with your dad has taught you that, because these are the ways that I've changed since I've been with your dad. I too am afraid to ask for what I want or what I need because I never know what the response is going to be - apathy or anger, you just never know what you're going to get from your dad. But our house is one in which people take out their frustrations on each other, and hurt the other person, sometimes smiling when the other person is miserable.Or laughing at them when they cry. This is awful. And unacceptable.

There is too much to even mention that makes me worried for you if I continue to stay with your dad.  Danny, anytime you see me cry (after your dad gets done with me), you question me for days - why are you crying Mommy? Is Daddy being mean to you? You watch me, watch my facial expressions, ever on the alert for me looking unhappy, or angry, especially when your dad is around. Max, you are extra protective as well. If Danny goes with your dad, you stay with me. You slip your favorite stuffed animals into my bed when I'm not looking, so that I have someone to sleep with. And not just any stuffed animal, it's the ones that you hold the most dear (like the puppy holding the heart that I gave you for Valentine's Day one year). It both breaks and warms my heart when I get into my bed each night and discover what you've done while I wasn't looking.

There have been so many incidents with your dad and I'm so sorry that you have had to go through them.

Danny: When you were still a toddler in a highchair, you threw a Cheerio or something on the floor (because that's what toddlers do with finger food when they're not eating it). Your dad's way of disciplining you was to get a few inches from your face and scream "NO!" at you. It scared the shit out of you and you started to hyperventilate. I had to quickly remove you from your high chair and hold you and calm you until you could breathe again. Or the times that you didn't want to practice throwing the football with your dad after you'd already had a practice and flag football game that day. And your dad told you that if you didn't practice nobody would ever want you on their team. You were 7 and all you wanted to do was play flag football and have fun with your best friend Dominic and your dad's words confused and embarrassed you. Or the time you were whining because you and Max were not sharing Batman stickers well, in making your stupid Pinewood Derby car. You were sitting on a skateboard out in the garage and your dad pushed your shoulder and you fell backwards off the skateboard. Your arm was bleeding and you were crying and when I came out to find you, you were sitting on the floor holding your arm and crying. As your dad commanded you to stop crying and acting like a baby. He didn't apologize to you and he stared up at me, challenging me, as he explained that you were whining and that's why he pushed you. Or the times that he's called you a girl, "don't be such a girl" because you didn't want to do something with him, or because you wanted to do something with me instead. And how he mocks you if merely calling you a girl doesn't work, asking if you want to stay home with your mommy and paint your toenails, as his voice drips with condescension. Or how, when you were a toddler, you used to kiss me on the lips, and your dad tried to imply to me that this was sexual and I needed to stop letting you do that.

And Max. My Max. Your dad tries the same things on you but you are not as accommodating as Danny. He tries the same shaming techniques on you when you don't want to do something. That's not as effective on you, and as a result you get smacked a lot. There was one day apparently you weren't moving fast enough to put your shoes on and your dad chased you in the garage so he could hit you. He spanks you a lot. He shames you when you wet the bed and asks you when you're going to start acting like a big boy. He doesn't listen to you when you have an opinion or a request and that is so frustrating to you.  All you want is to be heard, even if you don't get your way. Surest way to cause you to tantrum is to feel like you're not being listened to or taken seriously. And then when you scream, he mocks you for that - "go on, scream louder, I can't hear you." And you are learning from your dad and it scares me. When Danny was crying the other night, your dad told him "there's no reason to cry about it. This isn't anything to cry about." And you turned to Danny and repeated the same words. You and Danny were both upset - your dad takes your money from you - and yet you were quick to turn on Danny (even though you were both upset, both had the same complaint, and were both afraid to bring it up with your dad). I cannot have a house where family members turn on each other like rats in a sinking ship. I can't have you learn that feelings are wrong, differing opinions are wrong, and that weakness is to be attacked.

There is the day that I will never forget. Where Danny, all 7 years and 50 pounds of you, stood up to your dad, your big, angry, scary dad, and asked him why is he mean to your mommy. I can't even imagine how much courage that must have taken for you to do that. I'm afraid to stand up to your dad and I'm grown, and you were just a little boy, sweet and sensitive, missing a few front teeth. And your dad roared, with arms waving, and you fled with your brother. To hide with your little brother behind the headboard of your bed, crying. As your dad followed you upstairs and continued to roar, and to insist that you come out, he wanted to talk to you. (I wouldn't have come out either). What an awful, awful day.

Or the day that Max's teacher told me that he had confided in her that his dad is mean to his mom.

Or the times that you both want to snuggle with me (because you're still little boys). And your dad tries to make you feel embarrassed or ashamed that you want to do this, that there must be something wrong or girly about you that you would want to snuggle with your mom.

Or when you asked me why your dad is nicer to you on the phone (when he's out of town for work) than he is on the weekends when he's home.

I know that there have been other incidents that I will remember as I continue opening up my brain and being honest about what's been going on in my household. I have stayed for as long as I have in hopes that my being there would help, that I could intervene. I was afraid that if we separated and I wasn't around, I wouldn't be able to protect you. But it's time and I'm crossing my fingers that we three can make it through relatively unscathed. I'm sure that your dad will tell you all kinds of things in the days to come, and it's entirely possible that you end up hating me because of the lies and half-truths that he will feed you. But this is something I have to do.

I love you,

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Multiple personalities

So this blog is essentially my diary right now. And I don't really know if I've ever been more confused than I am right now. It's as if I'm (at least) two different people, living (at least) three different lives.

One life is the one I just walked out of a few minutes ago.  I was enjoying some glorious alone time, immersed in a sappy chick-lit book. Smiling, I finished reading it and reached over to turn on my computer. And remembered the reason I have been hiding in books so much these days. I have become an even more voracious reader lately. Jumping headfirst into an imaginary reality, and trying to visit there as much as possible, in order to escape my own. I was happy there for a while in that book, sitting in my house while the boys are out doing their thing. I could forget that this isn't a good life I'm in.

Then there's the reality I was floating around in last night. We attended a neighborhood party last night as a family. Boys went upstairs to play with the other kids, I hung out in the bar with the other women, and Greg went outside with the menfolk to do whatever it is that men do when they're guarding the keg. It was like we were just a normal family doing normal stuff. By around 8:30 I went outside to tell him that I was walking the boys home so they could get some sleep. He offered to take them home so I could stay but I said no, I wanted to leave on a good note. That I'd already danced around a little too much (it was an 80's themed high school party), sung a little too much off key, and had my fun. Greg laughed and I remembered how long, long ago, he used to be amused by me and he would laugh like that. He's been trying very hard lately. He's been polite, patient, has folded laundry behind my back and he's backed off a bit. (I'm sure I know why on that last one.) We were at a neighbor's house earlier in the day yesterday and I watched him with the other grownups. I thought to myself, this is okay. He's okay. I can pretend that we're okay. I can go along with this, this isn't too bad. It's not the best, but it's not so bad. I could probably do this if I really really tried.

Then there's the reality that the two of me really are having a hard time with. And there really are two of me (if not more). One is the Emotional me who is struggling. Arguing with herself that like Greg says, she is trying to throw a marriage away without even trying. Emotional me has been well worn down. She is confused. She still loves her husband. She loves being a family. She loves being married. She loves the security of being married. She feels guilty that maybe she's overreacted, and even if she has, that she should just deal with it since this is the lot she has chosen for herself. No buyer's remorse allowed with a marriage, you know. She is afraid of making a wrong decision. She is afraid of hurting the boys by splitting our family up. She wants to believe that maybe Greg can change, maybe he really does get it this time, and that maybe there's hope. She's the one that caved, after a week or two of Greg taking her aside, almost daily, for almost an hour at a time sometimes, as he begged for another chance, begged her not to give up on him, begged her not to do this to her family. She's the one that was so worn down and so unable to think after days and days and days of that, and responded to one of Greg's begging emails that fine, I'll put things on hold for now. I'm not saying I'm going to change my mind, but I can't think straight right now and I just need to breathe. (This is the motivator, I believe, to Greg backing off. He got what he wanted.) Emotional me just wants a happy ending. She has heard enough stories about how every marriage has tough times, and she wants this to just be another tough time, from which Greg and I will emerge, stronger, with a new understanding of marriage and each other, glad that we stayed and fought it out.  She remembers the old days, when Greg was kind, and patient, and she felt safe with him. She wonders if maybe they can get there again.

Then there's the other me. This one is almost primal, or subconscious. And that one is really screwing with the sad and confused Emotional me. Primal me is very primal these days. It's as if someone has turned a switch and I'm reacting in ways that I can't control.  I was in the shower the other day and realized my bar of soap was too tiny to be of use anymore. I looked over, saw that Greg's bar of soap was still good-sized, and thought to myself that I could just use his. Primal me said no. I looked at that bar of soap as if it was a snake and couldn't even touch it. I did not want anything that had touched him to touch me. I stared at his bar of soap for quite a while, having a conversation with myself (It's just a bar of soap, it's not going to hurt you, don't make such a big deal out of it, it's just soap). But I just couldn't. I couldn't even reach towards it. Instead I stepped out of the warm shower into the cold air, dripping on the floor, and got myself a new bar of soap.

Primal me is the one that lay in bed this morning, unwilling to get out. I was awake, the kids were still asleep, and I could hear Greg moving around downstairs (he is sleeping downstairs in the guest room since Primal me can't stand to share a bed with him anymore). I wanted coffee.  I wanted to get up. But I didn't want to be in the same room with him. I'm not sure what Primal me was afraid was going to happen if we were in the same room - maybe tell each other good morning? but Primal me didn't want it. Nope. Not gonna get out of bed. Not gonna do it. It was the soap thing all over again.

Primal me is the one who continues to be afraid to speak to Greg. I need to ask him something about Max starting kindergarten tomorrow and I keep procrastinating. Primal me is afraid to make eye contact. Primal me is afraid to cause a conflict. Primal me is the one who elbowed him a few weeks ago when he tried to hug me (I went into fight or flight mode when I felt him come up behind me). Primal me is the one who initiated divorce proceedings. Primal me is the one that worries that I will fade into nothingness if I stay in this marriage. Primal me remembers times after I'd fought with Greg, or he was angry at me, or he'd reduced me to tears, where I thought about death because I felt so alone. Yes I have my boys, but I won't always have them - I thought to myself. It's hard to remember the thoughts anymore, but they were there. The desperation of feeling so unwanted, so disliked, so inept and so incompetent. Primal me is the one that was so relieved, so lacking in guilt, and so willing to only think of myself this past fall when I miscarried. I cried for three days when I found out I was pregnant. Primal me knew that having another child with this man would be the worst thing ever, as my being pregnant thus far has brought out the worst qualities in my husband. Me being pregnant equals to my husband, me being lazy and not pulling my own weight and complaining too much. All things which trigger his contempt and derisive comments. My first pregnancy with Danny was a nightmare (sort of documented within this blog in 2007) that I wouldn't wish on anyone. My pregnancy with Max was only slightly less abusive on Greg's part because he had Danny to distract him, but the contempt was still there, the comments about me being lazy, the lack of empathy as I grew larger and physically couldn't keep up. Primal me did not want a third child to connect me to this man, and did not want to subject myself to a man who was already in the throes of the abuse phase of an abuse cycle. (Phase 1, the tension builds; Phase 2, the abuse is active; Phase 3, he's sorry, very nice to make up for Phase 2, promises it will never happen again, etc.). I found out I was pregnant after Thanksgiving, maybe early December, when we'd already had the incidents of Danny standing up to his dad and asking why he's so mean (resulting in Danny and Max hiding behind their bed), and the every weekend arguments over whatever I had done wrong during the week while Greg was out of town.

Primal me does not believe I can ever trust Greg again. Primal me can't forget how embarrassed, how hurt, how humiliated, and how bad I have felt about myself at his hand. Primal me is having many arguments with Emotional me, pointing out that while Emotional me may have amnesia about what Greg has done, the end result has resulted in me being afraid of him, having no confidence in myself, doubting myself, being afraid to do anything new for fear of doing it wrong and being made fun of, doubting myself at every turn, etc. Primal me tells Emotional me that there is a reason I feel that way. Even if Emotional me doubts it and can't remember how this happened, I didn't end up this way on my own or because I suddenly decided to start feeling anxious around my husband.

Intellectual me keeps re-reading articles about domestic violence, red flags in relationships, etc. Intellectual me is trying to "understand" my relationship with Greg. Thus far Intellectual me is a little taken aback at how my marriage actually fits the pattern quite neatly. The rushing to intimacy and jealousy - check. Greg told me he loved me within the first 2 weeks of dating, we were on our first vacation together to the Bahamas after a month of dating, he took me to a family reunion after 6 weeks and I met all of his family and extended family. I was hooked. The jealousy - check. He didn't speak to me for two days after I went away for a girls' weekend to South Beach (Miami). It was a bachelorette weekend and (I was much more fun and feisty then) the four of us sunbathed topless on a topless beach. We thought we were so cool and hip. The guy I dated before Greg would've been thrilled at this, and would've found it very much a turn on to hear about. Greg didn't speak to me for days, thought I was being trampy, and he didn't want any other man staring at his girlfriend's tits. I'm not sure how it happened, but I ended up having to apologize to him for my decision to sunbathe topless with a group of girls (we were topless for maybe 30 minutes, just enough to show how brave and uncaring we were). He didn't like how I dressed and I started dressing much more conservatively. Expensive gifts - check. He took me on expensive vacations, bought me expensive gifts that I didn't really want (I didn't really want a TV in my bedroom, I liked to read before bed), and we traveled and did lots of stuff.  I was seduced by the lifestyle. I thought he was brave and spontaneous and fun.

Of the warning signs, he had most of them. I just didn't realize it because I didn't realize that an abusive man could look like Greg. I thought it was more obvious. I thought that abusive men were more clear-cut, and would call me names like fat or ugly or stupid. I didn't realize that an abusive man could be more sophisticated than that, and that stupid could be phrased as me not having common sense, and fat could be phrased as me gaining too much pregnancy weight.

The warning signs:
He speaks disrespectfully about his former partners.  Check. He said she was a bitch. That she was never happy. That no matter what he did she was never happy.  (Well, now that could describe me these days too.)

He is disrespectful towards you.  Check. "What, are you fucking stupid?" Or the dinner with my friends where he tried to get them to agree with him on how much of an asshole I am.

He does favors you don't want or puts on such a show of generosity that it makes you feel uncomfortable.  Check. (see above)

He is possessive and jealous.  Check.  (see above)

He is self-centered.  Check.

Nothing is ever his fault.  Check.

He gets too serious too quickly about the relationship.  Check.  (see above)

He abuses drugs or alcohol.  Check.  He doesn't drink as much as he used to, but he used to drink so much in our early days of dating that he would pee the bed in his sleep.  Nothing more disgusting than waking up in a bed with urine soaked sheets.

He pressures you for sex.  No, not really.  But he did tell me once that he considered foreplay, or even kissing, a pain in the ass and too time consuming. And that pretty much killed my desire to have sex with him from then on. Cause, you know, nothing sexier than thinking that the guy kissing you is wishing he really didn't have to.

He intimidates you when angry.  Check. I can't even describe what it is that he does that's intimidating - it's his voice tone, it's his facial expression (pure hatred or disgust, it alternates), he's loud, he waves his arms, he doesn't fight fair. Greg doesn't understand why I say this and says he would never hurt me. Primal me is afraid nevertheless.

He has double standards.  Check. Check and Check. He can be mean and ugly, as mean and ugly as he wants, but that's just how he is, he knows he has anger issues (well, he does now that our latest marriage therapist has told him what words to use). But I'm not allowed to be angry or use any of the tactics he uses on me.

He has negative attitudes towards women. Check. He's raising our boys to believe this as well. God forbid they "act like a girl." (Shudder) Or watch a "girl" show on TV. Or want to hang out with a "girl" (their mom) instead of their dad.  The horror.

He treats you differently around other people.  No, not really. He's nasty to me in front of others too.

He appears to be attracted to vulnerability.  Probably. He knew my history. Broken home, brother deceased from suicide, alcoholic mother, raped twice, etc. I remember having a discussion with him about whether either of us had ever been with someone of another race and he wasn't sure he could be with me if I had been. I told him I'd been raped twice by black men. Instead of offering compassion about what I'd been through, he seemed to put more thought into whether he could be with me knowing that black men had put their penis inside of me. I remember being scared that he wouldn't be able to get past it.  I so want to go back in time and smack myself.

So Intellectual me keeps re-reading that stuff, and agrees with Primal me.  But Emotional me continues to be ever-hopeful. Intellectual me is having a really hard time accepting that her relationship fits the pattern of other abusive relationships, even if ours has never been physically abusive, and even if the abuse hasn't been as constant as I thought others were. Somehow I thought that abusive relationships were abusive all the time, every single day, and therefore much easier to spot. Intellectual me is really pissed that I wasn't smart enough to figure this out before, and that I wasn't smart enough to not end up in one of these.  Apparently Intellectual me is a bit judgmental, and thinks that only less educated or "other" women end up in these relationships, and that it couldn't happen to me because I used to provide domestic violence counseling, I know all about these relationships, I've counseled at least 100 women and had them read the very same "red flags" in order for them to realize that they were in an abusive relationship.  Intellectual me is still a little bitter about that.

See why I'm spending a lot of time in books these days?

Sunday, August 23, 2015


My husband has been on a campaign to convince me what a nice guy he is. I am so confused. He twists everything so that his behaviors seem logical and I seem like I'm overreacting. And just like the pain of childbirth, the pain of his behaviors fades. I just re-read some of my blog though, and I'm a little sad at how much editing I did in the past. I guess I was embarrassed to discuss how bad things could get at home with my husband because I didn't want anyone to ask why I stayed with him. I rationalized even to myself that things weren't all that bad. But as I read just now, I think 90% of any happiness that I had back then had to do with my children and my joy at interacting with them and watching them grow. On occasion I felt joy when my husband displayed some good parenting or was kind to me. That's pretty sad. But I am so beat down at this point. It's not even a conscious thing at this point - even when Greg isn't yelling or being harsh I anticipate it and I avoid him. I'm always on the alert for a sarcastic comment or baiting remark and I'm always vigilant, prepared for battle if I can't manage to avoid being in the same airspace as him. I feel defeated when I'm with him. When I walk with him I walk behind him with my head down. I have lost my self confidence. I'm afraid to do things around him for fear that he's going to snap at me - we went somewhere with the kids last fall and I drove and he didn't like how I parked the car ("God! Where did you learn how to drive?!!") with the kids in the car. It was embarrassing and things like this happen all the time. Well, not at the moment since he's trying, but how long will it last? He always returns to these behaviors.

I remember his mom told me once about a lady at work whose nerves were shot because she was always getting snapped at by Greg and she was so nervous and jumpy all the time because she was always waiting for the next criticism. And I remember his mom told me once that Greg was beating his brother down so much - his brother who has Cystic Fibrosis and whose health is tenuous at any time (although he tries to hide it) - and she didn't know what to do. I guess Greg was unhappy at how things were going or what his brother was doing and he was berating him about it. Much like our marriage. Still, I feel the need to remind myself of the bad. The guilt that Greg is inducing in me is crushing.

 * last Saturday Greg and I went to marriage counseling and dropped the boys off at Denise's house so they could have a playdate with Denise's kids. Marriage counseling went badly, although Greg did acknowledge all of the names he calls me and that he's emotionally abusive to me and the boys. That he's harder on the boys on the weekends when he's home so that he can counteract how "soft" I make them during the week. We drove home, he dropped me off at Denise's house around 3:00 and I stayed with the boys because they wanted to keep playing. Denise and I chatted and gossiped and I got a text at around 3:30 from Greg asking if the boys wanted to go over to their grandpa's house. I didn't get this until 4:50 and responded at 4:55 but I remarked to Denise that I was going to be in trouble for this. If I don't respond quickly enough then Greg accuses me of trying to keep him from the boys. So the next day, after he got done loudly confronting me because I'd left the receipts form Danny's dental visits out (he had three cavities filled and Greg told me, in one of his kinder gentler moments, to just let him know how much they were) and Greg loudly announced, in front of the boys, that he was not giving me a penny because any money he gives me is going to go straight to my lawyer. This was around 8:30. at 9:15 he and the boys went out for their usual run/bike ride at a local park, from which they usually return around lunchtime. Lunchtime came and went. The clock kept ticking and I got more worried. My boys were with an unstable and angry man who believes that I try to turn them against him, and who can't accept the idea that I want a divorce. By around 1:30 or 2:00 I couldn't wait anymore. I texted him if everyone was okay, when were they going to come home. No response. My iphone indicated that he never read the message. I called and left a voicemail asking him to call me and let me know they were okay, I was worried, when were they going to come home. No response. I paced the house and felt ill. When I wasn't pacing I was sitting in the hallway staring out the window, hoping they'd be home any time. It was excruciating and pretty much the worst thing I have been through thus far. I called him once or twice more and didn't get an answer but didn't leave a message. By 4:00 I was officially frantic and called his dad's house asking if anyone had seen them. My niece answered and said no and I asked her to put her mom (who is pissed at me) on the line. She said no they hadn't seen them, but don't worry, she knew Greg was going to be there around 5:00 for dinner and she'd let me know if he didn't show up for that. I explained that I hadn't seen or heard from them since 9:15 and had received no response to my calls or text and I needed to know if I needed to call the police because I was afraid they'd been in an accident. I guess mention of police got to her, so she hung up with me, somehow got in contact with Greg, and she texted me that they were fine and on their way to Greg's dad's house. I never did hear from Greg that day and the boys arrived home at 7:30. Several days later he assured me that he had responded to my text, he swore on the Bible, by Iphones don't lie. I have no text from him. AND. He said that he didn't know where I was on Saturday since I didn't respond to his text from me, and he didn't worry, so he didn't think it would be a big deal to take them on Sunday and not let me know where they were going (i.e. that there had been a change of plans- he took them to a go kart place). He said yeah, he probably should've let me know in hindsight but because I didn't text him back Saturday quickly (he said it took 4 hours for me to respond, versus an hour and a half in actuality) he didn't think much of it. So this was payback. Me being terrified and out of my mind with fear wondering where my children were was payback for not responding to his text quick enough. He knows that I worry. He's known me 13 years. He knows I get panic-y when I don't hear from people and I assume they're dead in a ditch. Now of course he is swearing that he didn't mean to make me worry, but doesn't think it was that big a deal. So there's that.

* And there's the memory of all the times - two Boy Scout camping trips, trips to the pool, etc. - that he has told me not to come with him and the boys. "Just don't come. Just stay home." Because he feels that the boys act differently when I'm around. He recognizes that he has a different connection with them and isn't as close with them, but he punishes me and them for this, versus trying to repair his relationship with them. This is a man, who for their ENTIRE lives, has been out of town Monday through Friday all week, every week, and only sees his children Saturdays and Sundays (he gets home friday nights after everyone is asleep). And on the weekends he is busy. Doing chores around the house, running errands, working over at his dad's house, taking something to the office. So even on the weekends he's home he doesn't spend a lot of quality time with the kids. He's eaten lunch with Danny at his school once and Danny starts 3rd grade tomorrow. I'm not sure he could tell me the name of any teachers Danny has had, including his most recent one. I'm pretty sure he doesn't know the names of any of Max's teachers ever. He has never taken them to a dentist appointment. He has never taken Max to a doctor's appointment and has been to 2 doctor appointments for Danny (who is 8).

* When they don't want to do something with him on the weekends he bullies them and calls them girls, and asks them do they want to stay home with their mommy and paint their toenails (sneering). In our house the worst thing you can call someone is a girl. We can't watch that show, that's a girl show. You can't wear your hair with gel in it, that's what girls do. You can't like that color, that's a girl color. You can't do that sport, it's a girl sport.

 I can't remember the last time I felt like we were friends. I can't remember the last time I felt comfortable around him, not always waiting for the next insult or barb. I can't remember the last time I felt like he liked me. What I've mostly felt is that I can't do anything right, and that he has no respect for me. That it's just been contempt. And the contempt has eaten away at my soul until I feel so incredibly fragile right now. I know that marriage is hard and that all marriages have difficulties. And I may be exaggerating or oversensitive and that it has taken two to wreck this marriage. But there is substance to my accusations. I would not feel this broken without cause.

 So even if he were to change personalities and continue trying to be nice, I am still broken. I would be in a temporarily peaceful marriage, just waiting for it to all change back any time now. I just can't seem to get him to understand that. He thinks I'm just quitting, giving up on him, and destroying our family. I can't get him to understand that I just can't anymore. Even if he completely changed and became everything I ever wanted, I can't forget the many times that he has made me feel so crushed. Or terrified, like last weekend. That he has had the ability to say things and do things, knowing they would demolish me. And that he has said these things to my face, and seen my face crumple and has seen me cry, and continued on like nothing had happened. I can't be with someone who can do this to me and not feel bad about it. Even if he feels bad about it from now on, there was a time when he didn't.

 Does that make any sense?

Monday, August 10, 2015

6:15 am is too early for this

Okay, so I never went back and finished the last entry. I ended up being exhausted at my own self and opted to put the computer down and work out. I still can't walk right, so I think it was a good one. This is just a quick check in to capture this morning. Greg has a new strategy each weekend since the one a few weeks ago where I told him I wanted a divorce. The "telling him" weekend was characterized by guilt and irritation. Two weekends ago it was a campaign to convince me what a nice guy he was. This past weekend seemed to be an exercise in "let's just ignore that silly little thing she told me a few weeks ago." It was calm, he offered to vacuum yesterday, asked if I wanted to go running with him and the boys, we all went to the pool together yesterday afternoon, etc. To the point that as I showered and got dressed this morning I was back to feeling guilty and bad for him. I didn't want to change my mind about the divorce, but I was feeling guilty and wondering if indeed I could tolerate a marriage where we just didn't talk, as opposed to having to learn how to do my own household repairs. I was halfway through trying to tame the mop on my head (one half of my hair flatironed) when he walked into the bathroom to begin his morning stuff. It was quiet for about a minute and then he turned to me and said "So, do you still want to go through with your divorce? I continued flatironing and said yes. I asked if he was trying to figure out how much effort to put into finding a local counselor today (since last week, via email, he tried to guilt me into driving 8 hours with him to HHI to see our old counselor, because "it's the least you could do for our family and our children" and I pointed out that it would be much more appropriate to schedule an appointment with someone local. I figured he was trying to look like a good guy, offering something that was totally undo-able just so he could say, but see, I tried). He then started saying well, it doesn't seem like you're even interested in it, like you don't even want to do it. I said 2 or 3 times, if you schedule something local I will go. The last time I said it I pointed out that I can't guarantee that counseling will fix anything, I can't offer him a guarantee, but if he schedules it I will be there. We were getting louder and I said something to the effect of, so you want to talk about this now??? This isn't the time. (Only half of my hair is straight, the kids will be getting up, I need to finish getting everyone ready so we can leave the house in 40 minutes). And naturally I turn around and there's Danny standing in our bedroom, right outside our bathroom. I was hoping he didn't hear anything and greeted him and asked if he'd gotten some good sleep. He told me that our fighting had woken him up. Awesome. So I got dressed, moved him along downstairs and got Max up and downstairs. The kids were sitting on the couch watching a brief few minutes of cartoons before they got dressed and ate breakfast (the only way I can get them up out of their beds without dynamite). Greg walked down the stairs, entered the living room and said to me "So this is what you want? You're sure this is what you want?" As our two children sat on the couch maybe 5 feet from him. I was pissed and said something to the effect of "Do you not have enough sense to not talk about this now? This is not the time." And we didn't speak to each other past that. He always does that. Confronts me about something in front of the kids. Most of our fights this past year have been in front of the kids. I guess he knows that I am unwilling to say or do much in front of the kids (BECAUSE IT IS INAPPROPRIATE AND LEAVE THEM OUT OF IT FOR GODS SAKE). As usual, it's a blitz attack that comes seemingly out of nowhere and leaves me shaking and mad and sad. And now half of my head is frizzy. (Note to self, must look into getting a keratin straightening thing since apparently I'm growing my hair out, it's curly and frizzy and I just never know what curve ball my husband is going to throw at me when I'm getting ready in the mornings).

The beginning of the end

Okay, I am just that lazy that I don't want to start a new blog. And as I need to start documenting things, and there are old things worth remembering in this blog, well, there you go. This won't go in order, and that's okay because I doubt anyone else will read this but me, and I will go back at some point and organize details. In the meantime I need to get these things down. (Since I've told my husband I want a divorce, that is. And this time it's real. No second chances.) How I knew it was over. The night of his mom's funeral when I arrived at the church with the boys. He'd asked me previously if the boys had appropriate clothes to wear to the service and I said yes, thinking that khaki pants and polo shirts would be fine. But when he saw us at the church his eyes narrowed. We had about 9 people in between us at the time - his dad, sister, her husband and children, his sister and her husband and their kids. He glared at me and hissed at me about what the boys were wearing and insisted that I take them home and get them dressed in dress up clothes. I was so horrified and embarrassed that I can't remember the exact words. But the basic premise was take them home and get them dressed appropriately or he would. I said that there was no way I could get them home and back in time (5:00 Charlotte traffic would mean it would take an hour to get home and an hour to get back). He continued insisting and I got more and more embarrassed and hissed back at him that if we left we might not return. His sister broke in and pointed out that there was probably a Marshalls or something around (thanks sis). Humiliated and furious, I pushed the boys out of church (sorry boys, I was breathing fire) and led them to the car. They were confused and upset, asking what was wrong with what they had on, they looked fine, what was wrong. I'm amazed I made it to the nearest department store because I was mad and crying and mad and embarrassed. Once we were in the department store I was so upset that I couldn't even think straight and ended up asking a sales lady for help, starting to cry as soon as I got the words out. My poor boys. I shoved Max into pants that were too tight (a "slim" and little boy is no "slim") because I couldn't find any in his size and I was desperate. And still so embarrassed and mad and upset. $200 poorer, we returned to the funeral. With the boys wearing more expensive versions of what they'd had on previously - khakis, white long sleeved Polo shirts, ties and a belt. The funeral did its thing. I cried, held my husband's hand, cried for him and it was, well, a funeral. The next day was more funereal fun and I got a dirty look from Greg at some point later the next evening when he announced we'd be taking the boys out to see cousins at their hotel (at 7:00, when the boys hadn't left the church the night before until 11:00). I'd given him a look when he said that, thinking oh no, another night that they won't be able to get any sleep. Midway through the next week, after being on the receiving end of more dirty looks and shitty comments (at his dad's house that Sunday night, he'd spoken to me twice in such a way that I was left shaking and crying. It was 7:45 at night, Max was literally laying on the floor in the kitchen because he was so tired. I asked Greg if he was almost ready and he looked at me with a look of hatred and said "Do I LOOK ready?"). I emailed him and said I understood that this was probably the hardest thing he'd ever been through, I understood that anger was probably the easiest way to feel right now, and that I was probably the safest one to vent it towards, but he needed to stop. I told him I was willing to put up with it for now but not forever and please get a hold of himself, or maybe take advantage of the counseling that Hospice had offered. He wrote back basically that my behaviors the night of the funeral had made him sick, that I was a disgusting selfish person and it was all about me all the time, etc. I got that email and it pretty much broke my heart. I'd tried so hard to be there for him, I'd been there for his dad, fixed his dad meals when he didn't want to leave my MIL's side, had been there at the house within an hour after her death, etc. So the thought that the whole time I'd been holding his hand at the funeral, crying when he looked at his mother's coffin and looked so sad... that whole time I thought I'd been helping him he'd just been thinking how disgusting I was. It broke my heart. And memories are already fading because it's just so indicative of our marriage, but the bad behaviors just continued. She died June 2 and it just got worse and worse. He snapped at me, snapped at the boys, like usual. I got so I tried to avoid being in the same room with him because I never knew when the zingers would come. He got so he started going to his dad's house on Saturdays and Sundays and taking the kids with him. There was one Saturday I had the kids with me and got caught up (I had a haircut that lasted forever and they were with me). We had emailed back and forth about my haircut and he seemed to be offering to watch the kids, as in picking them up, or having me drop them off at his dad's. I thought he was being helpful but didn't feel like driving such a long way to drop the boys off just for a haircut, so I kept them. He came home that evening and hissed at me "so that's how you're going to play your little games?" He'd made similar comments before, seemingly thinking that I was trying to keep the boys from him, and this night freaked me out. I decided that he was paranoid and irrational and clearly hated me and I haven't slept in the same bed with him since then. I was afraid that he'd stab me in my sleep. Seriously. The following weekend we avoided each other and he made his shitty comments periodically like usual. That Sunday we did our usual, ate lunch. A few hours later, everyone got our bathing suits on to go to the pool. The boys stepped out into the garage to get their flip flops on leaving Greg and me in the kitchen. He looked at me and asked me not to go. Just stay home. Don't go to the pool with us. And don't go to my dad's house later. It's just easier if you're not there. Again I was taken back by the contempt in his voice, and being told not to do something. We argued back and forth as I said but I want to go to the pool, I live here too, I want to go to the pool. I'm not sure how it escalated but he announced that he didn't think he could ever forgive me for how I acted at his mom's funeral. We yelled something about marriage counseling and he told me there was no way he was going through that again. That last time it was just everyone trying to make everything his fault when it was really just my "daddy issues" and "postpartum depression" (said with heavy sarcasm and finger quotes). We yelled back and forth about divorce or something. I can't remember. I decided screw him, and I wanted to go to the pool. I walked out to the garage, and two confused kids. Danny asked me what was wrong and didn't believe me when I said nothing. He argued that he knew something was wrong because of my face and I pulled it together somewhat and told him I was fine. I drove to the pool and sat in a chair crying underneath my sunglasses, so miserable at how this was my life. They joined us at the pool, Greg and I stayed at separate corners, and the boys seemed oblivious. When we went home later I went upstairs to take a shower (since I was forbidden to go to the family barbecue) and the boys came in and asked if I was going with them. I'd been crying in the shower but told them no, I didn't feel well. Then Greg came in a few minutes later and asked if I was going. I was surprised and said no, I'd been forbidden to go. He said I could go if I wanted to and asked if I was going. I said no. Later that week I asked some lawyer friends for suggestions, called and met with a lawyer to start divorce proceedings. I wasn't nervous, didn't cry, nothing. I was done. I told him the following weekend and he didn't seem all that surprised. He didn't protest that we shouldn't divorce because of love, never mentioned that he loved me. He did say that he wasn't willing to move out of the house, although he agreed that the boys should stay in the house so they could keep their friends, same school, all that. But "it's just not a good time" for him to move out. I heard a lot of guilt. This will devastate his dad. Thanks for the timing. Thanks for how helpful I've been to his family since his mom died. Thanks for bending over backwards to help out, etc. It was awesome. I told him I'd take the boys out for ice cream or something to give him time for himself. He asked if the boys were still going to go to his dad's house that night and I said no, they needed a good night's sleep. He'd brought them back late the night before (9:30'ish) and as it was Sunday night they needed a good night's sleep. We argued about it (we always argue about my telling him the boys need to get a decent night's sleep) but I didn't back down. So naturally, the next morning, as the boys are on the couch watching TV before we left to school, he laid the guilt trip on them. Told Danny how much everyone missed them the night before, their cousins were all asking about them, etc. Poor Danny didn't know what to say, and just said "mommy told us we couldn't go." Jerkface soon to be ex husband. Last weekend he started on his campaign to convince me what a nice guy he is. I went for a run Sunday morning and he piled the boys into the car and rode up and down the neighborhood until he found me, then stopped me and asked me if I wanted to go to the park with them to go running. And then had the nerve to look confused and mildly irritated when I said no. The boys kept asking me why not (thanks Greg for getting them all excited about it when you have always told me I was not welcome to go with them running because they act like wimps when I'm around). Then he clearly got them excited later on that afternoon asking them if they wanted to go ride go-karts with him and me. Ugh. I can't finish this now. I'll come back to it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Alright, I caved.

Someone stopped me at daycare this morning and asked me about my IF journey. I've never been very secretive about it, so someone had told her what I'd shared with them and I'm glad they did. She's been through a few IVFs, and is in a support group of locals also going through IF and apparently I'm the first one they've ever met who's ever been successful via IVF. She threw something out there about maybe me speaking at a meeting or something (it actually should be my ovaries taking the credit) and it made me think about my old IF blog and my old blogger community.

Max is 14 months old now and I still feel like I'm just trying to survive on a day to day basis. I haven't had the luxury of lurking on IF blogs but I'm dipping my toe back in the water again. Apparently I can't quite give this blog up. It's too sentimental to me. It's too much a guilty pleasure to read back through and remember all that I've already forgotten (mostly the pain and worry).

I'm not sure anyone out there is still listening, but I'm whispering in case you are...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

checking in with the Universe

So I'm thinking about deleting this blog and bidding it adieu. Is that horrible?

I just can't think of anything to write. Things are going well. I have no angst. No unresolved wishes (besides to lose this stupid 10 pounds). No need to yell at the universe or ask for support. And isn't that what blogging is about? (Unless you're particularly witty and people like to read your random musings about life in general, which I am not).

Max is doing well. Growing like a week - almost double his birth weight at 2 1/2 months (yay for mommy milk and a 2nd time more confident mommy). Danny is doing great, loves being a big brother, and besides the whining, a fantastic kid. Husband is doing well - no fighting for over 6 months now. Doesn't talk as much as I'd like him to and still has some other bad habits, but I guess I'm not perfect either.

We're done with the kids thing, having won the jackpot twice now (hopefully Max will not develop anything dire). I go back to work in 2 weeks and hopefully will not be laid off anytime soon.

There's just nothing to say. I'm open to being facebook friends if you like - just reply with your email and we'll "talk." I've gotten some great support from you all and I appreciate it more than you will ever know. I just feel like I'm at the end of having anything good to say. Some people just stop posting forever and leave us wondering (Kat? you still out there?), but I thought I'd run it by the Universe first before I did anything.

Anyone still listening out there?