Things keep getting worse.
Looking at the timeline and how much things have changed since it all started, it could almost make my jaw drop in bewilderment. Almost. Because, when you’re dealing with someone whose mental health has taken a quick and sharp nosedive, you start to get used to being surprised.
A while back when things were still civil, he asked me not to talk badly about him. Of course I wouldn’t, I assured him. I would only tell the truth. Sometimes, though, the truth is enough. The truth hurts.
He was diagnosed with some mental health issues in January, a preliminary diagnosis, but accurate all the same. He’d gone to the doctor for his regular check-up and that included a short mental health screening. The news was illuminating for him, and while I was surprised, it all made sense. He seemed relieved at first, as though a light had been turned on inside some dark corner inside him for the first time in his life. At that time, I think we were both hopeful that this would help in some way, that he would have some answers to a slew of unasked, unknown questions, and we could finally address some of the issues that had been slowly picking away at what we’d built together. We knew that it would be a process, that it would take time to peel back the layers and figure out this new puzzle, but I didn’t know then that it was the beginning of the end.
He became awful after that diagnosis, and I didn’t know how to handle it. There are polls you can take online, questionnaires that tell you if you’re in an abusive relationship, and for the first time in my life, I was compelled to seek out such vague online advice. How to Tell if You’re in an Abusive Relationship. 15 Signs Your Partner is Emotionally Abusive. Is Your Partner Gaslighting You? I didn’t want to associate myself with that word – abuse. It just didn’t fit with how I felt. I didn’t feel like a victim then, and I don’t feel like a victim now, but the hard truth is that much of his behavior towards me was just that – abusive. He became insanely controlling, well beyond the realms of our D/s contract. I couldn’t state an opinion different from his without him getting onto me for trying to take control. We fought almost daily about every little thing, and I felt like I had to walk on egg shells all the time. I didn’t want to upset him because I knew he was experiencing a lot of new feelings, but it didn’t matter what I did. I couldn’t do anything right. Anytime I needed to talk to him about something, about a problem or how I was feeling, I would rehearse it in my head for days, often until the subject was far from relevant. I would psyche myself up to speak to him, and every time, it would blow up in my face. I felt lost, unheard and unimportant.
I became small so that I wouldn’t upset him. I stopped making any kind of waves in the waters of our lives, trying instead to keep the surface calm and still to keep the peace. I have opinions and I have always been encouraged to express them, but suddenly, I was censored. He needed to have control over me and over our lives because he felt out of control inside himself. I asked him what he needed. He just told me to try to understand, to try and see things from his perspective. I read articles online about how to be a better partner to someone with severe anxiety, but many of them didn’t provide any useful advice. What I did get out of them was that I needed to set boundaries for myself, that his emotions and the negative behavior resulting from those emotions was not my fault. One day, in the midst of another epic long argument over text, I told him that he was in charge of his own emotions, meaning that I didn’t have control over what he was feeling and my actions were not the root of his problems as he so often told me. I was tired of being the causing factor, the problem, when I was trying so hard to keep things calm. This statement did not go over well, and I can still feel the aftershocks of the explosion.
We kept putting bandaids on the scratches, instead of seeing the big picture and the extent of the damage that had already been done. I kept thinking that if we could just make it to London, a vacation would be the distraction that we needed to get back on track. That hope was a delusion, because our trip to London only seemed to shine a spotlight on our problems. My PMDD raged harder than it ever had before, and as he’d done each month since his diagnosis, he seemed to pull this poison out of me and stir it up and make it even worse. He’d been so supportive before, holding me, telling me it would be alright. But, this time, as I lay there in a strange bed in a foreign country, my eyes red and swollen from crying uncontrollably for hours and my brain urging me to put an end to this horrible and relentless pain, he was not there. He yelled as he walked out the door. I don’t know where he went, and I don’t remember him coming back. That foggy feeling that overtakes my usually sharp brain had set in, and I was uncomfortably resting in darkness with no anchor to keep me from floating away. When I finally climbed out of the hole, our lives were taken over by the Coronavirus.
We spent weeks at home alone, and like many quarantined couples, the isolation became suffocating. We fought, we sat in silence, we yearned for time and space away from each other. When it was over, it was like a light had been turned on. We both sought respite in our other partners. I went to see V as soon as it was safe where she was quarantined in her own space, safe from the virus. When I crawled into her arms it was like I could finally breathe again. I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders, a freedom I’d missed for the past month. I didn’t recognize it for what it was, and I wouldn’t until I finally let go of him many months later.
He also sought refuge from me with his partner. They’d just begun seeing each other before we left for London. I encouraged the relationship, thinking it would help him feel better and help our own relationship grow stronger. I was so wrong. It took a while for me to see it. It happened so slowly, little cracks and chips began to appear in our foundation and before I realized it, we were a pile of rubble on the ground. It wasn’t all her, but she was the earthquake that toppled our already compromised foundation. He started asking for more and more time with her, much more time than we’d agreed upon with previous partners, more time than I’d been allowed with V each week. One weekend sleepover and one weekday date turned into two sleepovers each week that often bled into the next day taking away our weekends together. He even started asking to see her on days we’d set aside for the two of us. He did all the things with her that I’d been asking him to do with me for months, years even. They went hiking, they spent nights together having fun, kinky sex, and when I pointed it out to him, it turned into a huge fight. I should have seen the truth then. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to do those things, he didn’t want to spend time with ME.
He started pushing my boundaries before I even realized it. He slept with her without using a condom, and instead of asking me about it, making sure I was okay with it beforehand, he just let me know about it afterwards. I don’t know why I told him I was fine with it. I don’t know why I let him cross the line like that. It’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time; I have a hard time telling him no. He told me she wanted to marry him. I still thought that we were forever, that he would never leave me. I think he was just planting a seed.
He kept asking for more and more time with her, and I couldn’t say no. I was happy to spend more time with V, but I also knew that it wasn’t fair to her to rely on her to be there every time he wanted to be with his other partner. I’d been on Tinder for almost a year trying to find dates with other girls and was not having any luck, so, on a whim, I switched my Tinder to include men as well. He’d always said that if I ever decided I wanted to date men, that I just needed to talk to him about it first, that he would support me if I ever made that decision. I didn’t see that I was doing anything wrong, anything outside of the realms of our agreement when I clicked that little toggle button. I thought it would be a joke as I sat there with V and Q and we laughed at the different profiles, swiping left as we went. I laughed at one particular photo, a sweaty guy making a weird face with a WuTang grill in his teeth. Look at this one! I mean, what even is this!?!? But, I looked at the next picture, and it made me smile. He was wearing a dress and fairy wings. The next photo wiped the grin off my face and made my heart beat faster. This guy was hot, and he was funny, and he didn’t take himself too seriously. I thought, why the hell not, and I swiped right. The next day, I had a notification on my Tinder app. I’d matched with him. I chatted with him that weekend while I was with the girls and we made plans to meet up sometime in the next few weeks.
I got home late Saturday night and decided it wasn’t a good time to talk to my husband about wanting to meet up with this guy. We had plans Sunday for a rope suspension, one that I’d been looking forward to for weeks as our rope lay neglected in their bag. So, I waited until that afternoon as we sat talking over drinks. I was nervous and excited. I thought he would be uncomfortable but understanding, after all, he was wrapped up in his new relationship so tightly he barely had time for me. But, it was another explosion, a big one. I was a liar, a cheater, I’d crossed the line so far that there was no coming back. I was so confused. I thought I’d done exactly what I was supposed to, but as it always seemed to be, I couldn’t do anything right.
I didn’t end up going out with that guy until after the D word had already been thrown out, and he turned out to be really great. He opened up a door for me, showed me that I was interesting and worth his time, helped me to see that dating men could be fun and exciting, not the miserable and daunting task I expected. I was respectful of my husband’s wishes, even though I didn’t understand them. I felt like a joke, like my sexuality was a novelty to him. I was just a wife that went out and had sex with other women because that’s hot and sexy and safe. The idea of me even wanting to meet a man for dinner was just too much for his tender ego. I couldn’t stand the fact that he’d lied to me for so long. He’d lied to everyone, and I felt like a fraud. This was just another nail in the coffin.
When he asked me for a divorce, he told me that he had someone else that would literally do anything for him. I saw the toxicity in this statement, the poison that dripped around these words that were so carefully gilded in goodness. I don’t think he sees this yet, but it doesn’t matter. He’s not mine. I’m not his.
We started this process out as friends. He wasn’t happy, we weren’t compatible. I acquiesced. We separated.
But, things just keep getting worse.
Now, he won’t let me into the house to get the rest of my things. He has threatened to call the police and have me arrested, and by law because I moved out of the house first, he can do this. It is a mandatory 24 hours in jail for domestic trespassing. His reasoning for this is that his partner, who has moved into my house and is sleeping on my side of the bed we bought together, is uncomfortable with me being there. They gave me an impossible schedule as to when I was allowed to come get my things and get the house ready to be sold. I told them the schedule didn’t work for me, asked for compromise and I was met with a solid wall of refusal. I showed up one day during one of the agreed upon approved times but didn’t not give notice that I would be coming by. I just needed to pick up a file with our tax documents so I could file our taxes on time. He became aggressive, following me around, cornering me, yelling at me for showing up unannounced. I laughed at him. It’s a coping mechanism, and it has worked in the past when I have been in an uncomfortable situation. It worked this time too, as he finally retreated and I left with his shouts reverberating in my ears as I peeled down the driveway.
In the last month, he has harassed me every Friday night. He will send text after text to both my personal and work phone numbers. If I block him, he will email every account I have. He calls me names, tells me I’m selfish, I’m horrible at my job, that I’m a terrible person. I don’t know why he does this to me every week, but I think he is trying to exert some sort of control over my life, and unfortunately, it works. I’ve cried in public several times. V has had to hold me as my body shakes with uncontrollable sobs. I wake up many Saturdays with puffy eyes.
I just want this to be over. I feel so stuck, like he’s got me in a fly trap and is toying with me and my emotions. I feel like I have no room to move, to breathe. And, all the while he plays the part of the victim very well. He rants that I trigger his anxiety, he keeps reeling me in while telling me his therapist has recommended he not engage with me. His partner eats every bit of this up, saying I’m a liar, I’m mean to him, that she’s read our text messages. Like I was, she is blinded by love, and I know she is struggling to understand him as I did for so many months. This toxicity is starting to wear me down, and the longer I’m attached to our old house, the longer I have to wait to get out of there, to sell it and let it go, the longer I have to endure this torment.
This is my side of the story, my truth, and it hurts. He has his own side of the story, I’m sure. His own version of the truth, but I don’t care about his side. He did this. He wanted this. He started this. I’m just a leaf in the river at this point, and he is the current carrying me where he pleases. I can’t wait for the day I can be a stone again, when I can sink to the bottom where it’s quiet and let the water wash over me and shape me, but I will be unmoved.