In Which (My) Worth is Debated

When I first separated from Evil Ex*, it was January.

I packed up a bag of clothes and toiletries, like I was taking a weekend away, and moved in to a friend’s spare room six miles north. Then, in the morning, I drove to work to start the spring semester like nothing was happening.

My larger group of friends didn’t know for several weeks. My co-workers were never informed, with the exception of my closest friend on staff, who heard the story while I sobbed over margaritas at a poorly attended happy hour gathering in March.

On the day in February when I realized he had been dishonest about the woman I wanted him to stop seeing, I sent a private message to our closest friends, letting them know that I was not speaking to him for a while, and that if they had questions they could ask me, but I did not want my whereabouts or activities announced to him.

Then I changed my Facebook status from “Married” to “Separated”, blocked him, blocked her for good measure, and decided a moment later to remove my relationship information from my profile completely. It was meant to be temporary, to avoid uncomfortable questions.

The news still spread. And within the next two months I had a handful of different men coming out of the woodwork, saying different variations of “Heyyyy… soooo… you’re not with that guy anymore, huh?”

I once thought of myself as a beautiful, sexy, vibrant, daring, intelligent, witty, exciting prize of a woman. Over the six years I had morphed into an old, dumpy, tired, angry, frightened creature who insulted herself even in public. Male attention was surprising, especially with the 70-80 pounds I had packed on in the six years I’d been with him (50 of those in the two years since our wedding, when the physical abuse began).

I put people off at first, then picked up a fuckbuddy or two, went out on a date or two. I learned again how much dating sucks. I got to the end of the semester, and put my profile on a free dating site, because I needed to meet new people and get out of my cocoon.

I met five horrendous people and talked to dozens more, people who heard me say “my separation is new… I’m still pretty raw… it’s been tough… I’m not ready for a relationship,” and their take-away was, “But you’re looking to have some fun, right? ;)”

The sexual attention, with or without a paper-thin veil of sympathy or “I’m here for you”, made me begin to seriously question what I was worth. I began to wonder if sex–more to the point, casual sex–was all I was “good for.”

It would be different if it was just coming from strangers on a website. This was the attitude of friends. Men I had known for years, even close to ten or fifteen years in a few cases. Men who knew me before I met Evil Ex, before I kissed a boy or had sex. They didn’t want to get together and talk to me about my divorce, or how I was handling things. They wanted to talk about whether I would send them nude photos, whether I wanted to see theirs.

They gave lines like “I’ve always felt [insert flattering things] about you, and if you ever want to meet up, I’d be happy to distract you from everything that’s going on.”

I mean… fuck. When your spouse invests six years into seeing you broken down to useful body parts which are unfortunately attached to an uppity personality that needs to be cut down to size, this is not a helpful offer. This does not help a fat ugly angry worthless broken creature feel like a woman.

This evokes the sense that perhaps Evil Ex was right, and what I’ve got going for myself is an impressive pair of knockers and a spankable ass. I can be quite attractive, I guess, as long as I don’t waste too much time speaking or having inconvenient opinions. I’m a fully pose-able sex doll who is down to help them act out some fantasies while being self-sufficient enough to not actually need anything from them.

It’s taking time. I still get the “heyyyyy” offers every once in a while, or perhaps I am now programmed to see every overture of friendship as such. Perhaps I have lost my ability to trust that anyone sees worth in my thoughts. Perhaps I am the one who doesn’t recognize what people are asking.

Either way, I’ve given up casual sex for the time being. And since I made that decision, I’ve had brilliant glimpses of what it means to find value in myself. Not in my photos, not in my reflection, not in my skill sets with certain body parts: value in being the beautiful, intelligent, bitchy hardass that I am. Value in telling people “No”, and value in what I choose to give my time and efforts to.

I do some things that are pretty cool, without or without throwing my blowjob technique into the equation.

 

*Evil Ex = I called him Good Will Hunting once upon a time, and during the separation called him Charles Manson… gonna need a better, more permanent nickname. Feel free to comment with suggestions.

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In Which a Complicated Situation is Abbreviated

2009:

Girl: Hi, new friends. [wow. cute.]

Guy: Nice to meet you. [wow. cute.] I think you’ve met my girlfriend?

Girl: [shit]

 

2010:

Guy: Hey, how you been? [still wow.cute. maybe…?]

Girl: Great! This is my new boyfriend.

Guy: [shit]

 

2011:

Guy: I’m engaged!

Girl: I’m engaged!

Both: [welp]

 

2012:

Girl: I’m so glad we’re friends.

Guy: Me, too.

Guy’s fiancee: This is the best. We can double date.

Girl’s fiance: Totally. Friends are great.

 

2013:

Guy: [gets married]

Girl: [welp. shit. Glad we’re friends.] … [gets married]

Guy: [guess that’s that. Glad we’re still friends.]

 

2014:

Guy: I’m gonna be a dad.

Girl: Congrats. Lotta shit’s going south for me.

Guy: I’m here for you.

Girl:  Thanks. I’m here for you too.

Guy: [drunk] [snuggle]

Girl: [drunk] [snuggle] [torn/worried]

Guy’s wife: Gonna flip out.

Girl’s husband: Yeah, you two shouldn’t be friends.

Girl & Guy: Probably right. OK.

 

2015:

[no contact]

 

2016:

Guy: You okay?

Girl: My husband is abusive & cheating and I’m leaving him.

Guy: Shit. I’m sorry. Need a friend?

Girl: Yeah, thanks.

Guy’s wife: [flips out]

Girl: Nvm. Later.

 

2017:

Guy: Can’t do this. I’m leaving her.

Girl: Things you’re telling me trigger memories of my own abusive marriage. You OK?

Guy: No.

Girl: Need a friend?

Guy: Yep.

Girl: I’m gonna give you the support I needed to get out of my own bad situation.

Guy: Oh. I should mention. I have super real feelings for you.

Girl: Shit. Me too. Let’s not do this now.

Guy: Agreed. Just had to say it.

Guy’s wife: [hacks phone] [flips out] Girl is a whore trying to steal my man.

Girl: FUCK. THIS.

Guy: I’m sorry. I’ll handle it.

Girl: Do that. I’ll be wayyy over here. Bye.

 

Go ahead and judge. You won’t be the first.

In Which “Maybe He Doesn’t Hit You…”

One day, I learned about the hashtag craze on Twitter, called #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou, illuminating all the forms and disguises that domestic abuse can take.

I read a few, and was shocked at how heavily it resonated with me. I decided to prove myself wrong or right, and simply write out some of my own stories. I decided if I could come up with ten that were clear, true, un-embellished memories, that I would be able to make up my mind for sure about the nature of my relationship with my husband.

Maybe he doesn’t hit you, but…

He spends the drive home from parties finding fault with your behavior and chastises you until you cry, apologize, or both.

He throws a pillow at your head as hard as he can.

He shoves you against the wall while you are arguing.

He throws your keys so hard against a wall that the key-fob shatters.

He says you cry too easily and use it to get attention, or make him feel bad.

He literally won’t let you go to sleep until you’ve accepted his side of an argument. Even if it’s three in the morning and you have work the next day, he walks out and comes back in every thirty minutes until you give in.

He talks rapidly, and when you say you didn’t understand him, asks, “is it because you’re deaf or a fucking idiot?”

When you try to explain something that upset you or hurt your feelings, you wind up apologizing to him for your tone or choice of wording.

He grabs the car keys out of your hand and drives off, leaving you locked out of your home in a parking lot.

He shakes you. And puts you in restraining holds when you try to leave.

He blocks the exit when you need to walk away.

He corners you in the bathroom, the bathtub, the bedroom, regardless of whether you are ready to talk, and blocks the exit. If you lock the door, he jimmies the lock open.

He calls you stupid.

He calls you crazy.

He convinces you that you may actually be crazy.

He takes the beer out of your hand, and empties the bottle over your head.

He kicks your Tiffany lamp over, snapping it in half, and when you protest, says, “yeah, fuck your lamp.”

He reminds you that he has never actually hit you.

He tells you that what he does isn’t abuse, compared to what he went through.

He calls your male friends “surrogate husbands” and reads your conversations with them, without your consent.

He has to know where you are going, with whom, and how long you will be gone.

He convinces you to give up activities you love because he can’t/won’t take part in them.

He tells you that you are too fat to have his children.

He tells you that you are throwing away “yet another” marriage.

He pushes through your boundaries, then tells you that your boundaries are wrong.

He sexually fixates on your closest female friends, and when you ask him not to do anything with them, he says you are being jealous and controlling.
… then he messes around with them anyway.

You find his secret sexting and webcam girlfriend online, and he is furious that you looked at his messages. He says he doesn’t know how he will trust YOU again.

He screams two inches from your face, to get you to back away.

He screams until you are crying hysterically.

He screams until you just. Stop. Speaking. Or moving. Or thinking. Waiting for him to stop.

When he grabs you and shoves you onto the bed, you panic and curl into a fetal position because you’re convinced he is finally going to hit you.

When he gestures too wildly, you flinch. He is offended by this and lectures you on how hurtful that flinch was to him.

When you go on a girls’ weekend with your friends, they see you start to panic as soon as he calls you.

He wraps his hands around your throat and shakes you, screaming, “Is this what you wanted? Is this what you are asking for?”

He crouches over you during an argument, and when you ask him to move back, he refuses.
…when you push him back, he slaps you across the face.

He refers to the slap in the face as “that was only ONE TIME, and it was because you…”

He calls you melodramatic when you try to explain the situation to friends. Then insists you stop spending time with those friends, because they judge him.

He tries to convince your family you are mentally or emotionally unbalanced, so that they won’t take your side of the story seriously.

When I finished writing these, I spent the next hour shaking and crying. That was the day I realized I could never go back. It was roughly one year ago.

In Which Internet Algorithms are Flawed

Hey, you know what sucks? Taking silly online quizzes that pair you with your Facebook “soulmates” and your abusive soon-to-be-ex-husband pops up in the results.

We’re not friends on social media anymore. He was even blocked for a while. And now you’re putting his face in front of me again.

Epic fail, internet.

In Which I am Not Chronological

Oh, yeah, this is just a disclaimer. I will post things wildly out of order.

You’re welcome to contact me if you seek clarification or want to hear a specific story I allude to, but I’m not telling this in a nice sequential format.

It’s like when a well-meaning dumbass boyfriend asked me, “What’s the least you’ve ever weighed?” as a preamble for how he thought I would be much healthier if I exercised and lost about 20-30 pounds.

Since he asked that when we got back to my bedroom following my birthday dinner, I still firmly believe he deserved every inch of the reaction that followed. Hopefully he learned not to tell a girlfriend she’s fat on her birthday.

Either way, my reply was “Eight pounds, six ounces. Is this a goal you’d like me to aspire to?” And that was the abrupt end to our evening.

I began life as a baby, etc, but the story doesn’t really get interesting until I became a fuckup adult. Precocious, mouthy kids with snaggle teeth and wild hair aren’t good for more than a cute anecdote.

Unless they’re good at archery, then they get a Disney movie.

I was an overachiever, I prayed very hard and went to church every time my parents wanted me to, I joined all the clubs, I wrote angsty poetry full of imagery and erudite word choices. I sang in the choir and got little parts in the school play and basically believed that awards made me a worthwhile human being, so I chased as many as I possibly could. I didn’t date, mostly because I was heavy and ridiculously insecure. I went to college on scholarships, got my first kiss at twenty, lost my virginity to my first serious-boyfriend-turned-fiancé, got married a year after graduation.

It wasn’t until I was twenty-sixish and two years married that I started fucking up, on account of feeling like a bulletproof Good Girl who was owed some Britney-level mistakes. I turned a long term friendship and unspoken attraction into a spoken attraction, which became longing, which became kissing, which became a painful and brief affair, which became a breakup and a shattered friendship and a broken heart.

My first marriage survived only a few months after that. I tried to pick up pieces and realized I’d really, really fucked up, because I didn’t actually love my husband. I had settled on the first boy who found me marriageable, and convinced myself that since I’d done so well in life up to that point, I had it all figured out and could do no wrong. He was understandably crushed, and fought for me, because he was a sweet and decent (if immature and absentminded) man who had never had a girlfriend before, let alone survived a breakup. I had to pry my life away from his, and in the end I was rather cruel to him, because he just didn’t get it. 

I said I wanted out, I said I didn’t love him enough and getting married was a mistake, and I was not bluffing. When I made up my mind, that was it. No more couples therapy, no more negotiation, he can take it all, but I’m going.

What a terrible bitch I was. I can try to justify it by saying he did some awful things, too (because people do awful things in a divorce), I can tell you that the birthday-weight-loss story is about him, I can talk about how many times he made me cry, how many nights in our marriage I sobbed myself to sleep because he would do or fail to do something important, how many ways I mothered him and picked up after him and organized his life… but in the end, he didn’t do much to harm me and I was a terrible bitch.

It’s important that you know that you are reading the blog of a terrible bitch. So whatever happened over the next decade of my life after marrying him, I kinda deserved.

It makes it easier for me, at least: what happened after that was karma. Lots of years of karma.

In Which I Got My Dog

So I’m a dog person.

This is 98% due to the fact that I am allergic to cats, and was biologically unable to be a cat person from age 8 and up.

It is 100% about loving fluffy creatures that let you snuggle them.

The first dog was my first husband’s choice, a tiny terrier muttling. He loved her, I liked her, and she destroyed our apartment, chewing her way through our security deposit like it was rawhide.

My dog was adopted a year and a half later, a 10 pound “chocolate lab” puppy who wound up being 70% pitbull. He had amber eyes and a reddish nose and worshipped me, following me from room to room. (Well, we worshipped each other.)

By the time I separated from my husband (he moved out with the terrier because I needed “space to think”, that will be its own blog post later), my tiny brown puppy was nearly 50 pounds, all energy and anxiety, and stress-peeing on my bed because his human wouldn’t stop crying or screaming.

When I acquired a rental house with a little yard for him, he was nearly 70 pounds of sleek, dopey beauty. We loved each other thoroughly, having no one else to lavish with attention, and he no longer peed on my bed. (The carpet was another story.)

One night, working late, a stray beagle mutt who was often seen wandering around my school was discovered quite literally on my doorstep, i.e. flopped just in front of the entrance to my classroom. She was quiet and sweet and seemed perpetually tired, but fond of being stroked along her copper-brown nose.

She was also emaciated, covered in scrapes, dripping wet, and shivering.

When I finished work I took her to an emergency vet, without thinking through the next steps. Stinking and soaked through, she fell asleep across my lap in the vet’s office. She snored audibly, and I was caught. I paid nearly $300 for her exam and the antibiotics for her infections, and took her home to eat and sleep.

In the morning she woke up with a completely different personality. Full belly and subsided fever made her energetic and bright-eyed, wagging hard and greeting my skeptical chocolate lab like they were old friends. I realized “oh, shit, this is my dog now.”

That appears to be the story of my life.

I adopted a dog on accident, and she made my life hell, but she also made up for it. She ate like a horse, until she realized meals would happen regularly, by which time my pit-lab was sick of her shenanigans. She escaped the yard like a canine Houdini, until my big boy couldn’t stand the loneliness and began to follow her. She stole food from my countertops. She got into my trash cans. She chewed on my very nicest lingerie. (Not the cotton granny stuff. The lacy underwire shit.)

She also loved having a home, and would battle my bigger dog for snuggles. They wrestled over rights to my lap many times. It definitely makes a pathetic single gal feel loved, which was probably why I kept her.

Now, my big boy is long gone. A bad escape attempt four years ago resulted in him being hit by a car which she narrowly evaded, and now it’s just the two of us.

This con-artist of a dog is all I have left in the world, eight years old and curling up against my leg on the couch, aiming her big brown eyes at me. I walked past her a dozen times at work when she came to the school scavenging for leftover Cheetos, and now she is the only living creature who greets me when I get home, wagging her tail so hard her entire body sways. I couldn’t imagine life without her.

The choices I made intentionally never seemed to work out. It’s the ones that crashed into me sideways that appear to stick. I’m still working on understanding it.

Meet our Lass

 Reasons to read this blog:

  • Confusion
  • Pity
  • Schadenfreude
  • (You think) you’re in an abusive relationship
  • You have escaped a narcissist, BPD, manipulative, controlling, &/or sociopathic partner
  • Navel-gazing is fun
  • Insomnia
  • Boredom

If none of these reasons apply, by all means return to Google.

I write this for compulsion. I write this for healing. I write this for understanding. I write this for progress. Take it for what you will.

The author is female. The author is tall. The author is heavyset. The author has high-functioning anxiety. The author is sloppy. The author is a musician. The author is a teacher. The author is twice-divorced. The author is a fallen overachiever. The author is not as cool as you. The author will not be offended if you disagree. Feel free to move along.