Today marks 6 years of my freedom. On May 17th, 2013, I closed on another house. This was my second home I’ve purchased, but this time was much different. This one was completely on my own. My first home was purchased in 2006 with my boyfriend at the time. A long time. The relationship lasted 16 years. I would say about 14 years too long. But I was weak back then. I didn’t think I deserved to be treated like a human being. In my head, based on my mothers marriage and relationships, I was just thankful that he didn’t physically beat the shit out of me.
You see, my mother had a really horrible life, from birth until the day she died. I don’t know the details of her childhood, but she never spoke of much and I only caught negative comments about it. I do know, however, that growing up with my grandmother must have been it’s own kind of hell. RIP to all of the ladies on my mothers side of the family. Big Nana, Little Nana, and my very own mom. They are all gone. It’s been 10 years since my mother left this earth. My father beat the shit out of my mom on the regular. I know because I saw it happen. I watched from the doorway to their bedroom, frozen. I thought he was going to kill her, and there were times that he would have, no doubt. You see, my father had the excuse of his Chinese culture. Historically, they believe women are only alive to be penetrated, bear children, and make their husband 3 meals a day. This is how he treated my mother, and all the other women he slept with and had children with (during and after his marriage to my mom). He didn’t want me, because I was a useless girl. He loved my brother though. He destroyed us when my mom finally left him, and quite honestly I’m surprised he didn’t kill us all. He was involved in some serious shit. Looking back at things, my brother and I think he was involved in the Chinese mafia. I watched him get arrested on the evening news one night, but it was only for extortion, if I recall correctly. Maybe money laundering. I’m really not sure, but it involved money and his restaurant. The Chinese restaurant I grew up in.
For years after my mom divorced him, she was a train wreck in every way possible. Though please be clear that it was not her fault. I do not blame her for anything. When you leave an abusive, powerful, money hungry man that hates women, your life is in danger. Your kids lives are in danger. I can’t even imagine what that feels like, but as a child I saw how it took a toll on her. I watched her mentally decline as I grew up. There were times we had no where to live. There were times I didn’t think we’d have food. We moved. A lot. We stayed with friends. My best friends mother offered for me to come live with them. We had to give MY dog away. She was my dog. I took care of her, I read books to her when I was just learning to read, she was the only constant in my life. Her name was Betsy and she was a black lab. My rock. My only real friend during the time we had to move out of the town I had grown up in. But my mom couldn’t afford to take care of her, and finding apartments to live in that allowed dogs was nearly impossible. So someone came and took her one day. It destroyed me. I went through a very deep, dark depression over the following years. I drank a lot as a teenager. I did a lot of stupid things in high school. I tried to kill myself. I wrote about all of this in more detail in a previous blog post. You should check it out. No really, you should. Why? Because I am not alone. Other kids go through the same shit, they probably just don’t talk about it.
Once my brother went off to college, my mother kind of “let go”. I think for the first time, she almost felt freedom. She had less responsibility. I worked through high school as much as the law allowed, plus I worked under the table as a chamber maid. I provided for myself. Not really by choice, but because I had to. After a while though, I tasted freedom. My relationship with my mother declined very quickly. She had started dating at this time and in hindsight I don’t blame her. However, she didn’t exactly go about it in a responsible way. All of the guys she dated abused her. I watched from my bedroom window one night as her boyfriend punched her in the face and nearly broke her nose. Alcohol is poison. I’ve seen what it does to people, and what it has done to me. That’s a big part of the reason why I don’t drink any more. I will still have a drink or two if I’m out with friends (super rare), or if I’m at a friends house. But I much prefer marijuana to relieve my stress and help me relax. No side effects. No hangover. No addiction. I smoke every night alone, in my home. I will never understand why marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. Alcohol kills someone every second of every day. It destroys families. But sure, allow that but don’t allow a natural drug that has so many healing properties. I digress….
Now that you have a little background, I’ll continue with the main purpose of this blog post. Having grown up with a psychotic father, having grown up depressed and feeling like I was never good enough, having grown up chaotic and often under the influence, having grown up way too fast because I had no choice, made me the person I was back then. I was only 17 years old, still in high school. I was spiraling out of control, but still holding a job so I could pay my bills and buy myself food and clothes. I still did pretty well in high school surprisingly. I was actually a very smart kid and was even in some advanced classes. I guess on the outside to others, I didn’t look like the girl that came from the rough family that lived in poverty. I mean, most people knew, but I had a sense of humor about me that I think people were attracted to. I had friends. Some really good ones, and then some really superficial ones. Once I started drinking, I would often become the life of the party. I would get black out at parties. I have some really shady high school memories. But there is one “memory” that I think stands out and is probably what really gave me a wake up call. I won’t get into details or name names, but let’s just say I got black out drunk at a party, hooked up with a guy older than me, and only remember some very vague things from the start of the night, left the party with the older guy (who may have worked in law enforcement in some capacity), and I woke up in someone’s apartment the next morning. Now, I’m not trying to insinuate that I was raped or anything like that. I lied to him about my age at the start of the night, as I was only 17. I knew very well what I was doing at the start of the night. I was out of control and didn’t give any fucks what happened to me. The ironic part is, after that party, he was deployed overseas but would write to me. He sent me photos of him in uniform while serving in the air force. When he returned home, we actually dated for a little while. Guess my drunk ass must have been pretty good in bed! I know I shouldn’t joke about that and some may find it offensive, but it’s my life and my story to tell. I find humor in everything, it’s the one thing that’s kept me going all these years.
Shortly after all these weird life events in such a short period of time, I met this guy at the grocery store I was working in. The second I saw him, I had to have him. And I got him. I fell in love at 17. He was 7 years older than me and was straight edge, so I stopped drinking and doing drugs, because all I wanted was him. I do believe that I was in love with him during that time in my life, but that dwindled as you will figure out. I got accepted to Simmons College, but declined and went to the University of Southern Maine instead. He and I got an apartment together, and I worked full time while taking full time classes. I guess I owe him for forcing me to get my shit together. So thanks, asshole….he may read this, who knows!
Years passed and I was pretty happy for the most part, for the first few years of the relationship. I got diagnosed with Endometriosis in my early 20’s. It should have been diagnosed a lot earlier than I did. My experience with Endo will be another blog post, as it’s something I do want to share to hopefully help other women. But for the purpose of this story, just know that my experience with Endo impacted my relationship and I fully acknowledge that. However, it was not the entire reason why our relationship declined year after year. As I stated, he was 7 years older than me. He was an only child, and his parents were 40 when they had him. This may seem insignificant, but I assure it’s an important detail. You see, he was spoiled as fuck. His mom had a shared bank account with him, up until the day she died. She and his father would put gobs of money in that account for any occasion. Birthdays, holidays, Mondays, Saturdays, you name it. They paid his college tuition. They allowed him to live at home well into his 20’s. Just think of all the money someone could save in that situation. All of those things I had to pay for on my own. Rent, bills, college tuition, every day living expenses. During those early years, my mom went a little too crazy and I ended up having to help support her financially and otherwise. It’s not something I like to think about. I prefer to remember her in a better light. But again, I don’t blame her. After all she had been through, it’s honestly a miracle she wasn’t dead from stress and abuse.
As the years passed and my relationship went on, I found myself secluded from everyone. My family, my friends. I was completely alone, though in a relationship with someone I thought loved me. I guess he did in his own way. He always had some “unique” qualities, but nothing I felt was serious. Remember, we started dating when I was 17. That’s not really the age when people can recognize red flags. His negative qualities got worse and worse over the years. He had anger issues that would escalate. He and I never fought until the last couple of years, so he never really got angry at me. But he would get so much rage at times that he strangled a guy at a red light when he thought he lightly bumped his car at a traffic light. He gave another guy such a brake job one night that the guy’s car spun around in the middle of the road. Thankfully no other cars were involved. He did some weird, crazy shit. I didn’t realize the severity of these things at the time, as we had been together for years and I was still very young.
He was an elitist. He truly believed he was better than everyone else. He talked down to his very sweet, elderly mother on the regular. She would talk to me about it after and ask me why he hated her. I had to comfort her, as I was the only person that she had to talk to. She would cry in front of me, about her marriage, her husband, and her son. I reassured her that her son talked to me the very same way, which was absolutely true. I wasn’t just telling her that to make her feel better. He would call me stupid in public. I remember two times that I dropped some change while waiting in line to check out at Target. When I dropped the change and went to pick it up, he called me an “idiot” in front of the cashier and the other customers behind me. Because I dropped change. Are you fucking kidding me? I’m getting irritated just reminiscing about this. He didn’t like me going out with friends. I had friends over to our house that we had purchased together. After they left, he made fun of every single one of them. And not just about what they were wearing. He cut them deeply. I was pissed off and finally spoke up about how he was making me feel. He said he was just joking. That was always his follow up line when I would call him out on something. What really hit me hard was when he would take his finger and poke my stomach. I suppose some guys do this as a cute gesture, I guess? But he was doing it to measure how fat I was. I know this because sometimes he would make comments about my weight when he did it. And he would blatantly stare at my stomach a lot, and then poke it. Made me feel like the Pillsbury dough boy. I told him that, but he continued to do it. More years passed and his attitude towards people in general was pure hatred. He made fun of everyone. I probably hung out with friends a few times a year, but every time he would make me feel guilty. He would say, “Really? Well what am I supposed to eat for dinner? At least bring me home some Taco Bell.” Not only that, but he would tell me it couldn’t be from the Taco Bell closest to our house (because they suck at making bean burritos), but instead had to be at another location that was completely out of my way. But I did it. More than once. There were a lot of other little things that were red flags. He didn’t know how to write a check (yes, I realize that’s obsolete today, but it was not back then). He made me sit down and write checks for him. I would tell him that I could easily show him how to do it, but he refused to watch and learn. He had no idea how to do laundry. Literally no idea. After I broke off our relationship, not only did he insist I continue living with him and sleep in the same bed with him still, but he made me show him how to do laundry. After 16 years, he made me show him how to do laundry. Are you fucking kidding me??
Let me back up to years 11-16 of the relationship. My mother passed away in 2009. I was not even 30 years old. I haven’t had a father since I was a very young child (and he wasn’t really a father), and now I found myself completely parentless. In reality, it was just par for the course. And it’s not like my mother and I were super close like we were when I was young. But we were getting our relationship back on track slightly. I was flying out to Michigan on weekends when she was in the hospital. I was sending her care packages. Remember how I mentioned she made some bad decisions? Well, part of that was her having (what I believe) a mental breakdown from everything life had thrown at her. Included in that was moving out to Michigan from Maine. My poor mother. She never had a chance at a decent life. Thinking about that kills me. There are certain things that you never truly let go of in life, and that is one of them for me.
So my mother was gone, and I was devastated. I had no real friends because I couldn’t really have any. All I had was this guy that said he loved me, but treated me like complete shit. I stayed busy with house projects and working on my cars. We had a Siamese cat named Sumo. He was the first real love of my life. He was 8 years old when he died in 2011. Again, I was devastated. This is going to sound weird, but I was probably more devastated about losing Sumo than I was my own mother. Why do some people feel the death of their pets more than the death of human loved ones? For me, I believe it goes back to being alone. My cats and dog are the only constants in my life. They are there for me every single day. The hard days, the impossible days, the days I want to quit, as well as the days I am so happy about something small but have no one to talk to about it. So needless to say, I was more than just upset. I went into a depression. No mom, no Sumo.
Then my best friend died in 2012. We hadn’t been close since my relationship got too intense over the years, but we always stayed in contact and I would see her on rare occasions. My biggest regret of my relationship was that I distanced myself from her. I wish so badly that I could get that time back. He wasn’t worth it. He was never worth it. Her death was kind of unexpected. Inevitable, but sudden and unexpected. I remember getting the phone call while I was at my desk at work. I lost it.
So now that everything important in my life was gone, I went into an even deeper depression. Other things were going well for me, like my job. I was getting promotions and title changes, making good money and saving good money while still able to pay half of the mortgage and bills. I always paid half, even though my boyfriend had $100k in the bank account he shared with his mother. If that doesn’t prove that I was and will never be about the money, I don’t know what will. And the story continues….
One random day, my boyfriend came home from work. I was already home, sitting on the couch, watching TV. He walks in the door, looks at me, and says, “You need to get a hobby.” I’m pretty sure a good boyfriend would have asked, “Hey honey, I know you’re going through a lot. Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?” But no, that is not what he said. His one liner was a pivotal point in my life. After all that I had been through, and after all these years of being in this shitty relationship and being degraded on the daily, I was done. I joined a gym, got a personal trainer, and lost a lot weight. He continued to poke my stomach during that time, but I had plans. Mother fucker, I HAD PLANS NOW. Before I continue, I will say that I am not proud of what I did. But, what I did was absolutely necessary. Also note that I had never lied to him up until this point. I am one of those strange people who can’t lie. So to be able to pull off what I did successfully, you KNOW how empowered I had made myself after all those years. I wasn’t fucking around, I wasn’t taking his shit any more. I was done.
For a few months, it was just thoughts. It wasn’t anything solid, I was just basically dreaming about leaving him and what my life could look like without him in it. That’s not easy when you’ve been with the same person since you were 17 and you’re now 33. Then, I got the ball rolling because it was time to make something….anything….happen. I went to visit the realtor that we had used to buy our house. I sat down with her and had a very serious conversation, and asked for her discretion and explained how important it was. I think she was surprised, but she was happy for me. She never called my phone and she never made a mistake. I always reached out to her when I was alone. I would meet her at the park & ride, get into her car, and she would drive me around to look at properties. I would tell him that I was going to the gym when this happened. Did I feel good about this? Hell no. But when I thought about all the things he said to me and how he made me feel, and knowing that I had basically no family left and no where to go if I were to leave him, this was entirely self preservation. I wanted something permanent. I wanted something on my own, without him. I wanted to feel safe. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to smile again. I wanted the freedom to cry whenever the fuck I wanted to without this guy judging me. After that pivotal day where he made that comment to me, I started speaking up to him. I found my voice. I asked him not to talk down to me any more. I told him not to make fun of my friends. I told him not to make his mother cry. I told him not to poke my stomach. But he continued to do all of it. Clearly he was never going to change. I wanted out. I needed out.
It didn’t take long for me to find a house. I found the perfect home. The market was prime for purchasing. I got a super low interest rate, which is still low to this day. I went through all the motions of buying a house again, this time on my own. I had a nice down payment since I had been working my ass off and was making a good salary. I made an offer and they accepted the next day. Now this is where shit got real.
After the preliminary paperwork, getting approved for a mortgage, etc, I now had a closing date of 5/17/13. I still had not ended the relationship, and he had no idea what I was doing. The days started passing quickly, and I was making myself physically ill because I am not the type of person to lie and play pretend house with someone.
It was exactly 2 weeks from my closing date. I was so sick, and I hadn’t been sleeping at all. This secret and the need to break up with him after 16 years was eating away at me like nothing in my life ever has. I got home before him, and when he got home, he sat down to watch TV next to me. At that point, my brain went into some weird place and I emotionally shut the fuck down. I looked at him and said, “Are you happy?” This was not the line I had practiced in my head a million times, it just came out of my mouth. Of course he answered yes. Then I opened up and let it all out. I didn’t break down and cry like the old me would have done. He went into shock. He told me he was sorry, he told me that he was going to ask me if I wanted to have a baby, he told me he loved me. And for the first time, he told me that he appreciated everything that I did for him and with him. You see, not only did I do all the housework and “wifey” duties like cooking and cleaning, I also helped him work on our cars, I mowed our property which was over an acre, I snow blowed and shoveled our ridiculous driveway, I helped demo and remodel our kitchen, I helped build a brand new deck and front porch. I did all the things that a lot of women don’t traditionally do, on top of all the things that women do traditionally do. I never left him hanging. He told me I could have the house because he couldn’t live in the home that we had shared. That’s when I had to break the news that I was in the process of buying another house. He lost it all over again, understandably. I think this was the moment that he knew this was permanent and that I wasn’t fucking around.
After I ended the relationship that night, I still had to live in OUR house. He insisted I still sleep in the bed with him, even though I desperately wanted to sleep in the spare room. He would be up all night in the bathroom, getting sick, while I laid like a mummy in the bed, too scared to move even an inch. Those were the worst 2 weeks of my life. I would come home after work, and after the first few days, he went into battle mode. He would yell at me all night long, he would cry, he told me he wanted to beat the shit out of me (he didn’t). He made me feel so insanely guilty about leaving him that I did feel guilty. I felt horrible, and already felt horrible about buying a house behind his back. I had no regrets about anything, but that didn’t make it easy by any stretch. When we had the conversation about who was getting what, I felt so bad that I told him he could keep everything (which I had either bought completely or paid half of), with 2 exceptions….I was not letting him have Yoshi, the cat that we had got months after Sumo died. He fought me on that. I had to keep reminding him that he didn’t even want Yoshi and that he wanted to “return” him after he peed on the carpet when we brought him home. I don’t fuck around when it comes to my animals. I didn’t back down. He wanted me to agree to a split custody thing. Nope. Not happening.
I helped him remodel our bathroom in those 2 weeks before I closed on my new house. I taught him out to use the washer and dryer. I taught him how to write a check. It was like I was getting a child ready to go out into the real world. I regret doing all of that. He didn’t deserve my kindness and empathy, despite the fact that I caused him all of this heartache and forced him to grow the fuck up (remember, he is 7 years older than me!). You know why I regret it? Read on….
My closing date finally came and that was easily one of the happiest days of my life. I still had to hire movers and go through all of that, which was painful to put it nicely. But at least the hard parts were done. I had planned everything so that the movers were at the house the morning after I closed. I can’t even explain the feeling of freedom I felt once the movers unloaded the truck and I was finally able to breathe.
Well, he continued to make me feel guilty. He sold our house. My name was on the deed but not the mortgage, in case you’re wondering how I got approved for a mortgage. But being on the deed meant that I had to go to HIS closing on OUR house. He still used me during his house searching, and I was still there for him. Because I still felt bad. Because he continued to make me feel bad. So I go to the closing on OUR house. He had told me nothing about the details, just gave me the date/time/closing location. Well, he sold the house in 1 day. And I had to endorse the check that he got. I got a quick look at the check before he quickly flipped it over for me to sign. $30k. He made $30k on OUR house. On the house that I paid half of everything for. Don’t forget all the money he had in one of his bank accounts that he shared with his mother. Not to mention his other account that also had a shitload of money, since we were living as DINKS (dual income, no kids). I was now broke after putting everything I had down on my house, not to mention the movers and all the other expenses. Oh and don’t forget that I had to re-buy all the things I had already bought for the other house over the years. Snow blower, lawn mower, TV, dishes, silverware, furniture, etc. Meanwhile, 9 months later….
I wake up on a weekend, feeling good about life. I go on Instagram and see a username that rung a bell from somewhere. I click on the account and I see that it’s HIS account. I see the photos. I see the dates on the photos. I see a photo of a newborn baby. That’s right. Basically the day that I moved out, he got an old flame pregnant. Now to me, that means that maybe, possibly, he had already been talking to her before I even ended the 16 year relationship. All those months of him telling me that I needed to help him with the house stuff, and he was already in a new relationship and starting a family. Even after he moved into his new home, he was texting me asking me to tell him how to clean hardwood floors. Little did I know he was now living with his new baby momma and her child from another relationship. I wasn’t hurt because I had no love for him any more, but I was pissed that he took advantage of me for months and months, all the while starting a family with someone. Clearly he couldn’t deal with having to do his own laundry and cooking for very long. Shortly after they had their first baby together, they had another one. Not sure if she’s popped out any more since. I wanted to have a child badly. But as the years went on and I was starting to see the real person he was, I knew that I did NOT want someone like him raising my child. So much negativity, so much hatred, treating others like complete shit. No child of mine would grow up learning to treat people the way he did. I had a truly horrible and evil father, and although he was nothing like my father, I still knew the importance of parenting and raising your kids to have kindness and empathy. I didn’t want to fuck up a kid.
So here I am, 6 years later. Single, no kids, 1 dog, 2 cats, still in my home that I absolutely love. Grinding to make bank and pay the bills, to give my “kids” the life they deserve.
This is my happily ever after.