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Sunday, June 26, 2011

One more time

My parents came to visit after Luke was born and in a casual conversation, the name of my ex-boyfriend Michael came up in passing.  As in “Michael had to clear the drain when it got stuck”.    When Brad got me alone later that evening he accused me of “carrying-on” about how great Michael was, did I still love him, was I going back to him, etc.   I was totally taken aback.  He heard Michael’s name and flipped out – none of his characterizations of the conversation were correct.  I was so upset, I went into where my mom was sleeping to ask her if she thought I had been talking Michael up.  She agreed with me, that it was just a comment in passing and that Brad had overreacted.  I had not told her all of the horrible things he said, but enough to understand the basic situation.  When I came out of her room, he was waiting for me.  Sitting in the dark – it was chilling.  I was afraid of what he would say now because he had repeatedly told me not to discuss anything we talked about with my family.  This is the classic abusive technique of isolation and it is very effective.    I had broken the ‘rules’ by talking to my mom. He said he had been listening at the door.  He was extremely angry and said he was leaving and after I went to bed, I heard him saying ‘goodbye’ to Luke via the baby monitor.   An idle threat, to be sure, but manipulative and emotionally abusive none the less.

Once I was sufficiently recovered from the childbirth, he started pushing for sex and pretty much expected it every day.  I was exhausted from working full time and taking care of the baby. We were always fighting and I was always tired, but he never understood why I was not ‘in the mood’.  Several times he coerced me into having sex in front of the baby.  I felt this was completely inappropriate, but felt powerless to say no.  Sometimes sex would appease him and he’d be a bit nicer the rest of the day.   Living with a man like this is so emotionally and physically draining, it’s hard to describe.  He was at the very least controlling and patronizing every day and would start arguments several times a week.  Your adrenaline gets up when you are arguing and then you have a period of calm where you think, “This is going to be ok, I can deal with it, I have to stick around to keep the family intact, it’s not that bad.”  And stick around I did. 
At this point, he had not been physically abusive.   I really wanted a sibling for Luke and I was old enough that I knew this was my last chance.   Brad did not really agree and would have been happy with just Luke, but I insisted and since it involved more sex, Brad agreed.  He told me later he felt ‘cheated’ because both times he had expected it to take longer for me to get pregnant, because of my age, and that he resented the fact that I got pregnant so quickly both times because he had ‘missed out’ on a lot of sex.  Imagine.  He somehow felt I had not lived up to my half of the bargain because I was luckily fertile.
Looking back, I understand the decision I made, but we did not have anything resembling a healthy relationship , it was classically abusive and yet I told myself “I can make this work”.  I had not labeled it yet as abusive.  I thought he was overly sensitive and emotional, and perhaps a tinge of mentally unbalanced, but I thought I could handle it and make it better and that the good would outweigh the bad.    If I only knew.