I constantly worry about how Brad is going to react as I date. He claims he wants me to date and be happy, and has even said that he thinks I will deal with him better once I am dating. I assume this is because he thinks I’m unhappy and lonely and that once I have a boyfriend, I will be happier and therefore less ‘mean’ to him. The fact that he has told me this is demeaning in and of itself. And, of course, I am not mean to him. He thinks I am because he is an abusive personality.It’s just like when we were married, with a double standard of epic proportions. He does not see anything wrong with saying “you’re the meanest person in the world” to me, but I am not allowed to answer his invasive questions with short answers. I have to be overly friendly and if I am not, then I am mean. It’s just ridiculous. So even when I get a boyfriend, I don’t think he’ll notice any difference in my behavior and at that point I’ll be really worried about how jealous he is. In spite of his protestations to the contrary, I know he is jealous. It’s only natural and I wish he would just admit it and deal with it instead of denying it. He’s afraid someone is going to replace him as the kids' father, and I get that, but he needs to understand that his role in their lives and his behavior is completely up to him, not me.
The next big concern I have is around trusting and making good decisions. Even after my experience with Brad, I am a generally trusting person. If you say something, I believe it. My concern is walking the fine line between trusting someone and being on alert for abusive behavior. I certainly don’t want to make the same mistake again. Right now I feel like I would never be in another abusive relationship because I know all the warning signs and I would get out before it got bad, but would I? I see lots of stories of women who have been in multiple abusive relationships and the thought just horrifies me. So will I be overly cautious and bolt at the first sign of conflict, unjustly removing good men from my life? I just don’t know.The last concern I have it how my past will affect the men I date. Will they be hesitant to get involved with someone who has an abusive past? Will they assume it was my fault and that there must be something wrong with me if I could let this happen? Will they be afraid Brad might come after them in a jealous rage? Possibly all of these will happen.
These issues are not trivial and I will never be able to ‘solve’ any of them. I wish my life had turned out differently. I wish Brad had not been abusive, but it is what it is and I just have muddle through the best I can. It’s like a spinning plates act balancing my job, my children, my ex-husband and my personal life; I pay attention to something for a while until something else wobbles and then I move over to that until the next thing wobbles, and on and on it goes. If this all works out, maybe I can join the circus.