It has taken me weeks to write this post. I would start, find myself to emotional to finish or just too angry to go on. But here it is finally finished. The truth. I did not write this to illicit sympathy or pity but simply to tell the story. This blog is after all the story of my life and in life some chapters are sadder to read than others.
It has been a very long time.
So many things have taken place in my life this year - bad things, heart breaking, gut wrenching things that knocked me flat on my ass. I'm not going to lie I would, without a doubt say that the 27th year of my life was the worst year I've ever had. I couldn't count all of the things I have lost on both hands ... or both hands and feet for that matter - but here I stand, beginning to feel whole again, coming out of the dark shadows that threatened to swallow me completely and at long last I'm ready to confess my own demons.
Relaying all of the sordid details in one blog post would be impossible so it is my intention to outline the key points and as I (hopefully) begin blogging regularly again the details of my life will begin to come into focus.
So it all started with the crumble of my marriage and a new love interest. I was so smitten with the new man in my life that I threw all caution and logic to the wind and jumped head first into a whirlwind romance that at first promised to be everything that my marriage had not been. For the first few months it was like living in a dream. I had a gorgeous,sweet man who adored me, who wanted the same things in life as I did who was completely perfect for me...or so it seemed.
Then the facade began to crumble.
I can't pinpoint the exact moment that I knew something wasn't right ... or maybe I can. One night
"the ex" (as I will now refer to him as) and I went out drinking with a couple of my friends. I will admit that I was over-served and blanked out at the end of the night. The next morning I awoke with a pounding headache and a phone that was blowing up with calls from Ben (who you all should remember as the man I married) demanding to know why $250 disappeared from our joint checking account at 2am that morning- keep in mind at this point I had my own account so Ben was using the joint checking as his own account but I still had access and a debit card. I had no idea where that money had gone I called the bank and was informed that withdrawal had come from my card, at an ATM by the house that "the ex" and I were sharing. I checked everywhere for that money, a receipt something and came up empty handed. It was then, with a sinking heart I realized what had to have happened. But as only a woman in love can do - I ignored my instinct, did not pursue investigation with the bank and simply transferred the money back into the joint account from my account. That was the first moment I realized "the ex" may not really be who he had seemed to be.
The sad thing is that I ignored this and many,many other indiscretions for a very long time because I wanted so badly for him to be that guy, I wanted to believe that I did not fall for an illusion - but I can honestly say that things only continued to deteriorate from there.
"The ex" went back to school and I found myself duped into writing papers, taking online tests, and eventually taking whole on-line courses. If ever something was late or not perfect I was berated endlessly and accused of sabotage - never mind that I was also working a full time job - the only one of us to be working at all, the only one of us to be contributing to our household bills or for that matter any bills. I found myself "loaning" him money on a consistent basis. I was supporting a $60, several times a week pot habit, the gas in his SUV, and groceries and meals out for a man that I later discovered had been dealing with raging bulimia for a huge portion of his life- which meant I may as well have been flushing $25 + down the toilet each and every night.
Then there was his temper. This man got angry at the smallest, little, insignificant things. For example he would say something to me and not like the expression on my face after it was said so he would get angry. One time he sent me out to pick up food from KFC for us for dinner and refused to tell me what he wanted stating that I should simply know so I went and BOUGHT dinner for both of us, selecting what I thought he would want. When I returned he fumed about what I had brought him, he called me names and said I was stupid, claimed that what I brought him from KFC was what he would have wanted at Lee's and I should know better. Even though I spent my hard earned money and my time going to pick up the meal he REFUSED to eat it and eventually fed it to our dogs. I dealt with things like that on a daily basis.
But I stayed- or rather I let him stay in the house I was paying for because I loved him and I simply couldn't believe that the man I was now seeing was the true person. No, in my silly little blonde head I believed that the man I saw in the first month or two was "the real" man and eventually after the newness of being back in school at 27 with a child wore off that he would find his rhythm and everything would return to normal. It never did. Oh and I also was to find out that he had a second child a couple of years older than the little girl and much,much later, like 11months after we started dating I learned that he had a 3rd child that fell in age between the two I knew about - all three from different women all within a year or so apart from each other and all three he had known about all along.
It was partially because of his daughter that I found it so hard to free myself from this disaster of a relationship.
I loved and continue to love that little girl with every fiber of my being to this day. It might not have been right and it might not have been fair but unwittingly I was thrown into the role of "mommy" for this little girl any time he had her - that meant if baby woke up in the middle of the night - I got up with her, I fed her meals, I changed her diapers, I bathed her, dressed her, cared for her. So its no surprise that eventually when baby reached out for one of us it stopped being her daddy but her stand in mommy- me. You would think a man who introduces a woman to his child would love that his child loves her so much? No. That too became a source of contention between us.
One morning when "the ex" refused to remove his ass from the bed even as morning stretched into afternoon and baby and I had been up since before 9am -the shit hit the fan. Baby was winding down towards her after lunch nap and daddy was still in the bed. She and I snuggled in the living room watching veggie tales when I was beckoned by him to the bedroom. I sat baby in the chair where I anticipated her to stay while I "checked in" but being tired and feeling clingy she scooched down off the chair and followed me into the bedroom where she whined and reached up to me as I sat on the bed to see what "the ex" had wanted. Before I could scoop her up he reached out and with a force I could not believe slapped the ever loving shit out of her sweet little baby arm. Moments later he got up and took a shower as if he had done nothing wrong to his 20 month old daughter claiming she didn't need to whine like that - oh and did I mention he also told her after slapping her she didn't need to reach out for me, that I was nobody.Yet, just minutes later he left his precious baby girl with me- the nobody. I took a picture of her and I that day after he had raged off in his car . She was laying on my chest with one arm draped around my neck you can see the top of her curly red head buried into my shoulder - and my face is red and puffy from crying. I saved that picture so I could remind myself that if I stayed- this would be my life, everyday, with no hope of happiness except her. I got to the point where I dreaded "the ex" returning "my baby" to her actual mother. When she was around I felt like I had a port in the storm - plus I convinced myself that I stayed because she needed me - but the truth is - I think I needed her more.
I was isolated from my friends and family. I had to lie to go to my best friend's bridal shower and the only time I was "allowed" to see my family is if I was going to "get something" from them - birthday presents or money. I was so lost.
Why, you might be asking yourself (especially those who knew me when) did I put up with this? The truth is I don't know. There is probably a multifaceted answer that would take years of therapy to unearth. Insecurity after my failed marriage, the baby, love and then there was all the terrible stuff that happened as a result of the restrictions placed upon me with my friends and my disheveled emotional status,
You may recall that the ex and I moved into a house that was owned by my friend. Without giving too much detail I will simply say that friend grew to resent the ex and later demanded that he move out- when I came to his defense she demanded that I too move out. I will go on record here saying I learned a cold, hard lesson about friends and business. The friend and I never had a written lease but having lived there 9 months already (me paying her rent monthly) she couldn't just make us move so full legal proceedings took place. With no lease she could have us leave for any reason- and so she did. We were given 7 days to vacate the premises on day 5, a Friday I was called into my bosses office at the end of my work day and let go because, "my personal life had begun to interfere with my professional life".
So there I was 2 days from being legally removed from my home for no real reason other than resentment between my friend and my boyfriend, with no other home lined up to move into and I lost my (well paying) job where I had been working for years.
I was resigned to the fact that I was going to have to move in with family- and "the ex" would have to go wherever he could go because NO ONE in my family wanted him there. My family swooped in packed up my things and took them to storage and then paralyzed I couldn't leave him. He talked to his mom (who he had previously had a very poor relationship with) and she agreed to help support us until we got on our feet, he promised he would help take care of me, that he would support me while I got back on track - and like a fool I trusted him. So with all my stuff being stored at my sisters and all his stuff in a storage unit- we moved into a hotel - that his mom paid for - for a full month. Me, him, a beagle basset hound, a golden retriever and sometimes a toddler in a 1 bedroom hotel room for a flipping month. All either of us had were a suitcase full of clothes and toiletries. For a couple of weeks he was true to his word, he was sweet and encouraging. He told me to relax by the pool and get my bearings but soon the costume of sweet,loving, boyfriend was discarded- if I was at the pool I was lazy or showing off, when I was denied unemployement it was because I was "too stupid" to do it right ...and it escalated from there.
After my last pay check ran out all we had was money that his mom gave us - and usually gave directly to him with instructions to fill my gas tank or make sure I had xyz. He would hand me a 20 with instructions to buy him cigarettes and candy and put the rest in my tank. "The Ex" soon learned that now that he had the money and I didn't that he could use this as a way to control me. And after his mom paid for and we moved into our new home it got even worse. I was given - maybe $10 a week for gas and told I didn't need more because I didn't have anywhere that I needed to go. Never mind that we had just moved even further away from the family and friends I already missed. "The ex" started working part time as a waiter and a few days later I started working retail at an upscale boutique. If he was working I had the baby- he bagan to use her as a way of keeping me from going anywhere or doing anything- he would give me a list of things to do miles long- go to the library, pick up things from grocery, drop off dry cleaning all with a toddler in tow. He would get off work and then I would go in - he would drop the baby back off to her mother and then the rest of the day would be his to do what he pleased.
Even after I started making money again he would take it, borrow it, steal it. He berated me endlessly because most of my things were still in storage at my sisters and not at our house. Never mind that I couldn't afford a U-Haul and he refused to put his own money towards it saying that it was my fault my things were there and I had to deal with it. The truth is I didn't want my things there - I knew if my things were there I would really be living there and that thought terrified me. I kept hoping he would get better, he would return to the guy I first met but I realize that he was an act- that guy got me right where he wanted me and then pulled the rug out from underneath me.
After less than a month waiting tables "the ex" was fired (for being a dick to another server) and he declared he was once again going to just focus on school. He constantly yelled at me for the fact that I lost my job in June and it was now September and I still didn't have a real job - never mind I had been working the retail job for over a month (having only not worked for 3 weeks and he hadn't had a job for the last 9 months) now applying like crazy and interviewing for other things (of course it was my fault I didn't get any of those jobs because I didn't "know how to interview right") raising his daughter, doing his school work, cleaning the house, cooking the meals and losing my ever loving mind.
I cried everyday. We fought everyday. The verbal, mental, emotional abuse just kept escalating - I second guessed everything I did, I barely left the house unless it was for work- he took all my money and refused to give me gas money. My phone was disconnected because I couldn't pay it anymore, I was not allowed to use his phone. We didn't have the internet at the house unless we could tap into a neighbor's wi-fi so my communication with friends and family got more and more sparse. I found myself looking forward to late night runs to CVS that he would send me on for snacks because I went everyday they knew me there, could tell something was wrong and were nice to me. I lost weight, if I ever posted a picture on facebook family would comment that I looked sad and stressed and tired - because I was.
I wish I could tell you that one day I woke up, put my big girl panties on and said screw you, you dead beat, abusing, using sonofabitch but that's not what happened. On again off again he would say, maybe we should split up and maybe we need some time apart then he would take it back, apologize, and we would try again. Then one morning he said it and I didn't resist. His mom was still paying the rent, he had a child, he would keep the house and I would go live with family as was the plan several months before.
I was supposed to be at work that day and with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes I went, did my job and confided in my friend Bob who I had become pretty close with that it looked like I was moving out that night. He was glad. He had heard the stories, seen my red eyes- he invited me to his house after work and for the first time in the 2 months I had known him I accepted. We had a couple glasses of wine and smoke a couple cigarettes (I don't smoke normally but I was stressed). I look back now and realize that had I not gone to Bob's and vented and had that wine and cigarettes I may have gone home directly after work and begged to give it another shot. Instead I went back to the house calm and collected and gathered as much of my stuff as I could fit in my car. We had dinner together that night, he said maybe I should stay one more night but I declined - no more prolonging the inevitable. I left that night with the understanding that it was only temporary so we could both get our shit together. I knew it wasn't temporary.
For the next month on and off I would go stay a night here or there. Once I went and stayed a whole week- the first couple days it was wonderful he was sweet and loving- just long enough for me to get comfortable and then wham! Like hitting a brick wall the controling, evil man was back. While I was there I was trying to talk to him while he was in the shower and I guess he got tired of listening to me so he turned the shower sprayer on me, soaking me from head to toe. He thought it was funny. Something in me snapped. I had to go to work so I dried off, got dressed kissed and hugged the baby and got ready to leave. I discovered a $20 missing from my wallet, when I asked him about it he got ugly - how dare I accuse him of stealing money.
I left and that was the last time I was ever there on civil terms again. The next time was with a police escort to get the rest of my clothes and things that he had been refusing to give me. He gave away half of what I left behind to his baby's mother who I guess he had started to let stay there. I could have attempted pressing charges but I let it go - clothes can be replaced.
So now I'm in the aftermath ... now many months since our final goodbye I am healing. I have reconnected with my friends and family and am finally making headway in putting my life back together. I have a better job again with regular hours, and better pay. Its a foot in the door at a large entertainment venue in my area- I am hoping to work my way into a position that I really want. If not at least its consistant and I can depend on it. I am also now singing as lead vocalist in an accoustic duo. We have booked several paid gigs since December so I'm bringing in extra cash from that too. That was the biggest hurdle I had to jump. Can't do much with no money. I consider myself happy again although I am having to rebuild from the ground up.
I now exist in a world I don't understand. I was sheltered in my life before. While I never had it easy, I lived in a world where everyone was supportive, everyone was essentially good and everything worked out in the end. This no longer is my world. I walk on unsteady ground, ready for it to crumble beneath my feet, ready to lose the ones I love with a moment's notice - but I'm learning how to walk this path and I'm beginning to find stretches of land that are more solid where I can relax and put my guard down.
For the first time in a long time I'm starting to feel like Amber Lane again and that's great because I really missed her. The first steps in getting my life back, is getting myself back and here I am. I learned some hard lessons in trust and love - and while its been hard and some times downright excruciating I can only say that at least it has helped me to grow. I'm ready to be normal again. I am not the same Amber I was before- there is no more blonde bride - veiled, unveiled fat, or skinny there's just me. I am back. Expect major changes to this blog in the coming future. Thank you to any of you who may still read this - I'm slowly catching up on your worlds and slowly I hope to catch you up on mine as well.
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