John [reads the letter I got in this morning],
Thank you for your article on why women stay in abusive relationships. [Seven Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships, and How to Defeat Each One of Them.] I appreciated reading the posts from others. You all have me thinking.
I have been engaged and, until the last three months, living with a man whom I thought was uniquely suited to be my soul mate. We had Christian values; we were both writers; we were both interested in politics; we valued family; and, as recovering alcoholics and addicts, we had a recovery program in AA/NA/Al-anon that gave us a unique set of tools we could have used to confront any problems that might arise in the relationship. I even got him to attend counseling with me 2-3 times to work on communication skills. He swept me up and quickly moved me into his home, which he had determined was a much better, more suitable place for me to live than the place I had on my own. He also proposed, bought the , registered me on the Web pages of several bridal sites.
It felt like things were going a little fast, but he would protest my arguments for slowing down, and then buy me some present, or do something over-the-top to show how much he loved me. And I went along.
I thought I had finally found the relationship of my dreams. Except that once I was really, truly moved in, and obviously committed, he changed. He started to resent my presence. He would blame me if he had problems with a work deadline. He was a perfectionist, and tried to control the whole experience of the relationship—cooking elaborate dinners, washing the cars, while working hard on a media deadline. He would not accept help because my abilities never met his standards so he felt a great sense of responsibility and blamed me for being incompetent to perceive and follow through on his needs.
So began a pattern of him telling me I caused him problems, made his life hell, I wouldn’t be allowed to make up for what I did or learn a new way because we already knew I was incompetent and bound to “EFF it up.” Later, whatever happened to him, the fault was mine.
Sometimes we would be out for a drive on the weekend and he would launch into a monolog about how lazy I was, unlike the Latin housewife he said h would pick if he were single. He said love was not just pretty words, but deeds done to show a person love. He told me all I did was sleep all day (which was because I worked all night). He said I was a terrible cook—but I’m not; he just never gave me the chance because cooking fed his ego. He said his home was his office and I was invading his space. He would say he needed time to think whether we should be together.
Eventually, he slipped back into using alcohol to my face and drugs behind my back. Later, he begged me to use with him, and I did for a month, until our home started looking like a crack house, and the only activities were scoring and using. I couldn’t take it and moved in with my parents.
In previous years, he had accused me of cheating many times. He was bipolar, with rapid cycling mood swings, and to this day has not gotten the medication regimen for that mood disorder straightened out. Once the crack cocaine became a factor, I was begging him to stop killing himself, while he was paranoid on a daily basis, accusing me of cheating with several different men. He would find a piece of a snack bag or candy bag in the car or apartment, and accuse me of cheating. He would remember situations such as me using the restroom in a Target much faster than usual, and ending up on the Valentine as evidence I was looking for a Valentine for my lover.
Even when we did have fights of the escalating variety where he was physically abusive, he never broke my bones, or hit me with a fist. Or remembered what he did. He was threatening me one night while accusing me of cheating, and I left after he hit me three times with a shoe. He packed my things into six garbage bags and put them in the dumpster. I went back to him again after that, and again he threw away the clothes, coat and things I had brought with me.
He is convinced I cheat on him, but wants us to stay together because he “forgives” me. He, on the other hand, has been corresponding three years with an old girlfriend, who now wants to come to the states and move in with him. He tells me how I have hurt him, how much he feels betrayed and used by me, how he sacrificed time with his children for me, and how my leaving him to get away from the drugs hurt him.
Now he is in treatment. And I need to make a decision whether I want to go back and live with him in our apartment. He is sorry for how he acted when he was using, and for begging me and influencing me to use. I got sober. I know he may come out of treatment and stay sober. But he was verbally and emotionally abusive before he ever used, and I don’t know that that will ever change.
Part of me loves him like he is my own child. I have a lot of empathy for his past. I just don’t want to live with someone who is constantly disappointed in me, angry with me, and always telling me how stupid I am.
Please write if you have any feedback. This is such a hard decision.
[Dear G: John here. Pretty much whatever I have to say about this I’ve already said in 7 Reasons. But of course if anyone else has anything they’d like to add to that, have at it.]