*Side Note: In case anyone is wondering why I didn’t work to get myself out of a shelter, I did. However, I could never earn enough money to sustain myself and move forward. Additionally, with my BP and BPD, I struggle to maintain consistent work and have to take reprieves as part of my coping plan. It is only because of the path I took with my current partner that I have been able to return to school this year to finish my ABA and have a home that sustains a virtual zoo (we have 12 pets!).
Emotional abuse is abuse. Period. For me, the thing that makes me feel the worst about emotional abuse is that I recognize now that I was abusive at times in a relationship with a man I believed I was very much in love with. He was physically violent towards me, but I was emotionally manipulative and controlling, using my mental illness as an excuse for bad behavior and alcoholism.
Now, the roles have reversed. After I left that abusive relationship, I went to live with my parents in Michigan who were then caring for my brother, who struggled with ADD, dyslexia, and Bipolar Disorder. I was trying to manage my own depression, look for work, and get along with my family in a highly volatile situation. I ended up leaving after a trip to the hospital over suicidal thoughts. Because of the difficulties my brother was facing, my parents felt it was best that my daughter and I find somewhere else to stay. I ended up returning to Indiana in May 2014 and wound up in the YWCA with my then almost six-year-old daughter. It was AWFUL.
After months of living at the Y, we ended up going to stay with the family of my daughter’s friend. That didn’t end well and we had to go to another shelter. By this point, we had moved five times in one year. It was too much. Plus I was lonely.
I kept trying to meet men who could fill some need, I wasn’t sure what exactly, but I knew I would recognize it when I saw it. At least I thought I would. After a seemingly endless parade of suitors, I gave up and found that I wasn’t getting anywhere with these guys. And I was still homeless, with a child.
Suddenly, I meet this guy who wants to help me get out of the shelter, he earns really good money. (Yes!) He started coming over every night. He was getting ready to have back surgery in February. The week before his surgery he had a huge car wreck, but he wasn’t hurt, probably because he was on heavy painkillers at the time. I had agreed to be his caretaker after surgery.
It wasn’t until I was already in the process of moving in with him that he showed his first signs of aggression. We had driven through an awful snowstorm for several hours to the Laser Spine Institute in Cincinnati, and on the return trip home, I was going to turn down the wrong freeway exit (for the 2nd time). We were arguing about which ramp to take when he grabbed the steering wheel from me and veered us back onto the highway he wanted me to go on. I was scared, shocked, speechless…Livid. I warned him never to do anything like that again.
I should have (and I kind of did know) known better than to move in with him after that incident. Yet, I wanted to let my daughter have a bedroom of her own and a dog, and all that stuff that kids want that I couldn’t provide on my own. These days, that sort of behavior is not uncommon in the home. I feel constantly worried about what is going to happen next that will set him off. It’s terrifying really, but the thought of having to return to a shelter evokes even worse feelings inside of me.
I think the worst part of this relationship has been what happened after my brother took his life this January. My boyfriend shared the same name as my brother, which makes it doubly tragic in its own way. My brother died five days after my boyfriend’s surgery, and because he was healing, he did not empathize with me at all. In fact, he has told me many times that he does not care about my feelings nor my daughter’s feelings.
I have a long-term plan to leave this man, and no, it is not like the scene from Dolores Claiborne where she tricks her drunk husband into stumbling into a hole. My plan is to better myself and earn my BA in Journalism while I have the resources. Grow and live apart from him as much as possible until I am capable of supporting my daughter to the fullest extent. I know it is not ideal, but when considering the alternatives, I feel I am doing what I need to do to take care of my family for now. I guess it’s a sacrifice, but I’m not a martyr or anything…Thanks for reading.