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Monday, August 25, 2014

Shattered Life - Part 2

When I decided to make the initial journey south I was at my mother's home. I was there doing my laundry so that I could make use of her hot tub while I waited. This was a not uncommon experience as, at that time, I was renting a trailer with two friends. They, as a couple, usurped much of the appliance time. Since I had the opportunity to utilize better appliances AND use a hot tub I was not shy about the half-hour journey to my mother's.
It was not far in the future from the initial meeting that this couple and I made a move into a full house. This, of course, required a lot of time and many trips hauling a great deal of stuff. This, of course, was best done when we were not at work; meaning evenings and into the weekend.

As I could not surrender my time to head southward she decided to surprise me and come northward.
We got to spend the weekend together and I got to work harder to free up my time for when she arrived.

It was a wonderful visit. Spock, her dog, came with her and we spent the weekend in my new home.
She and I ran out to the place I had just quitted and tried to recover the nice trash barrel that I owned but, we soon discovered, it was too stinky to transport in her nice car (or any space that was shared with a breathing entity) so it was left in the yard of the trailer that was being departed for the next individuals to utilize as they saw fit.

On Sunday we decided to breakfast with two of my closest friends; a couple whom I had introduced to one-another while I was dating the woman. Their attraction was immediate and unstoppable and, while I didn't like that I was edged out I understood that one's heart is not something one could control so I did not try to interfere with their relationship (Author's note: they are happily married with a seven year old). During the breakfast there was a great deal of pleasant conversation. I engaged in conversation with both of my friends and I felt that my new love was enjoying the meal as well. It was only afterward that her wrath rained down upon me.

The accusation was concise and very terse. I was told that I was still in love with her and that I could no longer be friends with them. There was no discussion. There was no opportunity for debate. My new love had seen what she saw and come to the conclusion that my friend was the enemy. I had always said, and still say, that if anyone ever made me choose between someone else and them that the choice would be easy: I would choose "them" because they would be the party who did not make me choose. I was surprised, therefore, that my new lady was able to put forth this ultimatum without actually making the ultimatum. To this day I cannot recall HOW she did it but the end result was the same: I was coerced into severing my ties with my two friends so that I could keep my love.

I should have known then that I was in for trouble. But I was too blinded to see it.

Instead, I surrendered that part of my life and started to build relationships farther south. I had already ceased my fencing practices in the norther region because they happened on a weekend and I was choosing to go south to spend time with my lady. I was then forced to cease my normal Wednesday night outing, where I went to a local restaurant to socialize with a variety of people near my own age, because the female half of the couple we had dined with was the one who convinced me to join that crowd and she, sometimes, was there.
My life was, after this northward visit, more in her control than it had been to that point but I simply was unable to see it nor was I willing to believe it.

As I became more and more entrenched in her life, by surrendering my own, we began trying to socialize more and more with her friends. Two of these friends, a couple, lived in an apartment in Portland and they invited us over for awhile for dinner and a visit.

Something that, through a combination of latent anxiety concerns and reinforcement by external sources (e.g. my lady friend) that provided me with a great deal of troubles was navigating in a place I am not familiar with. I've always been a bit uncomfortable with it but, until I started spending time with her, it was manageable. Her reactions in the car greatly exacerbated the underlying issue and created a situation in which confusion of roads could become overwhelming to me.

This was a problem that she was aware of. This was a problem she "helped" me with when we drove about together.

When we went to visit her friends I drove and she navigated.

The highways were, and remain, roads that I know well through the Portland area. As such I needed only have direction as to what exit I was to take and all of the steps after that point in the journey. On the way to the residence of her friends she provided the information as to what exit to take and then went about not giving me advanced warning on when I would need to turn for the upcoming streets. She provided the information as the turn was approaching, making it difficult for me to anticipate the turn; increasing my anxiety over not knowing what was around me nor where I should be going.

Prior to this point I had prided myself on knowing how to return to a place after visiting it once. The process of getting TO it and then tracing the steps FROM it were enough to ingrain the path into my mind. She also knew this.

The path to the residence took one highway to a particular exit and then followed an fairly major road in until it crossed with the road that her friends lived on.
This, however, is not the path she allowed me to drive to leave.
I have since learned all of the roads that we took and I can recreate the entire path I was taken on that day. I can say, with total clarity, that the path was not the most efficient path to take: neither to nor from this residence. Taking two different routes, neither of which was efficient, served no purpose other than to increase my anxiety and prevent me from learning the roads in greater detail.
In short, her navigation choices reinforced my anxiety and my dependence on her to navigate around the metropolitan area that was to become my new home.
Once again, I was unable to see what was happening because I did not know the roads well enough to see what she had done; it was only years later, when I saw the apartment we had visited, that I put all of the pieces of that day into their true context.

Like most people I have an appreciation for sweet things.
So, too, did my new lady friend.

Particularly she enjoyed Rice Krispie treats with butterscotch in them.
So I made them.
Nearly every weekend I made a batch of Rice Krispie treats or some variant thereof (note: substituting Fruity Pebbles for Rice Krispies is also tasty) and we would eat some of them during the course of the weekend and she ate the rest during the week.
This addition to her dietary consumption yielded an expected, but undesirable, side effect. She gained a small amount of weight. To me she went from hot, sexy and beautiful to being hot, sexy and beautiful. To me there was not change. To her, however, this minor increase in weight was a HUGE catastrophe that was my fault. I was screamed at and I was scolded. I was told that all of the treats I made were the cause and that, because I made them, it was my fault.
That weekend we spent some considerably time talking. Her outburst seemed, to me, to be completely unfair and it seemed to have a readily-available solution.
That weekend we avoided making any treats.
By mid week she apologized and said she missed having the treats to snack on.
I was asked to make them again the following weekend.
During the next few months I have a vague recollection of this exact scenario playing out a few times. She would be unhappy with how she looked at it would become my fault for cooking for her.
She would have a minor outburst and we would talk about it and reach a reasonable decision on how we could improve the situation. This would be followed by an apology later in the week.
Had I known then what I know now I would have known that this pattern would continue and could never be broken. That this behavioral pattern would escalate in amplitude of response while having a decreasing severity of trigger and an increasing frequency overall.
But, I did not know then what I know now so I did not choose to walk away.
I'm not sure, had I known, that I would have been able to anyway. I loved her too much.

There was a point where she started sharing stories of her exes with me. She had several, including a previous fiance. In retrospect the tales I am about to relate probably should have been a warning sign to me of some sort; but I knew I was not a bad person. I knew that I didn't match the pattern. I didn't realize that the pattern was not the men: it was her. I am sure, now, I am included in the wave of terrible men who have mistreated her when she tells others her tales. I, too, am sure that the story of the men before me is exaggerated well beyond the facts of the situations. Take those as a disclaimer as to the nature of these events for I cannot relate many facts about them: only what she told me.

My lady had had a growing career as an on-air personality. She was doing well and her reputation was growing. Then she got sick (more on that later). After her sickness she decided to start a new life and moved out to Michigan.

While there she met a man. I don't have many details on the story of their meeting but it seems to closely mirror my experience thus far. He fell madly in love with her and they had a whirlwind romance. He proposed and she accepted. She then decided she missed home. They moved back to Maine and got established. From her telling the story it seems that she then broke it off with him due to lack of passion in their life. She claims she loved him deeply but there was no fire or passion, especially in the bedroom. She kept the ring.
In short, she seduced this man and uprooted him from all that he knew to move back to Maine with her where the relationship was severed and she kept the main asset that had been a manifestation of the importance of the relationship to him.
Later, one night that we had ordered take-out from the local Amato's, I was texted from my car. She was in my car and this man was standing next to me in line inside. She slinked down and hid in the car when he left. Again, I should have interpreted this as a sign.

After, what I am sure, was a string of dating, a new gentleman caller entered her life. This man actually cooccupied the very same apartment she had been living in when she and I met with her. This man was a brilliant graphics designer and web programmer. This man had built a business doing web design, construction and hosting. This man taught his business to his beloved girlfriend so that she could work with him from home. She learned programming and the graphic arts programs. She rapidly understood the business functions.  This mad had a falling out with his business partner and reincorporated with his new girlfriend to make a new business.
Over the next couple of years, as she tells it, this man oscillated through phases of insanity. His brilliance in both design and coding was the result of some sort of schizm in his mind that made his an explosive personality. Through many events, as she tells the story, the relationship was ripped apart and she had to sever the ties with him for her own safety. In doing so she ran through a legal battle resulting in him being completely severed from the company that he had built, broken and reforged with her. When the ashes cooled on their relationship she had control of the apartment, the assets and the company. He was left with nothing, not even the business of his parents; whom had been customers of the company.
In short: she seduced this man and stole his livelihood from him, forcing him into a well of depression and financial ruin.

Again; this story should have been a warning for me. Instead it was a sympathetic narrative in which she was the victim of a boyfriend who went insane and tried to steal what she had contributed to his life.

I'm certain there were a variety of other men before she met the next man who was to be a steady boyfriend and, from some evidence, he was in the initial stages of moving in with her.
This man was bad news.  I love books and so did he. After his departure there were many boxes of books left behind. As I loved books they were given to me as he was not allowed to come back for them due to a retraining order. The boxes reiterated what the restraining order told: this man celebrated violence. The books were filled with gritty fantasy centered around violence and dark horror volumes. Normally I will not judge a person solely by the books that they read and choose to own but the volume of books included, and the singular focus of them was a bit disarming. Coupled with the restraining order and, what I was informed, the upcoming court date I knew that this person was likely to be a bad person whom would be prone to explosive violence. As the court date approached she related the story to me.
During their relationship this man had been a forceful and dominant individual. There were arguments that escalated to pushing and shoving. There were many instances of yelling and screaming. The culmination of this tumultuous romance was a physical confrontation. As she tells it he was physically assaulting her directly and through pushing her all around the apartment. As she tells it she picked up the wall phone and dialed 911 to ask for help. As she tells it he then ripped the phone off the wall and threw it across the room; disconnecting the call. As she tells it he threw her across the room and proceeded to continue his assault when the police arrived and arrested him. As she tells it that is the end of the incident and the end of the relationship. As she tells it that it the origination of the restraining order and the subsequent need to go to court to push the order forward and, later, a repeat court appearance to have the order renewed.
Many years later, due to a "Criminal Records Check" advertisement that was fed to me via Google I discovered a hint that there was more to this story. The line in the ad, for criminal records, showed fragment of a paragraph of a police log. In that fragment, which contained no complete sentences but, rather, appeared to be a small photo of the corner of the police beat column of a paper, where three words. Her first name, her last name, and the word "arrested." The context of the words implied, quite heavily, that she had been arrested but the fragment did not contain enough information to verify it. I Googled the entire sentence fragment and was directed to a paywall for the local newspaper's archive. I paid the $3 fee for access to the article and obtained a revelation. During the incident that she imparted to me the man had, in fact, been arrested and the home's state was much as she described.
The part she had omitted from her story, though, was equally important. The fact she omitted was that she, too, had been arrested. Both parties had been arrested for their part in the domestic violence. This means that the police did not believe that she was innocently being beaten nor that she was merely defending herself. The officers on the scene believed that she had been an active participant in the situation and had been committing as much assault as she had been receiving. This, had it been imparted at the time, MIGHT have made me reconsider the relationship. It certainly would have alerted me to the dangers of this woman and made me more aware of what I was about to go through as it happened rather than allowing me to be self-deluded into thinking that she was not insane.
This, as you will see later, would have been good foreshadowing had my story been a movie and the audience, without me knowing, been made aware of her arrest.

Then, of course, there was me. This is my tale and I am sure, from her perspective, it differs greatly. I'm sure that there is a chapter in her previous relationships narrative in which I am a villain and in which I was a terrible individual that abused her trust, tried to take her life away and threatened to destroy her in some way. because of what I went through, including the parts that have yet to be revealed, I am sure that my appearance in her tale is greatly exaggerated much as the appearances of these men has likely been warped and twisted to benefit her the most.
I feel sorry for the man who was uprooted from Michigan and forced to Maine to be abandoned.
I feel bad for the man whose livelihood was stolen from him.
I even feel bad for the misogynistic asshole who was prone to fits of assault; maybe I don't feel bad for him. His life deserved to be shredded.

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