I have never felt so alone. Here I find myself, yet again, finding solace on the blank white page as the fireworks in my mind ricochet and tumble out.
I class myself as a *insert cliche* strong and independent woman and always found it so sad when I discovered that friends or colleagues were in, or had been in, controlling or abusive relationships. I always asked myself, “How did they find themselves there? Why would they have married someone like him?” But here’s the thing. Rarely does someone intentionally gets into a relationship with someone like that. It’s a slow drip, drip effect. That starts off as small and insignificant but then you look. You really look and before you know it, there’s a growing puddle at your feet.
The thing is, it’s such a grey area. Where does ‘normal’ married life and dialogue -“Where are you going? and “Who will you be with? (in case of childcare emergencies etc) end and obsessive controlling behaviour begin?
What started off as normal, has now become pretty fucking scary if I’m honest. He watches me. All the time. Like a piece of abstract art at the Tate Modern. He sighs. He squints. He tilts his head.
Now that I work reduced hours, I have several days off a week, which are spent cleaning the house, doing choreography for my fitness classes and lesson planning. He calls me. All the time. “Where are you? What are you doing? You sound out of breath? It sounds like you’re outside. Are you sure you’re at home?” Yes I’m pretty fucking sure.
As a parent you learn to treasure the few moments peace and privacy that you get to yourself. I will be in the bathroom and then ‘click’ the lock pops open and in he strides, “What are you doing?” What the fuck does it look like? So yeah these things were mild annoyances but I didn’t think too much of it.
Now he has started adding my friends on Facebook. Even the ones he knows are out-out gay. “I see you’ve been on social media a lot – what’s that Instagram picture supposed to mean?” He’s even started requesting 1:1 nights out with my male friends, despite acting like a totally rude prick on the occasions I have tried to introduce them. Here’s the thing, at first I thought he was lonely but then I woke up and remembered, he’s the most popular person I know, with an abundance of friends and colleagues to socialise with.
He has started randomly ‘popping home’ on my days off. “I was just passing and thought I’d pop in for coffee” *coughs bullshit* This is the person who used his annual leave up outside of my school holidays on things like the NFL Draft and The Super Bowl. Yet now he’s turning up unannounced at home for coffee. He’s trying to catch me out. But here’s the thing. He’s ‘catching me out’ making a cup of tea. He’s ‘catching me out’ doing Zumba choreography. He’s ‘catching me out’ having a shower. There are so many bizarre and pretty freaking creepy things that he’s done that alone may not seem like a big deal but the cumulative effect makes me feel really uneasy. I have told him a thousand times over to stop. That it makes me feel uncomfortable. That by smothering me in this way only pushes me further away.
But he cannot stop.
Don’t get me wrong. He is a great guy. He is the best father I could ever wish for to my daughter. They absolutely idolise each other. As a child, my father was ’emotionally absent’ until he died, the day after my 12th Birthday. I was not wanted by him and my presence was merely an inconvenience to his bachelor life idealogy. I know this because my mum made sure from a young age that I knew it. I am so grateful that my daughter has a wonderful relationship with her father; it melts my heart to see them together.
But what about me? Do I tolerate this because he’s a wonderful father? On 2 separate occasions in recent days something much, much worse has happened. I can’t even bring myself to write about it – it makes me feel sick to my stomach.
And this right here is where I look and think, “That’s how they got there…” As I watch the drip, drip of insignificant occurrences, I cast my eyes down and for the first time I notice a fucking lake at my feet.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt so scared and alone.