From the beginning, it was a farce. The passion I thought he felt for me came from the pills he was secretly taking. His lust for life came from a bottle or a joint. My life had been focused and serious. I spent years in front of the computer working on my dissertation, juggling multiple jobs, and raising kids by myself. He was reckless and spontaneous. He had no roots or home. He designed his life to live in other people’s spaces by house sitting nearly every day of the month.
He called no place home and said he had no family. All the signs were there that this would not go well. He was terribly wounded.
Some nights we’d be sitting in my backyard under the cherry tree, drinking whiskey by the fire, listening to music and having a good time. I would go inside to use the bathroom and return to find him sobbing inconsolably. He could not or would not tell me what was wrong. Foolishly, I still tried to have a relationship with him.
Although anytime I’d mention a relationship he’d flee. We’d then spend days texting or talking about how he ran. I’d grasp for him. He’d react angrily. On the nights he house sat he often got drunk. Alone. He sent me long nonsensical texts. The only words that were clear were his desire to die.
The next day he wouldn’t remember sending the texts. I would ask about them and suggest he read them. He’d respond with “LOL.” In my gut, I knew there was something terribly wrong. I stayed.
Frequently he’d get drunk and passed out on the floor. I’d drag him into my room, terrified that my children would see him. I didn’t want them to know how bad things were. He’d scream out during the night.
“No. No. No.”
His hands in front of him, as if he was trying to push everything away. And yet, I was still drawn to him. I spent decades working with people with disabilities, mental health challenges, and substance abuse disorders. I felt like I’d be a hypocrite if I said, “This is too much. I want to be happy and cannot have this in my life.”
I turned to face it instead.
I believed if I could show him love - then he could heal. If I showed him family - he could learn the joy of being part of it.
He resisted. He could not handle emotions.
The night my cousin died, I asked him to console me. He came, we sat under the cherry tree, we drank some whiskey, and we fought. I don’t remember why. We seemed to have reached a resolution. I went into the house for a moment and he fled.
About 30 minutes later, he called in a panic. I missed the first call and it went to my voicemail.
“Cops, cops, there are cops.”
He had been pulled over and got a DUI. Every part of my being said that was enough. He lacked self-control. He was either extremely happy or horrifically depressed. I used to say jokingly that he had no off-switch. Once he started drinking he would continue until the bottle was gone. I often tried to hide the bottle before he could finish it. It was the only way to get him to stop.
Now I realize there was too much truth to the joke “he has no off switch.” He couldn’t regulate. He can’t regulate.
I watched him pay out over $10,000 for that recklessness. He continued to drink. After the breathalyzer came off his truck, sometimes he even drank and drove. How could I, a person who was nearly killed by a drunk driver stay with someone who put his life and others at risk by drinking and driving? Maybe this is where my trauma comes in.
I wanted to be loved by him, but I knowingly chose to be in a relationship with someone completely incapable of loving.
After the DUI, we stopped having sex. It wasn’t until four years later that I found out part of the reason was that he ran out of the Viagra, which he was getting illegally from his pot dealer. Yes, that was my life. How could a research scientist who was studying substance use disorders get so entangled with someone who was obviously dependent on numerous substances to cope with his life?
We had numerous mutual friends. They spoke about his integrity. I trusted my friends and therefore I trusted him. Of course, I didn’t know that trust was not warranted. As I was opening myself further and trusting him more, he was sexting with ex-lovers. I found out only because he borrowed my computer and left his Facebook open and there were the messages including nude shots from a previous lover.
The most heart-wrenching part was that she asked if he had a girlfriend and he said no. By this time we had been living together and had been together over a year. I cannot find the words to describe my feeling of betrayal. He erased me and our relationship.
And yet… I stayed. Things got worse. And yet…I stayed.
Years passed. He fled for the last time. This time was different. He hid from me. For quite some time, he said I was too much for him. My family was too much for him.
I believe him.
Today, I rise again. I am spreading my wings. The next time someone says I am too much for them, I will proudly fly away.