He had all the hallmarks of someone who had been hurt, harmed, by someone else–and who hadn’t done the work to get through that pain.
That last part is crucial. I should’ve paid better attention to that.
Looking back, it reminds me so much of my step-dad, of how my step-dad had all the hallmarks of having been abused as a child and never having done the work of moving through that pain, only to take it out on myself and my mom and my siblings.
CM–his pain came from his previous relationship. And looking back at our relationship, at how it ended, how it began, and really the entirety of it….. I have a policy of believing victims of abuse. Perpetrators are so rarely actually convicted and imprisoned for their crimes, and false accusations of such crimes are so rare, and victim-blaming and -shaming culture is so pervasive that I believe victims.
And looking back at my relationship with CM, I have doubts, and I feel so terrible about that.
I don’t doubt his pain. Clearly, he experienced painful things.
When he told me of his pain, I took him at his word. I believed him, 100%, when he told me that his ex abused him. He didn’t use the word “abuse”–I gave him that word to describe the emotional and verbal assaults she heaped upon him.
Having lived through my own relationship with him, I admit that I now experience doubts, and that makes me feel so terrible. It’s a weird, wibbly mirror-world, trying to figure out if or when or how much? And I don’t really want to try to do that; I’d never really know. I wonder a little bit, though, whether one or the other of them was ‘reactively abusive’–wherein one partner was abusive and the other reacted after a while in such a fashion, too, out of pain and hurt. I can’t figure which of them that would be. That’s not my job. And that’s not really what this is about, anyway.
Mostly, I want this written reminder to myself: someone who has not taken the time, and is resistant (like CM was) to taking the time, to work through pain like that is likely going to become abusive. Likely, that person wants someone to take care of them. And I cannot be that person. That’s what trained professionals are for. I do not get paid to do that. I have never wanted to be a mom, and I never want to mother a partner outside of serious illness/injury (and even then, I don’t think it would be mothering–it wouldn’t be ‘raising’ them).
I want this reminder to myself of all the times something would be going wrong in my relationship with CM, and I would go to him to work things out, and eventually I would say, “Oh, this is something that happened with ex?” and he would say yes. That happened multiple times, and I should not have had to ferret that out of him so many times. I should not have had her behavior held against me.
I should not have had to fight to get him to see a therapist, when he thought it was perfectly fine for me to see a therapist. What that says to me is that it is okay for me to be broken but not for him. What it says to me is that only I must do the hard work in the relationship. That is not okay.
Separately from that, I shouldn’t have felt like a zoo exhibit in my own home: stared at but rarely interacted with.
I shouldn’t have felt like an object to be fought over with the ‘rival penis’ in the territory.
I shouldn’t have been made to feel like I was somehow ‘spoiled’ for him because I enjoy sex with and have partners who have various genitalia.
I am left questioning: he kept playing up how much he contributed via the groceries (his sole communal contribution) while also complaining about how much the groceries cost. And also, he refused so much to use coupons, and bought so much cheese (like, 4-5 different kinds all the time) and other similarly expensive things. And he kept refusing to shop anywhere other than the place he worked–even to see if maybe he could get a cheaper deal elsewhere. So, was this a way to inflate the importance of his contribution? Was it a way to compete with my wife, who paid rent and electric and internet and water? Did he really not hear any of the suggestions we had for helping with groceries, or did he think they were challenges? Why all the cheese all the time?
I struggle with thinking about him. Sometimes I miss him, which feels difficult, because of all the other pain, too. And I feel like I shouldn’t? But in between the pain, there were good things. Because that’s how this works. Abusive relationships aren’t all rockets and fire and brimstone all the time. Sometimes there’s quiet moments, date nights, trips to the art museum or the park. Sometimes I meet his parents and we share stories and happy times. Sometimes we play games or read together. Sometimes he hugs me when I cry, when I’m hurting about something else.
And that’s part of what makes it hurt so much, too, because how could someone who does that hurt me so badly? And how could it *not* be purposeful?
But how is someone who does those things not a good person? My wife thinks he is not, though. I struggle. I believe everyone is basically good at their core. Maybe this is my undoing.
It fucks with my head.
I hate this.