A message to Alyssa.

I tried to respond to my former best friend, after she explained to me how everything looked from her perspective about the mess I was right around high school and first semester of college, after leaving my ex and trying to move on. At this time, I was stupid and asked her to lie for me, and I was still lying about certain things myself. I tried to respond to her, but it looks like she blocked me. So I’m posting my letter here out of context so hopefully she can see it.

Here we go.

 “Three things I want to say right this second, and then I’ll address the rest when I’m not running around.

1. I’m paranoid about Henryk because he didn’t leave me alone for years after we’d broken up. He had been pretending to be me and sending men online my address and phone number and all the pictures he’d amassed. Because, and this I cannot prove but through my memory, I sat with my stepdad’s hacker friend Jay and I watched him enter the IP address of the “hacker” into a tracker. It traced it back to West Point. So chances are, Henryk was the one actually behind it. Or someone he knew. And Jay is family for me, not Bud, so I trust him. I should not have trusted Bud, as he took advantage of me. But Jay would’ve killed Bud if he ever found out what he ended up doing. And so, with that knowledge, I tracked down tons of revenge porn posted online and fended off some eager “suitors” and Henryk kept bothering me to listen to him until about 2011. He hasn’t contacted me since, but I still have nightmares that I’ll see him. Aside from the probable “hacking” he had pressured me through our whole relationship to do things sexually that I was neither ready for nor wanted. But he pushed and he pushed and he wore me down and pushed right past my consent. A lot of that affected me. I didn’t know at the time that it was not okay–my sex education had been from 8th grade health class and my mom’s policy of “watch movies” and I thought our tumultuous relationship was romantic instead of really, really unhealthy and rapey. And he’d pretended not to remember the worst instances. I’d be crying in the shower and he’d come in and ask what was wrong like nothing happened. I won’t go into a lot more detail but it really messed me up.

2. I should NEVER have asked you to lie for me. Lying was a fallback for me, a safety net I had that was totally unhealthy and wrong. I lied about Ana’s existence, I lied about my “history of drug use” and I lied about how many men I’d been with (2 at the time–I said more). I felt these things added to my worth when I felt worthless, and I continued them for a long time because they were all I had and it was too late to come clean. But I did come clean, eventually, and I’ve vowed to keep lying as far from my life as possible. It’s toxic and it does nothing but hurt. I don’t want to excuse it, it was so wrong. But some things I didn’t lie about and I know I have to earn the trust back in order for people to believe me. I get that, I do, and I’m willing to do the work and own up to my mistakes. I’ve grown up a lot since all of this, and I understand now how my words and actions can hurt more than just myself. I’m very sorry I ever asked you to lie for me.

3. Here’s the tricky one–I’ve very clearly remember your sister telling me that you still vocally hated me, which naturally made me nervous as I knew you and Henryk were Facebook friends. It was about not trusting Henryk and not wanting him back in my life. However, I can’t prove it because my Facebook messenger doesn’t have the history on it with her. She defriended me after telling me this and then friend requested me back, and I don’t know if that was it or what but it deleted my history with her. I understand if you don’t believe me, but I’m willing to swear on my son that she said it, and I don’t take anything with my son lightly, he is my entire world and more. 

I was going to respond more later but it seems you’ve blocked me. I’m posting this on my blog in hopes you will see it, because I do feel it’s important and I gave YOU the chance to talk, so I think it’s fair that you give me the same chance.”

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My black hole

It’s not my mouth or my vagina. Or my butthole. Or…any other orifice. It’s a metaphor.

I’m trying to describe clinical depression. I have a doozy of diagnoses when it comes to this–Double Depression, or dysthymia PLUS major depressive disorder. Dysthymia is like…okay, non mentally ill people are at a neutral for a baseline, okay? They’re at 0. Positive emotions are up to +10. Negative? is to -10. So average person starts their mood at 0. With dysthymia, my baseline isn’t 0–it’s like -2. I start off in a lower mood. And then here comes MDD, that means periods of time at a -6. But because I’m already low, it’s like, -2 + -6 so I’m at -8. I don’t know if that’s a scientific truth, per se, that it might be cumulative, but that’s how it feels. 

I’m at -9 right now. My depression is in a deep downswing. And I’ve been struggling to express exactly how it feels to my mostly neurotypical husband. And what I came up with, is that it’s like a black hole.

It is simultaneously empty and impossibly heavy, the heaviest pit of negativity and/or nothingness in existence. It could devour the whole world if it were let loose. But it’s trapped–inside of me. Right in my diaphragm, in the center between the line between chest and stomach and my shoulder blades. I’m keeping it contained against my will. Just 250lbs of me, surrounding a black hole. My body strains with it. It hurts, and it makes me feel uncomfortable, and I want to die so it will end. It’s horrible, feeling this heavy emptiness. It sucks everything I have, and here I am, resisting, surviving, day after day, struggling. My body is a prison, and the black hole of my sick mind is the prisoner. But the prisoner is too much, too big, and the prison doesn’t have the resources to keep it contained.

The answer isn’t to shut the prison down forever, of course. It’s to increase its resources. And that’s the biggest struggle of all. Self care is supremely difficult when depression is deep. It’s hard to shower, to walk, to work, to care, to love, to feel anything or expend Amy effort, even enjoyable effort. Like reading–I feel like it drains too many of my resources. Of course, it would probably replenish some, in the end, but just getting started on ANY self care requires energy, and I just have none. I’m walking around on fumes, and sleep only does so much to rest me. I feel my pain in my sleep, in my dreams. I toss and turn, I get episodes of insomnia, my brain just will not let me relax. 

So I have been…faking it. I’m good at acting. Acting like things are okay for those who don’t already know me better. But this is my confession–I’m not okay. I probably need a change in medication, considering this downswing started when I stopped my sedative anti-depressant and my anti-anxiety mess so I could start this new ADHD med I got prescribed.

So that’s where I am. Why I’m not writing. I do not have the resources to write, the energy, the spoons, the anything. I can barely get out of bed, and only then because I have Obligations and Responsibilities and life doesn’t stop just because I feel bad, especially at my income bracket (lower class–but just not poor enough to get help). I have to work, I have to care for my own child, my husband can’t take off work or school to help me.

I don’t know what to do but wait it out, slowly sinking. I know the chances of me surviving this aren’t high. I get therapy, I get medicine, I get doctors and nurses and all the medical world has to offer me at great cost. And it’s not enough. What will ever be enough?

I’m alive, barely

I’ve been absent. I’ll admit, my last confessional (which took…what, 5, 6 parts?) about the ups and downs of my marriage took a lot out of me. But in addition, I have been very, very sick. For pretty much all of January. I simply haven’t had the spoons to write anything else from my history and nothing interesting has been happening in my present, aside from the fact that I was ill and couldn’t breathe or work or do chores or do pretty much anything. I was on inhalers and seriously high doses of steroids to help me breathe, I had some kind of awful viral bronchitis, from the week after Christmas til this week, I still have the cough but it’s not nearly as severe. It’s a productive cough still, so I’m still at home and not at work yet, but I go back next week now that I’m not surrounded by a miasma of plague.

And…well. The one thing I really want to talk about on here? I can’t yet. I absolutely will not talk about it while my beloved grandmother is alive. However many years she’ll be alive (she’s turning 94 in like 6 days) I will keep this a secret, only talked about in safe, private spaces. Because it will affect my entire family, and may cause rifts, and is generally awful. I won’t stress my grandmother out, not at her age and in her health, and I won’t lose her over this. I can keep quiet. But know that as soon as she’s passed, I will speak up. I won’t stay silent forever. I can’t. It’s a huge part of my past, and a huge influence on me, even though it was pretty awful. I won’t say more. But you’ll find out eventually.

But anyway, I’m here. I’m recovering, and starting to do housework again. I’m dealing with a VERY upset Edwin lately, he’s been hitting and screaming a lot, and I’ve had to take away privileges over it (he lost the TV, he threw such a fit). And he’s just…ugh. He was sick too, and he’s pretty much recovered now and starting to eat more (not more variety, just more quantity) so that’s good. A growth spurt might be coming. He is gonna be 5 this year, and I cannot believe it.

So that’s it. Keith is back in school, I’m going back to work, Edwin is in school, everything’s just…everything. But I do need to tell you guys about ADHD once I see my doctor next week, and my history with the diagnosis and the label and all that. Keep an eye out for that later.

A Woman of Words

I’m just gonna train of thought at you.

So every time I find out someone new is going to read this blog of mine right here, I immediately have to look at my posts and remember what I’ve written and see what my writings might look like to someone new to me. I have anxiety, okay? And I just did that a few minutes ago because someone asked for my blog and I gave it to them. This is nerve wracking for me. I reveal everything on here, things I could get in serious trouble for posting. This is my tell-all. My confession booth. My in-process autobiography.

Now, I don’t expect anyone to be really listening. I know mostly people who read this blog, and I know most of you personally (to those mighty few who don’t know me at all and still read this thing–I salute you). But I’m not writing this for adoring crowds. I don’t know if I’ll ever decide to publish it. It’s just peeks into my past, and some peeks into my present. I haven’t talked about my future yet on here, I don’t know if I will. I just want to record, you know? Not speculate. I can be a fiction writer everywhere else. Here? I want to be a historian.

So for those new people here, and my longtime followers to whom I haven’t communicated this yet, that’s what’s going on. I’m just putting little pieces of my life down and explaining why I am the way that I am, product of my experiences, etc. It’s helping me make sense of myself more than anything else. If I can write it, I can try to understand it. This is how I think. I have always primarily been a Woman of Words.

Things No One Will Tell You About Having a Baby

(This does not apply universally. Some people end up with beautiful pregnancies. However, most women I know experience pregnancy as something else completely. That’s what this is about. It ain’t like the movies.)

  • You will be able to FEEL your stretch marks becoming bigger as they stretch. It feels vaguely like stockings ripping, but it’s your skin. It doesn’t really hurt, it’s just very weird.
  • You’ll never have control of your bladder again. Do all the kegels you want. You’ll always pee a little when you cough or sneeze too hard.
  • You will poop yourself on the birthing table. Everything gets in on that pushing you’re doing, including your digestive system. You will poop yourself in front of everyone (barring a c-section) and you won’t even notice.
  • In fact, giving birth kind of feels like the biggest poop ever that just keeps on coming out. It hurts all over down there, but you can tell it’s in your vag. Just…like a poop. The biggest most painful poop ever that takes like 2 hours.
  • There’s something called a mucus plug. It’s gross. It’ll fall out of you at some point. I didn’t even notice mine. It happens right around birth time.
  • The part where you can feel and see the little baby feet and hands through your stomach? Is fucking CREEPY. It’s like a horror movie. You can literally feel the inside of your skin being touched. It’s fucked up.
  • You can be put on bedrest for pretty much anything. I had a polyp on my cervix that was causing me to bleed just a little bit, around month 4, and I got modified bedrest (can go to the bathroom and shower, can walk in the house, otherwise ON COUCH OR BED) after that. And bedrest isn’t that fun (unless like me you had the newly released first season of Game of Thrones AND a brand new copy of Skyrim). No matter what, prepare to rest a lot during pregnancy. Have books and TV and music and movies ready. You may not get on bedrest, but you’ll be fucking tired a lot.
  • You are NOT allowed to scream while you’re giving birth. According to my lovely Russian nurse (the only person in the room while I was giving birth, besides my husband–doctor showed up to catch the baby and stitch me up and then left) if you are screaming, you’re not pushing. So you have to hold your breath and push in complete silence for the duration of your contraction, about 10 seconds during active labor. It’s not fun. You will want to scream.
  • If you get an epidural, you will feel like the bottom half of your body is asleep. But it won’t last. You’ll still feel every push, most likely. It just provides some comfort before active labor while your contractions get closer and your cervix opens. Also they can totally hit nerves there and I ended up kicking someone because they hit a nerve and my knee jerked. It feels SO WEIRD.
  • HAVE A BIRTH PLAN. Seriously. Write all that shit out and plan for it. Have music, have someone chanting, have whatever you fucking want. If you don’t have a birth plan, they will treat you like crap and just shunt you in and out with no thought. You will not have exemplary care if you do not demand it. So demand it. Have. A. Birth. Plan.
  • If you plan to breastfeed, DO NOT LET THEM GIVE YOUR CHILD ANYTHING WITH A FAKE NIPPLE. they will offer formula for the night so you can rest. Don’t do it. As soon as your child is born, let them breatfeed, literally right out of the vag. And then never let a plastic or rubber nipple touch your child’s lips til they are ready. They will get something called nipple confusion and refuse to breastfeed after that. I had to pump for 6 months after that so he could get breastmilk out of a bottle, and it was a PAIN IN THE ASS. Breastfeeding, if you choose to do it, is frustrating in general. But they should have someone at the hospital to teach you how.
  • Always have your pediatrician picked out by your 6th month and MEET WITH THEM. Make sure they know what they’re doing. My son almost died from too severe jaundice that the doctor wasn’t proactive enough about. We switched real quick after that. Don’t just read stuff online and pick that. Actually meet and interview pediatricians.
  • You can hit the painkiller button as much as you want but it still only gives you one dose. They’ll say you can have up to a certain amount, but it’s always just one dose every so often. It’s scheduled. You can’t change it. They make you think you have the power. You don’t. But pressing the button a million times is kinda fun.
  • FOR GOD’S SAKE LEARN HOW TO PROPERLY INSTALL A CAR SEAT OR THEY WON’T LET YOU TAKE YOUR KID HOME. you have to have it approved by like aware policeperson or aware firefighter or other public servant before you get to the hospital, and then the hospital has to check it too. 
  • Finally…you will fall in love and be more terrified than you ever have been all at once once you meet your baby. Everything that can go wrong? You’ll be totally aware of every little one. Especially because they’re so fragile and their necks are like useless and their heads are soft and they’re just soft helpless and weak. But they’re YOURS and they are your everything and worth every ounce of weirdness and discomfort and pain.

2016

I left off with Keith returning to therapy because I totally bribed him. And it worked.

It didn’t change overnight. In fact, real improvement didn’t happen til around halfway through the year. He did get better steadily, but he was still very angry, especially because I didn’t have a job. He saw me as a financial burden and now that Edwin wad going to school he wanted me to get a job and pull my weight. Which is fair–we aren’t as poor as I was growing up, or even what we had been all marriage, we were much better off, but we were still living paycheck to paycheck. I published novels and was getting paid for that, but only quarterly and it wasn’t enough to sustain regular financial contribution.

And then I got a job. My current job at the bakery/deli/coffee bar. And I started contributing. I pay some bills now, and can provide my own necessities like medication and clothes and I can actually afford my doctors’ visits and such. I can get myself lunch if I don’t have the energy to make it. I don’t have to ask Keith for stuff anymore. I mean, sometimes I still do, because I’m making about 1/6 of what he’s making, but it’s something, you know?

And after that he just…changed. he calmed down. He became more supportive and listened better. I figured out–he gained respect for me. He hadn’t had any before, not since Iraq, barring a few instances like Edwin’s birth. He saw me as a Really Useful Engine (I am shuddering) and treated me accordingly.

Am I grateful? Yes. Am I peeved that he didn’t respect me at all for most of our marriage? Fuck yes. He thinks I brought it on myself, but recently we had a very serious and open talk about our history and the abuse in it and we were honest and he apologized for being awful. Which is a start–he is earning back my trust, but slowly. The more days we go without him jumping down my throat, the better it is. He’s not perfect, though–he still snaps sometimes and blames things on me. But it’s a lot rarer nowadays and while we are still different people with different viewpoints, we work as partners, finally.

So there you have it. Keith and I have a long and complicated history that involves some of the worst experiences of my life. But also some of the best.

2013-2015

I had to be drunk for this one. So…I’ll edit this later, but I want to get it out and post it while I’m less jittery about the whole thing.

I left off with the note that Keith laid his hands on me. He didn’t bruise me or actively harm me, it was a grabbing thing, and it was worse than anything he’d done before. I lost all trust. Everything he had earned back from the cheating incident, it was gone. He was still the broken man I got back from Iraq. He hadn’t changed.

I have a record of everything that went wrong between me and Keith after that. I had my personal blog on Tumblr, and I recorded most of his abuse (and still do, when it appears, though I’ll say now so you have a lighter note, I haven’t seen it in several months). Emotional abuse I just…couldn’t handle. I almost left him numerous times, even talked with him about ending it numerous times. I thought about ending it for myself a few times, to escape it. It was such a dark time in my life…I really struggled.

I had raised money (because I was not allowed money or any way to touch the money or any share in it without Keith’s permission or at least him actively knowing about it because I had no account of my own or personal way to get money) online to afford emergency supplies, in the event I had to get me and Edwin out fast. A duffle bag with clothes and essentials I could just grab and go with to the YWCA.

But he found out. And instead of flying off the handle, Keith seemed to wake up a little. And we talked. Openly, for the first time since he did it (it was months later by this point). He had very many issues with me, and I had very many issues with him. I believed, and still believe, that my issues were a lot more serious than his, because his were like, “The house isn’t clean.” And, “We’re too low on money to go to McDonald’s tonight so you have to cook something.” And my issues were like, “Hey please don’t yell in my face and blame me for everything and ignore that I’m telling you I’m struggling and you are actively making it worse?” But we acknowledged something had to change, and I decided it was time for me to go back to therapy and get meds again, because I was too depressed to do anything and in too much pain from my EDS, and struggling with our son, who started therapy for his speech and motor delays.

Notice that the solution of the problem was to change ME, first. This would happen a lot in our relationship during these years. How if I just made myself better, he would stop being awful to me. Because somehow I deserved it? That is what he was saying whenever he said, “Well you do bad things too, we BOTH have to change” and then never followed up with any changes for himself until forced. I had to force him to go to therapy with me, to talk things out. I had to find his therapist for him, when he finally said he would go so he could have someone to complain to about me. Which I found him, perfectly, because the guy who saw us for marriage counseling and Keith’s personal therapy was a total misogynist who also saw me as the ultimate problem here.

Was I burden? Yes. I was incapable of keeping a clean house, being a good homemaker. I was too sick. I was too depressed. I was too distracted. I was too traumatized, half the time. The abuse was (and may still be? IDK) in cycles–Keith downswings, turns into an angry abuser for a few weeks or months. Keith upswings, turns into the perfect husband for a week. Downswing, upswing, downswing, upswing, etc etc etc forever. I was exhausted and confused and a total wreck. Like I said before, I thought about leaving a lot, one way or another. I sought treatment for myself, though, and started a years’ long journey to find the proper balance of treatments for my particular cocktail of mental and physical illnesses. I got better and better all the time. And even if I never had? I did not deserve to be abused.

Eventually he fell off the therapy bandwagon. I continued to go while he took a very, very long break (like almost a year) and I continued to put up with the emotional abuse. I was useless, I was worthless, I was to blame for everything, his family didn’t like me and I was forced to be around them all the time even though Keith’s anger with me got worse anytime we were around them. I wasn’t good enough, I was too much of a burden, financially and emotionally, I wasn’t contributing, etc etc etc. I was the one with all the emotional responsibility every day, and I was absolutely just as burdened by him as he was by me.

But then…I found something he wanted. I had a bargaining chip. I won’t tell you what it is outright, but it is both a sex thing and not a sex thing at the same time. It’s just a Thing. But I said, okay, I’ll provide what you want, but you have to give me what I want. And what I wanted? Was for him to get a better therapist and go back to therapy.

And by fuck, it worked.

I’ll writer the conclusion soon. Almost there.

 

2012

I left off with the two of us moving back to the Mohawk Valley, with my family. My grandma took us in, and we started looking for a job for Keith. I was pregnant and hurting a lot (I had recently had a sharp downswing in my EDS, worsening symtpoms, and I hadn’t learned how to cope with it yet) and frankly I couldn’t get a job that paid more than child care would cost. So I was going to be a stay at home mom.

Keith got a job at the gun factory he works at now. My father, who is paranoid schizophrenic, was having severe delusions about us and my grandmother thought it best that we just go, so we found a new place to live. I was pregnant and angry all the time, both off my medications and severely hormonal and in a lot of pain. I took the first opportunity to go–I became caretaker for a woman in hospice. My stepfather’s ex wife, who had remained a family friend and gotten to know me in particular very well (she was an excellent source of history on my scumbag stepfather) and she welcomed us into her home in return for care.

Keith was supportive through it all. It was very, very difficult for me. I was underqualified and inexperienced and couldn’t handle how far it went when she started to go. I’ll write about it another time, but it was a very bad time (it includes more than just her, but a member of my family as well. After my current project I’ll write that one). She soon died.

So Keith and I were left with and ticking time bomb. The house wasn’t going to be our home for long–we may have had rights as tenants, but we were not going to be able to stay there long-term. I had the baby, and it was not a good place to raise and baby.

In the meantime, I had my writing, while Edwin took rare naps or played in his bouncy. I found my community and friends online and I was writing more and more and I was connecting with people like I never had before. I was not sleeping–the entire time we were in that house, which was over ten months, he never slept more than two hours at a time. I am glad I have a blog from that time, because otherwise I cannot remember what happened during this time. But I have read them, so I can tell you.

Keith had gone from one end of the spectrum to the other. He had been supportive (although he took control of money away from me because I had severely misused it, I was too tired to function right and I was not that good with money, I was so young and immature) and at the time I gave birth, he declared me the most beautiful woman ever, and was so present during Edwin’s early health problems that kept him in the hospital. He helped out when we finally got home…for a time.
But somehow along the way he fell back into old habits. Probably the monetary stress I caused, added onto the stress of a new baby, and raising a baby who is autistic and started showing signs (revealing to me that I am in fact autistic myself). And…well, things were rough. I was angry and off meds, he was angry, and…he did horrible things. We yelled a lot. And one time, he put his hands on me. I had never been more scared. I started plotting how I could escape.

I’ll continue this later.

2010 and June-July 2011

Continuing the story of me and Keith. We left off back together after being apart after an incident with cheating, and we were in college up North.

We had a good thing going at one point. We were attending classes, I had a job and then another, better job. He got a better job. We had rented our own house, and it had land and it was small but beautiful. We had a roommate, a girl named July (pronounced like Julie). And then another girl moved in, because her boyfriend kicked her out onto the street. Her name was Chel. She was in the play with me, and the younger sister of one of my best friends, and I thought, we have room. We have a couch she can sleep on. She and July are friends, she and I are friends. So I took her in.

At this time, Keith and I were not in great condition. We were okay sometimes, but he still had anger issues and I was starting to realize that I was worth something, that I could be free if I wanted to. I didn’t really want to–I wanted Keith. But things were difficult, we argued, but we also did really well together in some ways. However, my health declined, and Keith wasn’t that understanding, and July and Chel were convinced he was awful, and kept encouraging me to leave him. I got carried away by their opinions, and forgot about Keith’s struggles. I was just learning at this time what had happened to him over in his deployment in Iraq. But we were college students, partying and drinking and smoking and having bonfires in our backyard and goofing off, and everything. Life went on.

In June of 2011, I got my IUD taken out (I had had it since my abortion). It was wrecking my cycle, and uncomfortable, and I didn’t want it anymore. Plus…we were thinking about kids. We should NOT have been, at all, because we were so unsteady (I had just left my job due to poor health). Our friendships with July and Chel were falling apart (Chel had bad friends that were influencing her, and they stole from us while we were gone–my pain pills, which I needed). And July was moving back to Hawai’i, which is where she lived before college. She left a bunch of stuff and fell off the grid and didn’t leave on great terms with Keith, even though those two had been a lot closer than July and I. That had changed by the end.

Well…we were without jobs. We were looking for a new place to live, hopefully a house. We took a short break to go on vacation to Disneyworld, and were told that it would be all expenses paid by my mother-in-law. See, Keith could get everyone in on a HUGE discount because of his veteran status. He was fresh out of the Marines, early, honorably discharged. So we decided to go, and then…things got tense. They gave us a tiny bit of spending money, but got mad at us when we spent it? We saved them $1500 on tickets and they didn’t have to spend extra on rooms for us because they were renting a villa apartment thing anyway (it had 5 bedrooms) and they gave us like $200 and got upset when we spent it on Keith’s younger siblings getting lunch at Disneyworld and stuff like that. The trip was great, because Disneyworld, but I was in a wheelchair for it because of my pain.

And…Keith’s mentor/big brother in the military, a man named Kurt, was killed in a shooting. He got the news while we were sitting outside chilling on the back porch of the little villa. He was devastated, and I think that was when he decided he wanted a child. Because after that, he asked and we talked and we decided we’d just let things happen. If it happens, it happens. I think he realized how short life is then.

We went back up to NY, after visiting my cousin Frank and his wife Olivia (she and I are very very very close) and their little daughter Rose, who was turning 1. We made the trip back, and then…we lost the house. The landlord wanted us out, ASAP. Get out, get out, get out, basically. And we had nowhere to go. So my mother-in-law took us in and we stayed in her basement.

I hated that time there. I literally hid downstairs and didn’t even go upstairs to pee because she was such a tyrant. I’d hear her screaming all hours of the day. So I’d pee in a cup and dump it in the sink downstairs rather than go upstairs at all. I hid in my room, with the cats, and played Elder Scrolls: Oblivion for hours and hours. I almost 100%-ed the game, actually. Which is hard to do, on an Elder Scrolls game. But I did it. And I started reading fanfiction again, to escape. I had discovered the show Glee and was reading about it online, though I hadn’t joined its fandom yet. I was just drawn to its characters and the writers online sharing their stories in that community. I didn’t know then that I would find my home and life-changing friendships among these people.

But then…well, I got pregnant. Fact is, when I was in the ultrasound, it turns out that I had been pregnant while STILL on the IUD. And that’s like a 0.001% chance of happening, and yet the little fetus hung on for dear life. I thought…well, we’re in a bad situation right now, but this little thing clearly wants to be alive more than anything. I decided to keep it.

But then…well, things were very, very bad with my mother-in-law. She’s a difficult person at the best of times, she talks a lot and is kind of aggressive. She has poor opinions of a lot of people and isn’t afraid to talk about it or share it with people. She never really liked me, until later, when I’d proven myself, but the thing is, I was hurt in her house. I slipped on a battery that happened to be left on the stairs into the basement and fell down the stairs while pregnant. I was upset and worried. She wasn’t. And then I was without my medication for several days, and was withdrawing, and I got locked out of the house while they were gone.

Oh, the drama. I asked the upstairs tenant if they had a spare key or anything, and they said no. So I, being completely insane at this point because I was having a panic attack about not having my meds and being in the middle of severe withdrawal, joked that I wished I could call the police and have them knock the door down. Apparently it came across as, “I’m gonna do it!” Not “Haha wouldn’t that be nice?” And the neighbor emailed my mother-in-law to tattle on me and warn her I was gonna break in? Which I wasn’t. I went into the backyard and sat down and was on the phone with my friend Amanda’s mother (who is also a friend and like a second mother) and chatting, and my mother-in-law came home.

She stormed up to me and started screaming while I was on the phone. She threatened me in detail–about how she was going to take me by the hair and throw me down the stairs and make sure I snap my neck. While I was pregnant with her grandchild, which she knew. She told me to take my stuff and get out.

My friend’s mother Barb rose to the occasion. She immediately came over with her car and got us all packed up and took us to her house. Keith was at work at the time. We were officially homeless. We went to stay with Barb, but we couldn’t stay for long. We had to find a place to live fast.

We went to the county building and asked for aid from the state. They called all of our family members and asked who could take us in rather than sending us to a government housing situation. Keith’s mom said she’d take Keith back in, but I was not welcome, and she wanted Keith to separate with me. And my grandma, back home in Central NY, said she’d take us both. The state said, well, separate and go to separate homes, or we could sell our car and they could garnish Keith’s wages entirely and put us up in a roach motel slum.

We decided to go home and live with my grandma back in my hometown, leaving his family and the life we lived up North behind us. Together.

I will continue this later.

 

August 1, 2009 and November 8, 2009

More dates. Important dates. This is the second installment of my posts telling the story of me and Keith together. Our struggles, our lives. Scroll down to the post titled “July 25, 2008” and read the first part. Then continue here.

So I left off, Keith and I got married and then he shipped off to Iraq. In the meantime, I lost my home (I got evicted for non payment), I got robbed (the night I was moving out, either the landlord or someone else with a key got in and stole over $2500 worth of possessions), I had to move in a with a friend, and I lost my job. Eventually, I found somewhere to live with my stepfather’s ex wife (she was an amazing lady), but only for a month. Then, I moved back in with my grandmother and father for the remainder of the deployment.

Now, something happened that made Keith very angry at me. See, I was 19 years old. I was confused and left to put a married couple’s lives in order without my partner, I was power of attorney for my husband and I had to get on his insurance and stuff like that. Lots of paperwork. So I took all my paperwork and I went to a base to talk to someone about what I needed to do. She was very helpful–sort of. She had all these things for me to do, tasks to complete to get on insurance, get our lives sorted, etc. She told me, “You need to get on his bank account.” She said it legitimized things for the military regarding insurance, and if he died I’d have access to it immediately instead of having to go through a rigmarole of legal battles. It was absolutely necessary I get my name on it.

So I did. I had power of attorney, I had permission. So I put myself on there, and then talked to Keith about it, and used some money from his deployment pay to pay off the massive amount of medical bills I had accrued over the years and continued to accrue (and one time, get my cousin out of a drug deal that went south, it cost $50).  He knew what I was doing.

But something over there changed him. I’ve found out what happened there over the years, through secondary sources (he’d tell everyone but me) and I put two and two together and knew what he did and what he was made to do. Not good things. He faced IUDs, life and death decisions, live fire, and…stuff. A Marine Corps Infantryman, a lance corporal, put in horrible situations. And he came back changed.

When he got back, he wouldn’t kiss me. I ran to him and hugged him, and everyone around us was hugging and kissing with abandon. But he held me at a distance. And then we got back to the hotel room, and he fucked me. But it was so distant, and so bizarre. But then I went home, because he needed to go through bureaucracy and get settled in and evaluated and all that.

Then he called me, the night before I was going to go back to stay with him at the hotel for a while before we got our lives in order and moved back up North to be with his family. He called me. He was so, so drunk. He’d had 15 drinks in the course of an hour. I am shocked he didn’t die from this. But he called me–and he was crying. He never cried before that. So I packed all my stuff, and I got on the highway, and I raced the hour and a half to his base from my home and found him in his hotel room, trying and failing to throw up.

He was wild. He was ranting and raving about how he regretted our marriage, and how he wanted to fuck other girls, and how messed up his life was, and then he decided he wanted to drive to McDonald’s? I had to physically restrain him as he babbled the names of the girls he wanted before tying himself down that he’d never gotten the opportunity to bone. Finally  I got him to bed.

But things…continued. He was so angry all the time. He had a girl over to his hotel room to “hang out” and she stayed the night. He swore nothing happened, he still swears it, he says he slept on the ground, but she was one of the girls he named as being one of the ones he wanted to bone. And he was drinking so much.

We went up North to his family and got an apartment and enrolled in college. On August 1, 2009, we got married…again. His family thinks that’s when we got married period. Nope. It was for show. And Keith won’t tell them the truth. But I…well, I was pregnant. About eight weeks pregnant. And on August 15, I got an abortion. There was no way I was bringing a child into the world with Keith the way he was. Just…so angry.

He had a job, I was searching for one but unsuccessfully. He was drinking all the time, before and after work, morning noon and night. And…he was abusive. We’d argue about anything, and he’d literally chase me from room to room and corner me so he could scream at me uninterrupted while I sobbed and begged him to leave me alone. He was physically threatening. A few times, he grabbed me and shook me or pulled or pushed me around. One time, we were in his big lifted Bronco on a trail up a mountain and we went over this huge rock and I looked through his driver side window and saw STRAIGHT DOWN A CLIFF and I got very very scared because he was not in control at that time and I asked if I could get out and tried to get out. He pulled the seat belt across my throat and tugged it several times. Then he drove home screaming at me.

And then he went to a party one night without me. He didn’t come home til the next day, and he was pretty much blacked out. I started hearing rumors about this party–a friend of a friend said Keith was not alone at the party and disappeared halfway through it. Keith admitted to me himself that he thought he did something, wasn’t sure. So I had him call the girl he was rumored to be with on speakerphone and ask her what happened that night, because he couldn’t remember. I’ll never forget the way she said, “We had sex.” Like it was no big deal. But he had betrayed me. We went into our apartment, I slapped him, and kicked him out. He went to stay with his mom shortly after November 8, 2009.

But that was a turning point. He stopped drinking, and did everything he could to make amends. He gave me space, but he was there for me when I asked him to be. He backed off the anger for a while (it would come back), and he let me think. Eventually, I decided to forgive him. He moved back in, and while I wouldn’t have sex with him at all until he got tested and a negative result on STDs, we were together again.

I’ll continue this soon.