My Story: Part 4
Posted by Nice Girl
Part 4 of My Story takes place in my first two years in San Francisco. You can find Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here. At the end of Part 3, I had moved to San Francisco after my parents helped me escape my abusive marriage. I had a job that I loved, I was renting a room in a nice house, and I made a couple of friends, including Charles, the guy I dated in-between my marriage and my move. I was also using a dating website at the time to look for dates. Once again, all names, except for my ex-husband’s name, have been changed in this story.
I met David within the first month of moving to San Francisco through a popular free dating site. He was tall, funny, he complimented me constantly, and he seemed intelligent. Unfortunately, he had a rather severe stutter, and with the stutter came social anxiety and low self-esteem.
We started dating, and he asked me to be his girlfriend about a month later. Once we were dating exclusively, his low self-esteem and anxiety became a very big problem. I am a very social person; I like to attend events, go to bars to sing karaoke, and throw parties for my friends. David didn’t like to do any of those things. His preferred entertainment for an evening was ordering in pizza and either watching a movie or playing a video game. I enjoy these things too, but I was craving interaction with other people throughout our entire relationship.
David was incredibly insecure. He couldn’t understand why I would be dating a guy like him, and he told me that constantly. He told me how lucky he was that I was in his life, and how much he always wanted to stay by my side. These self-deprecating compliments were soothing at first, due to my emotional issues stemming from my marriage. After therapy and a year’s time, they were grating.
And he made as sure as possible that he would “stay by my side” when I wasn’t at work. He would regularly “surprise” me outside of my office building when he knew that I would be off of work. Sometimes he even rode the train with me as I headed to work. Near the end of the relationship, I realized that the only time I was ever actually alone was in the bathroom at work. Yes, he would even enter the bathroom when I was in there with the door shut.
His smothering took other forms as well. He was somehow convinced that although I spent nearly every waking hour with him, I was either cheating or planning to cheat on him. He never actually said this to me, until I received a strange text message on my phone. The text said that someone was trying to change the password on my cell phone account. Because of the previous electronic stalking Jason, my ex-husband, had done, I just assumed it was Jason who was trying to access the account. I mentioned it to David when I saw him that evening, and his expression was strange as he listened. Then David broke down crying, and told me, while severely stuttering, that he had been the one who tried to access my account. David was convinced that I still had feelings for Charles, and that if I had the chance, I would leave him for Charles.
I didn’t recognize the controlling behavior for what it was. I didn’t realize that David was using his tears and his stutter to try and prevent me from being angry at him, and to feel pity for him instead. I pitied him. I held his hand and wiped his tears when I should have kicked him out of my apartment, deleted his phone number, and never spoke to him again. I did make him promise that he would never snoop on me again, and I tried to explain the difference between privacy and secrecy. He clearly didn’t understand, and he had no intention of keeping his promise. I found out later that he continually violated my privacy throughout the two years we dated. I’m not sure why he kept accessing my private accounts when he didn’t find anything that could be construed as cheating, but he did it so often that he eventually got very sloppy, especially after I moved in with him.
Yes, I moved in with David one year after we had started dating. I was spending all of my time outside of work at his place, and it seemed silly to be paying for a room that I wasn’t ever sleeping in.
David also made sure that my pity for his stutter and his resulting anxiety would make me feel disloyal if I went out without him. He would agree to go out, and then back out of it via text at the last minute. Ordinarily, I would scrap my plans for that evening and just go home, but on the nights that I did go out, he would send me texts the entire time, with “I love you” and “I miss you” and “When are you coming home?”. Once again, I didn’t recognize the controlling behavior for what it was.
Oftentimes, coming home was like being in an issues debate that I had found out about 5 minutes prior. I was a member of the local Young Republican group at the time, and he was a staunch Liberal. He would read up on current events, research them, and then try to argue with me about them. When I started to argue back, he would pull out facts and figures, and ask me to back up my arguments with the same. Of course, I had been working all day, and couldn’t pull statistics out without time. I was already very socially Liberal, but David would also talk about socially Conservative stances, while saying “You Republicans…” It was something that absolutely infuriated me.
Sex was also an exercise in frustration. I am not sure if he had an actual problem with premature ejaculation, but I started to feel like a glorified masturbatory aid. My needs were increasingly unmet, and I stopped desiring him entirely, but he still felt as though he were entitled to sex at any time he wished. There were a couple of times that we drank at home, and I would wake up the next morning with soreness between my legs. I brushed it off as dehydration until I woke up during a blackout to find him shoving himself inside of me, as he told me that I wasn’t REALLY passed out. I was so drunk that I could hardly move, and he either didn’t hear me or he ignored me as I told him to stop. Sure enough, the next morning, I had the same pain and soreness that had occurred after previous drunken nights.
I had started seeing a therapist for depression about six months prior. I had been exhibiting symptoms of it ever since my divorce, and most of my sessions involved discussing the events of my marriage. It wasn’t until I was so outraged over his violation of my body that I started telling my therapist about the problems in my relationship with David. The therapist was absolutely floored, and asked me why I hadn’t talked about David before. I told him that I thought my flashbacks and thoughts of suicide were stemming from lingering emotional trauma. My therapist offered his opinion that my flashbacks and thoughts of suicide were stemming from current emotional trauma. I agreed, and started preparations to leave.
I didn’t leave for two months. Our relationship was going to hell in a handbasket, but a good friend of mine was due to visit from out of the country, and we had offered her our couch. I wasn’t sure that I would have space for her to stay in whatever housing situation I ended up in, and I didn’t want to stress her out by reneging on her housing. I also didn’t want to leave David right before finals week. He’d had some problems with his grades during the previous semester and was on academic suspension. I didn’t want to feel even partially responsible if he was kicked out of college due to our breakup.
The final nail in the coffin was when I was at a karaoke night, and I made out with one of my karaoke friends, Joseph, outside of the bar. It was the first time I had ever cheated on anyone, and I felt awful. I still wanted to wait until after finals week, but David knew that something had changed. He tried pushing me into telling him, and I refused. David said that he was going to his best friend’s house to spend the night then, and I told him that would probably be best. David left the house, and then came back at 3am and woke me up. I was livid, and told him exactly what had happened, and that I was ending the relationship.
One of my closest friends was looking for a roommate at the same time. I made plans to live with her, and plans to stay with another friend in the meantime. When I returned to gather my possessions, David had already packed everything, and was keeping it all in the garage. I had two male friends with me, including Joseph, but David pulled me aside. He told me that I owed him $1k for rent and storage, and he had a promissory note that he had drafted. With the obsessive and controlling behavior he had previously exhibited, I wasn’t sure if he would decide to keep my possessions as collateral if I didn’t sign. So I signed the note, and we moved all of my things into my new apartment.
I decided, as I was unpacking, that I was going to take a year off of serious relationships, but I wasn’t going to take a year off of dating. I made up my mind that I was going to date as many people as possible for a year. And oh, I did.
Part 5 will be posted on Monday.