Once Rick and I had become exclusive, left everything on the table for discussion and went on several dates, a big question came from him that I did not expect. Yet, another moment I was shocked and taken-a-back. He asked me to move in. We had only been dating exclusively since July, it was only the end of September. I kept thinking to myself, “Why in the world is he asking this question already? He and Kate had been together off and on for 9 years. They have a son together I have only met a few times. I’m not sure if I’m ready to move in. It feels like a lot of responsibility and it’s every weekend (possibly any way) we would have his son. Why doesn’t he wait?” This man clearly had an affect on me because I’m pretty positive it was he who instilled the anxiousness within me. I had never felt this way over any other date or boyfriend (ok, honestly, that’s false. I felt this way when my boyfriend and I broke up when I went to college, but that was the break up, not a question of moving in together). My brain would rapid fire so many thoughts any time my ex and I would have discussions. I initially told him no. I gave him a lot of excuses: classes, I’m closer to work, my friends, I have to give my roommates notice, etc. Every part of my being told me no, and what did I do? THE OPPOSITE!?
I did tell him no, there’s no doubt about that. He left it alone for about a week but asked me again. I quickly realized he wasn’t going to not ask me this question, so I asked him if I could think on it. He asked for a deadline. I told him to give me a few weeks, he responded with one week. I don’t know what it was about that moment. It wasn’t a specific detail really, rather it was the entire conversation and how it went, felt like I was finally an adult who could compromise. I know it doesn’t look like it, but you had to be there to feel it too (or maybe it was just my crazy ass being over confident again!?). Regardless, I took that week for all it was worth. I didn’t try to see him on our breaks. I didn’t try to see him after work. I literally needed time to think about it. Getting involved with someone who already has a child is a lot for someone who doesn’t have children, wants them, but doesn’t have any. The child isn’t just someone or something you can disregard. A child is a big commitment. Yes, he’s only asking me to move in but he has a kid people! It’s as if he’s asking me to marry him right now! That child doesn’t deserve for people to come in and out of his life like that, and I’m not sure if Rick and I will be together in a year.
When we met up at my house a week later, he brought his son. He also brought a diaper bag, clothes for himself, and a playpen. His son was absolutely adorable. There’s no denying that. It’s also hard not to love a baby! My roommates were home too and we all were surprised to see him come over with his son. That’s a bold move right? Well, that’s what I thought at least. We started having a conversation about me moving in after introductions were made and we got the baby settled and comfortable around us all. It was short-lived though. I got called into work and I really wanted the extra income. If I was going to live with him, I was going to need the extra income, and as much as I hated getting called in, previously I always managed to get my butt in there whether I liked it or not. This time, however, was almost as if I did something instinctually rather than out of habit. So he stayed the night any way while I worked. I never got to give him his answer because his ex called and wanted their son back early. He was gone when I got home.
I wound up sick the next day too. The stomach bug caught me. I didn’t want to spread my germs so I stayed away for a good three days and thank goodness too because it lasted longer than the usual 24 hours. I was sick for two days straight and seriously thought I might need to go to the hospital for fluids (one of my roommates suggested it any way). The third day, I spent recovering, trying to think about all the details surrounding moving in with him. I wrote it all out in my diary too thinking that seeing things in black and white would help me sort it out. When that didn’t help me I turned to a friend of mine who was a step parent. I asked him what helped him move along when there’s so much at stake with a child involved. He didn’t really provide me with any tangible advice I could use. Men think differently than women so for him, it wasn’t as deep of a thought. For him, it was more along the lines that he couldn’t worry about that, the child was too young to know any better. For me, and remembering how I was when I was a child and my intuitive-ness, it wasn’t as simple as he put it. Another friend told me that I just had to take the risk, it was the only way. And it wasn’t that I heeded her advice. I just needed to give him an answer and with his texts I felt as though if I didn’t say yes we wouldn’t be an item any longer and that saddened me more than anything. So, I said yes and moved in the next day.
Moving in with him, though, brought on new issues needing to be taken care of rather quickly. First off, I needed to visit the OBGYN. I needed to get on birth control. After all, we would have the freedom to “cuddle” as often as we wanted. Secondly, I needed to have a conversation with him about taking our time from that point on. And we had that conversation, and within a week I had visited the OBGYN to receive my first dose of Deprovera. He went with me, but sat in the waiting room of course. For an entire month and a half things went so smoothly. He acted like a gentlemen. He took care of his son, expected nothing from me, but thanked me any time I took over during a baby night shift. When the stomach bug hit his house, he was sick himself and trying to take care of us (yes, I was throwing up again!). When it was time to get another dose of Deprovera, he took me and again came for support. We talked and talked and talked. We wound up sick with mono even with a side dose of strep throat. We both had called in too much because of this. It was awful I tell you, awful. Thankfully Thanksgiving with my parents was at a later date (a date that would be blizzard conditions and us winding up in the ditch). We were pretty well healed by the time we went to my parents.
Before we go on this trip to my parents (or really, on our way to my parents) we stopped at his parents to have a “lunch” Thanksgiving with them. It was that day that he had popped the question. Since things had gone so smoothly and having him take my concerns about being his son’s step mother seriously (taking time to get to know him first), nothing of my concerns really felt like concerns any more. They felt like second nature. At this point, I no longer questioned his motives, my bad vibes or “odd” moments with him no longer existed in my mind. I said yes.
I know what you’re thinking, I shouldn’t have ignored all those feelings that felt “off.” He was definitely rushing me, popping the question too early, he didn’t really have respect for me, and looking back on how it all played out, yes, you are absolutely right. I should NOT have ignored my gut. I should have said NO. So I will say this right here and now. For everything that happens to a victim, at some point they, too, have to hold themselves accountable for their part in the story. No, this person couldn’t control themselves, but the victim could control their own selves. This is where I will say that I allowed for him to do certain things to me, to say certain things to me. I am owning what happened to me and what I allowed because at the first sign of true deception I should have ran. But it was the charms, it was the facade he put on that drew me in which was exactly what he wanted. It’s what most abusers want. They want control over their victims. I could have left sooner as well, but what draws the victim back is the loving respite phase, the phase where they show parts of themselves you’ve seen before that were good. Sometimes those phases can last a while. They do in the beginning when the first sign of abuse appears. They may spend more than a week in this phase. However, the longer it goes on, the longer the victim allows him to repeat this cycle, the shorter those loving respite moments last.
I’m explaining this all right now so you aren’t shocked, or so you can understand and reread this story to see how he drew me in. He was very respectful. He was patient. He was kind. Every bump that felt like the end of the world, he was calm and rational. He became the man I wanted. It wasn’t real though. If you could see the texts and his use of words after we had had an argument, and he would call me names, you would have seen it for yourself, but it’s different living it. Love is blind.
Going to my parents was hard. I hadn’t really told them of my exclusiveness with Rick. They knew, but they didn’t really know for how long we had been dating. We started dating (not exclusively) shortly after my birthday the year previous. And to them, they also felt it was fast. My sister was definitely not happy. Since he and I had talked all the way in the car and had extra time to talk since we were stuck in the ditch waiting for our tow, we talked about when we would have the wedding. He wanted it in January but I had to stop him right there because that even was too soon for me. There wouldn’t be time to plan a wedding with classes and work! He understood and said he was just excited I said yes. We agreed on a few dates at that point because I told him my parents probably wouldn’t approve of it happening so quickly because all of this seemed to be happening so quickly even to me. We chose March or June, but we needed my parents vibe in order to decide which to pick. While I helped my mom reheat some of Thanksgiving dinner and set the table, Rick stayed with my dad in the living room and chatted for a bit. My sister was able to pop over and when she did we sat right down to eat.
I couldn’t get a grip on myself at the dinner table. I felt wrong in every which way possible when trying to start the conversation that we were engaged. The air seemed heavy. It was mostly likely because my parents had never met Rick, nor really heard about him until after everything was settled in regards to his son. I thought I had all my ducks in a row, but I didn’t.
After dinner I wanted to show him around the tiny town where I grew up. We took a cruise and were able to talk about how we were going to bring up the news. We both agreed the air felt heavy, even heavier when my sister had arrived. We decided to break the news when we ate dessert (on the hopes my sister would no longer be there – WRONG!) and we would present the March idea, but if bad feedback was given we would offer our solution to June. Of course the March idea did NOT go over well, at all. Even that was too soon. But they all agreed with the June wedding, so June it was. Then, we all slept and the next morning we were headed back to our place, picking up his son on our way back.
It seemed like every weekend we had his son, his son was always sick and then we would get sick. This caused Rick to have to call in to work even more. Things got pretty stressful financially. At the rate we were going, we were sick the week after his son would visit, or the next weekend. I eventually wound up getting a bad case of pneumonia shortly before my birthday. I went to the doctor finally when I spent three nights sweating badly at work and passing out a few times. I tried not to call in to work, but under doctor’s orders, was told to call in. So, I did. Bad idea… I went to work the next night with a doctor’s note only to be called to the ad office and told I was being terminated. FUCK!
When I returned home, obviously early, that was when Rick and I had our first huge fight. It was the first time he had called me names. I already felt worthless and like I was doing everything wrong. I already felt guilty enough that we wouldn’t be able to afford the extra gas to go get his son, that we would have to ask Kate to meet us in the middle from now on until I found a new job. He even punched a hole in the wall in the hallway (now I knew how the other holes in random places had gotten there). I tried to go to bed and ignore his rage, but he came in the room and threw pillows at me and continued to yell. I thought about leaving and going to my old house to hang out with my “sisters.” But told myself I couldn’t because I quit talking to them. I was too encompassed in his life to advert any attention towards my friends. He took a lot of my time without me realizing it. So, I just laid there and took it until he had nothing left in him to yell about.
I immediately went to the unemployment office the next day. I filed for unemployment and began a search for a new job. I found a few things, mostly in different surrounding towns. The gas would put us in the same position as we were in currently with me not working. I was really anxious at this point because when he’d wake up, he’d ask me if I found anything yet and when I’d say no or no one has called me yet for the positions I did apply for, he’d mutter things under his breath about how worthless I was because I wasn’t even old enough to be a bartender. I had just turned 19 in February. Well, Rick wound up sick with bronchitis about two weeks after my termination. His son was also sick and I was off at interviews so he was forced to call in to work. The next night that he was suppose to work, the same thing happened to him. He came home early because he too had called in too much and was therefore fired. He didn’t come home raging that time. He came home apologetic. It was odd to say the least. I wholly expected him to be in a fit of rage about those fuckers not understanding what it’s like to have a kid, and when that kid is sick you call in, and if you’re not healthy and need to take care of yourself then they are just idiots who shouldn’t exist in corporate America.
I landed two more interviews the next day at least. One was for Dollar General and the other was at a call center. Once I walked in to the call center, they basically told me I was hired on the spot. I was excited because the pay was really good for such an insignificant job. But of course, my hopes were up rather quickly.
I was to start immediately, the very next night. Yes, another night shift job, but at least it was 7-1 not 11-7. Rick dropped me off at the door and all the lights were off. I peeked in and some gal came walking around (another new hire) and told me there was a note on the front door I should read. It read, “We’re sorry for the inconvenience, but we have ceased conducting business.” What? Are you fucking kidding me!? Can my luck get any worse!? Thankfully, Rick was on the phone and still in the parking lot when I came back to the car, in tears. He wasn’t happy, obviously. He had just gotten off the phone with Kate who reluctantly agreed to meet us in the middle. To hear my news, regardless of my tears, set. him. on. fire! I was called every name in the book you could think of and his favorite one to use that night was cunt. I should have left at this point. Any man in my book who resorts to calling a woman a cunt deserves to be punched in the face. But I didn’t leave. His rage this time was short lived, mostly because we were picking up one of his friends to go to a party. The party was also short lived and was the first time I experienced my ex so drunk he was willing to fight any one who would oblige him. The next day it was as if nothing happened.
At this point, I had exhausted my savings, his change jar, and whatever other money he had hidden away. I let go of my pride, as did he, and we called our parents. My mom wired me money and his mom brought down some groceries (mostly stuff for his son). We both searched for jobs. The 10th of April arrived and the landlord was knocking on our door wanting the rent. We told him our situation and that we would try to get it to him as soon as possible. The heating bill never got paid, but thankfully for his son, they never shut it off. Not that we should have been using it. We had to turn the damn thing off with the breaker. We could have blown up! Finally, by the end of April, we couldn’t find jobs and we received that unwanted pink paper for notice of eviction. His mom who had been by several times at this point told us to move in with them. It was too far away for me to finish my classes so I unfortunately had to withdrawal. And we moved in with his parents. I hadn’t yet mustered up the courage to tell my parents both portions of bad news. My heart was broken and I thought it was broken so much so I was sick at random times throughout the day. I thought it was just stress, but that turned out wrong really quickly. Remember the antibiotics I took in February? February is “love” month for me. I have Valentine’s Day and my birthday so I got some extra special love that month. And guess what? On top of being jobless and homeless, I was now with child. Who would want to tell their parents all three portions of bad news? I certainly didn’t want to. I didn’t want my sister to be right. I didn’t want her to laugh at my misfortune as she so often did in the past. And so the depression began.
Tune in tomorrow for the rest of this story.