Anatomy of an Arsehat

I think we human beings have a big problem. We spend millions of dollars every year in search of this problem, it is taught to us as children by our parents, by our religion, by our politicians, and it causes more psychological and emotional grief than any of us realise. It is the pursuit of perfection. For some reason, there is an unnamed paragon of virtue that exists somewhere in the world that we are supposed to live up to at every moment of the day, every day of the year for as long as we live. Some people call this paragon Christ, which is cool, except he was a human being just like the rest of us. Others call this person Gandhi, or Mother Teresa or some other such public figure that is held up to be superhuman in their goodliness. That’s the thing. We are supposed to be “good” all of the time, and one slip into not-goodness means we are crap human beings who should be forever vilified and tarred and feathered and left out to rot and be fodder for vultures and hyenas.

I’m sorry, but that doesn’t make sense. In fact, it’s a bunch of bullshit. We are not Prometheus tied to a rock. Our livers are not to be consumed on a daily basis by a Chianti-and-fava-bean-loving eagle because Zeus said so. I defy anyone to put their hand up and declare that they have never in their lives snapped at someone they love, or lied a little, or pushed in front of someone in a queue, or not let that car in that’s been waiting to pull out into traffic for 20 minutes, or any number of little not-good things. Okay, let’s raise the stakes a little. Who can say that they haven’t cheated on a partner, or treated a family member badly, or embellished a sickness for attention, or called someone names, or behaved cruelly or like a brat or like an immature douche bag? Seriously peeps, look deep inside yourselves. Every single one of us has done something – usually to someone else – that we feel bad about. If we allow ourselves to look back on that act, we feel a sick, prickly sensation behind our sternum, blood rushes to our face, we feel hot and twitchy. If you don’t feel these things, you’ve either come to terms with your humanness and therefore deserve some sort of delicious biscuit, or you’re a sociopath and don’t care. No judgement there. Good for you.

Something I hear from a lot of friends is this notion of “deserving” things. I don’t like this idea of a rewarding Universe/God/whatever, as if ticking all these boxes of good deeds will earn us the spiritual equivalent of a free toaster oven. The Universe gives us what we ask for. Period. It doesn’t care if we’re “good” or “bad” or indifferent because the Universe has no ego and neither will it get a free gift if it recruits more souls. Our behaviour is our responsibility, no one else’s. Whether we are “good” or “bad” is entirely our choice, and our accountability for that choice is what means something. As I’ve said to my partner, my friends, and anyone who cares to listen to me pontificate, I don’t actually care what you’ve done as long as you own it. And because we all have the capacity to be an arsehat for various reasons we all know the feeling of embarrassment and shame in the admitting of it. I have moments of looking back at my behaviour towards past partners and cringing at my assholery. The fact that I was very sick at the time holds no water as I still feel responsible for my actions – as I should. But bashing myself in the head because of past behaviours that I have admitted to and apologised for (when given the chance) serves no purpose except for ensuring I feel shit for longer and giving myself a headache.

Of course, there are people who actively abuse others. This is something completely different from people just being arseholes. Abuse happens more than it should and if it’s emotional abuse it’s difficult to prove. There is no excuse for abuse and those who abuse others for whatever reason, in my opinion, are people who desperately need help themselves. The definition of abuse is thus: to treat with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly; to speak insultingly, harshly, and unjustly to or about; revile; malign; to commit sexual assault upon. As someone who has experienced all of these things, I can tell you that abuse has the propensity to seriously affect and/or destroy lives.

However, there is a trend at the moment on some social media sites (tumblr, I’m looking at you) in which arsey behaviour from a partner, workmate or family member is being labelled as abuse, specifically a form of abuse called Gaslighting. Gaslighting is a term used for a form of emotional abuse. As a fellow blogger Alfred MacDonald states: “There are several definitions of this term, but in a nutshell it refers to the act of trying to deceive someone into a false reality by discrediting their emotions. Like most mental health terms, it describes something serious; also like most mental health terms, it is ubiquitously misused.” I’m not going to go into this too much as it’s a detailed and complex issue, but accusing someone of abuse when their behaviour is not abusive is as much of an arsehole act as anything else. Having said that, the accusation in itself is a cry for help, so like everything arsey that we do there should be a measure of understanding in how this behaviour is dealt with.

To recap: being an arsehole is not being an abuser. Being an abuser is waaaaay more serious than being an arsehole. Learning the difference between the two is advantageous for happy life-living.

Back to the issue at hand. In my little world view, if you are sorry for hurting someone, if you acknowledge your accountability in a toxic relationship, if you can raise your hand and say “yep, it was me, I fucked up”, then no one should use your behaviour as evidence that you are a horrible person. Because no one is infallible. No one really has the right to point the finger at any one else and make a judgement on their character because, let’s face it, everyone’s an arsehat at some stage of their life. Everyone. We’re supposed to be because we’re not perfect. And truthfully, as much as we’re all connected and have this shared knowledge of emotional responses, no one really knows what anyone else has experienced. We’re all equipped with different tools for dealing with these experiences, and some are better at dealing with this shit than others.

Of course, this knowledge by no means should be used as an all-access pass to the arsewipe expo. Running around being a dick on purpose and then saying “oh, I’m sorry. I’m just being human” is not cool. The point is, try not to be a dick. If you are a dick despite all your best efforts, own it, accept the consequences of it, fucking apologise, and move on. Here endeth the lesson.

 

Love Isn’t Enough

Trigger warning: contains references to drug use, violence, abuse and rape.

I remember the first time it happened. We were in St Kilda East, opposite the cemetery. Stupid idea for two energetically sensitive people to live opposite a massive cemetery, but there you go. We were breaking up for the second time. I had confronted her about her return to drug use, and by confront I mean scream “fucking junkie” in her face. She punched me in the mouth, held me down on the bed and raised her fist to punch me again. She called me a dumb fuck, ugly bitch. I muttered for her to get out of my house. She did. I cried. I went in to work at the parlour the next night, my lip swollen and a blood blister forming. The girls took care of me, but all I wanted was her.

I begged her to come back. She did eight months later. By this time I had spent a few months living in a factory cultivating an amphetamine habit that I didn’t have to pay for, I had worked in Sydney for the first time and been anally raped by a client whilst there, and had been homeless for a while, bouncing from couch to couch. I had finally found a little flat to call home in St Kilda, and she came back. And then she left. And then she came back. Even when she was with someone else, she came back. This was to be the final two years of our relationship, this push me/pull you bullshit.

The second time it happened was at the flat. I had found needles and poorly written love notes from another woman. I confronted her again, this time adding “whore” to the well-versed “fucking junkie” routine. I slapped her because she called me stupid. She doesn’t remember this, but I do because she fractured my nose in retaliation. She slept in my bed that night, while I lay on the couch, sobbing. She was gone in the morning.

I punched the wall next to her head once because she stole my entire $700 pay packet to score some heroin. Then I took her to a Buddhist temple to be cleansed. She thought I was taking her somewhere to kill her. I guess she didn’t know how much I loved her, that regardless of how many fantasies I had of beating her up and throwing her off the balcony, I could never harm her. Love does that.

The last time was the last time anyone ever laid a hand on me again. I forget now what the argument was about. Probably drugs, again. I goaded her, that I remember. I pushed her hard with my words until she snapped. She held a knife to my throat and tried to smash my head through the kitchen window. Fuck, she was strong. I have strength, yes, but she was propelled by something more forceful. I couldn’t push her away. She suddenly let me go, grabbed her things, and stumbled out the door. I didn’t see her again for years.

I grieved for her for a long time. I thought she was The One for me because I felt so strongly for her. I didn’t realise until years later that the physical stuff was not the only abuse we heaped on each other. She lied to me constantly, about stuff that she didn’t even have to lie about. I called her names to hurt her because I couldn’t touch her. She stole money and jewellery from me. I read her private phone messages. She took drugs and worked at the parlour one New Year’s Eve instead of spending it with me, so I cheated on her with another woman – I was free to sleep with whatever man I wanted to, but I broke our one rule in spite. She shot up anything she could get her hands on. I cut myself. She’d proposition men for drugs. I laid on my back for her habit. We played stupid games with each other, her using, me enabling until we burnt ourselves out. We were like a supernova that imploded into a black hole.

The funny thing is, we loved each other fiercely. That’s probably why we lasted for five years all up. She still says that I was the perfect girlfriend. I beg to differ, but I loved her, there was no doubt about that. Sometimes, though, love isn’t enough. We were bad for each other. She lost herself in drugs and I lost myself in her. While we were together, terrible things happened to us and we weren’t in the frame of mind to get help. Our network was sex workers, brothel managers and drug addicts – people who had their own stories and horrors to contend with. We removed ourselves from our respective families because toxic relationships tend to make their inhabitants do that. Oh, there was love. In retrospect though, looking back years later, it is so clear that it wasn’t enough.

Ten years later, we’ve reconnected and we’re friends. Good friends. Some people raise their eyebrows at this. I guess I wanted her friendship because I refused to be the victim and I refused to make her the perpetrator. I’ve told very few people the particulars of this story because I still refuse to be the victim in this. I spent a lot of my life victimising myself because of the things that happened to me at the hands of others. I needed to, and identifying as a victim of abuse is very important for the healing process to begin. But by the time she and I were finished I was done with it, I was done with being the person bad things happened to. Therefore, I think, I was able to forgive. She and I have talked and talked and cried and talked about that time. She has apologised again and again, still does, to such an extent where I have to tell her to stop because she doesn’t need to anymore. I can see by simply spending time with her that she’s a completely different person now, as am I. I said my sorries to her too, as one thing this relationship taught me is that things are rarely one-sided.

I’ve suffered abuse. At the hands of my mother, at the hands of a child molester, at the hands of a few rapists, and at the hands of a lover. It does not define me, but I know more of this subject than I care to. No one can tell me otherwise.

If you know more of abuse than you’d care to, please get help. Talk to someone. Recovery is not about being angry at the person who hurt you (although that helps for a short time), it’s about finding a way to move on with love for yourself. Talk therapy helped me immensely. Maybe it can help you too.

This post is dedicated to this year’s Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, whose strength, resilience and bravery is an inspiration to many.

CASA
Support for victims of rape and sexual assault

http://www.casa.org.au

Family Drug Support
For families and loved ones of those with addictions

http://www.fds.org.au

ASCA
For adults surviving child abuse

http://www.asca.org.au

Victim Support Australia
Help for victims of crime

http://www.victimsupport.org.au

Child Wise
Help for victims of child sexual abuse

http://www.childwise.org.au

Domestic Violence Resource Centre
A very helpful site for those experiencing domestic violence, also caters to LGBTIQ

http://www.dvrcv.org.au/support-services/national-services

1800RESPECT
https://www.1800respect.org.au

Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association
Although there is no over-reaching national association, this page has links to other organisations that offer support and help to current and ex-sex workers. (Based in NSW)

http://www.scarletalliance.org.au

Come What May

I’m about to do something I’ve never done before. I’m opening my blog up to tell someone else’s story, in her own words. In the spirit of full disclosure, this is my wife’s story. We talked and thought and debated long and hard about whether we should do this, but in the end, we just want it done. She wants it done. She needed to tell her story, so I did the only thing I could and gave her the platform in which to do so.

So now, in her own voice, here is Krissy’s story.

Courage
My name is Kristen and I was in a relationship with a woman I’ll call IC for four years. It was four years worth of sacrifice, emotional ups and downs, and hard lessons learnt. I proposed after two months, I started my conversion to Judaism after three months, and we moved in together after a year and a half. That year and a half we kept our relationship a secret from her family because I was not Jewish. So, naturally, I had something to prove once our relationship was in the open.

I spent the entire relationship feeling like I had to prove something. One day, five months after we were married, she threw me out of our home, denied me access to my things, broke up with me via her mother, and labelled me an abuser. Then she told everyone. All our friends. Anyone who would listen.

This post isn’t to attack her or the people who support her. When someone makes a claim of abuse, of course they should be believed, and people believe her because they are decent. They’re doing the right thing. The only problem is, it’s not true.

I know I will get crap for writing this, and I know that some people will think I am being vindictive or spiteful. I honestly don’t care about the repercussions because I have already been accused of horrible things, so whatever anyone has left to throw at me, it can’t be any worse than what I’ve already experienced. I am writing this because I’ve been silent on the subject so far, and not many people have had the courage to ask me what happened from my perspective. I don’t believe in public mud slinging, but I’m still feeling the effects of her accusations nearly a year later. She is still publicly accusing me. This is my side of the story, and a chance to finally express what I’ve been going through.

Let’s start with a definition. Emotional abuse has several signs, according to the World of Psychology website and it includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Telling their spouse their opinions or feelings is “wrong”.
  • Disregarding, dismissing, and ridiculing their spouse’s opinions, thoughts and feelings, often by stating, “it was just a joke” or “you’re too sensitive.”
  • Controlling all the financial decisions, withholding important financial information, and making their spouse live on limited resources.
  • Belittling their spouse’s accomplishments, aspirations and who they are as a person.
  • Blaming their spouse for their problems or unhappiness.
  • Deflecting blame onto their partner instead of taking responsibility for their actions and attitudes.
  • Criticising and name calling.
  • Withholding affection.
  • Interfering with opportunities.
  • Isolating a spouse from friends and family.
  • Discouraging any independent activities such as work, classes or activities with friends.
  • Causing insecurity in the relationship by threatening to leave.
  • Unreasonable jealousy.

IC says I did all this to her. She also did some of these things to me. But first, some back-story.

When we met, IC was a virgin. She’d never had a relationship before and she still lived at home with her parents. I had just come out of a two-year relationship with a woman who was violent, and IC was gentle. She had no baggage from previous relationships, and she said she wanted to care for me. Here was my chance to treat someone the way I wanted to be treated. I wanted all her first times to be special and memorable. I wooed her and she loved me. She did many lovely things for me. But that changed.

The wedding day

The day started off bittersweet. We had planned this day for about a year, in fact, from the moment I started my conversion process to become a Jew. IC wore her mother’s wedding dress; I had spent 6 months prepping to make our wedding cake, which ultimately took me nine hours and $600 to make. My family flew in from Switzerland, New Zealand and Brisbane to be with me. They all stayed with me in the 3-bedroom house I shared with IC and helped me prepare for the big day. My bride-to-be was staying at her family’s house, because being a bit traditional, we didn’t want to see each other until the day of the wedding.

The night before our day, I got a call from the hotel where the reception was being held to say that water had dripped on my cake and it had melted. They had put the cake in their drinks fridge next to the door and every time the door opened, water dripped on it. It was ruined. I was devastated. I was so proud of that cake. IC and I saw each other at the hotel due to that cake disaster. All I wanted was to talk to her because she knew how to make it all better. But she went home and her mother took her phone off her and I was unable to speak with her as her mom thought I was going to stress her out. She stole her phone back and we spoke to one another before we fell asleep.

The day of the wedding was beautiful up until the ceremony ended, which is when I had to break the glass. My bride had that if I didn’t smash it well our marriage would be shit. Well, I stepped on that thing three times and smashed it to smithereens. I felt a lot of pressure to do everything ‘right’ that day. Luckily, I did and after the ceremony we felt on top of the world. We went into the rabbi’s office afterwards to have a few minutes as wife and wife as we needed to consummate the marriage within three minutes, as was Jewish custom. We laughed, drank and inappropriately touched each other. We couldn’t believe we had gotten to this place. For those five minutes we were so happy. We didn’t have a care in the world.

Once we had left the rabbi’s office, however, IC’s mother approached us and said, “you have made your Nanna very upset as you didn’t hug her straight after the ceremony concluded”. We were dumbfounded. As soon as we were pronounced ‘committed’ people swarmed us, hugging us and congratulating us. It was our day, well, at least it should have been. Nanna was pissed off. She wouldn’t smile in photos and she was rude. We were very distraught and upset by the whole thing and it was all we spoke about in the limo on the way to get our pictures taken. It sucked.

The reception was lovely. My mother bought a replacement cake, so that disaster was saved. My bride rested in our room in the hotel for a few minutes and I went downstairs from the hotel room to greet guests. We were introduced into the room, performed a Jewish traditional dance, got lifted on chairs, and danced and sang to one another. Our friends and family told us it was the most beautiful wedding they had ever been to. I had one glass of wine, and my bride got her period.

We left the party at midnight to go back to our room. I had planned for the hotel to put a massive cookie on the bed, and rose petals all around the room to surprise my wife. The cookie was a bit of a romantic tradition I used to do for her. The first one I got her a few years back said “I love you”, then one anniversary it was “I still love you” and the cookie on the wedding night said “I will always love you”. She was so happy when she walked into the room. We had a bubble bath and some champagne and the cookie and we watched TV and fell asleep.

In the morning we had to call reception to remind them to bring us our brekkie. During the conversation they they asked her “and what would your husband like?” I laughed quite hard at this, but internally felt slightly offended. This was the order of my life up to this point, though. I was the “husband” in this relationship and I wasn’t allowed to forget it.

After breakfast, we stopped off at her parents’ house as she wanted to open wedding gifts with them. I wanted to rush off and say goodbye to my family as some of them were leaving the country and we were going off to Daylesford for our honeymoon. It took us nearly three hours to leave her parents. I didn’t think she was ready to let go of them just yet. I felt there was always a battle of the parents, and it was only going to get worse.

We said goodbye to our parents, my mother put a purple and red ribbon on the antenna of the car (which stayed there until about a week after she dumped me) and we drove to Daylesford to a house we rented for the week to relax in. We got Maccas in the car on the way there, chatting to each other about the beautiful wedding we had, her head on my shoulder, me both hands on the wheel. We turned up to this beautiful place, cold, wet and windy. It was magical. We had dinner at the pub across the road, consummated our marriage and spent the rest of the week eating at restaurants, vintage shopping, watching movies and TV series in the movie room, getting a massage, drinking wine and eating cheese. We felt like we had it all. She called her mother a few times in the week to check in, we bought her immediate family gifts. We bought my family nothing. Overall we had a good time. I would have preferred to not spend all our time shopping but I wanted to make her happy and in return I got a massage and ate some good food.

My 25th birthday

This was a very important birthday for me, because in South African tradition it is called a crown birthday (as you may have guessed, I am South African). I was 25 on the 25th of August. So it was a special birthday. We drove back from Daylesford and I was so excited because it was my first birthday as a married ‘committed’ woman. I told my wife that I wanted a small gathering at home with my mom, her parents and some friends; a nice dinner with a yummy cake and good company. I asked her to organise it with my mom. She willingly said, “of course baby” and we went on our way.

We got back to the house. She went to go get her sister and some of my friends came around. My mother was making a curry. She had bought nice cheeses and yummy things for the guests and I patiently waited for something to happen. We ate the dinner, my wife scoffing her meal as she loved my mother’s curry more than I did.

Nothing happened. Her parents weren’t coming. Her mom popped round when we were eating dinner and proceeded to get upset because she thought she wasn’t invited. I hadn’t heard from her parents all day and didn’t receive a card or a gift, which I thought sucked a lot. Her mother left, my mother got upset that she bought all this food and they didn’t come over. I thought they were going to because I had asked IC to invite them. Apparently, she didn’t. There seemed to be a lot of miscommunication that day.

I was given the top of our wedding cake as a birthday cake (it was the replacement cake that was chocolate mud and I loathe chocolate cake). You could cut the tension in the air with a knife. My friends left early. My wife then stayed in our room for most of the night upset at me because I was silent and disappointed. I had a whiskey with my mother and went to bed early. It was the worst birthday ever. Yes, it was partly my mother’s fault for not wanting to spend money on another cake (when she spent $600 on the wedding cake), and for the lack of communication, but it wasn’t up to me to sort it out. I asked my wife to plan it and she didn’t. That was what I was upset about.

Every year for the previous four years I gave IC an amazing birthday. I organized hotel rooms, huge themed house parties, got her a magnificent cake and included everyone she knew. The one time before this that she organised my birthday, it was spent entirely with her family. This birthday was my chance to be spoilt and I wasn’t. I then had a week long argument with her mother via text. Her family couldn’t understand why I was upset, why I was in pain. I was made to feel guilty over my terrible birthday. The finger was pointed at my mother, no responsibility was taken by IC or her family, and nothing I did after that was the same.

This is when everything turned to shit. My relationship was not the same. I was not the same. I felt I had given IC’s family so much and received nothing in return. I started to back away from her family because it started to get too much. They wanted us over all the time; they wanted me over to help them move things around the house, to be at their beck and call. I just wanted to be married, live my life with my wife and not feel like I had to spend all my time with them. I was married. To me it felt like we weren’t taken seriously because they just looked at us like children. I wanted respect and I never got it. The events that led up to the break-up were evident of that. I always remained as the girl who stole their child, the girl who they pretended was a man, the girl who took her away from the nest, when in actual fact it was their daughter who wanted to pull away. At least, that’s what she told me.

The end of it all

Sunday

I went to her parents’ place as it was her mom’s birthday. I had made a cake in the shape of a dog, which IC asked me to make a few nights before. I was at the house baking until midnight while my wife was out with her friend A. IC told me she had to go see a show for school as it was an interpreted show and she was studying sign language. She told me she couldn’t get a spare ticket for me. Therefore, I went to her mother’s party alone.

All was good. I spent time with her family. I was on a strict nutrition plan at the time, so I ate salads and made coffee for the whole family. The cake went down well. I picked IC up from the station in the afternoon. I wasn’t feeling too well so I asked her to pick up some cough drops for me. I also wanted to go play dodge ball in the evening and I had no cash on me, so I asked her to take out some cash so I wouldn’t have to park the car. She got upset with me because she didn’t want to get the cough drops, so I went out of my way to get some myself. The car ride back to her mother’s wasn’t pleasant.

We arrived back, I went outside for a bit and IC was sitting with her sister. I was in the kitchen and IC held up a donut and said, “I’m eating one for you.” I responded with “why are you doing that?” The family all turned on me and said “she can eat a donut if she wants to.”

What they didn’t know was we were both off sugar as per IC’s request. She asked me to help her. She had told me to be strict with her and help her to stay off sugar as it didn’t make her feel good, and she had been battling anorexia which no one in the family knew about (except her mother, who didn’t want to do anything about it). The way they looked at me was just horrible, like I was some kind of fucking controlling freak. All I was trying to do was help. She had asked me for help, and I never forced her to do anything she didn’t want to. She could have told me to back off (she’s done it before) and I would have, but she said nothing. So I felt ganged up on and left for dodge ball.

On the way to dodge ball I texted her sister, asking her to butt out, and explained the situation. No one in that family quite understood the effect that kind of food had on us. We both wanted change.

I returned from dodge ball, IC was with her mother in the lounge room with the dog. I was in the kitchen having dinner with her dad. All was normal, except IC and I were both on edge since I picked her up that afternoon. Something was off, and we weren’t communicating. I walked over to the lounge room, took a photo of my wife (which is the last photo I ever took of her) and said, “I’m really tired, I have to get up at 6am, can we please go home?” She gave me this look that was like, “fuck off” so about half an hour later, we left.

We got in the car, I was driving, and as soon as I put the car into reverse we started to communicate. “I feel very embarrassed, I can’t believe you let your family talk to me that way, we’re both on this nutrition plan, you told me it was something you wanted to do” and so on and so forth. She started at me with “you’re trying to be controlling, you’re trying to take my money” etc. Naturally, I was frustrated, I was stupid and drove the car too fast, I was hurt that she thought I was taking her money when we were clearly married and I was the one who was working full time – 12 hours a day in fact. I pulled up to the house, I grabbed my wallet and threw $10 and said, ‘Here, take my money.” By this stage, she was crying. I stepped out of the car and slammed the door. I realised that none of this behaviour was acceptable, but I was upset. My wife had just accused me of theft. I quickly got back in the car, put my arms around her and said, “I’m very sorry, let’s go inside.” She just stared at me, fear in her eyes.

So we got inside, she went in the bedroom, I went to the kitchen and then watered the garden. When I came back into the room she was on the floor, crying. I stood in the doorway and leant my head up against the doorframe and I said, “what are we going to do? This isn’t working.”

She started yelling at me, “you think I’m fat, you think I’m lazy, you think I’m ugly!” I said, “no, I don’t think that at all. You’re saying that, not me.” I just wanted to fix things and I didn’t know how to. I was so depressed and so unhappy. All I kept thinking was ‘I’ve got to get up early to train a client’ and I kept banging my head against the doorframe just so I could feel something. I picked her up off the floor, as I’ve always done, and we got ready for bed. She turned the lights out (the last night we slept next to one another) and I cracked my back and said it hurts. She replied, “you wouldn’t be Krissy without your ailments”.

Monday

The next morning after I trained my 6am client in the garage, I ran into her in the bathroom, she was brushing her teeth. It was so awkward. I said hey, she said hi and I went back to bed. I heard the door slam. At that point I was too exhausted to care. I got up 2 hours later to go to work. I put dinner in the fridge for her for when she retuned home from TAFE. I made a Facebook status about how hard it can be to eat well at parties.

When I was at work, I got a text message from her sister saying that if I was going to talk shit about her family not to do it online. She clearly didn’t understand my Facebook post. It had more to do with how hard clean eating was than me trying to diss her family.

IC and I messaged back and forth about her sister, and IC advised me to ignore her. She asked me if it was okay to take the car, which was weird because it was her car and she could do whatever she wanted. I asked her why she needed the car. She asked me why I wanted to know. I said I just wanted to know. I was curious. She told me she was going to Kmart. It was all very weird.

I was on my way home, it was about 8pm. I messaged IC asking her to please pick me up from the station if she could. She said she was busy. I replied, “so, is that a no?” She never texted me again.

I walked through the door and I got a weird chill. I noticed that all of my stuff had been piled up all over the house. All my paperwork, documents and personal stuff had been emptied out of the suitcase I kept it in and spread all across the room. Books and clothes were strewn all over the place. It felt like something had been pre planned. I walked to the living room and the first thing that I noticed was the empty container of the dinner that I left for her on the coffee table. The fork was still in it and it was dirty. I picked up that dirty container and I threw it across the room. I hopped in the shower, cried and screamed because I knew my marriage was over. It got to around 10pm and she still hadn’t come home. I started to panic because I didn’t know what was going on. I text messaged her mother. She replied, saying we’d talk about it tomorrow. I replied back with an apology for the Facebook post because I thought it was all about that post, but it was about something more.

I rang her parents’ house and her father answered the phone and the first thing he said to me was “what have you done to my daughter?” I was very confused, I was crying. I said, “I don’t know what you mean.” He said, “I don’t know what’s going on, but my daughter is upstairs crying and that’s all that matters to me.”

I could hear her mom in the background, feeding lines to her dad, and what they were feeding me was a text message they had sent earlier telling me to pack my things, get out of the house and stay with a friend for a few days. I wasn’t going anywhere.

I called my friend Bec. She got a taxi and was over in 15 minutes. We sat on the couch talking, trying to figure out what was going on. IC’s phone was switched off and I really didn’t know what to do. We went to bed.

Tuesday

I got up for work at 5am. I trained my clients in the morning at work, and then I got a call at about 9am from IC’s mother. She said to me that the relationship was over, that I needed to find an alternative place to live, that IC had told her that I was emotionally abusive toward her but that I did not hit her, and that they were coming over in the evening to have a ‘family meeting’ at 9.30pm. She told me that I should have some things packed, that I was allowed to have someone else there as a support, and I might want to write out some things to say.

I was bawling my eyes out on Flinders Lane in front of my work, having a panic attack whilst on the phone with her mother. She then tried to counsel me and calm me down over the phone. We hung up, I walked back into work, stood in the middle of the gym floor and broke down. My manager saw me, picked me up and took me into her office. I told her everything that I knew at the time. She said to me to “go home, don’t worry about where you’re going to live or what you’re going to do. We’re here to help you with whatever you need, we’ll deal with that stuff later, just go home and prepare for tonight.”

I left work, went home and got into bed. I cried for a good two hours, and then I made some calls to organise to have some friends come over in the evening for the ‘meeting’. Three of them came over straight after work and found me on the living room floor. I had laid there for another two hours or so. They picked me up off the floor, fixed me a drink and we talked about the next plan of action. They helped me write out some notes. One of the friends was very close with IC, but IC had already asked her not to be there for the meeting, so she left.

The family turned up at about 9.40pm along with IC’s friend A. This friend that she turned up with I had been texting the whole day trying to find out what was happening and if A had been with my wife, as they studied sign language together. They went into the kitchen, I was sitting on the couch with my two friends and they took another ten minutes while they made themselves a coffee. I was shaking. I heard whispering in the kitchen and IC wouldn’t look at me.

They all sat down in the living room and her mother started the conversation. IC only started talking when I said that what was going on was between my wife and I, and I didn’t quite understand why all the communication that had been happening occurred between IC’s mom and I and not IC and I. IC then butted in and said that she asked for their help because she was afraid of me. They accused me of a lot of things, things such as theft, abuse, false intentions (such as the things I used to do for the family I wasn’t doing anymore), emotional abuse, and being controlling. They said I’d changed a lot. They basically accused me of being a false person. They said it was my choice to convert. I converted because I wanted to be with IC, because she told me that was the only way I could be with her.

Then I spoke, basically trying to defend myself. They brought up the incident in Queensland (which I will discuss later), and kept telling me how much they did for me, like letting me into their home, took me on as “one of them”. I asked IC’s dad to look at me and he wouldn’t. He said I wouldn’t like the things that he would say, but I begged him to say it anyway. He said the same things that IC’s mom did; the “how could you do this” speech. I told them how unhappy I was, and my friend Mon backed me up. I told them I felt used. They quickly interrupted and told me I was ungrateful. I felt like my opinions didn’t matter. I asked them what I was supposed to do with my Judaism, since they had more or less sponsored me and promised to show me how to live a Jewish life at my conversion. They had given me a Jewish name and they were supposed to be my Jewish family. IC’s mom told me I’d figure it out. I’d be all right.

I looked at IC and asked her if she would go to therapy with me to work on our marriage. I said I’d do anything to fix it. She said that she didn’t want to see me again for an indefinite time. I said, “does that mean you want a divorce?”

She said yes.

I asked her for a hug. Her mom told her she could give me a hug, so we stood up in the middle of the circle, everyone watching us, and I put my arms around her and held her as tight as I could. I kissed her neck. Her arms were at her sides and she was cold. I let go of her and IC’s mom said I needed to give my house key to A, IC’s friend because she was moving in. She also told me to pack a bag and leave the house that night.

I then passed out. I hadn’t eaten all day. I was told later on by my friend that they didn’t try to help me up, in fact they took a few steps away from me as I lay on the floor. After I came to, IC’s mom walked me to the door. I could hear IC crying in the background. IC’s mom forced a hug on me, promised me I’d be able to gain entrance into the house to get my things later on. I forgot my phone charger, so I yelled out for someone to get it from the living room. IC’s sister went to get it. She handed it to me and said, “everything’s going to be okay.” My friend Bec stepped in and said, “that’s enough.”

My friends grabbed my bags and my pillow from the bedroom and they slammed the front door behind us. My friends and I stood on the porch, hugged each other, and we all cried. I was so thankful my friend Mon was there with her car otherwise I’d have to walk to the station in the dark, not sure of where I was going to spend the night.

We went back to Mon’s place. She made us something to eat, we had a drink, and I sat in shock. They put me to bed, the day done, but I didn’t sleep very well. Mon told me later that she was in shock and crying for three days after that night because of the way that family treated me. Mon’s no fragile flower. For her to say that, it must have been bad.

The next morning I called the rabbi who married us to let her know what was happening. I went to the bank to change all my passwords as IC knew them all. I had to cancel all my private clients and put everything to do with my business on hold. I called my parents in Switzerland and two other mutual friends. I never said a bad thing about IC to anyone. Everyone who I spoke to I told to get her side of the story as well before making any assumptions. Over the next few days I stayed at Bec’s place. I went back to work on the Thursday, and I went up to Brisbane on the Friday to be with my sisters.

When I came back, everything that was promised to me turned out to be a lie just to get me out of the house. I lost my home, my business, some personal items, documents, my religion and its community, and my name. Everything was ripped out from underneath me within a day. I had no legal rights. The police couldn’t help me. They told me that they dealt with this kind of thing all the time, people being falsely accused of abuse, and that I pretty much had no rights. I was basically homeless until a friend offered me her room while she was in Adelaide for 10 days, and that’s when my mother flew over from Switzerland to help me. For a while there, I guess you could say I was a wandering Jew.

A week later, I called IC’s mom because she told me to get in contact with her to arrange a time to get some documents out of the house. She said to be there at 8pm that night. I had a strange feeling, so I asked a few friends to come by the house just in case. Luckily I did because they told me if I didn’t take everything that was in the garage that night they would chuck it out onto the nature strip. When I arrived, my property was thrown into the garage, paperwork piled on the dirty garage floor, kitchenware covered in ants, and my wife nowhere to be found. The family had put things that they thought were mine in there, but they also dumped a bag of recycling, rubbish like dirty tissues, ear buds, empty shampoo bottles and the like. IC had also thrown things in there that she didn’t want, like the dress she wore on our first date, photos of us that she had, gifts I had given her over the course of our relationship. My conversion certificate was on the garage floor.

Garage

The garage where my belongings were put.

The lights were off in the house and they stood on the corner of the property. We tried to get them to sign a piece of paper saying that they would allow me access into the house to get my things as there were still items of my property in the house. They wouldn’t sign it, and they told my friend that they felt ambushed as I had some people with me helping me get my stuff. I was sobbing and my friends escorted me from the property while they packed up my things.

My friend Kristina (now my wife and the friend who let me stay at her house while she was in Adelaide) came home that night to her house to find me on the couch, sobbing. She dropped everything and ran to me, putting her arms around me. She didn’t know what had been happening, only what I had been accused of. She was actually really only an acquaintance, but she and her housemates opened their home and their hearts to me and I will be forever grateful for that.

I went to a lawyer who wrote up a letter to send to IC’s parents, i.e. the tenants of the house demanding return of a list of my possessions that I wanted to get from the property, otherwise I would have to get a court order. IC’s mother claimed that I owed IC approximately $7000 for unpaid rent, bills and anything she could think of. She argued that IC was to keep the large items of mine that I had bought with my own money, like my fridge and my bed, as payment to her. IC controlled the finances in our relationship. She paid all the bills. She even had me email my phone bill to her so that she could pay it. She paid money to her mom for rent. That was our arrangement. I paid my share, I bought all the groceries, and I paid for the upkeep of the car. I spent $4000 on our wedding out of my own pocket. I paid IC’s mom $2000 in cash for rent the week before they threw me out, even though she had sent me this message in June the previous year:

Message

(My friend Bec and IC’s friend A were due to move in. Two days before I was thrown out, Bec had given notice at her previous address.)

I got a call from IC’s mom the next evening whilst I was at work letting me know she received the letter and that she wanted to be ‘civil’ and would put the things I requested in the garage for me to collect. I then asked her why she wouldn’t allow me access into the property. She replied with “everything has changed inside, you wouldn’t recognise it anymore. There’s no need for you to enter that house anymore.”

I finally got my stuff back with the help of a hired truck and some friends. Bec and I found a house together and I moved in. Kristina and I began to get close. She took me out on a date, and soon we were together. It wasn’t planned, and it took me by surprise, but Kristina gave me what I needed, and still does. Friends started dropping away. People who had helped me during the break up began to get upset with me because I had moved on with Kristina so quickly. My friends told me that I was shoving my new relationship in IC’s face and that it proved I was an abuser. It didn’t make sense to me, and I didn’t appreciate being told what to do, especially by people who held their previous help over my head as a reason why they could tell me what to do.

And of course I’d move on! I’d been accused of horrible things by someone who was supposed to love me, and I was expected to sink into a hole and beat my breast over her. Some people don’t understand how I could move on so quickly, but I’ve always been able to let go of things that are over. I don’t tend to stay where I’m not wanted. Was I supposed to pine after her, or try to get her back? She had made it very clear that she didn’t want me in her life, that she thought I was scum, so why would I hold on to her? Why wouldn’t I get on with my life? It just so happened that I fell in love with someone else. It wasn’t convenient for either Kristina or me, but it happened. I understand that it must have hurt IC, but she had blocked both Kristina and me on Facebook and didn’t see any of the photos or statuses that we put up. I wasn’t doing it to spite her. I was doing it because I was in love.

Kristina’s copped it too. She’s lost friends, people who have disagreed with our relationship. A few days prior to my divorce from IC Kristina began getting phone calls from an unknown number. The day of the divorce they escalated, happening every hour or so with either heavy breathing or nothing on the other end when she answered. The calls stopped during the actual divorce proceedings, and then continued for a few hours immediately after. We still don’t know who made the calls and we’re making no assumptions, but a few weeks ago, after Kristina had announced our legal marriage over her blog, I started getting calls. Almost a year later, we’re still being reminded of what has happened.

The incident

I did do something wrong, which I will always regret. This is the incident I referred to earlier. In March 2013, we went up to Brisbane for a family holiday for Passover. IC’s grandmother had passed away and the family always took a trip to Queensland so they wanted to do it in her memory. They sat me down and told me they wanted me to come along. I said no, go have a family holiday, but they insisted. They said I was good to IC’s grandmother because I spent time with her. It was a family trip and they included me in their family. Her parents paid for everything, in return I tried to do a lot of the cooking and help out where I could. I felt a little obligated to them, and both IC and I felt we couldn’t do our own thing because they had paid for everything.

We did spend some time with my sisters. After that, my sister Lauren went back to work in New South Wales. Within a couple of days, I received a call from my mother that Lauren had been taken to hospital and admitted into the psych ward. I got text messages from Lauren that were very distressing as she was going through a psychotic episode. I started to panic. I isolated myself in our room of our holiday unit because I felt like I wasn’t getting any comfort from IC’s family, I wanted to be with mine but felt I couldn’t because I was on holiday with IC’s family. I felt I couldn’t ask them to drive me to see my sister because it was their time and their holiday.

The night this incident happened, I was having a panic attack and IC was being really cold to me, not understanding what I was going through and seeming not to care. I think she was pissed off because she thought I was asking too much for her to stand up to her family to make them help us. We argued and then she suddenly went really quiet and I felt ignored. I was so lost, so stressed out and upset and felt so isolated from my family who needed me. She was lying on the bed, ignoring me, and I jumped on her and shook her, my hands on her shoulders. It was a shake of frustration, like “give a shit about something! Give a shit about me!” It lasted for about 5 seconds. She opened her eyes really wide and she looked terrified. Instantly, I got off her. I was a bit in shock but I apologised immediately and kept apologising. She said it was okay, so I lay on her chest and we cuddled. It scared her, I know it did, and I felt so horrible.

The next day, it was all back to normal. There was talk of me having to fly out to New South Wales to get my sister to drive her back to Queensland, but my family found someone else to take her. (On the night that they kicked me out they said that they had waited around all day to hear about my sister and were at my beck and call. It was bullshit, they waited in the car for an hour, not all day.)

IC brought it up when it was convenient for her to bring it up, usually in a moment of anger. I thought it had been resolved because we talked about it at length when we were back in Melbourne, but any time we had a fight she would say that she was scared of me. I would reply, “why are you scared of me?” And she would reply that I had choked her.

I didn’t hurt her. There were no bruises and it lasted for about 5 seconds. My memory is of shaking her in absolute frustration. Her memory is of a malicious attack on her in which I choked her, which is what she told her family, but I honestly don’t remember it that way. I accept full responsibility for what I did. There were extenuating circumstances and I was extremely stressed and upset, but it’s no excuse. I have to live with doing that for the rest of my life, and I am acutely aware of how unforgiveable it was that I did that. I expected it to end our relationship, but it didn’t. It never happened again. I never laid a hand on her again, and I’m so sorry that I ever did.

Our relationship

Based on the definitions I listed previously, IC claims that I emotionally abused her, that I was controlling, jealous and mean. Here’s my experience of our relationship.

Screen Shot 1Screen Shot 2

Telling me that it was a joke when her behaviour upset me is emotional abuse. It denied the validity of my feelings and my opinions. I never denied hers. I apologised for hers.

I did not keep her from her family and friends. The week before she threw me out I was entertaining her family for her mother’s birthday. I baked a cake for her mom. IC was out at a show with another woman (which she lied to me about, saying that she went by herself). I rejected my family for hers. I thought that my family was so bad, and here was my wife’s family who were so close and still together and they did things together. My family was strewn all over the globe. I desperately wanted to be a part of IC’s world, so I threw away my own relationships with my family to try to prove to her that I deserved to be in hers.

I have never isolated her from her family or friends. I have never stopped her from pursuing her hobbies and passions. She continued learning sign language, often signing with her friend, A – the one she ‘replaced’ me with – in front of me, therefore isolating me from the conversation. I stopped seeing friends that IC didn’t like or get along with.

I went to every gig of hers I could, watching as she performed nasty songs that she wrote about me. We spent money on her clothes, on her hair, on her image and her career. She did the same for me too. She worked while I studied personal training. That’s what people in a marriage do.

IC would complain about her weight. She sat me down one day and said, “I am unhealthy, I want to quit sugar, I don’t feel good in the morning, please help me.”

I made up a nutrition plan for us both because I was also complaining about my weight and she told me to do something about it. I supported her and made good food for her that fit within our nutrition plan, but she didn’t always follow it. The night I was kicked out she said (through her family) that I called her fat, which I never did, and she blamed me for her anorexia, saying I was controlling her food. She wouldn’t cook! She rarely even helped with cooking. I bought her favourite foods, I made sure there was always healthy food on the table, even when I’d been working all day. I’d come home late some days after an awful day at work and she’d be sitting on the couch eating chips. Still I had to make dinner.

I stopped giving her affection, I admit that, particularly in public. Firstly, I didn’t feel safe. We were a same sex couple in a country that won’t legalise same sex marriage. She never stood up for me in an argument with anyone, could she protect me in the street? I’ve only just now really learned to be okay with public displays of affection, mainly because my partner now makes me feel safe. IC never did. Secondly, she used to grab my head with her hands and kiss me so hard I couldn’t breathe. It would hurt and I didn’t like it.

Our sex life was troubling. At first it was exciting, but after a while it became all about her. She went down on me once during our entire relationship, and never did it again because I took too long to orgasm. If I asked her to do something specific or change something she was doing, her response was an exasperated sigh, and she’d say “I never do anything right.” We are told as women that we have a right – no, a duty to tell our partner how to please us. Apparently, my asking her was abuse. So, I faked orgasms just to get through it, and then we just stopped having sex. To be honest, I think my libido dried up because she was treating me so bad. Her expectation of me was too great.

I was very honest with IC when we first got together. I told her everything that had happened to me in my previous relationship in which I was physically abused and she assured me that I would always be safe with her, that she’d do everything in her power to make me feel special. However, I wanted to go to Sydney. She said we couldn’t afford it, even thought I was earning the money (and we both had $3000 each in our bank accounts). I wanted a dog. She didn’t because it would take my attention away from her. We were given a lot of money at our wedding, as was custom. Most of it was spent on our honeymoon on vintage clothes for her.

She said to me once that if she was offered a job where she had to hide her homosexuality and her relationship with me, she would do it. I would simply cease to exist and I would have to accept that. She said, “we would work it out.” I didn’t come out of the closet to be put back in by my wife.

There was a time when I had gastro for the first time in my life. IC had a massive fear of throwing up so I told her to sleep in other room to keep her safe and away from any possibility of catching it. She was doing a show at the time, I was in a really bad way and she was performing. I called her after her show to let her know my belly was hurting me badly and she said she would be right over. She took over an hour and a half to call me back. I was curled up on the floor in pain near the front door, leaning up against the wall when she walked in, put down her bags, looked at me and sighed. I felt as though I had become a burden. The tone in her voice was that of ‘I no longer care. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to look after you.’ I felt I needed to go to hospital. I asked her to take me, but she didn’t want me to go. She said to just get back into bed and I would be fine. I felt like my intestines were crawling with rats and they were trying to escape my tummy.

She called her mother to ask what she thought she should do even though she wasn’t there at the house witnessing my pain. She gave her my symptoms and her mom just said, tell her to go to bed with a hot water bottle. No need to go to hospital. So I put myself to bed, cried, she slept next to me but at a great distance, even though I said don’t take the chance. The next day, I begged her to drive me to the doctor but she said school was more important. I drove myself, curled up to the wheel, waited in the waiting room for 2 hours and felt pretty sorry for myself and rotten. The doctor said I was severely dehydrated and should have gone to the hospital. I knew then I had to prepare myself for a life of looking after myself and not to expect my wife to know how to look after me or have any desire to. I felt incredibly alone, broken down and cheated. She just didn’t know how to look after anyone but herself. She was never taught how to.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I was an angel and she was a demon. I yelled, I slammed doors, I drove the car too fast when I was angry, I switched off when I got too emotional. I was a dick to her, but you know what? She was a dick to me too. She would cry instead of talking to me. She would leave without saying anything, sometimes very late at night. She would say everything is all right when clearly things had not been resolved. I was having what I now know to be anxiety attacks and she’d get angry with me or cry, thinking it was all about her. She didn’t help me when I was having those attacks; she thought I was attacking her. She had depression therefore I wasn’t allowed to have bad days. I always had to be happy around her and for her, otherwise I was “blowing up” or “being mean” or she was “scared of me.” She sat back and watched her sister be a bitch to me, complain about her sister in private with me, but say nothing to her in my defence. I was insecure in that marriage because I’d hear things like “convert or I’ll leave you.” She later apologised for that but the damage was done. A text argument over the purchase of a fridge (with my money) contained these words from her: “Enjoy your fridge, it’ll be around longer than me.”

When her sister was living with us, it was awful. Her sister, whom I’ll call S, was inherently lazy. She left her dishes lying around the house; she never did any cleaning or house keeping. We’d argue a lot, and IC would never defend me. Her mother sent me text messages telling me off about how I was treating S. It got so bad that one day I seriously considered killing myself. I was going to hang myself with a belt, but right before I did it, I decided that I wasn’t going to give up. I went to IC and told her how I was feeling. She got angry with me and told me I was being dramatic. Tell me how I am the one being accused of abuse.

She accused me of being jealous, even though I told her she could go out and kiss any woman she wanted to since I knew she hadn’t had much experience before me. She had a friend I’ll call J who for a time lived with Kristina and our friend Lucy. J and IC had a few dates before we got together. I was a little jealous of him, I admit, but I never stopped them from hanging out. However, she would invite J over when I was at work and then tell him not to tell me. They were doing a show together and IC told me, Lucy and everyone she could that J was in love with her and being inappropriately touchy with her and making her feel very uncomfortable. Lucy confronted J about this and I told J to back off. I was very angry with him, not because I was jealous, but because he was making my wife uncomfortable.

I found out later that this was all a lie. Mutual friends would tell me that IC would willingly put her arms around him and be affectionate with him when I wasn’t around. When I was around, he would be affectionate with her, but she’d be cold because of what she had told me about him. She finally told me the truth, and later J told me that IC had said to him that she was confused because she had feelings for him. She kissed him in rehearsal when she told me she wouldn’t and then lied to me about it. She isolated J from his housemates and friends and made him feel like he was a horrible person. He was lied about and I was lied to.

After she threw me out, she lied some more, telling my friends I tried to strangle her (which she later admitted to some friends wasn’t true), telling anyone who would listen that I was emotionally and verbally abusive. My friends keep track of her social media sites and tell me that she still posts things about her “abuser” and about abusive relationships. Anyone who knows IC knows that her “abuser” is me as I am the only person she’s had a relationship with.

She was so duplicitous. When Kristina and I started going out, Kristina invited me to a season launch party at La Mama, an iconic theatre here in Melbourne. Kristina had a show on, and we thought long and hard about whether I should come because IC was going to be there too. In the end, Kristina told me she wanted me there, and our plan was to avoid IC so as to not cause any trouble for her or for ourselves.

As it happened, when I entered the door to the theatre, IC came up to me, apparently on her way out. She smiled at me, touched my arm and said hi. There were people all around us who saw this, including Kristina. Later, mutual friends told Kristina that IC had approached them saying she was scared because I was there. She was upset, and told them that Kristina and I were there specifically to intimidate her. I want to reiterate: she came up to me. I didn’t see her until she was right in front of me. She didn’t have to come up to me. She could have waited until I was inside and with Kristina’s friends before she left. Anything I did seemed to be interpreted as a dig at her. I just wanted to get on with my life.

We went to a show that she was acting in because Kristina’s good friend was directing and had invited both of us. I completely understand that it wouldn’t have been nice for IC to see me and Kristina in the audience, but we went because Kristina wanted to support her friend, and I wanted closure. Kristina said she wasn’t going without me. It was either both of us, or neither of us. In hindsight, we shouldn’t have gone, but it felt important at the time. We were both snubbed by people we thought were friends, and we didn’t stick around after the show. We both sobbed on the way home. Like I said, I understand it would have been awful for IC; it was also awful for us, and to be completely honest, with what I had been going through, I didn’t owe IC anything.

That awful night, her and her family began their campaign to convince the world – and me – that I was an abuser. Yes, I was a dickhead to her, mostly because I didn’t particularly like myself. Because of that one incident in Brisbane, I was tarnished for life. Manipulating and bullying me into believing I was an abuser is abuse in itself. But I was the one who got help. At the advice of friends I went to a psychologist because what if this was true? What if I was what they said I was and didn’t even know it? I went to a psych to address this because I didn’t want to be miserable with myself anymore.

When a mutual friend of ours suggested to IC that she should see a therapist (she’d been ‘abused’, she was anorexic, depressed, she needed help), IC accused our friend of victim shaming her. If IC didn’t hear what she wanted to hear she would blame everyone else for it.

For a month prior to the breakup every time we argued we would discuss the option of getting a ‘Gett’, a Jewish divorce. We knew it would be too hard to do since we were the community’s token couple and we were the first same sex couple in Victoria to have a Jewish commitment ceremony. We were embarrassed because we’d just gotten married. We were afraid of looking foolish. We both knew that the relationship wasn’t working, but we didn’t want to let go. Life would be strange and it would be hard losing each other. She promised me she wouldn’t throw me out of the family home, as she knew I had no family, nowhere to go and nothing to keep me going. We both were severely depressed; we relied on each other for happiness yet we were both headed in different directions. She got her family to break up with me, I realise now, because she was scared that she wouldn’t be able to let me go. She broke my heart, but if in her head that was the only way she knew how to let me go then I thank her for letting me go, and I forgive her. All I ask is that it stops now. We cannot go back, but we can move forward having learnt and having grown. She needs to stop punishing me for moving on.

I don’t want to humiliate her. I just want this to be over. She’s been dragging my name, my reputation and my character through the mud, and she won’t stop. I have lost so many friends, so I have finally decided to defend myself. I married her because I wanted to be married. I thought I loved her. I did for a while, to tell the truth, but she became so manipulative and selfish that my love began to fade. Everything was all about her and her family. She was nasty about people behind their backs and then lovely to their faces. She was jealous of others’ success and I allowed her to deny my own success. IC’s family were right, to a point. I had changed during the course of our marriage. I was desperately unhappy, I was tired all the time because I was working all the time and trying to lose weight. I cut back on the things I was doing for her family because I felt taken for granted. I felt like I was constantly proving myself to them, and if I slacked off, I was told off like a child. My role in that family was to do things for them, and that included IC. The entire relationship was about her.

I know that this paints a very different picture of the girl who has called herself a victim, who said she was dead in the eyes when she was with me, who said she was afraid of me and who blamed me for her mental health issues and her unhappiness. I know it’s a case of she said/she said, and I can’t convince anyone to believe me and not her. It’s all about perspective. One person’s idea of good character is another person’s idea of questionable behaviour. People will believe what they want to believe. This is merely my side of the story.

As I said before, I am not guiltless. I don’t deny that I was awful to be around sometimes, and I didn’t always treat her nicely. But she was the same. If there was any abuse in our relationship, it was happening on both sides. Simply, our relationship was unhealthy. It was toxic. We didn’t know it until it was done, but it’s clear now.

Today I am grateful for my life and the way I have lived it. I have been blessed in so many ways I cannot begin to express my gratitude. I have always felt blessed, privileged and rich. I have travelled, eaten many strange and amazing things, drank fine wines and spirits, held intellectual conversations and met many diverse and wonderful people. I have learnt so much from all of these wonderful and exciting experiences and I can honestly say I regret nothing. I have been so fortunate and have received things I have wanted through hard work, determination and drive. I believe in G-d and therefore I worked hard to form a relationship with G-d. Yes, I have had some terrible things happen to me in my life but I have always come out the other side of it stronger and wiser. Today I want to thank the universe and G-d for giving me such a blessed life, full of love, experience and excitement.

Today I realized that I am no longer the person I was 11 months ago. I have had to learn many a thing and the most important was to love and respect myself. I am a hard worker, an honest and compassionate person, a soldier, a stress head and I do care about what people think of me. Often in the past I would sit and pull my hair out stressing about upsetting people and having people be upset with me, or thinking I have hurt someone. I never wanted people to have to confront me or change for me. I did all the changing and I avoided confrontation. I am not a good fighter or debater. It is easier for me to just sit back and take it rather than to fight back. I get verbal constipation when it comes to defending myself or speaking up for myself. I have spent my entire life serving others so that they could say Krissy is lovely, Krissy is selfless, Krissy is respectful, Krissy is kind-hearted, Krissy is …

NOW.

Those years taught me a valuable lesson. You can be the loveliest, sweetest girl in the world, change your whole life and religion for someone but there will always be someone who either wants to bring you down or doesn’t think the sun shines out of your butt. Butts don’t shine.

I will never forget what they did to me, but in my heart I forgive them for the pain and suffering they have inflicted on my friends, family and myself. It’s time to move on.

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.