Survivor Day

I’m gonna tell you a story. It’s a true story, not a very nice story, but true nonetheless. A few years ago I wrote a piece about being in Sydney (you can read it here),detailing how confronting I found that city at that point in time. A couple of other things happened at that time that I didn’t go into in that post, including getting triggered by a rape scene in a theatre show I saw, and being peeped on by the man in the room next door in the backpackers we were staying in. There was something else that happened. Something else that was lost in the mess of that trip but that stands out to me now as a pivotal point in my highly abusive marriage.

Ah yes, here we go, that old chestnut! Narcissistic abuse. Why am I writing about this again? Well, today, dear reader, is World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day. 1 June is officially the day to be aware that this shit actually happens, and it happens to people you know.

So, what is narc abuse? Honestly, you could read every post I’ve written on this blog since meeting my ex until now to get the full arc of an emotionally abusive relationship, but tl;dr so I’ll go ahead and tell you.

In adult relationships the person with narcissistic traits (my ex wife, KL) seeks out an empathetic, codependent-type partner (me) to suck dry in an attempt to gain power and control through the latter’s admiration of them (known as supply). This relationship starts with what’s called “love-bombing”, in which the narc falls intensely for the empath and idealises them, showing them the best version of themselves. In my case, KL showered me with gifts, flowers, food, love notes, calls and texts all day, every day. She made herself vulnerable by claiming she was being treated unfairly by her ex (whom I will call IC), and feeding me sob stories of her “challenging” life with IC, painting herself as the victim. I fell hook, line and sinker.

Once we were married, her true self began to emerge, but I was already addicted. I was a goner. Shit slowly started to happen, and that old adage of the frog in a pot of water that is slowly brought to boil comes to mind. This process is called devaluation and it starts small; the odd off joke here and there, casual belittling remarks that I took “too seriously” until it grew to adultery, contempt, triangulation, and gaslighting.

This is all very well and good, and I’m sure you all understand those words, but what I’ve discovered is without a clear example, these concepts are lost on most people.

So here goes, here’s my story.

We’re in Sydney on tour. I’m not having the most excellent time, but see, I have this habit of always being upset about something, always feeling things, you know, so I try to buck up and be happy. One night KL wants to go out and get drunk. I give her my blessing and tell her to go, happy to hang out with myself, read my book, drink my tea and relax for a damn minute. Our show playwright, Z comes into the room and some point and falls asleep, and soon I’m also in snoozeville.

It’s around 1.30am when KL comes stumbling in, sozzled to the tits and horny for me. This rarely happens at this point in our relationship and to be honest, I was gagging for it, so even though I was a little apprehensive because Z was asleep in the other bed, I comply with my wife’s wishes and fuck her silly. She goes to return the favour, but I gently rebuff her, concerned we’ve crossed the line already by going at it with our friend in the room. She falls asleep in two seconds flat and it’s all sunshine and roses.

The next day, Z goes to hang out with the rest of the cast and KL and I are left alone in the room. I’m feeling all sexy and glowy from the night before and say, “hey baby, how’s about it? I reckon it’s my turn.” I think I’m being flirty and I don’t see any resistance to the idea from her. She’s not overly responsive, which I attribute to the previous night’s drinking, but she doesn’t say no. So, she services me. I use that word specifically as that is what it felt like. She dutifully makes me come, and not two minutes afterwards as I’m pulling myself together, she says (verbatim),

“You forced me to do that.”

What?

My mouth drops open and I stare at her, aghast. “I what?” I rasp, feeling my stomach drop into my gut.

“I didn’t want to do that, but you don’t like it when I say no, and I figured I owed you from last night.”

WHAT??

I sat there, all the breath sucked from my body, my eyes stinging, my skin prickling and suddenly I feel sick and very, very dirty. “Are you saying I raped you?” I asked her, my stomach heaving. “Why didn’t you say no? Yes, I get upset when you say no, but I’d never force you. I feel like I’ve raped you.” I started to cry.

This seemed to shock her and she suddenly backtracked, exclaiming “no, of course not, I have issues, why would I say that, I love going down on you, I just …” But at that point I feel I want to tear my skin off my body, slough away the shame oozing out my pores, so feeling like a sordid old sleaze I excuse myself to take a shower.

In the shower I scrub at myself, feeling like the worst person in the world. Guilt, fear, shame, all of those awful feelings cascaded over me. I was certain I had her consent. Didn’t I? I went over and over what had just happened and I couldn’t understand why she would have sex with me if she didn’t want to. And then claim that she did want to! I was so confused. I later came to realise that this is gaslighting, a tactic to confuse and addle me, to keep me under control.

I start to sob and smash my head against the side of the shower. I clamp my hands over my mouth because I’m hiccuping and sobbing loudly and that embarasses me even more and I don’t want her to hear. I hear her calling my name but I yell for her to please leave me alone so I can get myself together.

Eventually, I calm down and get out of the shower, dry and dress myself, and open up the bathroom door to find her lying on the bed, foaming at the mouth. There’s a part of me that knows I’m being manipulated, but I’m learning now that this is a game, and I have to play my part. I stare at her. “What have you done?” She’s crying and foaming and gurgling, so I say I’m going to get Z who is a nurse, and she suddenly sits up, spitting the contents of her mouth into her hand and says, “I didn’t swallow them.” I understood then and there what this was. This was emotional blackmail, something she would do a further two times. So again, I played my part and I comforted her and I apologised while she convinced me that she put the pills in her mouth because she was “so hurt” by what she had accused me of doing.

And then it was forgotten. Just like that. A few days later the peeping incident happened and the last two nights of the show we were performing in was cancelled, partly because of the peeping, partly because sales were shit, and partly because the venue organisers were being difficult. I, being the eternal martyr of course, felt overwhelmingly responsible and began to disappear into myself in an attempt to dissociate.

Our last night there was the Mardi Gras parade and we were marching. I didn’t feel festive, I didn’t feel celebratory. I still felt dirty and disgusting and responsible for the tour being ruined, so my energy was low. Despite this I got dressed up, did my hair, did my face, slapped on a smile and we went to the marshalling area.

I couldn’t maintain the level of energy required to keep up that façade, however, and the mask started to slip. So my wife, the person who was supposed to hold me up when I was falling, the person who promised to hold my hand through the crap as well as the parade of life, the person who had seen first hand what kind of week I’d had in Sydney, got shitty at me because I wasn’t “having fun.” She told me I always did this, I always ruined it for her, and as much as I tried to defend myself, her anger won out. So I played my part. I conceded. I apologised and “had fun”. We marched, and she loved the attention. Every time a camera was on us she would grab me and kiss me in a show of defiant lesbian love. She held my hand and performed her role of loving wife for the public to see. I smiled and nodded and waved and danced and in doing so, unconsciously prepared myself for the shit storm of the last year and a half of our relationship to come.

I didn’t tell anyone except our therapist about this. I didn’t feel like I had the right. The irony is, deep in my heart, I felt like I deserved it because of my dismissal of KL’s ex IC and her claim of abuse. I was so invested in my ex wife’s version of this woman as a scheming, lying harpy that I failed to see the parallels in our stories, that she too had an incident that is not mine to tell, but that affected her as much as mine affected me. I will feel the sadness and embarrassment of that failure for a very long time to come.

~

Writing that didn’t make me feel better, I’m afraid. I’m not crying, I just feel gross. Rehashing all of that stuff isn’t cleansing for me because I know that wasn’t the first time – and it certainly won’t be the last time – she’s done something like that. However, I tell that story to illustrate what an abusive incident is, and as it was the onset of a continuing trend of behaviour, not just an isolated occurrence, it bears telling.

I understand that people with these narcissistic traits don’t actually love themselves. At their core, a narc is a mixed salad of entitlement, low self esteem, and shame. They have an idealised version of themselves that they seek out others to confirm and bolster this ideal. Underlying all of this of course, are profound feelings of inadequacy which are almost always projected onto their target. If KL was feeling unattractive, she would make underhanded comments about my age or my weight, never explicitly insulting, but barbed enough to make me start doubting myself. If she was feeling loss of control in another part of her life, she would start withholding sex, or demanding money, or claiming that I wasn’t pulling my weight.

The last year of our relationship was a blur of me working my arse off managing her career, arranging her music, writing and directing her cabaret (which she recently publicly claimed ownership of), funding that cabaret, producing that cabaret, doing all of her admin, paying some of her rent, giving her money to go to South Africa, accompanying her to night clubs in which I watched her getting hit on by various women while holding her wallet, keys and phone and generally being ignored by her and most of the other people in the club, promoting her, being available for sex on the rare occasion that she was drunk enough to be interested, and warning her about stringing along the young, 18-year-old girl that had fallen for her. Devaluing 101.

The next part, in which she ended our marriage and shacked up with the girl – who I’ll call PR and who she went on to also abuse – is called the discarding stage. PR, young, inexperienced and naive was fully ensconced in the idealisation phase and only saw KL’s ideal self, not knowing that she was caught up in the next cycle of narcissistic abuse. Of course, KL took no responsibility for this, just as she took little responsibility for her abuse of IC and again the cycle has continued onto the next woman.

This is what KL wrote to me just before our divorce application was submitted (I will add that this was not the end result of a text fight, this was in response to my refusal to print a document for her):

“Being married to you that last year sucked as you never appreciated what I could do for you, only pointed out what I couldn’t. Stop blaming others for your problems. Stop blaming just me for our failed marriage. I am safe and happy now and in a great place that I have forgiven myself for everything. I am moving forwards.”

She wrote something similar to both IC and PR after their relationships were over. I don’t think either of them refused to print a document for her, but who knows what atrocities they committed to elicit such a response (joke).

Despite what it may look like, this is not a “dump-on-my-ex-wife” post. To be honest, I feel genuinely sorry for her. Her behaviour, that message from her, her continued vicious cycling all point to someone who is deeply broken and self-hating. She doesn’t know how to fix it, how to make it right, so she keeps repeating the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result. However, the only person that can get her off that wheel is herself.

I am a survivor. The other two women who have shared in these experiences are also survivors. We are strong, we are supportive, we still cry over what happened to us, but frankly, we’re kicking ass and taking names.

If you see anything similar to what you may be experiencing in my story, please seek help. In honour of World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day I end with a link to their page, and a list of warnings and red flags, edited because I’m a grammar nazi. I experienced probably about 95% of these signs. Be safe, peeps.

WNAAD

WARNING SIGNS

  • They have a sense of superiority, often being highly critical, often judgemental about others.
  • They have a sense of entitlement. Sometimes this comes off as confidence, but can manifest in subtle ways, like cutting through a service station rather than wait at the traffic lights, or deliberately leaving rubbish for someone else to pick up.
  • They give out back-handed compliments, such as “she has a figure like yours, you know, slim but no muscle tone.”
  • In a romantic relationship, the relationship moves quickly. For example they will shower you with attention, compliments or gifts, and say “I love you” very early on in the relationship.
  • They will start to subtly ignore you. They may appear to lose interest/get distracted or check their phone while you’re talking.
  • Their seemingly innocent words are often contradicted by their body language and tone of voice.
  • Their stories don’t quite add up, and you start to see the little lies. You may even tell yourself, “I just heard them lie to their friend, it was just a little white lie. But s/he wouldn’t lie to me.”
  • They have two sets of rules. Rules that apply to them, and rules that apply to everyone else. They may have unrealistic expectations of love and nurturing from others, but don’t hold themselves to the same high standards.
  • They have a lack of empathy, and are unable to see things from the perspective of others.
  • They have poor boundaries, and may regularly invade your privacy, go through your belongings, or expect that you can mind-read their wishes and needs.
  • They may be highly sensitive to criticism, or any suggestion that they are not in the right.
  • They have a “my way or the highway” attitude. They believe that they know best, and that their way of doing things is the correct way.
  • Initially they can come off quite charming and charismatic, always knowing the right thing to say.

RED FLAGS

As the relationship becomes more established, you may start to see some stronger warning signs, or red flags, such as:

  • You may spot bigger lies, and when you confront them, you never get a straight answer or they will turn it around and accuse you of what they’re actually doing.
  • If you try to raise an issue with them, it becomes a full-blown argument. They may accuse you of causing the fight, or they may use the silent treatment as a way of punishing you for confronting them.
  • Arguments feel circular and nonsensical. You’re left feeling emotionally battered and confused. There is no resolution to the issue, no sense of compromise or seeking a win/win outcome. It feels like they need to “win” regardless of the issue or what’s at stake. You’re left feeling unsupported and misunderstood.
  • They may tell you something didn’t happen when you know it did, or vice versa. This is called gaslighting and it’s designed to make you doubt your own reality and judgement.
  • You feel like you need to ask for permission before making plans with others. They may try to control where you go, or call and text constantly to check up on you, and interrogate you about where you’ve been/what you’ve been doing.
  • You start seeing less of your family and friends. Perhaps because they openly prevent you from doing so through guilt tripping or threats of abandonment. Or, it could be more subtle, where they make such a fuss about seeing your family and friends that you start avoiding them so you don’t have to deal with the fallout. You end up feeling isolated and lonely.
  • The relationship feels one-sided – like you are the one who is doing all the giving, the one who is always in the wrong, the one who is trying the hardest, changing the most or doing the most sacrificing, just to make them happy. And it still doesn’t work. Nothing is enough for them.
  • You can’t feel at ease or relaxed in their presence. You feel like you’re walking on eggshells, waiting for the next time they lash out at you. You realize you feel a sense of relief when they aren’t there.
  • You feel like whatever you do, it’s not enough. You’re manipulated so that your flaws and vulnerabilities are exploited and used against you at every opportunity. You begin to feel inadequate, unlovable, and like everything is all your fault.
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Same Sex Divorce 101

Firstly, congratulations! Your marriage failed! The thing our queer community in Australia fought so hard for is something you’ve failed to execute! Hooray! Bet you feel shit, yeah? Yeah. Whether you’re the leaver or the leavee, this process sucks. It’s worse than just a relationship break up because it’s MARRIAGE. And it FAILED.

Secondly, if you’re like me and you married an abusive arsehole of the same gender, you’re also going through the trauma of recovery! All the good times to be had!

Thirdly, you’re gonna have to wait one year and one day before you can apply for a divorce. This is so you can sort out whether there’s any chance of reconciliation, but again, if you’re like me, it’s just an opportunity to be manipulated, used and lied to by your narcissistic spouse for a whole ‘nother year because you’re an idiot who believed that they were just going through a crisis and the love you shared was real and worth fighting for.

You’re not an idiot. It happens to the best of us, and through this process you can finally learn that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it take responsibility for its terrible behaviour and get life-changing help before it abuses another horse.

Here’s what you need to do if you’re going through a same sex divorce in Australia.

  1. Take a breath. It’s shit, but it’s going to be okay. By the end of the process, you will feel better, even if you didn’t want the divorce in the first place.
  2. Get some therapy to help with the yuck feelings that are going to come up at various stages of the process. If you don’t deal with them feels, shit’s gonna get real.
  3. Your ex is gonna be a dick. You’re gonna be a dick. There’s going to be a lot of dicks happening, even in a lesbian divorce. Prepare yourself.
  4. Jump on to the Federal Circuit Court website here to find out how to apply for a divorce. Same sex couples can’t do it online yet, even though it’s been legal for over a year now, so I flung an email at the National Enquiry Centre and a lovely lady sent me back the printable pdf of the application.
  5. Okay, here’s the tricky bit, and it’s to do with fees and court appearances and all that. If both parties carry a Health Care Card or a Pensioner Card or any of that biz, you can submit a joint application and get a discount on the fee (about $300 down from the full fee of $1000). Both applicants have to sign the Affidavit and you don’t need to serve documents on the other party. Also, court attendance is not required if you file a joint application, but you can request an appearance if you want. I didn’t want, so I didn’t request. If only one of you has a concession card and you want the discount, then the card carrier has to submit a sole application. This means the applicant has to serve documents on the respondent, and if you have kids under 18, you have to go to court. You don’t have to go to court if there are no children.
  6. If you do not have combined assets or property, you don’t need a lawyer. Getting a divorce is expensive enough as it is, you don’t need the added cost of lawyer’s fees if it’s not necessary.
  7. You will need to get your application witnessed. I used the sergeant at my local police station. He was cool.
  8. Once the application and all its copies have been submitted, you will get a stamped copy back of your application with the date of the court hearing, even if you’re not attending court. I found this information helpful in preparing for the mental shitstorm that happened around that date.
  9. Once the court hearing is complete, your divorce will be finalised one month and one day from that date.
  10. Have a party. I did. It was very cathartic and you and your friends can yell “fuck you” to your absent ex as you smash a cake with their face on it.

I’m going to be honest, the entire process was brutal. I felt like a failure. I felt like I had let my community down. My ideals and principles regarding marriage were shattered. I learned that there is very little support for same sex couples going through divorce, despite the amount of campaigning we did for marriage equality. Even though it is now legal, I felt that what I was going through wasn’t taken very seriously. Maybe because we’re still not used to the legality of our relationships, maybe because people didn’t realise I was actually legally married, maybe because not a lot of my friends in the community were married so they didn’t understand the gravity of it. I don’t know.

The nature of my relationship with my ex was confronting to a lot of people in the queer community, I realise now. People are uncomfortable with intimate partner violence anyway, and hearing about it makes the average person feel impotent, unable to offer support, unsure of what to say or do. A lot of people in the community still like my ex. She’s seen as a nice person, and because she’s a fairly well known performer, the community wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. I would comment on the manipulative and controlling things that she did during the divorce process and they would back away slowly, unwilling to be involved, which is their prerogative.

However, I had overwhelming support and love and respect too. So much so that there was a crowd of people at my divorce party, there to celebrate and commiserate with me, there to cheer as I continue to move on to a greater life as a gay (bisexual) divorcee, finally free of an awful lie of a relationship.

My ex wife’s ex was there. A woman who I had previously maligned in my attempt to remain loyal and supportive to my wife; a woman who graciously gave me her hand in support when I needed it most as she understood that we have a unique shared experience of surviving an abusive narcissist; a woman who I feel I need to apologise to and thank for the rest of my life was there, raising a glass with me. Solidarity in survival.

So, yes. My greatest advice for going through a divorce? Have your tribe with you. The people who have proven their loyalty and trustworthiness are the ones to have by your side. They will keep you sane and they will remind you that you are not a failure, that you do deserve real love. They will remind you just by being there that although this is an ending, it is also a very bright beginning.

This is an angry rant. Something I have to get off my chest once and for all and then I won’t waste any more time or energy on this bullshit.

Am I okay? No, I’m not.

I wish I had never met you. I wish I had never given you my heart. I wish I hadn’t fallen so hard for you. I wish I had never taken you home to my country to meet my family. Do you know that no one in my life EVER has met my entire family? No one, not friends, not partners, not even school friends have met both my brothers and my mother and father much less my extended family. No one. Except you. And now, with my mum gone, no one will again.

I wish I had never pinned my future on you, talked about kids, dreamed about where we’d live. I wish I had never believed you when you said my heart was safe with you. I wish I had never trusted you with my darkest secrets and fears. I wish I hadn’t relaxed with you.

I wish I had never married you.

I wish I hadn’t wasted all those beautiful and special experiences on you, you who didn’t appreciate or respect how so very important they were to me. You didn’t care.

I wish I knew how I had got it so collosally wrong when everything in me believed you were the one. I wasn’t naive when I met you, but I got it so wrong.

They say these things happen to teach us something. Well, all you taught me is that love doesn’t exist. All you taught me is that no one can be trusted. All you taught me is that I’m better off alone.

I had hope before you. I trusted before you. I saw the best in people before you. Now I’m closed off and cold and brittle. This is your legacy. You have ensured that no one will feel the depth of my love for a very, very long time.

But I’m so silly, because you don’t care about any of this. You don’t care about what you did to me. Our relationship was never about us, it was always about you. Even now, it’s about you. You didn’t love me. If you did, you would have never done those things to me. If you did, you would have left me alone.

So good luck. Good luck with your new, “completely normal” bedfellow, after all the lies and bullshit you told me about not being ready for a relationship. Good luck with not abusing her like you did me, and the woman before me. Good luck in not fucking it up like you did your marriage. A marriage that was only sacred to one of us.

Don’t tell me you’re sorry. You’re not. Don’t tell me you care. You don’t. I am a light that showed you the way and now it is lost to you. And you don’t even know how valuable it was, you narcissistic fuck.

You are dead to me.

Just In To Leave Her

A Woman of Wonder

I miss something that doesn’t exist. A whisper, a feeling, a brush of a hand. It used to be so solid, so clear. Now it’s fuzzy and distant, this thing I miss. It’s like trying to embrace a cloud.

I took my first plane trip when I was 11. My brothers and I flew over to Australia to see my dad. As we flew I looked out the airplane window and imagined I was flying through the clouds, bouncing off each one like they were cotton balls. My mother had parachuted through a cloud back in her Navy days. She described it as passing through damp gossamer. Clouds have no substance, she told me. They’re like dreams.

On long road trips past oceans, I’d imagine the sea had frozen and I was ice skating over the waves. It gave me a feeling of freedom and power to believe that on some plane of existence I could conquer the impossible. 10 year old me could command the weather, use my ridiculously long hair as lightning, stop an oncoming train with a look. In my mind, I was unstoppable.

It should be no surprise that Wonder Woman was my first crush as a kid. I became obsessed with her at the age of 5. She encapsulates everything I want to be: strong, fast, awesome boobs, a lasso of truth, the ability to run in heels and an innate capacity to take no shit. She’s a saviour with good and honest morals and values. She’ll cut a bitch, but only if that bitch is violating the liberty of someone else. Also, she likes girls and boys, but that’s besides the point.

Being my own version of Wonder Woman is intoxicating, particularly when someone else is prepared to be Steve (or Stephanie) Trevor. Being the one who saves the day is empowering and satisfying and ego stroking and extremely dangerous. It lulls one into a false sense of invulnerability, which then makes the inevitable fall from the messiah pedestal that much more painful.

The thing about superheroes is, they don’t exist. I mean, yes, there are extraordinary people who do amazing, miraculous things, but they’re just people. No capes, no superpowers. No one can leap tall buildings in a single bound. If only. There are plenty of damsels and dudes in distress, though, that fuel the need for superheroes. But it’s false. No one can save anyone else. We can only rescue ourselves, truth be told, and I used all the skills I learned in my journey through life for the one I loved, all the while forgetting that even Batman was not always everybody’s favourite guy in Gotham City. Bruce Wayne had to eventually acknowledge that saving the day was not going to take away his trauma.

Growing up has a tendency to curb those thoughts of indestructibility, to transform them into things more attainable. There’s always been a part of my mind, however, that has believed that the improbable is still possible. The Universe has a way of making things happen along a path we least expect. Goals can be achieved, dreams can come true.

Ah, yes. Those dreams again. Paper thin and fragile. Unsubstantial and deceptive, like a cloud. Like you turned out to be. My cumulonimbus. I believed in those dreams, in those clouds of my youth. I allowed myself to be swept up in the fantasy, in the idea that me and my love could overcome anything, that the Wonder Woman inside me would stay vigilant and true. It could have, but it didn’t exist. I miss a thing that didn’t exist. I miss my Paradise Island. I miss you – not the victim you, not the damsel you, certainly not the abusive you, but the version of you that was loving and strong and generous and kind and honest. Sadly, that version you gave to me was as false as it was true. What I felt was truth. Who I felt it for wasn’t.

So, my heart breaks one last time as I reach for those flimsy, filmy illusions, wishing so hard that they were real. Wishing I could grasp them to my heart because they were so beautiful. My belief in making the impossible probable hasn’t died. I’m sure you didn’t intend for your abuse of my love to do that, any more than my saviour complex was intended to deny you your autonomy. I like to think you’re not aware of what you do to people. I guess I’ll never know.

But, it’s no one else’s concern, my awakening. It is mine. My renewal is my responsibility. For probably the first time in my life, I’m being my own superhero. I’m saving myself and although I have wise, wonderful, pull-no-punches honest friends and family to guide me, I’m doing it alone.

And it feels so good.

 

A Woman Scorned

I hate liars. I hate being lied to and I hate being lied about. I have spent the last three months being lied to by a person I loved. A person I trusted has continually twisted the truth, even when asked point blank. Now she’s lying to my friends. Misrepresenting me and situations I’m in to my friends.

Now, of course, I wonder what else she has lied about. I dedicated a whole blog post to her story once and I wonder how much of it is true. I don’t know if she was an abuser. I just think she is and was an asshole.

You know, when you go through a break up, there’s always one person who feels they’re the victim, the one wronged, when in actuality it is always both who are the aggressor and the victim simultaneously. I’ve gone back over the last three and a half years and recounted all the things I did wrong. There’s a fair few of them. Mistakes, moments of anger, moments of hurt, all the while trying to deal with the horror of watching my mother die. Over the past year, though, while she was saying she was unhappy, I was throwing everything I had into her career. I put my stuff to the side as I became her manager, the director of her shows, her music editor, her publicist. I spent time, money, energy and love on her life whilst learning new things and discovering abilities I didn’t know I had. I put our marriage to the side because I thought we were strong enough for that. And I thought once it was all done, once she was on her way, we could reconnect and then it would be my turn. But no. Once it was all done, almost immediately in fact, she started an inappropriate relationship with an 18 year old girl. And she did this behind my back. And then she kissed this girl in the middle of a dance floor surrounded by our mutual friends. And lied to me about it. All of it. I had to confront her with the fact that this had been confirmed by someone else before she admitted it was true.

She was scared I was going to leave her. She made a lame, manipulative attempt at her own life because she was so scared. I was with her the whole time. I was still angry, hurt and betrayed, but I stayed with her because we were married and marriage means working through the shit.

We decided we would stay together. We both made the decision, but then she fucked up again. When I was sick in bed, she went out and got drunk three nights in a row. One of those nights she was with the 18 year old idiot. She says nothing happened. I believed her. Maybe I shouldn’t have.

Two days later she ambushed me at our therapy session saying she didn’t want to be in the marriage anymore and hadn’t for a long time. She said I had disappeared. She said I was always tired. She didn’t want to have sex with me because I was always complaining that I was fat. Well, so did she. All the time. But what’s good for the goose is apparently not good for the gander.

We separated. I took her word for it. She flip flopped back and forth between us going on a “break” and us divorcing. We agreed to a six month break. She told me, my family and my friends that she wanted to “find” herself so that we could reconnect in the future. She told my sister that she would fight for us.

She lied.

Two days later she told me our marriage wasn’t working because she couldn’t deal with my mental illness. She told me it was over and she was never coming back and I should have known that. I asked her what had changed. She said “I’m getting shit done.” I asked her if there was someone else. She said no. I asked her if she had fucked someone else. She said no.

She lied.

She said I could stay in the apartment until I found somewhere else to live even though I had just lost my job, had no money and my father had just left the country. She left to go to her sister’s. That apartment was toxic. I became unsafe.

I was placed on unofficial suicide watch from that day, a Monday. While she was away at her sister’s I moved all of my things out and went to stay somewhere else. My brother, my poor caught-in-the-middle brother who was waiting for the call to go back overseas for work had paid rent and stayed in the apartment. I didn’t speak to her for a week.

She had promised me, her best friend and her therapist that she would stay single. She told me she was scared of doing it alone, but she would try.

She lied.

I contacted her after a week. I asked if I could come see our cat, Orpheus. She told me the 18 year old was there. I was in a restaurant at the time. I had to be taken out the back where I collapsed. A friend was with me and was scared for my safety.

She tried calling me that night, but I had blocked her. The friend of mine had sent her a nasty message and she wanted to see me to talk about that and finances. She got hold of me the next day saying this was getting out of hand. Could we meet? I said no. She pushed and said I was telling lies about her and she was suffering, but she loved and respected me. I told her I was suicidal and didn’t want to see her. She pushed more. I agreed to meet.

We met. She told me she missed me, wanted me in her life, she still loved me and she told me that maybe we could be together again. She told me she was drinking all the time, not eating, and that the girl I suspected she was fucking was her “business partner”.

She lied.

She later told a mutual friend that she had never said that. She lied.

She kept asking me what we were going to do. I told her I didn’t know, I couldn’t answer that question for her. I said I was still in love with her but it was not healthy for me to see her as she couldn’t give me what I wanted. She insisted on staying in contact with me. I relented and we made plans to meet again in a week. We hugged. She told me to look after myself. Please. Losing me would tear her apart.

Two days later I went to the apartment to pick up my brother. I saw her and the 18 year old idiot walking up the path to the apartment I had left less than a week before. I had an anxiety attack. A bad one. A mutual friend left work to come get me. My brother sat in the car with his arm around me as I sobbed. My friend went upstairs to tell her to give me some space, to leave me alone. As I was in the car, she came downstairs. My friend was angry. She stood by the car and stared at me saying little. I railed at her. She accused my brother of spying on her. She lied. She accused me of abusing her during our relationship. She lied. She told me again that she loved me. She lied. She told my friend that she was dealing with this break up on her own.

She lied and lied and lied.

I was taken to the hospital. At the hospital, waiting to be assessed, I forced my brother to tell me what he knew. He had heard them. He had heard her fucking the 18 year old in our apartment – sorry, her apartment less than a month after we separated and less than a week after I moved out. I lost my shit. I thought I was going insane. I sent her the foulest message I have ever sent anyone in my life. I wanted to destroy her. I wanted to put my death on her. It was a shitty thing to do. I couldn’t control the pain.

I wanted to die and she kept lying and lying and lying.

Now today, she told me she’s happy. That it was all worth it, all the pain, the cruelty, all the disrespect she showed me. She’s extremely happy – and bloated from all the drink, pimpled, broke, and still fucking the teenager. She has no shame. But, you know, at least she’s happy.

I would like to wake up now. I would like to wake up and six months have passed, and I have my own home, my cats are with me, I’m acting again, and I no longer hurt. To say this all feels like a surreal dream is a predictable cliché, but there you have it. Clichés become clichés because they’re rooted in truth.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. It’s such a childish, naïve thing to say, but again it’s rooted in truth. I got married to prevent this from happening, because marriage means staying together and working through it when things get tough. If it doesn’t work, you make it work because you got married. You made vows. You signed a legal document. It’s like a legal promise to not give up when shit gets hard. That’s also called being an adult. Some of us are better than others at that.

I’m here, living now. I no longer want to die. The voices in my head telling me that her treatment of me proves that I’m worthless are being drowned out by anger. Fury. Rage. She is denying that I paid back a loan I got from my boss to pay for the first term of her dance school. She is denying that she ever told me she wanted to possibly work towards being together in the future. She is using the treatment she received from her ex as a way to silence me from publicly reacting to her utter arseholery. Fuck that.

I mentioned above that I have gone through all the mistakes I made in our relationship. Let me tell you, there is nothing – nothing that I have done to deserve this. Nothing.

I have done nothing except be too good for her. I have done nothing but love her despite her immaturity and selfishness. I have done nothing but provide a home and support and encouragement. I have done nothing but ask for the same in return.

She does not deserve me. Not now. Maybe not ever. The measure of a person is weighed by how they take responsibility for their own shit. She has been found wanting. And she will crash and burn and be left in exactly the position she is fighting so hard not to be in:

Alone.

I, on the other hand, will rise up and shine like I have always shone. I will blind her and everyone around her with my dazzling power. I hit rock bottom. But I’m a fucking goddess, and I will smite anyone who tries to dim my light.

I am better than all of this.

🖕