Story of my Life: Part the Fifth

Posted: April 28, 2008 in Calvin, Drama, Headspace, Journal, Memory Lane

(Read previous installments: part one, part two, part three, part four.)

The most profound things that happen in your life can take place in a throw-away moment; in an instant that you don’t recognize for being the creation point for the new life that lies ahead of you.

For me that moment came early one morning in April of 1995. I was making coffee in the back of the construction trailer, and Calvin came sauntering in to grab a cup before a meeting he’d arrived for. Our eyes met – I smiled, and he did that, “How YOU doin’?” look that has become OH so familiar to me now. I raised my eyebrows at him, he grinned. I may have rolled my eyes. He went to his meeting, I went to my desk. Later I asked a co-worker, “Who was that guy that came in for the meeting this morning?” She said, “Oh, Calvin? He’s repping AcronymCo for the building controls. He’s funny, isn’t he?”

Hah. Yeah, he’s funny.

Befriending Calvin was one more step on my way to regaining myself. I ended up working with him over a period of a couple of weeks monitoring alarms in the mechanical support building. He and I were stuck together for hours on end in a tiny little office. We got to talking. He got ME talking. And he listened. The more he listened, the more I talked (and I’m not the only one who has blurted their life story out into Calvin’s very sympathetic ears). And then HE talked and I listened – for he himself had an unhappy relationship and unhealthy home life. Both of us discovered in one another what we had been lacking; friendship, understanding and respect. We encouraged each other and commiserated with each other; we advised each other on how to make our individual relationships work.

I told my ex about this friendship, and my ex in turn was rather indifferent about the prospect of fostering any “couples” friendships. Still, the four of us – myself and my ex, Calvin and his ex – went out on a few occasions. We met up for movies once and dinner a couple of times. We had them over to our house for a meal, and they returned the favor. We all went out clubbing when I turned twenty-one in July of 1995. Every time we all went out my ex would act his usual creepy self, and Calvin and his ex would be uncomfortable at best, embarrassed or even angered at worst.

Months went by. The construction company laid me off, and I got a permanent position working for AcronymCo. Calvin and I, now working for the same company, had lunch together and hung out during breaks. Our friendship was as strong as ever, though we were starting to see in one another the qualities we wished our own spouses had. The unvoiced feelings between us grew, but we knew there wasn’t anything we could do about them.

Still, his friendship combined with my new job and trial-by-fire boss served to REALLY boost my confidence. To top it off, in June of 1996 I became the official and only breadwinner of the household. My ex quit his paying job to participate in a startup with one of the guys he’d worked with. A startup that paid no actual money, at any point ever, in the nearly three years that he ended up working for it. I struggled. I tried to be supportive, I really did. But my ability to be the good little wifey and put up with his bullshit was waning. I am all about following your dreams and pursuing what will make you happy. But I think we’ve established the fact that my ex does not have the ability to separate the achievable from the unachievable. I knew “startup guy” was scamming my ex and getting free work out of him, but my ex refused to see it. So I just let him go on his merry way while I worked overtime.

My ex started spending very long hours away from the house – which was fine by me, since when he was home he was usually drunk. He’d started drinking more and more to the point where an 18-pack would be gone in an evening. He kept very late nights, claiming he was working with “startup guy” long into the wee hours. Come to find out what he was REALLY doing was screwing some slutty little chick he used to work with at the paying job. AND frequenting a certain specific topless bar and a certain specific topless dancer.

Even though he was so very, very busy, he still managed to keep tabs on me. He’d page me if I wasn’t answering the house phone. He’d give me a list of things that he expected me to have accomplished by the next time we saw each other. He’d ask his sister or brother-in-law to “drop by unexpectedly” to see what I was up to. You know, while he toiled away from the house, working so very, very hard. If I wasn’t where he expected me to be, or doing what he expected me to be doing, he would rain a tirade of absolute poison all over me.

The thing of it was, the poison wasn’t working as well anymore. I didn’t believe him anymore.

I feel stupid about it now, but I have to admit that things became clear to me all of a sudden. Seriously, between one day and the next I suddenly came to the realization that I absolutely COULD NOT spend the rest of my life with this man. It was a weekend day in November of 1996. My ex was home, for once. He was upstairs on the computer (drinking his way through yet another case of beer), I was downstairs reading a book (oh, did I mention that we finally got couches, over two years after moving into the house?). He hollered down to me to bring him another beer. I closed the book and sat there thinking. Then I got up, walked upstairs, and said to my ex, “I don’t think I can do this anymore.”

He was poleaxed. And then he FREAKED THE FUCK OUT. He bawled. He wailed. He screamed. He fell on the floor and begged. And THIS is when I found out about the slut, and about the dancer. Because he assumed that was why I wanted to call it quits. Never mind the neglect, the emotional and mental abuse, and the fact that he was just a plain old creep. When he blurted all of this stuff out, it didn’t even anger me all that much. No, what was disturbing me was the complete and utter collapse I was witnessing. I backed away, and he leaped up and grabbed my arms and shook me – all the contrition and guilt turning in a single instant into violence.

I pushed him off me as hard as I could. He changed back in another instant into the sobbing ball of psychosis. He threatened to kill himself if I left. Which made me feel guilty. And trapped.

I scheduled us for marriage counseling. Really I just wanted to get my ex in front of someone who could diagnose his psychosis. I wasn’t overly interested in fixing our marriage – I wanted to get my ex stable enough so that I could leave without him killing himself. After I dropped the bomb on him, he alternated between being sickeningly sweet, and threatening. He’d apologize for his behavior, and then seconds later blame his behavior on me. Being around him started making me feel seriously uncomfortable. I told him I wanted to sleep separately – either he could take the couch, or I would. I just wanted some space away from him. For my own sanity. Plus I certainly didn’t want him touching me after he’d been with god-knows-who carrying god-knows-what.

The counselor was a nice enough guy – after the first session he scheduled separate appointments for the two of us. I told him a lot of how our relationship and home life was, and he didn’t have a lot to offer me in the way of a solution. My ex was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He was prescribed medication, which he took a grand total of twice. Then he stopped and refused to take any more, because he “didn’t like the way it made him feel”, and it was “stifling his creativity”. He believed that the inventive, creative part of himself came from his disorder, and rather than fixing it he wanted to encourage it. The drinking, if anything, increased.

He started getting more physically abusive. He would grab me when I would try to walk away from an argument, leaving fingerprint bruises all up and down my arms. He would scream at me from inches in front of my face, throw things, and break things. And then he would start crying and apologizing and try to hug me, then wail and throw himself on the floor when I wouldn’t let him touch me.

Finally, after an evening of this kind of behavior, I went upstairs to go to bed. He’d agreed to take the couch. I was just getting under the covers when he burst into the room, leaped on top of me, and “demanded his rights as a husband.” He held me down and tried to force me, but his drunken state combined with my own “OH HELL NO” enabled me to push him off me.

On the night of January 5th, 1997, I ran downstairs in my t-shirt and undies, grabbed the car keys off of the mantle, and ran out the door. All the while I heard him screaming behind me, “You come back here right now or I WILL KILL YOU.”

To be continued…

  1. Taoist Biker says:

    …Still speechless.

  2. K says:

    Wholly crap! I actually got along with the guy!!!Ish!!!!

  3. cariskicker says:

    I really like the fact that you are putting this together and getting it out there.
    And I’m betting you will feel purged by the time it’s all said and done.
    Hang in there!

  4. I know this is hard for you, Laura, and I so appreciate you sharing.

    But AHHHHHH! You’re killing me with the suspense (although, admittedly, we know how the story turns out, heh)

  5. Jean says:

    Laura, do you have any idea how much more compelling THIS story is compared to Pi@neer Woman’s?

  6. Laura says:

    TB – You? Nah! 😀

    K – You did? Huh. Well, so did I, at one point.

    Cariskicker – Thanks! I’ve had an OLJ for eight years in September, not sure why it took me this long to write about it.

    Amanda – 😀 You’ll make it!

    Jean – Oh, well, I don’t know about THAT! I really like her “High Heels to Tractor Wheels” series. It’s adorable. But thanks for the very nice compliment!

  7. Taoist Biker says:

    Alright, that was cold.

    Funny as hell, and completely true, but cold nonetheless. 😉

    I will forthwith tell my wife, who will laugh until she cries.

  8. Jeanette says:

    Oooo..girl! Good story! I’m glad we know it has a happy ending!

  9. Heather says:

    If you’re wondering why I’m being so quiet through this it’s because I’m holding my questions/comments/applause until the very end. 😉

  10. Taoist Biker says:

    Reporting back: My wife (in the midst of laughter) says, “She’s been reading your blog a while, hasn’t she?”

  11. Laura says:

    TB (x2) – We are BLOGGERS. Verbosity is in our VEINS. Your wife and my husband understand that clearly. Well, your wife more so because she has her own blog. I’m trying to get Calvin to start one… and wouldn’t THAT be an interesting read! I need to get him to do a guest entry here, first… baby steps.

    Jeanette – Me too!

    Heather – 😀 I figured you’ve just heard it all before… plus you’re one busy BUSY chickie! (Oh, Calvin’s first training in Chicago should be upcoming shortly… I might come and crash with you!!!)

  12. […] the construction trailer for twice-weekly progress meetings. I described the first time we met in this entry, and how me and my ex and he and his ex actually socialized on one or two […]

  13. […] like to read the whole sordid tale, here’s part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six, part seven, and epilogue. Keep in mind I was still using nom-de-nets back […]

  14. Oregon Sunshine says:

    Yep, been there. With the first boyfriend, that is. Only, I didn’t have a car or a driver’s license, yet. The closeness of the scenarios gives me chills.

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