The next couple of parts to my story are going to be much harder to write about. They are the true “ugliness” of my story and the beginning of my spiral into much self-loathing, shame & despair…it is my truth and perception of my life. It was how I reacted to the rejection, pain and hurt in my life, real or perceived, and must be told in order to move forward with the story. Please bear with me as I struggle to get this out in some semblance of order without rambling too much.
I want to clarify that I am not focused on what was done to me by others, but on how I reacted to it and the pitiful choices I made for my life because I was not strong enough, or healthy enough, to do anything different. This is not about bashing anyone else because again, I, and I alone, am responsible for the choices I made and the path my life took.
The Ugliness of Who I Was…(Part 3)
Four years later, I was pregnant with my son, had a great job, and had a nice house. My mother was upset that I was pregnant again and did not hesitate to tell me so. Again, I felt I disappointed her and my heart hurt.
I thought Dan and I had a wonderful marriage and, outside of financial struggles, things seemed perfect. Dan was always attentive, kind, and fun. Most of my female friends were so jealous of our marriage. He was always sending me gifts at work, calling me when he had time and helped anyone who needed it. We never had any horrible fights and we rarely disagreed. We never yelled at each other if there was a disagreement, it was always civil and ended quickly. What more could a girl ask for, right?
Well, I did not know until my son was four months old that Dan had been having an affair for several months. It started sometime during my pregnancy and continued until the night I found out. I was in my room reading a book when I overheard him, on the baby monitor, talking to his brother. His brother was staying the night with us to help him on a job and had met the “other woman” that day. I was devastated by what I was hearing. My world had been shattered and I never saw it coming. His actions only reinforced my lack of self-esteem and self-worth. They screamed in my head that I, again, was not good enough. All I could think was that I must be so fat and ugly that why would anyone want me, much less stay with me? I confronted him when he came into the room about an hour later. He tried to deny it but when I pointed to the baby monitor, there was nothing he could say.
Over the next few weeks, I found receipts for things he had sent to the other woman. What was so heartbreaking was that they were also the receipts for things he sent to me. If he sent me flowers, he sent her flowers. If he sent me chocolate covered strawberries, he sent her chocolate covered strawberries. I found out that on my birthday, the month before, he had taken her to Tahoe as I sat home for the weekend with the children, under the guise that he was helping a friend with a construction job. He even called me the night of my birthday to tell me how much he loved me and how sorry he was that he wasn’t home to celebrate with me. I hunted through his pockets, his wallet and his truck every chance I could get. If his pager went off, I was constantly making sure it was truly a client.
I trusted nothing he said and feared every time he left, he was seeing her. I was locked into the insanity of mistrust and there was nothing that could make me believe him, but I decided to stay in the marriage anyway, using my children as the excuse. They needed their father and he was so good to them…that is what I convinced myself. At the same time, I morphed into someone I shouldn’t have, trying to make sure everything was perfect for him so he would stay with me. If I could do everything right and be who he needed me to be, he would stay. I went on the phentermine diet and lost 40 lbs in 3 months. If I could be skinnier and prettier, he would stay with me.
Well, that didn’t last long. Eight months later, the night before Christmas Eve, he told me that he had run into this woman again and she wanted him back. I asked what he had said to her and he replied, “I told her I would have to think about it”. Right then I died inside. Again, I was being told that I was not worth anything. It took me six months to make my plan, get to the place of being able to make it on my own financially and kick him out. That was mid-1995.
I was now on my own with two small children and feeling like I had failed everyone, especially my mother, who didn’t want me to get married or have children in the first place. I avoided talking to her as much as I could and if I did talk to her, I wasn’t honest. I saw a counselor who put me on Prozac to help me deal with the depression I was going through.
A few months later I started dating a man I knew from work. He was a recluse and at first, it worked for me. His apartment was dark and gloomy and fit my mood. It was like a hiding place for me. After a while though, I wanted more and he was not willing to give it. In the two years that we dated, he saw my children three times, came to my house only once, and we only went out 7 or 8 times. Unfortunately, I ended up pregnant again and desperately afraid. He wanted nothing to do with children and I already had two I was struggling to raise. Again, I caved into the fear of failure and disappointment from others and had another abortion. A year later, I had another. At this point, I’d had enough and decided I needed to move on but the shame and self-loathing just rooted itself deeper in my soul.
In February 1997, my brother showed up on my doorstep needing a place to stay for a couple of months. Hearing my mother’s words, we were all each other had and needed to take care of each other, I agreed to let him stay. Very soon after he moved in, he became very ill. His couple of months turned into almost 5 and a half years. He was so sick most of the time that he could not hold down a job. I took care of him physically and financially. After five years and much drama, I finally told him he had to move out and he reluctantly did so a few months later.
It wasn’t until a year after he moved out that I found out about the physical and mental abuse he perpetrated on my children. The anger, hurt and betrayal I felt was only over ridden by the guilt I felt; had I not let him move in, my children would never have been put in jeopardy. The guilt was terrible but having to face the guilt, forced me to finally tell my parents what happened to me as a little girl. There was shock and anger at first, but then a few months later, my mother told me that I just need to get over it and move on. Again, I felt like my feelings didn’t matter.
I didn’t feel like anything I was going through mattered to anyone. (Remember, that was the way I felt, not the reality.) How could I feel love and supported, if I didn’t feel worthy of it? If I felt so horribly about myself, what would make me think anyone thought any differently about me? So began the lies and deceit of my life. No one would really know what I was going through or struggling with. No one would know the deep hatred I had for myself. No one would know that I hated life and desperately wanted to leave it. I carried this around in my heart for many years, faking the smiles and the happy-go-lucky attitude; not wanting to let anyone know. I wanted them to see that I was fine, that my life was great and I had no problems in the world. Prozac was helpful in accomplishing this for awhile.
Through all this my job became my escape. It was the only place I felt in control and felt like what I did mattered. I became a workaholic. I would drop my kids off at the daycare at 6:00 am and be to work by 6:30. I would work until 5:00 pm, pick up my kids, feed them, bathe them and put them to bed by 9:00 pm. I brought work home every night and would then work from 9:00 pm until about midnight. I did this for a couple of years. It was the only place I found any value in myself and also helped to keep my head above the waters financially. It also kept me busy and was an escape from dealing with the reality of life. As hard as it is to say, my work became my life at the expense of my children but it is the hard truth and the only way I knew to survive.