* This post I am writing in response to a question I was asked via email by a lovely lady I am kind of ‘pen pals’ with from America, who I met through my blog. I decided to turn it into a post and share. I figure it will someday be a question my kids will ask so it will be here for them in the future for us to talk about. *
When I first met my ex I thought he was charming. He was very tall, dark and handsome. He was suave I guess, he always wore button up business shirts in expensive fabrics, dress pants and fancy boat shoes I think they are called.
He was a restaurant manager in a fancy resort. Lived in a modern apartment by the beach. His parents migrated from Germany when he was 13 years old, they were very strict christians. His mother was so close to the church that the current pope had pushed her around on a ride on toy when she was just 6 and he, 11 years old. She’d spend nights preparing meals with her mother for cardinals. His father constantly travelling the world to promote his beliefs.
They were very heavily accented. My ex spoke fluent german and perfect english and an odd accented mix of the 2 which helped when we were all together. Despite having german blood in my family, ‘Yager’ meaning ‘hunter’ in german, I didn’t have a clue what they were saying half the time.
He knew everything there was to know about fancy cheese, coffee and wine.
At the time I was a mere 19-year-old single mum, I was living with my sister and my little almost 2-year-old Bella in my grandmother’s beach house. I was working in my dad’s office, answering phones and entering data into their systems and also going to uni for art.
To me he seemed to ‘have it all.’ He was a good-looking 32-year-old with a good stable job, direction and purpose, he also was a father. He had a 1-year-old with his ex-wife who he spent time with once a week.
I thought he would be a great partner. I thought he’d be able to understand my way of life as a parent and I thought that being older he’d be more mature, more I don’t know….understanding, his life seemed set up and I need stability for my little girl.
I was also drawn to this kind of glamorous lifestyle.
Our first date we spent on a wooden deck of a resort overlooking the waves roll in onto the shoreline. We spoke about our kids, about what we wanted for them. We spoke about our failing education systems, we even spoke about astrology and our star signs.
He seemed so agreeable and interested in everything I said.
I thought we had so much in common.
I remember him wearing a suit practically. I made sure I amped up my ‘class’ and wore a sleek red dress, heels and perfect hair and make-up.
My choice of a cheap beer over a fancy cocktail shocked him I think.
After our relaxed drinks and conversation we headed to his place for a game of chess and a $300 bottle of red wine drunk from crystal glasses.
I loved chess. My dad would spend hours teaching me when I was younger telling me how very like life the game of chess was.
Yes I was a little star struck.
He drove me home after I lost the game.
I hadn’t dated for at least 13 months. I really hadn’t been interested. And I guess I didn’t feel like anyone was interested in me too.
So I was flattered and childish about it all.
Every date we went on was something new and exiting. Coffee dates where he’d describe how the perfect coffee was brewed, the colour of a perfect coffee creme`. Lunches where he’d tell me about his german life, how he and his parents would stay in their log cabin in the snow and would ice fish on frozen lakes.
He’d tell me about all the things we would do when he took me there one day.
I always made sure I had perfect hair, perfect make-up, classy sleek, business like clothes.
He always told me how beautiful I was and how he was so lucky to have met someone so amazing.
Yes, I was totally flattered and totally ….well, an idiot. I was a total sucker for everything he said to me. I’d never been complimented like that ever and it was nice to have someone think of me like that, when I didn’t even really think those things of myself.
I remember one time after an afternoon drink I asked if we could go for a walk along the beach. As we approached I saw that there was a little stream of water we’d have to cross. I kind of sighed and began to turn around to walk back thinking he wouldn’t want to ruin his shoes or pants.
It was the first time I really awoke to how different we were.
He did end up taking off his shoes and rolling up his pants but I felt in my heart it was not what he wanted to do.
It was the first and last time he made this exception.
He would call me and make these amazing sounding plans, I’d organise someone to watch Bella for the night and I’d spend so long with butterflies in my tummy getting ready, making sure I had not a hair out-of-place. All the while chatting to my little sister, like a school girl (hell, I practically WAS a school girl) about how exciting and different he was, all these things he did and where he’d been and what he’d seen.
He was well-educated and cultured, classy and unique.
Next thing I’d be ready and waiting. Impatiently pacing to wait for the knock on the door. I’d get a phone call and he’d cancel.
It began happening more and more.
I felt really let down each time. He’d keep calling to make plans and some he would follow through with, others he would not.
After yet another call with wonderful sounding plans, I got off the phone and swore to my sister that if he cancelled again I would call the whole thing off.
We never ever did the kinds of things I normally would have wanted to do.
It was a whole new world for me and I was intrigued.
It sort of felt like he was prepping me for a life that was totally him.
And I would just be a prop in it.
He did not cancel this time.
And I didn’t call it off.
I moved out with Bella shortly after, into a cute 2 bedroom townhouse. It wasn’t in the best part of town, it was actually in the least desirable place of all.
He was not happy about it.
Personally I loved it. I was friends with everyone in the building. I liked the platinum blonde single mum of two next door who had too many ‘boyfriends’ to count. I liked the young aboriginal couple with an adorable chubby baby down the front who’d invite Bella and I for dinner. I liked the weird older couple across from me who had a 7-year-old still in nappies. I liked the extremely obese young lady who lived with an abusive boyfriend, she was hilarious and brave and always happy for a walk and talk.
They were interesting and kind. Each so down to earth and friendly.
Real people with real lives.
He did not like that I associated with people like that and refused to come to my place. At first I didn’t mind so much, I knew I was more open and accepting than most. I’m adaptable and ok with people being who they are.
I asked him to stay one night, told him that it meant a lot to me, and he tried. He really did. He sat up in the middle of the night and said “I can’t stay here.” I asked him why and he said it was because he was not like me.
I asked “Do you think you are better than me?”
His reply was a short, curt “Yes.”
Funniest part of all was that I was drawn to his honesty, as arrogant and as judgmental as he was, he at least had the guts to say so.
I remember one new years eve very clearly. He’d invited me to a fancy night out at his resort. I wore a long glittery dress with thin black velvety straps that crossed all over my back. I wore the tallest black heels I could find.
I remember walking out of my townhouse and feeling like an idiot. My friends hadn’t met my boyfriend, but I’d told them all about him, they knew I was dressing up big time tonight and had gathered to see me off.
I was as red as a tomato in my dark blue gown with a long split up the side, walking through our complex to wolf whistles, this wasn’t what I normally wore around my ‘undesirable’ part of the neighbourhood.
Before I even reached the end of our street I ditched my heels and carried them. Walking to his apartment was not a long walk and I didn’t want to drive leaving my car on his street.
When I arrived he walked out to pay the taxi driver. When I told him I had walked he looked at me like he’d been shot in the head!
“You’re not a pilgrim!” He exclaimed.
I laughed at the time, but now I know he was totally serious.
We caught a cab and arrived at the resort. We drank cocktails as he introduced me to his cocktail bar staff. I had so much fun laughing and chatting with them as they showed off their bottle throwing and glass spinning tricks.
They were very accommodating when I wanted to ‘invent’ new cocktails, which I then had to drink.
It was still quite early by the time I was simply drunk, he was having a ball dragging me around to meet this person and that and I think he felt it was pure luck that he’d found a chick with a little bit of intellect who could hold a conversation with all these suit wearing, apparently ‘special’ people he knew.
He’d give me an extra squeeze around the waist as people mentioned how lucky he was to have such a lovely partner. I felt like he may as well gave me a pat on the head, said “whose a good girl?!” in a stupid tone while throwing a treat in the air for me to catch in my mouth!
As we were leaving with some of his friends to head out dancing I sat in the gutter much to his horror, took off my heels and asked if I could be taken home. It was 10pm and I’d had one too many whiskey sours.
I wanted to go to bed and sleep. He refused. Telling me that we can’t ‘let his people down.’
Fine. Fine. Fine.
I pushed on and went out with them.
I danced, well I tried to dance. Any man who even looked at me, or even near me, or even over my head apparently was a threat who needed to be ‘spoken’ too. I was getting tired of it, I said I was going to the bathroom which I needed to be escorted to ‘just incase someone tries to talk to you.’
Fine. Fine. Fine.
I went in, splashed my face with water, doing the whole movie like looking in the mirror at ones self….I wondered what the hell I was doing. This is not me, I am drunk, in a fancy dress….I want to sleep but I’m not allowed because I’ll be letting people down?
I walked out and he was gone.
I spent a whole hour searching the place to find him but couldn’t.
So I left. Sat by a tree and kicked off my heels again. I picked them and myself up and began to walk home alone, with my perfect hair, with my perfect face, with my perfect dress.
I heard the count down to new years as I walked alone in the dark toward my townhouse.
I had to wake the ‘drugo’ from next door, who was always nice and caring but yet somehow lost, to get him to break into my own my place as I’d left my keys at my boyfriends place.
I was furious.
I told myself that I would walk like the pilgrim that I was back to his place in the morning and pick up my keys and phone and break up with him.
When I arrived he was so apologetic, saying that I was gone for so long that he thought I was avoiding him so he left. He promised to make it up to me and took me out for pancakes.
He wrote me poems, he brought me flowers, he was ever so good with Bella, we’d go to events and he’d buy me fancy dresses and heels to wear to his work functions.
I was getting good at meeting high profile football players (who I had no idea who they were…) who regularly stayed, to business men and women, to all these people I had no clue who they were or what they did.
Or why they were so much more important than us regular people.
We’d eat dinners in his restaurant where people would wait on us hand and foot, bringing us wine the very moment the last drip was drunk, I had too many forks and spoons and knives surrounding me that I had to keep my hands in my lap. I had glasses of water, white and red wine and never once did I get around to drinking it all. I always felt so invaded and claustrophobic from all these shiny pointless objects. Meals looked like they were created for dieting models and I’d always be hungry afterwards.
He’d arrange nights for us to stay in their penthouse overlooking the golf course and beach all at once.
The spa was big enough to sleep in, I know because one night I did! I locked him out and slept in the spa. I’d felt so horrible that night. We met up with his friends for dinner and his mate was proposing to his girlfriend that night. The ring was hidden in a soufle` they shared for dessert. We then all hoped into a limo with a few bottles of wine and were driven pointlessly to visit some headlands and look outs.
But apparently he overheard someone in the bar mention something about ‘germans.’ I was there and personally I thought the people were talking about a bbq they’d had the previous weekend. But anyway, that poor couple had to listen to his furious and ridiculous ranting and raving about “stupid, uneducated, racist people.”
We’d gone back to our room where I let fly. I’d had enough of his chauvinist, arrogant, ‘the whole world revolves around me’ attitude. He’d just ruined those people’s very special night.
And he didn’t even care.
My grandmother at the time was extremely sick. I was very close to her and was down. Not once would he acknowledge my pain or sadness.
Finally she passed away. I didn’t even tell him. He wouldn’t have cared anyway. A good friend of mine heard and came to visit. He stayed for 2 days and I was reminded of who I was, who I am.
We talked all hours of he night about camping as kids, about running through the bush barefoot in the dark tripping over logs and laughing like wild people. We chatted about hunting ducks, shooting them and then cooking them over a fire and eating them. Swimming in muddy dams and climbing trees.
I didn’t have to wear make-up, I didn’t have to wear fancy clothes, and I didn’t have to wear stupid shoes!
We talked about how nice the moon looked over the ocean, sat in silence as the waves lulled us as they rhythmically hit the shore.
He was poor. He never brushed his hair. He had a bomb of a car. He was kind. He was caring. He was always smiling.
I was reminded that I didn’t belong in this fancy fake world I thought I was enjoying. I was reminded that no matter what others thought about my life, that I was the one who had to live it.
People’s eyes would light up when I told them what my boyfriend did as a job. They thought it was so cool that we’d go to all these places and do all these things. He had perfect parents and was so charming when meeting people I knew. They were jealous and envious. I even had friends who werent’ really my friends. I was just suitable as company because of the life I was living. They thought life must have been a fairytale.
I blow a massive raspberry in the face of thee!
When my old, REAL friend left, I had finally made up my mind.
It was over.
And I told him. I wore my old jeans and an old t-shirt. No make-up and a messy pony tail. I told him to come to my house and he did.
I told him we aren’t meant for each other. That we were different people and life was not going in the same direction for each of us. He dreamed of living in a big city in a chic apartment, a fancy hospitality job with high-class clients.
I dreamed of being a hermit in the bush. Of helping people and making art, spending time with my family who were never good enough for him to be associated with.
I wanted something pure, something real. I didn’t want to live in what looked like a dream, I wanted to live in reality, even if it wasn’t as pretty.
I didn’t want the appearance of happiness. I wanted the real thing.
I deserved better. So did Bella.
He was on the floor at my knees, in tears, begging me. He told me that he would try harder, that he’d learnt so much from me about life already, that he was sorry, he told me he loved me and it didn’t matter what I wore or said or did, he said he wanted to try to do and be the things I wanted.
Honestly I was shocked. As dignified as he always tried to act. Right then was probably the first time I’d seen that he was merely a man.
I didn’t give in.
I asked him to leave and remained firm that it was over.
He did and I was relieved.
I actually had a bit of a meltdown. It was a new phase and I was happy but still utterly depressed over my grandmother’s death, I attended her funeral a couple of days later in white refusing to allow her to see me – if she could- giving in and giving up on the idea of happiness.
That night my neighbours and I ‘celebrated.’ It was ugly. I was completely drunk and by the time someone passed me a joint I thought why not? ( I hadn’t touched the stuff since highschool for those concerned. And I have not touched it since either!)
I finally, sadly, crawled onto Bella’s bed and curled up like a sad and pathetic puppy.
I was stirred by someone. Though my eyes were open, I couldn’t see clearly, I felt like I was dreaming, probably all the alcohol and marijuana….I couldn’t focus and I felt floaty. Someone was telling me that they’d never leave me alone again, that they loved me and would look after me. Someone was telling me that everything was ok and holding me to their chest. I was nodding and agreeing and I think crying.
I fell back to sleep. Feeling comforted and not so alone, I slept peacefully.
When I woke and was much clearer, I realised the whole situation.
Ergh…it was him.
I’d accepted him back while off my head.
I told him we’d need to talk, but right then I needed to go pick up Bella. When I came back he’d cleaned my place, he was cooking me some food and had brought flowers. He told me to go rest while he kept an eye on my Bella, watching shrek 3 times in a row with her. Seemingly happy all the while.
He hugged me and let me cry over my grandmother.
I never did get around to talking to him.
He stayed for a couple of days and was putting in so much effort with my friends and Bella and I thought it was amazing that he’d loosened up.
He actually seemed happier too.
After a month he was still at my place. He’d moved himself in and to be honest everything was ok. We weren’t going out as much, life was more real. He’d do some things that I liked and seemed to be a little better of a person for it.
Eventually he let his apartment go and moved in totally with Bella and I.
He began talking about getting married. And we finally decided to move into a house so we could ‘begin fresh together’ I agreed and we found a nice big brick 3 bedroom house, with a treehouse in the big backyard for Bella.
After a couple of years, things were still ok. His old arrogant self would resurface occasionally though, but I was used to it. My family never did feel very welcome in our house as he’d say a quick ‘hi’ and disappear. They always felt judged around him and I felt bad that they couldn’t relax.
A new thing, well I thought a new thing…was happening too. He was into pornography. In the beginning I didn’t really care, I mean that’s what men do right?! (Well that’s what we tell ourselves.)
Soon I found out that he was looking at it every day, when I kept trying to ignore it he took it as I was ok with it. He began pointing out women in the street telling me what exactly he was attracted to about them. It got to the point where I could look at any woman and knew what he would find most attractive about her and yet I didn’t know what he saw in me.
Finally I told him I didn’t like it. He’d gone too far with it and I didn’t appreciate him sitting up until 2 am looking at it and then coming to bed with me.
He again was in tears, saying sorry a million times, declaring that I was far better than any 2 dimensional picture on a computer screen. He had a real woman and wouldn’t look at it ever again.
I trusted him and thought he was genuinely sorry.
Things again went back to normal. He was a bad loser. We’d play trivial pursuit or other slightly competitive games which would turn into full-out war if he lost (proudly I can say I won a lot!) He couldn’t accept that perhaps a woman who was so ‘uneducated’ as myself could ever be better at anything he thought he was good at. I ended up feeling bad for him, just accepting that was what he was like and would purposely lose if we did anything competitive to avoid fights. One card game my mother played with us turned ugly when she won.
It was horrible.
We never played ‘games’ again.
Our marriage talks to turned to baby talk. And again I was a total sucker. I really wanted another baby and after being and living together for so long, I just assumed that we would be together forever.
I just fell into this routine of ‘ok-ness’ and thought that was how it has to be.
He was so excited to talk about it too. I think he could see my passion and desire to have another baby. We had names picked before I even fell pregnant. Finally after 12 months of talk we were doing it. I was to go off the pill the following month and we’d officially be trying.
I told him that if he was going to follow through with his plans of marrying me that now would be the time to propose. I wouldn’t accept a ring just because I was pregnant. I wasn’t forcing him into it, I was just letting him know that I was open to marrying him and spending a life with him but I wanted it to be for the right reasons and because he wanted to.
He never did ask.
And I really didn’t mind.
So it came time to stop taking my pills. I waited for my period to turn up but it never did.
I’d already had a stockpile of tests waiting as I’d hoped that it wouldn’t take long to fall pregnant, I was now waking each morning desperate to feel that new life inside.
I did a test and an immediate positive popped up. I was more than thrilled. Hell we didn’t even have to try. I fell in that last month on the pill and I felt really blessed that I’d been able to avoid all the questions from family and friends who all knew we were about to start trying for a baby.
I showed him the test beaming like an idiot, assuming the same response from him.
I got nothing but an “Are you sure?”
I did a second test and still he was not convinced. I booked an appointment with the doctor for the very next day to have blood work done to give us a 100% for sure.
It too was positive and still there was no sign of happiness.
Instead a sheet seemed to lift. He began to revert to his old self, the one I was totally turned off.
I felt like he didn’t really want this baby. I felt like her really didn’t want me.
I really was just some prop in his life and this was just an inconvenience.
Was he faking to keep me here?
I didn’t care all that much.
I was over the moon to be having a beautiful new baby and Bella being 5 was so happy and excited too, she’d wanted a sister or brother for a while.
I was still in the first trimester when I moved into Bella’s room. We shared a double bed where we’d read books and play cards together. Cubby houses under her blankets with torches was our night-time routine, giggling and watching ‘our’ baby kick as I got bigger was just fun.
To the outside world we were a perfect and happy couple. A new baby on the way, living in a nice house in a nice part of town, dressing well, regulars with Bella and his daughter at certain cafe`s where we’d buy them fancy cupcakes to keep them happy as we sipped our espresso reading crap like the financial reviews.
The only people we were kidding was ourselves. Behind closed doors we were merely house mates, we didn’t even share a bed, he’d spend nights watching porn which by now I’d totally accepted he was addicted too, he’d lied to me so many times that I just told him I didn’t care. It was just easier than being betrayed each and every time I found out.
He would still go out with his fancy fake friends getting drunk from fancy drinks, thinking he was so much better than all us simple ‘pilgrims.’
Finally I had Sophie, I can’t say it was an easy pregnancy. I spent time with my mum and sister and friend. Life was easier if we avoided each other. I really awakened to our ‘life’ when I ended up in hospital at 16 weeks with an infected gall bladder, when he finally arrived home from work after ignoring my phone calls to come home, he drive me to the hospital in sheer agony as Bella slept in the back seat. He dropped me off and left. He dropped Bella at my grandmother’s where she spent the next 9 days not knowing where mummy was, as I lay in hospital pumped up on morphine, distressed that my baby was in danger because of the painkillers.
I ended up needing physio therapy to avoid a collapsed lung due to not being able to breathe properly over the pain.
And yet he would turn up for a 15 minute visit complaining the whole that he had to walk from the back of the car park.
Once Sophie arrived I was done. I had to look after myself, my Bella and my new baby which frankly he was not interested in.
I left him, I sold everything I owned which was practically everything in our house and moved back to my grandmother’s when Bella was 6 and Sophie was 4 months old.
A couple of weeks later he called and asked to meet up. He then declared that he missed me, he loved me, he wanted his family back.
3 months later I gave in and returned.
I thought I had to. I thought that I should because Bella thought of him as ‘dad’ he was the only man she could remember, being around him since she was close to 2 years old. I felt I owed it to Sophie to know and be with her dad. I thought I was ‘undesirable’ to anyone else being so young with 2 kids to separate men.
I felt like if I couldn’t make it work, then I would have nothing.
And I felt that if he wanted us back so badly that perhaps he’d woken up to himself and finally things would be different.
I moved back in. With my terms and conditions laid out. He would have to adjust and at least try to be a family man, which he’d told me he simply was not. He would respect me and avoid porn.
It lasted for a little while.
I think he thought I was weak because I came back, I think he thought that I was worried about what people would think and in the end it would just be easier for me to just stay.
He would tell me I was good at nothing and good for nothing, he would come home after being out with his friends telling me the only thing I was good at was ‘baby sitting’ that I was useless and pointless and no one would ever want to be anywhere near me.
I very rarely said anything back. I knew what he was trying to do. He was trying to make me feel as insecure as he was. He was trying to make me stay thinking that I would be too scared to go.
I think he may have been threatend by this uneducated young girl who was perhaps showing him a new side to things he once thought were true.
He was not happy within.
I really just felt quite sorry for him.
I again decided I had to leave.
But after telling him that for the last time, it was finally over, I found out I was pregnant with Violet (That is a whole other story…see ‘Violet’s Story.’)
I was shocked, you probably don’t need to know, but we’d only been intimate twice since I returned and I had not even an inkling that I may have fallen pregnant.
But I was, plain and simple.
I asked him to meet me at one of our regular cafe`s so I could talk to him. I cried as I pulled out the brown paper bag to show him the tests as I just couldn’t put any words together. He was so happy. I was sooo…..mad.
He thought I’d met someone else. But a baby was just another hook he thought he had in me. Surely she would stay now with another baby on the way?
Turns out that the very day I found out he was at home forking out $200 for pornography.
Once again I told him that we needed to try for the sake of our kids who had not one idea about what kind of ‘adult’ things were going on in their little worlds. He had 2 months to sort himself out and start acting like the stable mature man I had once convinced myself that he must be.
And I had had enough. I didn’t care anymore what our life ‘appeared’ to be. It was far from perfect. It was disgusting.
I couldn’t be a part of it any longer.
Finally he found a place and was moving out. My water’s broke unexpectedly 2 and a half weeks early, the day before he was meant to leave.
He was there for the birth but didn’t want to be, and I didn’t want him there either.
“What would people say about me if I wasn’t there for the birth of my own child?”
Hmm……and yet he hasn’t laid eyes upon his beautiful daughter since she was 17 months old.
So in -a long- response to the question of “why didn’t you just stay with the girl’s dad?”
My answer is simple.
I wanted a life worth living. I wanted a real life, a life that I could be proud to live. I didn’t want fake, I didn’t want glitter or glamour. I don’t care for make-up or stupid shoes.
I don’t want to ‘look’ like my life is perfect for others. I wanted something that really is perfect….purely because it is imperfect.
I wanted my kids to feel loved, not ‘look’ like they are loved. I want REAL friends not ones who like to associate with certain people because of the perks involved. I don’t want to take from people, I want to give and help and care.
Really genuinely care.
I want my kids to know what real love looks like even with its ugly moments. I don’t want to pretend at this thing we call life.
I don’t want to concern myself with what people think of me and then act accordingly.
I want act naturally, say and do and feel normal things.
I could have stayed. I could have ‘looked’ like I had it all. I could have been out drinking cocktails in resorts and wearing pretty dresses….what while my kids were babysat by strangers?
While on the inside I felt hollow and fake and went against everything I hold true?
Not for me.
I will take my bare feet, my 5 kids to different men and my babysitting skills. I will take my perfect hubby who is not at all perfect, he’s emotional and messy and says the weirdest most inappropriate things at the randomest of times (just like me!) I will take my unfinished projects and wild ambitions, I will always choose ugly truth over pretty lies, I will always remain honest and open. I will always accept and try to understand. I will always learn and try.
I will take all these things that I am and live my messy, mixed up, weird and funny life.
I will take this life I have chosen to live and cherish it.
My children aren’t always clean, or well-behaved, my husband isn’t always charming or helpful, and I am certainly nowhere close to perfection myself.
I know it and I love it.
I know what love is now. I know what life should be. I know what happiness really is.
And that my friends is nothing but a life worth living.