It can be hard to know when to get out.
I met my X when I was twenty-two-years old, and vacationing on the islands of Hawaii. He was a year older than my father. From the moment I met him, he was charming, a flatterer, and intensely persistent. He wanted what he wanted, and that was me.
I moved in with him a month after we’d met, and at first it was really great. Picture a home in the jungle, ocean views, tropical fruit, warm breezes, and tons of sunshine. The first time he called his ex-wife a bitch in front of me and his pre-teen daughter, should have been my wake-up call. But this kind of mean-spirited divorce was familiar to me. When I realized that my X still shared showers and his bed with his daughter, I got an uncomfortable feeling in my gut. But he was a new-age hippie, and I was probably reading into something that wasn’t happening.
My only friend was his recent ex-girlfriend, who he’d introduced me too. Every time I hung out with her, he’d call to make sure I was okay. His ex-girlfriend thought this was romantic. So did I. I didn’t realize that this would soon lead into some serious possessiveness and control.
Then there was the first fight between my X and his daughter. He grabbed her by one skinny arm, and dangled her above the floor like a rag doll, while he screamed that she was a spoiled little brat. When she cried so hard that she started to hyperventilate, he grabbed a paper bag for her to breathe into and told her that he was sorry, but that she needed to listen better and calm down. I stood in stunned silence. By the next day everything was back to “normal”.
By the time I figured out that he was a drug dealer, I was pregnant. But he explained that he had been selling to friends for years, and that I had nothing to worry about. It was completely safe. Now I was enmeshed in this family.
My daughter was born, and things went downhill fast. He spoke demeaning comments about my body by stating that I was fat and my boobs were saggy. He criticized my intelligence, saying that I was a naïve stupid little girl. That I didn’t know what I was talking about. Ever. He was older and wiser. His diatribes always ended in that nobody would ever want me, and if I left him, my family would never take me back. By this point I was unaware of how much I’d been brain washed by a cult leader – my X.
When the children or I became sick, my X would refuse to take us to the doctor. It was a waste of money. All of the doctors were quacks with malpractice suits. Anyways, he was smarter than any doctor.
His drug-dealings failed, and we lived in poverty. The children and I were to blame. We were stressing him out. We asked for too much. As the money got tight, so did my X. He controlled all of the finances, including the money sent to me by my family. He controlled when I could leave his home. He told me what I could buy when I went shopping, and how long I could be out.
When he decided to sell larger quantities of drugs, strange men appeared at our house, and military helicopters armed with machine guns flew over our home and land.
By the time my daughter turned one, I was actively trying to figure out how to get out of the relationship. I summoned all of my bravery and told my X that I was leaving him. He told me that I was not leaving the island, but within a week he had kicked me and my child out of his house. When I foolishly went back to his home the next morning to retrieve clothes and diapers, he screamed that I was trespassing and called me a whore. Then he physically hurt me and my daughter. That was the point where there was no longer a grey area.
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