Distance and time gave me clarity.
I woke up that morning with a plan. There was a lot to do. Trying to get your shit out of an angry alcoholic’s house isn’t easy. Alcoholics don’t like it when you tell people about their alcoholism. That’s, like, the number two thing they don’t like. Number one is sobriety. Even though my ex wanted me out of his house, he wasn’t going to make it easy for me.
For a long time, I chalked up his pettiness as him just being an asshole. It took me a long time to understand why he did the things he did when I was trying to get out of that house. Unpacking someone’s boxes even though you told them to leave doesn’t make sense. But he was, and probably still is, a conflicted man. The days between him telling me to leave and the day I left was an emotional clusterfuck. Which is probably why it took me two years to write about it.
He told me to leave on a Saturday night and I left on a Thursday afternoon. The days between the break up and me leaving the house were filled with ups and downs on his part. He’d go from angry and blaming to sorry and sad, usually several times in the same night. On Sunday morning, he walked by me as if I were lamp. On Sunday night, he heard me crying and from his bed apologized for threatening a restraining order. But he couldn’t even bother to sit up or turn a light on. I felt like hired help standing at the foot of what used to be our bed as he chided my dramatic behavior. As though he wasn’t the cause of it and I was overreacting. Gaslighting in it’s finest. On Monday, he told me he was going horseback riding with a female friend. I stared at him, thinking, was he fucking with me? As if I cared what fun things he had in store while I looked for empty boxes and a place to live and dealt with emotions of panic, rejection and disbelief.
On Tuesday, I came home that night (with boxes!) and he wanted to talk. Specifically about the anxiety he had stemming from me leaving. That’s right. He wanted me to listen to him about how bad he felt about kicking me out. That’s like someone punching you in the face and then making you listen to them talk about the guilt they’re experiencing for punching you in the face. Before they let you get ice for your face. I listened and then I asked a question.
“I figured something out today. You were in rehab before I knew you, weren’t you”, I countered. “You told me you once went to a hospital to “relax”. I assumed it was for anxiety. And I never questioned it. But it was rehab, wasn’t it?”
“Yes,” he said. “And I’ll never go back.”
“And you didn’t finish it. You left early,” I said.
“Yup,” he said. “My ex girlfriend went into AA and I thought, I’ll show her, I’ll do her one better, I’ll go to rehab. But then I left after 10 days because she left me for someone else.”
He blamed an ex-girlfriend for his failing at soberity. Thanks a lot, ex-girlfriend. This is clearly all your fault. And the one after you. And the one after that. And the ones before the other one. And now me. All our fault.
I asked why after over five years together and moving to two different cities to be with him, he had never told me that. He didn’t give me a reason. I think he said “I’m a private person”. Or maybe he said, “I’m in denial about my disease and I am not about to take any sort of responsibility for any of it. Also, I’m a liar and a huge asshole.” One or the other.
It’s amazing how fast time and distance – even just three days and a different bed – can help you snap the pieces into place.
That conversation ended with me falling asleep on the couch. I woke up to him gently taking my glasses off and setting them on the coffee table. I pretended to be asleep and waited for him to leave the room before escaping to the office I had turned into a spare bedroom. What kind of mindfuckery was that, I thought in the darkness. Was he rounding a corner? Would he go to rehab? Never mind he had just said he would never go back. Him speaking calmly to me, using me as a soundboard for his narcissism flickered that little flame of codependency within me again. Even the next day, Wednesday, I remained dubiously hopeful. Then I came home.
He was very drunk and very angry. He had found out another friend knew about his drinking because of me. He spent a long time going on and on spewing bullshit as I sat there listening to him and patiently arguing. At some point during his rant, I realized I was so, so emotionally drained and why was I listening to this? We were done. So I went to bed in the spare bedroom. He followed and asked me to go on a date with him to the zoo the next day. I looked around for a hidden camera and a studio audience, because what the fuck? He also let me know I could sleep in the same bed with him again. I said no to both.
That next morning, Thursday, he asked me again to stay home from work because he felt bad.
I said, “No. I have to work. Then I’m going to stay at a friend’s house for the weekend while he’s gone. And then, I’ll be staying in a friend’s spare bedroom after that. Will you be all right?”
I went upstairs, packed an overnight bag and showered. I came back down. He was angry.
“Where’s your half of the mortgage,” he asked, furious. In the matter of forty minutes, he went from normal to angry as I went from nurse to welcher. His mood changed as sudden as a tornado appearing in Kansas. This is the moment another realization hit me and I thought, “Oh, this guy has totally been using uppers, too. Ah-mazing.” Sometimes it just takes forty minutes, a shower and him rummaging through hiding places for some pills for more pieces to snap into place. Memories of his random nose bleeds, bathroom breaks during a couch night without the toilet flushing and him saying, “Man, we should do coke together!” also factored into this flash of enlightenment.
The third thing addicts hate? Lack of money.
“I’ve already explained this. You’re basically evicting me. I’m not giving you money. And, as I mentioned before, the couch we bought 6 months ago was $4K, so if we deduct the mortagage from that, since you’re keeping the couch, you actually owe me $700.”
“But I paid you my half,” he said.
“Yes, you did. By saying I didn’t have to give you my half of the mortage six months ago. Thanks. But even though you “paid me” half, you should still pay me for my half of the couch I’m leaving behind. It was really expensive and you wanted it.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” he said. Of course it didn’t.
“It does. Imagine we’re talking about this townhouse. If my name was on the mortgage, which it isn’t, I wouldn’t just let you have it. You would have to buy me out of it. Because you will still be living here. And while you will still enjoy this couch, I have to go out in the world and buy a new one. So unless you want to saw the couch in half, I am “paid up” on the mortgage and you owe me money.”
“So you’re not going to give me any money,” he asked.
The fourth thing they hate? Logic.
“Fuck. No. I’m leaving.”
“Bitch,” he said.
“Excuse me,” I said.
“You’re running away to some guy’s house. How is that healthy.”
“Well, my friend won’t be home and also he’s a gay sommelier going to pinot noir camp for the weekend [still the gayest sentence I’ve ever uttered] so I’m not leaving you for another man. Oh, and you also kicked me out. See ya.”
I left. Then, hours later, this began:
He was really attached to the idea I left him for a gay sommelier. Makes you wonder if his AA ex left him for a guy, too. Since he told me stories about his all exes cheating on him, which is a crazy coincidence, PROBABLY NOT. And if you take nothing away from this blog posting, take away this: always focus on “gay” and “out of town”.
As evidenced by this screenshot, his brain wasn’t retaining information, but it was pretty paranoid, which is common for alcoholics and addicts. The drugs are always the most important thing to them – more than partners. I had finally, finally!, figured that out, but at the time I didn’t have the distance to not feel hurt. I was still in that shit and fell for almost every obstacle he threw my way. More importantly, I felt every obstacle he threw at me.
But I was out. I would go back for my things and he wasn’t going to make that easy. Now that he realized he couldn’t manipulate me the way he used to, he would resort to pettiness. It didn’t matter. I had distance. Because I was out.