Five months ago my life completely fell apart. I was dealing with flashbacks and a possible cancer diagnosis, and so as part of my self-care routine I was watching Brooklyn 99 (only the greatest show in the universe). It was the episode where Terry’s ex comes to review the 99 and he and the team work to figure out why Terry’s ex hated him. My husband asked me to change the episode, and when I looked at him questioningly he told me this episode was too hard for him to watch, because he’d been considering breaking up with me. I was stumped. I knew we hadn’t been happy together, despite how much we loved each other, but he was bringing this forward three days after I was told I might have cancer and would need surgery? “Maybe we should break up then,” I whispered. Cancer diagnosis or not, I didn’t want to be with someone who wasn’t sure if they wanted to be with me. He went to his hometown two hours away to stay with his parents, and I made a tearful phone call to my sister, who then drove an hour to pick me up and take me back to her place to stay. That was it. My life was over.
When I was eighteen I truly believed that I was going to be alone forever, that I was going to be that cat lady, because no one was ever going to want me or love me. But then I met him. I was in such a bad place – I was still living in an abusive home with my parents, and my emotions were all over the place. I couldn’t control them. I was travelling on a one-way street to suicide. He was like my saviour; ten months into our relationship we moved in together, because I was so desperate to get away from my parents. They were killing me. I think because of that, I put my husband up on a pedestal. In our first few months together, he acted different, he put more effort in and we actually went out on dates, but by the time I’d moved in with him that had fizzled out. It was impossible for him to go out of his comfort zone for anything, especially me. I wanted him to do a test run on public transport with me so I could get to uni, I was so anxious and had never caught city public transport before, but he wouldn’t. I would want him to come to the shop and help me, but he wouldn’t. I would be sick and would want him to go to the shop to get something, but he wouldn’t. We never left the house together, we never went on dates, because he wouldn’t want to. I was disappointed and upset every time he would say no, but I figured that was how relationships generally work. He didn’t have to do anything for me, even if I tried to do so much for him. This was just normal.
It only got worse though. If I ever wanted him to do something, it would end in an argument. He’d told me so many times, he can’t deal with expectations, and so me having expectations would never help anything. I would never get Christmas or birthday presents, because buying presents for other people made him too anxious. And any time I would try to talk to him about my emotions, he would just switch off. One day I found out that my uncle had died, and I wanted to go to my hometown to be with my family immediately, the funeral was going to be in a few days, and my husband and I had nothing on, so it seemed okay. But my husband complained, he didn’t want to, and I was so upset that he couldn’t even do this one thing for me, he wouldn’t even be willing to support me in such a hard moment, without complaining about it. My break down made him (begrudgingly) agree to come with me to the funeral, but with that came the immense guilt that I’d forced him into doing something that he didn’t want to do. What kind of person does that? Me, apparently. I felt like such a horrible, manipulative person.
I believe the only reason we got engaged was because he let me buy my own engagement ring, I think if I hadn’t been willing to, we never would have gotten engaged. But maybe that would have been a good thing. The wedding preparation was completely on me, he was never willing to offer me opinions on anything but the music we would have. The day of the wedding, he had a stress free day with bacon and eggs for breakfast, while I had no time to eat and ended up in tears because of preparations falling apart. The reception after the ceremony, he spent a lot of the time drinking with his friends instead of being with me. He came and danced with me only at the pushing of his best man. The wedding was a success and it was beautiful, so why did something still feel wrong? I told myself it was because not everything had gone the way I wanted, that I regretted my choice in music, that our DJ wasn’t particularly good, my dress wasn’t right or altered right, but now I wonder if it felt so wrong because I shouldn’t have married him. I’d questioned our relationship before the actual wedding, but I’d put that down to pre-wedding jitters.
Six months into our marriage, my husband just stopped going to work. He’d always struggled with working, he hated devoting so much of his time to working when he’d rather be at home doing his own thing, but now his mental health had gotten so bad that he couldn’t cope with going. But he was finally doing something about his anxiety, and I was so proud of him. It was stressful because he was our sole source of income, but I just wanted him to get better. I dreamed of a day where I didn’t have to try and get him to get out of bed every day while he refused. It was exhausting. He began therapy sessions, and because of his anxiety, I drove him to his every session and sat in the waiting room for an hour, and then drove him home. Nothing seemed to be working, but I didn’t want to give up hope. Our financial situation was beginning to get dire, and he’d suggested asking his brother and his brother’s partner to move in with us, and I reluctantly agreed. I didn’t dislike his brother, but I was never really comfortable around him, because he could get quite nasty to me. A week before his brother moved in, he grabbed my breast as a joke while I wasn’t wearing a bra. It was awkward and embarrassing, but my husband didn’t say anything, so I brushed it off, telling myself it was okay because he’s gay. (Note: sexual assault is NEVER okay, whether it’s as a joke or if the person is gay). I was miserable living with my brother in law, he was taking over our house, he’d eat our food without asking, and he had no boundaries, always going into our bedroom or ensuite with permission. I repeatedly told my husband that I was unhappy, but my husband was dealing with his own issues so never really had time for mine on top of that. When my brother in law decided he and his partner were going to move out because they didn’t like living with us, my husband and I made sacrifices because my husband wanted them to stay, like not using the main bathroom and using our ensuite instead (the shower in the main bathroom was amazing, and the shower in our ensuite was awful), and letting my brother in law have more of a say of how our loungeroom would be arranged. I didn’t particularly want to make these sacrifices, but my husband really wanted to make it work. My husband and I went to my hometown one week, and when we got back, the loungeroom had been completely rearranged by my brother in law, and I was so angry at the disrespectfulness of it, but my husband just wanted me to let it go, so I did. Things came to a head when one day we found that my brother in law had cut our cat’s whiskers off. I was furious and wanted to confront him, but my husband was hesitant to do so. We finally did, and my brother in law blew up, and it ended with him hitting me in the side of the head. The thing that stands out for me through all of this is how little my husband stuck up for me or would take my side, and how he let his brother walk all over us. We kicked his brother and partner out, and tried to move on with our lives.
My husband left his job and got a new one, we got a new house in a nicer suburb, and things were seeming somewhat positive. I never really wanted to move house because it would involve breaking our lease which I wasn’t comfortable doing, but it felt I had no choice, so I just went with what my husband wanted. It soon seemed like a good choice, because we were happier. He was consistently going to work, and our new house was lovely. But things started to go downhill pretty fast again, and I was noticing more and more how unsupportive my husband was of me. When I first started my blog, we ended up having an argument because I wanted him to read the draft of my first piece, and he didn’t want to. He wouldn’t read my more difficult pieces, no matter how much I wanted him too, because it was “too hard” for him. He had no time to talk about the struggles I was having, my flashbacks, my realisations I’d had in therapy, because he could only focus on himself and his struggles. He stopped going to work again eventually, and our financial strain started all over again. He would repeatedly blame me for it, because I wasn’t working. He told me that me not working was making our finances bad, which was making him stressed, and so he was unable to go to work. If I ever brought up that our finances wouldn’t be so bad if he was actively going to work, he would always turn it back around on me. He would always get upset at me if I asked him to help me with household chores, and he would tell me that I was expecting too much of him. Things were getting worse. I was getting to the point where I felt trapped, that I only had two choices: stay with him and put up with his neglect, or kill myself. I was leaning towards killing myself.
He told me that he was thinking of breaking up with me two days after I discovered that I had a tumour in my thyroid, and then we did break up three days after being told that I might have cancer and would need surgery to remove half of my thyroid. When I’d had an emergency session with my psychologist the day after our break up, when I’d just barely decided not to kill myself, he messaged me and asked how I would pay my half of the debt. Then when we spoke on the phone that night and I told him I wanted to get back together, he told me that I needed to change and that I needed to get a job before he’d consider it. I was going to kill myself that night, but I somehow managed to call an ambulance and get admitted to hospital. After I told him that I was in hospital, his exact words were “hope you’re okay. Can you have someone talk to me about assets and debt?”. He just kept pushing, to the point where the staff were about to take my phone away because it was such a massive trigger for me. When I got out of hospital, I returned to my house to collect my stuff, and the nightmare still wasn’t over – our poor cat had been home alone while I was in hospital, and during that time my husband and his mother and brother had come to the house to collect his stuff, and they’d left the back door open. My world slowed down, my vision tunnelled to that door, and I was so sure my cat was gone forever. If I lost him, that was it, that was the end of me. I still thank my lucky stars to this day that my cat is a scaredy cat (pun intended), and was hiding upstairs in the bedroom. Our reunion was one of the best moments of my life.
I walked out of our marriage with nothing but my computer and my cat – I had no income, no money, no home, no assets. Of course, letting me keep our cat is something he used against me – I asked him if I could have our TV, the TV we’d bought with the money we’d received from the wedding, because he got literally all of our furniture and joint belongings, and he said that I was asking too much, and that I got our cat. Every time I look at my cat now, I feel so much guilt because of how much my husband loved him.
After things had settled down a little, we started talking again, and were friendly with each other. I told him about my upcoming surgery in February, and that I was sad he wasn’t around supporting me, because he’d said he would be. “I didn’t want to stay with you just because of your diagnosis.” My surgery went well, and afterwards I asked him if he would come to the hospital to visit me, and he said he was too tired. The hurt I felt about that is indescribable, but I let him off the hook. He didn’t owe me anything, we were separated. As time went on, we talked a bit more about our future, and how we would like to get back together. One day I asked him if we’re planning on getting back together eventually, why couldn’t we just do it now? We could still live separately and just ‘date’. His response was that he hadn’t has a casual relationship or a hook up yet. “Sorry if that hurts you.” Oh, it did. Just as much as the other countless times. The next hurt came soon after – we’d agreed to start ‘seeing’ each other again, and one night I stayed at his house, to make it easier to get to uni the next day. We slept together that night, and my world felt whole for just that moment. Afterwards, I asked him if it meant anything to him, and he told me it felt like break up sex. I asked if it was more than just sex to him, and he said I was making it awkward, before rolling over and falling to sleep. I felt so utterly used and wrong, and I hate that he made me feel that way. He knows about my past of sexual trauma. The final hit came a while after when I had my second surgery to remove the rest of my thyroid. He knew my surgery date, but I had no text message from him before the surgery, or even after. I had some complications after my surgery, which resulted in me having to stay in hospital for longer than anticipated. The longer I went without hearing from him, the more upset I was becoming, and three days after my surgery I caved and called him. He told me that he’d forgotten about the surgery, and I told him I’d had some complications and was still in hospital and asked him if he would come visit me. Same old excuse, he was too tired. Finally, I’m starting to realise I’m not a priority for him, I never have been and I’m not sure I ever will be. After that phone call, I didn’t hear from him until a week later, when I messaged him again. I told him that I was leaning towards wanting a divorce, and he didn’t even fight for our relationship. He just asked if we should start looking into it, then.
I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know what I want, and I don’t know who I am. I can’t watch that episode of Brooklyn 99 ever again, because it hurts too much. I am so unbelievably hurt by all of his actions, and he doesn’t seem to care. He’s never been able to go out of his comfort zone. As I’m writing this out, I feel like it sounds like he doesn’t love me, but I think he does, in his own way. He’s just not very good at showing it. I’m trying to figure out if I should try and work things out with him, like maybe I’d get used to it, or if I should walk away and risk being alone for the rest of my life, and let so many people down. He’s not a bad guy, he really isn’t. He supported me financially while I couldn’t work and he helped me get away from my parents. But I don’t think he has any emotional intelligence, and I’m not sure if I can be with someone who doesn’t care enough to visit me in hospital after I’d had such an awful experience. I don’t know if I could be with someone who’d walk away after a potential cancer diagnosis. I don’t know if I could be with someone who could never go out of their way for me. Of course, I’m not saying I was perfect in our relationship, I had my own problems and issues, but I tried to support and love him with everything I had. In the end, it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough.
So why can’t I stop loving him, and realise that maybe, possibly, I’m better off without him?