Thursday, December 4, 2014

Tom- The Story I Don't Want to Tell

So there's this guy, Tom. I've known him a little more than a year. Shortly after we met, we jumped into a relationship super fast. We were both rebounding off of divorces. We had kids around the same age. We moved crazy fast. We lived in different states but he'd come to visit. We talked and texted and wrote letters to each other. He consumed my phone life. We spent every spare minute on the phone. We talked about everything under the sun.

A few months in, he drops the "I love you." I say it back. We're delirious. We're in our own little cocoon of insanity were we are the only people that exist. We know everything about each other. We see each other twice a month or so. He comes to visit me and spoil me, show up with flowers, take me dancing, take me out to dinner. Help around my house without me asking him to. We have a playlist of songs that have special little meanings for just the two of us. We do everything together. We laugh about everything and we never disagree. We live in this perfect little dream world where we have sex four times a day and never tire of each other's company.

I try and tell him that this isn't real life. Its a fun little world, but its not real. We're only together the weekends when our kids are with their other parents. Tom can do his job remotely so he stays at my house for a week sometimes. During these weeks, he drives me to and from work and either texts me all day or comes to meet me for lunch. He tells me he's brainstorming ways to propose to me. He shows me rings. We talk about what kind of house we want to live in. He talks about finding a way to move closer to me. We talk about the things we'll do with our kids together. The vacations we'll have. That once he marries me, Tom thinks I should quit my job and stay home with the kids.

But the magic wears off after a few months.

We text all day. And then at night he asks how my day was. If I say, "you pretty much know, I was talking to you throughout," it angers him. If I don't respond quickly enough, it angers him. If I go out with girlfriends, Tom is jealous and doesn't believe me. If I don't call him on my way home from work, because I call my mom instead, he's jealous.

I feel myself trying to pull away. I don't encourage the talks about him proposing or what our life will look like in ten years. I feel like a pet. He wants to know where I am and what I'm doing all day. Everyday. I feel like I never have a bus ride to just read a book. I used to read 50 books a year and Tom is putting a serious crimp in that.  I never have a free night to binge watch trashy tv. If I don't want to talk or video chat, Tom pouts.

I feel like I'm losing myself. I spend too much effort apologizing to Tom for not being readily available on the phone, for going to pub trivia with friends, for falling asleep without saying goodnight. When he comes to visit he starts picking at me. I'm too quiet in the mornings so I must be mad, he reasons. When I try to explain I'm not fully awake, he acts like I've wounded him.

I have to be willing to stroke his ego. I can never contradict him. Everyone else is wrong and Tom is right. Everyone is conspiring against Tom. Tom and I need to stick together. He tells me no one will ever love me like he does.

And it feels true. I've never had a man that was romantic. Who would write love letters to me. Who would do little things just to make me smile. Who made me feel like the most beautiful woman in any room. When Tom was good, he was very good.

But when Tom was mad he was vicious.

Tom came to visit. He didn't like how much I was texting my cousins or friends, so he would go through my phone. He would find months old text messages that weren't to him or about him, but he didn't like the content and he'd pick a fight. It would be late at night and he would threaten to leave and start the ten hour drive home. I'd beg him to stay or at least wait till morning because I couldn't bear the guilt if something happened and he fell asleep at the wheel.

Tom had a background in the military and law enforcement. He was in great shape and I found him extremely sexy. But that also meant that when he was angry, I knew full well how strong he was. The training he had. Not only did he have a physical advantage, he was a trained interrogator. I never stood a chance in these fights.

One evening we were in my bedroom arguing. Tom got right in my face. I burst into tears. He kept going with his barrage. I asked him to please stop. Please let's take 20 minutes and calm down. Please stop, I'm scared of you right now. He backed away but kept talking and telling me I had no reason to be afraid. That he'd never hurt me.

And he never hurt my physically. But he left scars with his words. I'll never be able to un-hear him tell me, "No man in his right mind would ever stay with you." and "You're so messed up its not even funny." He said sorry later. He said sorry lots of times. But the words ate at me.

When he met my parents, he was weird and standoffish with my dad. He was kind and respectful to my mom but then told me and her different versions of the same story, trying to drive a wedge between us. I tried to defend him to my parents and had a blowup fight with them.

A week or so later, I told Tom we needed to take a break. I wanted to slowly fade away. I knew I couldn't be in this relationship anymore but I was to scared to tell him that. I mailed him all the stuff he left at my house. I wrote a letter thanking him for all the good times, the things he'd taught me, thanked him for loving me.

He mailed me my key and a sheet of paper where he detailed how awful I was.

Even with the hate mail and everything else, all the negativity between us, I couldn't quit him cold turkey. I'd text every few days. Tom would be sweet, would ask me to remember how good things were at the beginning, would ask how we ever got so mixed up.

And that's where we lingered for months. In this weird state where I wanted to be friendly. I missed him. Tom really had been there for me and been my best friend for months. But a romantic relationship with him scared me. My friends tried to warn me, "Tom's emotionally abusing you. Would you want your Kiddo around when Tom gets angry? What would you say if Kiddo was in a relationship like this?" And they were right.

But I couldn't stay away. Tom had some weird hold over me. No matter how much I tried to remember that he made me feel like a prisoner, that he was cruel with his words, that he was petty when we fought, I asked Tom to take me back. And he did.

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