Here we were, two months into being newlyweds and everything had seemingly fallen apart. Talk about failure. Talk about feelings of shame and being unlovable. No one really seemed to understand or care what I was going through. I understand now that … what could anyone say to make things better?
Matt and I went through an on and off period, with me trying and getting scared away, that went on for a couple weeks. During that time, I let it slip that I was going to Chicago to visit a friend. A guy friend. Unbeknownst to me, I was still logged into Matt’s laptop in my email. So he goes in and buys a ticket for Chicago as close as he can get to my booked flight. It was during a definitely off period. He refused to not go and threatened if I left with anyone else from O’Hare I would regret it. I saw on facebook that morning that he checked in at the airport. I was texting friends and seeing if they knew he was actually going. Who would go across the country to stop someone from being with someone else? I don’t know maybe it's more common than you’d think? But it’s still a lot of money just to be a jerk. Before my flight took off I text my friend and let him know that things had changed and my ex was in Chicago waiting for me and it wasn’t safe for him to come. This guy seemed pissed and like I was being super shady but I really didn’t know how to explain it. I didn’t want him to get hurt over me.
I was in a real pickle because I had only booked a hotel for one night in Chicago but was going to Milwaukee the next day with this guy. So now… I would have to stay with Matt. Who also knew my booking dilemma from looking at my emails. When he was waiting at my terminal, I tried to play it off like I was excited he was there to meet me and this wasn’t a horrific situation. On the train to downtown, things seemed okay. Matt was slightly drunk from waiting on me at the airport. Pretty quickly, as usual, he went straight into his verbal abuse and blaming me for everything. An example would be that he wouldn’t choose a restaurant and would be nice and ask me to pick. Then after eating he would complain and throw a fit and tell me how stupid I was for picking this place and walk out and leave me with the bill. Or when we went site seeing and he yelled at me for making him walk too much and made me rub his feet for an hour.
Once he fell asleep that afternoon, I left to the hotel gym and went for a run. Within ten minutes, my phone is blowing up with him accusing me of cheating on him and telling him I had to send him pictures immediately. He started calling his friends and telling them how awful I was and that I was there to meet another man and he had to stop me. All in front of me. Making me listen to him embarrass me. Then he pressured me into having sex with him. I was scared of what would happen if I didn’t. Then I went to take a shower and just cried and thought about killing myself. I felt ashamed to look myself in the mirror anymore. I hated that I let this happen again.
The day we were leaving, Matt couldn’t get a flight closer than 12 hours to mine so he had to leave first. He cried on the floor of the hotel room saying I was going to leave him for what he did to me during this trip and he couldn’t leave me here. That he’d never see me again. He insisted that he should take my car keys so that he’d know he’d see me again. I agreed because I wasn’t in a position to say otherwise. Immediately after he got on the train to head back to the airport the hateful name calling text started back up that I was such a whore and I was lucky he even came to Chicago and he was broke and it’s all my fault. He wanted to continue to break me down even when he wasn’t there. Finally I turned my phone off. I had anxiety about him having my keys but… I was pissed at myself for not standing up to him. I was at least passive aggressively standing up for myself by shutting it off.
The rest of the trip, I sat in a park reading ‘On the Road’ and thanking God he was gone. After him taunting me on the way home that he now owned my car because we were married and he might not even pick me up. I just played nice and apologized. He made me stay at his house for a couple days. It would make me feel gross just waking up in that bed. It feels like a hostage situation. You can’t leave and let him know you're leaving. You have to wait until everything seems fine. You're just going to the store or for cigarettes or anything. You can’t take anything with you. Then when things are okay you rationalize that you shouldn’t leave because you have nowhere to go anyways and you haven’t even been outside in days and your anxiety is just so much that ...you just get so beat down.
Against better judgement, I took the bait to go to marriage counseling with Matt. Even the counselor, who asked to see me for a session alone, told me I should get away from him at all costs. That his erratic behavior and expectations for me were severely unrealistic and dangerous. Hearing that so quickly and factually from a third party when…. Most everyone loved Matt. All my friends thought he was the greatest guy. When I’d tell them the things he’d done, they would just shrug it off. Or like that was reasonable treatment for a person like myself. Which kind of made me start hating everyone around me and shut down more. That counselor though helped me come up with a game plan to leave while he was at work and go to my mom’s house even if she didn’t understand or want me there.
And for probably six months it worked… pretty well. Until one day at brunch.