Starting the sum-up (I was dumped for not being a Model Rape Survivor the minute I wasn't exclusively helping Michael with his needs and had a bad day myself; also, was lied to kinda a lot) and with some bullet points:
* Yes, I was supposed to fly out next week to stay with them the entire month of February; Lynne forbade that during her episode to be detailed later.
* The first big piece of news that was going to be announced was that we were allegedly starting a magazine together. The Kickstarter was supposed to start right about now.
* The second was that they were allegedly moving to Boston to live with us. Lynne allegedly applied for jobs, and they told friends. All of this is externally verifiable.
So I've been left very screwed careerwise and financially, but my focus here will be on the emotional stuff, since that's why I had to write it. Since last week I found myself saying "we have to have a story for why Michael's not here at Arisia, because people will ask, and if I tell the whole truth she will look really bad and I don't want people to hate her," and yeah, that's the Judah script. Well then. The Judah script's gotten a lot of play over the last few weeks.
When everything first went down with Judah, Michael was so there for me. I will always be grateful for that. He helped me find my way back to myself, he helped me with so many things emotionally, and I would not be where I am now if not for him. That straight up front. I regret nothing of our relationship except the last few weeks.
But during that difficult time, June and July in particular, I did have doubts. I felt like I couldn't trust myself, after Judah. Michael showered me so intensely with affection and devotion, just like Judah had. Could I trust that he was not the same? I decided to. I committed myself wholeheartedly. And there was a lot of joy.
But there was another side to things. Michael is open about his anxiety and depression; I will not be outing anybody's anything here or in the future. His anxiety meant that he often - for often, read almost-daily - has brain weasels that cause him to mentally spiral. When that happens, he needs hours of reassurance that he is still loved, that his brain weasels are wrong, et cetera.
So when he told me during the breakup that he had given up so much time to be there for me, I was like Wait. During June and July, little bit of August, yes. But you demanded four-hour phone calls from me almost daily for *your* stuff.
Which I did not begrudge him. I am a caregiver by nature. I derive joy from service. But that was one of the first examples of him building a false, twisted narrative to justify their actions. Which is why this post.
This post is because I refuse to be cast as a villain in someone else's twisted narrative. There are no villains here, just people. One of whom owns her behavior, the other two who don't.
So yes, rewind to before the breakup where I was accused of demanding all of his time when it was vice versa, where I was accused of making it all about myself when I flew out to Chicago at my own considerable expense to help him care for Caitlin when Lynne was in Spain and was going to give up an entire month of my life to help with her post-surgery, when I sacrificed my writing career and many other things to be his constant emotional support.
And this is the stuff that becomes a chapter in the "recovering from DV" book. That you can be so lost at sea and grateful for any assistance that you can find yourself locked into a sick system. Because you want to believe. You want to trust yourself again. Your future was yanked away, and here are people offering you a beautiful future.
So what ended it was this. I, who'd been doing really well in the aftermath of Judah, thanks in no small part to Michael but dammit I was doing the work too, had a bad day. Saturday, January 4. It was a bunch of buttons that all got hit at the same time that stemmed from a particular behavior Michael has that we'd only pinpointed that day:
a) Michael and Lynne don't say they're angry until it's been festering for weeks at least.
b) When I'm angry or upset, I say so right away, because stuffing it down is super-toxic for me, plus I don't like being angry! and want situations fixed as soon as possible.
c) Michael had been assuming I was angry over delays in the magazine planning, when I wasn't. He'd said Lynne needed some more time post-Apex to let her brain grow back. I said okay. He inexplicably interpreted this as me being angry and not telling him (total projection) and started treating all discussions about the magazine with hesitancy, fear, and dread. He had been assuming a baseline level of anger that just wasn't there, and never asked.
d) Remember how this whole relationship started because he paused for a split second when he met me? Yeah, so I could tell he was hiding something. Which he swore he wasn't. So the only fights we had were over the damn magazine, and specifically because I could tell something weird was going on and he kept telling me nothing was.
So a magazine thing went sideways, and there was frustrated yelling, and neither of us slept well that night and were tired all Sunday.
And on Monday? Not just buttons got pushed. All the same buttons got pushed, and an associated bunch of Judah-behaviors seemed to be happening. I asked to not continue the conversation, citing anger, exhaustion, bad pain day, and that if we continued I was pretty sure it wouldn't go well. They refused me space and forced me into the big button-pushy stuff.
So I got triggered.
If you know anything about triggers (Lynne claimed to, but doesn't), you know that the triggered brain is not itself. The triggered brain throws up walls. Walls with big acid-dripping spikes on them. For a while on Monday, I could not parse whether the Judah-behaviors Michael was doing were intentional or not. I wanted to believe in him, but so many at once, and then the equivalent of not letting me leave the room - my brain was terrified. Terrified that I was letting someone else in who would be another Judah.
We talked late into the night and got to a good stopping place. I was eventually able to sleep. The next day I had the big scary dentist thing and Nicky's surgery; Michael texted me supportively during those, and I thought we were getting to a place of recovery. I was working on dismantling the mental pathway that led to that trigger (which later conversations proved that I had done successfully).
And that night, Lynne called to dump me. With extreme prejudice. Because I had hurt Michael, and she had to protect him. And her version of protecting him was to cut him off from the main emotional support that had gotten him through 2013. The one friend I spoke to about this summed it up as "She's choosing physically-present Michael over healthy Michael." Yes. And that would have been painful enough, just breaking up with Lynne. She accused me of never caring for her, which is not true; their ideal was that all three of us would fall in love. I did not fall in love with her like I had with Michael. But I did love her.
That would have been painful enough. But she'd read through all of Michael's and my texts, chats, and e-mails. And she mined them for weapons. She spent two hours on the phone growing increasingly more verbally abusive in attempts to make me believe that Michael wanted me dead and gone, that he never wanted to see or speak to me again. She used phrases that were meant to trigger me, then asked if I was triggered yet. She told me she'd never liked me, even when she was fucking me, just for a sample.
So I spent that Wednesday in bed. Actively suicidal for the first non-seizure-med-induced time since Adam and I broke up in 2002. Deliberately pushed there for the first time since I was a teenager. (You can see my brainweirdness on Twitter; also, the post-adrenaline-crash shakes I mentioned were due to the call from Lynne.)
Finally, that night, Michael called. He still loved me. He never wanted me dead. Lynne had tried to dump me for the both of them, but he loved me too much, and he would not accede to her demands. He wanted to be with me. He couldn't see me because she controlled him financially, he said, she could keep him from doing anything she didn't want him to do, but he loved me. We'd find a way. Trust would need to be earned back.
I said yes. Because I thought he meant trust would need to be earned back both ways.
Later conversations would prove that I was incorrect to assume this. "I know Cait's surgery is coming up," I said during a later conversation, "So I am not going to press now, but I need to know that at some point she'll be held accountable for her actions and her behavior."
And he said, flat out, "no."
Which set me back on my heels, because WTF. But I let it slide for then, because Cait's surgery was/is coming up. I followed Lynne's list of demands to the letter - almost no communication with Michael, especially not when she was home. Reduced contact on social media. I stopped communicating with her altogether, then unfollowed her on Twitter because some of the things she was tweeting sounded unpleasantly like gloating. Michael and I tried to focus our limited time on trivial things, with varied success. He was distant and weird at me; I knew something was up, but he lied. For weeks, he lied. And I knew. (I lost five pounds due to stress nausea.) I told him "this feels like the slowest, most excruciating breakup ever." He swore he wasn't breaking up with me. Before Arisia, I said "If you decide this weekend that you're breaking up with me, promise you'll tell me immediately. Don't let me go through this weekend thinking we're okay if we're not." He promised.
He lied. He dumped me Monday night, a few scant hours post-Arisia. Said he'd been making the decision for two weeks. Said it was because I was making Lynne a villain - which I was not; as I said above, there are no villains here. I only want everyone to be held accountable for their own actions, as I hold myself accountable for mine. Said I couldn't let it go, what she'd done - which he believed was just a calm and simple breakup call. He never believed that she'd slung the vitriol that she had, even though he did claim to believe that she'd said and done everything she could to push me away - I don't know how he holds those opposing thoughts in his mind at the same time, but okay. And he flipped all of his scripts on me, projecting like a mofo. Michael, who'd spent the last year telling me how much he admired my capacity to grow and change and become a better person over the years, was telling me I was broken and damaged and needed professional help. Michael, who required at times ten hours of conversation a day to keep himself level and non-suicidal, told me that *my* needs had kept him from *his* work. Et cetera. If it applied to him, he was sticking it on me. And it is worthy of note that he was not doing this in his own words. This was a script Lynne had clearly written, clearly being read off a page or computer screen.
And I was still fighting to keep the relationship. Because I wanted that fantasy future. Because I knew that at least part of this was happening because Cait's surgery is a big scary thing, and even if I couldn't be there to help (which Lynne forebade), I wanted to wait til they came out the other side and could think rationally again. I begged. I pled. He hung up on me.
I slept on it.
I slept on it, and yesterday I tabulated all the red flags. I looked at all the times I had to swallow shit I shouldn't have had to. I look at those four- and five-hour phone calls - which is also why I haven't been writing here, and part of why I haven't been writing at all. This relationship helped in the beginning, and then it was the thing that ate my life. I barely read. I stayed home from parties because they caused fights, expect when I made myself go anyway because I realized that that sounded like Judah-ish controlling behavior and *even if it wasn't*, I had to take care of myself.
Turns out that taking care of myself was a big problem. That any time I put my self-care in front of their needs, whether to reschedule a trip to have more time with my daughter pre-college or to go to a party when he didn't want me to, that was a big problem. Despite him getting all my time and emotional spoons, despite me giving up months of my life to help them, I was the selfish one placing demands on them.
I got dumped the minute I had a normal emotional reaction to emerging from years of emotional abuse. The very minute I shifted temporarily into accidentally hurting Michael instead of constantly helping him.
That was what I was worth.
I'm writing this up because silence on topics like this does horrible things to me, and because it'll explain a lot to people who've wondered, and because he's already told me what their story is and it's nothing even vaguely approximating the truth. So here's the truth.
I gave a year of my life to them. Yes, Michael helped me too, very much, but it had long since shaded into me being okay and him needing everything he'll claim I needed. I gave that year willingly, spoon-draining as it was. I loved them. I wanted to help. I wanted them to move here as they'd promised. Adam and I wanted to help with Caitlin and take some of the pressure off them, and honestly, yes, we were counting on getting our onerous rent cut in half (and passed up opportunities because we believed their promises).
We had so much joy together; the joy made up for the red flags, for all the personal rules I'd broken to be in the relationship (don't date anyone new to poly, don't date long-distance, don't date anyone in my profession, etc.). But at the end, all of that joy was outweighed by one bad day. I apologized for that bad day. I groveled. I fixed the pathway, dismantled the trigger. But it wasn't enough. Because Lynne had never wanted me, she said. She'd been waiting to push me out and push me down.
Yesterday I spent in con-crash mode and actually getting to read and knit and thinking about the relationship, about fighting for it because obviously at least some of this is stress-induced, about the fact that I was being flat-out told that I would always be bad and wrong simply because she was his wife and his breadwinner and the generator of Caitlin's health insurance. I looked at the possibility of years of abuse from Lynne whenever she felt like it, followed by demands from Michael that I drop it, that I not ask to be treated as a person or with respect. I looked at how swiftly they turned the minute I was not the Model Rape Survivor.
And I let it go.
I loved Lynne. I still love Michael, even with this. I love Caitlin. I hope that the surgery goes without a hitch. I hope that, after this immediate crisis, they get the help that they need.
I want them to get better. I have hopes that, one day, after Michael owns his shit and works on himself, we can be friends again. Because he was my best friend. And it hurts to lose that. But as I said in my last e-mail, the Michael of three weeks and more ago was my best friend. I don't know this guy who's saying and doing these things. I don't like him. I hope he goes away.
I hope he gets better.
Today, Adam's home because of snow.
Tomorrow is the first day I'll truly have to myself since 2011.
I hope to write.