A1 and A2 both used to try and bait me. A2 did it more though. One of A2’s signature moves was to say something he knew would upset me, like accusing me of cheating  on him or “you’re not raising our son, I am.” Yes, he would say that to me often. I worked 35+ hours a week and went to school 24 hours a week while he sat at home on the couch and “raised” our son. I came home from work or school and cooked dinner and cleaned the house, but he was “raising” our son. I took our son to all of his doctor’s appointments because A2 refused to drive. He will rant and rave that it’s because he didn’t have a car. But, he had the chance to get a car. He got a $5,000 settlement from BP because of the oil spill (he worked at a restaurant on the water and business slowed afterward). I offered to let him use the $5,000 down and finance a bit so he could get a nicer car since we were expecting a baby. I was willing to make that extra car payment to ensure my son would be driven around in a safer car. He blew his $5,000 on movies, comic books, and t-shirts. When I had my Honda he couldn’t drive it because it was a manual. When I got a new-to-me car after I finished school and got the job I have now, he refused to drive my car for … reasons. Reasons unclear to me. I made sure to get an automatic FOR HIM. Yet, he refused to drive me to work so he could keep the car and get around. Then he’d complain that he never got out of the house and blamed me for not taking him anywhere. This also meant I had to do all the grocery shopping and anything else that required driving. But, he made it abundantly clear that even though I made all the money, paid all the bills, bought everything we needed for the house, did all the cooking, split all of the cleaning with my eldest, and ran all of the errands, that he and he alone was raising our son.

Oh, and the accusations! When I was late coming home from work, for any reason at all, I was cheating on him. When I worked retail I was a supervisor. I HAD to stay after the store was closed when I working the closing shift. Anyone in the history of ever who has ever worked retail knows that your shift doesn’t end when you lock the door. Heck, even when I opened the store I usually had to stay past my shift. The only time I ever got out of there on time is when I was still in school and I had classes two days a week. Even then I didn’t always get out on time. We used to joke at work that if you were a supervisor and you didn’t have overtime, then you weren’t doing your job right. When I closed I’d get texts at 10pm telling me I needed to get home because the mall closed at 9. I worked in an anchor store, we closed at 9:30 or 10 sometimes. We didn’t close when the mall closed. Christmas was even worse. God forbid I get home past midnight. It was to the point where if I was already on my way home when he text me, I would lie about where I was. Yes, he would ask exactly which part of the road I was on. I usually told him about 2 or 3 lights north of where I was. With the job I have now, my hours are 8-5. I work in a busy doctor’s office, primary care. If someone comes in at 4:15 saying they need to be seen because they are sick or just fell, we are going to see that person. Sometimes we see between 30 and 40 patients a day. One doctor, just one. He takes his time with every patient and if someone needs 45 minutes in the room with him, he will give them 45 minutes in the room. So, no, I don’t always get out of work at 5. It NEVER failed. At 5:10 I was getting a text asking me where I was. “At work” was never a good enough answer. “Where are you REALLY?” was a common response. This was my life. This was normal for me.

There were other things A2 would say to purposely get a rise out of me, but these were the most prominent two. He knew they would upset me, and then when I did get upset he’d tell me I shouldn’t be. He’d tell me he was just telling me how he feels or just asking me a question. He “didn’t mean any harm” and I “shouldn’t take it the wrong way.” When I would actually get angry instead of just upset, which a lot of times I think he was actually gunning for, he’d tell me I shouldn’t start fights. It was all my fault, he was the victim after all. Sometimes I’d give him smart ass answers. “Are you sure you’re not doing anything you’re not supposed to be doing?” he’d ask. I’d respond with something like “I mean, I sucked a few cocks at work, but I can pay the electric now so win/win.” Other times I’d just resort to the one word answers. “Where are you?” “Work.” “Are you lying?” “No.” Either way, it didn’t matter. If I got upset then I must be hiding something. If my answer wasn’t long enough, then I must be hiding something. No matter what he would always play the victim and ALWAYS invalidate my feelings. At one point I actually started to think I was a bad mother. I actually started to question my parenting! Something that people always tell me I am a rock star at. Something that people always praise me on. I questioned it.

It’s still hard to listen to those people. It’s still hard to believe them. I still have to remind myself on a daily basis that I’m not a failure or a shitty parent. It’s still hard.

I still have trouble answering normal questions too sometimes. My boyfriend will ask me sometimes where I am and I’ll panic. In my head I know he’s just gauging how far away from his house I am. He’s only ever asked me when I have plans with him. It’s a legit question, but I sometimes I panic. Why is he asking? What does it matter? What does he think I’m doing? I don’t do it all the time, and it’s getting to be less often, but it still happens. It’s still hard.

IT’S STILL HARD.

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