Regrets, giving my life away

There are points of these types of relationships, when you do have the ability to get out. Women with strong support systems and a solid sense of boundaries are more likely to see those little red flags. You tend to slide in, as opposed to choose. Its a series of small compromises that slowly erode your boundaries and comfort zone. You slowly begin to accept unacceptable behaviour.

Not getting into these situation in the first place is the best way to solution. But, that isn't as simple as it might seem. Early in these relationships, men like my ex-husband are charming, thoughtful and considerate. Its important to realize, they know exactly what they are doing. They know if they show you who they are up front you will not stick around. In a way, you choose the abusive relationship. But you thought you were choosing a kind loving man, you didn't know it was a trap. Those little signs, or red flags turn out to be critically important. Recognizing that the relationship I had been in, was not what I thought it was, I was tricked. Its a bitter pill to swallow. Like watching a in a horror movie "NO dont go into that room!!!" Part of the grief I felt at the end was the disappointment of not taking this more seriously. Of giving up my own autonomy and future dreams with so little consideration. I had to deal with my anger at myself for not bolting when I had the chance. Not listening to the warnings I had received from friends. Forgiving myself was also part of the process of coming to terms with what had happened. This part has not been easy.

Our story starts when I was 21 years old. I had just completed my first year of university. I was figuring my life out and I was doing well. Exactly where I had planned to be at this point of my life. It was an exciting but extremely challenging time for me. I struggled a lot, I didn't have much money or support but I was determined I was going to get a degree. He was 28, and had already had a family, one biological son and a step-daughter. I had met him when I was working for the summer at a gold mine in Northern Ontario. When I first met him, I was absolutely not looking for a relationship. Interestingly, I find myself in that same mindset now, luckily I am getting another chance. I wanted to have fun and date different people explore my options. This was one of the things on my list of life goals. Exploring people and places.

When I met him, I had told him I was fine with seeing him but when I returned to Ottawa I would be looking to date others. He told me, of course, he completely understood agreeing with my conditions, he understood where I was at in my life. I remember the slightly sideways smile he gave me at the time, now I know that smile an indication of lying. With this stipulation, I agreed to keep seeing him. A few months later, I did meet another man I wanted to date. I told him, ok as I told you before I am going to date other people. At this point he pulled a bait and switch. "Well, if you do that you will never see me again". That was gut wrenching for me. I thought we had a deal, and it was on that basis I agreed to keep seeing him. Had I known he would pull this, I never would have allowed myself to get so involved. But by this point I was in too deep, and I wasn't sure I would find anyone else so wonderful. Later he would admit to me that he never intended to be ok with me dating others, agreeing to that stipulation was intended to buy time so that he get his hooks in nice and solid. Unfortunately it worked.

In my mind, I thought I would date around, but I was pretty sure I would go back to him. I thought he was a good thing. But he was giving me an ultimatum, so I decided to forgo dating others and found myself unintentionally in a committed relationship. Now I think the fact that he deceived me, and also gave me an ultimatum should have been warning signs. If someone is truly wonderful they will give you time to be sure of your decision. Because if they love you, if it takes someone else to make you happy then they will support you in that. Unfortunately when you think you are in love, you ignore this little things. The feeling of being denied the opportunity to make a fully informed choice was something that burned me for years.

I think he knew that if I started dating others I may realize he was not really that much of a prize. I might get perspective and see what was happening. He had to keep me close so he could have maximum influence. The risk was high that I would find a better option, in retrospect it was inevitable. Any of the other options likely would have been better. But, I thought I had found a gem, and I didn't want to risk losing him forever. But I did make my choice, it wasn't long before I would know it was the wrong one. Often I wonder, if I had truly left him at any one of these decisions points, what would I think of him now. I never would have known those little signs really were markers of something far more serious and troubling. I probably would be looking back at him as the one that got away. He did truly seem like the ultimate catch, if you ignored the way he treated his former family, and the odd jealousy flare up. I chalked that up to him just having a bit of bad luck and getting caught in a bad experience. I didn't see him for what he was, a psychological abuser setting bait out for a trap.

He was still living in Northern Ontario during this time, and on his weeks off he would travel down to see me spending the week in my dorm room. His constant presence did not give me much time to meet other people, and I also made a point of no getting to know my floor mates as I was not supposed to have someone there so often. I didn't want them to notice. So I kept to myself, unfortunately putting myself in isolation. He told me about how his ex-girlfriend was completely crazy, and insanely jealous. I remember the other guys at the mine, telling him "she called her again last night". Insinuating that she was making a pest of herself, and never stopped harassing him. To be honest, this did make her look crazy at the time. I had never had children, or even a very serious relationship at this point, so I didn't understand about the issues around the child. I hadn't met her, or even seen her, so I had no first hand knowledge. This all stirred up empathy from me. This poor sweet man, what he has been though. His heart was broken. He made it seem like I was his opportunity at a happy life, and he was feeling hope again. It pulled at my heart strings that I might hurt him further by moving on to pursue the life path I had planned for myself.

He told me that I had to keep everything on the down low so she wouldn't know about me. He was negotiating a child support agreement and he told me she would lose it if she knew he was dating someone. He followed this up with an example of how she had chased away a previous girlfriend by harassing her non-stop. He told me to never talk to her because she was so manipulative and she would manipulate me into believing her lies. So I was at the start of my university career. He started telling me about how sad he was that he couldn't see his son. He told me how much he missed him and he was sad that he had to lose him. He made it clear that it was impossible to maintain that relationship, as dealing with the mother was impossible. He wanted to have children. This was definitely not part of my plan.

I had not wanted to have children until I was at least thirty. But he said he didn't want to be parenting kids when he was 60. (oh the irony here, in the end he is still parenting young kids, so my sacrifice was for nothing) He already had a 6 year old son. He wanted a child he could raise, and he wanted a family. He had told me he had wanted children right away. I was at that time just starting my third year of university. I had all these plans, having a child would derail all that. But he looked, so sad and dejected. His poor little heart was breaking. He also told me that travelling the world for a year was for losers. You were supposed to be working and building a home for yourself and your family. (Years later when I reminded him of this, he completely denied ever saying it). This was no doubt a critical moment for me. There I was at the time, I had the world by the tail. I was in the position where I could do what ever I wanted to do. Along comes a good looking smooth talker with a sad story, and what did I do? I immediately dropped all my own hopes and dreams to give him his. Would it really have killed him to wait a couple years to have kids. No! But did it almost kill me to have kids in the middle of university? Absolutely. He wasn't even there full time, he was working one week in the remote camp and one week off. Seriously, what the hell was I thinking? But when you think you have found a gem, what do you do, you hang on to it. Sitting here now, I know I made a million mistakes. I did not stay true to myself, I gave up on my own dreams and ambitions almost with out a thought. I let myself get swept away. I disregarded the warning signs. By the time I knew I had made a mistake, there was no way out. I was trapped. There were small little indicators of what was to come in those early days. All of which I completely ignored. He made me feel like I was a princess. I was the only girl for him, he had never experienced love like this before blah blah blah blah. He made me feel special, he was so incredibly romantic. He brought flowers, made me breakfast. Everyone around us thought I had found a treasure. I thought I had found a treasure. It was easy to overlook those little signs of jealousy, and the biggest signs, the way he had treated his first family. He basically completely abandoned his first born son. Some how I justified this. It was because his ex was a nut job I told myself. After all, look at everything she was doing? Calling non-stop, even going so far as calling my mother and writing pitiful letters to his grandmother. She made it easy to believe she was the problem. Was she really? Obviously not. So early on he was successful in steering me away from my own life path and settling down on his. The first step was getting us living together, then of course strapping me down with children. He was relentless about wanting kids and NOW. I never looked at it objectively, why would someone what to have kids while their partner was in university. It compromised our options and made everything so much more difficult. He portrayed it like time was running out, which of course for him it was. He had to get me saddled down with kids before I realized he was wearing a mask, and could escape. He had found a good victim and he wasn't going to let me go easily.

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