Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
In the days following the homecoming I began to see a little bit of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from my Myspace Mistake.
For example, he went to work to check in, they have to reintegrate before they can take leave, and he was using my car and Lori and I used her car to take the kids wherever they needed to go. There were a few things wrong with the truck so when just running to the base, he just took mine. One day he brought me home flowers, we headed over to my parents house where he won them over in a minute, and then I watched him interact with my autistic son. He truly was everything I had hoped for, but on the last day of reintegration when he returned from work, he wanted to take me out for a ride in the truck. We were headed over near boot hill where there was a specialty shop that did work on the truck. He was full of praise and gushing over how amazing I was to anyone who would listen, he wasn’t afraid of PDA, he would dip me on the side of the street and kiss me whenever the mood struck him, he was more than I had hoped for and everything I needed, so you can imagine my surprise when we were driving down College Street in front of this little diner in this huge truck and he slams on the brakes.
“What?” I asked thinking something was wrong with the truck, wondering if something had happened, but when I looked at him he was looking in the rearview mirror. He put the truck in reverse and revved the engine. Letting the stacks fill the air with smoke, “What are you doing?” I question as I try not to panic. I was doing every therapeutic tool I had been taught not to let my PTSD win and keep him talking.
“It would be so simple,” he stated with no emotion. “I could drive through the building. No one would fault me, they would say its PTSD or blame the war. They probably wouldn’t even arrest me.”
“What are you talking about?” I plead as I reach for the door handle.
“She’s in there.”
“Who?” I ask begging not to hear whose name I think I am going to hear. I had already been told to stay away from the Bowling Alley on base as his first wife worked there. The one time I tried to go see her you could have put a football field between us. She wanted nothing to do with me, and even ran out of the building to get away when I hadn’t even said a word. I thought that was who he was going to mention, but instead it was the other one. The one he claimed cheated on him.
“Anita, she works there.”
My heart sunk, my panic hit new levels of this guy is crazy, and I wanted to get out, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t let him throw his life away. I couldn’t walk away when he obviously needed someone the most. He was so consumed with this anger that it was going to take his life from him the same way the fear of violence had tried to steal mine.
“She lost,” my voice shook as I gripped the door handle. “She lost the best person that she could have had,” I got no response. “You have me and I have you. We have everything together. I am here in this truck with you, I am in this relationship with you and I am not going anywhere, so if you are going to do this you risk hurting us all.” Still no response. “You are sitting in this truck with someone who loves you, she’s inside working for tips with no one loving her. She lost you when you are the best person in the world, she will never have the best again. She messed up, but in that she gave you a fresh start to be happy. But, if you do this, you won’t have me, and she won’t be around to see that you won.”
He looked over at me with rage in his eyes.
“Don’t let her win, don’t let what she did cost you me, your freedom, your career, and possibly our lives. She’s not worth it, and we both deserve better than watching you throw it all away over her.” I pleaded, and soon he put the truck back in drive and we drove back to the trailer. Neither of us said a word to each other the whole way back. We barely spoke to each other the rest of the night. We played with the kids, I made dinner, we watched a movie almost without a glance at each other. I didn’t know what to make of what happened, but it almost seemed like he was ashamed that I had been there, that I had seen that. We slept together that night and when it came time to actually sleep he pulled me close and whispered in my ear “I am so incredibly lucky that you found me. I love you.” I said nothing in response and just rubbed his arm that was wrapped around me. I barely slept at all that night.
This was a HUGE red flag
The next day we took him to the airport to go see his mom. Once he was on the plane I had Lori drive us back to the base so I could catch the Chaplain before he was gone on leave too. We got back and I sat down with him and told him what happened. I was scared that this amazing person I had gotten to know was a time bomb. The Chaplain assured me that this type of rage was typical when they first come home and that there was no real danger. He explained that the littlest things can set them off in a big way and that if you give them a moment they will see it for themselves that they are going too far. He told me it was never meant to hurt or scare me, that it was just how some deal with returning home. He promised he would talk to my guy over the phone and check in on him and when they came back they would sit down and he would see if he was still dealing with the sudden fits of anger, but he assured me that everyone in that diner would have been okay. My brain said this was not the simple PTSD they come home with, but I trusted the Chaplain and I loved my Myspace Mistake, so I put my faith in the Chaplain being able to help him where I had no idea how and I didn’t say another word about it.
“There is a big misconception that there is a difference between narcissistic abuse and domestic violence, they are actually the same. For example, your narcissist could be driving crazy, maybe swerving in and out of traffic, and your body went into Oh My God and your reflexes were deciding fight or flight, while your brain/mouth is questioning is he going to kill us/someone. How about if he throws things at you because you aren’t bending to his will, and your body and brain react the same. Inflicting that fear, that trauma whether with words or fists is domestic violence. Forcing you to react that way, to feel that way is and always will be a form of domestic violence…”Denise, K. LAN, 2021
The entire time he was at his moms house he was on the phone with me. His mom even pointed out that we were completely inseparable and she wanted time with him but couldn’t have it because he was always on the phone with me. I told him to go and spend some time with her that I would be there when he came home and he would always flirt and tell me that there was no one else in the world he would rather be talking to. By the end of that week, when I was getting ready for him to come home he mentioned how we should live in a place together that wasn’t so crowded. I told him that with the upcoming court date, the lack of retaliation from my ex since my Myspace Mistake had put him in his place, that we could move back into my house. It was paid for, we would just have to go home.
Keep in mind we are living in a three bedroom trailer, and his response to living in my home that had no mortgage was “It’s too small,” I expressed concern because it was 300 sq ft bigger than the trailer. It too was a 3 bedroom home with a large yard for the kids to play in. Then he said “I think we need something bigger.” We talked about it a lot and he sent me his credit reports when we talked of purchasing a home. I fixed his credit and got his score up, but not high enough. I went over his bank accounts of what was coming in and going out for the debt to income ratio. When I got into the nitty gritty of it I found out he was paying $300 a month on multiple porn sites. He had everything from Girl on girl to guy on guy to opposite sex to things like let’s see if this woman can fuck a flag pole. He had so much that I went through the history to see that even though he had me, he was still actively using this. This would turn out to be our first fight.
The First Fight
I absolutely loved seeing my Myspace Mistake getting off a plane, it was a reminiscent moment when I thought about that first time he came home and all he had done for me. I got to the airport three hours early just because I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss him, that we had parking, and that I would be able to see the plane pull up. When he exited the ramp it was everything. I ran and jumped into his arms, I hugged him tightly as he carried me into the airport. I kissed him deeply and madly. I was so excited to see him I would have f–ed him in the airport, but that’s not who he wanted to be so instead we waited till we got home.
The next day I called up my realtor and told her what we were thinking about and she sent me some houses to go see while she pulled his credit. We worked together with VA to set aside the hold they had on him with the first house foreclosing, and we began to look at homes. It was a lot of fun to go house shopping with him. I had construction experience and knew what to watch out for, he knew how to make each and every house fun. The days went on and I kept hearing that we needed to do this and that for him if we were going to get a shot at this. So, I did everything I could, but it wasn’t enough. I went to my parents and told them what was going on and asked for their help. They agreed, but it did give them some say in where we lived and they would take my house in return.
After doing some paperwork one day we looked at a house that I knew there was no way we could afford. Like I would need Hooker heels and Hollywood BLVD to afford it, but he wanted it. That night I sat down with him and told him I wasn’t going to live there and that it would be cheaper if we just stopped the shopping and moved into my house. He said no. He said “I always wanted a tri-level house,” I expressed concern that there was an issue affording something like that or even finding one. The ones he wanted are on the east coast and they were not where we lived. He said that his dad taught him that the value of you is in what you have and what you can show. This from the man who wouldn’t show up for his son’s homecoming and owns Porsche’s he barely drives. Nothing I said made a difference, his dad sat on a throne in my guys eyes and I was just some kind of concubine. He had always made me feel like I was everything to him and in this moment I felt less than nothing.
I confronted him about the porn charges and he claimed they were fraud, but the saved login info on my computer said that was a lie. He said he logged in to cancel it, but the revolving history also said this was a lie. He was sitting in his recliner across the room from me watching tv, playing with a 12 inch tent stake he had picked up somewhere on base or in his gear. I had finally had enough and because I felt safe with him I turned and explained I knew he was lying and I didn’t want to live with him in a house we couldn’t afford, I wanted to find something else or just go home, and that was final. If he got the house, he would be doing it without my parents help and he would be moving in alone. Then I walked through the bedroom door frame just in time to hear something hit the wall. I took a step back and there in the wall, just inches from my head, was a hole where he had thrown the tent stake at me. He was trying to bring me to heel. My PTSD flared, there wasn’t an arrow in my quiver to make it stop. I closed my eyes as I saw things that had happened to me before and put a hand on the doorframe and tried to stay standing. Tears beckoned me to open my eyes and let the tears go, but he wasn’t going to see me cry. He wasn’t going to know he got to me. I pulled myself together and I left. I took my kids things, I picked them up from the police department with my mom, and I stayed gone until around 2am when I couldn’t sleep without him. Before him I was good with sleeping alone, and now I couldn’t sleep without him. He hadn’t called, he hadn’t apologized, and yet something in me said I shouldn’t have provoked him. Maybe it was prior trauma, maybe it was the current trauma bonding cycle I was in where he would love me only to hurt me and then love me again to make it better. Giving me that dopamine and oxytocin flood and withdrawal that eventually causes brain damage that can be seen on an MRI.
“On average, it takes a victim seven times to leave before staying away for good. Exiting the relationship is most unsafe time for a victim. As the abuser senses that they’re losing power, they will often act in dangerous ways to regain control over their victim.”SevenTimes
I went back to him.
Today, I could tell you that I would never do it again, but I don’t know that that’s true. I don’t even know what it was that actually caused me to return, but that night I went back. I softly walked into his room and sat on a chair across from the bed. He opened his eyes and looked at me. No words spoken from his lips, just an emotionless mask on his face.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered as if him throwing the tent stake at me was my fault, I acted as if it was no big deal how much damage could have been done if he had thrown it just an inch or two to the left. He lifted the blanket and patted the bed to tell me to climb inside. Curled up next to him I still couldn’t sleep. I would have to be up in just a few hours to pick up my kids from my moms and take them to school, but more than that my head played a movie of past events, I began to question if prior trauma was bleeding into this relationship or if I was seeing things for how they were. He punished me though, because I had questioned his porn usage, called him an addict – He does have an addictive personality to cigarettes, pot, alcohol (when he allows himself), porn, and more – Because I had called him out on his lies revolving things in a sexual nature he told me he could no longer have sex on week nights because if he did he couldn’t get up for PT or he would be too tired and he would fail his PT tests. I wanted to call him out on this too, given the timing and the punishment I knew what he was doing, instead I would stay quiet and hope it would blow over, but instead it continued.
A month had gone by since our fight and we hadn’t had sex together since. Truthfully, I know it was a punishment, but there was something freeing about being with someone and not having to worry if your legs are shaved or not. I realized by the lack of, that I still had some issues revolving the past rapes so I started going to therapy. I called it a soft science, but it has its merits. A couple weeks go by and I am doing really good with therapy, my Myspace Mistake and I are getting along. and everything is coming up roses again. It was as if the fight never happened except for the lack of intimacy to prove what had happened. We had even found a house that we agreed upon. It wasn’t his tri-level, but it was a two story Cape Cod that we both loved at the end of a cul-de-sac where the kids could ride bikes. There was land we could play in too. He had allowed me to go in and cancel all his porn accounts, I told him whatever they can do for him I could do for him and he claimed he stopped watching. Now, here we were, things were so amazing again as we sat in the trailer, trying to decide if this was the one house above the rest.
As we talked about it I wanted to spoil him. I figured out really fast that when he is the center of attention and affection he mirrored it right back. I cleaned the bedroom and made the bed, I ran him a hot candle-lit bath, and made him climb in. I sat on the outside and ran a soapy washcloth across him. I made sure I covered every inch of him while he toyed with the buttons on my shirt.
“What are you doing?” I playfully laughed as he popped a button open.
“Getting a show.”
This was the first time he had any interest in anything remotely this playful or sexual since our fight so I went right along with him. He had three buttons undone by the time the washcloth decided to go down the happy trail and by the time I reached his manhood he pulled my arm and drug me into the bath with him. Still wearing clothes, water splash out of the tub and went everywhere but we didn’t care. It was fast, it was frenzied, it was passion built up, and once we were both naked I rode him to completion explaining how much I had missed this type of intimacy with him. He had taken me from a place of fear and showed me joy, and then he stripped it away just as fast for stepping out of line, and in this moment he was giving in back to me. From this day on, neither of us ever took a bath alone unless he was deployed or in the field. He would always be in the tub with me.
We spent the rest of the day going to the mall where he bought me a new outfit for the coming court date. Even got me new shoes too. He wanted me to have a fighting chance, even though my lawyer said this was nothing. My Myspace Mistake told me that he didn’t want to be without me or not be able to see the kids because I went to jail, so he also went and talked to my ex about dropping charges. I warned him that I could get in trouble and he told me that he did this on his own. That I would never take the fall for something he did, and that they only talked about the situation, there were no threats or even raised voices. It amazed me how he could go from being the guy who one night crunched apples in my ear to try and trigger a PTSD meltdown (it’s the sound) and then here he was trying to take care of me today. It was a lot like whiplash, but when he was good to me he was so incredibly good. He plastered photos of me all over his Myspace (and eventually FB). He would tell the world how proud he was of me, and I believed he was as long as I towed his company line.
One night, following a beautiful weekend with him, I looked over at him playing xbox while I was in front of the computer fixing his Myspace Page to have flames in the background. It was like we were this old married couple doing our own things, and still talking, still being together. In that moment, I could see him as my future. I’d been married before, but I never saw him the way I was seeing the guy in front of me. Out of nowhere the words escape my lips “Marry me?”
He paused his game and looks over at me, and says nothing. He’s waiting for me to repeat what I had just said, so I turned my chair to face him, took a deep breath and leaped off that cliff with both eyes open.
“I love you, I trust you with everything I have and everything I can give you. I love you more than I love myself some days. I love how you are with my kids, I adore how you hold my hand and aren’t scared to tell the world how you feel about me. I’ve never felt what I feel with you with anyone else, and I don’t want to feel it with anyone else. I want a life where you and I are doing the same thing we are doing now, but we do it with grandkids running through the house and we do it basked in aged love from being together the next 50 years. I want you across the room from me or by my side forever. Marry me.”
He took a deep breath, said no, and went back to his game. I finished what I was doing, walked into the bedroom, and cried. I had poured my heart out and he didn’t feel the same way.
The story continues here