Tearing at the Fabric

Of the space-time continuum


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No contact

I recall the long journey that ultimately culminated in me going no contact with my alcoholic, narcissistic brother.

I had absorbed decades of abuse from him.

All in the name of family loyalty. To honour my dead mother.

Once I decided, for sure, to go no contact, it got better.

I didn’t have to endure being called names, being put down, being used as a bank. Trying to be supportive to try to help him. I just said, no more. I can be civil if we need to be in the same place. But nothing more.

Tough love. I guess.

He has since had moments of begging to be in my life, always followed by verbal abuse when I don’t respond. Or in the one case where I did, to try to explain it was best for both of us, some very nasty, really immature name calling, trying to shame me into further contact. He’s used family members, friends, his partner…all to try to engage me. Guilt me into contact.

I have stayed stoic this time. It’s been years now. He was around a bit last year, as we dealt with our father’s ill health. We were civil. Until he wasn’t. Micromanaging me (the lead carer for the father.)

I have him blocked everywhere now. Opened communication via phone/text for that period. It was closed again when he abused me for leaving Dad at home one night for a couple of hours, him much recovered, curled up by the fire, with soup, toast and plenty of Wifi and TV access.

I blocked him again.

No contact is the most peaceful way of dealing with toxic people.

I read Don’t Lose Hope’s insightful post about trauma responses.

And whilst I didn’t fit the fawn response entirely (because I did ALL of them, fight, flight and freeze included) I did include a lot of fawning. A lot of puck me dancing. A lot of, look how fkn marvellous I am, Pick Me!!! It’s pathetic. I felt pathetic.

Last week, I looked back over my communications with Rog, during that period we lived together, while he was eating my cooking, wearing the clothes I bought and laundered for him, having sex with me, all while he was eating cake by doing the same with Trinket.

I was sweating reading the messages. Totally embarrassing. I knew I was being desperate and pathetic. But I was fawning all over him, hoping he’d wake up and see me! Ugh. I feel dirty even recalling it.

Shudder.

So not who I imagined I was! But I was desperate. Desperate to wait this whore out. Desperate not to lose “my man” whom I really, truly still loved completely, and all we had worked so hard together to achieve.

Desperate not to have “failed.”

My stomach is literally churning now, gutted at my needy grossness. The words I read – I can-but-can’t remember being that sad, sad, pathetic person. Your love leaving you for fresh meat does terrible things to your self esteem. To your values. It deconstructed my picture of who I am.

I am often asked if we are friends now. Now that our lives are divided. I’m told regularly that we were the couple that appeared to be such great mates. As well as very into each other.

Sadly, no.

No, we are not friends.

Neither will we ever be.

I have had to learn the hard way, friends don’t treat you like he did me. I was just collateral damage to his wants, needs, desires. He had to fuck me over to get to the wonderful Trinket. I have zero worth to him.

So why would I accept that in any friendship?

I don’t anymore.

I don’t accept it from the Switzerland friends. My abusive brother. Nor Roger, the man I still love, but know he doesn’t value me in any way whatsoever.

I got pushed too far.


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Never again

Well, one of the things I have learned is this.

I knew it needed to happen, before I could make it happen.

I was completely gutted I was this weak!

Surely you just get rid of those toxic people?!

Bizarrely, to most “normal,” “sane,” people, I discovered it was one of the most painful parts of losing my whole identity. My whole life.

It isn’t that easy!

But it is essential.


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Misplaced loyalty

My friend, T, talks about the fear after an affair, of them doing it again.

Oh. Hell. Yeah.

It fucks with your head. Is he changed? Am I wasting my youth on a toxic, secretive, STI bearing liar?

Hmmm.

Well, that worked out well for me, huh? Giving him another chance.

He just got better at lying. More secretive and cunning.

I rarely recommend staying, but hell, I had one of those rare unicorns, right? He loved only me, right? Just had slippery footing and kept falling into strange vag!

Poor dear. He needed more nurturing.

No. He needed to have been left the first time.

Or the second.

Et cetera.

I still can’t fully grasp why I didn’t let him – insist on – him packing his bag that night that Leanne told me they’d been fucking.

Especially when he tried to play it down to “once or twice.”

Over eighteen months? Gosh, lift your game, Leanne. Once or twice in that period was never going to get you that diamond ring you asked him for.

Or that wedding dress you bought, used.

Yeah. She asked him for a ring.

Yeah, she bought a wedding dress…

That was just them “having fun,” okay?

Imagine. Wasting thirty years…


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Fact

In supporting my brother, of course my own emotions and grief have been just below the surface.

No one else knows.

But I suspect BG is somewhat aware.

Last night, his sleep talking included lots of reaching for me and mumbles of, “where you going, bub?” He’s become very much more tactile.

And he hit me up about a comment I made last weekend, when we were having a serious, state of the nation chat. We don’t do a whole lot of that. But he reminded me that I said to him, “well, what if this is actually a thing? A real, deep, lasting thing? You’ve never had that before really, why me? Why now? At 54?”

He said, “you know what you said last weekend? It already is a thing, isn’t it? And I turn that around and ask you, why me? You could have anyone, why the first cab off the rank?”

I get his point, and he admitted to a lot of insecurity about me, last night.

He lies snoring beside me now, and he reaches for me constantly, his legs wrapped firmly around me.

He knows I still grieve. But also that I know that grief is for a toxic person who just kept hurting me.

And then, as we drifted off to sleep last night after walking home from his friends, Trevor and Sally’s holiday home – we’d been to the beach and gathered tuatua, and consumed several of Trevor’s excellent margaritas – BG walked, his arm around my shoulders, and, out of the blue, he said, “I’ll never let him hurt you again, babe. I’m so sorry he did.”

I just kissed him and said, “he’s gone. He replaced me with someone he loves more. He can’t hurt me anymore, darling. I’m okay. I accept it all, and made sure I did before letting you into my heart. I don’t want to hurt you either. You’ve had enough of that to last a lifetime, too.”

And we made urgent love in his kitchen.

Yes, Roger was toxic. Yes, he kept hurting me. Yes, I still feel ALL that pain. So yes, there is grief. Yes, I have to hide that grief, because it’s not allowed.

I think BG gets it. Both of us grieve for people who don’t ‘deserve’ our pain.

But, it just is, despite all the taboos about the disallowed grief. I can’t stop it, I’ve tried πŸ’”


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The end of the affair…I mean friendship!

I’m en route home after a glorious long weekend to celebrate birthdays with friends in the region Roger and I were seriously considering relocating to. We looked at a lot of homes and businesses there.

It’s been weird. Nice. But some super weird vibes too. High school nastiness seemed to creep out of some of my old friends. I was deeply uncomfortable about it all.

My former BFF has something weird going on in her life, and was leveraging off me to make herself feel better. Pretty disappointed, and yeah, a bit hurt. But I know not to take it personally. It’s her shit.

She is married to a man who is known to frequent brothels and strip clubs. He was arrested for assaulting her some years ago. A mutual friend contacted me a few months ago to let me know J had been assaulted again! We tried to stage an intervention, to support her. She is the Queen of Denial…and refused help. I know I tried. But you can lead a horse to water and all.

Because of her close friendship with Roger’s best mate’s wife, who has been particularly vile to me, I have kept my distance. J has no idea about the extent of the trauma I have lived through in recent years. Her thing the other night was to come to me, while I was having a lovely time with other friends, and totally bizarrely tell me that I need to move on and that she and T have the BEST marriage ever, he’s CHANGED.

WTAF?

I looked at her and really sweetly said, I’m so pleased for you, hun. And walked away. I have no idea what triggered that! My other old friend, Gemma, looked at me stunned and said, “what the actual FUCK was that about, you’re doing great!”

I was happy and fun. I never mentioned Roger, or what happened in my life. I honestly was blown away. Drunk J. I’m sure that is all it was. She found our old friend group were having a lovely time together, but they were actively avoiding her, so she had to put a knife in, to build her own insecure self up.

Later, she started in on Gemma, whose husband did not come, making lewd suggestions about how weird it was that he didn’t come, and that another, gay friend cancelled at the last minute. There have long been rumours about Gemma’s husband and this man. But, seriously inappropriate, and a way of changing the focus. Ick. So nasty.

Gemma reminded me that J was always very jealous of the totally lovely connection Norm and I had. She used to say, oh wow, you can see how much Rog loves Paula. They’re electric across a crowded room.

Yeah. We were. And J was always very envious. Gemma was too, with a difficult husband who loves to belittle her.

I felt so very sad for J. She came from very humble beginnings, and has built a life around trying to fit in with the more affluent crowd her abusive, cheating husband runs with. Ugh. Poor J. Her identity has changed so badly.

Luckily, Gemma, Phil and his gorgeous wife, Andrea were there, and could see how bizarre J was being. They whisked me away from her, and there was some real quality time with dear, sweet friends.

I think J and myself might not be at all salvageable now. She’s been back pedaling like crazy all night and day, sending me ‘cute’ messages. I dunno. It’s just so important to cull the toxic. Gemma, also a former friend of J’s, said she hadn’t realised how toxic and sad J had become.

I have created a lot of distance from her since Roger left, after she sent him a message congratulating him on his “new love” just days after he announced that he had “met someone else.” Gemma is (rightly) horrified at her disloyalty. Even Rog said to me, “look what your so-called mate sent me, what a bitch.”

Time to completely let her go…


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Home

The root of the vast majority of what went wrong in our once so very lovely love story is the issue of home. And a power imbalance.

I realised quite young that the concept of home had been disturbed for me. There is some truth to the way we used to speak of children of divorce, as coming from a ‘broken home.’ When my seemingly happily married parents divorced, like many, my ‘home’ – a dairy farm – was fairly quickly sold, and my home no longer had a physical base.

I have dreamed my whole life since then, of buying it back. I have never seriously entertained the thought, just a pipe dream, a silly little mental thing I have about the longing for our beautiful family home.

I grew up with white, middle class privilege. We were not wealthy, but we never went without. Mum and Dad built a glorious, two-storey home on a hill, with large grounds that my Mum – who never had a paid job after marriage – set about creating extensive gardens in.

We were just missing the white picket fence.

When I met Norm, he was just 23, and had owned his own farm for around 18 months. Could be seen, in hindsight, as pretty impressive really, for such a young man. It became clear, quickly, that this was a stepping stone he used to attain the equity required to buy his family farm off his parents. I saw our future there. Third generation farm, deep roots, a firm future visualised very clearly. That farm was always referred to as the HOME farm. When our eldest was a year old, we bought half of the family farm, built a new home there, and moved next door to his parents and his eldest sister and her husband and kids. Our honeymoon home and farm was sold not long after, and a few years after that, we bought the second half of what was incongruously called the family farm.

Calling it a family farm created difficulties. His sisters somehow equated that label with a type of ownership. I get it. They had a deep connection with that land. But no economic one. Both did well out of us buying it, with their own portions gained from that ensuring both owned valuable freehold properties in their early 30s.

When he unexpectedly bought a larger farm, half an hour away, 17 years later, I was thrown. Dreadfully. No warning he was thinking about change. Just, I’ve Bought A New Farm.

Hmmm.

I’ve Met Someone Else.

Anyone else see a pattern???

I was furiously trying to regain my feet! My kids were happy and settled in their schools and activities, and now, in just five short weeks, we had to pack up a farm, investigate schooling and bus routes, etc. This happened in the summer holidays, so the two younger ones did not get a chance to say goodbye to their teachers or classmates, or have the traditional small country school farewell. It was like they ghosted the school. Both Rog and myself were involved in the governance and support of the school, with him being on the Board of Trustees, and me being chair of the PTA, running hockey, ag day, and the reading recovery programme.

Then we were just gone.

So yes, my world was thrown into disarray, and I was mildly depressed as I tried to right it. I was commuting back to the home farm to milk as Rog started to sort out the chaos of the new farm – a deceased estate – which he had paid $2million over rateable value for! 😱😱😱

I had no say. I had been with him 20 years, we had a large mortgage, and I signed not one legal document when he bought the larger farm. 100% bridging finance. We still had to sell the home farm.

I was terrified.

I did the maths. It did not work financially, and I was deeply unhappy I was not included in family meetings, or the decision making process.

It was the first time I realised I had no power. Over my own life!

I realised that to ensure we ate and the kids’ school uniforms could be purchased, I needed an off farm job. So, once the herd was dried off and sold, I got one. My first paid job in 17 years!

That was the beginning of the end. Roger hated me not being there always. I started work in September. We reconnected with Leanne around November. He started the sexual part of his affair with her in early January.

And that was when my homes started to feel unsafe.

I find it quite fascinating that years later, without any intention to do so, I wrote a Masters thesis on the emotional geographies of home.

“After personal experiences – of witnessing my parents’ seemingly happy marriage end in divorce, those of friends and family, and more recently, my own intimate relationship challenge – my interest was piqued about the experiences of others regarding (changing) roles of space and place in this context” (Me 2017 1).

I write further to explain that changed and changing meanings of home after relationship disruption have largely been missing from geographical research, and that my hope in exploring this is that it may help empower those affected.

I felt the lack of power was a very heavy price to pay for love. That my love came with implicit trust. Not just that he would take care of my precious heart, but that he would treat me as his equal, with great respect and care.

“Monogamous, romantic love holds a pivotal position in the constitution of home and identity (Morrison 2010), and I query the spatial and identity implications for those who have loved, and lost.” (Me again!)

So, when Rog messaged me two days ago, asking when our son is ‘home’ I internally both chuckled, but reeled with the deep, deep ache. G, our son, has just finished his final requirement for his degree. A 14 000 word project, that I proofread for him last Weds night. And his father asked me when he was coming home. To me? To the home I am trying to create? Is this what Rog sees as our children’s home? I find that really interesting. Because that is how I saw my mum. As home. She moved five times after my parents divorced. My dad, meh. Who cares? He was just the guy who broke our family. Broke my mother’s heart.

But, she was always home.

I hope my kids feel a similar thing, I know they have asked me to try not to sell the lake house if it isn’t too unbearably painful for me to know he fucks another woman there. But they do understand I need to do what is right, and safe, for me. We have discussed other possibilities, new holiday homes elsewhere for them to enjoy, etc. But, at this stage, I’m hanging in there, for them, even if I cannot bear to be in that formerly beloved space alone, without seeing Trinket spreadeagled on my bed, his face buried in her pussy. Her coming all over him, my linen and mattress. Her cooking on my stove, his hands on her small, pert breasts, his cock hard against her ass, his lips on her neck…

Home is now a very contentious space for me. I was raped in my home, admittedly a student flat, but it was my ‘safe’ space of home. Previous to Roger fucking other women (remember the one he brought home at 4.30am after a night of drinking when I had a newborn, and the one who emerged from my ensuite shower, wrapped in a towel when I arrived home early from work once? Etc…) Home was constructed in my head as a traditional place of security, warmth and deep love.

I don’t know what home is anymore. I am just trying to create an unspoiled haven. Where other women’s snail trails and their hair are not to be found.

On that note, yesterday I went shopping at the interiors shop my daughter works at (she was hungover and grateful for the company!)

I bought two items for the loft…and daydreamed about several other items, see the map picture I posted earlier πŸ˜‚πŸŒ


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Mum’s first rule of dating

If you are in a relationship that has to be a secret, hidden from anyone at all, you shouldn’t be in it.

My mother made that clear to me from a young age.

There are multiple reasons. Mostly it is about self respect, in my book. But, I also think in the case of getting involved with someone who is not single, it is about humanity. You are not only potentially or actually hurting yourself, but you are certainly, CERTAINLY, hurting someone else.

What kind of lies did Trinket tell herself when Roger explained that he paid cash for their dates, and had to keep her a secret from me? How did she rationalise that? When she was being love bombed with texts and messages and visits from this guy from up north? The random wordsmith she met on Match.

Who said he was single.

Who actually turned to have a partner of 30 years and three young adult children?

Being in your mid 50s, a betrayed wife, a mother yourself, how do you get to the point where you believe a known cheater over your own instincts?

And how do you justify smashing someone else’s heart to smithereens? I have always known I could never live with that guilt. I would never be able to love a man who willingly destroyed a woman who adored him, no matter how wonderful, how sweet, how kind, how attentive he was to ME. He ruined someone else’s peace, ripped the woman who gave him herself, her body, her mind, her love to. You have got to wonder at that kind of monster. The one who LOOKS amazing, but is capable of wreaking so much devastation on not just anyone else, but particularly the person who cared most, ever, for him. Yes, even more than a mother. I’m sorry, I am fierce about my kids. But romantic love is different. The intensity of love for a child is more protective, the intensity of deep, romantic love is … everything. You make your world about them, even when you know not to, to try to retain a little bit of yourself. Just in case. Just in case they turn out to be terrorists and blow up your heart and world.

From the beginning, I was scared about the depth of my love for Rog. I tried to not be so madly and desperately crazy for him. It terrified me to be so vulnerable to a man. I mean, he SEEMED so lovely. He was at my house after work, or phoning me every night. He held me close, inhaling me. It wasn’t smothering, I can’t explain it. He has it all perfectly balanced. Raining attention and love, but never making you feel you are drowning.

God I love that man. The one before the one who loved other women. The one I made up in my head???

And here I am, in my worst nightmare, the one I always feared at 20. Where he left me after ensuring I was his. After convincing me he was waiting for me forever. After ripping me to shreds, and me painstakingly jigsawing myself back together. He did exactly what my deepest fears suggested so many men do.

They leave. They make you love them. Then they cut and run.

He did it the cruelest way possible. After nearly killing me with the most painful choices ever, watching my agony as I writhed to heal faster for him (and me, of course) then, just as I hit the finish line, WHAM! Fuck off you mother of my children whom I broke. I’ve Met Someone Else. A shiny new wife appliance who I haven’t broken. I can IMPRESS her. Look at me go!

Lord, I was so sure a betrayed wife would get it, and would run once I told her she was the side chick. I know, I know. I was too kind. Too utterly nervous, terrified, shocked and hurt at the time to lay it all out on the table. I should have realised she was no innocent lamb. She knew about me, and had continued to see him. There was no way she was retracting her claws because I asked nicely.

Oh. My mother’s second rule?

You are not more important than anyone else. Your happiness never NEVER comes at the cost of someone else’s.


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Down south

Last week, my daughter asked me if I wanted to go down with her to the student city where her brother is at uni? Um, let me think about that for a seco…YESSSSSS!

So, we booked. There and then. I got in touch with son, and he said, cool, all good, but have two huge assignments due and flatmate is living on couch since big sports injury surgery.

No problem. D was going to stay with her childhood bestie, and I grabbed an Airbnb.

Yay!

Except, I picked D up this morning to drive to the airport, and her face was like thunder. She was shitty and pissy and I was trying to leave her to it, but respond to her brightly and cheerfully.

Even though I did not feel it. I haven’t slept more than two hours in the past three days.

Eventually, I said, hey, have I done something wrong? You seem annoyed at me.

No!!!

Oh. Kay. Then.

She then said, “I don’t know who to trust, you or Dad!”

WTF???

This is the kid who has copped the worst of it, as the youngest. She saw her father leave me battered, bleeding, scared and bruised. She saw him openly dating another woman, who wasn’t her loving mother, him texting, giggling and behaving like a teenage boy on heat while I sat beside him on the couch, gutted, after having prepared him a gourmet meal, washed his clothes, bought him designer clothes and delicious scent, kept his home clean. Worked to buy his groceries.

She spends one night with him, and all of a sudden is questioning MY trustworthiness.

Hmmm.

You fucker, Roger. I have not dissed you to our children. But I bet I know the narrative. The lies he has told his friends, family and Trinket. He has obviously tried to tell D. That he is the victim here. You bastard.

I don’t know how he has got away with this? Cheating and lying. Then he is the hurt party? Really? Fuck. Riiiiiight. He is the master of charm and manipulation.

And now I have a pissy daughter. Who had been so staunchly supportive. I think she was mostly just tired, nervous and hormonal. But my resilience is low, my skin much thinner than the Mum-rhino of yesteryear. She hurt me. And I bit my tongue. Hard. And replied, “I am very sorry you feel that way right now. I am always here for you, and I always will be.”

Cool. You arsehole, Roger.

Now. To other matters. We are here. My beloved, quirky little first student city. I adore you xxx.