When it came to him, I was weak and foolish.
The problem with being in love with an a**hole is you forgive them for things that you would never, ever forgive anyone else for doing. I know this all too well, and looking back at what I forgave when it came to this particular man, I am genuinely embarrassed about it. I had always regarded myself as someone strong, and I am! But for some reason, when it came to him, I was weak and foolish. I was a person that I’m ashamed to have been.
While I could easily list dozens and dozens of instances that, over those four years, should have had me running (and I did run, but always came back), here are the 8 times that I should have definitely left him for good, but didn’t. I’m free of him now, but it took a long time to get here.
1. The time he left me for dead in a snowstorm.
It was a snowstorm about five years ago. Despite the Mayor Bloomberg’s warning that everyone should stay in, we went to see a show in Brooklyn. The snow had picked up quite a bit while we were inside, and by the time we left the venue, it was blinding. He started walking fast to get home as quickly as possible and I tried to keep up. Instead of waiting for me, he just took off, yelling back to me that he was cold. Within in seconds, I could no longer see him.
I was in a place in Brooklyn where I rarely went. The snow was so blinding that I couldn’t read street signs and couldn’t figure out where I was. There was no cab in sight, because of the neighborhood and the snow, nothing was open, and I wandered around hoping to find a subway or at least someone who could point me toward the subway. At one point, crying, cold, and terrified, I just lay down in a snow bank and hoped someone would find me. I don’t know how long I lay there, but finally a couple came by, asked if I needed help, and walked me to the closest subway. That night I swore I’d never talk to him again… but did.
2. The time he slept with his ex-roommate and threw it in my face.
Literally. He texted me one morning to tell me how he’d just rolled over to ask the person in his bed, thinking it was me, where we should go to brunch. The woman, who rolled over to face him, was his ex-roommate who had moved out a few weeks before, because they hated each other. He was so drunk; he brought home a woman he hated.
After he got her to leave, he asked me to come over. I was devastated, but since we were always just “friends with benefits,” I couldn’t be totally surprised. When I got there, he joked about how embarrassed he was, because he found her so awful. Then, he pulled from his bed a shirt she had left behind and threw it at me. I, in turn, with tears in my eyes, took it to the bathroom, peed on it, and threw it back at him. I left and swore I’d never talk to him again… but I did.
3. The time he told me to go home, because he was taking someone else home.
We had gone out with some friends of mine, and a girl from his high school, who was in for a few weeks for an internship. We were at a bar in Brooklyn and we planned that we’d go back to Manhattan with my friends to hit up some bars there. We agreed it would be easier, because we had plans in the city in the morning. But when it was time for all of us to head out, he told me to go without him; he was taking home the girl with whom he’d gone to high school.
Humiliated and hurt, I began to yell and cry and was promptly thrown out of the bar. Again, I swore I’d never talk to him again, and I didn’t for three whole months, until he came back around.
4. The time he embarrassed me at a work party.
It was my first year working at a women’s website and I finally felt like, after so many bad jobs, my life was falling into place. Although we both had had a couple drinks before the party, he was trashed.
He spent the whole night fondling the hair of one of the editors in a way that made her clearly uncomfortable, then spilled drinks on not just one, but two people. Embarrassed as hell, because as a freelancer, it was my first time meeting these people, we left early. Because we hadn’t eaten, he wanted to go to Chinatown for food. Immediately after his udon soup arrived, he fell asleep IN it. It took three waiters to lug this dead weight of a body out to the street to a cab, and two of my neighbors and I to get him up the stairs to my apartment.
5. The time he slept in my bed with another woman.
To outrun him, once again, I had planned a trip to abroad. But before I left, we made amends, and because he hated his living situation at the time, I told him he could stay at my place for the month I was out of the country. From past experiences, I knew what he was capable of, but had really hoped it wouldn’t happen in my bed.
I found underwear in the sheets when I got home. It was such a cliché, I could only laugh and cry, in equal parts.
6. The time he sexually degraded me.
This one is difficult to talk about, and something I’ve only admitted to my therapist, so I’ll leave out some of the details.
But we were walking home one night and he pushed me up against a fence not far from his apartment and proceeded to sort of slap my vaginal area over and over. When I managed to break free, I wasn’t sure what to do, but being all the way out in Brooklyn, I just went home with him… where other things happened that I’ve never really come to terms with. When I told him the next morning what he had done, he didn’t believe me (he’d been drinking.) As I often did with him, I blamed myself.
7. The time he ruined my birthday by telling me he had slept with another woman.
To be honesty, he ruined three of my birthdays in a row for various reasons, but this one was the one that hurt the most.
We had gone out to one of our favorite restaurants, went dancing of this club that only plays the indie pop that we both loved, and afterward we headed back to his neighborhood to make food. We went into the bodega on the corner looking for whatever it would take to make Elote (Mexican corn on the cob.) I was over by the cheese case looking for cotija, when he decided to drop the bomb that he had slept with “some redhead with a snake tattoo on her leg last night.” I felt he was telling me that, there, in that bodega, so I wouldn’t make a scene, but since it was my birthday, since we had such an amazing night, I lost it. I proceeded to throw packaged cheese at him over and over, until I told to leave by the owner. Completely insane and out of character for me? Totally. Such a confession out of character from him? Not at all.
And yet we went home together to make Elote.
8. The time he pinned me down on the floor and I saw the light go out of his eyes.
For all the drama, bullshit, and behavior that I know now was definitely abusive in many ways, this was a person I loved, knew very intimately, and, at least in the beginning, trusted implicitly. But it was also this particular event in 2009, just a couple weeks after Christmas that, above all of the other incidences, should have made me leave.
We were wrestling in his apartment, as we often did, and there was a point in which he pinned me down on the floor with a strength you don’t use in playful situations. As he hovered over me, his hands having locked my wrists and arms against the floor, I didn’t see him looking at me. I saw someone else, and it was scary. Moment afterward he cried and felt immediate remorse and confusion. I wiped the snot from his nose with my bare hand, and because I loved him so much, it was something I was willing to forgive.
But the thing is, if I had taken that incident to heart, I could have saved myself a lot, but I felt an obligation to be there for him. I loved him in a way that I will love no other; it was a love that was so steeped in dependency that I lost myself along the way, and still haven’t fully recovered.