Out of Control

We read a lot online now about controlling relationships, what they are, how to get out of them and how to recover. It’s finally coming to light properly that domestic abuse isn’t just beating someone up…. and this goes for both sexes, I’ve seen women who are as controlling as men. But here’s my story of how I’ve recognised this behaviour recently and managed to have some lucky escapes. Perhaps it’s this experience that really makes me consider whether I ever want to be committed to anyone again, and the idea of living together again is still a big no.

One of the first experiences I had after the relationship with my daughter’s dad was this guy (Sad Mechanic) who at first seemed charming. He would treat me like a princess (this I now know is controlling in itself) and make me feel special. However there was always a flip side. He was insecure, and his insecurities led to strange behaviour, accusations I was cheating, or just hot/cold behaviour. He’d asked about how many people I’d been with and I’d been honest, he hit the roof. Called me every name under the sun, I hadn’t fully got better at that point and thought perhaps I was in the wrong. Although looking back I should have kicked him out at that point.

This guy had no understanding of my past. He would for his own entertainment wind me up about how great a life my ex was having now he was gone. Luckily I’d had my first round of therapy to deal with the anger so it was all out and done, I was able to tell him to shut up, I didn’t want to know. But imagine if I hadn’t had therapy at that point? With a history of suicidal thoughts, this really could have done a lot of damage.

He would try and force his political views on me and also be weary of me going out with my friends… in case I got raped… although really he was just worried I’d find someone better. This guy, knowing my past tried to keep me in a box where he knew where I was because he wanted control. Please bear in mind we never lived together. My daughter had talked about getting a cat, I wasn’t sure… but after the death of a dog was getting a dog to keep my other one company. This guy had actually had the nerve to tell me he’d leave me if I got a cat once! And then when I got my new puppy had sulked for a week, he had actually said “it’s me or the dog” when I told him I was getting one! The relationship didn’t last long after that, it was the first time I’d actually had to end it on my terms and I felt terrible, but it was the best decision I’d ever made.

His controlling behaviour had started to make me paranoid. One thing I’ll never forget, I’d got tickets to a large company party and had invited him, but he couldn’t go, so I went with my friends and had the best time! It was fancy dress and we had an absolute ball! I had been telling him about it, and he had the nerve to say “you were seen leaving with a man”… this wasn’t true… well I left with a group of men and women… my friends… but not how he’d insinuated. After a bit of an awkward conversation where I felt I had to prove my innocence he admitted he’d made it up and was testing me. What a psycho! Glad he went!

The other big controlling one again started off nice, the guy with the “I did a walk against domestic violence T-shirt” was the Stand in. This was the guy who should have been a one night stand but told me he expected a relationship. This is all very well but he gave me no time to adjust to the idea of one and no space to even think if I actually wanted one. Every moment of my free time got eaten up by this guy. If he was in my office, we had to go to lunch… my gym routine slipped. I’d complain I needed to work out, he’d say he wanted me to have a bigger butt. I was so unhappy about it, I’d finally got my body to a place I was happy and this guy was trying to dictate I should put weight on!

He’d insist on cooking. Again this was actually quite passive aggressive in his approach. He’d insist on picking the food. Now my relationship with food isn’t the best, I go for simple, low carb fuel, I’m not in any way a foodie, I will happily eat the same thing daily as I know I’m getting what I need to stay healthy. After all the ups and downs of diets, gym regimes and making myself ill I’ve broken that bad relationship with it and stick to what works for me. Yet, here is this guy undoing all the hard work I had to put in to break that!

He would insist my daughter wore a coat, she would of course do the opposite. I could see it was damaging, hence he had to go. This guy’s uprightness about everything, rules, things having to be in terms he saw as the right ones made me and my daughter to an extent more uptight. I’d been happy at first, it had felt like someone who actually cared, but in reality this was just a guy who used care to control. There are so many examples of this that I won’t put here.

Perhaps I’m just like that rescue animal that struggles to trust again. Some people think I’m mad to want to stay single. But I can honestly say when I’m not reliant on anyone, when I’m not compromising my happiness that I am of course happier. I see friends desperate to find “the one” and I understand that, having that special relationship can be nice. Having children with someone you love can feel like you’ve won the lottery. But the biggest worry for me is that I’m never sure it’s real. Domestic bliss has its place for some, and that’s absolutely okay if it makes you happy. But domestic bliss for me sounds like actually just allowing someone else to have control, and I’m not really sure that can ever be bliss. There’s a guy right now who has chased me for about 2 years for a date, but I know already that he’s just more of the same. I know already that he will want me to change, he’ll want me to pool my free time and do couple things. I’m not sure I want “couple” things. If someone’s brain isn’t going to engage mine the couple things will just be the same old drudge once the novelty of a new person wears off and I’m not built for that. Is this an introvert problem? Perhaps. I wonder actually if it’s an extrovert problem, as in not mine. I can happily now go a while without human contact and feel great. In fact, I need that time. These guys so desperately seeking the other half can’t do that and I can understand. Everything has to be filled up so they don’t feel the gap and have to do thinking. I’m quite happy here thinking and enjoying being out of control… what does out of control mean? Well just that, no-one is controlling my thoughts and my actions. It is my responsibility what I do, how I behave and I’ll deal with the consequences and reap the rewards. Out of control is actually great, it’s the thing that those in authority shudder at the thought of, because if they can’t control you, you are therefore unpredictable and they have no rules for dealing with that. Out of control is what every human should be, it doesn’t mean you have to party 24/7 or drive your car 100MPH up the wrong side of the motorway, but if you wanted to you could, the consequences are yours…

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And that was the end…

So the end with the Stand In, happened last year. For me things had been going off for a couple of weeks, for him everything was rosy. And perhaps that’s what what made it worse. Had I somehow made this worse? I hated being the bad guy, I didn’t want to be the bad guy but I knew that if it carried on I wouldn’t be happy and my unhappiness would have transferred to him so I had to end it to stop the pain for both of us and let him heal and find someone who could be right for him without having to change and I really hope he has.

Things had been good at the beginning of the four month relationship but the pressure I felt to make it work out had been building and I was starting to wonder if I was in love with him or whether I just liked the idea of being loved. He was kind in that he would always do what he thought was nice but there were things that just were not quite right and I would have started to resent if I had let things carry on. He wasn’t a terrible person, he just wasn’t the right guy for me and really I was just still in love with ‘the one’, I’d never got over him. It just wasn’t fair for me to try and make this guy replace him.

I had been doing up my house and had done a lot of work. Whether he meant to or not he started asking questions that made me feel suspicious about his motives. He had started asking about the value of my house, how much equity I had, and my salary. He started sending zoopla links to houses, talking about us both selling up and moving house, this started just after two months in. I tried to make it clear I wasn’t ready for that, plus my daughter was my priority, her ability to get to school and see her friends was the most important thing and I didn’t like the idea of moving her home at that point just over a year after me and her dad had split. Yet still the suggestions kept coming. I started to wonder if I was being seen as the means to get a bigger house and make this pop up family he seemed to want so much, but that would have been at the expense of my own freedom and my own happiness. I was not willing to give up my happiness again for someone I had known for so little time. This was killing off any feelings that had been growing as I started to worry that it was all too much. This guy was not in anyway a grown up version of the one at all!

The next bit of pressure was holidays. He seemed to want all my holidays to revolve around his family across the pond or to be taken in the south of France, my wanderlust for the world was disregarded as risky or expensive, he was not capable of spontaneity which is fine, there will be someone else out there that needs just that, but I’m a creative mind, it needs to be fuelled with wonder. He started applying pressure for me to book time off, save up a few grand just so we could go stay on the outskirts of a city in America where I’d never ever wanted to go, dragging my daughter with us as if this was some sort of treat when in fact for her that would have been awful. She is nervous around new people at the best of times, he actually suggested to save some money that she could stay in his brother’s apartment whilst we stayed in a nearby hotel. He just didn’t seem to get that for a child who would at that point be only 14 and a diabetic struggling with lots of little things, this would push her over the edge. The amount of times I hinted at that and he like the true sales person “overcame my objections” as if he was simply trying to placate a customer complaint led me to almost give in, it continued even after I told him straight. Why could he not understand that a holiday for me and my daughter would be about our needs and anyone else would come second? Had we not earned our right to be happy?

Then the comments on my parenting started to happen. I count myself as lucky. I am close to my daughter and cliche though it may sound we are more like sisters. She can be a bit thoughtless sometimes, yes she’s a teenager, (I can also be a pain) but actually she’s pretty damned awesome. I do not deal with the nightmares that some have to deal with, I am a very very lucky girl. So comments around me allowing her to add wash out colour to her hair, listen to heavy metal or watch TV programmes that I feel she is emotionally mature enough to watch were not in any way welcome. I was here doing my best, in my way, this was not his place! Plus his hints at how he could be a better replacement dad than her own father. This was not on.

There were lots of other little things. The life decisions he suggested he would be making for us. The lack of time to myself. Every time he worked at my office he would stay over, which was great at first but then it became a habit. The insistence that I should take lunch with him if he was working in my office. The insistence that he would leave at 4 and therefore so should I, even though my body clock was programmed for later in the day and I actually did better work at night. I saw my flexi sapped, my work suffer and my space gone. The suggestion that it would be great if my ass got a little bit rounder, it was okay to put on weight, No! my Body! my Life! It was all too much!

I realised that actually I could not pretend to be happy for the sake of another, he was killing me with kindness, killing me with control.

So I drove to his, 50 miles away as I felt I really owed him as much as to end it face to face. I turned up… he answers the door dressing gown over clothes really unaware, in spite of my warning message, phone calls to warn that I think he’d ignored. I was doing the right thing. I sat down nervous. I blurted I couldn’t do it. I explained I’d been getting more depressed again which was true. I explained I couldn’t be the person he needed, true. He bargained. I felt so guilty. He just wouldn’t have it, we agreed a two week break, it wasn’t what I wanted. The messages were pleading and I really couldn’t cope. I think I asked him to stop. I just wanted him to understand there was no going back. I could not be the woman he had in mind. I could not change again, loose myself after all I had done to regain myself. He just couldn’t understand.

After the two weeks we met, it was horrible, he was angry I hadn’t changed my mind. He bargained again and I stood my ground. He offered me help with my mental health, I wasn’t going to take that from him. I felt rightly or wrongly that is was his way back in. I needed a clean break. I needed freedom. I needed my own company, I needed my daughter. I needed myself back. I offered his gifts back, he told me to keep them. I gave the bracelet to charity, I explained they should be able to get something for it, at least it went to a good cause. I told him he could keep the Chromecast I had lent him and the almost new IPhone that I’d paid at the time a fair bit of cash for… his reply “damned right I’m keeping those”. So there we go… after the killing me with kindness, the control through niceness his true colours shone through with the offer of an IPhone… he perhaps could have just said thank you…

My birthday treat?!?

It was my birthday and I was still dating the Stand In. I don’t really like making a fuss of my birthday, it’s been a bit of a shit occasion for easily the last 17 years so I hadn’t really seen the point. He’d asked me to be free for the weekend and drive to his, 50 miles away and he would treat me for the weekend. I was pretty excited as this felt new. So Friday after work I packed up the car with my dogs and drive over.

I got there and he’d cooked which was sweet and told me we were going to The countryside for Saturday, we could walk the dogs and his mother lived there. Sounded okay….

He wakes me up early, like stupid o’clock on my birthday and hurries me up. We get in my car… my car is bigger and I had to drive ON MY BIRTHDAY to his mother’s. Basically he had major guilt about not seeing his mother enough and took the opportunity for me to drive him there and kill two birds with one stone!!!! To be fair she was incredibly sweet and it was lovely to meet her, the resemblance was uncanny!

The drive there was stressful, my car played up a bit and he was more worried we’d be late than the fact I had freed myself up for my birthday weekend and we were going to see his mother!?!

I smiled the whole day but to be honest was wishing I was with ‘the one’. There were a lot of Facebook well wishes and that really made me happy, but nothing from the one I really wanted. We were at a local pub, food was mediocre to be honest but I had a nice chat with his mum and the day was pleasant.

Just after eating my messages pinged, it was a really sweet message from ‘the one’ just hoping I was good and having a nice day. This made my day and really set me thinking.

So we dropped his mum home and drove back to his. On the way he told me he had a surprise so we stopped in Narberth. Me wondering what it was. He wanted to take me in a deli to buy what he saw as really good food. And wanted to buy me a Paella pan, this just really showed how little he really knew me. This wasn’t my idea of fun, it was his. Trying not to sound ungrateful here, I sound a right bitch. But I like listening to metal, riding horses, motorbikes, paintball and anything that involves opening up my inner child. This felt like I was preparing for death and a night in with my slippers… which is pretty much what happened for my birthday night; a bottle of over priced wine (I hate wine), smelly cheese and a film I don’t even remember because it was that dull, using my Netflix account and my chrome cast!!!

With my dogs locked in the kitchen because they scared his cats, and a real lack lustre night in his cold house that stank of cat pee I felt dismal. I had a message off Mr Married also wishing me a happy birthday and he hoped this one was spoiling me. So I lied that he was…

I never expect birthday presents, haven’t had them really in years, so had said please don’t worry. I was on higher pay as he quite often observed and him spending money on me made me feel guilty. He made a big fuss that he’d spent a fortune on stuff I wanted but couldn’t have it till I was at mine and my daughter was with us.

Back at mine a few days after with my daughter back from her dad’s he decided we could celebrate my birthday. He’d bought a nice cake and made a massive fuss over presents. I really wished he hadn’t, he gave me a bracket that I would just never wear, I don’t wear jewellery and new bike gloves, nice gesture but I already had a really good triumph pair and these were too big. I looked happy feeling sad inside, I felt so guilty for not liking the presents, they were just totally not me and really showed he just had no idea about who I really was. I wore the bracelet to show him he hadn’t wasted his money, he made a massive fuss that it cost him a bomb and this made me feel worse.

What was wrong with me hey? Lots of girls would love this?!? Trouble is I’m just not lots of girls, the generic offereings, the generic day, generic food, wine blah blah just were a reflection of him not me. He was trying to mould me into his middle class ideal and kept jokingly referring to me as his wife which made me shudder. This wasn’t working, 2 months in it was not going to work but the guilt, he was good at that, it would take me a while to get past the fear of disappointing him…. to be continued…

The Stand In

So back in the Summer of 2016 I met the Stand In. I was and still am in love with ‘The One’ that never went away, but thinking he was gone forever I thought well at least this guy seems nice. I met him at work, I had a raging hangover and it was a Friday, he had booked a meeting with me on a Friday afternoon of all times and I was furious, nobody does that!!!

So I go into the meeting grumpy and hungover. He was actually pretty nice, I was very honest that I didn’t want to be there and we just ended up talking. He had totally grey hair, but turned out he was my age. And I thought, well as he works in the office 50 miles away I was unlikely to see him again and so I kinda forgot.

The next week it was department drinks and he was there. We got chatting and he seemed nice and one thing led to another and I thought “well why not?” We went back to mine and had very drunken sex. The next morning he was up at the crack of dawn which was just weird and went home. I carried on thinking “Well bye, that was fun I guess” but really didn’t want anything else. That’s where the guilt later came. He asked to meet in the week, we did and he pursuaded me we should have a relationship…. his exact words. So worn down I agreed. This was the start of the really really nice guy who was actually very controlling. Initially he had little idiosyncrasies that reminded me of the one, and I thought perhaps I’d met an older version of him. It was so strange, for the first month there were so many similarities, love of martial arts, he kept fit and healthy and words that he said that I was fooled. Then the Muppets obsession started to surface. This guy thought the muppets was the best thing ever. Worst still he kept pulling weird faces and making noises like a muppet, this irritated me more and more each time to the point I wanted to punch him!!! He stopped being the older version of the one and started being controlling in a way that was totally different to control I’d experienced in the past, more sneaky, caring, making me eat, deciding on holidays I didn’t want.

He would often slag my daughter’s dad off and this really used to piss me off! How dare he comment! He was a guest in our house and he was abusing his status. But this negativity was actually him showing his insecurities. He so desperately wanted to stand in as my daughter’s dad that he even started commenting on my parenting choices. He had to go!!!!

Also sex after a couple of weeks just got boring, it was like he had a routine, he was so predictable, nothing like the one. I was bored. He wasn’t going to last… to be Continued…