I Refuse to Sink

There’s something to be said about sitting in your childhood living room with your parents and feeling “home”. It’s just safe. You can check your emotional baggage at the front door, walk in and it’s like you’re a teenager again and no time has passed. Sometimes I think back to that day in September I had to write my statement for court, and I remember feeling like that was gone. It had been taken from me, stripped away like when peeling wallpaper off a hallway you’re remodeling.

Growing up, I’d unfortunately watched my mother, a paralegal, help several of my friends compose similar letters - I never imagined I could be one of them one day, having to look at a judge and explain as a victim what had been done to me, and how I didn’t feel safe. After four months, it still hasn’t fully come back.

I had such hope for him…

I'd forgiven him so many times for lying during the time we were together. Each one, he made me look and feel equally foolish for forgiving and choosing to believe him and his tall tales of any attempt at sobriety while under my roof. I spent so many nights crying after dropping him off at work, only from pure exhaustion was I able to sleep.

He told me he loved me, that I was the “only one he’s ever wanted to marry and have children with”; that he wanted a future with me… that I was the only one he’d ever been “madly in love” with and said he’d only ever said it first to me - but is that even true? Come on Jaycie… no. It’s simply what he’s told us all to love-bomb us into enabling him and getting what he wants.

If he loved me, and more importantly if he RESPECTED me, he would have told me the truth - every single time. He would have ensured that over all else, bullshit aside, I would have trust in him always even if it made me unhappy to find out the truth.

For someone who claimed that “there’s no relationship without trust”, he sure never gave me any reason to ever do so. If that had been the case, I would have been given a choice.  I understand too much shit in this life; I understand human motive and reason.

He lied about everything. After speaking with multiple members of his family, I was finally able to piece together the facts and figured out the truth.

Lie 1: He never had a car, his brother never borrowed said car, and the non-existent clutch never went out.
Lie 2: He didn’t have a real job. He got paid cash, under the table at craigslist odd side jobs so he could dodge paying court mandated child support and garnished wages.
Lie 3: He lied about how many children he had. At first, he said he only had a daughter. Then, that he has a daughter and a son. THEN he failed to mention that his second son was in fact not conceived as an act of kindness for a woman who couldn’t have children, but that it was an unplanned accident he couldn’t afford to keep.
Lie 4: He is a felon for his own cocaine possession. He has an ACTIVE heroin addiction, not just his past. He said the paraphernalia I found (on multiple occasions) was not his.
Lie 5: His ‘apartment’ didn’t burn down in the Thomas fire, rather he was fired from his job, and homeless… and both he and his (also heroin addicted) mother (who never had COPD, btw - Lie #6) used the Red Cross for shelter. I could go on, but you get the point….

He asked me to give him back some paperwork he’d left one evening in August… I said I would send it back to him by mail, as I didn’t want to see him - I was terrified that I would get sucked right back in to the lying and manipulation, due to my feelings for him. He refused to accept that answer and showed up to my neighborhood anyway… I agreed to let him pick everything up from my empty balcony, and as I watched him walk up to it through my sliding glass door my heart broke just as I thought it would all over again. Seeing him trying hard to look nice for me -a black collared button up shirt, and what looked like clean hair and a recent shave - made me weak. It made me feel as if I should let him back in… I logically knew I couldn’t trust this wouldn’t happen again, and my emotions fought hard to surface. After becoming upset to learn that my job was aware of everything to that point, he frightened me again with suicidal ideation.

That’s when I contacted police, and that’s when everything changed. If I had to pick a turning point - that night was it. It was no longer about him and I and whether or not to get back together; it became “How can I get him the help he needs? How can I hold him accountable and stop this insanity? How can I stop this from happening to me and to someone else?” He did this all to the others. As I came to find friendship in the trauma, the flood gates of truth eventually opened.

After a couple hours out front with officers and mental health crisis evaluators, his enabling Aunt made up a story about me “messing with his head” and that’s why he was in an extreme emotional state. Due to California law and needing to meet specific criteria to “violate his rights” and put a 72-hour hold on him, they let him walk away from that toxic event, in an uber his enabling aunt paid for no doubt.

The officer suggested I get a restraining order, and that is exactly what I did. What I didn’t expect was just how much he would violate it.

Speak your Truth - Even if Your Voice Shakes

The letter my mother painfully helped me draft for court was probably the easiest part of this whole scenario… Which says a lot, because writing that thing was a bitch.

I think we spent so much time trying to sound appropriate for court, all the while trying to explain everything that happened. The good part was focusing on composition helped me keep my emotions at bay. I'd been such a frantic mess, that it felt nice to not think about how I felt in that moment, but to force myself to sum up facts and events like math calculations - no emotions or feelings, just logic. Black and White versus the ever present grey any other time.

I’ve read my emotions out loud before; once back at a poetry reading in the back room of a valley pub in 2016. It was raw and a beautiful expression of how I loved someone who was incapable of returning that love in a healthy way (seems to be a running theme with me). This was a whole different ball game.

This time, I not only had to read my feelings to a room full of strangers, I had to read it in front of the very person who I still loved; who I allowed to victimize me because of my feelings. Adding insult to injury, he was unshowered, miserable and in handcuffs. There’s one thing I will wish you never have to see - someone you love, who just weeks prior kissed, hugged and promised to support - seated behind a wrought iron enclosure, dressed in a county-provided blue uniform and in handcuffs, head down. I know he saw me while I was in the victim’s separate room, between the blinds. What he doesn’t know is that I wasn’t crying because I “didn’t care and she’s playing the victim”… I was crying because I still did care very much and I broke into pieces when I locked eyes with him through the gate and the window to that room, fifteen feet away. He made a crucial mistake, though.

The only thing that made it easier to hold my ground and continue was when I saw the public defender hand him my statement and accounts of abuse, in disclosure, through the bars. That was when his emotions got the best of him, and he began shaking his head and making gestures while reading it. Watching his mannerisms change from sad and somber to angry and defensive gave me the strength I needed in that moment to open the courtroom doors, walk in with my head held high and take a seat next to my parents and wait to be called by the judge.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous in my life to read out loud the following statement:

“I don’t know where to begin. I’ve written this statement several times and still don’t feel like it says everything I want to say. I could fill novels with the damages I’ve incurred from the defendant’s lies and betrayal as well as the feelings and insecurities resulting from his emotional abuse.

This entire ordeal has been nothing short of a nightmare. I am an educated woman with both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree by age 22. I consider myself to be a fairly intuitive person, but he had me doubting myself as well as events I’d witnessed firsthand. He would say I’d seen things that didn’t happen – his manipulative nature and exceptional ability to forge lies to sound like truth had me reduced to a trauma-bonded girlfriend. His ability to evoke empathy out of specific and detailed lies played on my kind and giving nature on several occasions. He easily influenced me into believing his apartment burned in the Thomas fire rendering him homeless. It had not, and he took advantage of the support of the Red Cross last December to provide he and his mother shelter, as well as relocation resources, which is morally unacceptable to me.

The defendant violated my trust, my boundaries, my kindness and my open heart. After the decision to end the relationship was made, there was an onslaught of further emotional abuse – something he is no stranger to. He stole possessions …”

like my Jawbone fitness tracker he so graciously posted online for my benefit…

“…and money, attempted to steal my credit card, housed drugs in my apartment without my knowledge and conned me into feeling empathy and love strictly for his own survival.

He has a pattern of badgering his women, harassing them, becoming emphatically emotionally abusive and creating fake online profiles in an attempt to contact and ‘reconcile’. If that doesn’t work, the suicide threats and placing of false blame begin. There was an instance in August where he claimed to have overdosed strictly to make me feel responsible for his emotional state - that he no longer wished to live, and was rushed to the Emergency Room by ambulance with family in tow. I had called the police for several welfare checks during these threats, and was informed there was no such call for Pulse Point or Gold Coast that day… When those threats of suicide no longer work, he then gets nasty and belligerent. Between the hundreds of obscene emails, the 150 overwhelming and vulgar text messages in one day, and the cumulative phone numbers I had to block, I am at my wit’s end.”

He created 18 new email addresses after I’d blocked his original one. It didn’t stop there. He called and texted me non-stop from 53 phone numbers to urge me to get back together or to offend me and call into question my “promiscuity”. Several, pretending to be other people to illicit responses. When that didn’t work, he took to many social media platforms (43 Facebook accounts, 34 Instagram accounts, and 13 Pinterest accounts) to do the same thing. Unfortunately, most of the attempted contacts were not to communicate, but instead, were to verbally abuse and threaten me.

“The crude words and accusations he’s made me endure over time have been emotionally taxing, draining on my personal friendships, and negatively affecting my therapeutic progress and mental health. I am always on edge, stress lives in my shoulders and causes undue anxiety that he or others may show up to my home in an attempt to exact revenge. This has now become a battle for me to recover from this trauma. Additionally, through these hundreds of attempts at electronic contact, he’s apparently researched and sent me Google images of my childhood home in another county with my car parked in my parent’s driveway. This has stripped me of any safety zone, from both my current home, and now where I grew up.

I began sleeping and waking up with headaches and awakening from nightmares of him or others outside my window. I am exhausted in the mornings, and have been unable to wake up for work on time on multiple occasions. I feel emotionally numb at times, and have stopped enjoying things that I used to enjoy. I haven’t run in weeks, for fear that if I turn a corner, he’ll be there - or awaiting me at my doorstep, since he claimed he would cut his throat and be there for me to find. I now cautiously look over my shoulder and have a paranoid awareness of my surroundings at all times, so much so that I have now purchased a home security system and several cameras for safety.

Prior to meeting him, I never knew what words like “rig” or “the ditch” referred to. I’d never seen a syringe other than when witnessing a flu shot or a diabetes injection. I had never seen or smelled heroin, or what it made people look like.”

I hate that I know that heroin smells like vinegar

“Now when I smell vinegar in the future, it will remind me of this time of my life and how I once loved a drug addict who tried to use me and stole from me and abused my giving heart.

I had never first hand seen the damaging affects drugs have on a person’s body, their mind, or their actions. You go through drug education programs in school and learn about it, but you never think of “junkies” as functioning members of society. I grew up in a much protected household, and I hate that I now have more knowledge of judicial process and have been made into a statistic. I am now technically a “victim” in the eyes of the court, the advocates, the attorneys and his probation officers. That’s embarrassing, making me feel a range of several emotions of which I have no idea how to process. Add “post-traumatic stress” and now, begrudgingly, domestic violence victim. I am not the first made victim by the defendant, but I hope I am the last.”

I asked the judge in court that day during our hearing that he be required to complete inpatient drug rehabilitation and random drug screenings thereafter, for the duration of his probation. I also asked that he be mandated to find alternative housing, away from his addict mother who has enabled him in previous attempts for his sobriety.

“I was and am still fearful of this behavior continuing, once he is released. The defendant’s obsession, co-dependence of drugs and/or women and clouded judgment stem from his previous drug use, and it is a threat to my safety and mental health, as well as that of others, should he not be in compliance of these requests.”

Cognitive Dissonance

“I’ve lost a part of myself in loving him that I’ll never get back: For caring for him more than I cared for myself. For caring more about his welfare than my own. I can’t trust people mean what they say anymore because of him.”

If you ever have to read a victim statement in court, DON’T read it in order to reason with your abuser. EVER. Read it for YOU. I had people warn me not to, since they wanted me to heal and move forward without giving him a second more of my time or energy… I didn’t listen.

I’m even reading this statement right now, for myself yes, but also stupidly hoping that it reaches him on a level that makes him cautious in the future and that he makes healthy choices; So that he doesn’t use and abuse drugs or take advantage of some new poor, unsuspecting and trusting female... like he did me; I hope he realizes that this is rock bottom; that he gets healthy again and does better.

I couldn’t save him by enabling him... so I hope I can at least help him understand.”

The rest of the court hearing was a blur to me, and thankfully, my father was cracking jokes left and right about drugs and my mom is complaining about how terribly the public defender was doing her job. I was grateful for the distraction, but I was side-eyeing my ex while he stood, listening to the judge. She eventually became the teacher from Charlie Brown. All I thought right then was hopefully he heard me. That he maybe felt what I was feeling and how badly I didn’t want any of this to end this way.

It was an extreme case of victim bargaining and cognitive dissonance… which is when you’re having inconsistent thoughts relating to behavioral decisions or attitude changes. To believe he’d hear me out is implying he actually gives a crap about what he just did to me, or  is capable of any empathy.

But still, as I sat in court and watched him speak to the judge in short “yes” an “no” responses, I felt for him. He’s only a product of two shitty, drug-addicted parents and had no real male figure to truly emulate. Knowing that, and understanding it, my heart has broken too much for him that I believe the pieces “could pass through the eye of a needle”.

As he turned around and followed the officer leading him back to main jail, all I wanted to do was to exit the court room with him and speak to him. Hug him. Rewind time, and wish he was never a liar; that I was never afraid of him - I so desperately wanted to believe in every promise he made. I didn’t want to give that up. When he walked out, a piece of me walked out with him.

Being afraid of someone you love and being unsure of what they’re capable of is maddening. It’s this confusing fight between rational thoughts and your feelings. You feel guilty for loving them and terrible for feeling guilty. Being gas-lit and manipulated, well it just sucks. They’re supposed to be your person: your best friend, the only person you can rely on... and instead they become the very person you are afraid of and should protect yourself from.

Fast Forward -

Time is served, he gets released two weeks later. I had two weeks of silence and it was fucking glorious after not having peace for almost two whole months. However, I don’t think I’ve ever cried more. I was finally able to digest everything that had transpired and the healing process began immediately and it was excruciating.

Just as I started to relax and fully let myself feel everything I’d gone through, an old message he sent me on a dating site freaked me out. Then on all the platforms, he began popping up as within 13 miles of me and in retrospect, I know where he was at the time - somewhere I imagine he is now, trying to avoid being arrested for his bench warrant on his failure to appear in court. Everything I’d known about his fidelity was laughable. As he was with one person, he was still seeking me out.

Each time I came across his profile, I reported him to the associated agency and sent forward my documentation of his abuse as well as the restraining order documents. I would warn them that he had no business making more women his victims and without telling me they blocked and deleted his accounts, they each disappeared. Until they popped right back up again. On one, he sent me a smiley face and on another, he “swiped” right. What smarty-pants didn’t know is when you pay for Tinder or Bumble, they show you who has already swiped and liked you. I took screen shots of it all, forwarded it to his probation officer and upon arrest, we went to court the following day.

As I was finding parking in the lot closest to the law library, I noticed a man in a my favorite color - a teal/lighter blue and black plaid shirt, walking slightly ahead of a girl with long hair and glasses. I think I was mid left turn into another aisle when I locked eyes with him and realized who it was. My stomach had begun easing over the course of those three weeks, and it all came rushing back like a swift punch to the gut. Not only was he walking around, parading a false level of cockiness, he actually followed through with one of the threats he’d made while still attempting to win me back - to bring another girl to the hearing. I started laughing at the audacity of the power move. In my mind, I toasted his amount of pettiness but then also questioned the sanity of said chess pawn; I thought to myself “Now THAT is a helluva first date! Guess this is what you have to look forward to yourself!” I thought, perfect! She’ll get to hear and prepare for whats ahead of her.

Immediately, I regretted the thought - not so long ago, I’d been right where she was. Well, not literally, but I would have (and DID) believe every lie he told - why wouldn’t I have? If he would’ve brought me to court to battle one of his exes at the height of his love-bombing stages, I probably would have sat by his side too, the exact same thing.

Man, he’s good at getting sympathy. Like, if it was an Olympic sport, he would win Gold. Every time. Hands down. I’ve heard so many stories about his ability to get out of trouble simply because he was able to bullshit his way out of things.

His probation officer asked me for a statement, and like last time, I went in and read it. It never gets easier… Just FYI. There was an 18-year-old girl who was also there in the victim room with me this time, and she was just as nervous as I was the previous time. Helping her, and supporting her felt cathartic. As much as reading the following to a now seated-five-feet-away-from-me ex-boyfriend of mine was:

“I wanted to take the time to express my anxiety over this case and the defendant's lack of understanding a simple "no-contact" order. I've spent the last three weeks trying to mourn the loss of a false representation of a relationship I thought to be real. I have been grasping at the mental and emotional recovery that needs to take place.

I've seen several therapists, re-filled a now increased dosage of depression and anxiety prescriptions, and am trying to make a sincere attempt to begin rebuilding my life after the destruction the defendant has caused to my livelihood. I am both angry and heartbroken that I was capable of being in this situation at all.

I had to change my phone number, change my social media, stop posting on my blog and allow comments from followers; all to make efforts to be invisible and battling feeling socially penalized for the his behaviors and lack of boundaries; where he gets to have internet access and make efforts to communicate with me and others like a normal civilian and I have to hide away. My rights are limited due to sheer terror of who may be on the sending end of any digital communication ON TOP of scared to walk alone in my neighborhood and potentially seem him near my grocery store, for example.”

There was a day where I could have SWORN I saw him. I swear I locked eyes with a man in his camouflage jacket and signature knitted beanie behind the wheel of a black Prius at the intersection where I was turning into and it freaked me the hell out. I pulled over and fought every urge I had not to turn around and follow to see if it was him. The juxtaposition of feeling both visceral fear and love simultaneously for a person is a confusing combination.

“I struggle daily with the trauma, effects and emotional marks that he has left on me. That is sufficient damage enough, not including the rumination and over analysis I am expected to endure over the recovery process, however long that may be.”

This was not a normal break up. I’ve gone through the worst gas lighting of my existence, and need to work through the fact that he was not everything I wanted - he was just a good actor. Minimization of the abuse he put me through is something I’m no stranger to - his Aunt and mother did a pretty good job of making me feel like I “played with his heart”, when all I wanted was a boyfriend who was honest and sober. They say “Survivors tend to ruminate over incidents of abuse as well as the initial love-bombing they received from their abusers. Baffled onlookers (counselors, friends, family members) may assume that the survivor is ‘stuck’ or ‘can’t move forward’ because they ruminate over the incidents of abuse.

rumination and over-analysis are Normal effects of the trauma

“Survivors of any form of abuse are always attempting to sift through the thoughts, feelings, and memories which have caused them this cognitive dissonance. That’s why they tend to tell their stories again and again – because they are attempting to provide a coherent narrative to the trauma they just experienced. To interrupt the process of rumination in a way that is judgmental and invalidating is especially harmful to a survivor who is just trying to figure out what happened to them.”

Asking me to “look within” and “know my worth” can even cross over to victim-blaming, and you need to understand the effects of the trauma bond that we developed with the abuser throughout the course of the relationship. This is a bond created by the intense, emotional experiences in the abuse cycle. I say again, this was not a normal breakup.

I was enabling him, the whole time

-without even really understanding what that meant!

By caring for him and trying to make his life better, I made it worse. I gave him the easiest ways to keep doing what he wanted to do and living the life he TRULY wanted… not the one with me, but the one where he didn’t have to work hard for money or drugs. Where he could lay back, and let me do the work while he skated through. Similar to the previous girlfriends he abused and cheated on.

I only ever wanted him sober. I only ever wanted him to be honest. I didn’t want to be mixed up in the illegal activity. I loved him and believed there was something good still buried inside him somewhere… and I still do. I just can’t be a part of it.

This truly was the only way for him to get sober. Saying he didn’t want to live and threatening to kill himself wasn’t healthy. I didn’t want it to get to this point, but I tried to help him and he wasn’t doing it for himself or for his kids. His reasons weren’t to get better or be better, they were to keep me. The fact that he now has a probation officer on his case for the next three years making sure he legally cannot be around drugs and he has to complete domestic violence counseling gives me hope that I did the right thing.

I got the restraining order out of fear - making sure that I couldn’t be contacted and verbally abused by him for my decisions - but also because I didn’t have the self control to not respond. He wasn’t making changes that needed to be made and I couldn’t save him because he wouldn’t save himself. I had to save myself from going under alongside him. I was hurting us both to save us both in the long run.

I tried to convey that in court with my statement, but he heard none of it. He thought I was simply plotting to ruin his life.

If he’d listened to me, he would know that I had to leave him, even though my heart didn’t want me to... that’s why his Aunt thought I was going back and forth and “playing with his heart”. He hadn’t changed for his kids - what on Earth made me think I was special to get him to change?

I was battling my feelings for him versus what needed to be done. He broke my heart by lying to me and by using. It broke my heart to leave him while I still loved him. It broke my heart to see him in custody that day in court, and I was nervous I would cry... but his anger and vulgarity made me confident and reminded me I was doing this all for my recovery instead of a way to “reach” him. He didn’t even listen to me or what I wanted him to hear of my statement. He’ll never know that I did this all for him.

He just sat there, shaking his head and mumbling nonsense under his breath… and it devastated the hope in me, even though I know for a fact it’s a façade and he is simply embarrassed that this is his reality.

Everything I felt for him was real. Everything is real. I am mourning the person I fell for - the person he pretended to b and so desperately wanted to be what I deserved but wasn’t able to execute. I so desperately wanted them both to be the same. I loved him more than I’ve ever loved anyone before... That was always the truth. I’ll never be able to trust it ever was for him and that fact is devastating.

I think about teaching him to slow dance in my living room and that memory is tainted now. I wonder if he was looking around attributing dollar values to what he could steal from me and what he could sell or trade for drug money. I wonder if he actually enjoyed my company and wanted to be with me, instead of constantly lying to me and proving otherwise. The fact that I’m even second guessing his motives to anything and everything while we were together is a cut that runs deeper than any other hurt I’ve ever known.

I think about the good version of him every day, and am still hopeful he’s in there. Seeing him like this, angry, using and denying his problems, actually hurts me. All I’ve ever wanted was him to be healthy and happy.

I’m not a religious woman… I don’t even know what’s up there. But I pray and hope on everything I love that he gets the help he needs. I’d hate for him to self-fulfill the prophecy of winding up like his father or his mother, using drugs well into her sixties, “flying signs” for easy money. I’d hate for him to look as haggard as she looks, like he’s 90 at only 63, because he’s so handsome. I’d hate for him to accidentally overdose like he pretended he did, or like his cousin actually did. A lot of people love him. A lot of people still love him, despite the despicable person he has been in his past.

Your past abuse explains your abusive acts now, but it doesn't excuse it. Unless you try to make positive changes, your crappy behavior is going to remain on you. You can’t say it’s your past if it’s still your present, Ankles.

What I wish for me?

Healing… and a heart that will no longer break. That’s what I wish.