I was given an assignment. List 25 shitty things your ex did. Is it keeping score if I’m at 41?

  1. When we were in the car he’d start conversations with, You know what your problem is? Finally, I got so fed up I replied, I’m sure I’m going to find out.
  2. When we first signed on with our chosen fertility clinic, I was reading the contract. As I did so he said if I didn’t sign we would have to reevaluate our relationship because we clearly didn’t share the same values.
  3. He flipped me off-to my face. Now I know many people flip their spouses off behind their backs, but in what regard do you hold your spouse when you flip her off to her face. I’ll tell you. None.
  4. He told me that if we had a child that he fully expected to leave me and raise him or her alone.
  5. He always took the last of something-milk, bread, cereal, toilet paper-and left replacing it to me.
  6. If something he said hurt me it wasn’t what he said, it was how I took it.
  7. My feelings were wrong.
  8. He made a point of telling me we were sexually incompatible.
  9. His temper got so bad I had to physically remove him from two social events that I can recall.
  10. His job required frequent trips out of town. I would pick him up if his flight didn’t get in too late, but if he had a late flight he took a cab home. The particular instance, his flight was getting in around 10 and he was flying into snow. Snow is a big deal here because they don’t have the means to clean the streets adequately. We made an agreement I would pick him up unless I was too tired, in which case he would take a cab. Sure enough, I fell asleep and woke with a start about 10 minutes before I was supposed to leave. I left a voice mail message for him telling him I was really tired and to take a cab home. I also told him that if there weren’t any cabs to give me a call and we would figure something out.He phoned shortly after he landed and said, what the hell kind of message is that. I said it was what we agreed to; I was tired and asked him to get a cab home. If there weren’t any cabs to let me know. He demanded to know how I knew there weren’t going to be any cabs. Huh? I thought. I told him I didn’t but these things do happen. In the end we agreed that I would pick him up at the train station. The car is not great on snow and by the time I got in the car the snow was still falling at a decent clip, there was about 3 inches on the ground and none of the streets had been cleared or sanded.When I arrived, he was waiting; he didn’t tell me for how long. He insisted on driving home. For the next hour he berated me on the following (in no particular order):
    * Knowing there wouldn’t be cabs at the airport.
    * The tone and content of my voicemail message.
    * Driving in inclement weather with my bad night vision in a car that is not good on snow.
    * Not letting him get a hotel room.
    * Having become totally unreliable. I was now someone who could not be trusted with routine tasks.The following morning the scolding continued followed by the silent treatment. I was in trouble for picking him up just as I would have been in trouble for not picking him up. I found myself in this double-bind many times over the course of our marriage.
  11. When my insomnia began affecting his quality of life he suggested that I sleep upstairs in the guest bedroom, so I did. No small part of my insomnia was sleeping with a man who snored. We argued about it several months later when he told me he made the suggestion so that I would “fight for our marriage”. Fight for our marriage? You kicked me out of our bed. His response was, Yeah. Guess I misplayed that one.
  12. He stopped holding my hand.
  13. I can count the number of time he apologized, over 14 years, on one hand.
  14. After we separated I was still living in the house. It was still my house, after all, he had yet to buy it off me. One day, I was in the kitchen he pinched my nipples. I slapped his hands away and told him he had no right to do that. I was no longer his wife and not his girlfriend and he was to never do that again.
  15. At a party at a friend’s house I was dishing lamb into a serving dish when he walked by and swatted me on the ass. As I had meat in one hand and a stoneware serving dish in the other, I couldn’t slap him or knee him in the balls. I yelled at him. Asked him if he’d lost his mind. Told him he had no right. Admonished him that this was the second time.
  16. One evening we were having dinner with a friend when the novel Death in Venice came up. My ex had not read Death in Venice, but our friend had. Specifically, the idea that someone can be so beautiful and yet you can desire him or her in a nonsexual way. In the book that desire to posses beauty ultimately leads to the protagonist’s undoing. Our friend asked my ex if he had ever looked at a beautiful woman and not wanted to fuck her? My ex said no. Our friend’s response was, the you’re a pig.
  17. He’d leave porn open on his laptop. His laptop was also open.
  18. If we went out he would drink and I would invariably drive home. Most of the drive home he would question my ability to see and criticise my driving. Finally I said to him, if I get pulled over I get a warning. If you get pulled over you go to jail for DWI/DUI/DWAI. Take your pick.
  19. One evening I came home from work and he was in a particularly bad mood. I asked him what was wrong and he said he was hungry. I asked him why he didn’t get have dinner? He said he wanted to have dinner with me, which I thought was very nice. I suggested he have a snack then we can have dinner together when I get home. He responded with we need to talk and then proceeded to tell me how my job was affecting our marriage. I told him that my job allowed us to live in this apartment, allowed him to see his specialists in New York, and allowed us to take a vacation. I was not quitting my job. He got up and left.
  20. He pitted me against my family.
  21. He called my memory into question constantly.
  22. We used to split holiday time between our families. As time went on we spent more holidays with his family and fewer with mine.
  23. He treated me like an invalid whose judgment could not be trusted.
  24. When I went to his house to get the last of my stuff, I found a used pregnancy test in the garbage.
  25. He left ahead of me to spend Thanksgiving with his parents, forgetting by birthday. Now forgetting once I can understand, but he did this three years in a row.

Writing this list I saw patterns emerge. He tried to separate me from my family. My relationship with my family is complicated. My mother is mentally ill and my father has his own unique set of issues. But his family is little better. His father is a verbally abusive tyrant and his mother is an enabler. Then there was the relentless negativity. He would point out a problem, I offer solution(s)/suggestion(s), he dismisses suggestion(s) out of hand. This happened countless times. It happened when I wasn’t home in time to make dinner. It happened with every job he had. It happened with the housework and the unequal distribution of labour. Nothing I did was right. His happiness was a moving target. Not that it was my job to make him happy. He even said that I shouldn’t let his moods effect me but when you love someone you want them to be happy. It makes that other person easier to live with. He stopped being happy with me around year two-the dinner incident mentioned above. I stopped being happy when we moved for his first post doc. By year three we were two unhappy people slogging it out together in a place we hated working and waiting for his big break. That break didn’t come while we were married. He thinks he’s closer now, but his job is still grant funded and his current girlfriend is not divorced.

I read this list and I have to resist the temptation to ask myself when did I turn into such a doormat? Each incident I have in my notebook, keep in mind there are 16 things not on this list, was like a slap in the face. I never knew when the next slap was coming nor the impetus. When it comes it’s still a shock and it stings and you just want it to stop. I found myself doing just about anything to make it stop. Mostly, I retreated into what I know-silence.

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