Mike* and I were only together for a year after we got engaged. I tried to start wedding planning as soon as I could. I wanted to have my ducks in a row, and a date as far in advance as possible to give friends and family in Canada as much notice as I could so they could come. Mike wasn’t interested in helping, which I’d assumed might have been the case. He’s a guy, and it’s not really a guy thing, so I started the planning on my own. Then he was angry that he wasn’t getting to make any decisions, so I’d ask him what he wanted, and he didn’t want to talk about it. It was like trying to get blood from a stone. Soon enough I gave up, and decided I’d start planning again when he was ready.
I remember one night in winter he was mad at me for something, probably because Tigger had gone to the toilet on the floor. Tigger is very particular about the toilet. If there’s anything in one of the two litter boxes, she’ll go on the floor next to it. Luckily it was on tiles, so it was easy to clean. Anyway, I was taking the bag with paper towels used to clean up outside to the bin. I was in my PJs, pants and a short sleeve shirt. As soon as I stepped outside Mike locked the doors. He locked me outside, at night, in a t-shirt, in winter. It would have been about 5 degrees Celsius. He left me out there for 20 minutes.
I was offered another job, which I took. I was hired as a contractor, and I was making stupid amounts of money. Mike still wasn’t working, but I was making enough to pay all of the bills and live comfortably, if I didn’t put any money away for tax (I wasn’t being taxed weekly as I was working as a contractor, so I would have to pay a large sum of tax at the end of the year). As the months went on, I became more and more worried about when it would come time to pay tax. Mike kept telling me not to worry, and that he’d get a job soon, and it would all be okay.
I booked a cruise for us out to the pacific islands. I was so excited, and Mike had never been on a real holiday before. The first night I was terribly sea sick (don’t judge me too hard, we were skirting a cyclone). I headed back to the room to vomit and lay down. Mike didn’t come to see if I was okay. He stayed out all night and got wasted, then he slept the entire next day. He spent most of the time on that ship in bed. I went to performances and comedy shows by myself. I sat in the sun by the pool by myself. I ate by myself. Mike came out when he was ready to drink again, or when the ship was docked and we went ashore. His excuse for staying in bed the whole time was that he could never sleep at home, and the bed on the ship was so comfortable that he wanted to take advantage of it and sleep as much as he could.
When we got home we got a puppy and named him Floyd. He was tiny, the most adorable German Shepherd puppy you’ve ever seen. He was pure bred from a breeder, and cost me $2000. Mike had always talked about how he wanted a puppy, and I thought this might help him with his depression. Nope. All of his usual behaviour continued to escalate.
When he came to bed sober there was no intimacy. Sometimes he’d want me to service him, but he had no interest in doing anything for me, not even sex, I was lucky if I got any once or twice a month. If I refused he would get angry and accuse me of cheating. He would stay up in bed and watch TV while I tried to sleep. He would push me away if I tried to cuddle him. He refused to even hold my hand. If I was breathing heavy in my sleep when he was trying to fall asleep he would knee or elbow me in the back. There wasn’t even a hint of love or caring from him. I constantly felt like I was just a pest to him.
He was getting so drunk, so often. He stopped reserving himself for the weekend, and started getting black-out-drunk on week nights. Nights where I needed to be up at 5am the next day. Nights where he would blast the music as loud as it would go and sing the songs even louder. Nights where he would be so out of it mentally that he would fabricate something to be mad at me about, or just be mad about nothing, come into the bedroom when I was trying to sleep, physically drag me out of bed, and then drag me down the hall by my legs while I was crying and screaming. He would grab me so hard that he would bruise me. He would throw things at me and hurt me. He would stand over me while I was in a ball, as small as possible, crying on the floor, and yell at me and threaten to kill me, and tell me that he didn’t care that I was crying. He would call me selfish, and stupid, and fat, and lazy, and a whore. One day he pulled the flat screen TV down in the bedroom and smashed it and damaged the carpet. He threw a glass fruit bowl in the lounge room so hard one night that it took chunks out of the linoleum, and of course, shattered. A few times I locked myself in the bedroom to get away, he kicked the door in every time.
I couldn’t get away. He wouldn’t let me sleep. He would come in, harass and abuse me, then leave for a few minutes, I would fall asleep, and then he’d come back in and wake me up. This would go on to the point where I started to lose my mind, and I had to make a conscious effort not to start hitting my head on a wall. The only thing I found that helped me get through this without physically knocking myself out was taking several anti-nausea pills. They make you drowsy, and if you take enough of them, they make your mind and body numb. So when I couldn’t take it anymore, I’d take some of these, and then I could just lay in bed and not care. He could be standing over me, yelling at me, threatening me, and I could just lay there and not give a shit anymore.
After one of these drunken nights, he’d left his phone in the lounge room. I was watching TV and he received a message that flashed across the screen,
“Why do you keep trying to contact me?”
I had that feeling in my gut that something was wrong. I probably shouldn’t have done what I did, but I did. I went through his phone. The contact that messaged him was someone he used to work with. Mike’s previous message was “Meet me at the Glen tomorrow night.” No other messages. I thought it was strange that this person would be telling him to stop contacting him if he’d only sent one message, so I dug a little more. I found all of the deleted messages. It was his ex, Peeta, and they weren’t just talking, they’d been meeting up. I contacted her to find out what had happened, and she told me that they just met up, they hadn’t slept together. I took her at her word. She told me that he’d told her that he was working in the mines in Perth, and was just back in town for some training. I told her that he hadn’t worked in the last 3 years, and that I was fully supporting him, his alcoholism and abuse.
I was livid. I’m normally very capable of controlling myself, but I wasn’t in control. I was ready to hurt him. I busted in through the bedroom door and asked him if there’s anything he wanted to tell me. He looked at me annoyed and confused. I asked him about the name he’d saved her number under and he tried to play it off. I called him out and told him that I knew who it was (didn’t say her name though), and he still continued to lie and tell me it was the guy he used to work with. I stared at him with what I can imagine were the fires of hell behind my eyes, said her name, and then told him that he was just like every other fucking guy. I told him to get out of my house. I yelled at him, and he’s lucky that I didn’t do more, it took everything I had not to do more. I had done everything for this fucker. I copped all of his shit, I paid all of his bills, I worked my ass off and listened to him call me a fat lazy bitch every day, and I still stuck by him and tried to help him. And this was how he repaid me. I didn’t talk to him for a few days, but eventually I got over it.
One Sunday morning Mike got a phone call while we were still in bed. He went outside to take it which was unusual for him. When he came back I asked him who it was. It was his dad. In the very beginning of our relationship he told me that his dad had had a heart attack and was dead. He told me that when he turned 40, he would come into $800,000 inheritance from his dad. So you can understand why I was so confused in this moment that his dad had just phoned him. He told me that his dad had had a heart attack, and at that time they weren’t getting along, so the rest of his family allowed him to believe that he was dead. He found out just a few weeks before he met me that he wasn’t dead, but hadn’t processed it yet, so he told me that he was. Later, at the very end of our relationship, I quizzed him. If he knew his dad was alive, but still considered him dead, and told me that, why did he lie to me about inheritance money. He admitted then that he had always known that his dad was alive. So it was all a lie. A complete fabrication.
Mike found a motorized cooler at the auto store. You could sit on it, it had wheels and handlebars to steer, and an engine. A ride-on cooler/ esky. He wanted it so bad. It was $500 and I told him no, but he kept asking. I told him that if he agreed to go to 3 AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings, that he could get it. He agreed instantly, and we got it. He never went to any of the meetings, and got angry whenever I brought it up.
We planned an engagement party, and my best friend, Melissa, from Canada flew over for it. It was so amazing to see her. Since I was working, she would spend her days with Mike. Most of the time they did nothing. I asked him to take her to the beach one day, so he did, for about five minutes. Other than that, he didn’t take her anywhere. I tried to make up for it on the weekends, going to the zoo, sailing, trying to cram in as much as we could. Melissa could see that Mike wasn’t treating me well, and told me that while I was at work, he was perfectly fine and happy, and as soon as I came home, something changed, and he would find something to fight me about.
The engagement party went well, that is until everyone went home. Mike’s friend Paul was planning to stay the night, and the two of them drank and drank and drank. Then there was a loud bang. Turns out they’d been screwing around in Paul’s new V8 Ute. Mike had ploughed it into a tree on the property. It was like a dream. It didn’t feel real. No one was hurt, but the fact that this idiot could be so stupid, my mind was blown. That night Melissa told me that she thought I was settling. She went home two days later, I wish she was still here.
My contract at work changed, and I was no longer a contractor, but an actual employee, being paid nearly half of what I was. I was vary stressed about money, I needed to pay all off the tax that I hadn’t paid for the last 6 months. About $30,000, and we had nothing saved. I started applying to jobs for him. He got a few interviews. He never bothered to get out of bed for them. All of his talk about “Don’t worry, I’ll get a job and we’ll be able to pay your tax” was bullshit. I was left with this massive tax debt, which I’m still paying off, because I listened to him.
Mike ran into his niece Tina* at the shops one day, and she told him that her dog had died. When he told me, I felt so terrible for her. I sent her a message. I said that I knew I wasn’t meant to be talking to her, but that I wanted to tell her that I was sad for her, and that I missed her. Well, that was it. We started talking again, and caught up for coffee. She told me what she’d been through in the year that we didn’t talk, and I was so sad that I couldn’t have been there for her during those times. But we were friends again, and we started working out together again.
One night, Tina and I went to the gym, and then she was going to come home and watch a movie with Mike and I. When we got home the stereo was on and that familiar feeling of anxiety twisted in my stomach. This wasn’t going to be a good night, I could feel it.