Ahoy and welcome back to another edition of Anime Parlay. Today I wanted to get personal and talk about some of my experiences. This post will be along the lines of Living Up to the Myth of Masculinity. If that was your jam, thank you for reading and know I plan to get that open. IF this openness isn’t for you, no problem. Thanks for the visit and we’ll see you next time. With that in order, let’s go for it.
Let me start by saying fuck those individuals who have abused someone they have been in a relationship with. I don’t care if it was emotional, physical, sexual or whatever. Abuse is abuse and it is not okay, by any means, no matter what. I bring this up in response to the post by Chloe Dykstra titled Rose-Colored Glasses: A Confession. In the post/article, she describes the traumatic relationship she had with former @Midnight host, Chris Hardwick. The article has been making its rounds online and absolutely destroyed whatever image of Mr. Hardwick that I had. I actually looked up to that guy as fellow nerd but everyone is capable of doing evil. It’s important to figuratively kill your heroes. They’re always never what they appear to be.
I was in the midst of researching for another Gundam World-Building post when I came across Ms. Dykstra’s story. It wasn’t so much that Mr. Hardwick was the subject of allegations that pissed me off. It was his absolute, abhorant behavior towards Ms. Dykstra that really ground my gears. Why? Because my last relationship before I met my wife was similar. Eerily similar. I was impressed with Chloe’s story and bravery for even being able to put her experiences down in writing. It really got me thinking about my own past and how I have never really been able to share my feelings about it in a meaningful way. If it is not entirely inappropriate to share my own experiences, I would like to try with you beautiful, random internet travelers today.
It should be known that this is my perspective and should be taken as such. I can not speak on behalf of my ex. I also realize that as a straight, white male there can and should be a bias against my credibility. I would never call myself a victim unless I had literally been hit by a car and needed an ambulance. If anything, I hope that my story compliments that of Ms. Dykstra and enlightens anyone who reads it that certain behavior from your partner is unacceptable. Emotional abuse IS common. Especially, if your circumstances up to that point have not set you up to be as complete a human being in that moment as you could have been. I am attempting to come at this with sensitivity and empathy but rambling may occur. With that, let’s just jump into it.
New Horizon’s for The Captain
Our story begins back in 2011 when I decided to move to Washington to attend college. I was fresh out of the military and looking to put my GI Bill to use. It was why I served, after all. If you could have seen my ego back then, it would have made Tony Stark blush. I was 23, fresh off of sailing around the world, and just finished performing stand-up comedy. I made friends really quick, had no problem captivating a classroom of my peers with stories and jokes, and felt like I had really found my stride in life. All that was left was ending my 4+ year hiatus from being in a relationship. That was…an experience to say the least. Dating sites, the strangest first dates, and just learning what flavor of people live in the Pacific North West. It wasn’t until a few quarters into college that I met my ex.
She was my type from the outside. Nerdy, glasses, tall, slender, and had a brain-to-boot! I knew that I wanted to get to know her from the moment she introduced herself. We had the opportunity to work together in a group and I learned that we we’re interested in very similar things. World of Warcraft, shoujo manga, and the early comedy stylings of Brian Regan. As time passed, I built up the courage to ask her out but I was beat to the chase. A fellow group mate asked her out right before me and I missed my chance. I was bummed to say the least but I went on with my life. That relationship didn’t get more than a month in before ending. It was shortly after that that I made my move and asked out that shy girl in my class and we began dating.
The First Red Flag
This is no excuse for me but I am terrible at communicating. I know I majored in communications and I am no good at it unless it’s through a screen and even then. Either way, I invited my new girlfriend over intermittently over the first 2 months of dating. We would hang out a lot away from my place but I felt like if I needed a player 2, I could hit up my girlfriend and have her come over. There was never an inkling that anything was going poorly. If anything, I thought I was being respectful by taking it slow. We did, afterall, end up getting together after a 4th of July party at a friends house. We were getting hot and heavy when she expressed that she wasn’t ready. No problem. We talked about her last long-term relationship and I wanted to respect her choices. We ended up watching Beauty and the Beast instead. I had no clue what was coming next.
Over the last few months, I had introduced her to my group of friends that I had made since moving up. Fellow nerds and dorks just looking for a place to feel accepted. She was welcomed in and made close friends with my close friends. Excellent, or so I thought. About 2 months after we began dating, I went to a dinner meetup with my friends and planned on meeting my girlfriend there. When I arrived, she wasn’t talking to me. At all. At this point in my life, I hadn’t been in anything resembling a relationship in some time. I was in the military before this. Good luck with that. I had a lot to learn about how a relationship works and what is acceptable behavior. However, I decided that she didn’t have a real reason to be angry with me. We had only been dating for a short amount of time. I EXPECTED a conversation about what was happening. What I got was her going on the dance floor and dancing with other dudes with a mutual friend. What the fuck…
It wasn’t until she was done that she would go outside and wait for me to get out there, alone, before she would have a conversation. I ended up on my hands and knees, crying in the parking lot of a restaurant I would never visit again because of this evening. She told me I didn’t respect her, that I treated her like garbage, and was one of the worst guys she had ever been with. If I was only a LITTLE wiser, I would have been like “Fuck you, it’s been 2 months and week hang out almost exclusively”. She made our relationship sound like it was the say all, end all. She said if I even wanted a shot at ever having a relationship in my life, I had better start treating her like a queen. I was inclined to believe her because of my previously unrecognized…
I don’t talk about my family because there isn’t much to say there. Never knew my biological father. My biological mother met my would-be adoptive father (I consider this man my Dad since he was the father he never had to be for me) when I was 4. They would make me a brother and we lived together for awhile. My Dad worked 60+ hours a week and my mom would pop pills. We got hit, beat, you name it and I have never received any type of formal apology from my mother. Through out my childhood, my mother would abandon my Dad, brother, and I for men she met online, disappear for months to a year, and just pop back in when it was convenient. My sophomore year, my Mom would pull this one off one final time before my Dad ended it for good. We were told to pick sides and I chose the man I have no blood with because actions speak louder than words. I haven’t spoken to my mom since.
We grew up with my mom spending the little money we had on her addictions and amenities for herself while we went to school looking and smelling like shit through middle school. Don’t get me started on Christmas and my birthday which happens to be the day after Jesus’. We didn’t have the money, we had a few years where we did but after a while, I didn’t expect either. I still don’t celebrate my birthday for many reasons. I don’t use this as an excuse for my own shitty behavior but do recognize that one’s environment growing up can drastically affect how a child develops and what that child does as an adult. Either way, I don’t deal with abandonment very well and it definitely was a factor on why I decided in that dreary parking lot that I would do whatever it takes to keep this girl around. Even if it mean sacrificing myself.
The Dark Age Begins
The relationship went on but not without first stepping on landmine after landmine in conversation. I am an emotional dude. If my romantic relationships ended admirably, as they can with emotional maturity, I would refer to them fondly while referencing them. My ex didn’t like that. Any THING that could be considered female and take me away from her, I was not allowed to engage with. I as not allowed to talk about women, I was not allowed to converse with the women in our group unless she was around and it was limited. I was not allowed to even look at other girls without being scolded. To me, it seemed fair at the time. I was dedicated to one woman so why would I need to talk to others? Dumb. DUMB!
It was with those small concessions that I started to chip away at my own self worth. The relationship started to get expensive about 5 months in. Eating out so people could see how “happy” we were on social media. Going to the movies because “dates keep the relationship going”. She even managed to talk me into celebrating Christmas, spending copious amounts on decor and a tree, and then putting lots of gifts under the tree. I had to pretend that I liked the stupid holiday even though I hated it. I expressed to her why but she wanted it her way and I was obliged. After a certain point, I was wrapped so tightly around her finger that she (and my roommate at the time) literally had a home cooked meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on my dime.
After about a 8 months, a long time friend decided to move himself and his pregnant wife up North. Being myself, I offered to put them up until they could get on their feet. This did not sit well with my Ex. She didn’t like that there were even more people in the house. At this point, she was basically living in my apartment. She decided to cease, yes, cease all communication with me, move back to her mom’s place, and basically told me to pick between her or my friend and his family. In that same week, my grandfather died and my Dad seriously injured himself at work. I did not have the ability to process those events as they happened. My family never forgave me for missing the funeral but my Dad gave me a pass. I spent a week texting, messaging, delivering flowers, anything to get this girl back. Ultimately, I kicked my friend and his wife out to save my sham of a relationship. I have never forgiven myself for it as it went against everything I am as human being. It wasn’t even worth it as we spiraled down for a month or so more before calling it quits. That’s where it should end but…
NEVER Do a Second Tour!
By the time a week had passed after being single, I felt myself coming back to life. Managed to reconnect with some friends, go out and have fun for once, and managed to score a date with a blonde girl in my college who was beyond out-of-my-league. Things were looking up when I had my ex come over to collect her shit. MISTAKE! She played the “I’ll show up in sexy clothes” bit. It worked on me like a charm since we were rarely intimate. She told me in the beginning that sex was used as leverage in her last relationship and that she didn’t want that to be the case in our relationship. We didn’t have sex until the 4th or 5th month into our relationship. That’s not the issue. It was the lack of intimacy following that. Once we decided we would have sex, I had to wait an additional month before her birth control to kick in. After waiting, we had an intense week and a half before we got on the maybe once-a-month train. I was told I was lucky if I got sex. Even then, I was often denied and given a hand job instead. When I asked if there was something I could do or change or help be more communicative with that I was ready and willing. This made her accuse me of being a sexual deviant and that I had no respect for her. That I was no better than a man forcing himself on her. I just got to a point where I never asked for sex. I felt bad for even bringing it up. I didn’t want to seem like a creepy neckbeard.
Now, here she was, knowing exactly what she was doing. It was enough to make me cave and we got back together. We had a week of intense intimacy after getting back together and I thought things were going to get great but it never got better than that. We even made something of a “constitution” for our relationship. Idiot! We had a set of rules that we agreed upon and had framed for future reference. I had no clue that each and every one of those rules would be used against me in some way, shape, or form. I was simply trying to desperately show that I was dedicated to the relationship. That document served as one of biggest mistakes ever.
Over the next bit of time would be some of the most miserable of my life. More so than serving overseas. How can you please someone who doesn’t want to be pleased? I honestly only think that she wanted to get back with me to watch her dog that she adopted shortly before our first break up so she could have surgery. I also dumped over $500 into a birthday for her with all of her friends a few months later despite not really celebrating my own birthday ever. I really did think we would make it after that party until she froze me out again. I ended up house-sitting a house she was supposed to be house-sitting so she could be with her friends online. She had just gotten into streaming showcasing her attractive self online but not for me. Again, if I asked, I was a pig who only focused on sex ever. The last few weeks of that relationship was spend texting and Facebook messaging her asking to have a conversation, anything, that would lead to some sort of talking.
She sent me a break up letter via Facebook a week into December right before Christmas and my birthday. The letter was almost along the lines of “Well, we tried but it’s not working for me.” I was dumbfounded but still offered to complete the house-sitting since I always finish what I start. I felt relieved at first but then the rest of the month came. We had a Christmas party hosted by mutual friends. I went stag. She came with a date. I was triggered. I figured after that that I too could find a date. I started an OKCupid, filled in the info, and GOT FUCKING MATCHED WITH MY EX! Seeing her on a dating site after seeing her with a date and her telling me she needed time to heal was all a projection. I should have let it go. I didn’t feel justified by that though. I confronted her via Facebook while she was streaming with a friend. She didn’t respond immediately but when she did, it was BAD. She accused me of being a terrible partner, never caring about her needs, and that I was worse than her ex fiance. WORSE than the dude who tricked her into moving to a foreign country, got engaged, met someone else, and kicked her out on the street. I get it. I wanted to see that from her perspective but my dedication, sacrifice, and love was WORSE than that. Even if it was anger talking, I never EVER forgot that. It was the beginning of my depression if I can pick a starting point. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to Elsa sing “Let It Go” that Winter.
It didn’t end there. After that confrontation, she took the fight to my friends and sides had to be picked. I wouldn’t find out until later that she told them I abused her. That I was a shitty dude. I was humiliated and began to pull myself off of social media and out of the spotlight. Those same people ask why I don’t hang out anymore. I have no intention of telling them that they didn’t believe and chose the wrong person to side with years ago. It’s fucked. I lost so much just by trying to defend myself.
The Aftermath, Years Later
I am only, recently, as of a few months ago, coming back from this in a real and positive way and this blog is something that helps with it. I never knew what a controlling relationship looked like. It’s abuse. My wife knows it as abuse because her ex also pulled the same shit on her. It’s common. I still have trouble acknowledging it because for awhile there, I convinced myself that I treated my ex poorly and that I deserve all of this shit. Not any more. She broke me down to my core. I was the one who faltered. Still, I have a laundry list of things that still bother me from that relationship.
- Communicating with women – I was not allowed to talk, speak to, or look at women unless she was there. I was scolded once for having wandering eyes after making eye contact with a mutual. I was denied intimacy for describing the qualities of a female anime character I liked. There was a girl at one meetup who had a Pokemon Center tone as her ringtone. I heard it, said nothing, 1000 yard stare into the abyss and my ex asked if I was going to leave her to go fuck that girl because she liked Pokemon. I just couldn’t do anything right. Years later, I am still sketched out when I have to communicate with a female. My wife loves women and isn’t as insecure but says I get very distant when women are around. I am sorry, I am scared and working on it.
- No friends – Like I said, it came down to picking sides and I was not the popular candidate for whatever reason or rumor. The people that did side with me are still my closest friends. However, there is a reason why my phone has about 10 contacts and nothing more. Half of them are what little family I have. I can’t believe I allowed someone to convince me to forsake my family and friends in the relationship only to have no one on the other side. Disgusting.
- Do as I say, not as I do – I didn’t understand why I wasn’t permitted to do certain things when she was. She bought a puppy, had me help her raise it, and then took it with her after the breakup after she convinced me to not get a dog for the very same reason. I wasn’t allowed to smoke a jay with my friend once a week for a few hours of downtime while she could turn off her phone, ignore me, and go have a “girl’s night” whenever. If it wasn’t okay for me, it was fine for her. Unacceptable.
- Ego; BE GONE – I hate seeing my face. I hate hearing my voice. I spent so long convincing myself that I was the problem all along that I have grown into a humble recluse. Waste not, want not. I still have trouble just communicating in the meat space because I feel like a monster most days. So, I guess my desire for anonymity comes from never wanted to be recognized again. Luckily, I also changed my last name when I got married so even on paper, my former self no longer exists. And with it, my confidence.
Having met my wife and being able to say that this particular chapter in my life is done has only been a luxury I can experience lately. It’s pretty much me, my wife, our cat and goldfishes against the world. My wife has had the opportunity to get to know my ex intimately and she has given me my closure. She has been the one to help me realize that I was in a bad spot and that I don’t have to feel that way anymore. I don’t like bringing up anything because as a straight, white male I feel like my opinion should be invalid. I have no lines in this play. Unfortunately, this is one of those demons inside myself that I have had to face alone or with little guidance. I wouldn’t even be here pontificating this if it weren’t for the awesome cojones Ms. Dykstra has shown today.
As for my ex, I don’t wish anything upon her, good or bad. She has her own life, her own problems she has to live with, and only she can save herself. I wish her the best of luck in her own endeavors and hope we never have to meet face-to-face ever again for any reason. Hate is a strong word but I do have the utmost contempt for her and her unchanging behavior. She still strongly believes that people can’t change. I am an advocate for change and understanding. We’re on two different paths and that is that.
This post comes from a raw, untapped, and unfiltered place in the deepest parts of my heart. I don’t even feel like I am allowed to write about this or someone in such a negative way. Still, it was begging to come out. Begging to be heard. Men can be in abusive relationships too. Gender has nothing to do with it but that’s not to take away from the women who have suffered because of shitty men. Regardless of who you are and to what degree you were abused, you matter and you have allies waiting to hear you out. You’re not alone and today, I feel like I am not the only one. I have always just seen it as a “my problem” and thus, never speak of it.
Thank you for letting me use my platform to get some things off my chest. My goal with the post today is not to destroy someone’s reputation. Rather, to enlighten you to unacceptable behavior in a relationship. I had no idea that this wasn’t normal. I just didn’t want to lose someone I thought loved me as much as I loved them. I was used, told I wasn’t good enough, and I am only coming around to trusting myself again after 5 years. My advice, don’t let anyone take that light in your soul away from you. I am lucky enough to have someone special in my life to help reignite my spark but not everyone is that lucky. If you ever need someone to talk to, you can find my on Twitter. I will always be here to listen, especially if you’re feeling like you’re in a situation like this.
Okay, I have to stop because that insecurity about writing this in the first place is overwhelming. Sometimes you just have to hit “Publish” and hope people understand where you’re coming from. Please enjoy your weekend, give the middle finger to Mr. Hardwick, and we’ll see you for another round of Anime Parlay soon. Thank you, sincerely, for reading today’s post. Aloha!
Today’s art featured in the header image is NOT mine and I do NOT claim responsibility of it. I “remixed” it for journalistic purposes and credit should be given to the proper artists.
Found on ZeroChan.net: Juudai Yuuki Jaden Yuki (Yu-Gi-Oh! GX) #2241831
Artist’s Pixiv: https://www.pixiv.net/member.php?id=6327751
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