Note: The lyrics for Hurt by Nine Inch Nails can be found here. You will notice a discrepancy in my title and the lyrics, as I chose to utilize the lyric from the video I posted.
Note: I will attempt to place specific trigger warnings prior to a triggerable incident. However, I cannot make promises if I’m in the thick of this, as I assume I will be.
This is the entry I’ve been dreading since I began to do this shadow working. It’s this particular aspect of my past with my ex-husband that makes it supremely difficult for me to move on in any context. This is where I get to show everyone that not only is he at fault in the downfall of what we were together, but I also get to show you how I managed to survive. I did not do good things in order to survive. I was not a nice person to other people in order to survive. There are days where I look back in my grief and pain, in my terror and horror to those moments where I knew what I was doing was not about living in ma’at but about survival. I am not a hero in this. No one came out of this situation as a hero. We all did what we needed to in order to survive.
The Doorbell Demon incident was a turning point. Prior to this, it was easy to shrug things off. It was easy to assume that my ex-husband was just having a bad day or he was having a bad week. Working for the company that he did wasn’t exactly a cake walk. He saw a lot of things that ate him in a place that I had no ability to heal. However, he’s always been a control freak. Whether that is a quirk of personality or a quirk of how he was raised, I honestly cannot say. All I can say is that he began to try to influence both myself and the Sister in what we thought, what we wore, and what we believed. At one point, he accused the two of us of the Doorbell Demon incident with our very occasional, far-between rituals together. As he had allowed us to have a ritual at Samhain in the house, then that meant we had asked for something to enter our house. We made it worse by practicing divination.
Odd thoughts for a supposed Taoist, if you ask me.
I’ve said before, rather nastily, that he proclaimed his religious affiliation with Taoism. I don’t know a damn thing about Taoists or Taoism to be honest, but from the bits and pieces I’ve gleaned over the years, he was not a Taoist. After the incident with the Doorbell Demon, his beliefs were intrinsically tied with his childhood religion of Christianity. He professed otherwise, but how often he was to denigrate both the Sister and I for our divination practices, our rituals, and our beliefs say otherwise. I don’t think he ever went so far as to quote that stupid, incorrectly translated Bible passage about not suffering witches to live or anything at us, but it was pretty obvious that’s how he felt about it. It was easy to place blame on an outmoded Christian belief – that by seeking alternative forms of religious practices is to “invite the devil” in your home – but it was really and probably just attached to his conflicting, angry roil of emotions.
Whatever the case may be – demon, monster, abusive – we all suffered for it.
I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real
The Sister really integrated well with the friends she made in college. I’m more of an outsider, wallflower persona so I didn’t mesh nearly as well. She was quite fundamental, from my perspective, in that group. She has this knack to bring people together that don’t necessarily belong. It’s weird. I don’t know who suggested that we all go to the Goth club on Fetish Night, but this sounds like something the Sister would suggest. The ex-husband, the Lumberjack, the Sister, and I were all going to go, meeting up with the college friends we had made. Plans are all fine and dandy, but they end up breaking all the time. That wasn’t going to necessary prevent the Sister from going to Fetish Night, though.
I believe it was just prior to this group date that the Lumberjack broke up with the Sister. She was inconsolable for the first few days after the break up, but I think the ex-husband’s “on high” proclamation that she must have fucked something up there that made her get over it. She wanted him back because she didn’t want to be alone – not because she loved him, not because he was the best sex of her life, not because of anything other than the fact that she wanted to be in a relationship that was not with ex Demon Boy. I feel this so hard it’s amazing. That’s probably why the ex-husband and I were together as long as we were, honestly. It doesn’t matter. The first part of the group date plan got a little fucked up because the Lumberjack. The other was because of my ex-husband.
His best friend, who we had lived with prior to our move to Texas and his best friend’s move to join the air force, came up for his first visit to Massachusetts since joining the air force. He had one night to hang out with his best friend and that night was Fetish Night. The plan was that the ex husband, his best friend, and someone else would all meet up with us at the club a little later. The ex husband and best friend decided they wanted to stay at home and play chess or maybe they were going to do their roll-playing online game thing together. I don’t remember. But, it became that the Sister was my date and we were going out in style.
Here’s the weird thing about this. The ex-husband was nominally okay with this. I think it’s because his best friend was there, so he couldn’t quite fly off the deep end in front of him. I honestly do not know. However, the really weird part was how much the ex-husband freaked out over the Sister’s outfit. I was wearing a long slinky skirt, boots, and a tube top that barely covered my tits. She was wearing a pink-and-white corset with a pink skirt that was kind of see-through. Technically, we were both wearing the same amount of cloth on our bodies, but it was the Sister’s outfit that made him flip out. “You can’t go out in that,” I believe he said at one point. This illustrates a few things to me.
He had realized that he needed to begin controlling and manipulating the Sister. I think he decided this because he had begun to realize how much influence she had over me, possibly in regards to our tacit agreement about how ridiculous his Doorbell Demon shtick was. He thought he would start with innocuous things first. He apparently had not actually met the Sister in any way prior to this. If there was one thing that she would never budge on, it was going to be how she deemed fit to dress up when going to a club. He had realized that he had fucked up in letting her live with us. This point is dependent on his being aware, even in the remotest of his consciousness, of his controlling behavior. But he realized that he needed to start forcing his opinions on her, possibly because the Lumberjack was no longer around to do so.
Funny story of all funny stories, guess who showed up at Fetish Night.
During the month of November, our computer stopped working. I don’t remember what was wrong with it, honestly. It could have been a virus. It could have been the Internet. It could have been a lot of things that caused the Sister and I to be unable to use the Internet. In my more Machiavellian moments, I wonder if the computer was broken at all and this was just another attempt of my ex-husband to control the two of us. To me, it is sad and depressing to even remotely be able to think that about someone who you used to profess love for. However, it would be one more act that he committed in an effort to get whatever he wanted.
The computer was down for about a month. And in that time, I began to very quickly become the introvert I used to be. I had an online blog that the ex-husband had complete access to. He was able to read it at any time he chose and he could easily, easily find out what the password was. I never kept anything hidden in that blog, but I think he thought I did. I did not create certain categories that he would be unable to see. I did not create a new blog to bitch about him in. The blog, however, was yet another way in which he could not control me. I could write and say whatever I wanted, when I wanted, on that blog. So, really, it would not surprise me to learn that the computer was “broken” for that long on purpose.
So, in that time as I became more and more introverted, more and more quiet, more and more lost in a world of fantasy that I created in my own mind, I finally broke. I had to speak with someone outside of my home. I began to talk, at this time, with TH on a more friendly basis. He was, you see, part of that group of college friends. The Sister had other people she reached out to, but I chose TH. I don’t know why or how or when, really, but he became pretty fucking important.
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything
As I’ve said, I’ve always had a very wallflower persona. I may have been a core component to some high school groups I belonged to, but I didn’t really say anything. I was just a figurehead, or more appropriately, I was just always there. To not have my presence in that group would have been like walking out of the house without socks. This may have been the case, later on, with numerous groups of friendships I had. In fact, there are days when I think of how much the Sister got along with our group of college friends and how I had one or two I spoke with frequently. It was this intense desire to keep my trap shut about everything, to internalize anything I was feeling at any given moment, that I ended up bottling up a lot of stuff.
The month of December was hell.
The original start date for my depression of that year was October. I know that clearly. I had not prepared myself in any way to contend with working, going to school, a mentally not-all-there husband, and the memory crush of a really awful month. I think I was able to push back the side effects of that time period and all of the non-preparation I did for that month after years of being away from really having to face any of it. (I know I’m being hopelessly vague but my next shadow working series will contend with how much October sucks and why.) However, after the disaster with the Doorbell Demon and the Sister relying heavily on me to fill in the “I don’t want to be alone” gap that the Lumberjack’s leaving created, I had no real-time to at least mourn or at least attempt to confront my pains head-on. And it was easier to put it off in the face of the oddity of my ex-husband’s behavior.
TW: Depression/Suicidal Ideation
I let that depression eat at me in many ways possible. I did very little eating. I did very little speaking. I did very little of anything except to either read or watch television. I did learn how to knit, although I’ve forgotten most of what I learned back then. (Even though the Sister has re-taught me twice since then.) I did a lot of things with my depression except to face it. When I finally began to realize how morbidly and frighteningly depressed I was, I began to experience severe suicidal ideation. As someone who had been a cutter and depressed before, I knew the signs. It would get to the point where I would fantasize about taking the Neon out for a drive and wrapping it around a tree. When I realized what was happening, I knew I needed help.
I don’t know who began the conversation first, myself or the ex-husband. I remember trying to address what was happening to me with him. It wasn’t the first time in our relationship that I had tried to explain my feelings to him and failing utterly. I may be good at writing things, but I am not so good at saying those very items out loud. The worst part is that after confessing that I needed help, that I was scaring myself, and that I needed some fucking help in all of this, he said to me, “You’re behaving like every other section-12 I’ve ever had to transport.” This is a double slap in the face. A section-12 is a mentally ill patient and paramedics do not take any section-12’s comments, concerns, fears, or statements seriously. Maybe this has changed in the last seven years, but back then, that’s how it was for my ex-husband. And that’s how I’ve come to see it in most paramedics.
I bowed my head low and said, “I need help,” in the face of his accusation.
I was reaching out and trying, and he was accusing me of making everything up. I honestly don’t know what caused him to say what he said. And I can only speculate about how he actually meant those words. I can only comment on how I felt when he said that to me, which was that my problems were not real, they were imagined, and that I was not important. He quickly realized he had messed up and reached out to a therapist in our area and got me in to see her a month later. But, the words had been let out. He had said something very, very, very fucked up.
It hurt. /TW
I still had a month until therapy, though, and in that time I tried to use my friendships as a good bouncing off point to ease the ache. I made it abundantly clear to TH that I was morbidly depressed. I honestly don’t know if he was able to figure out what was actually causing the depression – holdovers from past traumas coupled with an unsupportive husband – or if I told him. It doesn’t matter. He didn’t really say anything, which was a boon. He just listened. And he had the best hugs to provide: broad shoulders for crying and snot, gentle hands to relax the tension in one’s back, and the right noises to keep the skittish from bolting. I didn’t have to tell the Sister anything. She lived with us, heard the fights, and invariably I told her about them on our way to school or late at night. Besides, it wasn’t difficult to discern that the deep bags beneath my eyes were simply from lack of sleep.
The Sister had her own stuff at this time that’s important. She got back together with the Lumberjack. This was a bad idea all around. She’ll admit to everyone that this guy was a mistake, not the capital M kind, but it was just not a good idea. I’ve stated before that this was an act to get away from her ex as much as possible and the Lumberjack was his total opposite. She succeeded in that regard. However, the Sister is a very passionate person in all things and the Lumberjack was not. I think his passions went to Naruto and the Dresden Files. Part of me believes that some of the aches and pains she began to suffer during this time was due to the fact that she was forcing herself into a situation that she had no business forcing herself into.
One night, she just fell the fuck over in the middle of our kitchen. The paramedic didn’t react. Her boyfriend didn’t react. I rushed over and started flipping the fuck out. I wasn’t the one who was supposed to know what to do in a situation like this. My ex husband was supposed to be jumping up and doing his paramedic thing. However, I think at this point he had decided that everything and anything that the Sister said was a lie or a made up story. I think he also felt that whatever she did was a lie. This is a recurring theme, I think, with him. It’s possible he was aware that she was already cheating on the Lumberjack with ex Demon Boy and maybe he thought her guilt was forcing this on her. I don’t think that; I think she was in some damn pain.
We took her to the hospital – as I said, she was in a lot of pain. Neither the paramedic nor her boyfriend stayed with her. I did. I read Timeline by Michael Crichton to her, I think. Or maybe it was another book about time travel. She still had a lot of kind of wacky ideas in her head placed their by ex Demon Boy and time travel was something she was still very interested in then. I don’t think she is now, or not nearly as much as she was. I held her hand as they made her loopy on drugs. I did my best to get the nurses to listen to me when they tried to give her 4cc’s of morphine. Drugs react fast in her and I wanted them to give her a half dosage. The mean nurse wrote down 4cc’s after I told her not to do that. The nice nurse who administered it gave her a half dose, which was even better because we found out that the Sister was allergic to it. It was also really great that the nice nurse was carrying around some anti-morphine shit in her pocket because she had had 2 people experience allergic reactions to it that night. Later, we made jokes about how she would never be a heroin addict.
That was the first real time we told official people we were sisters.
The next week, I barely passed through anything. I was in my own little world. The Sister did not bother telling me about her reopening of her relationship with the ex-Demon Boy. Later, I would get incredibly suspicious. But at that time, I was very much lost in my own head. I wasn’t paying attention to anything but my own misery. It was around this time that I was asked not to use my cell phone so much because we “didn’t have the minutes.” It meant that the two out-of-state resources I had – my ex-Christian friend and my mother – had suddenly become off limits. TW: Suicidal Ideation I began to feel extremely isolated and more depressed than before. The thought of wrapping my car around a tree was looking very very very appealing. /TW
I was invited to a party, actually, by TH. His girlfriend-of-the-time had decided on a huge, huge party for their six-month anniversary. Never mind the actual feels of what TH wanted – something quiet and romantic – but she decided, “His house will be empty of parents and little brother. Yes, we need to have another excuse to behave like children.” It’s one thing to behave that way when you were TH and most of the people we hung out with were 18. She had a kid and was only a year or so younger than me. She had no right to behave like some moron who was going spring breaking for the first time. But, I had been invited. I said “no” because I had to work and then because the Sister wasn’t going to go for whatever her reason was and then because I was sure the ex-husband wouldn’t like it.
But, I had to do things for myself, sometimes. There were moments when I could stand up and say, “I am a human being and I will do things like human beings.” As TH pointed out to me at one of his last minute, “please please please come to my party because everyone is friends with [girlfriend’s name] and I want someone who is my friend there for me.” And I was one of his friends… so I went.
It was nice. It was that night that I realized why I had always felt like I knew [girlfriend’s name] before that. She was a year or two younger than me. She had gone to the high school down the street. And she had slept with my boyfriend-not-boyfriend in my bed. It’s more complicated than that, obviously, but that did not predispose me to liking her. The fact that she treated TH like complete shit after taking away his virginity (yes, he’s slept with two people – me and her) and using him like everyone else in her life? That really didn’t predispose me to liking her any more. It would only get worse with time.
So, I went to the party for a little bit. I wasn’t there long because I had to drive back to my own house. I had a while to be free and quiet and without anyone else around. I was looking forward to the drive home when TH walked me to my car. We both talked a little bit in the ice cold of winter, snow on the ground and sparkling under a very lively moon. We hugged and pulled back and there was a moment where time froze. You know those moments? Time freezes because you will it to or just because it forgets how to move forward. And in that moment, I could have kissed him with his girlfriend inside and my husband at home and it would have been much too insane. The moment passed and we ignored the awkwardness of our final goodbye. We didn’t say anything about that almost-kiss.
Stress is a funny thing. It makes people do insane and crazy things. I began to get severe nervous stomach issues. I’ve always had a nervous stomach. Even though TH and I had not kissed and even though my ex-husband was completely unaware, it made me nervous. Coupled with the fact that finals were coming up, I was often feeling incredibly nauseated and generally nervous. The Sister was having her own issues with nerves since, you know, she was busy cheating on the Lumberjack under our noses. We all had our problems. None of us would have known what the ex-husband’s were since he didn’t confide in us. It doesn’t matter what we were all feeling at this point. There’s still no excuse.
The ex-husband and I were arguing about the dishes. I believe the Sister was making dinner at this moment. I think we had requested that he do a load of dishes because she needed something to cook in. I don’t remember. He told us that all we did was go to school, so we could do the damn dishes “once in a while.” This is hilarious – I did the dishes a lot. The Sister did a lot of our cooking, so she was mostly exempt. This left dish duty to the ex-husband and myself. None of us were good housekeepers (though I would like to think that the Sister and I are better at it now) and we knew that going in. The ex-husband and I had volunteered for most of the dish duty and I had promised I would clean the bathroom. (I like cleaning the bathroom, I guess?) So, at this point, I felt that the ex-husband was pretty fucking obligated to the do the dishes especially after telling us we were lazy layabouts, more or less.
TW: Threat to Personal Safety
We started fighting about it. The Sister was behind me at first, I think, and he turned with a sharp knife in his hand. I think I had started maneuvering myself out of his way or I had been leaving the kitchen because the argument wasn’t doing anyone any good. I don’t remember. I just remember turning around for a final snotty remark when I saw him holding a knife towards the Sister’s midriff. I know I didn’t realize that he was threatening her with it right away. And I know for a fact it didn’t dawn on me until much later that he had started the threat at me. I don’t remember what she said to him about it, but she does. “What are you going to do with that? Do you know how many people will kill you if you so much as touch me?” I think he may have said something snide about her having no one in her life. I blocked out the rest, I know, but the Sister says that it continued along the lines of, “I am not under your thumb. I will scream to high Heaven and tell everyone what you did. And my father, my grandfather, my uncles, and my brother will kick your ass from here to the equator.”
I don’t remember.
I don’t remember him threatening me.
I don’t remember him as anything but holding the knife while the Sister stood in front of me. I was back towards the door to the hallway and she was between the stove and the kitchen table. I don’t remember… it’s a theme. I block it all out. And I know it’s for my safety because I’ll wake up one night, screaming as my mind goes over the edge. The man who swore to love and protect me was threatening me. And when my best friend got in his way, he threatened her, too.
He played it off, of course. “It was a joke.” But is threatening to stab someone ever a joke?
At the end of the month, TH confessed he had feelings for me. I know I openly reciprocated. I remember writing a very cryptic blog entry about it in my old blog, in which I mention that I wouldn’t say a damn word in case the ex-husband was monitoring me. I do know that I internalized the fear and anxiety of someone who was cheating… even though I wasn’t cheating. It felt that way, in a way, that I was doing wrong. And after his threatening our safety, I began to really fear the ex-husband. I internalized this with more nervous stomach. Everyone thought I was pregnant, at school, and I laughed at them. I laughed like a hyena in all of their concerned faces. “I can’t get pregnant; the ex-husband said so.” I’m not sure if I told anyone that, specifically, but that’s how it was.
I can remember running to the bathroom one day in between finals. And I can remember trying to throw up. And I can remember TH’s [girlfriend’s name] coming in to check on me. And I knew she wasn’t there because she wanted to be there, checking up on me, but that she had been ordered to check on me by TH. And I was grateful that someone cared as to why I was throwing up bile in the toilet.