Long-Overdue Update; or, The Good and the Bad of Leaving an Abuser
I feel a novel coming on, fair warning... So BD and I split up early last year, and I have been in a very rough patch since with the exception of meeting the love of my life and getting engaged (imagine that, I AM marriage material!). Ex had manipulated me into a position of completely depending on him, and leaving him meant I would either be destitute or survive on his charity until I could get on my feet. He gave me money every month to support me and the children for about six months after I left, which really did help and I was able to finish out the semester I was in in school. Now, of course, he uses that charity against me. He owes me about $8,000 for credit cards that I had maxed out and loans that I got to pay for things for him when his small business was low on money. I hate to admit this but part of that $8,000 is $2,400 in back child support that I paid for him when former-SS's mother sued for retroactive and he didn't have the money to pay for it. Now I am left waist-deep in debt that he refuses to pay. He says that since he gave me money in the months after I left him, he's not going to pay for the debt that he owes.
He says that I lied to him and was unfaithful for the last year of our relationship. I was very unhappy and I was escaping to the internet to talk to my friends, which he is using against me. We had so many fights over my supposed infidelity, I just can't quantify how much of a problem it ALWAYS was for us literally from day one. He was insanely jealous of everything I did. He wouldn't let me leave the house. I couldn't go places with friends, I definitely couldn't go out to eat or to a party. I couldn't even get text messages or phone calls without him flipping out and thinking I was cheating on him. It drove me crazy. Really.
One day I was browsing YouTube and I came across this video: When Love Gets Violent. When I finished that video, I was in hysterics. I had no idea I was in an abusive relationship. I felt so utterly stupid and horrified, and I cried for the rest of the day. How could I not have known? Eight years with this man, and I had no idea. I felt betrayed by everyone I loved that they didn't do whatever they could to get me away from him (looking back, however, I have remembered so many times when people tried to talk to me about it and I avoided it, changed the subject, stood up for him, minimized the situation, etc). I completely depended on this man, I gave him anything he wanted, I walked on eggshells every day trying to keep him happy and prevent him flipping out, taking things from me, leaving me, threatening me, taking the children from me, hurting me... Yes, he hit me. Not many times, but he did. His abuse however was primarily emotional. He sucked the life out of me. Everything I did was to keep him from being upset with me.
Finally, I hit a breaking point. We got into an argument (not a surprise) and he used his classic, "If you don't like it, you can leave." So I said, "OK." He said, "When can I expect you to be gone?" I said, "The girls and I will be gone tomorrow morning." Then I went inside and packed a couple of suitcases with my headphones on. He texted me from across the house asking me what I was doing. I said if he wanted to talk to me he could come and talk to me face-to-face. So he did, and this is when the breakdown crying begging me not to leave phase kicked in. I was having none of it. I was done. The next morning after he left for work, I loaded the kids up and we left.
It has been really, really hard since then. I live with my now-fiance in a different state from BD, and we are diiiiirt poor (not the least because I'm paying about half my paycheck out just to keep up with the monthly minimums on the debt that I racked up for BD). He and I never married, so we didn't have to go through the court for custody stuff when we split up. I don't want to. Honestly I would love to keep the girls as far away from him as possible, but I can't make myself do that. I am a child from a broken home and I always told myself I would never keep my children from their father like my mother did to me, but it's so hard sending them off with him. Every other weekend is this big grand adventure; they go on trips and eat ice cream and ride horses and have an amazing time. He has the money to do these things with them, and then they come home to us and we work all week and clean the house and eat meals at home. It's just so hard knowing that they think their times with their father are these magical getaways from our boring everyday life.
He tells them so many things that hurt me to hear. They believe that he stands around in their room crying all day because he misses them so much. Honestly believe it. I tried explaining to them that their Daddy had a job and did lots of things during the day, and that while I'm sure he misses them he really doesn't stand around crying all the time because of it. They refuse to believe it. To them, that is reality.
He wants 50/50 physical custody of them, which I know I won't be able to prevent him from getting. I don't understand WHY, though. He didn't fight for more time with SS at all. I don't see why our children are being treated differently than his other child.
I have them call him every night before they go to bed, because that's what he wants. He never calls them. They call him. [I find it important at this point to mention that he never called his SS or spoke to him on the phone at bedtime while he and I were together. (Also, he does not have them call me while they are with him, I have to call them.)] They are not allowed to talk about my fiance. Any time they mention him, BD says they're not supposed to talk about him. I hate that. It's so disrespectful and it gives the girls the wrong message. I feel like it is putting a wedge between them and my FH, because they know that their BD doesn't like him.
Up until the day that they got back from visiting him last (this past Sunday), he and I would say a brief hello every night after he was done talking with the girls, and if we needed to say anything to each other about them we would at that time (coordinating pick-up/drop-off, weekends, etc). But since they got back on Sunday, every single time he has waited until I say, "Hello?" and then hung up on me.
I'm just so worried and frustrated. I feel like my life is so much worse because I decided to leave him, like I am being punished. I am happy with my FH, please don't get me wrong. I love him more than I ever thought I could love someone. But dealing with the stress, and the poverty, and the manipulation from BD is just so hard.