“Hi, you don’t know me, but my name is Hannah and I know that you and my boyfriend have been cheating on me.”  I could almost see her arms crossing and feel her deadly glare through the phone.

Three months after I was able to keep my abuser out of our home, I received a call that really put things into perspective.  He, of course, did not leave without a fight, and even though he had found a new woman’s bed to rest his head regularly, he still very much tormented my life.  As I was trying to learn how to breathe again, without his approval on the matter, life was a mess.

I was trying to get back into working to find a way to support my son and I, with all of the debt my ex helped create without him helping in the payback at all.  I purchased the majority of his business equipment to help him get started, I put the house in my name and on my debt, I bought the furniture, I paid for everything since he was just getting started.  I was wounded, devastated, barely functioning.  He would pop in from time to time, just to make sure I stayed off track, he enjoyed me not being able to get ahead of things, to get well.

So one Tuesday morning, I got up in the bed we once shared, and I looked up at the shattered tv on the wall thinking “I should really take that down,”  but it was a good reminder, of all the damage done.  I took a shower and looked in the mirror at what was left of me.  Shambles of a once strong, independent woman.  I turned to the cabinet behind me, wincing as I remembered being slammed against it, time and again. I went to the closet in search of clothes that fit me, and my ever shrinking body, but that were also my own.  He didn’t like my style so he changed it by giving me gifts of items he wanted me to wear.

I walked out of the room down the hall of photos that looked like a very happy family, and I felt like I was in someone else’s house.  Out into the driveway to get in my car and my phone rings.  Tired and anxiety ridden, I searched for it in my bag.

“Hello?”

“Hi, you don’t know me, but my name is Hannah and I know that you and my boyfriend have been cheating on me.”  I could almost see her arms crossing and feel her deadly glare through the phone.

Silence fell over me for a moment as I realized this was another one of his women.  “Excuse me, but who are you referring to, because I am currently not with anyone, anymore.”

“My boyfriend is John, and I know that you two are having an affair.”  She said with an attitude of what I remembered to have had my first time around with this same situation.  “I found his phone the other night, and I want to know what the hell is going on!”

“Well Hannah, I can assure you that you are incorrect.  You see John and I have been, excuse me, were together for the last 7 plus years.  We share a home together, our kids lived with us, and I promise you that while you are accusing me of cheating with him, it is actually you that he is cheating with.”

“Oh my God, what do you mean?!  Wait, I am so confused.”

“I understand honey, I have been there, too many times, which is one of many reasons we are separating our life together.  Let me break this down for you.  He is a cheater and an abuser.  We have been together and you are the 9th one I now know he has had an affair with.”

“But, but we weren’t just hooking up, he has been my boyfriend for nine months, my son started calling him daddy.”  I could hear the deafening truth ringing in her mind, confusion, heartbreak, devastation.  And while I had started the numbing process to get through, the same pain and sadness ran through me too.  Partly for myself, and partly for her.

“I am going to have to call you back,” she said, “I think I am going to be sick.”

“Listen, I have lived in this horror and chaos for far too long, and I am trying so very hard to survive.  You need to understand that, although I am sure you can’t.  [The first year with him was always bliss. Like a good drug, that he would then slowly start to manipulate you with.] My son too, calls him daddy and helping myself through this is more than I feel I can manage, adding on helping you is a tall order.  Now, I am not trying to be awful here, we are both victims, but please if you are going to call back, have your intentions in mind.  I have nothing left in me to battle.”  I knew she would want to hate me, resent me, not believe me.  Been there, done that.  So I had to set the boundaries.  “If you want more truth, if I can help you, I will.  But I am tired, I am defeated, and so I have very little to give you.”

She said she understood and changed her tone.  She softly told me that she was so very sorry and that she needed to wrap her head around this new information.  I of course understood and we got off the phone.  And just like every other day, it was drive to work, put one foot in front of the other, keep pushing.  That kicked in the gut feeling was nothing new, but it still knocked the wind out of me every time.  Sometimes, it still does.

She called me later that evening, and I did my best to answer her questions, knowing the place her heart was.  The news was a turn she hadn’t expected.  We spoke for twenty or so minutes before I had nothing left to give, and I wished her well.

To this day, I can remember the pain in her voice, the shock, the want to call me a liar, but the little voice inside her already knew it was true.  I don’t know what came of them, or how she handled things.  If she followed through on her anger and pushed him away, or if she tried and he convinced her otherwise.  He was good at that… eight times good at that with me.  Luckily for me, at this point, I no longer cared to know.  I was finally done with trying.  To say it was over would be a lie, because after this came other calls, and more restraining orders, and confrontations, and continual harassing.  It lasted another year or so before I changed my number and blocked him, we moved on a moments notice with only a few friends allowed to know, and one angel of a police officer’s protection.

Still, he found us.  But every day I got stronger.

Looking back now, I realized that I knew then how wide and deep his manipulative, narcissistic net was thrown.  I was just a long-standing victim, nothing special, just another one he controlled, abused, manipulated.  The depth of pain he inflicted, spread over so many lives was astounding.

But I survived, my son and I made it through.  My Tuesday mornings will never again feel like that one.

T

 


 

** names were changed to protect the guilty