He Won’t Stop

“YOUR ABUSIVE PARTNER DOESN’T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH HIS ANGER; HE HAS A PROBLEM WITH YOUR ANGER. One of the basic human rights he takes away from you is the right to be angry with him. No matter how badly he treats you, he believes that your voice shouldn’t rise and your blood shouldn’t boil. The privilege of rage is reserved for him alone.” — Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men

 

I wrote two articles this weekend about bullying — the tradition kind of bullying and cyberbullying. It’s funny how closely my life connects to both of those articles, even though I am not a child, and I am not being bullied in school.

I’ve had several friends talk to me about this situation, and advise me to not write about it, but I am tired of being silent. I want my side of this to be heard.

As many of you have read in previous articles, I was psychologically abused by my estranged husband. You would think that after he left on Sept 14, the abuse would end, but I am not that lucky. It has continued through text, email, Facebook message, Twitter, and even comments on this blog.

Want to know what abuse looks like? Let me give you an idea:

November 2, 2014 — After weeks of going back and forth with my ex between not talking, hating each other, being civil, him realizing that civil does not equal getting back together, the cycle changed. He began using another tactic – jealousy. He told me that he had started seeing someone, and that he could no longer talk to me because he wanted to be faithful to her. I lashed out, minimally, because it did sting a bit. But then I realized that this was probably just another ploy to either A) hurt me or B) get me back. Either way, I decided to roll with it.

November 5, 2014 — After a couple of days of silence, he asked me to send the dissolution papers to him; papers I have yet to fill out because I am trying my best to work three jobs and raise two kids on my own. He told me in his request that it would be best that we pretend we never existed in each others worlds, and also that I was “just a stepping stone to get to a higher platform of bigger, better love.” (Yes, I know, this is why I am the writer…instead of him). Once again, I let it roll off my back, talked to a few friends, and moved forward.

November 7, 2014 — I got an email from my ex at around 4:30am, talking about how he had a new PS3, and wondering if I would like to talk and “catch up” later in the morning. I thought “Fuck off and die” might be too harsh a response, so I decided that silence was best. If you can’t say something nice, right? Around 4 hours later, after telling me that I only had to talk to him if I wanted to, he began emailing me. He emailed me three times, even claiming that someone was buying his phone, so I HAD to contact him back because he had to ask questions about the divorce. He then proceeded to text members of my family to get the message to me that he wanted to talk to me. At this point, I had blocked his text messages, so I only know that he sent three emails. My family members chose to not respond.

November 10, 2014 — The weekend was quiet. Then, on Monday, I received medication here that he gets by mail. I called him to let him know the medication was here, and I would return it to the pharmacy. While he had me on the phone, he asked his questions about the divorce (questions I had already answered during a previous conversation). Then, my phone died. Ten minutes later when I arrived home and plugged it in, I saw that I had three emails — one asking how he was supposed to get here for a hearing, one calling me a dumbass, and one stating that he was going to again contact my family and friends.

This is what he wrote to them in a text message:

“Can someone please tell that morbidly obese cow to contact me about the divorce. No, seriously tell her to stop eating for five min and contact me about the divorce.”

A few family members responded in the way you would expect them to respond, and he responded by talking horribly about my late sister (to my parents), as well as talking horribly to a dear family friend about her mother who is battling cancer. I heard nothing else from my ex that night.

November 11, 2014 — The shit storm commences. Since I refused to answer his emails, and his text messages were blocked, he began email obsessively to both of my email addresses. I received 347 emails between 2:32pm and 10:13pm that day. Most of these emails basically stated that I needed to call him about the divorce, I needed to write down instructions about the divorce for him, etc. At one point, I unblocked his texts to keep track of those, and he sent over 130 texts from 4:07 to 10:26pm. Then, he threatened to call my clients and make trouble for me at work. So, I decided that maybe if I called him, and I was civil, I could calm this situation down. Of course, this was the same mistake I made during our marriage, but still…I had to try.

We talked for an hour and a half or so, and I explained everything about the divorce to him, we talked about life right now, how this is a terrible situation, and about what he was going through. Then, we hung up. I thought maybe, just maybe, things would settle back down. No such luck.

November 12, 2014 — The day started off simply enough. I began talking to him, via text message, trying to keep the conversation light and civil. When he started back into the apologizing and “I love you” phase of our cycle, I tried to shut him down. I told him that the reality of the situation is that we are getting a divorce. I told him I was sorry about that, and I know that it hurts, but it is inevitable.

He then started saying that we should go back to hating one another because it is easier, and I told him that we should remain civil. Then he began texting about the role my family and I had in our separation, and talked of how he didn’t do anything wrong.  At that point, he began getting vulgar, and even talking about how I performed a sex act on the phone with him the night before. This did not happen, and when I asserted that it did not happen, things started to ramp up again and threatened to contact my job about that incident, which made me worry. At that point, I contacted my places of employment to let them know that my estranged husband was psychologically abusive, and he was trying, by any means necessary, to continue to keep a hold on my life.

From 3:33pm until 11:35pm, I received 332 emails asking me why I was lying, telling me that if I did not admit to the sex act, he would continue to message me. At this point, he was blocked again on text message, and I only know of the emails. However, he did send text messages to my family once again, this time, asking if they knew about me performing the sex act with him on the phone and telling him that I am still in love with him, even though I want a divorce. He also took to Twitter, making an account to harass me, and mentioning me in his posts for the entire world to see. Thankfully, they were taken down quickly after I reported the abuse to Twitter.

November 13, 2014 — While Wednesday was ridiculous, Thursday brought indirect threats. He began emailing me, telling me that he was coming here, that he would find me and catch me. His email titles would read things like “Real soon my dear and a lot sooner than you think.” While I was 95 percent sure that he was not coming here, I stayed vigilant, knowing that you cannot ignore someone with a severe mental illness, especially one with abusive tendencies. That day brought 117 emails from 9:06am to 12:08pm and 108 text messages, which I had started to monitor again by request.

He began trying to concoct this trip he was making to Ohio by pulling pictures off the internet and sending them to me, and not emailing for long periods of time, to make me think he was driving and had no phone service. At that point, the emails ceased and the text messages began again. He also decided to start putting the question about why I performed the sex act (which again, I did not perform) all over Facebook, on my friends pages and pictures I was tagged in. He even put it on an acquaintance’s page, under a picture of my nephew’s T-Ball trophy ceremony. How sick can you get?

Anyway, the texts continued on Thursday evening, with comments like,

“Remember all your chances to answer truthfully because once I get there face to face you will be begging for your chance to have been truthful”

From 9:40pm to 12:41am on Friday, he tried to convince me that he was either on his way to Ohio or that he was in Columbus over 22 more text messages.

November 14, 2014 — He started texting me at 10:45am on Friday, trying to feed me a story about being in Columbus, and having a broke down car. He said he needed help. Since I wanted to know where exactly he was, I called his bluff and told him to turn on his locator, so I could find him. He said it didn’t work. Then, I asked for the address where he was, and he said I would probably try to set him up. Obviously, I wasn’t buying it. This went on for 33 texts, until I finally couldn’t take anymore. I told him that it amazed me that he thought I was falling for any of this, and I told him I wasn’t scared of him anymore. Granted, probably not the smartest thing to do, but what would you do with this situation?

I received another 17 texts from him throughout the day, and I realized that by responding, I gave him exactly what he wanted — contact with me. He even said as much in his text messages:

“I think you love this attention honestly. Actually I know you love the attention lol.”

I realized that he thought this was flattering…that I wanted this, and I felt, well, I felt violated.

November 15, 2014 — The morning was relatively quiet, with only three text messages. I went to my niece’s birthday party, the grocery store and then to Starbucks with the kids. When I pulled in the driveway, I got three new texts, and the game changed again:

“Is it wrong to have sweet blissful dreams of resting the barrel of a gun against your forehead before pulling the trigger?”

“I have a great idea for my Christmas present for you and your family ;-)”

“Honestly it’s for the best for everyone and I want you dead before Christmas I hope”

These are the first direct threats I’d received from him since June 2014. But, this wasn’t the “I’m going to choke you out.” This was a threat to kill me. I kept a record of the incident, stayed vigilant, and went about my Saturday evening.

November 16, 2014 — The day was relatively quiet. He sent 35 text messages that were non-threatening, for the most part, asking me to call him, and stating other random things.

November 17, 2014 — This morning has been relatively quiet as well. Three text messages asking to talk, but nothing else.

 

So, why write all of this out?

The answer is simple: This is my truth. This is my testimony. This is my letter to all of you about what has been happening the last few days. I have text messages, emails, screen shots and backed up cloud drives that can prove my story.

Do I think that my estranged husband is capable of killing me? No. However, I am not taking any chances. Every man who has ever hit a woman or killed a woman in an abusive relationship had a point where he was not an abuser…a point when he was not a murderer. There is always the first time. If something ever happens to me, this is my story.

I assure you, I am getting the help necessary, but I do not want to discuss that here. However, there is one more point that I do want to address. People close to me, people I love, have said I should just ignore this, that I should change my email addresses, phone numbers, and that I should just shut down my social media pages. Tell me, what would that solve? Why should I be punished because he is harassing me, stalking me, and basically continuing to abuse me from afar?

I am standing strong. I am not responding to him the way he wants me to, and my silence will continue.

 

 

The Birth of Joy

I have two children. Today, my youngest, my baby, my little Tay Tay turns 14 years old.

Tay

Tay Tay, 2014

 

I’m not exactly sure where the time goes. It may sound cliché, but it really does feel like she was just a little two-year old, toddling around the house on her fat little legs. I think now of how she would get into trouble with her brother, who is only 18 months older than her. She would follow him around as his sidekick — getting in trouble right along with him.

 

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Cheesing for the camera, circa 2002

 

At 5:26pm on Nov 2, 2000 in the delivery room of the Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital, Taylor came into the world, pink and screaming her head off. Taylor has been a quirky, loving child ever since. She loves to read, especially the Dork Diaries series of books. She likes magazines, and she loves to listen to music, watch videos and play games on her iPhone. She and her brother are still the fearsome twosome, best friends and worst enemies, depending on the day.

 

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Having dinner at O’Charley’s, 2012

 

Taylor loves her family — especially her cousins. She spends part of the week with my mother, babysitting her younger cousins, and she loves every minute she gets to spend over there. She and her brother spent a lot of time at my mom’s house when they were growing up, and we lived there for a while after my divorce, so I feel like she will always see that as home, especially since we have moved around so much during her life. That house is her touchstone — she feels safe there, much in the same way that I do.

 

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Face painting with Kaitlynn and Aleck, 2012

 

Taylor has been the joy in my life since the day she was born. We have been through a lot of ups and downs, especially when the teen years hit. She is unique — she has this unmatched charm and love of humanity, but it causes her to struggle to find a place in the world. She will continue to search for that for years, and if she doesn’t find it, I hope she has the strength to carve out her own place…just like her mom did.

 

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Peace! 2013

 

Where does she fit in? With her brother and I, of course! She is an integral part of our personal three musketeers. She is always ready to give Mommy a hug and a smile. She can light up a room with her infectious smile. Her uniqueness and sense of humor are able to pick me up when I am at my lowest point. She shows her love through her actions. Ever since my separation from my second husband, she has started to check on me regularly — making sure that Mom is okay. And as long as she is smiling, I am. :)

 

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Mom and Tay, 2013

 

I have never met a child with such a sweet innocence and unmarred outlook on the world, especially at the age of 14. I have high hopes for her. She loves art and is creating her own comic book. I could easily see her graduating from high school and going on to study art and animation. But, she also loves science, especially geology. So, she may go the science route and become a geologist. I hope she finds love in her future, and if she wants to get married and have children, I hope she is able to do that too. I want Taylor to be able to achieve everything she wants in life.

 

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Stylin’, 2013

 

And right now? Well, right now, I want her to be able to enjoy her pumpkin cake and her birthday party with her family today! Happy Birthday, Taylor. I love you!

 

Tay Tay 2014

Pumpkin Cheesecake at California Pizza Kitchen, 11.01.14

Why did you stay?

“Not all wounds are visible.” — quoted on HealthyPlace.com

Why did you stay?

Why did you put up with it?

Why did you go back?

If you let someone treat you like that, then you got what you deserved.

If you stayed, then you let it happen.

These are all things that people I love and care about said to me or asked me following my final ousting of my ex in Sept 2014. And this attitude is exactly why I kept things a secret for so many months in the first place. These are the exact ideas that make it so easy for psychological abusers to maintain the grip on the mind of the person they are abusing — because even society makes them think that this is all their fault. Those who are abused already feel it is their fault, and these types of attitudes from others in their lives validate those feelings, and in many cases, drive them back to their abusers. I mean, if you are getting negative attention anyway, why not just stay with the person who has been inflicting it for so long, right?

So, what is psychological abuse? Here is a semi-textbook definition:

Emotional abuse, mental abuse A form of mistreatment in which there is intent to cause mental or emotional pain or injury; PA includes verbal aggression, statements intended to humiliate or infantilize, insults, threats of abandonment or institutionalization; PA results in stress, social withdrawal, long-term or recalcitrant depression, anxiety
Let me give you my definition of psychological abuse. Here is a diary entry from May 21, 2014:
This morning, I am a bitch and a whore. He’s insulted my weight. He’s threatened to break my television and smash my laptop so he can teach me a lesson — because I need to learn. He has threatened to choke me out and black both of my eyes.
Why?
Because a thunderstorm rolled in at 3:30am, and it began raining in our open window. I closed the downstairs window and woke him to close the window upstairs because my knees are bad and the stairs are steep. Instead of coming back downstairs and going back to sleep, he spent the next hour insulting me, threatening me and talking about what an “inconsiderate fuck” I am because I didn’t take care of it myself.
This is my fault. Why didn’t I just go upstairs and shut the window myself? He’s told me over and over not to wake him up. Why am I so stupid?

I am strong, independent woman. And yet, in the confines of that relationship, I believed that I was weak. I believed that I was always wrong, whether I showed it or not. And, I believed that I wasn’t being abused. Do you know why? Because he never hit me. Reut Amit wrote a great piece about this phenomenon in her article, “He Never Hit Me.” Amit talks about all of the things that she went through with her partner who never hit her. But does that mean he never abused her? Of course not.

I have heard the same thing. I have been told that my abuser was not abusive because he had never hit a woman, and he never would. But he would punch holes in the walls when he got angry. But he would throw things in my direction. But he would call me a bitch, a fat ass and a C U Next Tuesday. But he would tell me how it was all my fault that he acted that way.

I believed him. I believed for a very long time that if I just walked on egg shells, didn’t bother him when he was sleeping, let him sleep until noon, didn’t bother him about being gone all the time with his friends, etc — then everything would be fine. I could fix this…I could fix him, and it would be better. I was just too sensitive. I was just too fragile. Everyone fought like this…not just us. For a long time, I didn’t tell my friends or family what was going on, because I didn’t want them to hate him. Then, when he left the first time, I told them everything, and he did hate him…and then I went back to him.

The cycle was pretty simple — he would leave for a month, and then we would start to talk, and he would come back for a week, promising me the moon and the stars. Within 4-5 days, the promises were over and the abuse continued like it had never stopped. So, I would throw him out again. Each time, it would be a financial strain on me, and usually, it would be in the form of funding his trips to move back to NC or needing to fix things he broke. My friends and family would embrace me when he left, and stand in disbelief when I let him come back. It put a strain on my relationships with everyone, especially my kids, who didn’t know what to think about the entire situation.

Now, I am finally out of that cycle. I have moved on. It has been a month and a half since he left, and there is no chance that he is coming back. I sold my wedding dress and my wedding rings. I’ve started filling out the paperwork for the divorce. It is really happening this time. And, I am starting to find my strength again. I am starting to enjoy work again. I am starting to write again.

Do I love him? Yes. But, I love myself more now. I know I can’t save him, and I know that I can’t save myself when I’m with him. That is why he had to go.

But, in his eyes, this is all my fault. He was never abusive. If he were abusive, where are my scars and bruises? That is how he sees it. He thinks that his actions are normal, that they are okay…because he never hit me.

Repurposing and Rediscovery

I knew this girl once. She was funny and bright, with this crazy smile that looked like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.

Cheshire Cat

This girl focused on her career and every aspect of becoming a writer. She published anywhere she could. She loved getting the praise and awards for a job well done. No…she didn’t just love it. She craved it. She knew that it made her a better writer. Then, she graduated from college, and moved on to see her name in print every day as a journalist. She poured over her own stories and the stories of others to hone the craft of news writing and improve it, trying to become the best journalist she could be.

Her are some pictures of the girl from her college days:

Gypsy Halloween Pensive Tabby Suspicious TabbyTabby

See! Beautiful, suspicious, pensive and full of potential! And that first picture really shows the smile!

Then, that girl ceased to exist. Her light went out. She got into an all-consuming relationship with a man who would do everything in his power to build the girl’s confidence in herself — everything to make her crave his praise. She became addicted to it. Then, that man did everything is his power to kill that girl’s identity and squash her sense of self-worth, so she would be completely dependent on whatever praise or love he decided she deserved that day, week or month — which wasn’t much. And she stayed. Like everything else in her life, she tried to be the best wife she could be. She knew that he loved her and praised her every day before, and if she just tried a little harder, she could find that man again, and she would get her identity back.

That’s not the way it happened though. Down the rabbit hole the girl went, and she disappeared…for a long time. But, she is back today. Hello everyone…You can call me Tabs. :)

I have sat in my house for three weeks, talking to friends and family about the situation I have endured, and this morning, I’ve decided that it is time to start rediscovering my identity as a writer and repurposing my life. I used to be completely career-driven. Then, when I met my husband, my career didn’t seem important anymore. But, what I didn’t realize was that being a writer is who I am, and without that hunger to write, I feel empty. So, today I write again. It feels good to be back.

 

Tabs today – Oct. 4, 2014

Tabs 1

See! She still has that smile!

Tabs 2

 

Putting it all into perspective

“Your flesh is not a reflection of your soul. So when you look in the mirror, remember that your light outshines your flaws.”
D. Antoinette Foy

 

In 2012, I started a blog called “The Way Back to Me,” and it talked a lot about my life and my drive to lose weight and regain my health. Then, in 2013, I decided to actually buy the domain name for “Call Me Tabs” and start a new blog. For awhile, it was all about life in general, and later it became more about the discrimination of a fat woman in society, especially when a fat woman is going through the process of planning a wedding.

Once 2014 hit, I did not blog for a long time. I felt like I didn’t have much to say, and I was depressed a lot of the time. I started to realize that maybe, just maybe, my lack of energy, my aches and pains and stomach issues did have something to do with my weight. Then, in April, I landed myself in the hospital with bronchitis, the same day my sister landed in the hospital with elevated liver function. After three days of steroids and breathing treatments, my doctor told me that I needed to lose weight if I wanted to see life after 50, or possibly even 40. I still tried to stay true to my “health at any size” beliefs and had no idea how much life was going to change in just a short 45 days.

A month and a half after that hospital visit, my sister passed away. Her body was having issues with food digestion, and it had caused her to lose a lot of weight. I realized, as I watched her body shut down and then pass, that health at any size is a ridiculous notion. Obviously, at less than 90 lbs, it is impossible for an adult to be healthy. Obviously, at almost 400 lbs, it is impossible for an adult to be healthy. That is just a fact. If you are 400 lbs, and you start eating healthy and exercising, your body is going to lose weight. So, saying health at any size is not true — because if you are healthy, you would not be that size — your body will begin to shrink or grow, depending on your side of the scale.

Losing my sister has been an eye opener to me, as I’ve said in previous blogs. When you are faced with your own mortality after losing a sibling so young, you really start to put your life into perspective. What is important to me? What do I cherish in my life? What do I want to do in my life?

The answers were easy: My health is important to me. I cherish my family, and I want to stay with them as long as possible. And, I want to enjoy my life with energy and zest. I want to thrive, instead of just surviving, no matter where I am planted in this world. So, for the last thirty days, I have been logging into MyFitnessPal and keeping an accurate record of my food — my calories, protein, carbs and fats — every day. I’m also keeping track of my exercise and weight loss. When I initially weighed myself, I was already two weeks into the process, and I weighed 387 lbs. Last week, I weighed 373, and I’m not sure what I weigh right now. But, my mobility has improved exponentially already. I do not get winded just walking in the grocery store. I actually have the energy to get up, clean my house and cook for my kids now. My feet don’t swell up every day now, and I just feel better.

So, from now on — this is me. I am happy with myself, and I love my body. I love my body enough to keep it healthy and take off the weight that is holding it back. I’m actually starting to love myself — and I never thought that would happen.

Week 5:

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The woman who ate fast food too much

Every day, people go through drive thrus or sit down to eat at fast food and other restaurants all over the country. That is their decision, but their body is craving the fatty, greasy, cheesy food-like products. These products do not provide any real nourishment to our bodies, but they sure expand the waistline.

Now, can I fault those people? Of course not — I was one of them until July 1, 2014. I would swing through a drive thru to get a coffee in the morning, and then maybe head through a drive thru with the kids for dinner. Sometimes, I would sit at a cafe all day, eating a sandwich and soup while I worked on my articles for my freelance job.

I was addicted to the sugars, the fats and all the other “good things” that they put into the foods you get at all of these restaurants, just like everyone else. And like I said in an earlier post, I could eat upwards of 2200 calories of that stuff in one sitting! Not to mention, my bank account was meager because of all of this activity. I searched my bank records from June 1, 2014 to July 1, 2014 and found out that I had spent $818 in one month on going out to eat. That’s insane! I could have completely remodeled my entire living room for that much money.

So I decided on July 1 it was time to change the game. I decided to go an entire month without eating at any restaurant. This meant that I would forced to prepare all of my own meals — something I hadn’t done in a long time. This also allowed me to start working better foods into my diet, some of which you’ve seen in previous articles. Along with this, I also stopped drinking coffee, soda and other sugary drinks.

These changes, paired with regular daily exercise, have led to a weight loss of 14 pounds off of my frame in the first two weeks. What was once 387 is now 373, and I don’t plan on stopping now!

 

 

Fearful Tears

“Tears are words that need to be written.”
Paulo Coelho

This is my story. It is not always a happy one, nor is it always sad. But, there are always tears.

When I was 17 years old, just a few weeks before my 18th birthday, I met the love of my life (at least, at that time). He stayed that person for me for a really, really long time. In some ways, he is still. I had two children with him; we have a history. But, after half a decade or so, the sad times were more prevalent, and the happy times were not so happy anymore. At that point, it was time for both of us to take our leave from the relationship. Tears were shed by both of us, but I don’t think either one of us did much looking back after that.

I was single for seven years. And, to be completely honest, they were some of the most successful years of my life, so far. I went back to school and graduated. I started a career. I even fought for a job I wanted, and I got it. Everything was right on track. I don’t remember too many tears during that time — unless stress took over.

When I was 33 years old, I met a man who I thought was the true love of  my life. He had many flaws, some that were not easy to overlook, but I did — who doesn’t have flaws, right? At the time, I was sitting at 300 or so pounds, and it felt really nice to meet a man who didn’t try to get into my pants or play some game with me. We only knew each other a couple of months before he proposed, and we married two days after our one year anniversary. Then, the flaws that each of us thought we could overlook started to come out. Everything changed, and every day, you could cut the tension in our house with a knife. We both know that one misstep could set off a blowup. Finally, we came to the tipping point, and we separated. The tears flowed every night for the first two weeks, but there is no going back now.

Now, I sit here at age 34, reflecting on the last 16 years of my life. I have loved one man, and I have tried to save one man. I love and continue to raise two wonderful children. I love my family, and mourn the loss of an important member of it. But, where am I in all of this?

I don’t have any identity anymore. I have been someone’s daughter, girlfriend, wife or mother for my entire adult life. I’m tired of the tears. I’m tired of holding onto a man because I feel like I don’t have any identity without him. I’m tired of the fear that I feel when I’m leaving a relationship. I’m done with all of it. I’m starting to realize that maybe the love of my life shouldn’t be another man. Maybe…just maybe…the love of my life should be me.