Sunday, April 22, 2018

Moving and the Disruption of Social Connections

The first week of July I will be moving from where I live now, to my parent's house.

Why?  I can't afford to live where I am now.  The cost of living in Vancouver is just too high.  Two thousand dollars for a 1 bedroom apartment.  I don't know how the average person is making it.  I suspect they aren't.  With a less than 1% vacancy rate here, I don't see these numbers changing any time soon.  Add to that the "war" between BC and Alberta over the pipeline, Alberta threatening to stop shipping fossil fuels to BC, and the accompanying rising costs of everything else related to it....

My ex-husband often accused me of only marrying him to "escape my parents".  This couldn't be farther from the truth.  Am I concerned about moving back there?  Yes.  Is it because of my parents?  A little, but I'm more concerned about losing my support systems that I have here in BC.

One of the first things that was suggested to me after the separation was trying Meetup.  I honestly don't recall if it was my therapist who suggested it, or my neighbor, but my therapist was very encouraging about it.

Here's the thing.  While I wanted to get out of the apartment and not live my life there,  I hate social media.  I'm not good at meeting people.  When I realized I was making excuses, I came to the conclusion that I would give it a try.

I immediately found a few groups that piqued my interest.  One was for "Shy" people.  Another one for "Girl Nerds".  A third one for Ladies 35-45.  I joined them.

Over the summer I went to many community events with the "Shy" group and the "Girl Nerds" group.  I went to a few for the Ladies group, but came to the conclusion that the activities they did were simply too expensive.  Through the "Shy" group I met some one  from another group that had been formed for victims of trauma and abuse, people with social anxiety, people with depression, even people who are bi-polar.  I joined that group.

And in that group, I discovered people with similar stories.  People who knew what a "safe house" was and didn't question why I couldn't have people over.  People I could relate to.  Some might think "support group, ugh!".  This group isn't like that at all.  While most support groups I've been to or seen are focused about talking about your problems, or bringing some one in to speak about your problems, this one was focused on actually doing things.

This group wasn't about focusing on our problems, or having some one come in to tell us how to cope, it was about making friends, being social, and living life.  We've done escape rooms.  We color every week.  We go bowling.  We take walks in the park.  Some of them go swimming every week.  Sometimes we go out for ice cream, or we see movies.  We do a monthly birthday dinner.

This group has been a life saver for me.

When I move, I will no longer have this group of friends.  I am terrible at long-distance friendships.  You can't just have an activity when you're long-distance like that.  I fear being at home 7 days a week, with nowhere to go, and no one to do anything with.  Knowing the positive impact this has had on me, I fear how this disconnect will end up affecting me once I've moved.  I've checked the groups around where I'm moving.  They are few and far between.

I don't want to be the person holed up in her office again.  I recognize that as having been a defense and coping mechanism for what I was going through.  I don't want to be in that place again.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Money and Friendship

There's a friend I've had for two and a half years.  We talked every night.  We played video games together.  We watched shows and movies that my husband didn't want to watch (husband never wanted to watch anything with me).  We were even selling the gold off our game accounts and splitting it using a shared Paypal account.  We talked about everything.

When my husband hit me for the final time in April of 2017, this friend was livid.  I moved out in July of 2017.  My friend and I were still talking most nights.  I started trying to do things out in the community, so instead of 7 nights a week, it was maybe 4 or 5 nights a week that we were talking.  But we were still sharing everything.

Now, I've been betrayed by people I've trusted,  friends who have lied to me about things too often.  So when he asked for a loan of some of the money in September of 2017 I figured it was a good "test" of his friendship.  I figured, it came from in-game gold which I never would have sold without him selling it.  It's money that never really existed for me, and it wouldn't really affect me if I never saw the money again.  I never dreamed that I wouldn't see the money again.  I was confident he'd pass this "test" with flying colors.

Our contact started to become less frequent.  Not as much as it was before.  He said he had stuff going on in RL, studies were picking up, more work at work came in, his father died, he lost his phone, he'd had a hard workout at the gym and was too tired to stay up... there was always something.  By December we were talking once a month.

At the end of March 2018 he sold my accounts (with consent).  The thing he didn't do was have the money paid to our joint paypal account, he had it paid to him directly.

You already know where this is going, don't you?

He disappeared right after the sale.  It's been a month now.  I've not heard a word from him.  Mutual friends haven't heard from him either.  I see him log into Skype every day.  I see him opening the messaging app we use every day.  I know he isn't dead.  Yet not a word from him.  Looking at it objectively, it's hard not to draw the obvious conclusion.

The thing is, I don't really care about the money.  The friendship was far more valuable to me than any money.  The emotional support I had come to rely on was gone.  I was betrayed and I never saw it coming.  A month later, and I'm still wondering how much of our friendship was real, and how much of it was him setting me up?  No one we mutually knows believes he'd do something like this.  He had us all fooled.  Our friendship was only worth a few hundred dollars.

With my divorce coming up, another move, and this betrayal, it's hard getting up in the morning.  My marriage failing isn't my fault, but I feel like a failure.  Having been scammed by my best friend just adds to that sense of failure.

I keep hoping I am wrong and that there is some reason for the ghosting.

I should know better by now.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

How the journey started

1 in 6 relationships are abusive. Not all abuse is physical. In being determined not become a divorce statistic. I became another statistic.

Almost a year ago my husband hit me.  It wasn't the first time, but it was the last time.  I know what you're thinking: "OMG, why didn't you leave him before if he was hitting you?"  Easier said than done.

Here's the thing.  I didn't want to be another divorce statistic.  I believe in marriage, for better or for worse.  I'm not a big divorce supporter, except in cases of abuse and marital infidelity.  For almost 20 years, I remained married to him.  He only hit me 4 times in seven years.  Does that make it abuse?

The abuse that came in was emotional, psychological, being told that my "needs" were "wants".  He wanted his luxuries, because "He wouldn't be able to enjoy it later in life, so why save it?".  He encouraged me to spend.  Spending was a tit-for-tat relationship.  Any time I purchased something I needed, he would have to purchase something "equivalent".  For example, I bought a new laptop for my new job.  That meant he needed a new laptop.  Our budget needed him to cut back on eating out with his co-workers, going for coffee, his "avocado on toast" (no, not literally) as it were.  Any time I tried to talk about the subject, it was met with less than welcoming reaction, after all, who wants to cut back on things they enjoy?  The response was always "What are you going to give up?"  What would I give up indeed?  My 16 dollar haircut every 4 months?  My 35 dollar pair of sneakers every year?  The 10 dollar t-shirts I wear because I the idea of ruining something "expensive" horrified me?  Arguments would ensue, and we'd spiral more into debts.

Going into the marriage, he knew I wanted children.  This became a weapon for him, a carrot to dangle. "We could have kids if you just       "  "You don't take care of       , how are you going to take care of kids?"  We had dogs, he spoiled them rotten... I loved my dogs, but ultimately, they were dogs, not people. That was further justification for putting off children because I "didn't treat the dogs right".  Right was of course whatever he decided it was.  Anything else was wrong.  Nevermind that I'd grown up with dogs throughout my entire life, and he'd never had dogs before. There was always some excuse.

His needs came first.  Mine often were dismissed.  I've come to understand that he's a narcissist.  Anyone who knows him thinks otherwise.  He's very big on the grand gestures.  I wanted the single rose, the meaning, the intent behind a gift.  I never wanted the grand gestures, and I resented the money spent.  All anyone ever saw was the generosity.  I did my part in maintaining that illusion, because it's wrong to tear people down in front of others.  Our marriage problems were private.  Not something you discuss with other people.

Often during the course of the marriage, I would think "I wish he would just hit me, it would hurt less."  I would curl up in a corner and muffle my screaming as I cried from anxiety attacks, wondering what the future would hold for me because he wouldn't discuss it.  He refuse to partake in planning for the future.  His answer was always "You can take care of yourself".  I was incredulous, retirement never existed in his mind for me.

Over and over again I asked, even demanded marriage counseling.  Over and over he refused, telling me "The only reason you want to see a counselor is so they'll tell you that you are right".  "Any person can put a certificate on the wall claiming to be a counselor, it doesn't mean anything".  "I can fix any of my own problems, you need to work on yours".