I don’t know what normal is.

I wrote a post yesterday about getting back on the dating horse. But I’m not so sure I want to. Life is peaceful now. There is no daily drama. I’m not constantly irritated and frustrated. I’m content. In contrast, a little over a year ago, I wrote this:

It’s May 22, 2011. Mack and I have spent my birthday weekend at the beach. His asshole side made an appearance last night, and I did not indulge him. We were singing in the car on the way to getting my oozy chocolate birthday dessert. I thought we were having a good time with it, when suddenly he snapped at me. He said this is his profession and he doesn’t indulge mere amateurs by singing with them whilst driving in a car. He said at first it was fun, but then he found me obnoxious. By this time we were at the restaurant. He got out of the car in a huff, like he had been put upon and was totally justified in being a prick. I got out of the car after some deliberation, and told him I didn’t want to go into the restaurant. He said, “Fine!” We got in the car and as he exited the parking lot, he gunned the engine a little. I told him I’d drive, if he was going to drive like an idiot. Again, “Fine!” So we switched seats and I drove us home. When we got home, he got out of the car and went for a walk on the beach. I wanted to. But since he announced it first, I simply went to bed. He came back a short time later and slammed around in the kitchen, loudly and angrily, making sure he made his ire known. I dozed in and out, and eventually he came into the bedroom, demanding that I wake up. “Why, so you can yell at me some more?” He left me alone after that. Later he came back to bed, and said, “Great, I sleep this way in two beds now.” Realizing what he’d said, he added, “At least I used to.” So, either he still sleeps in bed with Corrine, or he threw it out there erroneously, trying to make a point in the midst of his anger.

He gave up sleeping and went out in the living room to work on my computer. And read about Galveston. He came to bed a couple of hours later. I slept in my clothes.

I arose before he did, and found a note in the kitchen that he’d fixed my laptop. And the coffee was ready, just flip the switch. But there was no apology. At least not an overt one. He got up shortly after I did. I was still in the midst of my first cup. I was out on the deck, typing on my laptop. He asked if my computer was working. I nodded my head that it was. Shortly thereafter I went inside to refill my coffee.

He said, “So what happens now?”

“I’m drinking coffee, enjoying the morning on the deck.” I paused. Refilled my cup. “Unless you want to yell at me some more and tell me how obnoxious I am.”

“Not really.”

I went back out on the deck with my refilled cup and began writing. I imagined him inside. Pouting.

Last night I didn’t like him at all. I knew we were done. I found him unattractive, and I didn’t want him to touch me. This morning, standing there in the middle of the room, he looked young. Vulnerable. Cute. Maybe it’s not over. Maybe you deal with someone being a complete asshole from time to time.

From time to time, I read back over things I wrote back then, and I wonder what in the hell I was thinking.

That kind of assholeishness isn’t normal in a relationship, is it? Is this the way people behave and it’s just swept under the rug and forgotten? I really do not know. Which is how I kept talking myself into staying.

I had no role models growing up for this sort of thing. My role models taught me that you’re honest, you don’t steal, you don’t lie, and you don’t cheat people. You get a good education and you work hard. I was taught the value of a dollar. I was taught that reading books is magical.

But I wasn’t taught that you treat your partner with kindness and respect. My father treated my mother horribly. He ridiculed her constantly. He told her she was fat. He made fun of her when she ate. He’d say things like, “Just keep eating, Joanna, just keep eating!” She never said a word. But I’d defend her. Some of the worst fights I ever had with my father began when I defended my mother. And those fights were always my fault–because I antagonized him.

I once pressed my mother to explain why she never fought back. She said it was much easier to simply ignore him. I asked her how she could possibly ignore the daily onslaughts, the horrible ridicule. She said she’d just learned to tune him out.

And I was tuning out Mack’s bad behavior. Only it didn’t work for me like it worked for my mother. And so I broke free of him. And once I was free, once I could let go of everything I’d bottled up for a year, I fell into a depression.

And now, here I am, feeling better, and wondering: Do I get involved in another relationship? How do I know he won’t be another Mack? How will I know if he’s a kind, respectful man, and not a man simply on his best behavior for a few months? If he treats me poorly, when do I run? At the first instance? The second? And how poorly does he have to treat me for it to not be normal? I need a role model. Or a book. Is there a book out there that gives examples of what’s acceptable and what isn’t in a relationship?

Is there a book out there telling me what’s normal, and what’s not?


  • So much i want to say ( in a cyber friendly way) but will merely say I had this very type of talk today with my daughter. I told her, it’s been 4 yrs since divorcing and I really have zero desire to date or get into all of that emotional upheaval again. I am planning my move to New Orleans so will not date anyone here. Like you, my last relationship was so brutal I am finally at peace..
    If it happens okay, if not I honestly know I’ll be fine..
    as will you 🙂


  • This is how I felt about my abusive ex for a long time. I felt like every guy was going to treat me the way he did. And what if all the horrible things he said were right? What if no one else would ever love me?

    Not all of those feelings have gone away unfortunately.


    • The things he said to you are wrong! Designed to tear you down and make you too weak to leave. And if you never fall in love again, being on your own is phenomenally better. Keep writing. And reading about these guys. It really helps. They’ve got a play book and one of the number one lines: No one will ever love you like I do. No one will ever love you despite your flaws the way I do. It’s utter bullshit.


  • It’s better to be happy and free than to be in a relationship with a man that tries to break your spirit 🙂 When someone comes along that treats you the way you deserve to be treated, then you can decide at that point what you want/need/and are willing to give! XO ~ TDL!


  • So nice to hear from you! There have been many ups and downs and I have been keeping myself very very busy, thanks. I’m hoping to get back to writing soon and am looking forward to reading your blog posts again.

    I hear you. I’ve wondered those same questions before.

    I was in a workshop by and for IPV survivors earlier this year and towards the end they asked us to define healthy relationships.

    We all kind of looked at each other, avoided the facilitators’ eyes and gave a shrug as if to say, ‘what are you asking us for, we don’t know.’

    I learned that healthy relationships do exist, and that I am capable of taking part in them, when we realized that during the course of our workshops, we had been providing mutual support to each other in ways that were healthy.

    We didn’t mess with each other’s heads and didn’t purposefully create an unstable ground to stand on. We didn’t cross boundaries or act like we didn’t know that boundaries exist. If we hurt someone by our words or actions, we took responsibility, listened, cared and amended ourselves. And we didn’t feel the need to try to save someone because they were hurt. We recognized in each other the strength and capability we each had to survive and make decisions for ourselves. We recognized each other’s brilliance and sovereignty over our own bodies and minds.

    I love your post.

    You are brilliant and sovereign.


    • So glad you stopped by, MDB! I’m so looking forward to your posts.

      That sounds like a very valuable workshop. When I asked if there was a book describing what normal relationships are like, I actually was serious. But now that I read this, I see that I do know what normal is. The key is to pay attention to the red flags, and run the other way. There were plenty, but I ignored them. No more.

      Brilliant and sovereign. Thank you. 🙂


  • I can relate to this story so well. It’s uncanny. Yes the childish boy who hasn’t quite grown up, acts out, behaves like a spoilt brat, silks, huffs, transfers blame, criticises and calls you names then realises when you’re having none of it acts as if nothing happened at all. Takes no responsibility or blame. Hilarious. You dealt with that so well honey. It’s NOT normal and your inner voice knows that. Trust that. I’d look at it as if it were some sort of test. He was sent to test your mettle, sense of self worth and self respect. You knew that you wee worth more. You broke the chain and freed yourself of the things you had witnessed in the past with your mother and allowed yourself to mourn. Depression IS normal when you have bottled up emotions. I witnessed abuse too and so attracted abusive relationships. Now never again. I have never Been happier! Well done you.

    Please check out my blog for new book Mr Wrong, “a humorous and insightful exploration into why some women continually attract Mr Wrong and negative relationships and how to set off on a positive path to Mr Right.” Here you will find some excerpts, views and opinions from both women and men as well as other women’s stories. I’d love to hear your views and stories. 🙂


    • That’s it–he’d be horrible, and then act like nothing happened at all. And with him acting like nothing had happened, I’d wonder if anything did happen. Maybe I was making too much of things. Maybe all men behaved this way from time to time. Well, if they do, I shall not participate in the future. 🙂

      A test. I like that. Particularly since I passed. It took some time, but I got there.

      Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your insight. And now, I’ll have a look at your blog.


  • Reblogged this on 18mitzvot and commented:
    A nicely written post showing what daily life (or should I say ‘daily stress’) is like when you love a Narcissist.


  • Haha, that “drunk the entire relationship” meme – totally know how that is.


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