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.”
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?