In Sex Love and Obesity Part 14 – Peter had fallen off of a bike and broken his hip. Our sex life started to tank and without sex as a distraction, the rose-colored glasses I was seeing the relationship through suddenly became a lot clearer. He wanted me to use my emergency savings fund to help him. I wasn’t on board for that. We started fighting a lot more. This tragedy ended up being the very thing that revealed how toxic the relationship was to me.

We fought. We argued. Wash rinse repeat.

I wasn’t ready to go completely broke and give up all the money I had saved to someone I had been in a rocky start relationship with for less than 8 months. I wanted to keep my savings in case I ever needed to save myself. This made me the bad guy.

His suggested solution was to launch a GoFundMe campaign. This would mean asking our friends, family and the weight loss community for money. I wasn’t comfortable doing that when I knew that I had money, even though I didn’t want to give up that safety net. I wanted him to go to his family and ask for help. We fought about this difference of opinion.

I wanted a few days to think. I wanted to process everything that was going on. But, before I had a chance to make any decisions, a friend of his launched a GoFundMe campaign for him. I felt like it was more accurately for “us,” because my name was all over it. To this day I have always wondered if his friend did that of his own accord or if he was asked to so that I had no choice in the matter.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm over the entire thing, I supported it.

I knew that I’d be busy trying to make ends meet and that paying his part of the bills would suck up my savings before we even started to have to worry about the medical bills. I figured any money he got with the GoFundMe campaign would help cover that.

Our next epic argument came a few weeks later. The GoFundMe money had been pretty much depleted. It had been used to pay his bills for July and August, get him the things he needed to come home, and pay for medication they sent him home on.

It was getting close to time for us to go to the weight loss convention that we had both been attending for the last 2 years. He wanted me to pay for him to go with me. I didn’t want to. He was now completely out of money. He had no idea when he would be physically able to go back to work and he no longer had a guaranteed job. I wanted to hold on to the money I had to pay our bills and I was trying to make sure that I still had spending money for my upcoming Paris trip in September.

He felt I was being selfish. When the arguments regarding our attendance got out of hand, I decided I wouldn’t go either. I’d just cancel the trip entire trip and not attend the convention myself for the first time in 5 years.

That decision caused an uproar that ended with him going to all our friends to gather their opinions on whether I should be paying for us to go and then coming back to me and using their opinions against me.

He informed me that several of our friends said that they only donated to the GoFundMe campaign because they wanted us at the convention. He said they told him that if we didn’t go they would be offended and would want their money back. I felt like I was being emotionally manipulated, emotionally blackmailed and peer pressured into giving in to his demands. We went to the convention.

The convention was the weekend of my 40th birthday.

Having been raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, I had never actually had a birthday party in my entire life. I was excited about the prospect of having my first ever birthday party surrounded by some of my closest friends.

However, since we had already had issues and arguments arise if I drank when he couldn’t, I had gone to a small group of my close friends early to let them know that he might have a problem with me drinking at my birthday party. He was still on pain medication for his broken hip, he was walking with a cane, and going out and boozing it for the night to celebrate my birthday wouldn’t be a great idea for him. I was worried he’d be jealous that I could party and he couldn’t and that it would cause a fight. I wanted to prepare them for what I thought might happen.

He was upset that I had discussed the situation with my friends. Several of them took the time to warn him before we went out that night that he shouldn’t try to control me in the relationship. They offered their unsolicited opinions on our relationship.

This frustrated him. He didn’t feel like my friends had any right to offer their opinion on our relationship based only on what they had heard from me. I found that to be hypocritical. Especially since he had used our friends’ opinions on whether I should pay for him to attend based only on what he had told them to emotionally manipulate me into the trip to begin with.

The night of my party he managed to alienate two more of my closest friends that night. He had an emotional temper tantrum in the hotel lobby when we we’re not quite done with the party and he wanted to call it a night. He threw a bag full of beer glasses and birthday cake on the floor and stomped away in a huff leaving us all standing there to clean up the mess when he didn’t get his way.

The next day one of my friends decided to skip the morning events. She was too angry to look at him. The other told him very clearly, “If this is an isolated incident, we’ll get past this and move forward. But if this is an example of how you treat Pandora on a regular basis. That’s not okay.”, when he approached her with explanations for his behavior.

More than it was not okay, it was only getting worse…

Before I talk about what finally ended this relationship I’m going to preface it with – I have a right to write about an entire year of my life without being censored and without being threatened for doing so.

He spent a year of our life telling his truth to everyone that would listen and using it against me. That was his venue. I spent a year in silence, not writing anything about my life out of fear of more arguments and more conflict.

This is MY truth. HIS is likely different. He is entitled to do what he wants to do with his truth.

However, I will say this: The people in our lives, my friends that were physically present saw my truth happening. I didn’t have to tell them anything. Instead, I was constantly sticking up for him, defending him and trying to make them understand that despite all his flaws, he loved me and that was what really mattered.

His truth, no matter what he ever writes about it, is just that, what he wrote. Because he didn’t have any friends that existed outside of chat windows and phone calls to see or witness was going on. His friends only heard what he wanted them to hear and what he told them about what was happening. I was really the only person he had in his daily life. To this day I think that was one of the major problems. I had a life outside the relationship, he didn’t. Because didn’t, he didn’t want me to either, so intentionally or not, he smothered me emotionally.

From the outside looking in I know it seemed like I was happy.

The social media posts made him appear to be the most supportive, doting and loving boyfriend that ever existed.

The reality was far from that.

This was the most emotionally manipulative, controlling, and emotionally abusive relationship I have ever been in.

I felt alienated from my friends. Because, he got upset and we ended up in a fight anytime that I tried to do anything without him.

I felt guilty about the things I could afford to do that he couldn’t. Because, he was jealous of the fact that I had friends and family that helped me financially or made it possible for me to do things I wouldn’t have normally been able to afford to do.

I felt emotionally manipulated. Because, he would go to anyone that would listen, tell them everything that was going on in our life and our relationship and use it to glean their “support” of his opinion. Then, he would come back to me, tell me how “everyone” agreed with him, and use it against me as ammunition in fights to get me to do what he wanted.

I felt emotionally abused. Because, he constantly berated me for my faults and flaws. I was scared to reach out for help. I was afraid to talk about the things I was struggling with, my relapses into smoking, using alcohol and marijuana as and escape mechanism and coping mechanism against a relationship that had me in a constant state of emotional turmoil and conflict.

He me convinced that the things I was doing were so bad that people would stop liking me, that they would ruin my career, they would tarnish my reputation and that I would lose my job if he told anyone about them. He threatened to tell people about my dirty little secrets all the time. He threatened to oust my issues to the world repeatedly. He’d threaten to tell my friends, my clients, my employer.  He threatened to post about it on social media.

These threats were always made in the middle of heated arguments. Afterwards, he’d assure me that he would never actually do it. That he would never do anything to hurt me or harm me; He loved me to much to do that, they were just words said in moments of anger that he didn’t really mean.

I was living in a constant state of fear and anxiety.

He wanted me to give up all my vices; stop smoking, stop drinking without him, stop doing drugs, and learn to use my sex addiction as my primary coping mechanism. As a sexual abuse survivor this was impossible for me. The more I felt emotionally battered and abused the more withdrawn I became when it came to sex and intimacy. When I couldn’t be who he wanted me to be, he made me feel guilty about the fact that I didn’t try harder to find solace in his arms and in sex instead of drugs or alcohol.

Although he constantly demanded that I stop doing these things and tried to convince me I was an addict; Anytime I broke down and admitted I needed help and suggested seeking medication to aid with the stress, anxiety and depression that I was experiencing, he adamantly opposed it. He didn’t want medication to affect my already declining sex drive.

I felt beat down emotionally. He drilled into my head repeatedly that I was a fake, a phony, and that if people knew all the unhealthy things I did they would have no respect for me. He told me this so much I believed it. I started doubting myself. This doubt and lack of self-efficacy lead to my silence. The entire time we lived together the only blogs I wrote where the ones I was contractually obligated to write as part of my Paris sponsorship. After that, I stopped blogging completely because I felt like I had nothing of value to offer anyone. I felt worthless. Absolutely worthless.

We fought constantly. I openly own that it takes to people to argue and that I lack the ability to disengage. But, it’s also really hard to disengage when someone is following you around a two-bedroom apartment and refuses to give you space. When you’re curled into a fetal position on a bed sobbing and begging someone to stop talking, leave you alone, and they are standing in the door way refusing to let you calm down and still trying to get their point across it’s difficult not to go the defensive. These types of volatile arguments started triggering me. I felt like that little girl who couldn’t escape the emotional, verbal and mental abuse I endured as a child fighting with my mother.

I had no escape. I could never have a private conversation in my home. He was always there. Intentional or not, he listened to any conversation I had, interceding himself, his thoughts and his opinions into discussions with my friends and family. Meanwhile he’d talk to his friends and family when I was gone and he had plenty of privacy. If I was going out, he wanted to go as well. The only time I had away from him (outside of work) was when I was running, something he wasn’t physically capable of doing. So I ran as much as I could. Running was my only escape.

In every argument, every fight, I was always the one to blame because I didn’t respect his opinion and understand his reasons. I was accused of not loving him enough, not caring about him enough whenever I wouldn’t do whatever it was he wanted me to do.

There was never a true apology for anything he did. If he said the words “I’m sorry,” they were followed by “but” and a reestablishment of his reasons, a rational for his behavior and another occurrence of trying to make sure his opinion was heard.

I lived like this for almost an entire year.

You might ask why? Well, the truth is I did it because I truly believed that he loved me. I stayed because my victim brain was afraid that nobody else would ever love me. I worried that I was unlovable and that somehow, even so unworthy of love, he had managed to love me.

I stayed because the sex was freaking amazing and because I wanted to be wanted like that so badly that I believed it was worth how beaten and bruised I felt emotionally.

I stayed because I didn’t have any self-confidence in my ability to be anything but the victim. A lifetime of struggling with obesity hadn’t just taught me to let others victimize me, it had taught me to victimize myself. I didn’t believe I was capable of being a person that could be loved in any sort of healthy way and so I was willing to settle for a love that was unhealthy and toxic.

I stayed because I had not hit that proverbial emotional rock-bottom yet. I was standing on the edge of a cliff frantically clutching to the only thing I thought I had, him. Because at that point, the only thing I saw valuable in myself was that he loved me.

That was all about to change. Sometimes you must hit rock-bottom to find your strength. I was about to learn how strong I was, but it was going to take one of the darkest moments in my life to reveal it to me.

Stay tuned for Sex Love and Obesity Part 16 – Emotional Rock-bottomDSSPostSig

Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and Cooper Institute Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies. Her training and coaching services are offered exclusively through GoGirl Fitness Studio.