In Sex Love and Obesity Part 16 I told you that I had hit the proverbial rock-bottom. Sometimes you THINK you are at rock-bottom, then something happens, and you suddenly go “Oh, No, okay, THIS is rock-bottom.” You think it can’t possibly get any worse; then it does.

We’re going to fast forward a little bit. January goes by. February comes and about a week before I am about to leave for an all girls trip to do the Princess Half Marathon, Peter loses his job. Now, we are back to me having to worry about intentionally having to take care of both of us while he tries to find another job.

The worry about being a single income couple for the second time in the 8 months that we had been living together, caused me a lot of stress. I wasn’t in a place in my life where my finances allowed for this.

Once again, we started fighting over finances.

There was never a point in this relationship that I hadn’t paid my share of the bills or more. Yet our fights about money always revolved around what he thought I should or should not be doing with my money. It usually centered around what running trip I shouldn’t be going on, what race registration I shouldn’t be spending money on or what spending money I shouldn’t be taking with me. What Peter wanted at this point was for me to only run local races or even better, only run virtual events.

I went on my running trip and he tried to find a job. He had several leads, a couple offers even. But none of them were panning out quickly enough for him to be able to afford to go on the trip we had planned in May. He decided he was only going to do the first part of the trip. He’d go to Disneyland with me and skip the convention in Oregon.

The Oregon portion of the trip was going to be highly emotional for me. I knew this going into it. It was a good trip. I was going to go do my thing; Give a presentation at a weight loss surgery-oriented convention. This was something I absolutely loved doing. I would also be getting an award for my athletic achievements post bariatric surgery. The award meant a lot to me. I was excited about receiving it. I wanted someone there to celebrate that achievement with me.

I was also going to be going to the apartment that my sometime-soon-to-be ex-husband still lived in, gathering up the rest of my things and saying good-bye to the dog that he had gotten in our separation. In this case “gathering my things,” also meant retrieving my Father’s ashes and bringing them back with me. I knew this was going to be rough for me emotionally and I was worried about how well I could handle all of that with all the dissociative episodes I was having.

I called my Godfather and invited him to go to Oregon with me. We had not seen each other in nearly three years and I knew he would be a good support person to have with me for this trip.

Everything I did lead to more and more arguments.

As the trip got closer and Peter still hadn’t found a job, the plan changed and he decided he wasn’t going to be able to go to Disneyland either. He started to focus his attention on trips we had planned. We had plans to go to New Orleans in August for another weight loss convention and a we had started planning a trip to Disney World for Christmas. But, that didn’t help the animosity he had about me going to Disneyland without him.

He was jealous that I was going without him because he couldn’t afford to go and I couldn’t afford to pay for both of us. He started throwing in my face how easy my life was, that all I had to do was call my Godfather and I could instantly do whatever I wanted.

I invited my Godfather to join me in Anaheim on the first part of the trip. We weren’t even planning on going to the amusement parks while we were there. Growing up in California I’ve literally been to Disneyland hundreds of times. I’d invited my Godfather because I wanted someone else there with me. I wanted to see him. Peter not going was leaving me holding the bag on hotel reservations I couldn’t afford by myself. The changes to this trip became a source of angst between us.

Our fights were just getting uglier and uglier. I could literally never win.

I was the bad guy for spending so much time working and running and not spending enough time with him. But I had to do that in order to make the money I was making.

I was the bad guy because I had people in my life that helped make doing the things I wanted possible. He was jealous of what my friends and family did for me and upset that he didn’t have people like that in his life. This got thrown in my face constantly.

I was the bad guy for spending my extra money on the things I wanted. I was baffled by this. I was picking up the slack financially anytime the situation called for it.  He wasn’t working yet. He’d been out of work for nearly two months. But instead of thanking me for the things I did do to help, he’d beat me up emotionally for the little extras things I did for myself. He seemed angry and resentful that I wouldn’t sacrifice the things I wanted in order to give him the things he wanted.

I was the bad guy for wanting him to do the majority of the housework. He was home all day while I was working as much as I could. But, I was a slave driver because I wanted him to do the housework while I was out working 12 hour days.

But, more than anything else, I was the bad guy because I was handling all the stress by doing things he didn’t want me to do; Smoking cigarettes, drinking, smoking marijuana and running.

I’m not about to say that these were good choices. Other than running, they were not. But, there was a rationality behind my choices that he just refused to accept or understand.

I’m a food addict. Food has been my go-to drug my entire life.

What I wanted more than anything at this point was to stuff my face with Ding Dongs and eat my way through bags of Cheetos. I wanted to swim in bowls of mac & cheese and bathe in ice cream.

I knew that if I turned to food to escape my emotions and deal with everything I was feeling, there was a high chance I would end up right back where I had been before; Weighing over 400 lbs. I truly believed that if I turned to food to deal with the emotions and stress this relationship was causing me, I would never be able to stop feeding my feelings in this manner.

This was terrifying to me. I was scared of becoming a regain statistic. On top of that, I had built an entire career around fitness and weight loss. If I suddenly starting using food to cope with my feelings and ended up regaining an epic amount of weight, my career was over. I was literally terrified of going down that rabbit hole.

Instead, I turned to things that I knew I could control when I wanted to. It was very easy for me to come home with a pack of cigarettes, chain smoke them all and then not smoke again for weeks. It was easy for me to drink my way through a bottle or a six-pack one night and then not do it again for another week. I had started smoking pot again back when my father passed away. There had been plenty of times in the past 5 years that I had stopped for short durations of time. I was choosing things I could control to keep me from doing the one thing I felt was most dangerous to me; Eating.

While I was busy choosing anything but food to deal with my feelings, he was doing the exact opposite. He was snacking constantly. He was going to Wal-Mart buying a 4 serving sugar-free cake and eating the entire thing in the car before driving home. He was testing his sugar tolerance with things like pastries and donuts. He was regaining weight. In fact, in the 8 months we had been together he had gained 20-30 pounds.

The more I saw the results of his relapse into using food to deal with feelings, the more I dug my heels in the sand and insisted on using coping skills that didn’t include food for myself.

When we would fight about the things I was choosing to do, which was almost daily. I’d try to explain my rationale to him. I’d try to point out that he had his own downfalls and his own vices and that we were not all that different. I didn’t yell and scream and berate him every time I came home, and all the chips were gone. I didn’t emotionally beat him down when he ate his way through a gallon size Ziploc bag of snack mix. But, he was on my ass anytime I did anything he didn’t approve of.

A typical day in my life went like this:

I’d wake up in the morning and start getting ready for work. We’d rehash whatever argument we’d had the night before. Or, if we had made it through a night without arguing, which was rare, a new argument would begin. We’d fight until I had no choice but to walk out the door for work and I’d leave angry.

He’d call me on my drive into work and we’d argue until I got to the door and had to walk in and teach a class. I’d spend my entire day upset. If I was working at the grocery store that day he’d often show up at my job in my check-stand line to try to smooth over the argument. But, since I was usually still mad, it often only made things worse.

I’d come home from work still angry. He’d try to be sweet and cuddly acting like nothing had happened. I’d go do something to try to calm down; typically standing outside on the patio smoking a cigarette or going off into the backroom of the apartment to smoke some weed.

He’d admonish me the entire time. Asking me why I had to do these things. Why couldn’t I just deal with my feelings, talk to him about them, or better yet, allow him to make me feel better with sex and affection?

The argument would start escalating. Whatever I was doing to try to calm down wouldn’t work because he was harassing me the entire time. I’d ask him to leave me alone, let me calm down, let me chill out. He’d walk away for a few moments, do something else, and then come right back and re-engage.

This pattern would usually lead to me going to the next vice to escape; Then that would escalate the argument more. We’d stay up late arguing. We’d go to bed angry, and then wake up and do it all over again.

There was a point in all of this, that I began to recognized that the constant conflict and arguing was triggering me. I knew from a previous relationship that I didn’t handle arguing well. I talked about this back in Sex Love and Obesity Part 5 – It reminded me too much of growing up constantly fighting with my mother.

With Peter, it was even worse. Because he would do the very same things my Mother used to do to me in arguments. Follow me from room to room. Stand in the doorway physically blocking the exit, trapping me in the room and thus, in the argument. Talking over me when I tried to speak, prompting me to speak louder. Then he’d speak louder and we’d end up in a full-blown yelling and screaming match.

The more volatile the arguments got, the more I got triggered and the more dissociative episodes I experienced.

I was stuck in a vicious cycle.

Occasionally, we would have a day we didn’t argue and fight. Maybe even a rare two or three days. Peter would point out that things were getting better. I attributed it to days he got his way. Usually our good days were days I didn’t have to work; Days he got all my attention.

There was so much hypocrisy in the relationship. If I came home with a bottle of wine during the week to relax, I was an addict. But, if we went out and got a case of beer and were both drinking our faces off, that was totally acceptable.

I tried to communicate what I was feeling. I began to vocalize that I felt emotionally abused. I started to point out the behaviors that made me feel emotionally blackmailed.  I started reading articles about emotional, verbal and mental abuse. I started calling out controlling behaviors. When I did this, it all got turned around on me.

Suddenly I was the one that was controlling. I was unforgiving. I held on to things. I took things too literally. It was always my fault. Sometimes, he convinced me he was right; I’d end up accepting blame and fault. His tendency to constantly tear me down, point out my faults, tell me what a horrible person I was, what a hypocrite and a phony I was had worn on me so much that a lot of times I believed it was all true.

Other times, I’d hold my ground. I’d hang on to the fact that I felt emotionally and mentally battered and abused. I’d suggest that he needed to get help. I’d suggest that he needed to see a therapist and figure out why he was treating me like this. I’d ask question about his previous relationships and his marriage to try to figure out if this was a pattern or if this was simply how he treated me.

I tried to figure out why he was so argumentative and confrontational.

I tried to why he always needed to have his way and always needed to have his opinion heard. I tried to figure out why he needed so much of my undivided attention. I tried to figure out why he was so controlling and possessive of me. I tried to figure out why he was so jealous of the things I could do instead of just being happy for me.

I learned that his ex-wife had been unable or unwilling to make decisions about anything, so he made them all. He was used to telling someone else what they were going to do.

He had walked away from a marriage where financially, he was all set. He never had to worry about money. She made enough money to take care of them both. He always had money to do and have all the things he wanted.  Financial stresses were a new thing for him, he wasn’t used to dealing with them.

Life with me was the exact opposite. I made decisions for myself. I was fighting for independence and control. I’d been in a relationship where I was completely controlled for so long that my freedom was a high priority for me. I’d been in relationships where I was the bread-winner and had to take care of someone else. I wasn’t willing to do any of that again, no matter how much I loved someone.

He’d walked away from that marriage because it lacked sex and intimacy. That was something that we had in common. But, by this point, our relationship lacked sex and intimacy as well. Some of that could be blamed on his injury and the time it took him to recover. Some of it could be blamed on the fact that we didn’t really have that mind-blowing sex we used to have before his injury; His stamina and skills in the bedroom had changed significantly because of his accident.

But, some of it was my fault as well. I had become less interested in the sex. Because of my history with being sexually abused, for sex to be pleasant it must be pleasant on a physical, emotional and mental level. It had become hard for me to be with him because I didn’t want to be intimate with someone I felt constantly emotionally abused me.

It had gotten to a point where I really had to be emotionally numb to participate. I needed to be under the influence of something that could help me escape the feeling that I was willing having sex with someone who I felt emotionally mistreated me. He noticed that. He called me out on it several times. We argued about that too.

I was the bad guy for not having sex. I was the bad guy for using chemical substances to numb the feelings of emotional abused enough that I could have sex. Either way, I couldn’t win.

I wondered if this was the source of all our problems. Us both trying to live a life with one another that was the opposite of the lives we were used to before. I really couldn’t figure out how to stop the fighting, but I knew if it didn’t stop, it was going to be a deal breaker in the relationship.

He could have cheated on me and I would probably have forgiven him. He could have hit me, and I would probably have gotten over it. But this perpetual fighting and arguing that had me in a constant state of emotional turmoil was the one thing I couldn’t do. I wasn’t capable of it emotionally. It was causing me to lose my grasp on my mental health and wellness. It had to stop, or I was going to leave.

But, it didn’t stop. It got worse; and so did I. Nobody knew how bad it was. Fear had kept me silent and shame had kept me from reaching out to anyone. Not even my closest friends knew I need help; Because, if life has taught me anything, it’s how to smile and put on a really good game face.

Stay tuned for Sex Love and Obesity Part 18 – It Took A Mental Breakdown For Me To Walk Away.DSSPostSig

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.