Fucking Justin just had to let him in. I can hear them downstairs, even over the music, and I’m losing my mind. It’s like my whole soul is tearing at the inside of my body, digging a hole through my chest so it can escape and curl up beside him in spite of me. It is straight up torture to love a bad man this much.
I have to let him go, I can’t keep doing this same damn thing. It’s just so hard to believe that the words weren’t real, that the laughter was scripted, that when I was in Heaven with my cheek to his chest, he could want to be anywhere else. I take things at face value, believe what people say, and he said he adores me, he promised he’d change. That is supposed to be that. I can’t accept that the man I loved was a lie; I suck at reading what’s written in the spaces between the lines.
It’s just my arrogance, probably. I think I’m too hot to be somebody’s bitch, too valuable to be used up like a stiff sock. I thought predators preyed on the weak. I’ve been carrying the full weight of his six foot frame for two years now, while he wiggles and shouts and pounds on my back. I’m two times as strong as him.
I guess from his perspective, positioned above me as he is, I could look like a doormat. Kings are carried, right? I mean, I thought it was more like that Jesus story, the one with the footprints in the sand. This fool said he couldn’t walk, so I picked him up. What he meant was that he didn’t think he should have to.
Fucking Justin’s been making fun of me since this morning. “Are we in a sitcom? I swear I can almost predict what’s gonna happen next, down to the exact words you’re gonna say.” I want to tell him he’s got no room to talk, especially now that Brian is sitting on his sofa. I mean, it hurts my heart to be away from him and sure, my vagina has a mind of her own. But Justin, baby, he’s got you wrapped around his finger too. The man preys on the pure at heart, manipulates their desire to do right by their fellow man. He talks so good you can’t help but empathize, and he apologizes like he means it. When you’re all fed up, he’ll come back with this show of self loathing that exactly imitates the first stage of repentance and you can’t help but believe him. We’ve all been there, right? Done some awful things, and how much would it suck if you weren’t forgiven and given a chance to make it right? We’re not bad people just because we make mistakes, and the fact that he feels remorseful for his wrongs seems to imply that he is fundamentally good. It’s taken me a long time to decipher this one little scribble that isn’t written down: The only thing good about this man is that he sometimes hates himself. Don’t feel bad for him when he does. Whether the worm is real or fake doesn’t even matter; it’s bait either way.
Justin said he’s about to hop off the merry-go-round. “It’s like one of us is in a rut and they’ve pulled everyone in with them. Not saying which one of us, but it isn’t me.” I want to tell him he should be grateful that Brian keeps fucking up, cuz when we’re together, he won’t let me spend time with anybody else. And what about me? I’m just a sucker, he’s the bad guy, why force me to go down with him? Where’s that bleeding heart that just loaded a bowl so he could smoke and brought him a glass of water?
Besides, it is not I who am clairvoyant. When it’s good, it’s great, it feels like it’s impossible that it should end. I don’t know when he’s gonna pick another fight. Last time, I simply asked what he was doing on his phone. Before that, I called him out for siphoning off forty bucks a day to fuel his gambling habit. He slapped me when I called him a thief and I literally kicked his ass out the door.
The violence is kinda whatever, I grew up with it, and my dad is bigger than him. I can handle Brian. He says I’ve got a future in the MMA.
The money thing gets to me, though. I’ve got children. Two little boys aged six and eight, they’re expensive. I can’t afford to take care of all three men and me.
I used to keep the smaller pair from Friday night to six o’clock on Sunday, without fail every week. Monday through Thursday, I’d call them on Skype. Now I have to work both ends of the weekend to keep them for just one day and our seven pm talk time is usually wasted on another needless fight. And yeah, this sucks for me and it sucks for them, but it really sucks for Adam, who works full time and goes to school and can barely keep up as it is. He needs the downtime to decompress and work toward his Cyber Security degree.
And child support. Ugh. You don’t even want to know how far behind I am. Adam needs the money to help cover his rent, which is obviously important, and what’s left of the check after bills goes to the kiddo’s Tae Kwon Do. They went to Nationals recently and placed first and second in board breaking, pretty badass, but more importantly, important for them as eventual adults. Discipline and dedication became accomplishment with those neat little medals, essential life lessons were learned and their sense of self efficacy was bolstered. So when it was time to invest $800 in sparring gear so they could enjoy all the privileges of a purple belt, I promised to cover half. Two weeks after the money was due, Adam asked about the regular support payment, saying he had maxed out all his credit cards and that he was looking at a super tight month. In the six weeks that have elapsed since then, I’ve only managed a miserly $300 total.
So what does Adam do? He signs up to deliver packages for Amazon on the weekends to make ends meet. His precious little downtime is now non-existent completely, but I’m busy investing everything I have in an illegitimate child, so I can’t stop dropping the ball right on my ex-husband’s chest just yet. Brian picks a fight on a Thursday, we get kicked out of our hotel for disturbing the other guests and come Friday, I’m staying with Justin, where it’s more difficult to do my work and too crowded to keep my kids. Maybe by Saturday I’ll get it all figured out, but it’s more likely that Brian will blow any money I make and we’ll be stuck in J’s spare room until Tuesday, fighting and fucking. So now Adam is carrying boxes up and down stairs with two children in tow. I imagine they’re miserable, that Adam is snappy, that the boys get their feelings hurt. The minor aggressions are internalized as self-doubt and externalized as father-doubt, so their confidence and relationships all take a hit. When I’m not doing my job, I impede his ability to do his, and everyone suffers. Here I thought I was just trying to be a good person.
Fucking Justin is right, I’m responsible for more than myself and this misappropriation of resources is hurting the only people I’m really obligated to support. I bend over backward trying to gratify the needs of a greedy man who treats me like garbage, never telling him no for the fear he will leave, and the consequent neglect of my own blood forces them into child labor. How fucking sad am I?
Maybe I’ll follow Justin off this spinning slab of bullshit, finally. Brian only eats up all the food at the table, he’s not bringing any contributions of his own. He’s content to let me handle everything, only angry at my incompetence if ever the feast runs out, too entitled to turn his finger around. But Brian is a grown ass man and he can take care of himself. Let this traitorous heart of mine hurt for as long as it must. My wobbly legs do still listen to me and they’re staying put. Headphones in, Brian out.
*This was my response to a prompt about “breaking the cycle.”
*Edited as of 6/29