Over ten years ago, I left a long-term relationship for what I hoped was going to be a happy, fulfilling marriage.
I’d been raised to be a good girl. A doormat, really. I was to put others’ needs before my own. If I was nice, others would like me and do things for me. I was also taught that men would do stupid things and I just had to accept the things they did; “boys will be boys.” This poor upbringing led me to believe that it was normal for men to be childish, sex-hungry idiots and I just had to put up with it.
My first real relationship was in my 20s. My boyfriend was elated to find out that I was still a virgin. He pressured me into sex. I tried telling myself that it was good, tried living up to his expectations, but I never enjoyed any of it. He still lived with his parents. He couldn’t hold down a job. He wanted to stay in his room, eat junk food, and watch his anime and porn. He would describe his fantasies and dreams of me being slutty and fighting with or having sex with other women. He took naked pictures of me. Three years of this. Remember, I’d been raised to believe that this was normal of men. But probably deep down, I didn’t think I could do better.
Some years later, I bought into his idea of trying a threesome. He was open to trying it with a man (but he really wanted it with another woman). That’s how I met the man who would eventually become my husband. The threesome didn’t happen (probably the only right thing I ever did in my adult life), but I did end up leaving my boyfriend. Two months later, I was engaged to this new man. We married two years later.
It’s been a repeat of my previous relationship. The original plan was for us to live a maximum of two years with his parents while we saved up for a place and he paid off his credit card, which was only $3,000 USD at the time. During the first two years of our marriage, he would take pictures of me in the shower, grab my genitals and breasts. I told him I didn’t like it. He said, “But you’re my wife.” He eventually stopped when I admitted to having a dream where I mutilated my face so men wouldn’t find me attractive. But he would still slap or grab my ass when he felt like it.
Five years ago, when he lost his job, I tried coming up with a plan on how we could manage our finances. After some cajoling, I got him to admit the amount of debt on his credit card. $13,000. And he wouldn’t say how he got it up that high. He got offended and insulted when I tried to get him to talk about it. Sometimes I’d spot ads for “adult friend finders” on his phone or laptop (and I still do); he also spent more money on comics and “collectibles” than paying off his debt.
At my job, I formed a bond with an older man. It turned into an emotional affair. I wouldn’t allow it to become physical or sexual. But I did dream about finally having children and a home to call my own. My husband found out. It almost ended our marriage. But the Other Man turned out to be emotionally clingy and a manchild. He thought having a girlfriend would make him young, turn back the clock. He would talk about his dream about people in public marveling at us, a gray-haired older man with a younger woman and their cute baby daughter.
I ended the affair. I still beat myself up over it. I tried repairing the marriage, hoping that this was a wake up call for my husband, that he needed to get his act together. But it didn’t.
He’s racked up his credit card to over $15,000. We’re still living with his parents. We still don’t have children because I refuse to raise them in a house with controlling, emotionally abusive, hoarding in-laws. He’s more concerned with building his toy collection and reading comics than building any kind of future with me.
This has been over ten years of my life wasted.
Most of my paycheck goes towards paying off my own debts. I’m always looking over and revising my plans for payments. I’d thought that my husband would see this and be motivated to do the same for his own debt. But it hasn’t.
I have shit taste in men, I know. I know there are good men out there. At least one would love me and respect me, and even be a provider. I can’t draw any of them into my life, though. My social life is practically non-existent. And I’m afraid that I’ll find more of the same. (My last therapist basically told me that it’s my fault I keep finding these kinds of people. But I don’t know what the hell I’ve been doing to bring these people into my life.)
I need to become my own provider. But how do I do that? How do I get a job with the few skills I have when jobs are demanding professionals with 2-5 years experience? How do I get a job with no connections and no friends to vouch for me?
So I sit here in bed, looking over a decade that’s been wasted, terrified of seeing what the next decade will look like. The same disappointments played out, the same dreams never coming true, everything standing still because I can’t take care of myself and my husband won’t take care of me.
At this point, I don’t think it’s worth it. I’ll be 40 in four years. What do I have to look forward to? What will I have to show for my life?