God it's so sad reading that last post, remembering how happy I was, how the world seemed full of possibilities, how this wonderful man was in my life and the future looked so bright.
The love story lasted in all its perfect form until he moved in at the end of last September. He was kind and sweet and generous and fun and sexy and wonderful with my boys. Whenever there were difficulties we talked them through and resolved them and were stronger for it. He was supportive, creative, we made work together and everything was good. We talked about getting married and having another child. I was scared - obviously given my history - but it felt like he was worth the risk. I wrote songs, worked through it - some bloody good songs actually, hurts to sing them now but I guess that's art - and we took the plunge to move in together and start planning a wedding.
The first couple of weeks of living together were lovely - he proposed officially at the end of the first week, with a ring he'd chosen and bought himself. It was beautiful, perfect.
I don't think I can even talk about the months from then to now, it's too horrible, and too hard right now, and too difficult to explain. Essentially though, he just became more and more insensitive, unresponsive, self-absorbed, defensive, and in denial about any of this happening.
At first those moments were rare, maybe once every couple of weeks - always shocking given the man I'd been used to, but I put it down to just the transition to living with someone - it's never going to be smooth sailing is it? I can chart the distances between those moments, after Christmas it had got to maybe once every three of four days and by the time we got to the wedding in May it was maybe daily and now, I rarely see the old Dreads at all.
I guess I kept thinking "Well its just the stress of the wedding - and its sad and frustrating that he keeps saying he'll do things and then not, but maybe when we don't have a wedding to organise then things will go back to normal - there'll be space for us and for him to process". It's not an unreasonable thing to think is it?
We had a weekend without the kids as the honeymoon and did some talking then and it felt like he understood some things and worked some stuff through, so I went into the marriage with hope and we started trying for a baby as we'd planned. I fell pregnant straight away - I'm now 16 weeks.
The hope didn't last. It got worse and worse - unkept promises, jobs left half done or done badly, things moved so me and the kids couldn't find them, precious objects broken through carelessness - all of which we would only discover at the very moment we needed the thing or were relying on something being done. I've normally had to deal with at least three things he's done or hasn't done and hasn't told me about before I can even get to make a cup of tea in the morning. I can't actually go to a single room in the house now without seeing something he broke.
He is distant, uncommunicative, defensive and has taken to hitting himself round the head and screaming loud enough for the whole street to hear when things get particularly bad - or if I try to express how I feel about things.
And I'm stuck and trapped, because he is a part of our lives now. I rely on him for childcare when I'm working, for the income - albeit small - he brings in, to do the physical things that at my age and this pregnant I am currently struggling with, and to do his share of the housework so I can work or spend time with children. Ironically if he weren't here then I would have more energy and time since he is the thing that takes most of both of those - the emotional drain affects me physically and the time taken trying to communicate with him around practical things and trying to help him understand what he is doing and the impact it has on me, wipes out the opportunity to do so many of those things that I would be better off and quicker doing myself.
I have told him that I can't do it anymore, that I can't spend hours every day dealing with him and the impact of his actions. Over the months I have tried everything I can think of - I have listened, I have been supportive, I have written lists and schedules to try to help him get on top of things, I've helped him find work to give him structure, I've taken responsibility for as many of his tasks as I can, I've tried to help him work out strategies to deal with his emotions - and I've done all of these things of times over, often having the same conversation again and again - every time he comes out feeling positive and promises that he will change and go back to treating me the way he used to. And every time he doesn't. A few months ago, sometimes he might change after one of these conversations to being a little more sensitive and responsive for a day, now its rarely more than twenty minutes - often less. Often he will make a promise and break it in the next sentence or action.
I have helped and supported him to get a counsellor who is really good, its just he's not very good at going, but he has been two weeks in a row now so that's something. I encouraged him to get one back in January but he had a terrible one to begin with which just made things worse and so he would just avoid going and avoided finding another one. I hope he can keep going to this one, I hope he can get the help he needs. I am sad that I can't give it to him but I have to look after myself and my kids - it's not fair to any of us for me to carry on driving myself into the ground like this.
I would dearly love to just get out of this completely but my children adore him despite how he behaves. Its also really hard to talk to anyone about it as outwardly he seems like the perfect guy. How can you complain about a man who will take the children to school and cook meals and do the washing up and the laundry? Because clearly he must be wonderful. It doesn't matter that he's insensitive, defensive, uncommunicative, self-harming, self-absorbed, demanding. It doesn't matter that you spend every day dealing with something he's broken, or trying to find something he's 'put away' but not told you where it is, or countless other 'booby traps' it feels like my house is littered with. I can almost hear people saying "but he puts things away!" - but if you put something away that belongs to someone else, and its not in a place where they would know where it is, then that's not helping someone - that's hiding their stuff. Stuff they then can't access without going through you. That's not helpful that's controlling.
I cannot get into my office to work because he uses it as a cupboard and puts things in there that prevent me getting to the work things I need, or moves my work stuff and doesn't tell me where. Same for the garage. And because of that and the time and energy dealing with him takes up the whole house is a complete tip. There is not a surface that does not have papers, toys, rubbish piled high. I look like a candidate for that hoarders programme. And I hate it. I can't relax in my own house. It's hard to find places for the kids to play. He keeps dumping things in the middle of the living room floor because he says there's nowhere else to put it. And of course because he hasn't sorted out or cleared out the office and the garage there isn't, and so I have to work out where things can go because he refuses to, just to defend the one space left for the kids to play.
The things is, I get that men can be like this. I get that many women put up with it and think its down to men being men, and that any help they get is a bonus and that a man like that is a 'good man'. And I totally respect their choice to do that. And I even admire them a little for it - since I was about 14 I have wished I could just put up and shut up and be grateful for what I have and not feel this pain when I'm treated as invisible - you've read the title of the blog, right? - because I see that life is easier that way. But I'd got to the point where I had accepted for myself that I couldn't do that, and so it was probably better for me to be single, and that any relationship I got into would have to be pretty perfect for it to be worth the time and energy that I accept most relationships take. So I couldn't have been more surprised to meet someone like Dreads who at the start and for many months really did seem to be that perfect relationship - a man I could both love and live with. A man who was respectful and communicative and understood me and with whom I seemed to be on the same wavelength with, whose company I enjoyed and who enjoyed mine, with whom there was a mutual attraction. It did seem to good to be true but I was careful to make sure it wasn't, to really communicate and talk through what we were embarking on together, and it felt like there was a mutual understanding of that at a very deep level. So I couldn't be more shocked or devastated to be where I am today. I know that getting into a serious relationship if you have little experience of them - as Dreads doesn't - can bring up all kinds of issues you didn't know you had. But I genuinely thought from my experience of him that there wasn't anything this huge, and that anything that did come up we would deal with and work through together. Not that he would become like this.
I think that's all I can say about it right now. I had to write because now I'm just trying to concentrate on keeping myself sane and healthy for my sake, the kids sake and the baby's sake, and not letting it out doesn't seem healthy. If you've found this blog and taken the time to read it thank you - it's not necessarily one I'm going to be publicising - not entertaining or informative really is it? But maybe like last time, when I first started this blog, it might just help me write my soul back home, and in the end that's probably a good thing for everyone.
They say there is always a way out don't they? That even when it feels like the pit of hell there's always something. So I'm starting here and hoping for the best.
Love to you all