The last few days have been hellish. But it all came to a head yesterday.
Jon is working regularly again. The past week essentially went like this: Last Wednesday, Jon and Lora were fighting most of the evening, so I didn’t see much of Jon. Thursday, his work schedule was completely incompatible with mine (I worked 9am-7pm, he worked 5pm-2am), so I didn’t see him. Friday, Lora and Jon did their date night, so I didn’t see him much that night either, and they slept together that night. Saturday, Jon worked from 10am-midnight. We spent about half an hour together before we went to sleep. It was our night to sleep alone together, and even if the evening was shot, I was looking forward to finally spending time together Sunday morning and afternoon.
Which ended it not happening at all.
Sunday morning, while I was doing the dishes, Lora came home from the gym. She told Jon that she wanted to spend some time with him before she started on her homework, so she asked him to come hang out with her for a bit. He said he would, but he had to ask me a question first about a home repair project he needed to start on soon. Our conversation took longer than anticipated, and by the time he went back to spend time with Lora, she was angry that twenty minutes (twenty minutes) had gone by before he came to talk to her, and because he took twenty minutes to talk to me first, she now had to do her homework and had no time to hang out with him. That started an argument about how often Jon puts me before her. This argument lasted all day (does arguing all day make sense after telling your boyfriend that you don’t have time to hang out with him because he spent twenty minutes talking to his other partner? don’t answer that. my head will explode.). I had friends over in the evening, and my friends and I tried to act normal while we could hear them arguing, and acted ignorant of the argument when Jon and Lora came out to hang out with us and were acting normal themselves (I saw “acting” normal because after spending time with us, then went back into a bedroom and argued more).
Finally, around 11pm, I told Jon I needed a shower, and asked if he’d join me. He did, but about five minutes into the shower, Lora knocked on the door, with a question. He answered it and asked me what was wrong (I’d been pretty quiet all day and I imagine I looked upset, though I was trying not to broadcast that). I told him that I didn’t know how much longer I could handle the fighting. I told him that I was upset that I’d barely seen him in nearly five days, because when he wasn’t at work, he was either fighting with Lora or doing a date night with Lora. I told him that I didn’t know if I should speak up about the fighting, because I wasn’t being fought with, but it was interfering both with my ability to spend any time with Jon, as well as my comfort level in our home. I told him that I didn’t know what to do. Jon said he didn’t know either. As we were hugging each other, Lora knocked on the door again. She needed to talk to Jon. Now. He asked her to give him a few minutes, and then he’d be out. I said “and that is exactly what I’m talking about”. He said he knew, and he was sorry.
That night, I was woken up by Lora and Jon having a loud conversation in the other bedroom. Lora said she had noticed I was upset, and was worried that I was mad at her. Jon told her that I was upset about the fighting. Lora wanted to know why I wouldn’t talk to her directly. Jon said he didn’t know, but that she should talk to me.
At this point, the conversation got quieter (and I’m extemporizing some of this – the part that I actually heard was Lora crying loudly and asking/wailing “but why is she so upset about it?” and Jon saying she should talk to me herself. Jon filled in the rest for me later). So I laid there and I thought. And I got pissed off.
I got pissed because it felt to me like Lora was upset at me for being upset at her and that she didn’t realize that I hadn’t spent time with Jon in days, because she was either fighting with him, or having private time with him. I also got upset because Jon knows the reasons that I hadn’t talked to Lora – one is that I’m not sure how much of it actually is my business. The other is that when I’ve brought up talking to Lora about the things that she says, he’s asked me not to do it – it would only make her more upset to know that I overheard their arguments.
I also realized that I didn’t really care any more if it made her upset. Something in me snapped into place. No matter how lovely Lora can be at times, she was being abusive to Jonathan, and I realized that I was tired of hearing it and pretending that it wasn’t happening. I was sick of hearing her say things like “I know you hate me and are just trying to fuck with me” and “I should just break up with you and get out of this mess” and “You don’t really care about me, you just want to use me like my ex did”. Also, her fighting and demands for attention were regularly interfering with my ability to see Jon to the point where I wasn’t seeing him for more than an hour or two at a time for days on end – and we live together! But before I can spend time with him, he has to be in a good place with Lora (or else she’s going to interrupt us to argue with him anyway), and since he hasn’t been able to get into a good place with Lora for days (except, amazingly, when they had a date night planned – that night involved no fighting. coincidence?), we’d barely seen each other for days.
So I laid there and I thought about what I should do.
The biggest concern I had about what to do is that Jon was leaving for a mini-trip with a former partner/close friend early today, and I really wanted to spend the evening (Sunday/Monday evening) with him (which he’d promised we’d be able to do). But as I thought about it, I realized that it wasn’t going to be possible to spend a nice evening with him and not say anything about the recent fighting and total lack of time for us. I’d reached my limit.
When he texted me and told me he hoped I’d be home soon to cuddle with him, I told him that he needed to know that we had to have a serious talk about things. He wanted to know what things. I told him that we had to talk about the things that Lora says to him when they fight, and also that the frequency of the fighting had gotten out of control. He said that he had talked to Lora and she was upset that I was upset about the mean things that she says to him, and she wanted to make it up to me.
At this point, I lost it. Mean? Mean? Telling you that your new haircut doesn’t look good is mean. Saying that someone is wearing ugly shoes is mean. Screaming at your boyfriend that he fucks things up all the time and that you know he secretly hates you, so you should just break up with him is abuse. It’s wrong. It’s fucked up. It’s unacceptable. Calling it mean is a joke. It’s like if I walked up to someone and decked them and when they got upset I said “oh, I’m sorry, I tapped you on the chin a little bit hard there, didn’t I?”.
Of all the things that I’d gotten angry about, I think the thing that made me the angriest was the absurd minimization of abuse into “mean” behavior.
Not to mention, I’m not the person who needs to be made up to. Jon is! The only thing that I need is for it to not happen – which I bet Jon would also really love himself, since being Lora’s emotional punching bag regularly looks like it’s been making him miserable.
At this point, Jon called me to talk, and I told him that I needed to talk to him privately (with him in a separate room than Lora). I should note at this point that this is actually the first time I’ve ever asked Jon if we could talk privately without Lora (normally, I just wait until Jon and I are naturally alone). Lora asks Jon if she can talk to him privately (in a separate room) on a daily basis. Which there is nothing wrong with, in and of itself. Keeping that in mind though…
Jon went into another room and I heard him close the door. I told him that I was tired of him making excuses for Lora’s behavior and minimizing it. I told him that it was abusive, and I didn’t know if it should be any of my business, but I was sick of hearing it, and it had to stop. I also pointed out to him (again) that we’d barely spent any time together in close to a week, and he was leaving on a three day trip the next day, and that I was extremely unhappy about that. Even more so that any time we could have spent together was taken up by him and Lora fighting the same circular, abusive fights that they always fight. As I was saying to him “and I couldn’t even spend twenty minutes in the shower with you last night, without her interrupting us twice” I heard a sound and then Lora’s voice. “Did she just open the door and come in?” I asked. “Yes” he said. “Of course she did,” I said. “Because she believes that she should be able to get your attention any time she wants, but if I ask to speak to you privately ONCE for five minutes, she has to interrupt”.
At this point, Jon broke into tears. Sobbing, miserable, overwhelmed tears. And I kicked myself in the ass, because yelling at an abused person for being abused is probably the shittiest thing I could do. For my next trick, I’ll drown some baby bunnies. My freaking god, was I being an asshole. Especially when he’s leaving the next morning, and he’s had nearly non-stop arguing with Lora for over a day.
So I apologized. I apologized a lot. I told him that I wasn’t that angry with him, and it was wrong of me to take out my anger on him when I’m more angry at Lora. I kept apologizing and I realized that waiting until I got home from work in the evening for us to talk wasn’t going to work, so I told Jon that I was coming home now, and that we all needed to talk. Or rather, that I was going to talk, and that they were going to listen. And then we could all talk.
As I drove home, I seriously considered just…keeping on driving. What the hell was I about to do and say? What had I gotten myself into? How was I going to figure out how to deal with this in the next half-hour?
Luckily, I had a few epiphanies (or maybe I just knew that if I went in there pissed off and crazy, there was a great chance everything was going to go to hell). The first one was that, to a certain extent, I could treat this like a roommate problem. As in, when I had two roommates in the past that had been friends before roommates, and discovered that they didn’t get along as roommates (thus causing a lot of arguing and disruption of our home life), I got involved because it’s my home too. And I have a right to live in a home that doesn’t have screaming fights breaking out 2-3 times a week. So I could take some of the things I learned there and apply it to this situation. Even if they’re not perfect analogues, it’s at least a place to start.
The second thought was that I did have a right to get involved, because my relationship (and ability to spend time) with Jon was affected by this fighting. Given the number of times that I haven’t been able to spend more than a few hours with Jon because of fighting with Lora, it had become my problem.
So I got home and I told Jon that I needed to talk to him first. I wanted to talk to him first because I wanted to make sure that he was aware that if we’re going to talk, it meant telling Lora that I overhear the things that she says when she’s angry, and that they’re wrong. And by “wrong”, I don’t mean that she shouldn’t be upset if Jon has done something upsetting or want to hash out problems with him, but when it goes from trying to accomplish something to being emotionally abusive (saying she hates him or that she knows that he hates her or saying that he always fucks things up) or holding their relationship hostage (demanding if he doesn’t do a thing, she’ll break up with him, because if he really loved her, then he’d do X), then a line has been crossed and I can’t hear it anymore.
Given the number of times that Jon has asked me not to say something to her, because it would make things worse, I wanted to give him fair warning about it. And I also wanted him to know that I was planning on still treating her as a person that he loved, and a person that I had enjoyed getting to know. This time. Because we haven’t tried everything yet. And I will pull out all the stops and try everything, if that’s what Jon needs to do. But I also needed him to know that while I was willing to do that, the fighting and barely seeing him for days on end both had to be curtailed. He agreed. Then I moved on to the really tricky part.
I told him that it was really important to me that he acknowledged that Lora was being abusive towards him. Not because I wanted to label her as Lora the Abuser and wash my hands of her, but because his constant minimizing of her behavior (“she’s just stressed” “she’s having a bad day” “she really doesn’t mean it” “she’s just angry”), is harmful to all of us. There is no bad day that should excuse a person who loves you saying that they hate you. Or that you fuck everything up. Or that you treat them like shit. As the fighting has intensified and become frequent, he has looked increasingly exhausted and haunted and miserable. It’s scary, and since he isn’t talking to me about it, I couldn’t tell how bad it was, only that his constant “it’s fine”s weren’t actually that fine.
So I told him that I thought we all needed to acknowledge how bad it was because admitting it and facing its squarely would (I hope) reinforce the idea that things had to change for all our sakes.
That said, I also really fucking need to live in a home that doesn’t constantly feel like a battleground. I’m willing to give it one last try, but in the end, the fighting and sharing Jon’s time fairly either gets better, or we can’t keep all living together. I cannot stand continuously being worried that I’m going to come home to fighting. Or come home expecting to have a quiet evening with Jon but instead have constant interruptions and requests for attention from Lora.
All those things said, we went to talk to Lora.