My letter to Lora deeply upset Jon.
His immediate response was that Lora was going to be really shocked and unhappy, because he’d told her that I wanted to see if we could work out a way to all live together somehow.
I did say that. So did Jon. As in, when we were talking Saturday and scrabbling for something, anything that wasn’t “we must move to separate homes immediately”, we said all kinds of rash and partly-in-denial things.
So I said to him, ok. Yes. I did say that. But unfortunately, because he had to work Sunday, we couldn’t really do much talking. However I (and everybody else, I imagine) kept thinking all day Sunday, and that is what my thoughts concluded – that Lora and I can’t possibly keep living together right now.
I said to him, I can break this up a bit, into smaller pieces. If it’s helpful to start. Because here’s the thing: no matter what happens with our living situation, I cannot, for the foreseeable future, have any kind of emotional relationship with Lora. That is a full stop, no compromises, hard limit. It’s actually beyond a hard limit – it’s emotionally impossible right now. What that means, especially for the next week, as we’re not going to stop all living together right this second, is that I’ll generally keep to myself at home. I can have a civil conversation about if we need toilet paper or have I seen the scissors. But I cannot have conversations about my day and my life. I do not want to her anything about her day or her life. Ideally, I don’t want to see her, or really be aware of her existence, other than remotely.
Which is why…you know…not living together seemed like the only possibly long-term solution right now.
But, I said I’d try to think of a way for us to live together. So, I started doing that (more on that below).
Meanwhile, Jon started a “let’s brainstorm ideas to figure out how we can all live together” email. Which Lora had a lot of say on.
The gist was that therapy was stirring up a lot of awful feelings for her, and that her and Jon drinking alone as long as they feel antagonistic towards each other is a bad idea, so they’re not going to do it (Smart-Ass Liz says to herself “So, Lora’s never going to drink around Jon again. Because just being around Jon when he’s trying to maintain his boundaries and not be controlled by her feels antagonistic to her”).
She repeatedly emphasized that the fight was so incredibly bad because she and Jon were both drunk – unlike normal, when she’s the only person who is drunk.
This is funny (not ha ha funny, just sad funny) to me, because drunk as Jon was, he didn’t call her any names, he didn’t curse her out, he didn’t tell her that she ruined their date like she ruins everything (that was another thing she screamed at him). All he kept saying was that he was tired of her emotionally blackmailing him. He kept trying to maintain reasonable boundaries about what he should be free to refuse within a relationship. You know, things like looking at another person’s phone, if he doesn’t feel like looking at it.
Side note: I’m a bit amazed that admitting that fights happen when you’re drunk wouldn’t be the focus of something like…stopping drinking entirely? Because maybe you either have a substance abuse problem OR an anger management problem that alcohol brings out. Or both? I mean, it could be both.
But I digress…
Most of Lora’s email was about how terrible things were for her and about how she and Jon were equally culpable for what happened (I guessed that was “true”, at least in terms of him still consenting to be in the relationship. But I’d been around them long enough to know who always starts the shitty, controlling, abusive, insult-and-threat-fueled fights in their relationship, and it’s not Jon). She wanted to know if there was a way we could afford to put her up in a hotel for a night or two after each therapy session, because she feels stifled and oppressed in our apartment and needs some time to herself after those sessions. I guess saying “hey, could you both completely leave me alone unless say, the apartment catches on fire?” and then going into the little bedroom, which is functionally her bedroom (as both Jon and I need to ask permission to enter it) and shutting the door isn’t enough? Actual separate living space must be procured?
Occasionally she mentioned how the fighting was really “unfair” to all of us, especially me, as a bystander. Unfair. Yes. It is unfair to listen to my partner be abused. It’s also unfair to abuse him. However, there are stronger words I’d use about that than “unfair”.
But mainly, it was about the dangerous place she was in mentally, and how harmful all this stress was to her, and how it could trigger her into saying and doing things that she couldn’t control. It could trigger her into being unable to work, and loosing her job. It could trigger her into being unable to eat. Or sleep. Or take care of herself.
It felt like a pile of bullshit to me. What it specifically felt like was that she was trying to tread that fine line between extreme enough behavior that she gets ALL of the attention, without any negative consequences or side effects like, say, needing to be hospitalized for awhile. The last time I was in such a bad place mentally that I couldn’t control my behavior or take care of myself, I checked myself into a mental hospital. Not a hotel.
But that’s just me, and my thing about taking responsibility for myself.
While she was waxing on about her many problems, I spent most of Monday trying to figure out ways we could live together. Because Jon asked me to. And something deep inside me kept saying NOPE. Every time I had an idea: NOPE. This was my brain, every time I thought I had an idea:
Where would I be without grumpy cat?
As I was desperately ruminating, something dawned on me. The whole reason I’m now trying to figure out a way for us to live together is because Jon told Lora I would, and she’s going to be upset if that isn’t true. According to Jon, it would really hurt her. Really? I mean, really? I’m sure it would.
I’m also sure that listening to Jon be verbally and emotionally abused for months has really hurt me. It’s been horrible. I’m kind of a nervous wreck. Living with her, and knowing that whenever she’s home, a fight could start, OR, she could just have some kind of meltdown and then Jon has to drop everything to go comfort her…it’s been horrible. I can never feel at peace in my own home when she’s there. I never know what shitshow will erupt over what relatively minor thing (like Jon not wanting to look at something on her phone). I’d even gotten fucking afraid to laugh and joke around with my partner when she’s home, because of the number of times she’s seen us do that and either demanded that he treat her the way he treats me OR picks a fight with him.
There have been times when I’ve been crying about something, and Jon and I were talking it through, and then suddenly (through two closed doors) we’ve heard insanely loud sobbing from Lora. This has happened several times after Lora tried to interrupt us, and Jon told her “this isn’t a good time, Liz is having a difficulty, and we need time right now to go over it”. But, ten minutes later, Lora is sobbing at the top of her lungs and telling Jon that she was trying to interrupt him because she was having a crisis. Twice, said crisis was about not having a job. Once, it was about (I’m not kidding) how she’s aging (at 26) and the new product she bought isn’t helping her skin texture and she’s going to get old and ugly and Jon isn’t going to love her anymore. Several times, it was just that she was so sad she couldn’t help but sob.
Just a reminder, in case you forgot, this is a woman who insisted that she didn’t need therapy, and when we browbeat her into therapy, it was couples therapy. For the problems she and Jon has. Because there’s no way that their problems could have been caused by her behavior, her abusing him, or her mental illness. Nope.
Anyways, I digress again. Point being, I had an “aha” moment. I’ve been so fucking brainwashed by Lora for the past year, that I’m buying her bullshit too. Because when I said to my partner “I can’t live with your other partner anymore, because she verbally and emotionally abuses you and hearing it is causing serious emotional damage to me”, he said “She’s going to be really upset to hear that. I said we were going to work it out; it’s just going to be too deeply upsetting and hard for her to find out that we can’t find a way to live together. We need to figure something else out” my response was “Oh, ok, well, let me see what I can figure out”. It should have been “Are you fucking kidding me? I’m telling you that listening to you be abused is causing me serious emotional harm. And you’re worried because your ABUSER is going to be UNHAPPY if we don’t figure out a way to keep living together? Are you fucking nuts?”
No, for the record, I don’t think he’s nuts. I think he’s been so abused for so long that he literally cannot think of any terms beyond how things will make Lora feel. Because when he doesn’t put her first, he is abused.
I had a shit-ton of work that week, so I responded to the emails about how we need to all figure out how to live together by saying 1) I have a shit-ton of work, and I need to focus on that instead and 2) It’s a no-go on getting Lora a hotel room after couples therapy so she can process her feelings.
So I made my plan: Tuesday, I would spend the night at Jo’s, with my friends, having fun.
Wednesday night, Jon and I were going out with half a dozen friends for a show. I bought two of my friends tickets to this show as a birthday present, so I really didn’t want to miss it.
Thursday, when I get out early for the 4th of July holiday (but Lora doesn’t), I’m going to have another talk with Jon. The subject of this talk will be that no, we cannot continue to live together. I can’t risk staying in a situation where I’m going to have to watch him be abused. I’ve written him a letter, which I decided to go over with my therapist, and then I would read the finished letter to Jon. The current working version of it will be in the next post.