past relationships: Jessica (part 3 – realizing this relationship is not for me, and also potentially very controlling and abusive)

Part 3 of this series. Links to part 1 and part 2.

There are a few more examples I’d like to give, before relaying out things have played out between Jessica and me until now. I’m not going to rehash our housing issues, I’ve covered that completely in those entries that I’ve linked to. Those issues began developing shortly after the dreadful “relationship advice” Jessica gave me in Part 2. They were sort of the icing on the “I really can’t have any kind of relationship with Jessica” cake, so to speak. If I hadn’t been 100% certain this wasn’t someone I wanted in my life, I was after our housing problems.

There are three other issues that really stuck with me, big or small.

One big issue was that she started saying really bad (and untrue, I’m 99% certain) things about an ex of George’s, my current girlfriend Issi. I felt like she was saying these things for several reasons. One was to try to separate me from more people who were important to me in my life and she couldn’t control. Another reason (which I extrapolate from my and Jessica’s many talks about George) was that Jessica felt like George was fundamentally broken by several of his past relationships. She felt that all of his past major relationships were extremely abusive. She seemed to have a bit of a savior complex about this, though I didn’t know how to go about pointing that out to her. But the flavor of her words with George were always that poor, innocent George had been taken been advantage of terribly in his past long-term relationships, and she was finally there for him, finally helping him to get better (It’s worth pointing out at this time that she seems to have similar feelings about Rachel. And although I do agree with her that Rachel could definitely use therapy to deal with some issues that arose in her childhood, I did not have the “poor Rachel, nobody really saw her until I did, and I see that she is amazing and lovable, but deeply, tragically flawed and will be a broken person until she can get therapy for her problems” that Jessica did). And in the process of “getting George better” she told me non-specifically (not actual stories or examples) that Issi had deeply and seriously fucked George up, and abused him badly. Part of the umbrage I had with this was that I had known George both before and during the break up. We talked and emailed about our lives a fair bit. I wouldn’t call him a close friend at any time, but he was a good friend for quite a while. And sure, both he (and Issi) could have hidden things from me about the relationship that were abusive, but I simply cannot believe it. It really goes against everything I know of Issi, everything I knew about George’s relationship with Issi (and we spent quite a bit of time together, as we lived quite nearby each other and hung out multiple times a week) and the vibe of George and Issi’s break up.

To talk about Issi for a moment, and why I find these sly allegations of abuse to be so impossible, in the time I’ve known her, I’ve seen her deal with some pretty awful shit. Issi is a very strong-minded, and strong-willed person. She’s also very caring and compassionate, but I believe that she is firmly grounded in her sense of self and of who she is in a way that makes her a really hard person to control, or even sway. Issi does what Issi wants to do, and if people want to join her in her endeavors, that’s splendid. But if they don’t, no hard feelings, the world is big enough for us all to go do what is best for us.

I think this is a direct contradiction to Jessica’s way of living, which seems to be that “the family must come first”. And “the family” seems to need to be firmly under Jessica’s control or at least extremely receptive to her influence, in order for Jessica to feel safe. Part of the problem with this “the family must come first” approach, to me, is that – beyond it seeming to need to be shaped very much to Jessica’s specifications – it puts “family” (an entity) ahead of the people inside the family. If someone needs to give up certain dreams or quash certain needs in order to stay “a good part of the family”, then that’s a noble sacrifice done for the good of the family.

Whereas, with Issi (and me) I think we both have far stronger feelings about the individual coming first. Jon and I were recently talking about this. I told him that if I were to pray for our future, what I would pray is that we both always grow in directions that either bring us closer together, or at the least align well enough for us to grown in tandem with each other. But if those things are not possible, then the most important thing to me is that we both grow and become more of ourselves, even if that takes us away from each other. It would break my heart if that happened with Jon. But I’d much rather my heart break, and see him be whole and strong and following his heart than try to force him into a life that hurts him or inhabits his growth.

So my ultimate allegiance is to each of us growing. I believe Issi is much the same. I believe Jessica’s ultimate allegiance is in feeling safe by having a family of people around her who she can love, and who will love her, and will put that love (and the imperative to stay together) above personal growth. And I believe that Jessica will use unethical, manipulative and abusive needs to ensure that “her people” stay close to her and away from influences that could cause them to grow away from her.

This is why I believe that Jessica needed to get Issi out of George’s life. Because (I believe) if George confided to Issi that he had problems with his relationship with Jessica, and they seemed insurmountable, Issi would have encouraged him to think about whether or not the relationship was truly the best for him. That wouldn’t have been her first response, but I do believe that her response would ultimately be that George needs to do what’s best for him, not what’s best or his relationship with Jessica. I believe that Jessica couldn’t stand George having influences like that in his life.

All that said, I’m only 99% certain (instead of 100%) that there was nothing abusive about the relationship because I wasn’t there 100% of the time. So no, I can’t be 100% sure. But I am pretty damn sure that there was no abuse and that Jessica manufactured this abuse (either deliberately, or out of a need to see those closest to her as somehow flawed and in desperate need of her help) and then tried to use this abuse as a way to leverage me away from one of my closest (and most independent) friends, and to leverage George away from his past love/good friend.

The second thing I wanted to touch on was Jessica’s feelings towards Jon. As I said, she never really warmed to him. She *seemed* to, verbally, but her actions seemed to suggest she felt otherwise. When we started looking into home-buying (and all deciding to be a polycule together) she constantly left him off of emails. She would forget to invite him to things or say something like “well, obviously, he’s invited through you!” when she both had Jon’s email address and didn’t do the same thing with Rob, Rachel’s partner. I had several talks with her about how I did find it hurtful when she’d sent an email out about home-buying and included everybody but Jon. I also mentioned that she seemed to never forget Rob, but usually forgot Jon in emails, in invites to parties, for dinners together. At one point, she mentioned in passing feeling competitive and a little angry with me because Jon and I started dating just before her and George; it really bothered her that if she and George had been just a little faster in getting together, they’d have been dating first. I was more than a little floored at this mentality. I can’t remember what I said at the time, but it was probably nothing, because I didn’t know *how* to respond (what the hell does someone say to something like that?). But once she’s said that, I started to wonder if her leaving Jon off of invites was a small, passive aggressive way of expressing that.

On top of that, she would also make statements about Jon and how he wasn’t “family” yet. She made it very clear that she was speaking for us, her polycule, me, Rachel, Rob and George, and that Jon wasn’t yet “family” the way the rest of us were. I can absolutely see (and support) her saying that she didn’t feel close to Jon the way she did with the rest of us, as she knew him far less well. But she repeatedly and pointedly said that we needed to have more get togethers with Jon before he could be considered part of OUR family. Maybe this seems nitpicky and like I’m quibbling over semantics, but it created a bad feeling for me. I think part of what bothered me is that both George (Jessica’ partner) and Jon had jobs where they worked odd and every-shifting hours. There was never discussion about how anybody needed to get to know George better (I knew him better than anybody else except for Jessica, having been friends with him for several years). There was never any complaint or little side comments about George missing a hang-out because he work hours changed or ran over. But every time that Jon had to miss something, or come late, or leave early, Jessica had this little eye-roll and sigh and feeling of judgement about her. Usually followed by a barbed comment. It was really unpleasant and caused me to mistrust her even more.

Ultimately, I think a lot of this behavior was because Jessica (correctly) believed that Jon also values individuality, and each person growing to their full potential (even if it takes them away from people). Even knowing as little of him as she did, I think she was aware that he’d be a hard person to control. And as I mentioned previous, maybe she assumed that once I was firmly under her control, then Jon would be far more receptive to her ideas, because I’d be agreeing with them too, and pushing for them too.

The third is the smallest, and silliest, but in some ways, stuck with me the most. When my friends (and lovers – this happened when I was dating both of them) Issi and Jared got married, they had the most fabulous, fun, amazing, “them”-style wedding. It was absolutely perfect, from pre-party, to ceremony, to reception to after-party. I was completely amazed and delighted at how great the whole day was, and honored to be a part of the wedding party and wedding planning.

Not long after their wedding, Jessica, Rachel and I were hanging out. The subject of Issi and Jared’s wedding came up. Rachel and I both talked about how wonderful and delightful it was. Jessica didn’t say much, until the end. I can’t remember the exact thing that she said, but it was something along the lines of how she felt a little less friendly towards them for having such a perfect wedding – how on earth would her wedding ever compare? It just wasn’t fair that Jared and Issi upstaged everybody For All Time. And mind you, at this time, Jessica wasn’t engaged, much less planning a wedding (though in theory she and George and going to get married, there still hasn’t – to my knowledge – been any actual planning done in that direction, and it’s been several years since this conversation happened).

Anyways, once again, I didn’t know what to say. I will admit that absolutely, there was a part of me that marveled that I could never pull off a celebration as amazing as theirs. And that made me feel a bit sad and jealous for myself. But the majority of me was enthralled to be a part of such a great event, and a lover and friend to the creative minds that engineered such an event (and if I ever do want to do a pull-out-all-the-stops-relationship-affirming party, I know who to ask to help me plan ;). It wouldn’t occur to me that their wedding was…I don’t know…a slap in the face to all other weddings, or something. Or a personal affront to my ability to have a great wedding.

I hope it’s obvious by now that Jessica has some extremely toxic issues surrounding insecurity, and some really poor ways of handling them. I fully admit that a lot of what I’ve written is conjecture on my end. My speculation on the reasons behind Jessica’s behaviors are entirely my speculations. Even without them, I can say for certain that her way of interacting with those closest to her is completely incompatible with my way of interacting with those closest to me. On top of that, some of her behaviors and words indicated to me that she was absolutely willing to act unethically, be secretly manipulative, to try to break apart relationships between her intimates and people that those intimates cared about if she felt that the relationship wasn’t a good choice for those closest to her. To make that short, she was willing to put her belief about what was best for those around her above their own beliefs about what was best for them. And she was willing to do it in an underhanded, manipulative, dishonest way, to boot.

This is not the behavior someone who I want involved in any aspect of my life.

I’m going to end this part here, and pick this up in part 4.

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lizeden

polyamorist, cat-lover, hopeless optimist when I'm not being a firm realist.

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