I'm realizing I haven't written in here in quite a while. A lot has happened.
I came across my first hand-written journal the other day. I started it as a way to process my thoughts about what has been going on with Garrett. Partly to document it, but also to try to work through the confusion and hopefully identify patterns. I found it to be a pretty difficult task because there was SO MUCH happening and a lot of the times even writing it down didn't seem to make it any less overwhelming. I've also varied quite a ways from my initial style of writing down words and phrases he used, documenting events, and keeping track of potential links to the mood swings like menstrual cycles and illnesses. I also attempted to keep track of my physical and mental health in relation to the fights. Part of this is because of my pure need to just vent my frustrations sometimes. Another part is because there are often long gaps between writing and I feel the need to explain some backstory for some of this to make sense. This is a very dramatic relationship. Lots going on. Way too much to handle. As for the gaps, sometimes I'm just too emotionally exhausted or confused to even try to reduce what is happening to words. I also struggle to have time to do this. If we're not busy arguing, I'm expected to spend a majority of my free time with him, which means very little time alone with privacy to write. I will attempt to get back to that initial documentation style and see if it helps bring some clarity.
Of course, this story requires some back story.
Tuesday was Valentine's day. I expected nothing because he's never done anything for me in previous years and it's not as important as my birthday or Mother's Day to put energy into getting upset about it. He surprised me by bringing me flowers, a nice card declaring his undying love, and brought me to a very nice steakhouse. Really turned on the charm. I thought he was going to expect sex but he didn't ... yet. Tuesday night he stayed at my place. Wednesday morning after he left I got a call from my landlord about deep ruts in the grass next to the driveway caused by Garrett's dually. He was very nice about it. I apologized and told him we would figure something out with the parking situation. When I told Garrett about it, he was apologetic to me and promised he would fix it. But he also acted very angrily about my landlord saying something about it and said some very rude things about him. I did my best to ignore the comments and not feed into them. His comments about my landlord extended into the weekend.
Wednesday we had our “first” couples counseling session. This was an ultimatum given by him a few fights ago. (In the space between booking the session and actually attending, there were more fights and breakups. Absolutely nothing breaks or even pauses the cycle.) My thoughts on couples counseling in this relationship will have to be shared another day. This session is with an actual licensed therapist – not a young, inexperienced and easily-manipulated Lutheran Pastor like the last time we tried this. And unlike either of the people we previously sought help with, someone completely new to Garrett. (Scott he has known for many years, Pastor Burke is his parents' pastor.)
I have been having quite a lot of anxiety about trying couples counseling again. In the past, things that get said in these counseling sessions tend to trigger fights. He gets very angry about things I say in counseling and often takes it out on me later – so I definitely knew it was a big risk. He also has a history of using those sessions to try to turn the counselor against me – attempting to get the person to side with him. Manipulating the sessions to make him look like the loving, doting partner and make me (and Madeline) look like monsters. It didn't work on Scott – at least not long-term. Pretty sure that's the underlying reason he got mad at Scott and stopped seeing him (and then all but demanded that I stop seeing him.) Our last session with Pastor Burke, he set the stage for an argument. He picked a topic we had been disagreeing on lately and insisted on pushing me on it. He then brought that disagreement into the counselling session in what appeared to be an attempt to get Pastor Burke to side with him and participate in putting pressure on me. He also insisted on driving together. By the time we got to the church I was already pushed pretty close to my limit. The discussion got heated, with Garrett getting up several times, pacing, interrupting and talking over me, raising his voice, acting like he would storm out, etc. My anxiety skyrocketed. I was careful to stay calm and tried hard to not let these tactics get a reaction. But I felt trapped – forced to discuss something I was sick of fighting about. My perspective, my needs, and my feelings on the topic were being devalued and flat out ignored. I was also scared. Scared to get in the car with him and drive back to my place (where his truck was) with him in this state. I knew without a doubt this was well on its way to escalating into a nasty fight that would go on for days. The anxiety I was experiencing was physical. I felt as though I would shatter right there. Somehow I found the strength to stand up, mutter an apology to Pastor Burke, and leave. Many times afterword Garrett accused me of “storming out in a rage” and claimed Pastor Burke was shocked by my outrageous behavior – that he completely sided with Garrett, that he “saw” what was going on, and that I was “exposed” for who I am. Of course none of this was ever confirmed by Pastor Burke himself. We never saw him again. That scene and those comments showed me that he was using counseling to as another method to bully and humiliate me – attempting to manipulate counseling sessions for validation and to claim another person saw me as the villain in this relationship.
Back to Wednesday's counseling session.
Since it was our first session it was pretty vanilla. The usual gathering of information and “getting to know you” stuff. Of course the issues between him and Madeline came out as part of that process. At one point the therapist asked if we had tried having a conversation with her about her impressions of Garrett and if that helped at all. I responded that I had, in the past, had many conversations with her and they did seem to help – until she overheard our loud arguments, the things that were being said to me and the names I was being called – and that pretty much undid everything. I think I used the phrase “hey, that's my mom!”
The rest of the week was somewhat calm, though looking back I'm realizing there were signs.
Thursday was a snowstorm and he had to plow, which means I had a very rare opportunity to spend the evening alone without eventually fighting about it. Friday I was invited to go with church friends to see other church friends perform at a local pub. I declined because of the Friday Night Fights of the past – Fridays belong to Garrett. I instead spent my Friday night at Garrett's house. It was a nice evening. We fried fish and made tacos for dinner, hung out for a bit, and went to bed fairly early.
That night we had sex. We were on the couch and for the first time in a very long time he kissed me for real – more than the usual peck in the face kiss – and I thought maybe I would get to enjoy sex for once. In the bedroom he went straight to business. Just took my clothes off and started. Zero foreplay. At least he had courtesy of using the vibrator so I got a few moments of pleasure before giving him what he wanted. But he did very little to try to arouse me for actual intercourse – just started doing it. When I asked for lube he got up and walked around looking for something multiple times (it was right by the bed). That made things worse. I resigned myself to suffering through it until he was done. He even made me get on top.
Saturday afternoon I went home to get some stuff done. For the first time maybe ever he didn't complain or get passive-aggressive with me about me leaving. He just let me go and worked on his Jeep for several hours. Saturday evening I tried texting him and he was very distant and short with me.
That carried into Sunday. He refused to reach out to me first to say good morning. His response to me was very stilted, formal, curt. “I'm good, you?” “I'm good. Just got home.” – “Nice, enjoy your day” .... Okay, something is definitely up. Called him to talk about it. He sent my call to voicemail. Texted that he's talking to his dad (another hypocrisy of his that we can discuss later – just a few weeks ago I had to cut a call with my mom short because he showed up at my house earlier than planned). When he called me back I asked what was wrong. He insisted nothing was wrong, nothing was bothering him, etc. I'm not buying it. I told him I know him well enough to know when something is up and that now was the time to talk about it – calmly. Not a few days from now after convincing himself of assumptions that weren't reality and lead to another nasty fight.
A few hours later he called me. Pretended to be discussing calmly but started peppering me with questions about our counseling session. Said he wanted to “clarify” a few things. He asked me about the comment I made about my conversations with Madeline. He wanted to know when that conversation took place. I told him there were several, dating back to Tucson (even before the fighting started, actually) and that they did help some with her demeanor and her attitude toward him but that he didn't notice because he was busy focusing on small details like facial expressions or comments and using them to make accusations and start arguments. And then when she overheard the fights and saw the way I was being treated her attitude toward him changed back. He then asked if her attitude towards him could have been because of the things she overheard me saying to him. I told him I don't know if she overheard any of that (he is more prone to shouting and is much louder than I am. Also I didn't start standing up for myself until a year and a half after it started.). He insisted she did. I told him her attitude towards him changed long before I started fighting back. Again, she was witnessing his treatment of me and the names he called me all the way back in Tucson. He attempted to claim he didn't start calling me names until we moved to Wisconsin. I told him the name-calling started very early on in Tucson and reminded him that the first time it happened I told him name-calling is off limits, that I consider it abusive language, and that his response was to get angry and to call me names even more. He, of course, claimed to not remember any of that. He later accused me of lying about my conversations with Madeline. Called it “nonsense.”
Long story somewhat shorter, that escalated into another fight and breakup.
A few hours into it I recognized the pattern of a mood change followed by a fight and breakup within a few days of sex. It happens almost every time – if not every, with the possible exception of our first few months dating.
This morning my running mind woke me up early. I did a little googling on mood changes after sex. Apparently there is a thing called Postcoital Dysphoria (PCD). There is very little information about it affecting men. It seems to be more prevalent in women, but recent studies show that some men experience it too. It appears to stem from childhood trauma. Some sites suggest this can include a history of childhood sexual abuse. He has never mentioned sexual abuse but I do know he has some very deep-rooted and unresolved issues from childhood. I don't know much other than that his dad often “brow-beat” him about things and his mom was not particularly loving. Absolutely nothing of what he's told me is significant enough to explain how he is today. I do know that suggesting possible PCD will make him angry.