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Memory Unlocked: Bad Relationships

My therapy appointment isn’t until next week, but my brain seems to be unlocking the long forgotten black boxes of my mind in preparation for that appointment.

One such memory is the time my mother started dating this guy named Greg some time before the divorce with my Dad had been finalized. She claimed Greg was someone she knew from kindergarten, which even I knew that was a bullshit backstory. In actuality, he was a random guy from Illinois she met on an internet forum for people with PTSD—she was really big into playing the victim of two abusive marriages, particularly her marriage to my dad while neglecting to mention that she was an abuser in that relationship. 

Being that I was a teenager with recently divorced parents, the chances of liking him were already astronomically low, but he was pretty sus on top of being the new boyfriend. He would come up to Wisconsin from Illinois frequently and do little more than hog the computer and our dial-up internet the entire visit. Of course, if I addressed anything she would blow me off.

Turns out my suspicions were right as he was, as my mother put it, “a con artist”. The story my mother would re-tell the most after they had split was the time they went to a local diner that only accepted cash. She repeatedly asked him beforehand if he had cash because she felt like he would pull something and he insisted he had cash, but when it came time to pay the bill he pulled out his card and innocently claimed that he didn’t know when they told them they didn’t accept cards. She said she barely had enough to pay the bill. I felt bad for her when I first heard this story, but now I have this “serves you right, you fucking bitch” attitude about it because of all the times she ignored my concerns about this guy and the fact this was around the time she began her emotional/mental/verbal abuse towards me.

Around the time mother had started seeing Greg, I discovered the MTV internet forums (back when MTV was still known for playing music) and befriended a closet lesbian from the other side of the country. Like the loud and proud lesbian musician that I follow, this woman was seven years older than me. Despite this, my mother still thought it was okay for me to let this stranger take her seventeen year old daughter to her first concert in Chicago to see her favorite band in the entire world and then stay in Virginia for two weeks. My mother screened the zombie video games I played on my Dreamcast more than she did a random woman I met on the internet.   

A week into the trip, my girlfriend threw me out of her apartment because she asked me to do something and got pissed with me because I politely asked if I could quickly finish up a round in a video game I was playing. I was on the other side of the country with no place to go or resources so I sat on the landing in the freezing cold all night. She found me sleeping up against the brick wall, let me back inside, and we never spoke of it. She kicked me out the apartment again a few days later and I wandered around town trying to find a police station before she pulled up in her car worried and apologized for everything. I was so stupid for staying with her after that.

A year later, I ran away from home because I had enough of my mother’s treatment of me and stayed at a shelter for a couple weeks before my girlfriend picked me up. Two weeks later, she dumped me off at a hardcore Christian homeless shelter and contacted my mother, who made arrangements for me to get on a train home. Again, I was so stupid for staying with her after that.

Then a few months later, she ended up staying with us for a little bit. My mother never really liked her, but didn’t start hating her until the night she overheard my girlfriend telling me that we should wait until my mother got drunk to ask for money. Not when she dumped me at a homeless shelter or the predatory implications of a woman in her mid-20s dating a teenager, but when my girlfriend did something that would negatively affect her.    

I stayed in this horrible relationship for two years. The breaking point came when I came home from the hospital for self-harm. While at the hospital, I had met a sweet yet mentally fucked up bisexual patient who made me realize that I didn’t really love my girlfriend anymore and the relationship was toxic. I started having second thoughts until I saw my inbox had a string of emails from my girlfriend that increasingly became angrier and nastier the more I didn’t respond before finally ending with her telling me that I was “like an inbred that doesn’t know English.” I explained to her that I had been in the hospital the last three days and that we were done. That should have been the end of it, but unfortunately it was far from it.

Besides being a dumb, love-struck teenager with few examples of healthy relationships, I stayed with her so long because I knew the moment we broke up my mother would rub it in my face. That’s exactly what happened when I finally broke up with her. I only remember that story about my girlfriend conspiring to get money from my drunken mother because my mother would repeat it over and over. “I knew she was trouble!” she would say. She was more concerned about how the relationship had affected her rather than how the relationship affected her daughter. She was still griping about my ex-girlfriend when I went no contact with my mother over six fucking years after the break up. My mother had the balls to make it about her because she got the tiniest, watered-down taste of my ex-girlfriend’s bullshit when I was the one who had been preyed upon by an adult (even if I was being completely consensual and not pressured into anything), dealt with the full brunt of her toxic behavior and insults, was absolutely frightened all those times being kicked out in a place where I didn’t know anyone (contributing to abandonment issues and not wanting to leave the familiarity of my home town), and was getting friend requests from her years after the break up whenever I’d sign up for a new social media app.

But God forbid if I ever brought up Greg and his bullshit. On the rare occasion I’d bring him up during one of her rants about my ex-girlfriend, my mother would say, “Oh what-ev-er! That’s in the past!” But my shitty relationship with someone I met on the internet couldn’t be in the past? I could never truly move on from that relationship until I broke my relationship with my mother and wasn’t being reminded of it on a fairly regular basis.  Well, it’s probably going to be an interesting appointment with my therapist next week.

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