Riley. The worst of the bunch. My biggest regret. Six, (or was it seven?) years of my life, wasted. Years I can never get back. Years I could’ve done so much more than what I did. I now hate the name Riley. It makes me cringe with disgust whenever I hear it. I cannot stand the thought of him. Manipulative, rude, demeaning, mentally abusive, gaslighting, sociopath. That’s the best way I can describe him. First, he promised me the world. He tried to make me think that he was something. A man of character and accomplished. He said he was temporarily out of work due to his health. He was years older than me. Mistake number one. I have no qualms about age differences in couples but in this case, it was a huge red flag.
Mistake number two, he wasn’t working and his house was being foreclosed on. He blamed his ex-wife for everything. (Red flag number two). She cheated. She left. She took all the money. She took all the furniture. She took his son. Nothing was ever his fault. He asked me to move in after a month or maybe two? (Red flag number three.) I mean hello! The house was being foreclosed on, what was I thinking??? Honestly, I was so desperate to move out of my parent’s house that I just did it. I told them I was moving out one day and they packed my stuff when it was apparent I wasn’t coming home and I picked it up and it was done. I was a mess. I truly wish I could go back and get the help I needed then. I wish I had been in therapy and on medications and getting treatment. Things would’ve been much different but then I guess we wouldn’t be here, writing this.
After I moved in he started isolating me from my family and friends. If I wanted to go out he would beg me to stay with him. If I did go out he would accuse me of cheating on him. Yell at me, ask me who I slept with, what was I drinking and who bought me alcohol? Even when I was with my own parents he would blow up my phone and call me a hundred times. Leave messages, send texts. Where are you? When are you coming home? What are you doing? Why are you gone so long? Who are you with? Are you cheating? Why won’t you answer?
He stole my money. I was the sole provider of the entire relationship. He “worked” a few weeks in the whole time we were together but he pretended to be sick and applied for disability so that he could not work. I provided everything. I paid the bills. The rent. I bought the food. The gas. The house stuff. We struggled. I was ashamed when I had to ask for help. Sometimes I did, and sometimes I didn’t. I distinctly remember opening a cabinet once in our kitchen and only having a can of tuna to eat and a bag of rice and nothing else for a week. We were on food stamps but it barely covered us because I did have some income.
What I did have “extra” he convinced me he needed to buy pot with. He said it was the only way he could function. He couldn’t eat or sleep without it. Don’t tell me that you cannot become addicted to marijuana because let me tell you, I saw it first hand and it is as ugly as any other addiction I’ve seen. He would go into a rage when I argued that we couldn’t afford it or we didn’t have any money for it. He would break things and scream that I spent all “our” money and I didn’t know how to manage money.
I sold things to make ends meet most times. I sold my porcelain dolls. My barbies. Childhood things. I kept one doll, my American Girl Doll Molly, and all her stuff, in a storage unit when the house was foreclosed on. Then the storage unit mysteriously got broken into and she was gone too. I pawned my fathers old gold wedding bands my mother had given me with grief in my eyes. They didn’t blink an eye at the pawnshop. They had seen girls like me. It meant nothing to them. But I was hungry.
When he finally got disability he got a pretty large back paycheck. He bought a new stereo, a bunch of clothes, a ton of weed. My car was broken down and I was bumming rides to work of coworkers but he wouldn’t help me get a new car or sell his classic car that sat in our garage because it was “sentimental”. I was paying the insurance for a car that we didn’t drive. It’s so ridiculous it’s almost funny now, to think of my idiocy.
Towards the end I was done, I screamed at him until I was blue in the face. I threw things back. I stomped my feet and pulled at my hair. I cried. I slept in the other room for months. I paced down the hallways and called him every name I could think of and some I made up. I tried to get him to see that he was selfish. Disgusting. That he was treating me like shit for years. That I had enough. I asked him to change. I begged him to stop smoking pot and get a fucking job and be a MAN. He looked at me like I was the crazy one.
Oh, I could go on and on about this one. He was the epitome of a bad egg. Someone who truly could not be helped, and I don’t say that lightly. I believed people could always be helped, be better, be different-until him.
One day I called my mom and I asked to come home, I packed a small number of things, and I left. He stalked me for months and then into years. He came by my work, he called me. I changed my number. He sent me messages on facebook. He emailed me. He drove past my office and demanded to see me while I hid locked in the women’s bathroom, my coworker telling him I was gone for the day.
I started dating again but I felt horrible. I had no self-worth. All these men had ingrained in me that I would never be anything. That no one would ever want me. I wasn’t thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough. I was nothing enough. To this day I still struggle with this. Aside from my husband, and my stepfather, every man in my life has let me down. It is an ongoing journey to self-love. One I’m not sure I’ll ever finish or succeed at, but I’m trying. Day by day.
So to all my ex’s, you broke my heart. I was a fragile girl and you broke me. You took what you wanted and you thought you gave nothing in return. What you didn’t know is that you made me a fighter. Somehow, I am still here. Still trying. So enjoy your skinny wife. You’re loneliness. Your pot. The bitter taste of losing on your tongue. Because in the end, I didn’t lose you. You lost me.