B. and I worked together for two years, and quickly found a friendship budding out of our working relationship. I was dating someone very wrong for me and he was living with a woman 10 years his senior who was pressuring him to get married.
Our job was to turn stories into films. I admired how good at his job he was. His energy and lust for life was boundless.
I have always been a cautious person, but he brought out a spontaneity in me that I didn’t know existed. My life until that point had been tentative, living more in fear of disappointing others or failing than actually pursuing my dreams or desires. Here was a guy who managed to gently push me out of my comfort zone.
For over a year, the line between work and friendship became blurred. He started to invite me out with his friends. He had a tendency to drink a lot and I knew that he recreationally took drugs, but so did most people I knew in the film industry.
He always showed up for work on time ready to go, guzzling bottle after bottle of water to counterbalance anything he may have consumed the night before. His mind was always sharp in meetings and his ideas were focused.
Eventually, he broke up with the girlfriend and we grew closer as he sought my advice on how to move out from her home and find his own. Once he was single, there was an onslaught of women who wanted to date him. He was young, made a lot of money, and was handsome and popular.
I also broke up with my boyfriend. More time was spent on each other’s office couches trading dating stories.
It all changed one night. We had just finished pitching an idea around town and a large group was going out to celebrate at a high-end, trendy restaurant. I reluctantly joined, knowing that my boss would be bringing his flavor of the month.
Everyone drank way too much at dinner, except me. I planned to skedaddle as soon as dinner was over and wanted to be able to drive myself home. When the valet brought my car, several people from our group jumped in and demanded that I drive to a burlesque bar that had recently opened. I resigned myself to a long night.
Several hours later and many drinks more, my jaw dropped to the ground when in front of his date, my very drunk boss told me he was in love with me and proceeded to plant a wet sloppy kiss on my mouth.
Feeling like a bitch, I kissed him back, secretly thrilled that he was choosing me.
And so it started, a whirlwind relationship that culminated in a proposal four months later. I knew it was coming. He was acting weird and then one night, my phone rang.
“Why did B just call Dad?” my mom asked. My palms began to sweat. I knew why because he had occasionally, usually drunkenly, talked about marriage. But I thought it was way too soon.
The next day, B invited me over to his house for dinner. I barely had a bite of food in my mouth before he was on his knees shoving a very large antique engagement ring at me.
Caught up in the moment, I said yes even though my instincts were screaming no. I rationalized that B was good marriage material since he was well-employed, came from a good family and we seemed to share similar values.
Over the next several months, we planned a dream wedding. It was to be a grandiose affair on a cliff overlooking the ocean with no holds barred.
In the months leading up to the wedding, B’s behavior became increasingly erratic. He started drinking more than usual and came to the office hungover and eventually drunk.
I didn’t tell anyone close to me about this because I was embarrassed. He was so sweet to me and always apologetic when he behaved badly, like the night halfway through our engagement when he called at two in the morning to say that a friend had just left and he was upset because she had made a pass at him.
He was wasted and my gut told me he was lying when he insisted that nothing happened. I was pretty sure something had, especially when he showed up at my apartment at three in the morning after I hung up on him.
The last month of our engagement, he was fired because his work was so inconsistent and frankly, because he was a mess. He was drunk more often than not. He had initially seemed like a guy who enjoyed fun, but now he seemed more like a guy with a problem. I sat him down two weeks before the wedding.
“Should we postpone this wedding?” I asked, actually thinking maybe a cancellation would have been a better plan. He was indignant, insisting that he was just stressed, that there was no problem.
Again he was so sorry and he promised to pull his shit together.And I chose to believe him because I just wanted to be married and wasn't seriously considering what the consequence of marrying the wrong person might be.
What I called his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tendencies started the day after we returned from our honeymoon. I went out to buy groceries and when I came home, my husband was two bottles into a bender and yelling at me because I intended to go back to work at the place where he had been fired.
We had made the decision for me to return together since someone had to work, but his accusations made it seem like we had never discussed my work situation. It was the first of countless numbers of times that he screamed, jumping up and down in front of me, hurling accusations and criticisms that were completely unfounded in anything rational.
By the second month of marriage, I started locking myself in our bedroom when I saw him drinking because it was only a matter of time before he would menacingly get in my face with something completely crazy and out of left field. He would pound on the door, asking me to let him in so he could scream in my face. I would cower in the closet with that door locked as well.
In the morning, he would cry and apologize. I started spending as much time away from the house as possible, either at friends' houses or my parents’ house. And I became a liar, never admitting to anyone what was going on, but instead making up excuses for B.
Because my husband feared losing me, he decided to go to a psychiatrist, one of the first of six he would visit, who all gave him the diagnosis of severe bipolar disorder with secondary substance abuse problems.
Each prescribed him medication which I later found out he was picking and choosing from as well as mixing with alcohol, and Xanax that he was ordering online from Canada.
When I finally walked out on him after 11 months of abuse, I felt like a failure as well as embarrassed that had I entered into the marriage to begin with. More than anything, I felt stupid that I didn’t have the strength to call off the wedding when I knew it was a mistake.
It took a year and a half to finalize the divorce because each time I tried to get B to sign the papers, he would move so that the papers were returned to my lawyer.
He would leave me scathing voicemails ranting and raving about how awful I was for leaving him. I changed my number and finally took out a restraining order when he tried to break into my apartment, completely strung out on drugs or alcohol.
Luckily, there is a silver lining to this story.
After a year-and-a-half, I started dating again, this time listening closely to my intuition. If someone seemed unstable or unsuitable for me, I didn’t go out with him a second time. I trusted myself, knowing that I would rather be alone than with the wrong person. And now I’m happily remarried ... to a guy who’s the complete opposite of B.