I had met Aaron* in April 2007. I had just moved back home from Virginia with my then 6-month-old son in September 2006, after a separation from my now ex-husband. I was in an awkward position of moving back in with my parents, working at a new job, and trying to figure out what my options were.
He was a clerk in a liquor shop I would frequent sometimes after getting off work at a call center in town, and when he checked me out, I sensed he was checking me out, you know? I am disabled, with a gimpy right hand, so what would a cute guy like that see in me? I thought.
As time passed, Aaron grew bolder, walking me out to my car, even if I didn’t need assistance out. I was flattered. One night, after walking me to my car, he asked me, “Could I have your number?” and I replied, “I’m not really looking for a boyfriend, or anything serious, but here’s my number,” and I rattled it off to him..
When he called, we had one of those talks that lasted all night. I had never in my life met anyone that I had so much in common with. Music, mostly, but also TV shows, and some books. The first gift Aaron ever gave me was a copy of “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. On the inside cover he wrote a lyric from Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue”: "She was married when we first met/Soon to be divorced/I helped her out of a jam, I guess/But I used a little too much force." I still have trouble listening to that song, even today.
On our first date, he bought me flowers, and took me to the local outdoor nature center where we found a hidden thicket alongside a creek bed and got high, talked and watched the sunset. It was magical, and the Romantic Chemistry Fairy zapped me. Hard. That was it. I was officially twitterpated.
Things moved fairly quickly afterwards, perhaps too quickly, with a brief two-week break when he got temporarily freaked out by my “Legally Separated” status. I proceeded quickly with finalizing my divorce from my ex-husband so that we could be together without any hang-ups. The real hang-ups, however, were just beginning.
Aaron and I moved into a rental property my parents owned, and he immediately bonded with my son. We played house, had friends over often and were generally happy during that honeymoon phase of our relationship. Whenever he was at work, I’d take my son and visit my mother. (My mother has a very domineering personality, it should be noted. This will come into play later on).
One night after he came home from work, he asked, “Why do you hang out with your mom so much?” I told him that my mom and I were close, always had been, and she adored her grandson.
“You shouldn’t be around her so much,” he’d say.
Another time, after a friend’s wedding, driving home in the car, he told me: “I don’t like your friends. They all seem so lazy.”
Once he caught me on the phone with one of my few male friends and asked,“Why do need to talk to them? I’m all you need.”
He was so insecure, and I did everything I could to placate him. In hindsight, my Red Flag detector should have rang out loud sirens, but I didn’t care, or wasn’t paying attention. This man was the Love of My Life.
My relationship with my mother began to suffer over Aaron, as I was slowly falling into the pattern of being brainwashed and emotionally manipulated. She encouraged me to leave, because he was clearly an emotionally abusive person. I didn’t listen. I didn’t WANT to listen. I loved Aaron.
Fast forward to Summer of 2008. Things were going well, when Aaron came home from work, pissed off. I asked him what was wrong. He had told me that my mom had visited him at work and told him to move out of the house.
In one of the stupidest decisions I have ever made in my life, I went with him.
Things got worse, and Aaron and I fought more and more. I’m pretty sure I broke my knuckles once during a fight after pounding them repeatedly into the arm of a chair that I was sitting in. Time passed, then, out of nowhere, Aaron decided on some new rules for the house, the major ones being “No Smoking In the House Anymore,” and that my mother was not allowed to visit. Since I don’t do well with rules being imposed on me, I ignored them and my mother still continued to visit, and smoke inside the house.
It was Inauguration Night 2009, and everyone was celebrating Obama’s Inauguration. I was excited, too, as I waited for Aaron to come home. He walked into the kitchen as I was watching the news.
“What’s this?” he asked. I looked over, and he was holding a cigarette butt. “Was your mom over today?”
I told him yes, then he proceeded to go on (for the millionth time) about how I didn’t care about him or “The Rules.” Like a bad TV rerun, we started fighting.
Only this time, I snapped, and I punched him in the arm. I kept punching him until we were struggling on the floor. To taunt me, he says, “You suck at fighting.” Blind rage took over and was he got up to move away from me, I followed, actively trying to grab his testicles, because at that point, I was so angry I would’ve castrated him right then and there.
I grabbed him by the back of his shoulder-length hair instead, forcing him to the floor on his knees, and I growled at him, “Take it back. Do I suck at fighting now?”
He took it back, and I let go. All the while this was going on, my son was sleeping in the next room. Thank Whomever that he did not wake up during the fight.
We settled down, and I started grabbing my stuff, ready to go to my parents’ house to spend the night. That’s when the cops came.
Aaron had called the police. Two cops knocked on our door and separated us to get each of our versions of events. As I was giving the police my story, I did not make eye contact. I stared straight ahead and recounted my story in a dull, monotonous way. After I was through, the cop said to me, “Do you have any shoes?”
“Oh, shit,” I thought. “I’m being fucking arrested.”
I asked if I could make a quick phone call to my parents to have them pick up my son. The cop was kind enough to let me, then he put me in handcuffs.
Aaron watched me get into the police car. “I didn’t want this to happen! I don’t want to press charges!” he said to me. One of the cops told him that it doesn’t matter, as is it now up to the DA where I live to press charges.
I was eventually charged with Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Battery, but since I was a first timer, I received Probation for one year. Aaron and I had one final conversation. We both said that we loved each other so much, but this was never going to work.
He did ask me to come back in a moment of regret. I wanted to. Oh, how I wanted to. I had never met anyone else had so much in common with, or had better sex with (then and now). He was (is?) the Dysfunctional Love of My Life. But no matter how much we had in common, our core morals, the REAL things that create longevity in a relationship, were not in sync.
I am SO not proud of what I did, and I will NEVER again do that to a partner, because Domestic Violence is inexcusable in any situation. I still believe that it was my only way out, however, because I would’ve stayed with Aaron no matter what. I am writing this now, though, reflecting on a hard lesson learned, that the true love of your life would never change you, never enforce rules on you, or keep you away from your family and friends.
I still have that copy of “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” I now realize that having a hundred years of solitude is so much better than being tied up to someone who thinks that love equals control, and the book serves as a reminder of what kind of path emotional abuse can lead you down. I know that road, and it may start off smooth at first, but it always becomes treacherous and dangerous in the end.
*Names have been changed.