A Nightmare: The Origin Story
Updated: Jan 3, 2019
Once upon a time, there was a 20 year old girl who wanted to dance. She took ballroom lessons and found a love for Latin...but that's the boring stuff. How could some simple dance lessons turn in to three years of hell with Jekyll and Hyde? Let's call it a combination of naivety, a misguided belief that people are good, and being a simple girl who grew up poor and was starstruck by luxury. Every story has to start somewhere, and you can't recover from something if it doesn't break you first...so let's drag these skeletons out of the closet and meet the looney toon that started it all!
When I was dancing, I competed in "Pro-Am". The "Pro" was my dance partner/instructor, and I was the "Am"; the amateur dancer/student. Don't worry. This isn't some Dirty Dancing cliche where I fell for my teacher. My teacher was dating this crazy woman who did a lot of drugs and was more or less, a total disaster. She was the professional partner to another dancer who was charming and pretty smooth with the swivels. She concocted this idea that he and I should dance together and compete "Am-Am". Long story short, we danced, started hanging out and hit it off.
We would go to luxurious dinners, drink amazing wine and indulge in this life of luxury. I was swept up in the glamour. That's how I got hooked. A few months later we became official, and days after, his dad passed away. This became then end of our dancing career and an excuse for a lot of bad behavior that began to emerge, but ended up just being part of who he was. I'm getting ahead of myself, so rewind! He and his dad were very close, and he was the oldest son so a lot fell on his plate and he took the loss very hard. He started doing drugs, drinking excessively for days on end. He was someone I didn't recognize, but because he was my boyfriend, I saw it as my duty to be there for him and try to help him as best I could. I even flew out of town to go to the funeral to show my support, because he asked me to be there, even though we were so new.
When the ugly colors started to show, I didn't run. I chose to be patient and excused this behavior as him dealing with his grief. The first incident was actually at a gathering after his dad's funeral. We had come back to town and he was hosting his former team of baseball teammates. His dad was a great coach to all of them when they were younger, and many of them went on to be professionals, so it was a big deal to have them all over and celebrate his memory. I came over to his house early to help clean and set everything up for his guests. The first to arrive was actually his younger brother who I had met dozens of times. While I was setting the tables, his brother came in and said "Hi, how are you doing?". Simple enough. I responded "better now that you're here" because that's my response to that question 98% of the time. That's my personality. It was also a huge mistake because it threw my boyfriend in to a rage. He began to scream at me for being disrespectful and screaming at his brother for trying to come on to me. I stayed silent through this and the rest of the evening. I was an over-glorified server making sure everyone's glasses were full and that people were enjoying themselves as best as they could, considering the occasion.
I justified his anger because he was going through a lot. I blamed myself for jokingly saying something I shouldn't have. His brother and I didn't speak at family gatherings or if we ran into each other out, because it was easier than winding up in an unintended situation again. At the end of the day, that reaction was extreme. It was rude. It was unnecessary. No one should have to walk on eggshells and be afraid of upsetting their partner, or even their sibling, ever. But being so early in our relationship, and knowing how fun and caring he was before all of this, I put it in the past and decided to proceed like it would all blow over and things would go back to normal. What I didn't know was that the anger was the actual normal, and that by allowing him to speak to me that way, set a foundation for how I would be spoken to moving forward.
Did this origin story underwhelm you? Don't worry. I'm just getting started. More abuse, fear and crazy outbursts ahead!