In December of 2009, someone I've known off and on since November of 2003 got in contact with me for a third time after loosing contact. He and I always had a strong connection and our mutual affection was undeniable. We had always loved one another, but we lost contact twice because I didn't trust him or believe in him. He was 6,000 miles away in Scotland after all. One of the times we lost contact, I got married to Blackwood, and the other time I met the love of my life, Pete. When I lost Pete, I lost my mind. It was April of 2009 the last time I saw Pete and I'll be haunted by the look on his face until I take my last breath. No surprise to most of you, I know. I've talked about him in a few of my blogs.
So in December of 2009 I was dating a gentleman by the name of Louis (pronounced Louie like Louis Armstrong) when this person, Mr. Robert Armstrong, showed up in my life again via Facebook. One February evening, after having too much to drink, Robert professed his love for me. Though the original emails are long gone, it was a touching email. Right away, I stopped seeing Louis without explanation.
We picked up where we left off, but better than ever. I flew to Scotland to visit him. He came to the States again to visit me. Both times, we shed tears over parting. Both times we had a wonderful time together. Both times, I was convinced I could and would be happy with him for the rest of my life. Both times, I was sorely mistaken.
He's a good guy, don't get me wrong. He has his faults like any of us do. I'll never wish him ill will, and in fact I hope he finds the woman of his dreams - though I strongly believe he should just get a dog and be done with it. He needs that more than a woman. The unswerving obedience of a dog seems to fit with his lifestyle a bit better than a human being with emotions, thoughts and opinions of their own.
We started the Visa process for a marriage visa after picking a date for us to wed. The date was set for April 30th of this year. I reminded him that he hadn't even asked me to marry him yet, so he replied by saying he would do that the moment I got off of the plane in Glasgow.
The visa came through on the 17th of January, and by the 20th I was gone. I had sold what I could, including my car and a few odds and ends in my apartment. I gave away what I couldn't sell to Goodwill. I purchased a plane ticket, left my job and flew away for what I thought would be forever.
When I landed in Glasgow, not only was there NOT a proposal, but barely a welcoming kiss from the man who said he wanted to marry me. Something felt wrong, but I didn't know what it was. I should have been happy, but distrust crept up in my soul like a spider clinging to a web. It slithered into my mind and heart like a cobra on the prowl. It wasn't long before he started to show his true colors. The first promise had been broken.
I kept my fingers crossed, hoping he had planned something special instead. Maybe he was going to take me out to a nice dinner and do it then. Maybe he had a ring waiting for me at the house. Maybe he realized Valentines was coming up and that would make it even more special. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Well, once more I was wrong.
I put all my faith and trust into a man who promised me the moon, only to hand me a volleyball hoping I wouldn't see the difference. I'm not stupid. I saw right through it. I knew at that moment somehow that I would end up back in California. I was promised a nice steak dinner for Valentines Day. Instead I got Indian take-away. There were no gifts, no rings, no words... we ate in front of the television, just as we always did. When he said he wanted Indian, I wanted my favorite Indian dish, but that didn't come either. I was promised more closet and drawer space for my clothes, so that I might have more than what filled up one suitcase, but that didn't happen either.
Perhaps I'm not doing enough, I thought. He stopped wanting to hug me or kiss me or anything else. I started cleaning the house. Every morning I would wake up and make his coffee for him while he was in the shower. I would watch the news with him before he went off to work. I would sweep and mop the floors, wash windows, do laundry (for the first time in 9 years) and cook for him. Nothing changed.
One day he decided to ask me who a new friend of mine was on Facebook. When I explained that he was a friend of my family in New York, he asked if I had talked to him at all. Yes, I admitted, I had. He decided to read our messages, and then proceeded to go through my Skype chat logs, ancient emails from before I even flew to Scotland the first time and every photo on my computer. He didn't like what he saw, and remained angry at me for days. He wouldn't talk to me, and when he did it was more of a lecture every time. I slept in his daughters room. I was so ill at the beginning of the issue that I could barely stand up straight. By the following week, I was so ill that his sister said I looked like death. Finally I was taken to the hospital where I was diagnosed with a severe kidney infection (not my first) and a bad case of tonsillitis. During that time, I had the courage to take what money I had and purchase a flight back to Los Angeles. I found a cheap rate and went for it. Finally, due to guilt over making me violently ill with his anger, he got over it and we moved on. When I made a confession to him the night of my flight that it had just taken off, he was stunned and outraged yet again. I had decided to stick with him. I loved him, after all. He had forgiven me for the things I did before we met. He forgave me for having male friends (except the one in New York) and for wanting to say Merry Christmas to a former employee while still in the States. If he could forgive me, I could see us through.
That takes us to March.
March crawled by. It stretched and strained and groaned and creaked by. Not a word was spoken about our intended wedding date of April 30th. The only thing I had wanted was for my Uncles to come over for the event. I had saved money for them to come. I tried several times to talk to Robert about it, but he just wouldn't hear of it. He didn't want to talk about it.
We went to a Caravan (Mobile Home vacation park) in mid-April, and he blew up at me because I couldn't hear him. By then I had developed yet another case of tonsillitis and my ears were stopped up. He got so angry that he barked at me in a crowded room, DEMANDING that I go outside to talk to him. As calmly as possible I asked "Would you like to ask me nicely?" Finally he stormed off to go outside alone, and I headed in another direction. By then I had been fairly disillusioned by the situation. I was painfully miserable, from both the cold and his attitude toward me in general. That night there was a huge blow-up within the family and everyone was fighting. We drove back then and there, and not another word was ever said about the whole situation.
For a couple of weeks, things were good. We went to Dublin together and had a great time. He had 'scheduled' something that I wasn't prepared for, and it made me feel like an object rather than an equal. I was there for amusement that night, nothing more, nothing less. With two days in Dublin, the only things we did that I wanted to do was to go for an open-top double decker tour bus ride, and to see the Book of Kells at the Trinity University.
He started to treat me worse every day. I began to fear his footsteps on the upstairs floor, wondering if he was stomping because he was angry at me again for something I didn't realize I did, or perhaps he was just walking loudly. Most of the time he was just walking loudly. My nerves were starting to fry. The Royal Wedding (Kate and William) took place on television April 29th, the day before he and I were to get married. He sat and watched the whole thing, while I could barely stomach about 50% of it. After all, I was supposed to be a bride on the following day. I was supposed to have my Uncles with me. I was supposed to be happy and excited. Instead I was depressed. Yet another of his promises had been broken. Whats worse, suddenly I found that I was in breech of my Visa, since it was a requirement to have a wedding date picked and proof of venue before being issued a visa. I knew then that I would be going home to Los Angeles.
May flew in, and things got worse. He started finding any excuse to scream at me. One night in the streets of Glasgow, in front of his sister and brother in law and hundreds of strangers, he turned on me and shouted. He told me to "f-off" and then called me a liar when I repeated that later on. To this day I know that is EXACTLY what I heard. I know he claims he isn't a liar, but when I watch him do it over and over to others (like his ex-wife when he doesn't want to have his daughter over for the weekend and tells her that he's working instead) how can I believe a word he says?
He told me that he was sorry he wasn't like 'the Highway Patrol Guy I used to date" and screamed at me that he's better and f-him and all sorts. I had enough. I told him that he was drunk and that was enough, and he only got worse. By the end, he had taken the house keys away from me and was completely ready to leave me on the streets of Glasgow on my own with nothing but my handbag. I was ready to stay. It took his sister to talk me into going back. I stayed at her house for two days.
When I got back he said he understood why I stayed there for one day, but two days was too much and he was angry at me for that. He screamed and yelled for an hour or two, terrorizing me as best he could, with me sitting on the couch and crying my eyes out the whole time. Finally I got wise. I told him the situation, expected him to say he was sending me home, and was prepared to be happy about the response. Instead he said he just didn't know what to do.
The "I don't know" phase went on for quite some time. I didn't know if I was coming or going, but I told his sister I was about %80 convinced that I was going back to Los Angeles. She and her mother both said that wouldn't happen - that he wouldn't have brought me over if he wasn't prepared to do what needed to be done - what he had promised to do - in order to keep me. Somehow I didn't believe that. I couldn't believe it. I had seen a side of him that they never had. I knew...
The next fight was brutal. He went out for HIS birthday dinner and drinks with some of his work friends. I wasn't invited. Instead I went to his sisters and we had some wine. When he and I ended up back at the house, everything was fine at first. I was exhausted, since it was after midnight and I hadn't been sleeping very well for a long time. I got ready for bed and climbed in. By the time he came up, I was half asleep.
"Look at my elbows," he said to me, pointing to a couple of white marks he had on them. He turned on the light, blinding me completely, and pointed again. I blinked, looked, and said "uh huh."
"Why are you pretending to be asleep? Because you don't want to talk to me?"
"I'm not pretending to be asleep. I'm tired, but I answered you. I looked."
Things got worse and worse. He accused me of trying to wind him up, and the entire time I had resolved myself to not care. I remained calm and even, not uttering a single word in anything louder than a hushed tone. I told him to calm down and he screamed that he was calm, and that if I wanted to see him yell, he would show me. The entire time, he towered over me in bed, his finger pointing directly at my face, his voice loud enough to burst ear drums. I shuttered and shook violently. I was genuinely scared. I knew how often he didn't remember some of the things he did when he was drunk. I didn't know what he was capable of. I had only been there for 4 months. I didn't think he would ever hit me, but then again I didn't think he would ever send me home. After all, he had promised before I came that he wouldn't send me back.
Finally he stormed out of the room, slamming the door as he went. To this day the door doesn't open right. It gets caught as you try to open it. He warped the metal frame for the door jam when he slammed it so hard the floor shook under the bed. He slept on his daughters trundle bed that night. I was fine with that. I didn't sleep a wink.
It was that night I decided that it was unhealthy. I shouldn't shake like I did that night. I thought he was pacing the floor outside of the room, but when I held my breath to listen, it turned out to be my own heartbeat pounding so hard in my chest that my ears were aching. Adrenaline coursed through my body. I was genuinely terrified. I would have given anything to be anywhere else in the world right then.
Finally I decided to play the game the way he wanted. I told him that it would be best if I went back to Los Angeles. I told him one night in Stirling, after he had plenty to drink and I was stone cold sober. He cried a bit, but the both of us felt immensely better afterward. At that moment, I didn't want to leave. We decided it would be best if I went ahead and left though, so that 6 months would pass before Christmas and I could be back in time for the holidays. We knew I would have to leave before the 20th of June in order for that to happen. We decided that would be the best option... and really the ONLY option, since he wasn't willing to do as he had promised from the beginning. He didn't want me to leave, but he said he couldn't physically get married. He said it wasn't me, it was him. That old cliche line worked on me, believe it or not. He said he didn't care who it was, he couldn't get married to anyone. Pretending to understand, but still completely heartbroken, I began to formulate a plan in my head. I couldn't head back to Los Angeles without a plan.
Finally, after yet another argument and yet another event where he went through my emails of trying to figure out where I was going, where my mind was going and what I was going to do, I stopped crying. It took another week to get the flight booked, and we did book a round trip flight for me to return December 8th - just in time for my birthday. I still didn't want to leave, but I put up a good face for him. I knew he needed me to be strong. Occasionally he would still cry just thinking about it.
After some convincing, I finally got him to make good on one of his promises - my last meal in Scotland was steak dinner. The next day we drove to the airport and we said goodbye. My eyes were dry, but his were bleary and streaked with tears. He cried harder as he headed down the escalator. I looked back at him, watching him walk out of my life, and knowing full well in the back of my mind that I would never see him again. Finally, I cried. I did love him. He wasn't healthy for me and he didn't keep his promises, but I loved him.
I hated when he drank.
I hated when he yelled.
I hated it when he broke his promises.
I hated it when he stomped.
I hated it when he sent me away.
I hated it when he proved my instincts right.
I hated it when he went through my emails.
I hated it when he treated me like an object.
I hated it when he didn't appreciate me.
I hated it when he took me for granted.
But I always loved him.