The tile floor was cold, the air around us stifling. My back rested up against the wall, my arms wrapped about my knees. He sat across from me. Moments of silence and intent stares followed questions I couldn’t even believe I was asking. Every answer he gave was a lie to cover up another lie.

We were silently fighting each other. I was too afraid and weak to walk away and he was too much of a coward to be a man. I couldn’t stand the thought of it ending, the thought of standing alone… it frightened the hell out of me.

He never wanted to be there in the first place, I was only the next in line on his long list of others before me. He had done to me, what he had done to them. This moment gave him the window to jump out of and the door for me to walk through, but we both turned the other cheek.  He was a sick addiction because he was the opposition to what I feared most: being vulnerable and trusting someone.

A few tears trickled down my cheek, he gently brushed them away. A calculated act. What I needed most, I never received.  There were no apologies, no remorse. A sense of entitlement coated the energy around us. He reached for my hand, it limply rested beneath his. I could no longer make eye contact. I fixed my sights on the grout lines, on the base boards, on the bubbles in the paint on the wall. Anything other than having to look at his face.

“She would get the biggest kick out of knowing we were sitting here fighting because of her. Let’s just forget it ever happened.” He pushed my hair away from my face. His comment angered me. My throat tightened and my jaw clenched. I stood up and began a series of questions. He refused to answer. I went into the other room and grabbed the iPad, he snatched it from my hand. “Sadie, stop.”

He was annoyed. I was pushing his limits, he had literally set mine aflame. He let out a frustrated sigh and walked into the kitchen; I followed him. We stood opposite each other, my hands positioned on the counter, leaning towards him waiting for something, anything. His arms were crossed, he was pissed. I started with more questions. Now the veins in his forearms were jumping off his skin. “I’m not talking any more about this, just stop.”

“I need to know. I need you to tell me why you fucking did it.” He rolled his eyes and said, “I don’t know. I just said all of those things to her to keep her at bay.” He still was not admitting to sleeping with her and every time I asked and brought up a piece of information from the emails he denied it and said “you’re wrong”.

At this point I was nauseated and my head was throbbing. I walked into the bedroom and laid down. He went into the living room and turned on the TV. We spent the next few hours avoiding each other’s presence.

We sat on the couch together and one of his friends texted him asking him to go out. His response, “sorry dude, I have to patch some things up with the lady.” His friend replied back, “Damn, now I’m wondering what you did :)”

The exchange disgusted me. He set his phone down and said, “I want to take you somewhere tonight. Go get dressed.”

“I really don’t feel like it. Why don’t we just stay home.”

“Just get dressed, I know you’ll love it.”

An hour later we were driving towards a familiar area in the city. I thought we were going to this little pizza place that has live music that I had never been to. I had told him I had always wanted to try it because two of my most favorite things in the world are pizza and live music. I slightly smiled when we pulled up around the back of the restaurant and parked. He took my hand and we walked towards the front. I let go of his hand the second we walked past the entrance of the pizza place. “Where are we going?” I asked, confused. He smiled and I wanted to punch him in the face. He opened the door to the most cliché and dumb restaurant in the city. It pissed me off even more.

He knew how I felt about pretentious places and the only thing I felt was that he was trying to buy his apology. There were roses waiting at the table. My fists clenched and I forced a smile so the overly attentive and toothy waitress wouldn’t call the cops on me. I seethed the entire meal. I had to down 4 glasses of wine to even get through it without bursting into tears or jumping across the table and ripping his face off.

Halfway through the meal, his phone lit up. It was his friend again. “So me and (name of other friend) are really curious why in the hell you need to get out of the doghouse”. I looked at him and rolled my eyes. “You’re here trying to make up for being an asshole and you’re on your phone?” I said coolly. I grabbed the glass of champagne in front of me and downed the whole thing. He ignored my comment, finished typing and then set his phone down and reached for his wine.

$300 later, we left in silence and him being so over the top with compliments and smiles that the second we got home I locked myself in the bathroom, took a bath and bawled my eyes out.

A few weeks later shit hit the fan. But this time in a different sense. I’ve had endometriosis since I was 14 and I was straight up battling the worst of it shortly after we started dating. The stress our relationship was causing and everything else going on in my life blew up at once.

It was a Friday night and I was in so much pain. I had started rapidly losing weight, and had to take narcotic pain killers daily just to get through. I could hardly keep anything down and the chronic pain was seriously fucking with my brain. Earlier that day we planned to stay home since I wasn’t feeling well and just watch a movie and order dinner in. I had called in sick to work that day but by the time he got home from work he told me he was going out with a friend for “one” drink.

Fast forward to 3:00 in the morning. He was still not home. I had called him at midnight and he didn’t answer. I called again at 2:30 and it went straight to voice mail. He stumbled in at 3:30 and headed straight for the bathroom. He immediately took a shower. I was so tired and delirious from the pain and not sleeping that I just closed my eyes and tried to get some sleep.

A couple of months later, he pulled another all nighter. Things had steadily gotten worse between us. I had zero ounce of trust and he didn’t think he needed to do anything to earn it back. In an email exchange between us he said, “I’m afraid you’re going to hold this over my head.” We were fighting almost everyday.

So this particular night, he promised me we’d cook dinner, listen to music and have some us time. Nope. Instead, a huge fight ignited when we both got home from work, he ignored me and put on a change of clothes and said “I’m going out with my friends”.

This time around he picked up his phone at 4:00 in the morning and fed some bullshit story about taking his friend home and getting pulled over. According to him, his friend had a ton of cocaine on him and got taken to jail. He said he had to get off the phone because he might have to bail his friend out. I said, “None of that makes sense, where the hell are you?” When he finally got home at 5:00 in the morning, I was furious. Again he took a shower right away.

The next night his little escapade fueled an even bigger fight than the night before. Cue him getting pissed, grabbing a bottle of red wine and leaving the house and driving around.  Things were getting so out of control. The next morning our dog got out and we were both frantically driving around the neighborhood looking for him. his dad called me because DB was not answering his phone and I lost it. I started bawling and said “I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with your son but I can’t handle his bullshit anymore!” Yeah, probably not the best moment to breakdown but I literally couldn’t bottle it in anymore.

It was almost Christmas and I can’t even begin to describe how tumultuous things were. I was starting to have nightly panic attacks and couldn’t sleep for days at time.   I chose to start seeing a therapist and my doctor added anti anxiety medication to my prescription for pain killers for the endometriosis.  But I wasn’t being honest with my therapist. I told him nothing about what was going on with me and DB. I couldn’t admit it. No one really knew. I had shut out all of my friends and literally lived and breathed going through this nightmare alone. Red flag: If you have to lie to your therapist about something, that probably means you need to run from it.

I was also going through RCIA at the time to become catholic and guess who my sponsor was…yup, DB. He was the person who was supposed to be setting a “good catholic example” and be my sounding board. Every Monday he went to classes with me. We’d pretend everything was great for those couple of hours. He’d shake the hand of our priest and work his charm that so many have fallen for before. But when we left, we went back to our own version of hell. I was just as guilty as he was. Every time a friend or co-worker would ask me how things were, I’d force a smile and lie through my stupid little teeth. I couldn’t take anyone knowing that I failed. I couldn’t take anyone knowing that I wasn’t good enough for someone to stay committed to. It was the hardest place I’ve ever been in my life.

If you would see us on facebook or in public, you’d think we were the happiest people alive. Appearances mean nothing. Behind closed doors, we were anything but that. I hated him for what he was doing to me, I hated myself for what I had allowed to happen. I hated what we represented but still I chose to stay.

We survived Christmas and the New Year and February rolled around. Things seemed to have plateaued between us. It wasn’t any better and it wasn’t any worse. But something was stirring deep inside me, screaming at me to uncover the truth.

It was a week before my birthday. He was completely withdrawn. I knew I needed to force it out of him. Buried deep, I knew the answers to the questions I had. It was a storm slowly gaining force and on that cold February night, it hit…

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