Part 12

In which his friends and he, himself tried to warn me.

Once, a girl named China said to me, “honestly, it’s easier when they die.” It must have been about a decade ago, back when I was still so new to things… At the time, I couldn’t understand this logic. It baffled and confused me, and I thought, secretly, this girl must be a sociopath or something like that. But this was before I had experienced such extreme pain from death and such complete and utter betrayal to the point of illness.

Looking back on what she said now, I am ashamed to admit that she was right. No one means to die. Usually. Certainly, Steph and Faron didn’t. They didn’t do it to spite us, and it wasn’t a choice they made. It couldn’t be helped.

But Ben meant and means every action. He made choices and knew what he was doing when he made them. It hurts more to know that someone would knowingly and willingly deprive you of their presence in your life, purely out of selfishness.

So much of the time I spent over the past year and a half or so, I spent allowing myself to be subjected to pain and abuse, hoping that if I just kept myself in check and played my cards right, I could keep our family together and get Ben to see the errors in his ways and hit bottom all on his own so that we could get back up together and move forward.

But I should have known better. Is it wrong that I didn’t want to give up on the person I loved…? His friends tried to warn me that he was dangerous the last time he hurt me. After he wrote a letter encouraging suicide, his best friend was confounded and said that he didn’t even know if he could call him a friend anymore. Another friend warned me that he was an emotional sociopath and always had been.

In a letter he wrote me earlier this year, Ben himself tried to warn me, proclaiming himself a narcissist and telling me that he would just keep doing the same things to me over and over again if I stayed with him. But I didn’t want to believe it. I wanted to believe that he could change. That he would get better, that he wouldn’t always be this way.

But since he’s left, he’s proven himself to be much worse than I could have imagined. In addition to turning all of my friends and parts of my family against me and using the neighbors to help try to gaslight me, he has also attempted to chip away at my self esteem more and more.

Ben encouraged the use of the cold pills. Once he found that they kept me numb and quiet, he thought that meant I was also stupid, and that because I was numb and quiet, he could get away with anything and everything and I wouldn’t be any the wiser. He was wrong about that, but he did have more control over my self-esteem and self-worth than I realized. So many things that I thought were kind and thoughtful gestures were actually just carefully thought out ways to sabotage me and keep that control.

In addition to keeping me numb and quiet, he would also continuously over feed me on junk food which not only caused me to gain weight, but fed into the cycle of depression and unhealthiness. He would act jealous over anyone I spoke to, regardless of how far away they were or how gay or how ace, despite how unreasonable he treated me for being upset upon finding out that he had been forming online relationships with people for three months behind my back during a particularly challenging time in my life.

He began to attack my gender identity, forcing me to rethink myself and step outside of what I knew and was comfortable with in order to manipulate me into surrendering my femininity. And while part of it has to do with his own closeted homosexuality that he can’t seem to justify to himself, a large part of it had to do with his own insecurities relating to said tastes and his feelings of jealousy toward me and his desire to steal my identity.

He toyed with me a lot during our relationship, claiming to want to be a girl, then going back on it, then claiming he wanted to explore it more, then claiming that he had determined he was secure in his masculinity. And at the rate he knocks up girls and sluts around, I’d say that statement is accurate. But as I mentioned, it isn’t just women that he gets hard for, and the only way he can seem to justify he tastes for the same sex is by dressing up as a woman.

There were multiple times that Ben let things slip in his sleep. He’s sloppy enough while awake, but the things he spills when he’s half-asleep, oh my. He had a tendency to get rapey in his sleep, sometimes to the point where I had to legitimately walk out of the room and sleep on the couch. I’d wake up some nights to him grinding me on his sleep and calling me by someone else’s name. And there were occasions where he would tell me things like “I wish I were you,” or “I want to be you.”

The first time he said that was while I was pregnant with our daughter. I was confused by it, but thought it was just a sweet way of saying that he held me in high regard. But after she was born, that was when he hurt me really badly the first time; the time his friends tried to warn me and I caught him on whisper talking shit. That was when he decided to try dressing like a girl again before proclaiming that he was over it and was secure in his masculinity.

Within the last year, he started behaving rudely when it came to gender politics and he started chipping away at my own gender identity until I started wearing chest binders and dressing more masculine. I even bought a fake beard because I became ashamed of my face to the point where I thought a fake beard would be less humiliating than just my general face. Because in addition to all of this, Ben also had a habit of nit-picking my face. At all times. Every day, multiple times a day, he’d point out that I looked angry. I don’t know if this was even true, but it was hard to deal with. I started to think I had resting bitch face, and I felt so ugly. So I started wearing things to cover my face, constantly.

After Ben left and I began to stretch out and reevaluate myself, I started to embrace my femininity again. That was when he once again started dressing like a girl, and adopted my old middle school role play nickname. I held it at arm’s length and continued trying to focus on me. I remembered how much fun I had when I dressed gothy and so I started buying more goth clothes and doing goth makeup. Soon after, Ben’s stolen female persona became gothic as well.

Throughout our relationship, he was competitive. He never appreciated my work. When we first got together, I wrote him songs which he ignored. Later he would snap at me saying “I never asked you to write me a song.” He talked up other artists (both musical and visual) but seemed to have an aversion to ever complimenting anything I did. And then last year, he started becoming competitive. I wrote better music now that I had better technology. This caused him to start trying music, too. And I didn’t have a problem with it at first. It was cool to feel like I inspired him and that he was finding something he actually enjoyed.

But after a while, his own musical pursuits were all he cared about. He stopped caring about anything I did. He’d brush it off, withhold support and affection, and constantly play his stuff for me instead. There were even times where I’d be working on music, and then he’d just walk in and start playing over me until I just gave up and worked on something else.

The behaviors became worse last August when his old friend Brandon came back into our lives. Now I want to make it clear right here and now that I don’t hold Brandon accountable for Ben’s actions or his choices. While it is true that Ben’s behavior got worse after they reunited, I don’t think that it’s any fault of Brandon’s, despite the things I may have said previously. He only harassed me because of the bullshit that Ben spoon fed him about me, and because of some of my own regrettable actions that were carried out as part of my attempts to free myself from the situation.

But back to what I was saying about last August. After the two of them started talking again, Ben’s behaviors grew worse. He instantly became more abusive toward Ivy, even physically. He became even more negligent to both of us. He withheld affection even worse than before, and suddenly, Ivy started having an awful lot of “accidents.” Some of them were, according to him.

But there was one specific day where she came running to me crying that he hit her, and I took this photo of the marks he left on her.

You’ll notice there is also some bruising on her knee. That was from the previous night where she had thrown a pillow at Ben, and he got angry and chucked it back at her full force, knocking her down and causing her to injure her knee on the bed frame.

I didn’t know what to do at the time. I felt so powerless. Any time I tried to talk to someone about him, they treated the situation like I was overreacting. And that’s how I’ve been met no matter what he’s done. He fought with me over chores. He took credit for chores that I did or when I would do chores, he would try to bully me out of doing them by making me feel like my tending to them was an attack on him. For example, I’d start cleaning my room because I enjoy having a tidy room, but as soon as he caught me doing it, he would get huffy and start complaining saying things like “I didn’t realize it was a cleaning day,” or “sorry I’ve been so lazy” (in a passive-aggressive tone). And I would tell him I didn’t need or want his help, but he wouldn’t stop harassing me until I gave up.

And he would do this about everything. He had to make a big show of “waiting on me,” as my mom would put it. It was all to make me look like I was a lazy, crazy asshole so that he could win everyone’s sympathy and get away with being an abusive monster. Because he had everyone thinking that I was the abusive one. Hah.

Me. The one who coached him about getting back in touch with old friends, even knowing how it had previously ended up, just because I wanted him to have the extra support after we lost Faron. So sure, I brought it on myself by being too nice. Not.

He took advantage of my kindness as much as he could. He took advantage of my trust and my love. He manipulated me and everyone else. Told everyone that I tried to keep him from his friends when I was the one who coached him toward getting back in touch. And then at the same time, he got jealous of me talking to friends and refused to let me go to social events where I could have met other people and started my own friendships.

At the end of the day, he succeeded in making sure than when he was ready to strike, I was completely alone. When he took off, he took most of my friends with him. But honestly, what could I have expected from people who were cool chatting him up behind my back for three whole months and learning all about me before I even knew they existed? I wasn’t myself when I called them fake-ass motherfuckers, and honestly, I don’t even remember doing it. But clearly, I wasn’t wrong. Because even after everything I did for everyone, all the support I gave to them all, round the clock, all the kindness I showed, free art I did, shoulders and ears I lent and advice I gave…

They still chose the side of the antagonist and are happy to gobble up his half-baked lies. And so I’m going to end this chapter with a few words of wisdom.

Never take the side of a sociopath. Their charm is part of their device. It’s how they gain control. And if you think you’re safe, think again, because you’re nothing but a pawn to them. The moment it becomes convenient for them to exploit you, they will. And they won’t think twice. Look at me. Look where I am. Do you really want to be here?