I feel like the next chapter in my life started right under my nose. Much like one therapist has told me a few years back, is that Mike had a plan and I didn’t. Mike, my ex, moved into my house the beginning of May 2006. I can’t honestly say why he moved in or when exactly. I just know that he was over a lot while I was at the hospital visiting my dad. That month was such a blur for me. My dad was dying of lung cancer and I was having a hard time dealing with it. Mike and I weren’t dating then. I think a portion of my brain did sense a bit of confusion of why he was there so often. Of course, I was too busy to deal with it. I was taking college classes at the time. My Political Science teacher did notice that my ‘A’ grade was slipping. Since it was the end of the class, he gave me a C and wished my dad good health.
My dad passed away May 31st. We did celebrate Karissa’s birthday quietly and I gave her a party in July. In June, I had to have surgery on my ear again. My right eardrum ruptured and it had cholesteatoma… skin built up in the middle ear. That took a few months of downtime and healing. I took a break from my college classes and I vaguely remember Mike saying that he wanted to take care of me and make sure I was alright. I guess in a way he was saying everything that I needed to hear. I wasn’t in my right mind to even see the red flags. I don’t even think there were many red flags at that time, or they were so small that I let them slide.
The relationship moved very fast. I can see that now. Back then I didn’t see it. In August, Mike and I were looking at new cars. I had a car. It was paid off in full. Perfect little car for me and my girls. Mike thought it was too small. He said that if we were to be in an accident there is a bigger chance of us getting hurt. So I got a new used car. With a $700 a month payment. Even with my settlement money, that was very hard to make every month. Especially with the premiums that I pay for Karissa’s health insurance. Karissa needed specialists. MediCal didn’t pay for specialists, so we had an expensive health insurance for her. I liked the new car, but I kept feeling guilty for it. I didn’t understand why my old car was so bad. It was a Honda Civic. I liked it.
In September 2006, Mike said it was time to move. He wanted a house for us. He didn’t like that people knew where he lived. I told him that I did not have the money for that. My annuity only allowed me to have a certain amount of money each month. He then searched for a lawyer who could figure out how to take my over-half-million out of the annuity account. I told him that it isn’t possible. That the money needs to stay there. Part of me was scared. The other part didn’t know what to do. I was still feeling lost from losing my dad, not having Kevin around, and trying to get some medical help for Karissa to diagnose what I know now, as her being deaf in the left ear. Well, he found a lawyer willing to find out how to take the money out. All we had to do was use those little checks I had and take out all the money. I didn’t think it would be that easy. I didn’t like that it was that easy. Mike had me transfer all my settlement into my bank account. We then bought a $300,000 house in March of 2007.
I was scared. That was half of my settlement. Mike assured me that it would be ok. That I needed to move and that I should have my money cause it made no sense to save it. Of course, he wanted to upgrade the house. Upgrades that were far too much for the neighborhood we lived in and upgrades that I never saw a return for when I sold the house. That was another $100,000. The townhouse that I was living in had to be sold in a short sale. This, unknowingly to me, was the beginning of the house market crash. I was in for a real surprise when I found out that I have to pay property tax. I didn’t know what property tax was. It was also $3,000 that I eventually would not be able to pay.
Things really changed after we moved into the house. Over the course of a year, I was seeing my friends less and less. Every time I wanted to see them, Mike would have some excuse for me not to go or he would tag along with me. He was literally always with me. Except when I was at work. I’m surprised he had me work. I had to quit my college classes. Mike didn’t understand why I was going to college. He said that my classes were taking too much time away from him. Let me backtrack a little. In the beginning, I knew that Mike just got out of prison for drugs. He told me that the drugs belonged to his ex-girlfriend and he told the police the drugs were his so she wouldn’t get into trouble because she had kids. After a fight one day, he told me that he was running from the law because he skipped out on going to probation one day. I was a bit confused and scared. I wanted to take my girls and run. He then told me that if I told anyone, it would be me that would get into trouble and they would take my girls away from me. That scared the crap out of me. I couldn’t lose them. I was feeling that things weren’t right but at that time I felt that I didn’t have anyone to help me. I didn’t want to risk losing my girls.
He had me start working, I got a job at Walmart in Palmdale, in early 2008. My money had dried up. I couldn’t afford his alcohol, I couldn’t afford his cigarettes and mostly, I couldn’t afford his weed habit. I didn’t know what to do but to start working. Money was getting tighter. One day he saw that Karissa’s cardiology appointment cost me a few hundred dollars cause she had to have an EKG done. The doctor was concerned that there was another hole in her heart, thank God there wasn’t. He had me then get rid of the expensive health insurance I had for my girls. I had to get MediCal. That would have been fine though it took even longer and much harder work to get Karissa the help she needed. I know now that he was just angry that this money was not going to him.
One day, maybe a few weeks after I started Walmart, I stayed after work for a few. Not working, but Walmart is a store, I wanted to look around. No biggie. I mean, Kevin didn’t mind when I would look around at the base exchange when we lived on the base. I didn’t understand why Mike was so angry at me. It didn’t make sense to me. Though he was so angry. Saying that I wasn’t thinking about him, or my kids, cause I wasn’t home right after work. Ok, I could kind of see where he was coming from. Since I couldn’t see my friends often, and Mike would literally talk to me while I was on the phone, I started becoming more of a presence on social media. I wanted to talk to my friends. I didn’t understand. He would constantly tell me that he was the only one that cared for me, my friends didn’t understand me, my friends would make me leave him.
I have always liked makeup, though I only wore a little. I’ve always been interested in skin care. Mostly because of my own psoriasis and eczema. It seemed that every interest I had, Mike would suddenly have an interest in and become an expert. He even would put makeup on me when he felt I wasn’t wearing enough. He had me take it off every day before I went to work. Saying that it wasn’t professional. That confused me but I would tire quickly of arguing with him. Slowly I found myself not doing any of my hobbies. I got tired of fighting him where he said that my hobbies took too much time away from him. That I didn’t care about his feelings. I stopped reading books cause I felt that I needed to spend more time with him. Now I see that I spent more time with him than I did with myself or even my girls at times.
to be continued…