Monday, September 29, 2003

In the beginning... (Part I) 

Before I start mumbling about my rather unusual relationship, it seems prudent to explain just what makes it so bizarre and provide some background into the situation. The former is simple -- I'm a twenty-four year old, divorced, schizophrenic woman living with her eighteen year old autistic fiance.

That's now. How I got to this point is perhaps even stranger.

I was raised in a rather eccentric household. My father was a businessman who owned various stores, hotels, etc., while I was growing up. My mother juggled her time between helping run these businesses and raising my brother and I. Sounds normal enough so far, right? Not quite.

You see, Dad is 25 years older than Mom. He's tall (or was, before his back gave out) and she's practically a midget at about 4'10. Dad's pretty normal, I suppose, except for his tendency to break out in song at random (we're talking about vulgar drinking songs from the 30s, here) and his odd ideas about money. It was Dad's idea to live in an extravagant house, own seven same year cars, and buy our clothes at garage sales. Mom, on the other hand, has generalized anxiety and I've suspected for years she also has Schizoid Personality Disorder.

"If you don't eat this cupcake, it's going to cry," Mom would tell me when I was a little girl. She looked like she was about to start sobbing herself, and I'm certain she really believes that objects have feelings. For instance, if an item of food was left uneaten, she thought it'd be deeply hurt and feel rejected. Eventually we solved this problem by purchasing a garbage disposer, which she immediately christened "Oscar".

Mental illness, along with exceptionally high IQ, runs in my mother's side of the family. Her mother, and one brother, are schizophrenic. Another brother has OCD, another is a pathological liar and kleptomaniac, and one of her sisters has Munchausen's. The rest of her six brothers and sisters, while clearly abnormal, remain undiagnosed.

I suppose I was a fairly normal kid until my teenage years. I did have some strange obsessions, like drawing numerous pictures of naked men urinating in the front and back covers of all my books when I was three or four years old. I refused to wear anything other than knee-length dresses until my teens, despite walking half a mile to meet the school bus in frigid Missouri winters. But I was a straight A student and could read more quickly than my own teachers by the time I reached first grade, so my eccentricities went mostly unnoticed.

The trouble started around sixth grade. That's when I started attending Junior High in a new town. I dressed oddly, wearing old-fashioned ladies' business suits (altered to fit) and pumps to school. I realized I wasn't dressing like the other children, but I didn't care, because I didn't feel like a child. I considered myself an adult from a very early age -- probably because I was more intelligent (although totally lacking common sense) than my teachers were.

That was one of the first things that turned me into an outcast. I was also quickly distrusted because of my grades (straight A's), my atheism (this was a rural town filled with ultra-conservative Baptists), and my profound interest in subjects like guns and explosives. I proclaimed myself a communist and informed everyone that when I grew up I was going to overthrow the United States Government and hand it over to the U.S.S.R. No doubt I believed it.

I hated school, and often just didn't go. When I did attend, I was openly mocked by some students, while others tried desperately to convert me to their religion. Even the teachers got involved in that, after a while. My one consolation was our Gifted & Talented program, where I could spend one day a week in a small trailer with students who were more interested in biochemistry than what clothes I wore or the fact I didn't go to church.

One day, shortly before the end of my eighth grade year, I was informed that the GT program had been cancelled. I was, to put it mildly, really fucking pissed off. During that summer, Mom suggested home schooling. I was incredibly relieved at her suggestion, and we bought a number of college textbooks for me to use, in whatever subjects I found interesting.

I attended home school for my ninth grade year. I studied whatever I wanted to, and since none of the subjects were things Mom was knowledgable about, she told me I'd have to teach myself. This wasn't laziness on her part at all, she was simply baffled by the subject matter, as she'd been forced (literally) to drop out of high school some twenty-five years before.

At the end of the school year, I had to take an assessment test required by the state to check on my progress. I scored at the 99th percentile in everything, and my grade level was estimated at "12+". Mom said, after reading the test results, "Alright, you graduate." I was thirteen years old.

At this point I began working in my parents' pawnshop full-time. They didn't pay me a lot, but it was nice to have a steady source of income at that age. It was also around this time period I became obsessed with drugs and drug culture. Working at a pawnshop made experimentation viable -- many of our customers were rather shady characters. I'll gloss over the drug use for now, but suffice it to say that by the time I was fourteen I was using a number of substances on a regular basis, including the hard ones.

At some point when I was fourteen years old, I started experiencing delusions and auditory halluncinations. I was so certain that some villian was plotting to murder me in my sleep that I changed bedrooms in my parents' house, from the second master bedroom to the guest room, because it was more enclosed. I believed I could hear people talking if I put my hand on a telephone pole. I heard secret messages in the hum of the refrigerator. I created an elaborate fantasy in which I was secretly a terminally ill Russian immigrant. I practiced a "Native American religion" I'd partially read about in popular fiction and partially concocted myself.

One day, after this had been happening for a few months, I walked up to my parents and calmly informed them I had gone insane and that I should see a psychologist. They were startled, but agreed, and called for an appointment.

The psychologist asked the usual questions, and after speaking with me for my allotted fifty minutes, told Mom that I was seriously disturbed and should be checked into a mental hospital. Dad was in denial, and drove me home without scheduling a followup. He was convinced there was nothing wrong with me and I probably just wanted attention.

I continued to work at the pawnshop, despite my increasingly bizarre behavior. I stopped using drugs for a while, thinking they might be excaberating the symptoms. It helped little, if at all.

Then in 1993, I discovered the internet. I was fascinated. I started spending longer and longer times at the public library, using Gopher, telnet BBS's, and playing MUDs. Eventually, using the money I'd earned at the pawnshop, I purchased a used computer (Tandy 1000HX) and an external 2600 baud modem for it. Once I had internet access from home, I stopped working and spent roughly 18 hours a day online.

This continued for about two years. I cracked passwords, distributed viruses, sent fakemail, read other people's email, and made a lot of friends online. I lied about my age and background and reveled in the anonymity of the internet. Then I met Mikey.

I call him Mikey, primarily because he hates being called that, and I'm not at all fond of the man. He was twenty-seven when I met him, and was dating two girls via the internet -- a fourteen year old, and a nineteen year old. I told him I was nineteen. We spent a lot of time talking, and eventually he expressed romantic interest in me.

For a quite a while, I'd been counting the days until I turned eighteen (I was fifteen at the time) so I could move out. I absolutely hated living at home with my parents, for some reason I find incomprehensible now. Mikey's interest gave me an idea, so I allowed him to become involved with me. Shortly after, he broke up with the other two, and swore his undying love for me. I reciprocated (in words, anyway), smirking all the while.

A few months later, shortly after my sixteenth birthday, I told him an outrageous story about how I was a Russian immigrant living under a false identity and being pursued by the CIA. I needed his help, I explained, because I was being held prisoner in a private home. He bought it hook, line, and sinker.

And so, one freezing January morning when I was barely sixteen, I left my parents' house in the middle of the night carrying two trash bags full of my clothes and personal belongings. Mikey was waiting for me there, in a rented car.

...to be continued.

In the beginning... (Part II) 

Mikey drove me to his parents' house, where he was living. The day after I arrived, he asked me to marry him. I consented, though I never deluded myself into thinking I cared for him.

At the time, this didn't seem unusual to me. I believed that spouses were merely selected based on convenience, and it was certainly convenient to have him hiding me from my undoubtably terrified parents. Besides, while I never liked him all that much, I was convinced I could live peacefully with him. And best of all, he was willing to move to where I wanted to go (Washington state) and support me while I played Little Miss Housewife.

Two weeks after my late-night escape to Louisiana, the police arrived. Mikey was arrested, and I was sent back home to Missouri with my parents. I stole a bottle of twenty Percocet from a woman's purse in a public restroom on the way home, and took them along with forty or fifty other pills I had in my purse (mostly diet and cold pills). This was my first of three serious attempts at suicide.

I threw up a few hours later, then immediately went to bed when I got home. In the morning, when I woke up, I couldn't stand up, and had to ask my mother to help me to the restroom. She had no idea what was wrong with me, just that I was quite ill. Dad came into my room and told me they were going to send me to a girls' home. I protested, and he relented, saying I didn't have to go if I would promise to "be a better daughter."

For the next few months, my relationship with my parents was strained at best. I informed them that according to state law, I could move out without their consent when I was seventeen. I got a job working at K-Mart and began saving up money to leave home. This job didn't last very long -- I was fired for "lack of productivity", shortly after I vomited all over the ladies' dressing room after drinking two full 16 oz. bottles of Robitussin.

I was in contact with Mikey, who had been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and received two years probation. A few months before my seventeenth birthday, he sent $1000. I told my parents that it was a check I was receiving from a publishing company for a short story I'd written.

They didn't buy it -- despite the fact it was postmarked in Texas, it was a postal money order and the return address was faked. They called the Chamber of Commerce for the town it'd been sent from (Orange, TX), and were informed the street did not exist.

All hell broke loose when that money order arrived. Apparently, some money of my father's had gone missing around the time I ran away, and he thought this was somehow involved. I hadn't stolen the money, though (and years later it turned up behind his sock drawer). They'd also looked through the bags of trash I'd thrown out when I cleaned my bedroom, and found a bunch of used syringes.

I remember vaguely that they had me questioned by some law official or another, then drove me home. On the drive home, they were discussing what to do with me, and my father finally asked me if I really wanted to move to Washington state. I replied that I did, and he said he would drive me there, to my aunt's house in central Washingon, and I could take things from there.

And so he did. The day I arrived, I called Mikey, who was relieved to hear from me. "What's happened?" he asked.

"Things have changed... geographically," I replied.

Mikey moved to Washington and we left my aunt's house and found an apartment. I was not yet seventeen, so we tried to keep a low profile. Of course, he thought I was twenty, but knew my "fake ID" said that I wasn't.

Things changed dramatically after we began living together in that little apartment in central Washington. Up until this point, Mikey was a useful means to an end, and easily manipulated. I soon found that when it was just he and I, with my family over two thousand miles away, he was a completely different person.

The found the first clue to his true nature on the day we moved into that apartment. Mikey left me at home while he went to the store to pick up groceries. Before he left, he informed me that the "white boxes" were private and that I was not allowed to touch them. Of course, the instant I saw his car had left the drive, I popped them open to have a look inside.

The contents were disturbing. In there I found various lists of things he had done to previous girlfriends as "punishment", such as having them eat an entire box of Ex-lax then beg for permission before they could use the restroom. There were... extremely pornographic... Polaroid shots of a girl I suspect was underage. There was a list of pros and cons about two girls he'd once dated, a comparison of sorts. On the list were such things as "twat smells bad", "flat tits", "hairy asscrack".

There were also letters from another woman, dated recently, whom I had specifically inquired about a few times because she seemed to have a crush on Mikey. He denied it vehemently, but after reading the letters, it was clear she did and wrote at length about what she'd like to do to him. In these letters, I also discovered that the necklace he'd been wearing, and claimed was given to him by a male friend some years ago, was a gift from her. I was not pleased.

I said nothing, though, as I'd gotten myself into this, but I knew once I'd seen the contents of his "private boxes" that I would never feel any real affection for this man.

I won't write at length about my relationship with Mikey, but I will say it was an eye-opening experience. He was frequently emotionally and sexually abusive, and ocassionally physically. He did not allow me to have a driver's license, to leave the apartment without him, forced me to cut off contact with my friends, and severely limited contact with my family. He would not allow me to touch him in any way, unless he was interested in sex. All money, regardless of who earned it (for a time, I worked from home), was kept in his own private checking account. He was obsessed with pornography, to the point that he greatly preferred it to actual sex. Later (after we married), when I was six months pregnant, I discovered he had been carrying on an affair with the woman who had written him.

I spent six years living with Mikey, and as time went on, they got progressively worse. After a while, I was no longer allowed to leave the apartment for any reason, even to get the mail, or to accompany him to the grocery store. His obsession with porn decreased somewhat when he discovered that if he was brutal enough, he could make me cry during sex, and he seemed to enjoy this quite a lot.

Two years after we were married, my brother offered to sell us a house in Missouri that needed quite a bit of work. He said that we could stay with him for a month or so while we got the house into shape. Mikey and I accepted his offer and moved to Missouri.

At this point, I know now I had plenty of opportunities to get away from Mikey, but I was still hung up on proving I hadn't made a mistake and that my parents were wrong. On the bright side, the proximity of my relatives stopped him from forcing sex on me, as he knew my brother would probably have grabbed a shotgun off the wall and blown him away if he'd heard any sound of distress from our bedroom.

A year after we moved into my brother's house "temporarily" to fix up the other house, he announced we'd have to leave. This is because we'd been staying there for a full year and Mikey had never once made an effort to make our house livable. I'm amazed they put up with us that long -- seven people living in a two bedroom mobile home.

On the trip back to Washington, I drank one night until I passed out, and Mikey took advantage of the situation. I'd had him cut off for a year, so I guess this wasn't too surprising, but nonetheless it was that morning after I finally decided I would somehow leave him.

We got another apartment in Washington, this time in Seattle, where I'd always dreamed of living. At this point, despite the fact he kept me locked in the apartment 24/7, I felt less depressed because he'd agreed to let me play an online game (Asheron's Call), and I had someone to talk to other than him.

Before this last move, Mikey had worked intermittantly -- he'd get a job, work for a few months, then quit or get fired. Then we'd spend six months or so living off the money his mother sent us. After we moved, he didn't even attempt to get a job, nor did he allow me to. His mother paid our bills.

After a year of this, Mikey's mother informed him she could no longer afford to send us money every month for living expenses. He told me were would be moving back to Lousiana to stay with her. I let him know in no uncertain terms he would be moving back alone, and that I was filing for divorce.

Mikey was shocked, but didn't protest nearly as much as I expected. Six years after we'd first moved in together, he took a plane back to Louisiana and took our then three-year-old daughter to be cared for by his mother. (I had suggested this myself, as there was no way I was equipped to care for a young child on my own -- I had no job or driver's license.)

I filed for divorce, and looked for a job for three months with no luck. After that, my money had run out, and I decided to enroll in Job Corps in the hopes of gaining some vocational training that would let me support myself.

I spent six months in Job Corps, graduated as Valedictorian, and decided to move to southern Texas, as my brother now lives there with his family, and my parents spend six months of the year there.

During that nine months after Mikey moved out, I had several intense but brief relationships with other men. I'll write about these another time though, as I've rambled on quite enough already.

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