Editor’s note: Lovefraud received the following email from a woman who posts as “seekeroflight.”
I feel this overwhelming urge to reach out to your website, and I am not quite sure exactly why. I’m working my way through reading pretty much your whole website, or at least the articles which strike my eye as I go through it. It is one of very few things in my life right now that helps me to feel a little less alone.
I told my life partner (of almost 7 1/2 years) that I was done with the relationship in January of this year. I gave her pretty much no warning — just sat down one evening and told her I thought we should break up. She claims she saw it coming, but I think that’s a lie.
Judging by how quickly and the lengths she suddenly was willing to go to in order to “work it out” right at first, I don’t think she ever thought in a million years I’d get the courage to leave that prison, and she certainly had no problem ignoring my requests for us to try to work on things, try counseling again, try whatever. She had told me flat out that she was not interested in working on our relationship. I think she just thought I’d stay, forever the devoted girlfriend, forever her caretaker and provider.
Tried to be amicable
I tried really, really hard to make the breakup as amicable as possible. Told her we could stay friends. I was willing to try a variety of arrangements if she thought it could work out — she is on disability and has limited means without me, and we had a whole mess of dogs, plus she was forever bringing people into our house who were somehow down on their luck (and subsequently making them practically her indentured servants in the process), and at that time we had two kids and two other disabled women under our roof. In no way did I want to put everyone on the streets!
The truth is, I was miserable, and had been for awhile. She was my first girlfriend, whom I met at a very vulnerable time. I wasn’t even really out of the closet yet. She is 18 years older than me. She saw my very messed-up self coming a mile away, and pounced. I realize this now.
For over seven years, I tried to make this relationship work. I truly loved her — my love was real! Even as I know now that hers was not. And over those years, as I cared for her through her numerous health problems (many real and some I found out fake), she wore me down to a shadow of a person.
We would have a few good times, usually when she really needed me, or right after I was getting to a breaking point. We tried joint counseling once, which seemed to work then (but she would years later throw in my face as being some horrible experience where she was victimized, much to my bewilderment). And I worked hard to support her and the constant stream of people and animals she wanted to reign over, even when it was more than we could handle, even when she would bring them home without my permission, even when she would reel them in expressly against my wishes.
Our relationship took a nosedive that never corrected itself in 2013, during a time that had seemed to me to be relatively positive. We were getting along pretty well and she was being minimally affectionate. Then I accidently found the Facebook messages on her phone. She had helped her ex move across the country to the next town over, and was spending EVERY DAY with her while I was at work. Even talking to me on my lunch breaks while with her. This had gone on for weeks, and she had been intentionally deceptive about it. Racy, somewhat explicit messages, sent from her ex, even describing how the ex wished I wasn’t in the picture.
My whole life crumbled.
There is no way to describe that feeling if you have never felt it. And I was so naive, so trusting, that at first I literally thought the ex must have hacked her Facebook and was messaging herself, just to torture me. But when I read more, there was no way. There were things said about recent happenings that the ex would not have known about. You know you are under someone’s control when something like this can happen and they can so easily convince you that not only is it not REALLY cheating (because they supposedly never slept together), but it’s also all your fault.
In one evening I went from happily in love with a woman and in a marginally “good enough” relationship to one in which either the woman I loved was a complete liar and fraud or one in which I was so lacking as a partner that I caused the woman I love to do this horrible thing. I allowed myself to be convinced of the latter…
Wants ex to move in
To add insult to injury, within a short while my partner came to me saying that the living situation her ex was now in, having moved from across the country, was not working out. They wanted to know if she could move in with us. Now, keep in mind, my partner was 18 years older than me. Her ex was 10 years older than her — in her 60s! And disabled, and in poor health. Of course my partner came to me very embarrassed that this whole situation had turned out like this — she had moved her ex across country into another bad situation, and she was asking me to help fix it. Not wanting to put a disabled senior citizen on the streets, I reluctantly agreed. I would say it was a mistake, but it also was a part of a turn of events that eventually let me to get OUT, so perhaps it was meant to be…
My partner and her ex made quite the pair … both disabled, both at home all day, while I worked to try to support them. As always, we ended up with more people being paraded through my house temporarily to stay when they were down on their luck.
Over a span of a few months I had three different people come to me and tell me that my partner and her ex were secretly actually together, and they just weren’t going to leave me until my partner’s disability went through (her ex already had SSDI).
The first time I confronted her and she said the person saying these things was just stirring up trouble. The second time she had the same answer. By the third time, I was like, look. THREE TIMES!! What is going on? And her answer was that her ex must be going out and saying these things to these people. But she had no desire to do anything to fix the problem — said she would just talk to the ex, but there was no mention that the ex needed to leave.
Children, dogs and cats
Our household kept expanding…at one point last year we had a family of four (including minor children, one of whom was pregnant), my partner’s ex, 17 dogs, and 4 cats. And I was the only one working. (The ex had SSDI, so she “helped” with that, but her inability to be frugal and insistence on smoking like a chimney and getting expensive cable in my name pretty much canceled out any help she would have been.)
As if that weren’t stressful enough, I also have two neurological disorders and an autoimmune disorder. Because of my health conditions and the stress in my life, I was having to pull into parking lots on my drive to work just to take naps so I wouldn’t wreck driving. I was exhausted physically, and emotionally I was at the end of my rope.
There was just NO WAY to make ends meet. I couponed like a crazy person. I made my own laundry soap (with that many people and animals, laundry soap was a huge expense). For awhile I was buying cigarettes for three people (I don’t even smoke), and eventually I refused to do so any longer and bought a machine and tobacco and tubes…but then my partner refused to roll her own (said she couldn’t figure it out) so then I was stuck 30-60 minutes a day rolling her cigarettes so I wouldn’t have to buy them. And still all our bills were behind. I often went without some of my own medication because I couldn’t afford it — one medicine in particular is quite expensive even after insurance. I could barely keep lights on and the house out of foreclosure and gas in my car to get to work.
The stress was unbelievable. I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders, with so many people and with my partner’s health issues and with all the animals. So many times I seriously considered ending my life, just so my partner could maybe make ends meet with my life insurance policy.
And of course, I received no emotional support. Rather, I was criticized for how I interacted with everyone else in the house. Criticized for getting so upset at the ex (you know, for doing things like starting rumors that I was pregnant and cheating on my partner). Criticized for not being able to control things going on with the family living with us that were bothering my partner. Two times I sat the mother of this family down, at the request of my partner, and said, look, we need to start planning for you guys to move elsewhere. Then I’d go to work and my partner would make amends with them and agree to let them stay longer … making ME the bad guy and her the compassionate one, of course.
Didn’t ask for much
The worst part was, I really didn’t ask for much. Intimacy was long gone, per her refusal. I tried repeatedly to understand what had happened to our relationship, and she literally refused to even discuss it with me. Every couple months I’d simply ask if we could talk, and would be met with an immediate and angry, “Oh Jesus F—ing Christ, what now?!” I mean, how do you even respond to that?
I can honestly say, I gave everything I possibly could to make that relationship work. I gave far more than any reasonable person would have. Despite the fact that she refused to marry me when it became an option in my state, I still considered her to be my spouse. I took the promise I made quite seriously. I begged for us to try couples counseling again but she wanted nothing to do with it, or our relationship, until I finally decided I couldn’t go on like that. Literally, I couldn’t…it was going to kill me, or I was going to kill myself, and I saw no end in sight because she was continuing to do the same things over and over.
Beyond the fact that I just couldn’t continue on like that, there was another factor that contributed to my decision to get out. I found out early this year from a relative that quite a few things my partner had told me about herself and her past were untrue.
I had already been told that my partner’s story about being raised by her Native American great grandparents was untrue … in fact that these relatives never even existed. I had already brushed that aside, thinking maybe I was being told wrong. I even got a subscription to Ancestry.com to try to research it myself (working on her family tree) and couldn’t find these people anywhere. It struck me as strange, and I decided it had to be a misunderstanding somewhere. Maybe she had been told these people were grandparents, and they were just an old couple in the community. Surely she wouldn’t LIE about something like that!
The biggest lie was about her military background. She supposedly spent 13 years in the Air Force, worked on nuclear weapons, worked in NATO, was trained as a profiler (think Criminal Minds), was trained by the military in martial arts, and had been deployed all over the world. This was such a huge part of her identity, and she claims to have PTSD from her experiences.
Then I found out in a conversation with a relative that that was a complete load of crap. She was in the military 4 years, and never left the country. She was a cook. And she was not honorably discharged.
Once again, my world crumbled. I could not fathom that she had lied to me in this way for so long. I wracked my brain, trying to find an explanation. Maybe she has a delusional disorder! Maybe that was why so many times her stories of her military experience sounded so similar to things we just saw on TV … maybe she couldn’t help it, maybe her brain was confusing her! But I was able to confirm at least part of this to be true, through the SCRA website. Her military service began two years later than she told me it had, and lasted four years and one month. Definitely not the 13 years she had been telling everyone.
Nothing was as it seemed
Regardless of the reason, and regardless of how much I loved her, I could not stay in a relationship where nothing was as it seemed. I knew better than to confront her about the lies —she had an explosive temper and hated to be challenged. So I just sat down one night and told her I was done, it just wasn’t working, and I was as gentle as possible.
At this point we had fewer people living with us, but two of them were minor children, plus all the dogs, and I wanted to make sure they were all cared for. I said we could try being roommates (that didn’t go over well).
She had a rental property, and I said one or the other of us could move out of my house and stay in that one, so we’d still live close and could both help take care of the dogs. (That didn’t go over well either, b/c at that point her ex was renting the other property.)
I decided I would just move out and let her stay in my house (the mortgage is only in my name and predates my relationship with her) and I’d help her get on her feet financially, and as long as she could within a few months handle the rest of her bills through her SSDI (which she was finally awarded) and rental income, I could still pay the mortgage and then the rest of my bills at a new residence. No option was acceptable to her.
Behavior started to scare me
She started alternating between trying to work things out (saying she wanted to marry me now, wanting counseling, etc.) and just going into frightening raging lectures, which lasted HOURS. Her behavior really started to scare me.
She began using sleep deprivation as a primary means to wear me down, which is especially cruel because I have narcolepsy. She would lecture me for hours, into the early hours of the morning, with me just begging her to stop and let me sleep.
And she would change from threatening all sorts of stuff, like threatening to take legal action against me or destroy my belongings or prevent me from using our vehicles to get to work to threatening to try to get me fired from my job or even threatening to harass my family. I had gone off some of my meds, including my antidepressant, due to side effects, which were affecting my other conditions, so she kept saying I was just crazy and had me terrified she was going to Baker Act me.
Her behavior had already been controlling for years — driving me away from friends and family, controlling all my time, but it got so much worse. I had to talk to her on the phone on my way to and from work and on my lunch. She would get angry if I tried to have any sort of private phone conversation ever with anyone else. She threatened to try to ruin every person who ever helped me — said she was going to have my psychotherapist’s and my massage therapist’s licenses revoked due to some imaginary malpractice.
She repeatedly accused me of cheating on her, with a million people, even with men! I was selfish, I was making her and the dogs and the people staying with us homeless. I was ruining everyone’s lives. My dogs would end up dying if I took any of them with me b/c I wouldn’t be able to take care of them right. She told me I could only take the one with me that I had before meeting her, even though others were microchipped in my name.
I was so terrified, some nights I’d wait until she fell asleep and sneak out and lock myself in a vehicle to call the domestic violence hotline, and they recommended I speak with a police officer. When they transferred me to the police, the officer told me that if they came out the best they could do (since I hadn’t been hit, of course) was recommend to me that if I feel unsafe I should leave MY OWN HOUSE, regardless of the threats she was making and the sleep deprivation techniques which were literally putting my life in danger the next day when I would drive because of my condition. Without my dogs, of course, b/c they couldn’t come to the shelter. Why would I just make my partner even more angry by waking her up with the cops there when they couldn’t do anything to help?!
Leaving my own house
I refused to leave without as many of my dogs as I could get (which ended up not being very many, but was more than one at least), and until I could safely leave with them I couldn’t give her 30 days notice to be able to evict her. There was no way I could deal with her for 30 days after telling her she had to leave! No way on earth I would be able to live through that, not emotionally, and possibly not physically.
She was already starting to do things like poke at me and put her hands on me when I was trying to sleep despite me demanding she not touch me and she even blocked me in a hallway once for speaking to her best friend who was in our driveway working on a vehicle. I knew she wouldn’t just hit me — she was too smart for that. If she were to become physically violent, it would happen exactly one time, and I’d be dead.
It took me two months, but I found a house that I could buy on contract near my job (45 minutes away from where I had been living). She insisted on helping me get the house ready — she changed the locks (so she of course still had a key to the new house). She packed my stuff (and therefore decided what did and didn’t get moved). She helped with some minor work that the house needed before I could move in, so she did all this under the guise of being so helpful and supportive while I was ditching and abandoning her of course. But I did manage to get out, with a few dogs and a few basic things.
I already had to sneak a few nonreplaceable things out of the house, family items and other things I was afraid she would destroy, but basically I moved with almost nothing. Despite the fact that we had two refrigerators, I moved with just my old college dorm fridge. Despite the fact that we had two sets of washers and dryers, I was hand-washing laundry in a bucket in the bathtub for weeks. My new house was (still is) pitifully furnished and she took almost everything, saying she needed it all. (All while, I later found out, telling everyone that she let me have everything and I left HER with nothing…)
We had five vehicles between us — she took them all except the one we were selling on payments to her best friend. Thankfully he is a good man and gave me the car back so I can get to and from work, but I am going to have to make it right with him for the sake of my own conscience and make another arrangement or pay him back the money he paid HER for this car so far.
She did whatever she could to try to leave me with nothing.
Once I moved out she began the stalking — calling, texting incessantly. Terrifying me. Threatening all sorts of things again. I eventually had to change the locks (which really angered her) and get a protective order against her, which was a difficult several month process with a lawyer and a legal advocate from the local domestic violence shelter.
Since she can’t contact me, she has proceeded to harass anyone who has remained my friend, including having them arrested and making false and exaggerated CPS reports to get a friend’s kids taken away for two weeks (they have of course gotten them back now). It makes me feel like a liability to have as a friend. It’s horrible.
I was the fourth woman
After the last court date, when the protective order was made permanent (2 years), I reached out to a woman that my partner (now my EX) knew years ago. I was desperate to figure out what had just happened to my life. I found out that this woman, let’s call her Ann, only knew my ex for 6 months, but I was the fourth woman she knew of who my ex took practically every penny from and tried to destroy their life.
Her lies were more extensive than I had even realized, and Ann told me that the last time someone reached out to her trying to find out information on my ex, it was the parents of a girl who my ex TRIED TO KILL.
“Someone” poured diesel under this girl’s house while she was asleep in it. She got out, two of her dogs did not, and she subsequently had a nervous breakdown.
They couldn’t prove it was my ex, but it was clearly arson, and I can’t tell you how many times my ex would say to me things like that she could just burn down the house of this or that person she was angry with and nobody would ever know… So, clearly, my determination that my ex would only get physically violent with me exactly one time was spot on, as this is what happened to this girl prior to me.
Why am I writing?
There is so much more I could write…I have a long way to go, but I am slowly getting there. So why am I writing this now?
- I want someone else to know how bad it was. And it was bad. So many people just look at me like I am crazy if they hear even the smallest detail of my situation. But it is real — I lived it and I am still recovering from it.
- I want people to understand that this happens in gay and lesbian relationships also. There is very little out there about domestic violence in the context of lesbian relationships, and even in the LGBT community there is often little recognition of it.
- I want others to know that it does get better, although not always in the timeframe we would like. I thought it would just magically be better when I moved out, but it actually got harder. I didn’t anticipate how hard it would be for me to be alone. I had no idea who I was anymore or how to make even the most basic decisions. I was like a zombie — paced the floors, slept all day, couldn’t eat. Lost tons of weight. I spent many, many nights on the phone with domestic violence and suicide hotlines. Add to that the fact that my ex’s stalking and threats only escalated when I moved out (and she refused to leave my old house or give me access to it for awhile as well) and the difficulties I had in getting a protective order … it was just tough.
But I was tougher. I somehow made it through. I am a little bit amazed at my own strength, to be honest, because I went through hell, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically, and financially, and I am still here. I survived and persevered, and even made some important decisions along the way to protect myself.
I am not where I want to be yet, but I do know where I will never return.