26 November 2015

When I was sixteen...

...when I was sixteen I had an affair.

I mentioned in my last post about spending over 2 years in the wrong relationship because I was too proud to admit I’d f**ked up. Well, here’s that story.

Now, before we get all judgy let me set the scene.

At 14 I joined army cadets, I LOVED it! At 16 I got moved to a different detachment, reason as to why I'll visit at a later date. When I started at the new detachment there was a new adult instructor John, I thought he was cute, he was 21.

Adult instructor/Cadet relationships were nothing new, senior adults pretended not to know but I’d say 90% of them do. I can’t comment if this is still the case but at the time it was.

Over the course of a couple of months I got to know John, we’d walk home together after cadets with a few others. He told me he was separated from his wife but sleeping on their sofa until he got himself sorted, they had married at a young age and it just wasn’t working anymore. They also had a son who was almost one. He didn’t have a job at that point; he had been in the army but had been medically discharged. Who was I to question anything?
A few weeks later we had our first kiss.
A few weeks after that we got caught having a kiss by the detachment commander and my cadet career was over. I was completely gutted I won’t lie.

In the February I had started my first job, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do career wise so a comfortable job in the Tax Office was appealing. In May 2000 I got my own flat as such my Uncle had had an affair, met someone new, they’d bought a house and hers was up for rent. So here I am, 16, full time job, a 21 year old boyfriend. What could be more grown up and better than that?? How about being dragged through divorce & custody hearings?

John wasn’t separated, not even close. I should have called it quits there and then. I didn’t.
His wife, well call her Stacey, was, well, livid, angry, hurt, betrayed. And of course you would be the man you had been with since you were 15 had suddenly ran off with someone 5 years younger than him. Was 16 year old me bothered? Nope. I had been promised the world by this man, I was spun lies upon lies of how their relationship was failing before I was around and that meeting me had giving him the courage to end things. BULLSHIT! But I fell for every word. I was naive.

But Susan, he’d lied?

Yes he had but I was already so under his spell I believed it wouldn’t happen again, we’d live this blissful little life together and it would be amazing. Even when his ex begged for me to walk away, throwing in the claim he had been violent towards her I was talked round. ‘Why would she want him back if he’d been violent?

Come August that year I left the cosy rented flat and moved into a council flat with him, in to a high-rise, in Muirhouse!! I was already regretting things. John still had no job, he wasn’t even looking. We were in and out of lawyers offices, court rooms, I was threatened by his ex, her family, oh the joys. Then our flat was broken into a few month later, icing on the Christmas cake!  

In January we moved into another council flat, this time in much more familiar territory as I’d grown up there. As much as I knew every housing account was in John’s name, this meant I gave him X amount a month to keep the flat; I bought all the food, paid all bills, he had a good life. Only when I moved into my own flat did I realise that there will unpaid bills in my name which lead to a terrible credit rating that I then worked years to repair.

So this was year one. Ok, it wasn’t fantastic but it could only get better yes?

For almost a whole year I didn’t see my friends, I saw my mum once/twice a month, I missed out on my little sister growing up. I got FAT! And I mean FAT! I’m 5ft 2”, even now at a size 10/12 I’m flabby. But I was squeezing into size 14s. The reason? Eating my loneliness and feelings. Almost every night was a takeaway, fish & chips, Chinese, I couldn’t really cook for shit. It wasn’t all the home-made meals it is these days. On top of this my self-esteem had been battered down to nothing. (No-one else will ever want you….)

Eventually John got a job as a Security Guard in a shop (hurrah!) It didn’t pay much but that wasn’t the point, it was a job. I imagined holidays, driving, buying a house. Erm, no Susan don’t be so silly. What happened was me leaving work at 3.30pm every day and getting a bus from Haymarket to Gilmerton to meet him from work and get the bus home together. What happened was me sitting in all the time whilst he went out with friends (in fairness I was still 17 at this point and looking about 14). What happened was I took every Wednesday off to stay at home with him as this was his day off. With him ‘calling in sick’ on my behalf.

In the same year his sister had a baby, we went to visit them all at his mums. Although I’d had the pleasure of being on the receiving end of his words, chipping away at my confidence this was the first time he’d been physically violent. I wanted to go home, that was all. His sister & mum had gone out and his sister’s boyfriend and his cousin (I think) were in the living room.

I went into the bedroom to speak with him, moments later I was pinned to the bed, his legs tight against me so I couldn’t move, he spat in my face and laughed when I cried. I got out of there as fast as I could. I felt like I had nowhere to turn, of course I did, I DID have friends and I DID have family, I thought they hated me, wouldn’t want to know. He caught up to me at the bus stop and we went home in silence.

There was still ongoing drama throughout this with his ex and custody hearings are not fun. I sat like the good little girlfriend, held his hand and supported him. I gave statements, honest statements, over and over. In the end he gave up custody rights to get a quick divorce. 16 and named in divorce documents – Score! On top of that I had been asked by him to send text messages to his ex’s family and friends, why did I do it? I was scared not to but I was also stupid to do it. The end of which got me into serious trouble.

I’m pretty sure people at work knew there was something wrong. He was constantly on the phone to me checking up, texting, calling my work phone. Just after my 18th birthday we had after work drinks. He came along and made me leave. The look on my bosses face will stick with me forever, she was shocked and disgusted, I think she knew better than to get involved though. In the Summer we ‘took a break’ after he tried to choke me and threatened to stab me. I went to see him at his mums to drop of some things & chat.

He kissed me, I didn’t want him to, he touched me, I didn’t want him to, he forced himself on me, I said no, he didn’t listen. Regardless of your relationship status, no means no. After I text my friend and got him to pick me up, I went home, numb, and told very few people. I was ashamed.

From one person I was emotionally, physically, sexually and mentally abused. I know anyone reading this will think, why didn’t you just walk away? Easier said than done my friend. When someone has such a hold on you that you feel totally alone apart from them, it’s hard.

By August 2003 I had had enough. He left the flat for good. In February 2004 I moved into my own flat, he took the other one back. I left almost everything, £3k worth of trust fund. But it was worth my sanity, my freedom. I had my friends turn to me, those who don’t know the full story, ‘I never liked him’ – I know they think that’s the right thing to say, it’s not, be supportive.

I always view myself as a strong woman, ask Jamie, I’m determined, strong minded, I won’t take shite from many folk. Three years ago I saw John for the first time, in fact I’m not even 100% sure it was him; it looked like him from side and behind. I was in the queue at Greggs, I was shaking, my heart pounding, I was scared. Even after such a long time someone still has that effect on me and I’m sure he still would if I saw him now.

After it ended I got my friendship back with Claire, unfortunately other circumstances mean we are no longer friends but she was a great strength to me at that time. I started going out, like to clubs, and pubs, the things I hadn’t done before. I spent money on myself, I bought new clothes, I got fit and I learnt to cook proper meals.

Seeing my sister grow up over the last few years (she’s just turned 20) I see all the things I should have been doing. Going on girlie holidays to Spain, learning to drive, saving money, blowing money, getting blind drunk at 18, living life. She really is one of my favourite people. I hear stories from friends and Jamie of younger days and Uni days. This is what I should have been doing NOT playing step-mum to a 1 year old and financially supporting a 25 year old man.

His ex still hates me, I don't blame her. I saw her in Ocean Terminal about 5 years ago, she told me I’d ruined her sons life. She now has two other kids and is with the guy she met straight after John, he seems like a nice guy, I think she got the better deal. I saw her again a few times in the gym, she didn’t say a word.

So why am I writing this post? It’s pretty personal. But isn’t that what a blog is for, sharing your life experiences hoping to reach just one person that may be in the same or similar position and showing that you can get out, people are there for you even when you think they aren’t? Ask for help. Never be afraid to admit you made a mistake.