Today is my birthday, but it’s also so much more than just that. It is the worst day or my life, while at the same time being the best day, forcing a forward motion to happiness and health.
June 27, 2004 – the day my life changed forever
At the time, I did not know it but my birthday in 2004 was going to be a pivotal point in my life when everything that I had known for all of my life was about to change. I actually had not been looking forward to that particular birthday, because I knew that he had forgotten my birthday, he always did. And, Heaven forbid I should say anything, it would not be a good thing. I had already made the decision to keep quiet and go on as if it were any other day. It was a Sunday, there was an antique car show that day in Bayville and I wanted to go to photograph the antique cars. I have always been a big car fan and photography helped me to escape reality, even if only for a short while. When I got behind the lens of the camera, it always felt like the rest of the world would just disappear and all of my problems would just go away. I know that it was only a temporary thing but even a temporary escape from reality is a good thing.
I got out of bed went into the living room and found “Michael” there, doing his thing. His “thing” was a combination of multitasking between playing his Xbox game, sitting in his easy chair, with his legs crossed and his laptop sitting there between his legs. He was naked and sadly, this was nothing out of the ordinary at this point. I knew exactly what he had been doing all night long. He had been sitting there since the night before, all night playing Halo and looking for women online in chat rooms, various websites, wherever he could find, so that he could have cybersex. I had long given up trying to talk to him about it, because it got me nowhere except for being verbally and physically abused by him. Oh sure, I tried in the beginning to say things about it and found quickly that when I did, it just caused more grief for me and never stopped him from doing anything differently. He did not see anything wrong with it, in fact there was one point where he called it “networking”. I never quite figured out how playing a video game and masturbating to some stranger on the Internet was networking and he never could really explain it to me but that’s what he said it was.
I should note that I used the word Michael in quotations because that is what I was used to calling him. When we first met, and for about the first six months, I knew him as Michael. It was not until he was going for an interview in NYC, to apply for a job with the police department that he told me his real name. I had stumbled upon an envelope that he had left lying around in my kitchen and it had a different name on it and after I asked him what it was, he confessed that it was his real name. He went on to explain that he was planning to legally change his name to Michael Alexander Stone. He gave me some story, which I realized way too late that I should have seen right through, about his sisters ex-boyfriend using his name when he was arrested, for shoplifting or something like that, and supposedly the police never verified who the boyfriend really was. Looking back, there were so many red flags that I should have seen, but for some reason I believed his stories without checking into them. Yes, I know that is pretty stupid or naïve, however you want to look at it.
I did not say anything to him, but he must have caught my look of disdain as I walked past him that morning, and into the kitchen to make myself some coffee. He yelled out “WHAT?” I turned and said to him “how do you know that’s even a woman on the other side of the computer?” His answer was always the same, “I know” he would say. I actually think that it didn’t really matter as long as there was someone on the other side of that computer who was giving him masturbation material, it did not matter who it was. Of course though he certainly did not want to hear that, Heaven forbid someone would think that he was either bisexual or gay that would really impede on his macho manhood, of which he really didn’t have any. Despite his thinking that he was God’s gift to women…he was attractive and many people told him that he resembled Johnny Depp, so that stroked his ego regularly.
I began to walk back past and heading back into my sanctity of the bedroom when he asked me “where are you going?” I stopped, put my head down and thought to myself “here we go”. I turned around and said to him “there is an antique car show today in Bayville and I am going to go.” He responded that he had no interest in going to it and I told him that he didn’t have to, I would go alone. Of course, this did not go over well, he never liked me to go anywhere without him. He always wanted to know where I was going, what I was doing, who I was doing it with, and what I was saying to them. I did not know it then, but these are the classic red flags of an abuser. They want to control everything that you do and alienate you from as many people as possible. I turned back around and went towards the bedroom when he shouted out “FINE! Whatever Robbyn, whatever”. It’s funny, but not really….whenever he did not have an answer for something it was always his fallback to just say “whatever”. I walked back into the bedroom, closed the door quietly, and breathed a sigh of relief. My relief to not last long, he picked the lock to the bedroom door as he always did and angrily said he was going to go with me. I assured him that he did not have to but he insisted.
We did not really talk in the car on the way and when we arrived there was already many people there, I parked and as we walked to the area where all of the cars were, I was already in picture taking mode and tried to ignore the fact that he was already letting out big sighs. Some girls who were dancing on a stage captured his attention and he headed in that direction, leaving me alone for a short while. Unfortunately, their show did not last very long and as soon as they were done he found me and said he wanted to go home. I had just gotten started, and was not nearly ready to leave but he did not want to hear that. He started to make me really uncomfortable in the middle of the event, so I told him that I would take him home and come back by myself. He wasn’t exactly shouting, but he was very loud all the way back to the car telling me again how he didn’t want to come to this in the first place and I reminded him that I had said he did not have to and I could have come along. This only enraged him even further, so that by the time we arrived at the car he was in full on “Rage-aholic” mode. People were staring, as we got in the car and he slammed the passenger door so hard that I don’t know how the window did not shatter. He turned the music up in the car so that the people staring could not hear him, and proceeded to berate me, telling me how I ruined his day. How dare I, he didn’t want to come out in the first place and I made him. Again, I told him that I didn’t make him come and told him I would have been just fine by myself. I don’t know why I continued but I always attempted to deal with him using common sense. I was crying, in fact I guess you could say sobbing, and then I did it and I hated myself the moment that I said it.
In the days leading up to my birthday and that morning when I woke up, I promised myself that I would not say anything about it because I knew he had not even given it a second thought and if I brought it up it would only cost me more grief. Through my tears, I shouted “nice way to treat someone on their birthday”. So, you would think, a rational person would have immediately stopped and would apologize for forgetting someone’s birthday especially someone who they professed to love so much. Well, that did not happen and instead, he started to shout “whatever Robbyn, whatever!” I was so embarrassed, by now people were standing in front of the car and staring at us…it was humiliating. He saw people staring and said to me “now look what you have done!” Trying to defend myself, I don’t know why, I said “how is this my fault?” He got out of the car shouted that he was walking home and slammed the door shut so hard that I again, do not know how the glass did not shatter. There was no way that I could go back to the car show now, my make up was smeared down my face from crying, I was sobbing hysterically hardly able to catch my breath. The people who were staring just walked away after he left, and I just sat there for awhile to calm down and get myself together so that I could drive home.
As I pulled out of the parking lot, Michael was nowhere to be seen, however as I drove further down the road there he was. He must have heard the roar of my car engine, because he turned around as I approached and I don’t know why, but I pulled over. Again, a rational person, you think, would have gotten in the car and started to profusely apologize for forgetting the birthday of the person that they claimed to love. Or at least that is what I thought should happen, however I was dead wrong. Instead, the shouting began again and this time it was all about how dare I be upset that he forgot my birthday because he was such a wonderful person and was so good to me, at least in his warped sense of thinking. For the entire 20 minute ride home I cried as I was driving and his shouting never stopped.
By the time that we arrived home, I could barely breathe because I was crying so much. I couldn’t see, because my contact lenses were coated with salt from my tears. I made a quick stop in the bathroom to take them out and then I went into my bedroom and locked the door, which was pointless, but I did it anyway. I say pointless because he always, always picked the lock and this time was no different. When he came in, I was sitting on the bed and crying, my kitten, Haley was sitting by my side. For a very long time, Haley was the only bright spot in my life. As he came in she jumped off the bed and hid underneath, she was always afraid of him. He stood at the end of the bed and began yelling, telling me what a wonderful person he was, how he worked so hard, how he tried and tried to help me, how he tried to help everyone but no one would ever listen to him, and so on and so on. I retaliated and asked him how this was helping anyone. He said that if I had not made him go to the stupid car show than this would never have happened. Once again, according to him, everything was always my fault. I tried to get up to leave, but he blocked my path, slamming the door shut. He pushed me down on the bed, and grabbed my wrists so hard as I struggled to get away, I thought he was going to break them. I am not a weak person, physically or mentally, but he always overcame my fighting back. I fought back, I screamed, I yelled for help, but no one came. He kept pushing me down onto the bed and I kept standing up. He could hear Haley hiding under the bed and crying and he told me that he was going to kill “that” thing, the very thing that I loved the most. I have no idea where Chelsea was, but she wasn’t hiding in the bedroom, she was likely hiding behind the couch…that was her hiding spot when he went off. This went on for what felt like an eternity, I prayed one of the neighbors would hear and would call the police…I even yelled for someone to call the police. The bedroom windows were open, so I know people could hear, but no one ever did anything, no one ever came to help. He finally pinned me down, and sat on top of me, yelling, slapping my face, telling me to shut up and stop embarrassing him. He was squeezing my wrists harder and harder and continued to yell at me, blaming me for ruining his day. At some point, I asked him if he was trying to break my wrists, like he broke my fingers and he let me go. He said that it was my fault that my fingers were broken and I pushed back and asked how was that possible? “Did I hold my hand up and ask you to kick them?” “Whatever Robbyn, whatever” was his response.
He did not touch me for the rest of the night, but the abuse never stopped. Abuse comes in many forms, physical abuse is just one aspect. There is also mental, verbal, sexual, emotional, and even financial abuse just to name a few. When people hear about domestic violence in the news it’s more often than not regarding physical abuse, but in my personal opinion bruises go away, cuts heel, bones can be reset, but the mental emotional and verbal abuse, the psychological aspect of domestic violence, they can remain with you for a long time to come. For the rest of the afternoon and well into the night, he sat on the floor with his back up against my closed bedroom door berating me and I just cried. He Continued to tell me just how grateful I should be to have him in my life, how hard he was trying to help me, how hard he worked, how hard things were on him, how much he tried to help others that were in his life before meeting me and how ungrateful they were also about it and how I was just like then, ungrateful and “quitting” on us. Michael always blamed someone else, never taking responsibility for anything that he did or said.
At some point, after a few hours of sitting there, listening to him, my mind kind of just faded away…. I don’t really know how else to explain it. It was like I was in the room and I knew that he was talking, but I didn’t really know what he was saying any longer because my mind was elsewhere. It was that day, during one of his many rage-aholic episodes, which he had on a far too regular basis, that I realized, despite my wishing, hoping and praying that he would, he was never going to leave and if I wanted to get away from this man that I was going to be the one who needed to go. I should never have let him in my life to begin with, or let him move in to my condo, but the only way that I was going to get rid of him was for me to leave.
As I sat there, I was thinking back, and telling myself that I should have taken him back to East Orange, NJ where I had found him in September 2011. We were returning from a road trip to Florida in February 2012, when I saw his rage for the first time while we were driving and took a wrong turn and got lost. That was, according to him, my fault and despite his refusing to stop so that I could find where we were on the map, it continued to be my fault. There were no smart phones or GPS, so all we had was paper maps. We were on our way from Daytona Beach to Baltimore MD, to meet up with a friend that he had met online. This was before I knew that he had been attempting to pick women up left and right. By the time that we got to Baltimore, after being in the car for about 10 hours and eight of those hours with him behaving like a lunatic, I was a hot mess. He went on and on right up until the moment that we pulled into the hotel parking lot. I remember the desk clerk looking at me with concern as I checked into the hotel and gave my credit card. This was the first time that I saw the rage in Michael and it should have been a red flag for me, but when he apologized profusely the next day, telling me how sorry he was and how this was not who he was and he did not know what had come over him, etc. etc., I believed him. I don’t know whether to call this stupid or naïve, whatever it was I should not have allowed him to remain in my life, but when we arrived back in New Jersey I let it all go. Perhaps it was a little of both, plus the fact that I was already a bit beaten-down and feeling depressed and really did just not want to deal with it. I had been in an abusive relationship when I was a teenager, and it was one of the most horrible experiences of my life so I did not want to even think about that again. I will write more about that one later.
So, once Michael and I got to the hotel, I cleaned myself up and after a lecture about me not making him look bad in front of his friend because I was crying, we met her at a local restaurant and I didn’t talk much instead, I drank several very large margaritas. She knew there was something wrong, but I did not mention anything and of course he played it off as if everything was just fine and dandy. It was over dinner that I found out what his real intentions were in meeting this so-called friend. And to be honest, I don’t think that she even had any idea of what he was up to, so he pulled one both of us. She assumed that I knew and was okay with him finding sex partners online and since I was not aware of his previous activities, I thought we were just meeting a friend. Oh boy, was I wrong. I believe that we should not live life with regrets, and while I am not proud of what happened, I will not say that I regret anything because, if anything changed in my past then I might not be where I am today. So, while I might have made different choices then, knowing what I know now I cannot change the past, nor would I. After dinner, the three of us went back to our hotel room talked for a little while and ended up having a threesome. I pretended to enjoy it even though I didn’t. Even as I type this, it brings back feelings of embarrassment and shame, but I have got to tell the whole story, otherwise, what is the point? If I can help one person with my story, then everything I went through will have had it’s purpose.
So back to reality, 8 hours passed, and it was getting late into the evening when he finally stopped. I had just stopped responding to him, stopped acknowledging him, I just stopped. I was emotionally and mentally drained, but at the same time was firm in my thoughts that I had to find a way out of this relationship. At the time, I did not know how it was going to happen but, I knew that it needed to because, if I didn’t then he was going to hurt me seriously. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind, that had I stayed he would have killed me. With each incident, each episode, he became more and more violent and I was terrified. It was 11pm, he left the house, and I had hopes that he was leaving and not coming back but, I soon found out that I was wrong. After all of that, an entire day of abuse from him he returned, with flowers, a stuffed animal, and a birthday card. My initial reaction did not please him whatsoever. He expected me to be thrilled that he had taken the time, spent his valuable money on me and got me a birthday card and present and he was not pleased when I told him that I did not want his “gift”. Unfortunately, it only enraged him and had I taken a moment to think about it, I probably should have just taken it and not said anything. He started yelling at me again but fortunately, it did not last long. He left the house shortly after and did not come home that night. I can’t say that I was disappointed, in fact I was again hopeful that he just was not going to come back at all. Silly me, he showed up early the next morning, coming back and being so very humble which was so out of character for him. I asked him where he had been. It turned out that he had a date that previous night, which I had somehow made him late for. Of course, his daylong tirade had nothing to do with it, he turned it all into my fault. His trip to the store to get the flowers and birthday present was simply an excuse to call whoever it was that he was supposed to have been meeting.
I told him to get out, and he started telling me how sorry he was and how much he loved me, and what a mistake it was. I told him that I did not care and just wanted him to get out. He begged me and told me how much he loved me, begging me not to quit on us, and I continued to tell him to get out, but this did me no good. After much back and forth of him begging for my forgiveness, and not receiving it, he returned to his usual self and became very angry with me. He raped me that day, but he did not see it that way, he saw it as showing me how much he loved me. I did try to fight him off but I was so exhausted from the night before that I just did not have the strength inside me to do it and so, he did it and then fell asleep. After I was certain he was asleep, I quietly crept out of the bed and went into the bathroom to shower and cry. He made me feel disgusting, and he also made me feel weak even though I knew that I was not. I knew that everything he told me was not true. This was not my fault despite his consistently telling me that it was and even more certainly, I knew that I did not make him do any of this. I didn’t know how I was going to do it but I was determined in the commitment which I had made to myself the night before, to get away.
Little did I know that the wheels of the Universe were turning and someone “up there” must have finally said it was my turn for something good to happen to me. Just a few days later, I received a letter in the mail from my insurance company stating that they needed to see me, in person, in their Daytona Beach office. I didn’t know it at the time but, this was my way “out”. Fortunately, he had to work, so he could not go with me when I left a couple of days later. I was only supposed to be gone for a week, but once I arrived in Florida, I took care of business with my insurance company and ended up staying with my Mother and Step-Father for 3 weeks. My mothers pet sitting business was booming and she asked me to help her out. I was not in any hurry to get home and I’m sure that Michael was happy I was gone, because then he had the freedom to pursue all of those women he had been trying to pick up online. I wished, hoped and prayed that he wound find someone while I was gone and just leave. He called me every day however, telling me how much he loved me and how sorry he was for everything and how he wanted “us” to be back like we were when we first met and how he was going to work hard to make that happen and he begged me not to quit on us, like he always said that I did. All that he was saying meant absolutely nothing to me, they were just words and I had heard them all before, over and over during the past 3 years.
My mother and I never really discussed things in my life when I was younger, and even as an adult, so it surprised me when she and I were standing in her kitchen and we were talking about me going home and my telling her that I wasn’t looking forward to it. She didn’t ask why, but I volunteered to tell her how abusive Michael had been to me, she was the first person I told the truth to. I guess I was just done protecting him and lying for him all this time. I was actually ashamed and embarrassed to tell anyone what had been happening, because I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t know how to make it stop, despite my attempts to talk common sense to him, logic, etc. She said that explained why I had gained all of the weight back that I had lost…I was surprised that she actually noticed, because she hadn’t said anything up to that point. You see, prior to meeting Michael, I had lost 100 lbs and since getting involved with him, I had gained all of that weight back and more. I told her what had happened on my birthday and that I needed to get away from him before he seriously hurt me. She told me to just stay in Florida and not go back, she said that I could stay with her and Art until I got on my feet. I couldn’t do that and I explained that Michael had threatened to kill both cats and if nothing else, I had to go back for them. At first she told me I could come back and live with her after I got rid of the cats and I refused to do that…I asked her if she would leave her dog behind, if she was in that situation. Art had claimed that he was allergic to cats, but that turned out to be one of his lies. Art, as you will find out when I write about him, was as much a loser as Michael was. Except while he wasn’t as physically abusive, he was abusive in every other way. Anyway, my mother had a talk with Art and in turn, he assured me that I was welcome to come stay with them for as long as I needed to. He actually had me fooled and I thought that he was being genuine and sincere, but it turned out to all be an act to get back into good graces with me Mother.
Staying focused on Michael for the moment….By the time I left Florida, I knew that I was going to be leaving NJ, it was only a matter of time, until I could get away. Stay tuned for more of this part of my journey which played out over the course of a couple of months. I did get away, I left New Jersey, I changed my life and here I am, 10 years later, living in a way that I never, ever thought was possible. The best part is that I have become a Certified Life Coach, so that I can help other people change their lives and change what they might think is their destiny to unhappiness. If you are stuck in a place where you don’t want to be, whether that be with a weight loss challenge, unhealthy relationship, and you want to change your life, contact me and let’s begin to work on a plan for you to get past those challenges and you too can have the life of your dreams!!