I'm a good person, I say to myself over and over. So why is this happening to me?
Have my actions led to this?
Surely life isn't so unjust that these things be allowed to happen without just cause and without future consequence? What about karma?
The chair wobbled under me, my centre of gravity corrupted by this burgeoning mass in my belly. My baby. Our baby. Six months inside already and just another three to go.
But nobody gets to put their feet up anywhere near Him. I’m accustomed to both his looming presence and the atmospheric malevolence accompanying it, but this acclimatisation comes at great personal cost.
My friend calls him a knobhead every day. I smirk but it isn’t quite right. He's more than that – and less than that. Weak and feeble inside - and that's what I need to keep telling myself. The worst thing that ever happened to me - and the best thing too. He unintentionally gave me the gift of this bump inside me, the first one that's stayed with me till such a late date. I've learnt to see good where I can in the world. I can see it here - in this baby growing.
The chair doesn’t seem strong enough to take my weight. I don’t want to be here. On another chair next to me are boxes that need storing in the top cupboard, high up and built into an alcove in this tall-ceilinged terraced house.
And He refuses to fetch the stepladder.
The chair wobbles under me. My centre of gravity is pulling me forward, but I manage to reach out and grab a low cupboard handle. It wobbles too (the screws are loose) and I shriek. The top box of three falls to the floor but I manage to right myself as I feel the beginnings of tears in the corners of my eyes.
He shouts at me.
‘What the hell are you doing?’
‘Putting stuff away. Somebody has to,’ I say.
‘Well, I'm not.’
I know he's not. That's why I'm doing it, that's why I'm unsteady on a chair because this guy, this physically healthy, tall and strong guy is ‘scared of heights’ to such an extent that he'll encourage his six month pregnant partner to balance unsteadily.
Meanwhile what's he doing? He's reading the news on my computer, a symptom of his obsession with the facelessness of projected tales. It’s the nearest to human interest he can manage.
We had a meal at posh pub to celebrate my new job - I paid.
He didn’t allow me onto my own computer, but on the few occasions he wasn’t there to watch over me, he set up keystroke tracking software.
I organised babysitters so we could erect a large set of wardrobes, but he didn't move from the bed.
We saw his ex in Morrisons, and she looked down at my growing bump, then back up at me with pity and compassion. I should have introduced myself and asked for the rationale behind her pitying look, but I didn’t need to. I already knew.
I should have told her he'd already been controlling my food intake, that he was quick to anger, and that he was controlling.
So, don't let them in.
Whether they be friends or lovers or bosses or co-workers, or parents or children...
Don't let them in.
Tell them what you think.
Accept when they inevitably disagree.
Allow them to demand conflict, but don't get involved.
Just walk away.
Never be less than yourself, no matter how small they try to make you.
I've been there.
On that chair.
Doing what needed to be done because I knew nobody else would.
But I was wrong.
I should have kicked him into touch.
I should have kicked him out.
That's the problem when you've been brought up to be too nice.