Twenty years ago today, I met the woman I've since nicknamed "Number Two." Probably the most descriptive nickname I've given someone.
I would hope she's become a better person in 2 decades, instead of the mean little emotional tarball she was in 1996. I know she was miserable--bipolar, doc working on her meds, a Norplant stick in her arm, and her emotional baggage from too many bad relationships and parental abuse. She's about 90% blind, as well.
I got stuck in that mess for four and a half months. Happens pretty quickly, even when you're not trying to "save" someone like that. They can still pull you in, then pull you apart. She used the threat of suicide, overdoses, guilt, her disability, whatever she could to try to keep me around or just to get her way.
I helped her move into her own place, from an utterly shitty apartment to a 14x80 trailer with a "rent to own" plan on it. I did what I could to simplify her home life--I did all the cleaning, cooking, and whatever. She went to work with clean clothes and a daily bath. There were some good days...there were more bad ones. I learned how everything was my fault. I learned the many ways that I was WRONG:
--if I worked on my car, I wasn't spending time with her
--if I spent time with her, I wasn't taking time for myself
--if there was a problem with the car, I should have been maintaining it
--I caused her bad day at work
--she had a good day; this was my fault, too.
--If I was off from work, I was supposed to answer the phone when she called to check up on me.
--If I didn't answer immediately, I was probably cheating on her
--had to account for every waking moment not spent at work or near her
--yelled at me for 20 minutes for washing my car.
I had a part-time job at the time, but I was on the hunt for something better, because I had my own plans. I wanted my own place. It took almost 4 months for me to finally secure a full-time job. By that point, that trailer was a cage--and my part-time job was the lock on its door. I finally escaped--Free!--in late December and lever looked back. Like I said, I hope she got better--but there's no way I'm going to look her up to find out.