Today I began an intensive job search, and research into possibly taking some classes to refresh old skills and acquire new ones. This was all done in the town where I plan to relocate, about three counties away from where we currently reside.
In therapy a few weeks ago, my husband stated that he was fine with me moving that far away. He told the therapist he understood why I wanted to move there and that he would never try to stop me from relocating there with the kids. It made sense, he said. That’s where my mother is. That’s where I have a lot of friends and a lot of support. The therapist had explained, by law, in the state of Ohio, custody issues state the relocating parent can not take the children more than one county away. I was visibly upset to learn this, but he reassured the therapist he would never prevent me from moving to this three county-away place. He said he’d sign anything right there to prove his noble intent. The therapist let him know nothing like that done in her office would hold up in court. He reassured her that he meant it. It was his word. And then the other day, privately, he told me if I go after a divorce, get a separate attorney and fight him in any way, he would not permit me to take the kids three counties away.
This. This is the gaslighting I deal with on a regular basis. This is the stress I endure. These are the battles I privately fight. This is why I must think EVERY DECISION through more thoroughly than the average person and have multiple backup plans. This is the crazy-making that tests me daily.
But I am stronger. I will play along, for now. I am stronger, forever. Even when I don’t feel stronger, I am stronger.
Driving home tonight after an exhausting day of filling out online job applications and reading countless job descriptions I would love to apply for but am not qualified for, I was discouraged. Disappointed. Feeling defeated. But I used the 90 minute drive to center myself. To shake it off. And instead of walking in the door looking sad and defeated, I smiled. I said hello. He asked how the day went. I said “fine,” in as chipper of a voice as I could muster. I gave him less than the bare minimum details of my day. I could see it bothered him. He NEEDED to know if I got a job. If I had any leads. I said nothing to let him know what happened. Nothing. Then I excused myself to go change clothes and I dove right back into my work of cleaning and organizing and packing. I was listening to music and working at a good pace when he came downstairs and asked if I needed any help. I said “no thank you,” again, in a chipper voice. I held up a few articles of clothing that used to belong to our kids, when they were toddlers. I tossed a pair of Polo shorts to him and exclaimed with amazement that our son used to be that small! I was smiling. He looked at them and grunted something I could not make out but I did not ask him to repeat. I really did not care what he had to say. I just asked him to toss them in the donate pile. He went upstairs.
I am writing this now, and in an hour from now, he and I will sit down and work for no more than an hour on our dissolution paperwork. And I will sit there and smile and be pleasant. And I will watch him like a hawk as he tries to manipulate me into stealing what is half mine after building a life with him for over 18 years. I will not allow this. I will smile and let him think he is winning but I will be preparing to get my own attorney at the first sign of him screwing me over, yet again. And I will figure out what to do about revising my plan to move three counties away if he refuses to allow it.
I will do all this and smile because I am strong. Him? He is an asshole. He will wind up living a lonely shallow life. I won’t smile about that but I will smile because I am strong.
And my golden silence will show him I am strong. (I might smile because I’m enjoying watching him squirm with uncertainty for a change).