Nightmare in Disguise

So I meet this guy at my work. I’m like 18. He’s not super attractive but he’s good looking. He looks maybe 30? I remember the first words he ever said to me “So is there like anything fun to do around here? Or like a club or something?” And it started from there. 

We started talking and he asked my opinion about some computer software and movies and we talked for an hour. Before he left he made sure to give me his number. He came back into the store a few days later and asked me more questions about my interests and then asked me why I hadn’t texted him or called him. I told him it was because I was busy so he had me text him so he could have my number. 

At first he wanted me to take him out to eat. Which is fucking weird. What fucking guy tells a girl to take them out??? Then it came to let’s just hang out once, after we met up and had coffee and stuff he found out I was 18 going to be nineteen soon. He freaked out. He told me there was no way I was that young (I guess is act a lot older than what I am.) and demanded to see my drivers license. 

After it was confirmed he told me how old he was and then it was my turn to ask for his ID. This man, this guy that I had become enammored by was almost 20 years older than me. BIG MISTAKE NUMBER ONE.

“But Phoebe, age is just a number.” I can’t remember how many times I told myself that? ITS NOT JUST A FUCKING NUMBER. I should’ve run far away but what did I do? I got closer with him. I enjoyed his company and how important he made me feel. He wasn’t creepy and he wasn’t ever mean or disrespectful. He took me on dates and bought me presents and let me paint while in his company and watch movies. Paul was a nightmare in disguise. 

At this point in my life I was very involved with my art. My friend Felicia encouraged the relationship and we planned a art show together at a small venue. I told my parents about my art show. I also told them about this guy. Paul. They hated him. Instantly. My relationship with them, my parents, was rocky. My eating disorder was out of control and I didn’t want to be in college for a business degree and I was severely depressed and Paul made me feel special. Important. Good. Amazing. 

So naturally I rebelled and told them I was with him weather they liked it or not. To further imply their disapproval they did not come to my art show. I was devestated. (My parents have never been supportive of my art in a way to provide for myself. They supported it as a hobby and enrolled me in art courses and classes when I asked but anything further they disapproved of.) 

It really broke my heart at the time that they weren’t giving Paul a chance and that they had disrespected my passion and what I wanted to do with my life. So I left. Over the course of a week I moved only the important things out of my room and Paul shipped it to the west coast where he lived. 

My parents agreed to have dinner with him in a public place. They hated him. Told me I was stupid. We had dinner again at my parents house with my grandmother and aunt present and my dad begged me not to go. Screamed at me on the front porch. Told me I was stupid yet again. So I left with Paul. We got on a plane the next night and we left. 

At first… Paul was the same. We went to ikea and got furniture for upstairs and got me some new clothes since I didn’t bring a lot with me. I put in a transfer request to work for the same company. Things were going smoothly. Then everything changed after two weeks. 

He wouldn’t let me drive. I was never allowed to be alone. My phone and computer could not have any passwords. He had access to my bank account and social media. I had no friends there. It was hard to have friends. He would go out drinking every night. Would come home and grab me, force himself on me even if I was asleep. 

He usually would start off saying “you don’t love me as much as I love you. You don’t care about me.” And then it would turn into “you’re fucking selfish, you don’t do anything for me. I hate you.” And then he would cry and apologize to me and beg forgiveness and then would be angry again and call me a slut and a whore and would have sex with me. 

It became impossible to sleep. I was terrified for when he would come home. Sometimes he would want to slap me or hit me and other nights it was just verbal. Sometimes he wouldn’t go out he would stay inside and smoke weed. We’d play video games and I would try to draw or paint and he would become jealous. 

You care way more about your art than you care about me. You don’t even want to spend time with me.”

We shared a room. We shared a bed. We showered together. We cooked together. We are together. We did EVERYTHING. Together. I didn’t have any breathing room or space. It was very scary. He tried to cut off my communication to my family and that’s when I asked to fly back home for Farrah’s graduation. 

He accepted and I went home. I spent a lot of time with Farrah. I had missed her. I told her of Paul’s verbally abusive behavior and how we were fighting a lot. While I was there spending time with her Paul and I got into a fight and it became terrible. I had made up my mind not to go back to him. 

I went home the next day to my parents house and things were awkward but I was trying to get a feel of the whole situation. That night my dad and I got into an argument and I was reduced to a puddle. He had never made me cry like that. Never called me names or made me feel how he had that night. 

In my mind, I would rather a kind of stranger, be cruel to me than my own father. So I got a plane ticket and a taxi and I left at 4am without saying goodbye. My dad called me that morning and sounded like he was crying. He told me I am always allowed back home and that he was sorry. 

I wouldn’t talk to my dad for another month. 

But within that month I would undergo some of the worse abuse I’ve ever experienced.