September 24, 2021
I married a lazy, abusive man and endured everything for the sake of my daughter, until the day he locked me out of my house.
I lay curled up on that porch pressed up against my front door, wrapped in my thin coat and shivering in the pre-dawn chill. I couldn't believe this was happening to me, that I was sleeping out on the street.
How had this happened? What had happened to the life I'd dreamed about, the life I'd been reaching for when I married Gavin six years ago? That dream had turned into a living nightmare.
When I met Gavin I was working as a paralegal at a prestigious law firm. I was good at my job and ended up as the senior partner's assistant. I earned a good salary and the future looked bright,
I even dreamed of going to law school, becoming a lawyer myself! Gavin was a third-year law student working at the firm for the summer and I was instantly attracted to him.
He was handsome and funny, and lively, where I was quiet and serious and shy. He went out of his way to be nice to me, and I was flattered. One night he asked me out on a date and I accepted even though I was wary of going out with a younger guy.
Gavin blew me away. He made me feel beautiful, and charming, and fascinating, and sexy for the first time in my life, and I loved it. I thought that I loved him. We became lovers, and two months later, I discovered I was pregnant.
I was frightened and shocked. Being a single mother wasn't something I felt I was equipped for, but Gavin dropped down on his knees and proposed. I accepted of course, and I think I mistook my relief for joy.
So within two months, we were married, and five months later we welcomed my little Jacky. She was just the prettiest baby! I was heartbroken when I had to go back to work and leave her in daycare.
By then, Gavin was cramming for his bar exam and constantly complaining that he couldn't concentrate because of Jacky's crying. She was actually quite a good baby, and I put Gavin's complaints down to nerves.
When the bar exam results came out, he came home in a rage. "It's your fault!" he screamed. "If that brat didn't scream all night, I could have passed!"
I didn't answer him. I'd already learned that answering fed his rants, so I just lowered my head and kept quiet. Gavin crossed the kitchen to where my bag lay on the counter and rummaged for my purse without a by-you-leave.
I was so stunned I didn't say a word, just watched him pull out some money and head out of the door. He came home late that night stinking of beer and cheap perfume.
We all deserve more than someone who makes us feel less than we are.
That became the pattern of our lives. I'd drop Jacky at daycare and go to work, and when I came back Gavin would be in front of the TV, beer bottle in hand. After dinner, he'd take money out of my purse and go out.
The salary that I'd thought was generous suddenly wasn't enough, not when I was financing Gavin's nightly drinking binges. I was having to scrimp on what I spent on myself and Jacky.
"I think you need to get a job," I told Gavin one night. "What I earn is just not enough."
"I'm studying for the bar exam," Gavin said. "That's a full-time job in itself, not that a little paralegal like you would understand!"
I ignored the put-down. "When is the bar exam?" I asked. "Maybe I can help?"
"HELP?" he screamed. "Who do you think you are? You're a LOSER and it's your fault I didn't pass the first time. Maybe you WANTED me to fail!"
It was the ugliest argument of them all in a marriage filled with ugly arguments. I didn't speak about Gavin getting a job again for over a year. Then I saw the envelope from the bar association.
"Gavin?" I asked hopefully, "You've received the results from the bar association?" He was sitting on the couch in his underwear, nursing a beer, and suddenly the bottle was flying towards my head and I ducked.
"You did it, didn't you?" he screamed. "You and your boss fixed it so I'd fail again!" I was horrified and frightened by his violence. I couldn't believe I was cringing, afraid to talk and assert myself in my own house.
Gavin was on his feet, pushing me. "You ruined me! You're probably having it off with that disgusting old boss of yours, and maybe that brat isn't even mine!"
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It had to be the drink! I resolved to speak to him calmly the next morning. I woke up a little earlier and took him some coffee. "Gavin," I said, "wake up, we need to talk."
He sat up on the bed and stared at me with sullen swollen eyes. "What do you want?" he snarled.
"There have to be some changes around here," I told him. "You need to find a job, and as of today you pick up Jacky from daycare in the afternoons."
Gavin didn't say a word. "I love you Gavin, but we can't live like this. You have to get your life in order."
That evening when I came home, the door wouldn't open. I tried to put in my key. "Gavin!" I called. "Can you please open the door? There's something wrong with my key!"
"No there isn't," I heard Gavin's voice saying. "You're not coming in."
I was frantic. "Open the door!" I cried. "I need to give Jacky her dinner!"
"I've taken care of everything," he said. "Do you think I need you? You have a lot to learn, There are going to be some changes around here, and you won't like them."
"Gavin, open the door!" I screamed.
"No!" he said. "You have a lesson to learn!"
And I did, shivering on that porch all night with my daughter out of reach, I learned a valuable lesson but I don't think it was the one Gavin intended to teach me.
The next morning when he opened the door so I could dress and go to work to support him, I walked in a new woman. First I checked on Jacky then I walked back into the kitchen.
"Get out," I told Gavin. "Pack your things and go."
He just looked at me with his mouth hanging open. "You have twenty minutes, then I'm calling the police."
"You think you can kick me out? I have rights, and you need me!" Gavin screamed. "You're nothing without me!"
"No Gavin, you're the one who is nothing without me!" I said as I slammed the front door in his face.
That was two years ago. Today my Jacky is starting primary school, and I'm starting law school. In the last two years, I've put my life back together. My daughter and I have a good life, and it's going to get even better.
As for Gavin, his mother -- who frequently calls to ask about her granddaughter -- told me he is now drinking more than ever, but he continues to refuse to work and is living in a homeless shelter. And he said I was the loser!
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