I remember thinking to myself after a few months of living with J that if we had been two people dating and living separately in the same city, there would be no chance in hell of us working out. Don’t get me wrong, she was a great girl, and in many ways she treated me very very well, but we were just two different people.

J was very much a spoilt princess, but in an emotional way. She was always used to getting her way from guys. As a matter of fact, she said to me once that she was proud of her ability to twist any guy around her finger. All her previous bf’s she used to manipulate to get what she wanted. Before her weight gain, she had a pretty good body and I know hear from her friends that guys used to chase her all the time. As such, she was proud of the fact she could just crook a finger and guys would just succumb to her whim. Until she met me…..

Now as Erica will testify, I can be stubborn as a mule. Once I dig my heels in on sheer principal, it’s no easy task to move me. I clashed head to head with J on many many occasions because I refused to succumb to her emotional blackmail. I knew what she was doing, and I knew she was used to getting her way. And I didn’t want to set the tone for things to come by giving in to her on every occasion. By spoiling her emotionally on each and every occasion was neither good for her or myself in the long run.

We would fight over things both big and small. When I got sick of the fighting, I would just clam up before saying something I regretted, which would just egg her on more as she can’t stand silence in the midst of an argument.

I remember saying to myself that I would have called this relationship quits if it wasn’t for the fact that I sacrificed so much for it. Gave up my entire life in Sydney to take a chance with her. Now sometimes I asked myself why I did what I did. Why did I move in with J so quickly, just because she asked me? After all we’ve only been sporadically seeing each other for about 3 months….

Part of the reason was that after Annie, my first girlfriend, I was still suffering from an emotional void. I never quite recovered and so when J came along to fill that gap, I latched on. Also, I just felt like a change from the familiar scenery of the town of which I was raised. A new life with a new girl in a new city. I just figured it would be refreshing and probably good for me.

As much as I hate to admit it, the biggest reason for me moving down as well I believe was because I was afraid. After Annie, I was afraid I would never find another girl. I mean, I only had my first girlfriend at the age of 19 which to me was already pretty late. And so when she left me, I thought I’d end up single forever. At such a low level was my self-esteem and confidence then. So when the chance came along for another relationship, for another girl to love me, I jumped at it and took the risk just in case she would be the only one else to ever come along.

J had a massive temper. As the months went by, familiarity bred indifference. Indifference to my feelings. The more we fought, the more hostile she started to get. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all fights. We had great time living together and we truly loved each other. We loved spending time with each other and shared what I thought was a great level of communication.

But J has a short fuse, and as such tends to blow up or snap quite easily. One of my weak points is getting what I perceive to be unfairly accused of something. So when she snaps at me for doing something wrong of which I didn’t think I did, then I’ll go on the defensive which she hates. She loves being right and hates backing down. And that’s how the fights generally tend to start. But once again, we had many many good times and I can honestly say back then that I was happy.

Back to what I was saying about the hostilities, she was getting worse and worse. She would scream, yell, and shout. She would deliberately smoke in front of me and blow smoke in my face sometimes when we were fighting (oh boy did that make my blood boil). On one occasion, she said she’s had enough and told me to pack my shit and get out. To move out and move back to Sydney. I asked her if she was sure and she said she was. And so I packed up my things, went down to my car, and got ready to drive back to Sydney.

She would then come flying down in a fit of tears and apologise. Begging me not to go and saying she didn’t mean it. I forgave her, and everything went back to normal. Until it happened again a few weeks later only for her to beg and apologise after my car was packed, seatbelt fastened, and the accelerator ready to be hit. Once again I accepted her apology and things went back to normal. Until it happened a third time, then a fourth time….

I finally said I’m sick of this bullshit. I told her I’m not going to live under a cloud of her emotional blackmail any more. That if she does it one more time, I’m gone and never coming back. She promised me that she wouldn’t ever do it again, and credit to her, made good on that promise. Now with one outlet of emotional venting closed, I think she was probably struggling to handle her emotions.

And so came the physical manifestations of her frustrations. She would start getting so angry that she would shout, scream, and start scaring the general shit out of me. She starting picking up things like my mobile phone and hurling them across the room, damaging them. I’d try to calm her down to no avail. On one occasion, she just rushed at me, pushed me into a corner, and began tearing at my flesh. She reached up under my shirt, up my back, dug her nails in, and just ripped down.

I was in absolute fucking agony what with my back being ripped to shreds and all so I grabbed her hands and flung her on the bed and away from me. I was bleeding from my wounds but thankfully it wasn’t as bad as the pain was telling me it should be. I looked her dead in the eye and just said “Do not ever, ever do that to me again”. I was just so thankful I controlled myself enough not to lash out in self-defense.

With all these warning signs, it was a wonder that I still stuck around. And the main reason was that because when things were good, there were great. No, they were absolutely fantastic. I’m a pretty optimistic person and just focused on the good times instead of the bad, of which despite what it may sound like, were many.

We talked about our problems and tried to get her to understand that she just couldn’t act this way. She couldn’t do what she wanted with absolutely no consideration for my feelings, fight or no fight.

I remember during various arguments, she would shout out that I was the worst boyfriend she’s ever had. I told her that I knew she didn’t mean it. I asked her why is she saying untrue things that she knew would deliberately hurt me so much, when I would never say anything to deliberately hurt her. Her answer was that it’s up to her to say whatever she wants, and she will say whatever it takes to hurt me as much as possible. She actually said that. She also said that if I don’t want to do the same, it’s just too bad.

And hence why I hated our fights so much. I would censor myself and try to be as calm as I could, keeping silent to ensure I don’t say anything I didn’t mean or couldn’t take back because despite her intentions to wound me, I never ever wanted to do or say anything to hurt her. All the while, facing this raging monster whom would just do anything, say anything, to draw as much blood from me as possible. It always felt as if I was going into a gunfight with both of my arms tied behind my back.

I can’t remember over what exactly, but in our last year in Melbourne, after about 3 years, we had a huge fight over something and I just wouldn’t back down. I think it was in regards to a lie she told me that I knew for a lie, and she just wouldn’t back down on it when I confronted her, and it escalated into a fight. She was started her offensive again when I decided that enough was enough.

She feels that she can say whatever, do whatever she likes because she’s not afraid of me. So for the first time ever I was going to put the fear of god into her. And so right in front of her face, not two inches from her nose, I smashed my fist straight through the wall whilst shouting “Don’t fucking lie to me!”.

Now I faked the whole thing. I didn’t lose control, but I had to make it seem like I was losing control. I had to show her that she couldn’t just keep pushing forever with no consequences, and it worked. I saw fear in her eyes for the first time as she’s never seen me like this before. I felt bad, because I don’t want the girl I love to be afraid of me. But I had to communicate to her in a language she understood, that she’s just gone too far.

I think after that moment, she toned down and realised that she just couldn’t act this way forever. That things were toned down doesn’t necessarily mean they were easy. It was still pretty rough going in terms of conflict resolution. She would hate going to bed on a fight which with her, was something I preferred as discussing our issues of difference always ended up with her frothing at the mouth.

One thing I especially hated, was her prodding me awake at some ungodly hour saying we needed to talk. She was in Uni, and so would play computer games all night, and going to sleep between 5am to 8am. Me on the other hand had to work. So sometimes at 3am or later, she would just prod me awake and go “I want to talk about this”. And when I told her I needed sleep, she would say she didn’t care. And so would keep me up until I had to leave for work, tired and absolutely exhausted. I would just sit up and listed to what she had to say, and would sometimes nod off only for her to poke me awake and get angry that I was nodding off. And right when I had to leave the house for work, she would go to sleep. Sigh….

Looking back at this aspect of the relationship, I know the entire thing sounds bad, and it was probably very unhealthy, but I learnt much from it about both myself, and about people. About the dynamics and physics of relationships in general. What didn’t kill me did certainly make me stronger, and I know to this day those trying times have really helped to make me a better partner, husband, and hopefully father. It makes me so thankful whenever I look at Erica and appreciate her so much more for the wonderfully patient, and polar opposite person that she is compared to J. As much as I hated those battles, now that my life is in order, I’m glad I went through them.

For all the people whom are reading this, it may sound hard to believe, but these problems were only the tip of the iceberg. Because now we go beneath the surface……