Dane, David, relationships

Toxic Friendships

I wrote up a nice long blog post about Maja – because initially during a conversation we had a few weeks ago about growing up without her mother, she said “Put it in your blog!” But once I wrote it I knew it would be a tad too personal and a few people she knows read this blog – so I had her look over it first. She really liked it, but became hesitant about it actually being posted. So that piece will be archived with my other writing for my kids to inherit in their adulthood.

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Instead I am now going to post an answer to a question I was asked on Stories That Must Not Die. I submitted two of my David posts – as you can see from the reblogs this week. In response to the most recent post, someone asked me why I would be friends with someone that acted like that. She said she was confused and that she wished that I was not friends with someone who would treat me that way.

It made me think at first – “Is it not as confusing if I had said he was my boyfriend instead?” I know she didn’t mean it like that, but it’s true, isn’t it? We, as a society, tend to not be surprised about abusive “romantic” relationships… But someone sticking around in a toxic friendship is confusing.

I’ve seen it before; people being friends with people just because of history or being people-pleasers… whatever the case may be. It’s hard regardless to get away from manipulative people sometimes.

But we think others aren’t necessarily involved with people if they aren’t involved romantically. We can’t see what is going on in their minds. We don’t know the history between these “friendships.”

David and I were friends for nearly two years before all of that went down. We met around 2006 at a party of some sort at Dane’s house. Drinking, fun, meat, and shenanigans is what usually went on at these parties. Dane, ever the host, provided all the liquor and tended the barbecue.

David was attractive and vivacious. David was an ex-theatre kid – so we had something in common. We got along well, and as the years went on we continued to party together sometimes 2 or 3 times a week. Usually in a group, Wednesdays at Old Chicago, weekends often at Dane’s house (or starting there before going out.) As we got to know each other better, we would have lunch together. Once or twice he stopped by my workplace to chat. I recall him giving me a CD he thought I’d like, just cuz.

For some reason I cared enough about his well-being to really consider him a friend over just friendly party acquaintance. I can’t pin point why I care about people sometimes. It was that way with Dan, even though he didn’t always treat me well. I still care about Dan. Even Dane, after our big fight and we hadn’t talked for years, once I heard he was in the ICU and there was fear of losing him… I couldn’t stop myself from caring.

David was always, always nice to me. He was charming, in fact. I saw/heard stories of his tough guy persona when he was in altercations with men. I heard stories of him freaking out the opposing party by literally cutting or punching himself to show he was tough and not afraid of whatever they could try to do to him. Invariably in these stories, the others would think he was crazy and back off.

For some reason these stories didn’t concern me. For some reason I thought “boys will be boys” and obviously he was just a tough Army man. It also didn’t concern me how pushy he could be with other women. He would meet a pretty girl he decided to like and immediately start to pursue her. I mean within the first meeting. Prying her number from her and then insisting they were going out at a certain time or place. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. I knew a girl he did this exact thing too… She said she was scared of him and actively avoided him in town.

*DingDingDing* I couldn’t hear the warning bells over the sounds of raucous partying and my own experience filter.

I’ve mentioned before about my first boyfriend being abusive and controlling for a couple of years, and then me supressing that for so long… so I won’t write much detail about that here, but I believe that is how I had this ingrained reasoning to excuse David’s behaviour.

The night David and I broke down and acted inappropriately as it were, he turned his pushy behaviour onto me.

I was alone in the living room while everyone else was out in the kitchen. David came in and asked me what was wrong. I don’t remember what I answered. He told me I’d feel better if I had sex with him. I snorted at the thought. Mostly because I thought he was joking – he’d have to be. I didn’t feel attractive enough for David, let alone he had never seemed to show that kind of interest in me before. He said he was serious. I told him he’d been drinking, “Talk to me when you’re sober” I had said. “We’ll discuss it then.” But he convinced me to get up and go down town for the St Patricks day events with everyone else.

He wanted me to go outside for a cigarette with him. So I did and he pulled me by the wrist into the darkness on the side of the house. He wanted me to give him a blow job then and there. I tried to laugh him off, telling him once again to ask me when he’s sober. Just then, one of the females in the group called out to us and then poked her head around the side of the house. “Oh there you guys are, come on! Let’s go!”

“Who’s driving?” David said as he gestured at me to follow him. After she was back out of ear shot, he took my face in his hands and whispered in my ear that we’d pick up where we left off later.

As everyone started towards the vehicle, I came out of the house with my purse and David yelled up at me from the driveway. In front of everyone he grinned wide, stretched his arms out sideways, and shouted “Rae! When are you and I going to fuck already?!”

I pretended he obviously wasn’t serious. Everyone assumed he was joking, they laughed. David laughed it off as a joke too and as he climbed into the truck he winked at me as if to tell me it was no joke.

Through the night he would whisper something sexual in my ear or grab my ass when no one was looking. At the end of the night I drove David’s truck back to the house many of them were staying, including David. They were all about to deploy so they had cancelled leases and were all temporarily together.

David did not get out of the truck. His friends asked him why he wasn’t coming. He became serious and said that he and Dane had been having an issue all night and that he wanted me to drive him back there so they could have it out. Friends left, convinced. I had been convinced. But David was still a theatre kid at heart.

“I didn’t realize you and Dane were fighting,” I said.

“We’re not; I just want to get in your pants.”

He suddenly grabbed me by the belt in an attempt to pull me towards him or something, but let go when he saw that one of the other guys had come out of the house and was headed back to talk to him. While they were talking I noticed the rosary I had given David hanging from his rear view mirror. This rosary seemed to me a sardonic emblem right at that moment.

After his brief conversation, I drove us back to Dane’s house – my car was there anyway. Dane was still up and served up some more drinks. After Dane went to bed and quieted down, David went and double checked. He’d been drinking, but he knew what he was doing. He came back down, got on the couch next to me, grabbed a hold of me and started kissing me. Prompted by something he said, I replied “Well, it doesn’t matter. At this point I’m going to hell anyway.”

~~~~

So, why did I allow David to treat me this way? Why did I allow him to treat me so aggressively the night the police showed up?

I want to make excuses for him. I always want to make excuses for these types of guys in my life. I know it’s wrong and I know excuses are not legitimate. I know he doesn’t deserve to have me excuse him… But regardless, this what was going through my mind then. This is how I reasoned it away:

David never used to treat me like that… but… David was deploying. He was stressed. He was going to a warzone. I’ve discovered since that even Dane expected to “meet a bullet” while they were over there – and I expect David did too. I expect he was a little scared. David needed to be in control and he likely felt he had no control in this situation.

The night the police showed up, I had been the bearer of bad news. I thought it was my fault he was in a crisis state because I had told him something over the phone before I got there. But it wasn’t my news. It wasn’t something I did. I’d heard of other nights in which he had to be “talked down” by Dane. So I didn’t worry specifically about myself. I was worried about his mental health, about his well-being. I was scared, sure… but for some reason I wanted to be there for him and help him… and excused his behaviour just like I had my Ex’s all those years ago. I knew Dane had seen some of his high-strung (dare I say “Crazy?”) meltdowns before. I thought that was just how they were. But you know… I don’t think David ever threw anything at Dane. I don’t think David ever pushed his advances or grabbed his wrist and screamed in his face. I don’t think David ever told Dane that he would “crush” him or “stomp [him] out.”

Maybe the question isn’t so much why I was friends with him. Maybe the question should be; in that last month or so in 2008, why did David feel comfortable treating me that way? Why did David feel the right to treat me that way – because I gave in to his advances that one night? No, I think more than that. I’ve come to realize that no matter how stoic I think I am, there is always someone who can pick up on my insecurity with men, they can pick up on something that is a shadow of the way Wyatt treated me 17 years ago.

I meet these people and I stand tall, putting on my confidence act that I’ve utilized for many years now, but when I open my mouth I might as well say “Hello, nice to meet you… I’m Intimidated.”

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2 thoughts on “Toxic Friendships”

  1. I think when we get out of abusive relationships that we need therapy. Intense therapy…because we are part of the reason the abuse happens. Not to say that it is the fault of the victim, but because we are not taught, or we simply don’t know what warning signs to look for, we need to learn, actually re-learn good bahaviour, what is acceptable behaviour instead of the bahaviour we’ve become accustomed to. It took me years… to re-learn appropriate responses. It helps tremendously that I am in a healthy relationship with a wonderful person who seeks only what is in my best interest for me, but still, I had to learn. It is never enough merely to escape. To be successful we must learn. 🙂 xo

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