When I started this blog, in December 2009, I was at peace with my decision to stay with cheatin' Gabbie, at least until the children were grown.
Our situation was not perfect but I decided that providing a stable home for our kids was more important to me than anything else.
Just a few weeks after I started writing, however, I was forced to very seriously question my decision.
Long before Gabbie was cured of genital warts at the end of 2008, she forgave Charlie for giving them to her.
They stopped having sex but maintained their friendship, which consisted of lots of time together at the bar and some time together in our house weekdays while Gabbie worked at home. On weekends, Gabbie had at least one night out with Charlie. It really annoyed the shit out of me when she'd say, "Friday night is Charlie's night this week and yours is Saturday." How lucky I was, to be allocated one night a week with my wife.
For a number of months immediately after the warts, Gabbie and I had sex once every second or third week. It wasn't a lot, but she was really freaked out about the warts and even with a condom she was afraid I was going to get them. I never did.
At the end of the sixth month of wart treatment, Gabbie said the whole experience was so terrible she couldn't deal with having anything "down there", including me. We had sex less and less often, until the last four months of 2009 when we had sex twice. Whenever I tried to get her interested, she gently brushed my hands away.
I figured she needed more time to get over the warts so as the weeks ticked by I wasn't overly concerned. Then in December, she started a new job.
The last time Gabbie worked a 'real' job was 10 years ago. For this new job, she had to get two securities licenses and pass a state insurance licensing exam. Gabbie and standardized tests do not get along. She has an incredibly high Emotional Intelligence and she's very intuitive and bright, but she's horrible at taking standardized tests. From December 1 through mid-February she was a stressed-out basketcase as she studied for and took various tests. Her employer made her drive an hour each way every day to sit alone in a room and take practice tests all day. She was miserable and stressed. The minute she got home each night all she wanted to do was change into casual clothes and go "relax" at the bar. She was so uptight all the time that I didn't even bother trying to have sex.
Gabbie's job change had a huge impact on Charlie. She was gone all day and he had nothing to do. I hoped that Gabbie's time away from Charlie would break his spell on her and she would wake up and realize what a fucking asshole loser he was.
That didn't happen.
But their relationship did suffer. Almost every time they were together, they fought. After each fight Gabbie came home and told me the latest stupid thing Charlie said or did. I loved listening to her dis Charlie, but I couldn't show it. My job was to be sympathetic and supportive.
Many nights she came home, half-drunk, and said things like, "I don't know why I talk to him. All he does is yell at me. We never have any fun like we used to. I wish I had never met him."
Each time she said something like that, my heart leapt and my whole body tingled with a quiet joy. I'd think, She's going to be done with him soon, I just know it!
And yet she wasn't.
The two of them belonged on the Jerry Springer Show. They were two losers who fought constantly but couldn't stay away from each other. It was a pathetic situation, that in my judgment, was certain to end badly.
In early January, Charlie scored a $10,000 payment from a woman who hired him to do some work on her house. It was the most money he'd had at one time in many years. Gabbie encouraged him to get a new apartment (he'd recently been evicted from his second place in two years) and pay as much rent in advance as he could. He paid for 6 months which was about the smartest thing he'd ever done in his life. The rest of the money, as usual, went for booze, cigarettes and food. Or so we thought.
In the first two weeks of January, Gabbie and Charlie fought constantly. I never saw the fights but Gabbie would come home and tell me how vicious he was. He called her names and screamed at her for hours. Then one night she came home and told me that she'd learned what his problem was: cocaine.
Of course he had been an addict several times before in his life. It was no surprise to me that the minute he had a few dollars he spent it on coke.
Once again, I was sure the fights and the coke would be the end of Charlie.
They almost were.
One night in a drunken, coked-up frenzy, Charlie tried to push Gabbie out of his truck while it was moving. The incident really spooked Gabbie. She kept telling me 'how crazy he is when he's on coke.' She hated the drugs and was determined to stop him from using.
I told her to find out who his drug dealer was and get the guy arrested; stop the drugs at their source. With my encouragement, Gabbie got the dealer's phone number. I wanted her to anonymously tip the police. It was psychologically important that she make the call, that she make the move against the dealer. I figured if she could take action against the dealer, she'd feel even more empowered to take action against Charlie.
We had a plan set, a scenario for when and how she would make the call. But when the day came, Gabbie did nothing.
I was very disappointed.
But I didn't give up hope. She hated the coke so much that I figured it was only a matter of time before she'd make the call.
In previous posts I wrote a lot about how Gabbie repeatedly bought houses we couldn't afford, including our current one. There were two reasons I decided to spend so much time on the subject. One of them has to do with Charlie.
Gabbie accepted the fact that we could not afford our current house in mid 2009; we needed to sell.
To get the house sold we knew it had to be in perfect condition. This meant updating all three bathrooms and repainting the exterior, among several other tasks. Our plan was to save the money needed for the repairs until February 2010 when Charlie would do the work. As soon as the work was done, we'd list the house.
By the end of January, we had very little money saved. We were really in a jam because we needed to get the house sold but there was no way it would sell as it was. Gabbie found a solution that no one else could have. She got Charlie to agree to do the work for $200 a week.
This arrangement was an incredible life-saver for us. Anyone else would have charged at least $20,000 for all the work that needed to be done. That $20,000 was about all the money we'd have left once the house sold.
For the first time ever, I was (reluctantly) glad to have Charlie around.
The deal had consequences, however. It meant that both Gabbie and I, but especially Gabbie, were at Charlie's mercy. If he was drunk or lazy or pissed off, he wouldn't work. If he got really pissed off, he could stop working for weeks, or, force us to borrow the rest of the money to finish the work.
On Super Bowl Sunday, Gabbie and I watched the game at a party together. After the game, Gabbie decided she'd "stop at the bar for a few minutes." I knew she'd be out for the rest of the night, that was her pattern.
She came in the next morning at about 6am, showered, and left for work. We talked a little as she got ready. She seemed frazzled and upset, but she had often been that way because of the job and Charlie.
The next night she seemed more depressed than ever. After the kids were in bed I pressed her to find out what was wrong.
Given all the things I knew about Charlie (manslaughter, DUIs, drug addict, alcoholic, deadbeat, etc, etc) there was nothing Gabbie could have told me about him that would have surprised me. But this time I was shocked.
Gabbie told me that she had spent most of Superbowl night trying to get Charlie to stop drinking, to go home and go to bed; he was so drunk and high he was incoherent. After the bar closed, she took him home. While trying to get him to go to sleep, he told her that he loved her, and that he wanted to make love to her. When she said no, he forced himself on her.
My mouth fell open and hit the ground. I was stunned.
"Are you saying that ...?" I couldn't even say the words.
I was enraged. E-N-R-A-G-E-D. I don't think I have ever burned with such hatred as I did at that moment.
This is the end, I decided. I'd had enough of the whole situation, and especially of Charlie. "You're done with him."
But Gabbie shrugged her shoulders. "We need him to finish the house."
"The price is too high. We can borrow the money."
"We already owe so much. If we borrow any more we'll end up with nothing."
"Isn't your self-respect worth more than money?"
She nodded slightly.
The next day, she was on the phone with Charlie, chatting as usual, as if nothing had happened.
I burned with anger. As soon as she hung up the phone I said, "Why are you talking to him?"
"I told you. We need him to finish the house."
I looked in her eyes. She stared back at me, with a blank expression. I knew then that there was nothing more I could say. She was willing to forgive him, even for rape.
I couldn't be in the same room, look at him, or speak to him for weeks.
Gabbie blamed the cocaine and would not stay away from him.
I felt more powerless than ever.