When I was a kid, somewhere between 6 and 10, a friend had a sleepover birthday party. It had the usual parts of said party, and at one point the birthday girl wanted to watch a movie or show or something, so we were all crowded in front of a TV.

I freaked out. Like, legitimately freaked out.

Let’s go back a bit and explain why.

First, I was in trouble for something at the time I was at the party My punishment for pretty much anything meant no television. I sat with the other girls for a few minutes and became TERRIFIED of my mother finding out, and I had no idea what a 2nd or 3rd level punishment would include. I went and found an adult and made them call my mother for permission for me to watch TV. I was legitimately surprised that she was OK with it, but that was more than likely a fast decision on what would make her look the “best” to this other girl’s parents.

It became a family joke, and I’ve told the story many times over the years, but it wasn’t until literally this morning I realized how abnormal that entire situation was. And it got me thinking about WHY I was so worried about breaking the rule.

I was actually terrified of her. Think about it outside of the context of this blog post. A small child, at another child’s birthday, so worried about the punishment for breaking a rule, that I have zero positive memories of the party. I have the same lack of good memories from our trip to Disney in Florida. I’ve always assumed it was because it was shortly before my parents got divorced and they were just shitty and I picked up on it. I’m pretty certain that trip had the same absolute fear of punishment from her.

It’s just not fucking funny, and I shouldn’t have to be working to convince myself of that.

How fucked up is that, y’all? Not only did she beat me down (Emotionally, I was never punished physically after the last time I was spanked at 5 or 6. That’s a story for another blog post.) so damned much that I was too afraid of her to enjoy most positive situations, but she gaslit me so fucking hard that it’s taken this long for me to realize they were both COMPLETELY her fault.


I keep randomly unpacking shit like this, and it’s always about 6/10 feel better for realizing something/being incredibly angry and sad that she did it to me. All of it. My therapist has to remind me at least once a month that I was a child and didn’t deserve any of what she did to me (minus standard bullshit teenagers do to piss off their parents and feel big). Not a single bit of it. I can’t tell you how fucking hard that is. I have to struggle with it every moment of my life, walking around with forty years of guilt trying to shove me down even from the fucking grave. Which means I have to constantly think about what she did. 


It takes a lot of spoons, which is something else I have to constantly remind myself. This struggle is hard and it makes sense that I can’t just brush it off all of the time, and that is OK. The forgiving myself part is the part I am the worst at. I am my own biggest enemy, minus, of course, my mother.

The last relationship I was in before husband did not end well. The funny thing is that what stuck with me is not the one you’d expect. For the sake of this story, let’s call him Sterling. That is not his name but I’m not going to give that here.

I do know he was on a dating website and answering ads while he still lived with me and the chance of him having actually cheated on me are really damned high.

Those both suck. A LOT. There’s no way around that. But those aren’t the things that stuck the most. I was the one who ended things. He just one day stopped answering the phone and texts. The day after, when I finally got him on the phone, I ended things Rolling Stones style. It took a few days, then he finally came over to get his last handful of things he’d left. I gathered the courage to press him for what the hell had happened.

He didn’t know how to answer, or he didn’t know what to say. I still don’t know that one, either. I know this because of his answer. He told me he’d fallen out of love with me because I’d been greedy. 

That answer took me by surprise and I asked him how. He told me he thought I’d only been with him for his money.

It went about like this:

Image of Trump and Jonathan Swain in interview with "you only wanted my money" written on the page.
I’m sorry I what now?

This requires us backing up a few months in the story. As mentioned above, we did live together for a few months. While he lived with me, I paid for everything. EVERYTHING. He was the one with a job, I was unemployed. But I paid all of the rent and all of the bills. He paid for his shitty cheap beers.

So anyway, when he slammed that one on me, I was already not in a good place mentally. I’d broken up with someone else for him. It was the end of a relationship, and I was being treated really poorly and it was long-distance at his choosing. He’d moved back across the country to live with his mother. Sterling was the one who told me “You deserve better than that. I’d have never left you like that because you’re worth so much more than how he treats you.”

When it became obvious that he no longer loved me, it also meant that I was not actually worthy of the things he’d said I was worthy of. Any of it. I sunk down HARD quickly. 

My reaction to “You are greedy.” should have been “What in the literal fuck are you talking about?!” but I was already so fucking broken from how he’d treated me that I just took it along with the chest-crushing guilt that went along with it.

That was 2005. I don’t know what it will take to fix this one. I know I’m worth so much more than him. I know I didn’t deserve to be cheated on.

But my brain is still completely stuck on him thinking I’m greedy. There’s no way he actually thought that, but you convince my brain of that. I’ve not been able to. 

And it sucks. It impacts my relationship with husband any time money is in the discussion. I get extremely defensive at the idea of being told how to handle my cash, and there are times when that’s extremely inconvenient. We’re married. We need to talk about money. But it fucking slays me each and every time. The subject alone makes me feel like I’m once again being told that I’m greedy.

My point is that his very small statement made one of the biggest negative impacts on my life and my emotional well-being. It was nothing to him. He may not even remember the conversation. But it’s just cemented into my brain.

Remember when you tell someone anything, those words often have meanings beyond the part that’s said aloud.

I hate this post. I hate having to make this post. But it’s so important to me that I’m open about the struggles that I have mentally, and I hope that I can make at least one person think twice about saying something hurtful, even if that’s not how you meant it.