Five Years On…..

It’s been five years since Mr Mean was escorted onto a plane and flown back to England, owing the Australian government enough money to ensure he wouldn’t be returning for a very long time.

I have been in what I would class as a “normal” relationship for three years and there are some notable differences in my life now. I thought by sharing, I could possibly encourage some of you in your journey.

There was light at the end of the tunnel for me once I started making better choices. I had to do a lot of inner healing- it sounds airy fairy, time-consuming and complocated but it was quite simple.

My healing truly began when I made a promise to myself that I would no longer sacrifice my happiness for someone else’s.

I pictured myself as a little girl, looked at some photos to get a clear picture of myself back then and then I spoke to that child and asked her to forgive me. I promised that child that from then on, I would only make decisions that benefited someone else, if they also benefitted me first.

I refused to be miserable ever again in order for someone else to be happy.

If someone needs me to be weak, powerless, miserable and isolated from family and friends in order to be with me and love me, I do NOT want to be with that person. I don’t need that kind of love. (Except we know it isn’t love, it’s all about control).

I would rather be alone than be with someone who rejoices in my failure and humiliation. Loving partners are supposed to encourage their partners and rejoice and celebrate with them when they succeed.

Humiliating someone is NOT loving them.

In my relationship now, I no longer walk on egg shells. I no longer have that tight knot in my stomach when his car drives up the driveway, I no longer cringe every time I need to ask him a question, I no longer feel unappreciated and taken for granted and most importantly, I no longer feel that I don’t matter to my partner.

We have arguments, we yell and sometimes we even say horrible things to one another. But the difference is, it’s over soon, apologies are made and it’s not re-hashed a million times over with no resolution, ever. Mr Mean only ever accepted an apology temporarily, until the next time, when he would add that one to the many, many other incidents he stored in his brain to throw at me when he was angry.

One thing that took a long time to come to terms with, was that Mr Mean purposefully did things to annoy me or upset me. I used to make excuses for him- maybe he didn’t hear me, maybe he didn’t understand me, maybe he is depressed, maybe he has ADHD.

But really, he was just a jerk.
One situation that sticks out, mainly because now it seems so bizarre, was the situation of the washing.

Mr Mean would hang out the washing for me on occasion, he said he enjoyed doing it. Except he would never use clothes pegs for my clothes. He would just hang them over the line. I would go out later to find my clothes in the dirt. I would beg him to use pegs, I would show him the clothes, explain that they were getting dirty. He would listen intently, nod his head, say he understood, promise not to do it again and then I would watch him doing it again.

After about three or four times of this I thought to myself “Hang on, this is my husband I am talking to, not my child.”
It seemed so bizarre to me even then and now, is quite ridiculous.
He wanted to piss me off, plain and simple.
It was only when I saw him hanging HIS clothes with pegs that it truly sank in.

And that is the one major difference with my relationship now. My partner doesn’t run away for hours until I am sick with worry and calling the police- he doesn’t do things purposefully to upset me. He doesn’t enjoy seeing me frazzled and uptight, he does whatever he can to minimise my stress and enjoys seeing me happy. We laugh a lot, he makes me laugh because it makes him happy.

He wants the best for me and vice versa, and that’s the difference.

The difference between a Con and an Abuser

Someone asked me today what the difference is. This is something I have wanted to write for a while and is my personal opinion only, based on my experiences with both types of people.

All cons are sociopaths, but not all sociopaths are cons.

Whilst every sociopath is the same in a lot of ways and ends up devastating your life if you are with him long enough, there is a difference between being abused and being conned. All sociopaths lack empathy and sense of consequence and all have a grandiose sense of self. They are all manipulative and controlling. Not all of them are clever enough to be cons though.

Mr Mean was mostly honest about who he was. He used his real name, I met his family, I spent time with them and saw where he lived. He was honest about where he worked and other than a few embellishments, most of his history was genuine. He twisted stories to make himself the victim, but over-all, his background was real.

He was narcissistic and verbally, as well as mentally, abusive- he did not put on an act, he was who he was. He withheld the truth a lot, but did not lie on a daily basis.

He was controlling and manipulative – he displayed 14 of the 15 characteristics of a verbal abuser, as defined by Patricia Evans in her book “The Verbally Abusive Relationship.” He was a mean, nasty man and hurt me over and over again but at least I knew the name of the man who was hurting me.

I am sure most of you have read the earlier posts on this blog about Mr Mean, so you are familiar with the story. When he left me, I was angry, in pain and isolated. It took me a long time to get over him but I got over him eventually. I recognised the abuse for what it was, once I educated myself and I ended the relationship. I did not blame myself, I knew that he was the one with the problems.

When he left, I knew where he was and who he was. I am not minimising the effect he had on my life at all, he left a trail of destruction, but I do not feel that he conned me. Sure, he lied to get himself out of trouble but I do not believe I was conned.

He did not make me mistrust people – I saw him for what he was – an abusive, angry, controlling, manipulative jerk. I knew I would be better off without him and there was a sense of relief once he was gone.

Andrew Harper is a con.

He entered my life with a fake name, a fake history and a fake life. 98% of what he said was a lie- in fact, he lied about things he didn’t even need to lie about.

He fabricated a history with a dead fiance, a family who had rejected him, women who were stalking him – all to make me feel so sorry for him, and I did. He lied about being a psychologist so that I would open up and share things with him that he could then use to control me. He lied about a military background, he lied about businesses he owned and his financial situation.

Based on those lies, I left my job to work on the Papercrafts Roadshow with him. He faked phone calls, he faked documents- he knew exactly what he was doing and his goal was to walk away with the cash from the Roadshow- and he did. His reasoning was that the deposited the money (my money) into his trust account to save me needing to declare the tax on the income. He told me to give him the bills and they would be paid. He hid the mail from me so I didn’t know the bills weren’t being paid. All this after he had assured me that he did not want my money, all he wanted was to see me succeed and reach my full potential.

He was a person who was playing a role, as if he was a character in a TV show. I fell in love with his character, but I never knew who he really was. I don’t believe I ever actually met Andrew John Harper.

He knew exactly what I wanted from a relationship and he gave that to me. He did not call me names, did not yell at me, never lost his temper- in fact, he was so lovely to me that I failed to see the abuse until he was long gone. I did not realise how controlling he was but he isolated me and manipulated me to a point where I felt that I could not survive without him.

I did not know he was leaving me. The morning that he left, he kissed me and hugged me and told me he loved me. He told me he would be back in a couple of days. I did not see him again, until 7 months later when we were on opposite sides of the dock in court.

For six months after he abandoned me, I did not know who he was, where he was, what he was doing or what he had done. The sense of betrayal was excruciating, at times almost unbearable. I considered ending my life because I believe that without him, I was nothing. I had made huge life decisions based on things he told me and the effect he had on my life will last forever. I blamed myself, I felt stupid and naive and completely gullible. I was not sure I would ever be able to trust myself again.

I question everything people tell me now, if something doesn’t quite add up I no longer give anyone the benefit of the doubt, I would rather save myself the potential pain. Andrew changed me in ways that I would never have imagined. I did not dream that I was being abused – in fact, after Mr Mean I thought he was my saviour and I felt valued and protected.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and all I can do now is to educate myself further and help other victims through the ConnedinAus Facebook group and the Conned in Australia blog.

One thing I do know for sure is that I would rather be alone for the rest of my life than allow another sociopath into my life.

Why do abuse victims blame themselves?

Something a friend of mine said today made me think of this.

If i was out shopping and someone attacked me with a knife, i would do what i could to get treatment as soon as possible. i would do what i needed to do to heal and make a full recovery.

i would not spend hours and hours trying to figure out what i could have done to change the situation, i would not blame myself for the attack. i would just accept that the attacker is a bastard and pray that karma will deal with him.

Emotional and verbal abuse is just as, if not more so, damaging. The attack comes again and again, from the person who is supposed to protect you, in the place where you are supposed to feel safest.

The emotional abuse attacker is more ruthless and callous, because he knows his victim’s weaknesses and plays on them, using them to manipulate her and distort her version of normality.

And yet when the “attack” is finally over, for some reason we don’t write him off as a jerk and move on. We spend hours and hours wasting time, soul searching, trying to find where we went wrong, what we could have done to make things better.

The truth, there is nothing that can be done to change an abuser, unless he can open his eyes, see the pain he is causing and want to change.

This rarely happens, as the psychopathic tendancies in most abusers prevent them from feeling any sort of empathy for their victim. i remember watching Mr Mean, anytime i tried to express how i was feeling, his eyes would glaze over as if i was speaking a foreign language.

From my experience, change rarely lasts. The only thing we can control are the boundaries that we set and the choices that we make from now on.

i would strongly recommend councelling for abuse victims. As kind and supportive as our friends are, they are usually not equipped to deal with the tangled web of emotional baggage that abuse victims drag around with them.

In Australia, a GP can organise up to 12 free sessions with a psychologist, free of charge. After 3 councelling sessions, i started noticing some changes in myself, so in 12 sessions, big things can happen.

 

The Conman…..

This is going to be a difficult post to write, but I need to, for myself and for anyone else out there who I can possibly save from going through the same thing.

So….Mr Mean left, I was somewhat isolated for the next 6 months or so, and then Mr Meaner moved in. I was advertising a room for rent, he responded to the advert, came to see the room and stayed. He told me his name was Andrew Karlsson – and yes, I am using his name because that is not his real name anyway and if anyone Googles him, I want them to read this! It has taken me months, but I am no longer afraid to identify him, or who he said he was, anyway. In fact, if anyone wants his photo, email me on rozzieoz@tpg.com.au

He was everything I wanted in a man, intelligent, good looking, well mannered, hilariously funny and very successful in business- or so I thought. He burst into my life, totally swept me off my feet and I believed that I had finally met someone who I could be happy with for a long, long time. I wanted to believe it, so I did.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and looking back, so much did not make sense but he seemed to have a reasonable explanation for everything. I never saw ID- his passport and wallet had gone missing, he did not have any money- his tax attorney was having problems getting his money out of the USA, he never got calls from friends or family, it was as if his life had not existed before me. And it hadn’t, because it was made up as he went along. He was paranoid about having his photo taken (he said he had been the victim of a stalker in the past which was why there was no reference to him on the internet) and he blamed some odd behaviours on Post Traumatic Stress. I am a kind, caring, loving, honest person, and did not dream that anyone would be so full of lies. My only mistake through the whole thing was to be too trusting- believe me when I say- If someone sounds too good to be true, they are too good to be true. As Judge Judy says, if something does not make sense, there is a reason it does not make sense and the reason is- that it is NOT TRUE!

I left my job to work on a project with him. We were going to be producing a Papercrafts TV series- he told me he had sold the concept to Channel 10, I heard him on the phone to all sorts of people, his accountant included. Turns out- every single one of those phone calls were faked, he even faked a conference call to Disney Pixar! When I asked him how come there were no calls to overseas listed on the phone bill, he said he used a phone card. He was VERY defensive and protective of his privacy, I was never allowed to see what he was doing on MY laptop. And he would sit on my laptop for hours and hours, most nights until 3 or 4am at least.

So we ran the event, and the next day I asked him for the money from the door (about $7000). He told me he had deposited it in his trust account to save me having to pay tax on the income, took all the bills from me and said they would be paid from that account. I did not get any reminder notices for any of the bills, so assumed things were paid. I knew something was wrong though, I just knew it, but I wanted to believe him and I was so emotionally and financially vested by that stage, I did not want to face the truth. I had a constant knot in my stomach but he hated it when I got emotional, so I learnt to hide the tears very well.

A month or so later, the phone got disconnected. We lost the internet and my mobile phone as well, and there was absolutely NO money coming in, except what I was generating through my small business. I started asking some very serious questions, he told me he would never hurt me, he would never leave me in the shit and within a few weeks he did a runner. He told me he was going overseas to sort out his finances once and for all, that his tax attorney had organised a ticket for him and would send me some money the next day. There had been so many promises of large amounts of money from various sources, but of course, they never materialised.

The morning that he left he hugged me and kissed me and told me he loved me and would be back soon. He took my last $10 for the bus and said he would ring me from the airport (from a phone box) before he flew out. That call never came. I went looking around the house, realised he had taken all of his clothes (and some of my other housemate’s clothes as well!) and that was when I found the incredibly large stack of bills. I rang his accountant in Adelaide, who had never heard of him. I rang the place he said he had been working, they had never heard of him either. (He told me he got a job 2 weeks before and had been going into work- God knows where he had actually been going!)

I went into shock which lasted at least 3 or 4 days.

I realised that not only was everything he had said a lie, but that he had walked out of my house, knowing the mess that he was leaving me with, and he did not care. It was not just a financial con, it was a mental and emotional one too…everything that I had lived for the past 6 months with him had been a lie. Everything. And plus, he had managed to completely isolate me from my life, from my family overseas, from my friends, from everything. He told me we did not need anyone else, we had each other and that was all that mattered. If someone you love is being isolated from you, take that as a BIG RED FLAG

I am extremely grateful for one friend in particular, who became my strength when I had no strength left. I was not sure I could go on after that, I had been slammed so many time and to be honest, I thought about ending it for those first couple of days. The only thing that stopped me was the thought of my son receiving a phone call saying that his mother was gone. I am so grateful now that I did not do something seriously seriously damaging to myself.

I had registered with Centrelink a couple of weeks before, the plan was, I would claim unemployment benefits, just to tide us over until he got his first few pay checks from his job, and I would find a part-time job as well as continuing to run my craft business. My amazing friend took me under her wing and got me back on track- she got me re-connected to the internet and to my life, and I applied for some jobs and started working about 10 days later. The events side of my business was over, he had destroyed any hope of me ever running a papercraft event again, but somehow, the other parts of my business managed to survive.

The job did not last long, I was not meeting targets and I had to leave about 2 months later. In the meantime I declared bancrupcy, and continued councelling every week. I will write a seperate post about the sessions and what I have learnt and how much they have helped me.

I will also write a post about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the associated anxiety and depression.

It is now 4 months since he left, and this is the first time that I have talked about it publicly. I feel empowered for doing so. And now that I have started writing again, I don’t want to stop!

My Poem

I have not written any poetry for a few years and today I was sitting thinking, while I was in my room and he was in his, I suddenly realised that he has created his childhood home in this house. He grew up with a violent, angry father and the poem speaks for itself hopefully.

5 Cotton Lane
is a house of pain
Noone knows who you are
they barely know your name
Secrets are hidden
Behind a closed door
but the pain seeps up
through the walls and the floor
Noone talks about things that matter
they just meet in the kitchen
for a tea and a chatter
Noone touches, don’t come near
you may smell my anger
you might sense my fear
The big bad wolf
still knocks at the door
his spirit lingers
though he is no more
I bet he’s proud of his life
fucked up kids
and a screwed up wife
No equipment to pull them out
noone to hear them
over the screams and shouts
so they all start yelling
as loud as they can
to be heard they turned angry
every woman every man
And they went on their way
not knowing what was wrong
into a world 
where they did not belong
Each one went out
and slowly became
their very own monster
in their own Cotton Lane

TADA!

A good day…….

I woke up this morning and decided that whilst I can’t change his anger or his bahaviour, I can change my environment and the way I live in it. So I had a HUGE clean out of my craft room, decided to have a garage sale next week, and focussed on the job at hand.

I cleaned out cupboards and drawers, sorted stuff to sell, stuff to keep, and tidied everything. It felt so good to get rid of stuff that has been gathering for ages. I am not a huge hoarder at the best of times, but there was stuff in there that had not seen the light of day for months lol. I then went on to do the same in my part of the house.

I firmly believe that nothing new can come into your life while you are hanging on to old things. I felt really empowered, stronger somehow, because it felt like I had taken control of my area of the house. 

And I have come up with the BEST defence…it’s just the BEST. Everytime he starts to raise his voice at me I sing a made up song about how happy happy happy i am to be in my nice clean room and how happy happy happy I am to be alive- he can’t STAND it, he has to leave the room LOL. Every time he raises his voice I start to sing and drown him out and eventually I just end up laughing at how ridiculous he is.

It’s been a good day 🙂

The past week or so…

In a word….HELL!

He came to his senses for a few days, admitted that everything I had said was right (although there is never really an apology, just admitting that I am right). He even broke down and cried about his past, he remembered some things from his childhood and he finally accepted that he might need help.

So he went to the doctor and got some anti-depressants, and for the first night I thought it was a miracle cure. He came home smiling and even sat with me and did craft! He got an early night and woke up the next day early and in a good mood.

The last night he came home and sat down to have dinner. I received a phone call from a customer asking me to help them with something. He interrupted me, made me put her on hold and spent 3 minutes trying to tell me what to say to her. I went back to my call, ignored what he said and finished the call. He totally TOTALLY went off at me because I did not take his advice. I explained that I did not ask for his advice so did not feel the need to accept it. He went off even more.

I waited a while and then went to try to talk to him, to remind him of the time my cousin’s wife came to stay. I had received a letter from my insurance company about some business insurance stuff. As I was reading I made some comment and she asked what the letter was about. I wanted to tell her to mind her own business, but I told her it was from my insurance. She started telling me hopw to run my business. I started to tell her that I didn;t actually need her help, I had it all under control- she went off accusing ME of being controlling because I wouldn’t do what SHE wanted for my business.

Mr Mean could not see an relevant comparison. After all…I have asked him to communicate more and then when he tries, I don’t listen. That was his justification for the whole telephone thing.

And then this moring he woke up and acted as if nothing had happened.

At this stage we are living in seperate rooms. He has told me once again that he wants to get help for himself but is not sure that he wants to be married. he has also told me to start dating again and I am thinking about it……

And when I questioned  him about our vows and all his promises, he told me that I didn’t mean it because I have promised things to other men. In that one second he took the past 5 years of being totally devoted, loyal, supportive and loving towards it, wrapped it in dog poo, stomped on it, spat on it, ripped it into pieces and rubbed it back in the dirt. Patricia Evans talks about minimisation and that was the worst case of minimisation I have ever personally experienced. See- at least I am learning something!

So in the meantime I am going to give his medication about a month and see if that changes anything. I somehow doubt it will though!

I hope everyone else out there is feeling strong today.

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