I feel like a fool (Part 1)

I gave up a comfortable—for me—life in Philly and left all of my friends behind three years ago to move to Maine with the man I loved because he wanted to live near his kids. I later realized he was an abusive drug addict. He moved to Los Angeles and I’m still in Maine, so broke that I can’t afford to move back home. I gave up everything and I got royally screwed.

That’s the summary. Read on if you want the whole story.

My ex-partner, Derek, and I parted ways eight months ago. I posted a while ago that I was terribly angry and that I was going to help work out my feelings by writing about them. I’ve been putting that off because I couldn’t figure out where to even begin. I can’t hesitate anymore.

I’m still angry today. Shocking, no? Almost every day, sometimes multiple times a day, there is something to remind me of the huge mistake I made when I got involved in this abusive relationship. Of course, I didn't realize at the time that it was going to be such a nightmare. Who does? But I kick myself now for not being  paying more attention to the signs. More details about that at a later time, though. (Alcohol and drugs were involved and that’s really a story for another day.) This post is about what my life was like before and what it's like now. The differences between those two times of my life and the daily struggles I have today sometimes bring me to tears.

So…Five years ago I had been single for almost a decade, and totally happy with that situation. During that time I lived in a couple of places and had finally settled back in Philly. I’m on disability (COPD & AIDS) and I have a limited income (SSDI with a little freelance design work). I struggled for a while but, after waiting two years,  I got a housing subsidy  through the City’s AIDS Activities Coordinating Office. My rent on an OK but good-size apartment in West Philly was $213(!). My life was not ideal by anyone’s standards but I was pretty comfortable and I scaled my life to fit my budget. I was pretty content. Considering.

The subsidy had a lot of rules that were really easy for me to follow: pay  the rent on time, submit receipts for utilities to my Mazzoni Center housing manager (which meant paying those on time, too!), don't do illegal drugs in the house, don’t have a roommate. Simple.

Then I met Derek. It had been a long time since I felt that way about anyone. I pursued him furiously and he didn't resist. He is an ex-Mormon who had been married for ten years, had only been out for a short time, and he had four pre-teen sons who lived in Maine with their mother. (Yes, I know. Doh!)

We dated for a couple of months. Derek had only lived in Philly for a short while because his company had been moving him around. At the time he had an insane roommate who was obsessed with him and eventually we made the decision that he needed to get out of there. He got a sublet near my apartment but basically stayed at my place.  Eventually, we wanted to move to move to a place of our own where we could live together without my breaking any subsidy rules. (I certainly didn't need that headache.)

After a lot of discussion, we decided that I’d give up my precious subsidy and we’d get a place together. It was a huge decision for me—not just cohabiting but, especially, giving up the subsidy for which I had waited a long, long time. It was a big step. If I ever needed the subsidy again, I’d go back to the bottom of the list! Derek promised to stop drinking. His emotional abuse  was really only evident to me when he was drunk, so that promise was a crucial part of my decision.

It’d be easier financially with  two of us. His employer would pay for some stuff, too, since he worked from home when he wasn’t traveling.

We got a place in South Philly in August 2010. Things seemed to be working. We were having less sex after a year and a half together which is normal—especially since we weren’t drunk every night anymore—but, again, that's another post for another day. We got a couple of cats.

After only two months in our new apartment Derek said that he thought he should live closer to his children! In Maine! It was a long, long drive to visit them in the town where they lived outside of Bangor and at least one of them was exhibiting some behavioral problems relating to Derek’s being gay. (Derek always called it “the gay thing” which infuriated me but I kept my mouth shut about it.) Again, after lots of discussion, I agreed. After all, I heard his oldest screaming “You left us to be gay!” into the phone a few times! In retrospect, I think he was hoping I’d refuse, but I thought I was being a supportive partner. We decided that Portland was the closest acceptable place we could live. It’s a great town and had an airport with flights that worked for his job. We visited for a weekend and found a great place at a reasonable price.

We moved north.

(To be continued…if you’re interested, or even if you’e not!)

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