I would like to say I was speechless with rage, but there’s not much that keeps me quiet …
I use my laptop pretty much all day, every day, for work. I’ve been using PCs since before they were called PCs, before even MS-DOS – actually since 1981. I have never (looking around desperately for wood to touch) had so much as a piece of malware on any of my systems in all that time, over 30 years. I rarely use my laptop for games but I do have a lot of business software installed, some of which I actually use. It’s set up to suit me and my way of working.
My partner is a gamer. He was 5 years old when I started using computers and his systems are all optimized for his games. About 3 years ago he wanted to use my system to live stream a game. Fine, no problem. Until I realized that in order to do that, he’d signed out of my firewall software because it was slowing down the livestream.
I wasn’t speechless with rage, I was incandescent. And I let him know it, in front of his 10 year old son, at full volume. He was an idiot, he was irresponsible, he had no right, how DARE he mess with my system just for his stupid game, how could he be so STUPID as to turn off my FIREWALL! I had after all been using computers since he was FIVE YEARS OLD (just to rub it in) and my system was PERFECT whereas he was always having to get rid of the viruses and malware on his, so obviously I am FAR MORE EXPERIENCED and KNOW WHAT I’M DOING – and he was NEVER to even TOUCH my laptop EVER AGAIN!!!
And it was stupid and irresponsible of him, because my laptop is a work tool, it’s how I earn my living. I was absolutely justified in being angry. Anyone would have been. HE would have been if I’d messed around with his PC, that’s for sure.
Full of righteous anger, I spun on my heel and stormed out of the room, leaving him sitting there. He hadn’t said a word the whole time.
A few minutes later I heard him go downstairs for a cigarette. He was outside for some time. Then he came back into the room and said very quietly “Iso.”
I turned round, expecting an abject apology. He was a little pale but quite calm. “Iso if you ever speak to me like that again, I will leave and I won’t be coming back. You may have thought I did something wrong, but that doesn’t give you the right to talk to me like that or humiliate me in front of my son. If you can’t respect me enough to at least be polite, I don’t want to be with you.”
Then he walked into the spare bedroom and shut the door, quietly and firmly.
I wish I could say that that was the first time I’d flown into an (let’s be honest) abusive rage, but it wasn’t. It had happened several times before.
As you can probably tell, I’m not the shy, retiring type, neither am I a naturally feminine energy woman. Believe me, no one has ever mistaken me for a goddess nor are they likely to. But left alone with my thoughts that night, I realized something fundamental had to change and the change had to come from me, not him.
We’d been together about 5 years at that point, we’d met online and I’d moved to his country, although not specifically to be with him to start with. At the beginning, it had been amazing. He adored me, called me his “angel” and “the love of my life”; he was strong, decisive, naturally took the lead and I was happy to sit back and be taken care of. And he loved doing things for me; he was romantic, always thinking up something special for us to do together and we would sit and talk for hours.
Then gradually I noticed a few “less than perfect” things about him, just small things really – and he seemed to take it very well when I made little suggestions. You know, things like how to style his hair, whether to grow a beard or not, what he should eat to be healthy, how he could smoke a little less … I drafted business letters for him, I bought him some clothes … so innocent, so insidious. He really did like it at first, he appreciated that I cared about him. And being over 20 years older than him, it was easy to excuse on the basis that I was more experienced and really did know better.
Gradually, the suggestions became demands … then commands. Instead of his angel, he started to call me “commander”. One day he jokingly said “hon, are you confusing age with wisdom?” – and I still didn’t see the warning signs. He really loved me, you see – he wanted to believe that I was doing everything out of love for him, sure maybe I went a bit far sometimes but it was only because I cared so much … We had sex less and less frequently, despite my complaints that I was “living like a nun” … he fell asleep on the couch in front of the TV so many nights that it finally dawned even on me that maybe he was doing it deliberately.
And finally, it all blew up that night when he switched off my firewall … and I realized I was completely out of control.
Coming in Part 2 – the lessons I learned the hard way, the seemingly tiny changes that made a huge difference … and how I made him fall in love with me again.