Let Me Count The Ways That I Abhor You

I’ve been in a contemplative mood lately, and listening to a lot of music. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of songs that relate to the topics of my blog… sex, love, addictive and dysfunctional relationships.

When I was in college, I was a huge Ani Difranco fan. I went to see her shows whenever she was in town and I played her CDs non-stop. I was also a huge fan of my shit-head, idiot boyfriend Peter. “Fan” is not the right word, exactly. Is there a word for when you simultaneously hate someone’s guts and can’t live without him or her? Because that’s what I had with Peter. Since, I was immature… and insane, Peter and I were together on-and-off for six horrible years. Over the years, I have had a lot of truly terrible relationships. My relationship with Peter was the worst of the worst.

Peter was the first person I ever had sex with — I think that was part of the reason it was so hard for me to let go of him. I didn’t realize it at the time, because I had nothing to compare him to, but he was a terrible lover. We were having sex for a full year before I had my first orgasm, and it was from the bathtub faucet, not from him. Before I started masturbating in the bathtub, he had me convinced that something was medically wrong with me, because, “every other girl I’ve been with has been able to cum, no problem.” Yeah, he was a real gentleman.

We used to get into physical fights. At one point, he got into the hobby of knife collecting (no red flags there). After one particularly bad fight about who knows what, he stormed out of my apartment and in tears, I kept calling his cell phone non-stop. Minutes later he barged through my front door brandishing one of his knives. That taught me to stop calling him (that night, at least), but amazingly I kept seeing him for years after this incident.

One semester, I choose to do a program abroad. We agreed that we would take a break while I was gone. You’d think this would be a healthy move, but I spent every night in the computer lab talking to him on yahoo messenger. One night he told me (in graphic detail) about another girl he had sex with. Looking back, it was probably a lie and an attempt to manipulate my feelings. I hadn’t yet realized what a compulsive liar he was. I was so distraught, I drank a bottle of wine by myself and ended up purposely burning my arm with a cigarette. I still have the scars.

There are many, many more stories about this sick, sick relationship. I’m sure I’ll eventually write some more of them down for your amusement/horror. You’re probably asking, why did I stay with this asshole for so long? I guess the simple answer is that my self-esteem was nonexistent back then. He had me convinced that no one else but him would ever want me. To be fair, there were some good times too… although, I can’t remember any specifically. The sad truth is that I thought I was lucky to have him.

It’s been about 10 years since I finally put an end to the relationship. Lest you think I’m a girl who doesn’t learn my lesson, being with Peter taught me a lot. I vowed to never again get trapped in a long-term relationship with someone whom I didn’t actually want to be with, and I’ve stuck to that. He was also the last guy I was with who used physical violence in a non-consensual way.

So back to Ani Difranco and “Gravel.” While I was with Peter I used to drive around with my best friend and listen to this song over and over again. The juxtaposition of abhor and adore perfectly described my feeling for him. I still think of him every time I hear this song, and every time I think, “oh man, what were you thinking?”