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  • Writer's pictureGrow Some Labia

How I Grew a Pair (Of Labia) And Left An Abusive Marriage: Guest Post, Part II

Persephone Phoenix reveals how she grew the labia to leave her abusive partner, and encourages others to do the same





If you missed Part I of Persephone’s awesome story, it’s right here. Go ahead, we’ll wait! Don’t miss her excellent advice for others stuck in bad relationships (especially the part about ‘bad feminist theory’) at the end of this one, either!


 

He had an absolute fit.


He drove over to my house, used his key to come in and started yelling at me. He kicked a side table across my living room. I calmly picked up the phone and called 911. I told the operator my husband was attacking me. I told him to get out. He went downstairs and meekly sat on the porch waiting for the police. They talked to him and told him to go home and get some anger management training. They made sure I was okay and left. I installed a deadbolt on the front door.


He called me the next day and cried like a whiny little bitch, saying “I can’t believe you called the police on me.”


So much for his big, macho, Iranian male power.



I hired my own lawyer: new attitudes, beliefs, behaviors emerge.


After we were divorced, I found a lawyer who specialized in unfair separation agreements. He was appalled by what I had agreed to. He sent me a summary of an even more extreme case that he had won for a woman with a scheming husband who made my asshole look like the sweet Tom Hanks character in Forrest Gump. He got her a substantial settlement after the fact.


My wonderful lawyer immediately sent a letter to my ex-husband. He, in turn, hired himself a shark lawyer who countered with threats and outrageous demands.


My lawyer countered that with some simple observations about Canadian law.


And that was that. 


I got my fair share of the fancy house that had considerably increased in value in a hot real estate market. It turns out the other house was half owned by his business partner, so he couldn’t have given it to me in the first place. But I got a share of its value as well.



He turned our daughter against me: Luckily, it was too late to turn back.


By the time I came to my senses and demanded compensation from my ex-husband, our daughter was about 19. And he was not about to let things go. He was pissed that I was asking for his hard-earned money. Unfortunately, she still lived with him. Even when she was 15 and I lived down the street from her, she decided to blame me for the divorce, and refused to spend much time at my house. Now that she was in university, she wanted her own apartment, so he provided her with that--which gave him more opportunities for badmouthing me. At one point, she phoned me and asked, “Why are you trying to take all of Daddy’s money?” (My settlement was a tiny fraction of his net worth). 


When I tried to explain to her how marriage law works in the civilized world, she angrily shouted at me, “I don’t want to hear about it!”


In true narcissist fashion, her father had love-bombed and manipulated her to see me as the enemy.


The estrangement from my daughter lasted a few years. We still saw and spoke to each other regularly, but there was tension that never fully dissipated. She resented me for reinventing myself, for losing weight and being happy about it, for dating, for getting remarried, for moving temporarily out of town. 


She was very, very jealous of my new boyfriend whom I met after my second husband died suddenly and whom I eventually married.


At least she was proud of me for learning to drive! (I finally got my license in my late 40s).



He disowned our daughter—his only child: a new nadir for him, not me.


It seemed like I would always be the second-best parent to my daughter. Daddy gave her a free apartment with a marble kitchen and bathroom right across the street from the home she had grown up in. I lived miles out of town on a farm and she had to take the train to visit me. 


Horrifyingly, she was raped when she was 25. She didn’t even tell me. She also didn’t tell her father fearing that he might actually kill the guy or have him murdered by the Persian mafia (I honestly wouldn’t put either of those things past him—he was physically violent with males who thwarted him and had hinted darkly at connections to the mob).


But I was about to become a heroine to my daughter.


My ex developed knee problems. In exchange for the fabulous apartment, he had basically enslaved his daughter (as he had tried and failed to do with me). He required her to come over to his house regularly to do things like scoop the cat litter for his cat. He insisted that she work at his cafés for less than minimum wage, despite her university degree and knowing her desire to work in the tech industry. 


I worried about her career, because she was nearing thirty and had only worked in restaurants and coffee houses.


I stepped in. I arranged for an internship in New York City with my boyfriend’s brother-in-law. I gave her enough money to rent a shared apartment and live in Brooklyn for three months.


Her dad was pissed. He had lost his little servant. When she came back, he demanded that she manage his main café while he recovered from surgery. She was sick of the abuse and control and refused.


After that, she was dead to him. She still lived in his apartment and he began harassing her by sending over his submissive Asian girlfriend with messages like, “You have three weeks to vacate the premises.” He stiffed her for the final electric bill of over $400.00 even though he knew she had literally no money. 


She couch-surfed for a few weeks, got a menial job, and moved into a truly awful shared apartment with a stranger.


But at least she was free of her father. She no longer needed me to rescue her; she got started on her own hero journey.



My daughter eventually achieved incredible career success all on her own: the hero cycle continues.


She is now a software designer making a competitive salary. Five years after her father disowned her, she no longer needs him. She lives in  her own cute apartment with an adorable rescue cat.


Oh, and we are now best friends.



I got some therapy: Almost at the return threshold.


Before I could have a successful relationship with my ill-fated second husband (he died two-and-a-half years after our wedding), and finally with my new, utterly perfect husband, I had to get some counseling. 


There were leftover issues from my childhood that were preventing me from relating in a healthy way with men.



I dated fruitlessly for several years trying to heal my wounds: Getting over that return threshold is hard.


I could probably write a book about the losers I dated before I found any kind of committed relationship. There was the drunk, the player, commitment-phobe, and also the many married men who reached out to me on dating sites looking for a little action on the side (these ones I knew enough to refuse).


My second husband was not perfect, but he made me feel loved and desired. I was amazed that someone could actually be crazy about me; that had never happened before. When he died suddenly in front of me one morning, I was devastated. I thought we would live out our lives on his farm. We were only together for two-and-a-half years.



I met my new husband at age fifty: my reward arrives.


Less than a year after my second husband died, I met my true husband. He was younger and handsome, and…Jewish!  (I have always had a religious bent and had become fascinated by Judaism at an early age). I could not believe my luck. 


A few years after we got together, I converted to Judaism.



We have a blissful relationship: The ultimate boon.


I could write a whole other article about how happy I am in my marriage. I will try not to gush too much, but this man is amazing! We have been together over a decade and married for a couple of years. 


He does almost all of the housework (I do most of the cooking and grocery shopping). He loves my cooking (even better than his wonderful mom’s!). He encourages me to buy things I need (instead of, like my ex, yelling at me in stores if I dared to buy clothes while he loaded up his shopping basket with whatever attire he felt like). He praises me to others (instead of complaining about me to whoever would listen, often right in front of me).


The best thing about being with him is the constant, delightful two-way conversational flow (my ex-husband thought I talked too much; he once held up my teaching license, which had just arrived in the mail and declared scornfully: “License to talk!”).


In short, we are best friends. Even spending time basically 24-7 during the pandemic lockdown did not lead to fights or irritation.


No, our relationship is not conflict free—that would be impossible. But any fleeting arguments are usually over and forgotten about within minutes.


He likes it when I drive.


He compliments me and thanks me constantly. And I do the same for him.


We both love classical music, take music lessons, and joyously attend concerts together (My ex-husband explained to me that classical music is “for snobs”).


We agree on life goals. I would move anywhere for him (we recently moved from Canada to the United States). He has to work, while I am retired, so I don’t mind being flexible.


In short, we have as ideal a relationship as possible given that we are both homo sapiens, the most problematic and aggressive species on the earth.



Final reflections: The master-mistress of two worlds.


Yes, life with my husband, with my daughter, and even with my ex-stepson (my late husband had a teenage son when I met him and we are still close. He is now married to a lovely woman and they have two adorable tiny humans, one of whom is old enough to call me “Gamma”), is more or less my dream life.


But that is not the point of my story.


My advice to women (and men) in abusive relationships, is to stop accepting treatment you don’t deserve. Women especially, do not rely on feminist theory about how the patriarchy is making you powerless and spend your time complaining to your girlfriends about how bad your partner is and how much he is victimizing you (I did this to a horrifying degree). 


It does no good and simply reinforces your victim status. Victims don’t become heroes. And please, please, don’t wait around for someone to rescue you.


Get some self esteem, even if you had two narcissistic, abusive parents like I did. Find a good therapist. And don’t wait until your 40s to do that. Try to realize your real value. It’s too easy to fall down the proverbial rabbit hole with an abusive partner, too easy to accept his or her negative evaluation of you that only serves their dark purpose to keep you entrapped.


Don’t be naive about human nature; people usually don’t change when they have power. When you stay with an abuser, you give him permission to abuse you and any children you might have. Don’t let that happen.


Do not make excuses for an abusive partner. It doesn’t matter what his mommy or daddy did to him. Your sympathy will only embolden him.


If you have a good job and are financially stable, get out! If you don’t, bide your time and get away when you can.


If you procrastinate like I did, don’t get down on yourself. It’s never too late to leave. I have a friend who put up with his abusive wife until his 60s. He always told me it was too late for him. She died and he immediately met the love of his life.


So leave. Maybe you want a better relationship, or maybe you want to be alone because dating in the 2020s is an absolute shitshow. That’s okay too.


Live your best life. Don’t let anyone stop you.


Be the hero that lives inside you.



I want to hear from other women, and men, and transfolk who've gotten out of bad relationships. What did you learn about yourself? What made you think differently about who you were letting into your life and why you let them stay? Drop me a line from the contact form in my main menu! And in the meantime, did you like this post? Would you like to see more? I lean left of center, but not so far over my brains fall out. Subscribe to my Substack newsletter Grow Some Labia so you never miss a damn thing!





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