A mutual friend introduced me to Dan. He was her neighbor: He was handsome, charming and even cut her lawn for her. I had been divorced for about ten years at the time, and I’ll admit was quite comfortable raising my son on my own. When I met Dan, he was very romantic and doting. He was nothing like my ex-husband, although they shared the same birthday.
From the beginning, he was attentive and thoughtful. When he went out of town on business he would have one of his employees leave a rose at my front door as she made her morning jog by my house. One for every day he was out of town. I remember walking out of a dentist appointment, to find a rose under my windshield wiper. I would “run into” him at the grocery store often; in hindsight, too often. When I told him that I was beginning to feel a little smothered with his attention; he pointed out that I had just been single so long I was set in my ways. He added that I had never really been loved before, and wasn’t used to a real man’s adoration.
He began to alienate me from my friends and family: Out of love, of course. These other people interfered with our alone time, which should be time to nourish our love. At the time I lived an hour and a half from any family, and I remember my father meeting Dan for the first time. While my father was visiting, Dan put his arm around me, and stated to no one in particular, “I’m so happy this is my woman.” To which my father replied, “It might make you happy, but not me.” My father has never had any sort of filter, so I chalked that one up to Dad being Dad.
A couple of months later, Dan proposed. I accepted, but hesitated to set a wedding date. Over the next couple of weeks he pressured me for a date for the wedding. The last discussion as to exactly when our wedding would occur, he slammed the telephone book to the floor, and said “I thought you were someone who kept your word!” I set a date.
During this time if I had a salon appointment, Dan would show up. He would offer to follow me home - for my safety. I remember one day in particular, standing at the meat department in the supermarket and an eerie feeling flooded me. I turned around, and there was Dan. I blurted out “If I say I’m going to the grocery store, and I come home without food, then you can question where I’ve been.” He just turned and walked out of the store.
A few weeks later I was on the phone with my dearest male friend John, who happens to be my son’s godfather. Dan went into a rage and accused me of having an affair with John. He demanded that I never speak to John again - ever. I told him that I would not promise that. Dan then shoved me onto my bed, reached behind his back and pulled a hand gun that was tucked inside his waist band. He put the gun to my head.
I don't now why I responded the way I did, but I locked my eyes on his and said, “go ahead and pull the trigger; I’d rather be dead than spend one more day with you.” He was stunned by my response. His demeanor changed. He lowered the gun with a puzzled look on his face. He replied, “that bad?” I nodded my head in the affirmative. He sat down on the side of the bed and stared at the floor. He said, “If you want out, you’re out.”
I would never recommend that response to anyone who would ask me what you should say or do if someone puts a gun to your head. It was instinctual, I suppose. He was a bully.
When you get older, and much wiser, you can look back at signs and flags thrown your way, that totally escaped rational thinking at the time. I was 32 years old when the Dan experience happened. I had prided myself in my ability to spot the signs of a potentially abusive relationship. I think that’s why I fell into it; the belief that I was too savvy for it to happen to me. Twice.