In my lifetime, having been a child of sexual assault and then finding my path into abusive relationships has taken it’s toll. I have started to understand, now that I am sober, where my thought processes were and what I was seeking in the arms of someone who didn’t love me the way I desired and deserved to be loved.
Again, some of this goes back to what my vision of my future was, and I had always seen my parents in this relationship, married and at each others side with a devotion to stay long term. I am 41, they’ve been at it, good days and bad for 43 years. To me, marriage meant you make a life long promise to be at that person’s side and take the good with the bad for love. I had stood at the side of my second husband with the intent of loving him his entire life, despite the horrible things he was doing to me in our marriage.
Now that isn’t to deny the fact that I chose to end my first marriage and my belief system didn’t include leaving him, so I want to be clear, I realize that makes me a hypocrite. The difference in my eyes, was love. I didn’t love my first husband and to this day I still feel horrible for taking 17 years of his life without that in my heart. I thought I was doing the right thing at the time and I guess hind site is 20/20. I am hopeful he is happy now at least and while I do have some guilt there, I also can appreciate very much that we were together for a reason, the life of my daughter, who is my greatest accomplishment.
In my life though, I anticipated being dedicated in a marriage, having that best friend to come home to, to talk to and spend my future traveling with. When I ended up divorced the second time, it was this feeling of emptiness. I had this lifelong desire to have positive attention from a man. Anyone one of you that has dealt with childhood sexual abuse from a man knows this is a trademark side effect. I was so afraid of growing older and ending up alone. I was so afraid of no man ever wanting me.
This brought about my next 10 months of hell. I met him in an unorthodox way. He had answered an ad about a room I had for rent and in our conversation he just seemed really cool. I asked if he might be willing to hang out and he was. We hit it off, and we started dating. It wasn’t long before he was moved into my home and unlike my husband, he wanted to help me work on my place. He had construction know how and within a few months and with the glory of my tax returns, we were remodeling my kitchen. By remodeling, I mean ripping out down to studs, moving the plumbing to the island, ripping out the pantry and expanding it, all new raw cabinets, REMODELING.
I was so exceptionally thankful for him working so hard for me. Up until this point that had been something for 7 years I hadn’t had. My ex-husband was charming and good looking and even funny and fun to be around, but a handy man he was not! If something broke, forgettaboutit! Not happening. So this was fantastic! It however came with a price.
You see, he was a drinker as well, and where inner demons were concerned, he had them and they were angry. As life with him progressed, the anger and nasty behavior on his part got worse and worse. He would degrade me regularly, call me stupid, tell me that my daughter was worthless. He got to a point where he shewed her away to her room and she was not normally welcome in our presence in the living space, short of eating. She would rinse dishes and put them in the dishwasher and he would pull out her dishes, analyze her rinse job and stand over her while demeaning her and making her redo the rinse job.
I let him do it. For this I have so much remorse and so much internal anger and rage at myself. I let him put my daughter down. This child I had worked so hard to build, mold into a strong human being, and protect was now cowering in her room, afraid to be near me for he was there at my side. I let him hurt my daughter in ways emotionally that I can NEVER take back. All because I was in this haze of being thankful for some help and self doubt because he demeaned my parenting skills. I kept thinking maybe I was doing things really wrong, because that is what he told me constantly. I paid all of the bills, he didn’t work, and he didn’t help financially, but he worked on the house, and I needed the help so much.
Eventually my standing up to him had a price, and I’ll never forget the first time he threw me back on the bed, pinned me down and started slapping me with the left and right over and over in swift blows. I fought like hell to get out from under him, swinging with all my might, and I couldn’t seem to get away. After what seemed like several minutes of smacking the hell out of me, he said something very belittling and left the room. Left me to sit there and wonder what in the hell had just happened, and what I had done to deserve the behavior and abuse.
My marriage had been abusive in a betrayal and verbal sense, but short of one fight that ended up with shoving, there was never a strike to my person. That was a new experience and one that I swore I would never put up with, and here I was, trying to figure out in my own twisted mind, what I had done wrong and how to make things right with him, instead of making him leave or demanding he make things right with me.
This kind of behavior happened a couple of times. One night, my roommate happened to walk in just in time to see him slap me hard across the face. My roommate attacked him, putting him through the kitchen wall, knocking him out cold and continuing to punch on him screaming “don’t you ever touch her again” the entire time over and over.
That was the last time he touched me, but not the last fight. I swore to myself I wouldn’t let him do it anymore, and started to avoid him when his mood started traversing that path. I would sit on my front porch and read a book or mess around on my phone, but avoiding him entirely. He would get angry that I was leaving him alone, and I just couldn’t win. If I sat with him I paid for what my kid was doing wrong, and if I avoided him in an attempt to avoid a fight I got the same response. (with complete honesty this is the first time I’ve really laid out what happened and the trauma of it has me shaking a little, reliving it is a bitch).
The last time he started in, I was sitting on the porch, a nice summer evening. He was in that mood I knew so well and I thought it would be best for me to enjoy the weather and a nice bottle of wine while reading. He came out and got in my face for avoiding him. I told him I just didn’t want to fight and I could tell he was in a mood and he escalated. I tried to walk away but he blocked the door to the house on the porch, so I headed down the stairs to “go for a walk”. I figured I could go stay with my friends down the street for a while until he calmed down, but he was so close to me following me that his chest was literally touching my back. This is the kind of behavior that would lead to him hitting me, and I knew it. I was afraid because each time had been worse than the time before and I knew I could really be hurt if I didn’t get away from him. As I darted down the stairs, glass of wine in my hand, he was on top of me, and I literally threw my glass of wine over my shoulder and straight into his eyes. It stalled him just long enough that I got a step ahead and was able to dart back into the house and into my room. I sat on the floor and propped myself against the door with my feet on the bed. He started beating on the door and my heart was just pounding. I kept saying I was afraid and that I wanted him to leave, and to leave me alone. He kept telling me he wouldn’t hurt me and he just wanted to talk. I told him no, he needed to leave and he started pushing on the door.
I had kept my phone with me the entire time, afraid of his actions and knowing I might need the help. In the past when he struck me, he had taken my phone away. This time I had it and as he shoved and pushed on the door, I felt it start to literally disintegrate around me. Flimsy interior doors don’t hold up to that kind of pressure and it was going to be just a moment or two before it broke so completely. I was crying and screaming for him to stop and he wouldn’t and I knew in the moment, because I had defied him by locking him out of the room, that he was enraged and I would pay. He threw scalding hot water under the door attempting me to shoot up off the floor and unblock the door. When I jumped from the heat he pushed even harder and I felt the door breaking against my back and at the frame edges. I finally called the police. When he heard me reporting to the dispatcher where I was and that I needed help, he bolted out the front door and took off down the street.
It wasn’t long before the police arrived and took the report. This time he hadn’t given him the opportunity to really hurt me, so I didn’t have any marks to press charges. I made my stand with him a few days later and that was the end of our relationship, thank god. He never pressed the issue and checked himself into anger management with fear and remorse for what he had done. We talk occasionally now, because he is in a better place and so am I. I don’t wish him ill will, but that was the last bit of my emotional state literally beaten down to nothing. Here I set thinking, what on earth is so wrong with me that I would turn a man who had never hurt a woman, into an abusive man? I knew somehow, it was all my fault.
The spiral of my health started while he and I were together, and continued until the fateful day I landed in the cardiac unit at Emanuel Hospital in Portland.
To be continued…….