When we last left off, Mr. X had just inexplicably cut off the seemingly successful marriage counseling, only stating that he “needed a break.” The last session with counselor Number Two was at the end of November or the beginning of December, I’m not sure. Things seemed neutral throughout December, but tension must have been building, because I remember that New Year’s Day was a pretty bad day. I also started my old blog in December, and did not tell Mr. X about it (though I planned to eventually), so things must not have been too peachy, though I don’t remember anything specific happening (other than walking on eggshells, sublimating my own self and needs for his, living in fear of his anger and disappointment, you know, the usual).
By January, it was as if we had never been to see Number Two at all. My timeline is somewhat fuzzy around here, but sometime in January (I think toward the end)–something broke. There was this one weekend…I think it was MLK weekend…
OK, most of the time, X was so covert in his abuse. He would do and say things that would be very difficult to prove later. Passive aggression is his calling card. So much of his abuse was in the insinuating question, the tone of voice…if I later “called” him on it, it was like he had deniability. But this particular weekend, he said very overt things, maybe this is why it sticks out in my mind so much. There was “cold war” the whole weekend, but two main incidents where he said very cruel things to me. The thing is, both in this instance and later, when he does these more “overt” abuses, it backfires on him and strengthens me against him. These more obvious things–I can’t argue them away. I can’t convince myself that they didn’t happen. I can’t tell myself that they were my imagination.
After he had said both of these things to me, it was like I said above…it was as if something had broken in me. I knew I couldn’t trust him, I couldn’t open up to him. From that moment on, I started an experiment. I don’t even think that I would have worded it like that at the time, but I think that’s what it was. I was pleasant to him, I continued to do most of the things that I had always done for him (like laundry, etc.), but I did not react when he would have one of his moods, or make side comments to me. Well, most of the time I would not react–I do recall asking him to go back to counseling a couple of times.
I think that this “experimental” time was really important for me. Through this, I was able to unequivocally prove to MYSELF that this stuff wasn’t about me. I knew what I was doing, and I knew what he was doing. I was staying calm and I knew that he wasn’t. I could finally see so clearly that our problems weren’t 50-50 or even 60-40 or 70-30. I could finally see clearly that our problems stemmed from inequality in our relationship and from the way that he treated me. But I still didn’t have the word “abuse” for it.
In February, I went to visit my family in another state. I saw my sisters, their husbands and kids, and my parents. I had a wonderful, wonderful time and felt amazing love and acceptance the entire visit. This is significant because part of the narrative of my marriage with X was that only he fully accepted me, my family didn’t. (This came out of some conflicts we had when I first got together with X and converted to Judaism. It did take my parents and younger sister a little while to get used to the idea that I had converted, but a lot of time has passed and they have grown a lot. They have given me nothing but love for quite a while now.) It kind of blew my mind when I got back to my and X’s house and felt such emptiness, when I had felt so great just being at my mom’s house.
Another thing about that trip was seeing my sisters with their husbands and kids. I remembered wondering how exactly I would manage to deal with a baby and Mr. X at the same time and concluding that it would probably be easier to just be on my own with a baby than to be juggling a baby, the eggshell walking, his moods, etc.
My mom drove me to the airport and on the way there, she talked about how well my older sister is doing (she hasn’t always been doing as well as she is right now). My mom told me that she thinks a big part of why she’s doing so well is that her husband loves her and thinks she’s beautiful no matter what, and that my mom is so happy that my sister finally feels like she has unconditional love from a partner. I remember feeling like I was stabbed in the chest upon hearing this. I had never had that with X, EVER, not even in the very beginning. I never felt totally secure in his love, ever. I always felt like I had to be dancing around, working for it, changing something about myself for it, holding something about myself back in order to keep it.
And that’s no way to live.
Next: How I realized that’s no way to live.