Originally published on June 8, 2009
So at the end of the last post on this story, I found my self in the ultimate, “Oh, shit” moment. I had just started reading Patricia Evans’s The Verbally Abusive Relationship (which I just happened to have on my bookshelf–thankyouverymuch social work education), and was in shock because I recognized myself in its pages.
This was on Friday, March 13th. I finished the book by the end of Saturday (while trying to keep the book hidden from X, no small feat, indeed). On Sunday, I spoke to my friend, Cherry (the friend I refer to below), and to my mom. Here’s what I said about it in my old blog:
And yesterday I called my mom. I opened up a door there. I don’t want this to be a secret anymore. I’ve been hiding this, protecting him, and taking part in my own undoing for so long–because I never wanted anyone to think badly of him, of us. Before today I had only ever told one friend about the things he has said to me, the belittling, crazy-making, scornful, sarcastic things he says to me. I was so ashamed.
The next few days are somewhat of a blur. I know that I was very much of two minds, and I was miserable. I just kept saying , “No, no, this can’t be!” This person I loved could not be an abuser! I just could not integrate the information; it was as if I had been told he was an alien. (After all, I helped other people who had been abused.) And this, after everything I had been through. Another part of me, the part that believed, the truest part of who I was, knew I couldn’t stay. So I was split. On Wednesday or Thursday (so March 18 or 19) I talked with my oldest friend by phone. She commented that I kept saying that I didn’t know what I would do (stay or go), but I was talking like I was going to go. My biggest grief was the dog, because I knew that leaving the dog would break me even more, but I didn’t see how I could take the dog from him.
Ah, yes. About that. You see, I was afraid that he would be a wreck if I left. I was afraid that he would be suicidal. Not that he had ever threatened suicide or anything like that, but I could just picture him in the corner with a bottle of pills and some razor blades or something…I now see this all as part of his manipulation from the beginning. Always “afraid” I would leave. Every fight mean that I was out the door. So much of my agony during those days was about the pain I would be causing him. As Cherry told me (in a different context, but still true), he trained me well.
At one point I found myself bargaining with God, offering to give up any chance for a child, ever, to just make him better. Make it so I don’t have to do this thing. Make it so he doesn’t have to hurt more. (Trained very well, I would say.)
By the time a week had passed, by the next Shabbat, I… well, I’ll let the old blog tell you this one, too:
Around last Friday or Saturday I started feeling a peace about leaving. And if there’s anything I’ve learned in my thirty-two years on earth, it’s to follow the peace. When I think about staying, my stomach ties up in knots; leaving, I have peace. Well, I should clarify. When I think about having left, I have peace. The actual transition process does not actually seem like a peaceful one to me. But I am working on the details.
Over a week had passed, and I still had not opened up with anyone in my same city, and I knew I needed to. Because of Mr. X’s position in our religious community, I knew that anyone in the Jewish world was out (again, I was protecting him–well trained). That left people from work. The problem was, I didn’t really have any friends–religious community, work, anywhere else. I had work buddies, but nobody that I was really close with. After some debate, and an insistent nudging in my brain, I spoke with my workmate, DD. I hadn’t even known that she had previously worked at a domestic violence shelter, but there you have it. Even though I had a “peace” about leaving, my timeframe was quite fuzzy, and I was even thinking that I might stay a few months. DD did her damndest to convince me to take advantage of Mr. X’s upcoming out-of-state job interview THAT COMING WEEKEND and get the hell out as soon as I possibly could. I was still trying to pull the warm blanket of denial over my head, and didn’t think that I could get it together that quickly–I mean, in less than a week? Was she crazy?
Well, all it took was really one evening together with X after feeling really committed to leaving and dealing with his mind-fuckery that I realized that the leaving date would need to be sooner rather than later. The next day, I spoke with my supervisor at work, came clean about the fact that I hadn’t really done my job/paperwork for about two months and explained why, got her blessing to get out of Dodge as soon as possible, and received some unsolicited advice to get an attorney ASAP. Oh, yeah. Mr. DD just graduated from law school (he was finishing up at the time), so DD was also pretty into the idea of my speaking with a lawyer. I knew, also, that with some of X’s “issues” there would be no “trial separation,” and that divorce would really be the only way. At this point I was still planning on leaving the dog behind, as a “comfort” for him, as the last thing I could do for him. Ahem.
Wednesday, March 25, I met with my attorney, whom friends of DD and Mr. DD helped me find. I was about 95% sure about the whole thing, so he said he would draw up paperwork, and I could come back two days later to sign, or discuss it with him. He also advised me to get half of our savings out, as it legally belonged to me. That evening I started moving half of the money (online only account, it takes time to process). The next day X was to leave for his out of town trip and was to be gone until Tuesday. I felt fairly safe trying to move the money, as I was basically “mommy” with the money and took care of all the finances. Much of the time X didn’t even seem to know how much was in the accounts, as every once in a while he’d have a minor freak-out and we’d have to sit down and look at everything together and then he’d calm down and see that we weren’t broke, after all. The thing is, I could have blocked him out of the savings account, changed his password, etc., got my half of the money out, but I didn’t. I purposefully didn’t. I just didn’t. Stupid, but I didn’t.
A couple of other things happened that Wednesday night. I finally got a weird vibe about him and Dolores, the “friend” and married neighbor with whom he had been spending so much time. She had come over for something, and, I don’t even know, something just struck me as off about the situation, that there was more going on there that meets the eye. But my thought was, “Well, at least she’ll be here to comfort him.”
The next day was Thursday, March 26. I went to work, and just before leaving to go pick up X to take him to the airport I went online to check on my transaction (to move half the savings out of our joint account per my attorney’s instructions). Something looked like it had gone wrong with it. Yep, he found it. And cancelled the transaction. And then I had to go drive him to the airport. Freaked out? Um, yeah. Just a bit.
I suppose I could have called him and feigned an emergency meeting and asked him to get someone else to take him to the airport, but that denial was still good and strong. He had never gotten physical with me, and so I just told myself that he never would. Now I look back and I think how dangerous it was for me to go back to the house alone with him and drive in the car alone with him. But I did it, thinking the whole time, that it would be my last time to be alone with him, that I just had to do this one last thing and I would be free.
To Be Continued…