part three: desperate survival leads to awakening

Originally published on June 7, 2009

When I left off the story, I had been making some big realizations: 1–my family seemed to accept me more than my husband (which was the opposite of what I had been thinking for, oh, years), 2–Mr. X had some big-time problems with how he dealt with stress and how he treated me and our problems were mostly stemming from that fact, 3–as good as he looked on the outside, to other people, he had never given me unconditional love and acceptance and he would be an albatross of a helpmate if a child were ever in the picture.

I had gone to visit my family in late February, and immediately after returning, Mr. X would be leaving to go on a job interview in the same city where he grew up and where all his family lives (since his family was there, he would be extending the trip to make it into a visit, as well).  At that time, our lives were really up in the air because he had decided not to renew his job contract after the middle of the summer, so we didn’t know where we would be living, we had put the house on the market (in this economy!  Aaaaaaagggh!!), and I couldn’t even think about looking for a job until we knew where we were going.  I really didn’t want to move to that city, but a big part of me just wanted to have something settled.  Of course, I was really happy to have the break from X for so long.  During this time there would be some outward displays of affection (such as cooking meals I wasn’t hungry for), but they always seemed like tests to me, and my reaction had to be just so, or the passive aggression and cruel insinuation would kick in.

So you can see why I was looking forward to the break.  I was also looking forward to a break from the, ah, “community obligations”–X is clergy (nice, huh?  I knew you’d like that!), and when he would be gone, I would also take a break from my role as the “lovely wife.”  This element of the relationship is enough for ten blog posts so we’ll just leave it at that, but you should know that I was really excited to have my weekend to myself, among the other days.

(The one thing I didn’t like about being apart from X, were the phone calls.  Phone calls when his mood was ok were fine.  Phone calls when his mood was not ok–which could come without any notice, really–were pure torture, and somehow I got the blame (how did that always happen?).  When I had been at my mom’s on that last trip he would call me up and literally not say anything.  I would tell him about what was going on (with the nieces and such), and he would criticize me for not talking about things of more substance.  Right…)

During our time apart, I ate a lot (if you know my history, food is my numbing mechanism of choice) and I read a lot of fiction and a lot of blogs.  I felt a little sick from a cold, but I think I was mostly sick with grief, though I was still covered up with denial about that.  X was excited and happy about his job possibilities and very excited and happy about living in that city.  I didn’t like the thought of it, but did like the thought of being able to start planning for the future.  I was really worried about X’s job, however, as I thought it was too big of a change for him, too different, and was worried about how stressed he would be if he got that job and how that stress would come out on me (this last part was not so clearly articulated in my mind at the time, but it was there).

During that time, or right after, I also realized that I could not have children with X.  In my old blog, I alluded to this, but not nearly as clearly it was in my mind.  In my mind, it was crystal clear:  regardless of fertility treatments, adoption, or miracles from heaven, I could not have children with this man, not before he got some serious help.  For someone who wanted a baby as badly as I did (do?), that was perhaps the most painful part of this whole thing up to this point.  No wonder I couldn’t spell it out on the old blog as clearly as I might have.

When X returned from his trip, he was certain he had the job, and would just have to wait a few days for the confirmation.  Well, the job fell through, after what seemed like an endless waiting period, and his stress turned inward initially, but then found its favorite victim again soon enough.  We were already well into March by this point, and my life was endless drama at home.

I now look back on this time period very differently because, of course, he found the old blog.  I don’t know when he found it, however.  Everything was always a mind game with him (I see now), but I don’t know when the blog started to be a part of it.  I’ve looked back over at my old posts and remembered conversations we had, and wondered if he was just throwing my own words back at me.  I’ll never know, probably.  I know for sure at the very end, this is what was happening, but I don’t know if already at this point it was.

During this time, X’s friendship with “our” friend and neighbor, Dolores, seemed to be strengthening.  I, for one, was just happy when she would come over so that I would not have to be alone with X.  They were hanging out more and more, and I wasn’t thinking much about it, even when they would keep hanging out after I would go to bed, or not even start hanging out until after I went to bed.  I really don’t think there was anything physical going on with them, at least not before I left, but emotionally?  Who knows?

As March progressed, my desperation deepened.  I mentioned going back to counseling to him at least twice, and he was extremely cruel the last time, so I didn’t bring it up again.  During this time, my migra.ines had really ramped up, and I was having them every day.  I had seen my doctor, and she had tried a couple of different medications, including a daily medication for prophylaxis, and I had started to see an acupunc.turist.  Even now as I type these words, I feel the shaking returning, which I haven’t felt in a long time.  If I had to use one word to describe those weeks, I would have to say, “survival.”

One Friday evening, in the middle of March, just before Shabbat (sabbath) started, for some reason I cannot explain rationally, I picked a book off of my shelf.  It was one of my social work books that I had from an internship I did at a domestic violence counseling center (yes, irony, I know).  I think I was just looking for some idea, for something to make things better, even just within myself.  The name of the book?  The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans.

I read about three pages and said, “Oh, my God, this is my life.”

To Be Continued…


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