As hard as it was for the last post to write, this one is even more difficult. You see, I pride myself on being a highly intelligent individual. In fact, when I was a young girl I was told my IQ was exceptionally high. I won’t go into specifics on that here because I don’t define myself by that, but the point is that I am clearly not stupid.
Despite being an intelligent person, I slipped into the dark world of an abusive relationship. So if I am not stupid, how did I allow myself to be bullied yet one more time in my life? How did I place myself into a position which allowed someone to hold the ultimate power over me? I suppose it was a game of the grass appearing greener on the other side. I fell in love with an enigma; that knight in white and shining armor. It is indeed a fallacy.
We had a whirlwind fairytale wedding in the most beautiful and quaint Catholic churches in the area. It was a tiny white clapboard building with the proverbial cross sitting high atop the steeple. There were gorgeous stained-glass windows that shone what I call God Rays down within the church. Beautiful statues of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph stood on pedestals and beautifully hand carved Stations of the Cross were at their respective places on the walls. Amongst all of this idyllic and pristine loveliness, we stood at the altar and vowed eternal love, patience, respect. We breathlessly mumbled all those mushy obligatory words you expect to hear from two people who are driven by the heady idea of romance and enthralled with the ideal of endless passionate hours spent having the most earth shattering sex known to mankind. Hundreds attended. He was in his dress blues and I wore a beautiful white gown with a long and flowing 20 ft. train. I was wrapped head to toe in silk and tulle and felt like the most beautiful princess that could ever live. I felt as if we were the vision of loveliness and romance, you know, the stuff the loveliest prose is written about.
Our wedding night was like every dream I ever hoped for all wrapped up into one. We felt so blessed to have been able to share this new love with our families and friends. Two days later we packed the car tightly and headed off to our new life in California. I felt exhilarated at the idea of setting up a new home together in a foreign place and becoming the doting wife and eventually a mother, well I had hoped anyway. After 2 days in the car, I think it was somewhere about New Mexico, I had the most soul shattering and startling revelation. I was sold a bill of goods. I was enticed and bamboozled by a very charismatic man who proceeded to change from who I thought I married into some sick and twisted Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
By the time we found our way to California, I started to get that sick feeling in my stomach that something was wrong, very wrong. How could I tell my parents? How could I give up and go home so quickly? After all, my parents had spent a fortune on this wedding and they absolutely adored this man. I tried to talk myself into thinking that I was wrong, that somehow this new found perception was a bit skewed. I chalked it up to the newness of it all and tried to quash my increasing trepidation.
It started slowly. We would go to the mall together and on the way home he would say, “I saw you looking at that guy.” I was flabbergasted! What guy? I had no idea what he was talking about. I only had eyes for him but I was being wrongly accused for something I had not done, nor could possibly do! The comments came in short order and soon everything I did was under the highest of scrutiny. He wanted to know who I was talking to and what was I talking about? Soon I could not speak to my friends or my family. I was purposely isolated. The plan was for me to get a job and another vehicle, but he always tossed some obstacle in the way to keep me alone in our apartment. Alone in fact nearly all the time. He started calling me names, telling me I would never make anything of myself. Nobody liked me. No, I couldn’t go home to visit my family. I was not allowed to have friends.
Then the volume increased. There was slamming of things, throwing of things. He would attempt to scare me by driving recklessly when we went places. He would pick a fight with me in the car and then stomp down hard on the gas pedal and fly up the hills, down the hills and skid to a stop a mere 2 inches from the car stopped at the bottom of the hill in front of us. He seemed to delight in making me squirm and cry out in fright.
Then it got physical. He threw everything he could get his hands on at me. Glass bottles that would shatter all over the house and even on me. He threw a 2’x3’ glass picture frame at me, with the shards sticking into me all over. Neighbors knocked on our door routinely to make sure I was OK.
Once I decided to fight back and as I struggled on the floor, to subdue me he bit my leg so hard I screamed in pain and had a 5 inch bruise for 3 or 4 months. I wanted to leave but I had been raised to be the good Catholic girl and divorce was absolutely out of the question. I tried to give my mother hints on the phone but she didn’t see them through her rose colored glasses. I was left without the financial means to get out, to even buy a plane ticket to leave. I had no friends and no help.
So I moved to the couch. Thankfully that helped make the beatings subside by staying away and further isolating myself. Things calmed down for a while. I never dreamed what could possibly come next. He told me I must have sex with him because I was his wife and it was my duty. He proceeded to routinely pull me into the bedroom and rape me. I fought, scratched, kicked, screamed, but he was so much stronger than I was. Neighbors would knock on the walls at night yelling at us to shut up. They had no idea but they were sometimes my saviors. These angry sleepless neighbors who would knock would shame him into stopping. I fought him off of me more times than I can count as he forced my legs apart and held me by the wrists, by the arms, even by the neck so many times I started having panic attacks. There was no love from him, only hate and a desire to hold power over someone, anyone. If he touched me I would begin panicking. I was absolutely convinced that if I left, he would kill me.
Eventually I suppose whatever sexual enjoyment he got while having to fight me while he was raping me wore off. Finally he left me alone on that sofa and started seeking out other women or worse yet, masturbating all over the house, leaving it on the carpet and on the furniture. I was disgusted for him and knew then that he was very, very ill. I then began planning my escape. By now I was able to live a little more normal life, being able to take on a job. Later when we had transferred jobs, I found myself in Texas where the fights and his need to throw things at me began to escalate again. By now I had the financial means and all I needed was a friend to help.
Who knew I would find what would become my best friend in the whole world and ultimately my husband of 20 years? I met my new neighbor and though we gave our cursory welcomes as we saw each other at the mailbox or while I walked my dog, we never really spoke. Then one day I came home for lunch and I saw him while I was on my patio eating. He came over and we chatted. He told me he could tell I was not happy and he could hear what was going on. It was then that I broke down in a sea of tears. I had never uttered a word about my abuse to anyone. He listened to every bit of it come pouring out, all the ugly details, and all the horror. He listened with sympathy as my guts and bile flowed from me. When I was finished, he told me he would help me if I truly wanted help.
In that moment he became the first friend I had in a very long time. We secretly strategized. By now my abuser was traveling quite a bit so when he traveled, we would meet and go over budgets, potential places to move to, how to hide from him, what I would take with me and what I would leave. We made detailed lists of how I would get out of this life alive.
He took me all over Dallas looking at apartments I could afford. He gave me the wealth of his knowledge since I was so new to the area. Soon I selected an apartment and put my money down. I finally confided in the people I worked with and quickly found an army of people who wanted to help me. They made sure I was not alone when I started to park my car in the back of the building so I could come and go to work and not be seen by him. They kept watch for him. They didn’t take his calls. When the day came for me to move, they swooped in, boxed and moved everything that was mine with a bunch of pickup trucks. These dear people helped me start my new life.
Nice, sweet little me, I took only half of what we had. I even made the bed for him, that bastard, before I left. I didn’t wish him harm, I just needed to get away. I left him a note, locked the door and tried to never look back. He was furious when he came home from his trip and I was gone and he had no idea where I was. He looked for me. As far as he knew I was no longer at my job, and had vanished into thin air.
I slowly began to heal, and it was then that I was ready to file for divorce. When my ex received my address, in one last final grandstand on his part, he burst into my apartment and tossed things about going through cabinets and closets, yelling and threatening me. I did not back down, rather calling my new best friend and informed my ex that he was on his way and would be there in 5 minutes. It was then that I believe he realized that he no longer held any power over me and the fear of another man was enough to make him retreat. Thank God he realized he had no choice but to move on.
My best friend helped me with my divorce. I could lean on him no matter what. I could cry when I needed. He would drive me where I needed to be at the time I needed to be there so that I would never be alone in this. He took time off from work so he could sit with me through my divorce which was textbook quick and easy since we had no children or real property together. My best friend sat in the back of that courtroom even through my ex glared at him incredulously as I walked toward the judge to read my statement. When that judge’s gavel came down and I was granted my final release, I walked right past my ex and out the door with the only person in my life that had ever truly believed in me.
It was then that my new best friend and I started to fall in love. It was a real love. A mature love, built on mutual respect and the cold hard reality of life rather than unrealistic fairytale dreams. My best friend was the man I married and had my beautiful sons with. He knew my deepest, darkest secret and loved me anyway. My best friend has allowed me to be the person I am, fully accepting the uniqueness, history, undying tenacity, humor, and all the things which make me.
God knows it was not easy for him. I came with a lot of baggage, but he came with a lot of patience. I had panic attacks for about 2 years after my ex was gone from my life. My husband could never touch me unless I saw it coming and was prepared. He could never tickle me, or goof around in that manner. He could never scare or surprise me. He was always careful when we made love, not to make me feel restricted. I slowly rid myself of the fear, with his tender guidance and the amazing trust we have built. There are still a couple lingering effects. To this day, you don’t want to touch me in my sleep because I wake up swinging. Sometimes I take a swing in my sleep during bad dreams. My dear sweet husband knows all of these things about me and he still loves me and accepts me just as I am.
Sadly, when people look at women who have been abused and bullied, there is this sort of stigma that exists that they must be very stupid and weak women. What woman would stay with a man who is beating on her? I can tell you there are all sorts of reasons. For me it was because I thought he would kill me if I left. I feel vindicated in this, though I am not proud of it, in that recently I located some documents on him where his next wife and child had restraining orders taken out against him. I am so saddened that his child or another woman might have been abused in the same manner I was, and I pray for them.
This experience changed me in so many ways. I would now fight someone to a bitter death if they ever laid a hand on me or my family and I would fight without fear of my own personal safety. I do not cry very easily, there is no room for tears and sadness in my life. I love to laugh and have a good time – always, no matter what. He did not remove the romantic Pisces in me either. I am the ultimate dreamer who lives most of my time in a fairytale world with candles and soft music, and I feed my soul with the beauty of nature and art – all types of art. He did not break my spirit; I am so much stronger than I ever thought I could be.
This will never leave me, you know that. Some of my readers may be ashamed that I shared this. Some readers may gain a better understanding of my fierce tenacity and spirit. If I help but one woman not to fall prey, or to leave a similar situation then I have done God’s will and I am so much stronger for it. I have long since forgiven him because I believe he is a very sick man. After having talked to so many amazing women, I know that I am not alone and this happens far more frequently than anyone realizes. This is my deepest, darkest secret, but reflecting today upon turning 48 glorious years anew, I share it in hopes that there are other women who are holding similar secrets and will be able to rid themselves of the burden. Today, I am of 48 years of wisdom, and through sharing this story I am now set free.