To my friends: Several have called or emailed, concerned for my current situation. Some of you know parts of the story I’ve been unable to share here on the blog which might heighten your concern. Let me reassure everyone that the situation has not changed.
The fear I struggle with comes and goes. It’s current and on-going and once triggered it comes back in all its fury but there are no new developments to report. At the moment, we have peace. I am the one who lacks peace and thus, this series of articles.
I so appreciate your concern! Thank you for loving on me from afar~
One point bears repeating. The man never changed. Once we married, his vocabulary changed but his actions did not and the anger witnessed towards others now turned my direction.
He now identified as a conservative Christian and acted accordingly, at least in public. He quit cursing, quit drinking, and quit smoking but added all those back in, one by one. He had a hair-trigger temper and exploded on a regular basis. We had a few good months during our engagement, a brief honeymoon period that ended the day of our wedding.
The first couple of years consisted of a cyclical, systematic need to control based on one principle—he had to have his way.
I know you will find this plenty hard to believe, but I had a smart mouth. It’s one of the reasons I got labeled rebellious and unsubmissive, particularly by some of the men in our church. But when someone wakes you at four in the morning to starch and press their work jeans before heading off to a construction job because they demand perfect creases, knowing full well you face a twelve hour day on your feet plus a two-hour commute, then stands over your shoulder furious that you’re doing it wrong while doing absolutely nothing because ‘this is your job and my wife will do my laundry the way I like or else’—well, a body gets a little cranky.
I tried to be careful never to attack him personally, call him names or demean his manhood but it would be a lie to say I never crossed the line. I was smart with a dry sense of humor. When something bordered on the absurd, I pointed out that fact. His logic and ability to reason seemed pretty limited, probably because he wanted what he wanted when he wanted it without backtalk. Logic, truth and reason had nothing to do with anything.
I could point out something bordering on the ridiculous and he couldn’t really argue. Unable to actually come up with a reason for his demands, he used anger, rage, manipulation and control to gain compliance. But the fact remained, I refused to do everything I was told, particularly concerning the housework.
I stood up to him. We conflicted on a regular basis.
And then he backhanded me.
Ida Turns Political and Skirts the Issue
Aha! You said he never hit you.
Indeed I did. I said it constantly. In fact, I forgot completely for more than two decades. If someone asked—and they did a few times over the years at the oddest moments—I always said no.
Almost thirty years later I’m sitting in the counselor’s office and he asks the same question. Did he ever hit you? I give the usual response. My legs are crossed, one foot swinging away like crazy and the counselor narrows his eyes, turns sideways a little in the chair, settles his shoulders and grins at me, tipping his head in that come-on now, we’re all friends here way of his.
Really? He never hit you? Not once?
And I said, ‘But it was an accident.’
And the counselor takes a big breath and closes his eyes, shaking his head up and down, up and down, yes, yes, yes, yes, and I’m staring across the room wondering where in the blue blazes that came from.
I remember the kitchen wallpaper and the gingham curtains I made in the window so at least three years after the wedding. We’re having a fight. A run of the mill, end of cycle, blow-off-his-rage fight. Nothing special. He is yelling, I am trying to be reasonable. Trying to make him see. . . something. He walks off, I follow. I see him whirl around and BAM. He backhands me across the face, connecting thoroughly with the side of my head.
I remember staggering. I recall not being able to focus my eyes. I remember my mouth open and slobber on my shirt. And his face, inches from mine. His voice totally changed from the raging maniac to the penitent sinner. “I’m sorry! I’m so, so sorry! I’d never do anything like that on purpose, you know that right? Right? You know I’d never hurt you, right?”
I remember not being able to answer.
And then the clincher–“ Don’t ever do that again. You have no idea what I’m capable of.”
So back in the present, the room is spinning and I’m blacking out as the light fades from the edges of my vision. So cliche’. I think I just might throw up all over the counselor’s shiny shoes and a part of my brain is processing. . . processing.
Mr. Smarty-pants counselor says, “So he didn’t have to hit you again, did he? He put you in your place and you complied with his demands.” And I want to smack the counselor but I’m aware enough to know this is misplaced or transference or some other such thing and I am hating myself all over again for being so stupid for so, so long.
No one ever bothered asking twice.
My therapist was right. Things changed dramatically from this point forward.
I learned to do as I was told.