There was once a man who loved his mother. He was a genuine “Mama’s boy.” They spoke every day, sometimes more than once! He cherished her and shared everything with her. When physicians diagnosed her with cancer, he was devastated. And after a short fight, she passed away. He was heartbroken. He was grieving. He was obviously in a lot of pain. And six months later, his loving and doting wife, the mother of his two beautiful children left him, told him he could no longer come home. He threatened suicide, medical experts hospitalized him, and still, his wife did not let him return. When he decided to leave the hospital before having seen the proper medical personnel, he called a friend to pick him up because he knew she would not come for him.
Who would do such a thing?
This is her story.
The Honeymoon Period
Years ago she fell in love with a great guy. He cherished and loved her, and she felt like the most wonderful person in the world. They moved in together and got engaged within the year. They married a few years later and waited a few years before having their first child. They were the perfect couple. People compared their relationship to them. They were awesome.
Except they weren’t.
There were fights.
In the beginning, she defended herself. Then came the fear of him, and she couldn’t fight back anymore.
In the beginning, he would sometimes acknowledge his role in the fight. But after a few years it seemed to always revolve around a few key things in every argument: 1) she disrespected him by cutting him off when he was talking and 2) she didn’t respect his space when they argued. If he left or tried to leave (or told her to leave or merely stopped looking at her while they were talking), she had to drop it. He needed her to do what he required for him to maintain his temper.
And if she didn’t obey, he would lose control and whatever happened after that was her fault. In his view, he had tried to stop it. And she had pushed him. She had to see that, right?
They were the perfect couple… but she never knew how he would react. The same question on any given day could lead to dramatically different reactions. She was always guessing. It was like living with Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.
They were the perfect couple. But sometimes, if his wife mentioned that she needed more help from him, or that she felt disrespected or taken for granted, he told her she was selfish. Told her she was too sensitive. He told her she expected too much of him, that she didn’t respect him, and that she was too demanding.
They were the perfect couple, but when she disagreed or didn’t “respect” him, he called her names.
They were the perfect couple… but her anxiety was so intense she broke out in hives and even sought medical attention under the false assumption that she was developing food allergies. It turns out she only broke out in hives when he was sitting at the table…
They were the perfect couple, but there were holes in the walls of their happy home from his fists. He was remorseful and said “I’m so grateful you respected my space and that I hit the wall instead of you! I could never forgive myself if I had hurt you! I’m so glad you listened to me and did as I said…”
They were the perfect couple. But, when she fixed one hole on the wall, one she couldn’t hide with a mirror or frame, he told her she had been disrespectful and thoughtless for doing something of the sort. He claimed when work caused stress; he had to come home to a messy house. She had tried to do it quickly. The hole was next to the door. Everyone would see. So she had bought compound and looked at Youtube videos to figure it out. And she had used old paint left by the previous owner downstairs to keep the cost down. And for years he teased her or criticized her for the choice of color. The color she had painted on that wall. The wall he had punched a hole through; that she had fixed because she was embarrassed that people would see.
They were the perfect couple. But when he was angry he had ripped a door right off its hinges in front of her.
They were the perfect couple. But he threatened to kill himself, more than once, when things were terrible, and she tried to talk to him about their issues. He admitted doing so just so that she would just shut up.
They were the perfect couple. But, he pushed her so hard out the door that she fell on her back, cracked as her head and whipped backward.
Through the years she was thrown on a bed repeatedly, pushed down to the floor while six months pregnant, slapped on the leg, and threatened. But, she’d had to run away from him to avoid being hit, or worse.
They were the perfect couple. But she woke up in a full-fledged panic attack every morning for days or even weeks wondering what kind of mood he would be. But, she cringed whenever he touched her because it reminded her of the time he held her by the hair while breathing heavily and threateningly on her face. But, when he saw her fear he told her to “grow a fu** backbone," but she dreamt at night of her dead body at the bottom of the basement stairs. And she remembered a conversation they had had years before when watching a horrific scene in a movie where a husband had killed his wife in front of the children. He said: “He should kill the kids too. No child should have to live with that…”
They were the perfect couple. But, she started wishing he would just beat her. Just do it and get it finished. It would be better than the fear, and at least then she would have proof, at least then she could leave, at least then his wife could admit to herself she was abused.
They were the perfect couple… When he spoke of her, he told everyone how lucky he was to have such a woman. He praised her. Told everyone how proud he was of her… of her accomplishments. He shared their love story with colleagues and friends. When he praised her on the phone to his family, he made sure she could hear. He expressed his love for her. For her. Her… the stupid fucken cunt. The selfish little bitch. Who couldn’t listen. Who couldn’t be trusted. Who didn’t respect him… his space… his sleep… his downtime… She once told him that she knew no one would believe her if she spoke out about him. And he smiled.
For the longest time she stayed for the sake of the children. Besides, he wasn’t always like that. There were good days. Good weeks… good months! And, he said he would change. It was because he was stressed out at work, or stressed about the move, or with a project, or a deadline, or his mother’s illness and passing. But, it had been years, on and off. For years.
A few years before the she left, he moved halfway across the country for a job. He was gone for 8 months, returning only for a few short visits. And she was happy. She found her focus again. Her drive. Her calm. She was calm. And she didn’t want to acknowledge the cause. She tried to tell herself it was because the kids were sleeping through the night, or because she was finally able to get her work done. And, when his contract was renewed, she agreed to move with him with the children. He was happy there. He loved his new job, he wasn’t as stressed out. It would be good for them. It could save their marriage… There problems would be gone.
But they weren’t.
And less than 3 months after the move, it all started again. And she knew she had to leave. But she was alone. He had been here a year before... everyone knew him. And her new friends were really his friends. And then his Mom got sick. And she couldn’t leave. And then she died. So she stayed. She wanted to stay for at least a year. For him. For the children. But it got worst. And she was afraid for her life.
And this is why we don’t talk about spousal abuse. Because the victim usually doesn't talk about it during the abuse. And no one suspects. She’s embarrassed at first. Then she starts thinking it might be normal. Everyone has to work on their marriage right? And people fight… It’s just the way it is.
Besides, she didn’t fit the profile of an abused wife. She had a good job. Friends. A great family life. She was well educated, intelligent, independent. She worked out, did yoga, was artistic. She seemed happy!
Then a few close friends or family members start telling her she’s changed. Start noticing how she tenses up around him. How she seems frazzled and stressed. And for some reason, she finds the strength to talk to someone about it. And she realizes that what she is living… that her life… that her marriage… isn't normal. Or healthy. And deep down she knows talking about it is the beginning of the end. And that’s terrifying. Because as much as she knows it can’t go on, the prospect of not being in that relationship scares her to death.
When she decides to leave, people are surprised. But what can she say? Who can she tell? He’s well-liked and respected. Most of her friends are his friends… They have the same colleagues… She knows she’ll just look like the hurt ex. Like she’s trying to justify leaving. Like she’s trying to “make him seem like the bad guy”.
So she doesn’t talk. And so we don’t talk about it. And people judge. And people say “Poor guy, his wife left him when he was depressed and grieving”. “Depression is a disease that people don’t understand… and he deserved a wife who would stand by his side through it all.” “Who would do such a thing?”
I did. And now I am free...