Thursday, April 19, 2018

How the journey started

1 in 6 relationships are abusive. Not all abuse is physical. In being determined not become a divorce statistic. I became another statistic.

Almost a year ago my husband hit me.  It wasn't the first time, but it was the last time.  I know what you're thinking: "OMG, why didn't you leave him before if he was hitting you?"  Easier said than done.

Here's the thing.  I didn't want to be another divorce statistic.  I believe in marriage, for better or for worse.  I'm not a big divorce supporter, except in cases of abuse and marital infidelity.  For almost 20 years, I remained married to him.  He only hit me 4 times in seven years.  Does that make it abuse?

The abuse that came in was emotional, psychological, being told that my "needs" were "wants".  He wanted his luxuries, because "He wouldn't be able to enjoy it later in life, so why save it?".  He encouraged me to spend.  Spending was a tit-for-tat relationship.  Any time I purchased something I needed, he would have to purchase something "equivalent".  For example, I bought a new laptop for my new job.  That meant he needed a new laptop.  Our budget needed him to cut back on eating out with his co-workers, going for coffee, his "avocado on toast" (no, not literally) as it were.  Any time I tried to talk about the subject, it was met with less than welcoming reaction, after all, who wants to cut back on things they enjoy?  The response was always "What are you going to give up?"  What would I give up indeed?  My 16 dollar haircut every 4 months?  My 35 dollar pair of sneakers every year?  The 10 dollar t-shirts I wear because I the idea of ruining something "expensive" horrified me?  Arguments would ensue, and we'd spiral more into debts.

Going into the marriage, he knew I wanted children.  This became a weapon for him, a carrot to dangle. "We could have kids if you just       "  "You don't take care of       , how are you going to take care of kids?"  We had dogs, he spoiled them rotten... I loved my dogs, but ultimately, they were dogs, not people. That was further justification for putting off children because I "didn't treat the dogs right".  Right was of course whatever he decided it was.  Anything else was wrong.  Nevermind that I'd grown up with dogs throughout my entire life, and he'd never had dogs before. There was always some excuse.

His needs came first.  Mine often were dismissed.  I've come to understand that he's a narcissist.  Anyone who knows him thinks otherwise.  He's very big on the grand gestures.  I wanted the single rose, the meaning, the intent behind a gift.  I never wanted the grand gestures, and I resented the money spent.  All anyone ever saw was the generosity.  I did my part in maintaining that illusion, because it's wrong to tear people down in front of others.  Our marriage problems were private.  Not something you discuss with other people.

Often during the course of the marriage, I would think "I wish he would just hit me, it would hurt less."  I would curl up in a corner and muffle my screaming as I cried from anxiety attacks, wondering what the future would hold for me because he wouldn't discuss it.  He refuse to partake in planning for the future.  His answer was always "You can take care of yourself".  I was incredulous, retirement never existed in his mind for me.

Over and over again I asked, even demanded marriage counseling.  Over and over he refused, telling me "The only reason you want to see a counselor is so they'll tell you that you are right".  "Any person can put a certificate on the wall claiming to be a counselor, it doesn't mean anything".  "I can fix any of my own problems, you need to work on yours".

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