Little did I realize, just how dramatically my life would begin to change soon after we moved in together.
While I was working two jobs and venturing from doctor to doctor trying to find a reason for my health issues, my kids were suffering. Night after night they watched their mom struggle around the house, feverish, cold, and in pain: I tried hard many days to mask what I was feeling, but some days were so intense there was no ignoring the pain. My son approached his Dad about my health, my ex phoned and offered to take custody of the kids for the entire summer to give me time to heal. I was adamant about it, but I agreed. The month before Chris and I moved in together, I packed my kids bags, and watched as they left to spend 3 months with their Dad. Something in my belly gnarled at me and my heart-felt heavy, it was like they were never going to come back.
With the kids not around, Chris felt it safe to offer me a place to live, and I backed out of my lease on my apartment and eagerly packed my belongings and moved into his townhouse. The first few days were wonderful, the greatest dream come true. He was so attentive to my needs and I was excited everyday to see his par pull in the drive and hear his keys in the door. I was in love and for the first time in years, I felt happy. He attended doctors appointments with me, carried me up the steps at night when the pain was too intense and spent hours researching my symptoms in trying to finally have an answer to this medical mystery.
In the meantime, my best friend was getting married on the beach to her boyfriend of 4 years. In route to the wedding, we stopped and picked up my girlfriend to ride with us. On the drive down, she and I were making casual chit-chat and I mentioned that we should have given the bride a bachelorette party. My girlfriend laughed and said “Yeah, we could have held it at your apartment and had Sam strip for us.” (refer to chapter 2) To which I laughed and responded “Yes ma’am she would have loved that. She always had a crush on Sam and his body!” The conversation continued and I began to notice Chris had become really quiet and withdrawn from the conversation. We arrived, the wedding was held and the reception was inside a rented beach house. Chris had not spoken to me since the drive down and I approached him in the corner of the kitchen and attempted to wrap my arms around his waist. He looked at me with one of the most hateful glances I have ever seen, shoved (yes shoved) me across the room and walked away. I stood, feet locked into the floor, trying to make sense of what just happened. I walked outside to get my thoughts together and get a breath of fresh air. Chris was on the front porch making small talk with the brides dad: he beckoned me over, wrapped his arm around my waist and began to tell the father of the bride what a catch I was and how blessed he was to have me in his life. Again, I stood with my feet rooted to the ground and could not think of a thing to say. Did I just imagine what happened? Was I loosing my mind? I watched in awe, as Chris worked the room, charming everyone with his smile and his great manners. I was very lucky to have such a man in my life, but who was the man who shoved me across the kitchen while no one was looking? The reception began to empty out, the bride requested all of us “younger” people head out with her and her new hubby to the local Tavern to dance the rest of the night away. We all agreed on a meeting spot and time and parted ways into separate vehicles. My friend whom rode with us to the wedding was not going to the Tavern and caught a ride home with someonelse. I cheerily enter Chris’s car and reach over to kiss his check while saying what a perfect wedding it was. The evil man was back: his eyes were raging, his cheeks beet red and if looks could have killed, will I would have not survived. I retreated in shock: he then informed me that we were not going to the Tavern with the rest of the wedding party, we were going home. He angrily and demeaningly told me how horrified he was at my Sam comment and just how much I had embarrassed him by even thinking of talking about another man with him near. I was confused and could not understand what I had said that was so offensive. He called me a few harsh names.put the car in drive and we rode in awkward silence to our home. As soon as we entered the house, he quietly went to bed without another word. I sat downstairs trying to figure what I needed to do next. Do I go to the Tavern and leave him alone with his pout? Do I go up and try to talk to him? Do I simply stay home but fall asleep in the separate room? I decided to try to talk to him and receive some clarity on what had been said and just how it had made him feel. He was not open to talking, he kept his back turned to me the entire time and would not remove his hand from over his eyes. I finally became angry and told him that I was just going to the Tavern without him. In one short second, he removed his hand from his face, grabbed me by the wrist and told me if I left, not to return. The look of anger and evil in his eyes was one I will never forget. He then informed me that I was to immediately end any and all relationships, friendships, acquaintanceship that I had with any men in my life or again, I would have to leave his home. I cried, agreed to his demands and crawled into bed in hopes of sleeping away the entire night. unbelievably, not long after I laid down, Chris is rolling over, holding me, and telling me how happy he is to have me in his life and he begins to tenderly make love to me. I laid rigid: I was terrified to do anything. I had no idea what would trigger his next rile of emotions so I laid perfectly still and quiet, until it was over.The next day we awoke and he never mentioned it again.
A few weeks later, Sam sent me a card in the mail after learning of my diagnosis with Lupus. I opened it, cried, ripped it to shreds and phoned one of my best friends to tell him he could not longer be a part of my life. I never told Chris about the card or the phone call: I guess he knew when I agreed to rid my life of my male friends, I would be true to my word.
It wasn’t long after that he began to place the same demands on my relationships with my girlfriends. Not to make this a detailed blog, because you can get the picture from the above situation, of what my ex’es mentality was like. Over time, there would be things he would find wrong with every friend in my life or my friends would see him for his true colors and make their own choice to exit my life. Eventually, at the end of our ten-year marriage, I had not spoken to several of my very best friends for years and I do mean years.
The passive-aggresive tendencies became more frequent, nothing I could do could ever seem to please him. It was not an insulting nature to where he would directly comment to me how useless I was, it was more of the passive-aggresive types that take you a while to realize you are being manipulated. For example, after moving in together I would spend hours cleaning our small town home knowing how OCD he was. He would arrive home and I would, literally, wait in excitement and anticipation for him to see how much work I had put into making our house a home. He would enter the door, look around, scowl and take a few minutes to comment. When he did speak, it would sound something close to ” I see you cleaned today, did you do it your way or did you do it the right way?” He would progress to teach me things such as how a counter is never clean until you wash it with soap and water first and then clean it with disinfectant. If you simply cleaned it with a cleaner, you were leaving dirt and bacteria to festure. He would then tell me with time my ignorance would disappear and he would help form some common sense in me.
The comments were directed at my children as well. Whenever my sons would do something immature, such as teenagers do, he would comment they were at the age that they were above being helped, all you could do was pray. He would tell my daughter how ignorant a decision she made was and would tell her the same, “One day, I hope to teach you how to have common sense”. So you see, I could never really put my finger on the emotional abuse, as it was put out as “constructive criticism”, though in my heart I knew, it was wrong. The absence of family and friends in my life isolated my thoughts even more. I didn’t have any one person to tell these things to and eventually I convinced myself that these aggressions were ok, especially since we were provided with a good home.
I began to place my focus on being the “stepford wife” that he wanted me to be and taking care of my kids. In public, I would smile politely and speak when spoken to, while in my heart I was screaming to be me. Those around us either thought I was shy or snotty at my lack of actively participating in conversations. They never realized that I was well-trained to not have a personality. On the few occasions, after us moving in together, that we were in a public setting and I showed my personality or involved my witty humorous side, I would be punished once we arrived at home. He would demean me and tell me how embarrassing I was to him, how I had revealed too much information or how my opinion meant nothing to anyone that was present in the conversation. With time, I learned it easier to keep my thoughts to myself and just seem mysterious to those around us.