I've been trying so hard not to badmouth my husband on here, or air our dirty laundry, etc. But so many of you can clearly see how much I am hurting, even if you don't have all the dirty details. If nothing else, I am sure most of you have noticed the lack of real posts on here lately. Linkups, sure. Recipes, why not? But actual posts, with CONTENT, substance? Nope. Not lately. I've just been keeping it all inside (or trying to).
So tonight, my fourth sleepless night this week, I am spilling my guts - in hopes that it will clear my head so I can at least get some sleep. Or, maybe talking about what I am going through can help someone else to avoid this painful situation?
I'm still skimming over a lot of details, but need to get the general story out.
There has never been physical abuse in this marriage, and there still isn't. But there has been some serious verbal and emotional abuse. Once, about 8 years ago, the verbal abuse got so bad that I wanted to die. I was honestly planning my own suicide. I knew my children would be devastated if I took the cowardly route I was considering, so I didn't follow through with it. Somehow in a rare moment of clarity, I also realized that my children were being harmed by what they were witnessing. What was I teaching them by ALLOWING anyone to treat me that way?
So I stood up for myself, told him to get out. He refused to leave, so I left....sort of. There was this big dramatic scene straight out of an after school special, where he begged me not to go, then physically blocked the door so I couldn't leave, and even refused to move his car so I couldn't get mine out. I pretended to have a spine, for the sake of my kids, and left ON FOOT. Knucklehead was just a toddler at the time, so I had him in his stroller, and had Bonehead (then about 7 years old) holding on to the handle of the stroller. The few possessions I had managed to grab on the way out the door were stuffed into the little basket underneath. I didn't have a plan, didn't even have a cell phone, so I headed down the block toward town in search of a payphone, frantically going through a mental list of WHO I could even call.....where would we even go?
And then he caught up with me, all apologies, begging and pleading with me to stay. And, predictably, I caved - but only after getting him to PROMISE me that he would get some counseling, go to some kind of anger management, etc. He didn't actually go to any counseling, at least not at that point. But the yelling, name calling, and general disrespect he had been showing me did stop. He simply replaced it with other forms of emotional abuse.
And I took it.
It's not fair to characterize him ONLY as this bully, because he is so much more than that. (Duh. Why else would I stay?) He is smart, funny, and of course VERY good looking. He has this way of looking at me from across a crowded room and making me feel as if I am the only woman in the world - like he is not aware that the rest of the world even exists, when he looks at me like that. He can kiss me in a way that makes me SURE he's some kind of wizard or something, because there is absolute MAGIC in those lips. He makes me feel indescribably good - when he's not making me feel like I am *this big*.
Throughout several more years, as we both grew, changed, and matured some, the mental/emotional abuse diminished. There are a lot of reasons for this, most of which I am only beginning to understand right now. But when things came to a head 2 years ago, and our marriage was 'over' (or so I thought) I had to really do some deep soul searching. I had to figure out WHO I was, and why I had let this man drive me crazy (literally) by convincing me that I was crazy. Sounds funny to say it that way, but that's the most basic way I can break down what he did to me in those years.
I had to heal that 'crazy' before I could do anything else, and the process was (IS) very painful.
When I made the life-changing decision to take him back, to start over again, it was with a lot more knowledge, confidence, and (finally) backbone than I had ever had before. After months of 'separation' and preparing for a divorce, we both had regrets, but didn't want to waste time looking back - just wanted to move forward, to our future TOGETHER. We both swore, never again would we hurt each other or let anyone else hurt us. Ever.
So we moved forward, and while I can't claim things were picture perfect, we were at least 'whole'. I was a whole person, HE was a whole person, and we were a whole couple......an US. He had finally gotten counseling before the big split, and continued it after we got back together. We still had disagreements, but we handled them like grownups, and kept moving FORWARD....to the baby we had both been wanting to have for ten years, among other things.
Nothing is ever perfect, but for about six months we functioned well, we grew and matured even more, and we cherished each other. Then we conceived Bobblehead the same week that he got orders for deployment. We had about 4 months before his actual departure, but of course there were trainings and workups, so things got a little strained. But we dealt with it. Mature, loving adults, facing all of these challenges TOGETHER.
By the time he left for Afghanistan in May 2010, I was convinced that everything we'd been through so far had made us strong enough to get through anything.
(fun fact about me: I am terminally NAIVE)
Something happened to him over there, and while he fights his way back to some kind of normal, he has reverted to some of the same crappy behavior from years earlier......initially it was just this ridiculously huge invisible wall that he put up between us when he came home in December. But within a couple weeks, I started feeling the way I used to with him, years ago: small. insignificant. nothing.
I fell back into the old 'battered woman' habits of making excuses for him.
"He's still getting used to being home, he just needs time/space/etc"
"He's dealing with all the changes that took place while he was gone - especially the new baby"
"He doesn't KNOW how much he's hurting me, or he would definitely stop."
"I'm just being too sensitive because of my own issues (post partum depression, etc.)"
After a couple of months with no improvement, I begged him to get help for his 'issues'. He still refuses to acknowledge any kind of mental health problems, but he made all the promises, said all the right words. And still kept this distance between us.
I sought counseling on my own, because I did NOT want to go back to the darkness I used to live in. Counseling has helped me, more than anything to be very clear and very specific when asking him for what I want or need.
And still, six months after his return, he won't open up, connect, or really BE here with me.
Can't? Won't? at this point there is little difference, as far as I am concerned. The result is still the same.
I still have this horrible emptiness inside me, and I continue to fill that void with food. Every pound I gain is a testament to my own misery and weakness....and HIS weakness, in my view. I keep thinking, if he could only be strong enough to live up to the promises he made in those six months before active duty, and those four months before he actually left....if he could just be strong enough to really COME BACK to us, then things would be OK.
And then I think that *I* need to be the strong one, need to move on and get healthy, inside and out. For me, and for my kids. But I can't find a way to do any of that and still stay in this painful marriage.
I feel so much guilt for even considering LEAVING (or asking him to leave) when he's clearly suffering. He's fragile, and needs me now more than ever, whether he knows that or not. It's not HIS fault that he came back so damaged, right? He's made so much progress in his professional life in the past few months...still a long way to go to 'normal' but he is at least FUNCTIONAL. I still love him every bit as much as I did before he left for that third deployment.....
But is it really OK for me to suffer through this - IN FRONT OF MY CHILDREN? They see all of this, they know that dad makes mom cry ALL.THE.TIME. They don't have to know the details of how or why he is torturing me, to see the devastating results.
The burning question that keeps me awake at night, is "What am I teaching my children by allowing anyone to treat me this way?"
Will my boys grow up to be mean, manipulative, abusive husbands? If they do, I have no one else to blame....it will be MY fault.