I have a confession to make. My name is Heather, and my husband is verbally abusive.
This isn't my most proud moment, for sure. I am thirty-six years old. I am a working mom of two darling little boys with a great career. I have an education, I have skills, I have a brain. And yet somehow I managed to make enough excuses to myself over the years that I didn't know the insanity I was living with was the very definition of verbal abuse.
My husband is also a very successful man with an education and a great career in the same field as mine. He was married once before me, but when we started dating it seemed to make sense why they split up - namely, she was crazy. Isn't that always the story? The ex is crazy.
In hindsight I know that his ex-wife wasn't crazy. She had problems, sure. It's with the eyes I have now, not the eyes I had seven years ago, that I can see the life she was living, and I can understand why she chose a week when he was out of town at a meeting to pack up her things and move to Iowa. In fact, that doesn't sound too bad to me right now.
I've lived with this craziness for over three years. Before our wedding he was intense, but his talk never escalated to the level it's at now. While we were still engaged, I became pregnant. I can distinctly remember getting into an argument over real estate (don't all newlyweds argue over real estate?) a few days after we were married. He'd been drinking. He told me "I only married you because you were pregnant." Never mind the fact that we got engaged before I got pregnant.
A few weeks would go by with no incidents. He would remember what he'd said in the heat of an argument (most times) and would recollect it with an air of incredulity, as though he was amazed at his own ability to use such harsh words. Amazed in a shock-and-awe way, not amazed in a I-think-I-need-help way.
When I was pregnant with our second son I started seeing a therapist. He refused to go with me. There was nothing she could tell him that he didn't already know, and we are who we are, Heather, you just need to live with it, and what a waste of money that is... Anyway, I kept going. It was incredibly helpful to me at that time, when I felt trapped. I was pregnant! I had a one-year-old! I couldn't go anywhere, I had to figure out how to live with this man, how to make things better.
Since then, he's managed to come with me to three therapy sessions. He's gone to see my therapist twice on his own. On all five of those occasions, our marriage and his abusive tendencies were not the focus of his discussions. He was usually talking about his mother.
Yesterday a friend recommended a book to me, Controlling People, by Patricia Evans. I was standing in front of the Self-Help book section at Borders, and right next to that book was The Verbally Abusive Relationship also by Patricia Evans.
I bought them both.
I opened The Verbally Abusive Relationship last night while I was sitting in bed (my husband and I don't sleep in the same bedroom right now - that's a long story in itself). I'm one of those cheater readers who likes to check out the middle of a book to see how interesting it is, how engaging is the writing style, before I start at page one.
I was floored. My mouth dropped open. This author was describing conversations that I have had with my husband, down to the exact language! She was describing his irrational responses to benign statements in detail. It was as though she somehow had a hidden camera in our home and was able to document our relationship over the past three years.
I kept reading until my eyelids were too heavy. I have yet to go back to page one, but I'll be doing that as soon as I can.
I know now that what I've been living with and what has ultimately driven me to contact an attorney isn't just a clash of personalities. It isn't that I'm bad at relationships. It isn't that I'm an ugly bitch who just wants to start trouble. I don't just like to run my mouth all the time. My husband has a problem.
Only now, it's my problem. And it's my kids' problem. And it is for them (and for me) that I will be solving this problem now. Today. Tomorrow. This spring. This summer. I would lay my body down on the road in traffic if it kept my sons from being hurt or growing up with abuse and neglect in their lives.
I hope to be able to update my story with good news. This is just the beginning of my journey. Hopefully, there's a bright light at the end of this tunnel. What that light looks like, I have no idea just yet. Stay tuned.
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