When I left, it was because I saw only two choices: stay and literally have a complete mental breakdown (I was this close to it, people), or leave. It seemed like the best thing to do was leave. I had not formed that motherly attachment to my daughter, my husband was a demon from hell (I thought) and there didn’t seem any other compelling reason to stay. I could not even eat anymore – it just made me gag.
I packed my bags, Husband was nice enough to drop me off at the airport where I walked away very fast without even a look back and I was off to the west coast. I don’t know whether it was sheer dumb luck or God looking out for me but I actually managed to get a great job. Nothing fancy, certainly not very high paying, but the atmosphere is what I’m mostly referring to. It was a Christian street ministry and there were a few very wonderful people that reached out to me. I hope I will never forget what it felt like to be in the circle of people that probably saw that I was a wreck but befriended me nonetheless.
Before anything good started happening though I first wrecked myself completely. It was at this time in my life that I drank excessively, experimented with bar hopping, dabbled with illegal narcotics and committed adultery – a pretty long to-do list for a period of less than a month.
My husband committed adultery during this time as well. He also dabbled with pornography on top of that. This is not something that is a habitual problem for him but there have been other occasions where he has fallen prey to this. Many men are and many men become addicted to it which is why I flew off the handle each time I discovered such a shameful thing had transpired. He also didn’t have standards as high as mine were when it came to what fidelity actually means. But during this time, I threw standards of all variety right out the window. I did not care one little bit about what I did, why I did it, or what might be the future ramifications. I didn’t bother to look past one day to the next, not one hour to the next even. There was nothing to look forward to anyway as far as I could see.
When I stopped long enough to take a little time to really think (eating and sleeping a little bit better were a really big help in bringing this about) I realized that even if I couldn’t see any purpose in my life or any reason to hold on to objective standards, what I was doing was still a really bad idea. So I toned it way down and only drank a little bit and then nothing at all. Instead I did a lot of walking and thinking and reading and thinking. In between I slept and worked and cautiously opened myself up to some friendships. Every once in a while I prayed a little bit but it was just like what I was used to – talking to the four walls that sheltered me from the elements. God was out there but my prayers didn’t make it past the ceiling, I was sure.
During this time, the same woman that was instrumental in bringing about that final bend in the road years later that opened the door for God was in contact with me through E-mail as well. I wish I had saved the correspondence because it would be really nice to see with my own eyes where I was at that time by the words that I wrote then. Several other people contacted me by E-mail from back home as well and two sent me a gift at Christmas. Yes, I missed my own daughter’s first Christmas.
How it came about I don’t rightly recall, but at some eventuality I ended up with a Christian counselor who was able to steer me on the course to opening communication with Husband. I initiated contact with my husband about the second month into my self-imposed exile. He had tried to reach me at various times before that but I had refused contact with him. I felt ready to do so then and so I began telephone and E-mail correspondence.
He apologized for his inexcusable behaviour and demanded my immediate return. I declined and informed him that I would finish out the three month contract I had signed with my employer. By the time it was done it was early January and Husband and I were communicating somewhat effectively and I felt strong enough physically, emotionally and spiritually to return. Neither of us knew of the others’ affairs and the like at this point.
When I arrived back, I confessed everything and he confessed to adultery. We really made an effort at forgiveness and a clean slate.
Our daughter was scheduled for her surgeries very suddenly only a few days after I returned to this tiny stranger and put more strain on the whole situation. I discovered a bit of a pornographic history not very long after that and it was beyond what I was able to handle. I had asked him that first day back if there was anything else he had done – I needed an absolutely clean slate. He looked me in the eye and lied, like so many times before. How painful a lie is; how deep is the wound it slashes.
Not even two months and it was back to same-old, same-old. This time it ignited a rage so deep within me that it was truly frightening to me how angry I could get. I got so enraged that I started blacking out. I screamed, cursed, threw things, hit him, ran, ran, and ran until I thought I would never be able to draw another breath again. I couldn’t stop; then or after. I was alternately silent and cold or loud and red hot angry. This is the point in time when violence became ‘normal’. Why didn’t I leave again? I didn’t care. I only wanted to hurt him as much as I had hurt all these years. I could see nothing good for my life by staying or by leaving – the only thing that really brought me the slightest modicum of satisfaction was torturing my husband.
I would ignore him (he hated that more than almost anything else I did), treat him with mock reverence (calling him things like ‘your Highness’, ‘your majesty’, ‘master’, etc.), scream and curse, bring up all of his many failures and infidelities (the way I defined them) without ceasing and doing everything I could to make sure he was miserable (messy, disorganized house and so on). He became increasingly volatile and dangerous.
One night, we had a major blow-up before arriving at a friends’ house, our tempers simmered while we were there, and on the way home I did my normal routine and he hit me hard about a dozen times, leaving a great many bruises in a lot of different places. He said that if our daughter were not in the car he would kill me. Arriving home, I sat in my seat while he unbuckled our daughter and carried her inside. I quickly got into the driver’s seat and left. Where did I go? To a bar, of course!
I tried really hard to think about what I should do now. He had hit me before and I was so numb of heart and soul that it actually did not make a difference to me after a certain point, but such a cold, calm threat to kill me was new. If you have ever tried to think through drink you know that I didn’t do more than go ‘round and ‘round in circles. Finally I just sat in the car most of the night, sobering up. When I was back to sober, I made my way home, not having reached much of a resolution. I basically determined that I would judge the atmosphere at the door and go from there.
Husband had calmed down, though he was quite cold and aloof. Another thing that happened was that he tried to force himself on me after all of this. This is when I caught the blackness in his eyes – he was truly frightening at this point. I ran from him and he just laughed saying he knew where to find me. He had disconnected and shut down inside just as I had, he just happened to express it a bit differently. Once more I ran out the door, this time to the police. I didn’t even think about what I was doing – I was afraid and very angry and it was the only place I could think to go. Why didn’t I go to the church, maybe years ago when the bulk of the ugliness could have been staved off? Why didn’t I go there now? I was deeply ashamed and wanted very much to avoid being judged by ‘good’ people – a stereotype that I was later relieved of, thankfully. I did share with the pastor’s wife a few times over the years some of the problems, but I never let anyone really get into the details.
So I was at the police station on that rainy June day and I told them everything that had happened and the result was a photo session with my bruises and a pair of handcuffs that locked up the hands of my husband as he was charged with four criminal offences. Our daughter stood there in silent shock, watching two large, intimidating uniformed men walk her chained daddy out of her life for the next year.
In many ways, Husband being charged and arrested was the best thing that could have happened to us. He had been emotionally black-mailing me with our daughter since before she was born which served only to widen the distance between she and I, and he had looked like the good guy in our marriage because I was the one that walked out for so long and left both him and my daughter behind. What kind of mother does that? A terrible, no good, very bad mother. But I made a choice because I had to and I still think I made the right one. No one knew what kind of a man he really was until this all came about. He could no longer appear quite as innocent as he tried so hard to make himself look before. He had to pay the penalty of a year’s restraining order barring him from contact of any kind with both myself and our daughter.
Ponder Man pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to one year probation. He went through that year and by the time he was permitted to come home again we had been communicating via telephone for a while. For the first time I was seeing a real will to change in him. He didn’t have the luxury of other people’s much higher esteem of him than me to pride himself on any longer. He had been found out in a very public manner and he wasn’t able to cover up or gloss over it.
He told me often that his intention was to be the husband I needed him to be and the father his daughter needed him to be. Things went very well when he came back. He was much quieter and had a much greater control of his emotions – anger in particular. We bought our first house, which resembles a dump more than it does a house (but I love it anyway), and we were all set to begin our grand life together, overcoming the problems that still needed to be overcome together and learning to truly love each other. All by our own strength like always. Sound familiar?
Note: I wonder if this post is sounding a lot like I’m just unloading on my husband. I sincerely hope not as that is not what I am about at all. I am trying to tell this sordid tale as best as I can and this is an accurate reflection of what happened.