Growing up as I did in such an isolated family life I had little experience to draw from when it came to working out a relationship with a spouse. For that reason I sort of took things one day at a time, figuring that we would learn how to live together just as every married couple learns how to live together. I was wrong in so many ways.
From the beginning he was critical, controlling, and moody, nothing like he was while we dated. Nothing I did seemed to satisfy him. He criticized my mode of dress; he criticized my work schedule; he criticized the roughness of my hands caused by my job. All these may seem small alone, but the incidences built up until they were a daily occurrence. The first physical incident occurred on the night before our first Christmas Eve, a little more than six months after we got married.
I came home late from work and he was already in bed, being an early person. Since I had to unwind for a while after working late, I used the time to begin my Christmas baking. I figured it would be ok since the kitchen was at the other end of our narrow apartment. After a little bit, I heard my husband slam open the sliding door to the bedroom and come storming through the apartment, raging at me for making noise while he tried to sleep. Before I could respond he began throwing around my cooking bowls and utensils, smashing whatever he could, and ruining all my hard work. Then he grabbed me, ripped my shirt and shoved me to the floor and upturned an empty 30-gallon trash can on top of me. Then he stormed back to bed, leaving me in shock.
I had never experienced violence before and I had no idea what had really triggered it or how to react to it. A few minutes later I heard him having a severe asthma attack and when I checked on him he was struggling to breathe. I called the emergency squad and they took him to the hospital where he was admitted into ICU. So, in less than an hour I went from arriving home exhausted from a day at work and trying to unwind with a pleasant activity, to being beaten and tossed around, to spending the night before our first Christmas Eve in the ICU with my new husband. Honestly, my mind, heart, and soul didn’t know how to shift gears in so many directions so fast in so short a time. And since he was the one in the hospital my feelings seemed to get lost in all the confusion. It was all about him and his illness.
That is the way the next fourteen years played out. He would be nice and even sweet for a time. Then he would get sick and would develop severe mood swings that would eventually erupt into violence. Sometimes the cycle would be a few weeks or months. Sometimes the cycle might last a year or two. We did have a few good times or I wouldn’t have stayed for fourteen years and had two children with him. I was told by at least one doctor that he was sick and couldn’t help himself and I had to just understand. That was the same thing people told me about my mother’s mental illness. Somehow no matter who the person was, all the responsibility fell to me. I just kept praying, asking God to work it all out. And, I did everything I knew in the natural to be a good wife and make things work out. It wasn’t until near the end of the marriage that I realized he had a predictable cycle of violence, and it wasn’t getting better it was getting worse.
In my next entry I’ll explain the cycle of violence and tell you how I finally escaped.