Tuesday, October 25, 2011
A Matter of Control
All young brides see that picture from the minute they say "I do" to the moment they are walking down the aisle towards that perfect man. The one. The love of their life. Their rock, their witness to their life. Imagine if someone at that moment tells you you have to give it up. Would you? Could you?
That's what makes it so hard for someone who is in an abusive relationship to leave. You keep remembering that picture, playing those moments in your head. This is still that handsome young groom and you can't understand why he's doing the hurtful things he's doing to you. You didn't sign on for this but you think if you just try a little harder, give a little bit more, make sure that you do everything the way he likes it done then eventually the dream will come to life and you'll have it all. It's hard to reconcile yourself to the fact that things are never going to get better, he will always hurt you, he will always try to control you. But the dream is the reason you stay in it, probably way longer than you should have.
I can remember early on in our marriage my handsome, young husband, saying to me as we're heading out to dinner, "Where do you feel like eating?" And me saying, "Let's go to Woolgrowers." (One of his favorite restaurants.) And he says, "Are you kidding me? Woolgrowers? Why would you choose that place of all places on the day that I feel like eating Mexican food? You always want Mexican food, but nooooo, today you gotta say Woolgrowers!!!" So I say hesitantly, "You wanted Mexican food? Well that's fine with me, let's get Mexican food, that sounds good too." And he says, "No, now we're gonna go to Woolgrowers because you already messed it up and now I don't want Mexican."
The next week comes around and again we're heading out for dinner and my handsome, young husband says to me, "Where do you feel like eating?" My mind races...what do I say, what's the right answer? I want to enjoy this evening, I want to please him. So I say, "Oh, anywhere you want Honey. I'm just hungry, anything is fine." My husband, the love of my life says, "Great...so you can't even pick a restaurant? Why do I have to make all the decisions? Here I am being a nice guy and taking you out so you don't have to cook and I have to decide where! Great!" Another evening ruined.
The next week comes around and again...as usual, heading out to dinner. I'm already dreading that question. I know I can't say the right thing, but I can't just abstain from answering. My stomach is in knots, I have absolutely no appetite, I just want to stay home and not even go out for my weekly gift of not having to cook. Again...the question from my husband, "So where do you want to eat?" Woolgrowers was the wrong answer before, letting him choose was the wrong answer before...but he did say he wanted Mexican food, so I say, "How about Mexicali or El Sombrero?" Again I get that look of disdain as he says to me, "Mexican food? Are you kidding me? You're Mexican! Didn't you get enough of that crap growing up? Great, just when I was in the mood for a good steak you have to go and ruin it by wanting Mexican food!"
I couldn't win. There was no right answer. He didn't want to take me out for a wonderful, happy dinner as a treat to keep me from having to cook one night a week. He wanted to control me, manipulate me, hurt me, confuse me...and it worked. This was just a small example of the many ways that he did this. This man that I had planned to spend my life with, the man in my dreams that stood at the end of that long church aisle.
And this story is just the tip of the iceberg, there is so much more that no one knows, so much more that I can't share with a public audience like this. It's easy to criticize women in domestic abuse relationships, to say, "I would never put up with it, he lays a hand on me just one time and I'm outta here." Or "he dares to talk down to me and I'm outta here, I don't have to take it!" But remember that dream and the fear this person instills. He takes away your freedom of choice, he takes away your strength, your mind, your thoughts. It's easy to say, "Oh but that would never happen to me." It happens. It happened to me.
If you are in a relationship like this, whether it's physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse; just know that you are stronger that you think. Look deep down into your soul and find that strength and get out. And if today is not the day to get out, then know that it's not you. YOU are not the one that's wrong. YOU are not the one that is doing the wrong thing. YOU are not the one that is stupid, or weak, or dumb, or lazy, or fat, or ugly...whatever horrible things this person says to makes you feel like you deserve it. YOU just aren't ready. But I hope you will be soon, I hope you find someone you can talk to and I hope you find your way out.
This post was inspired by the book "Lost Edens"In Lost Edens, author Jamie Patterson struggles to save her marriage which may or may not be already over. Keeping her attempts a secret from her family, she attempts to mold herself into the wife her husband wants her to be. As a member of From Left to Write book club, I received a complimentary copy of this book for review. You can read other members posts inspired by Lost Edens by Jamie Patterson on book club day, October 27 at From Left to Write.