The gift of darkness…
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift”
My ex-husband was a mean son of a bitch. He was abusive and disrespectful. He was a liar, a cheat and dishonest. He was not loyal, not kind, not loving, and not nice. My Ex stole from me, took from me, and robbed me of money, emotion, time, the children I wanted and the life I dreamed we would have. He was living in a dark place and took me with him most days of the week, and yet, there are still days when I wish he would have just hit me.
I know that sounds crazy, but it is true. Let me start by saying that I don’t condone people placing their hands in a violent nature on anyone, however, with that being said, I am not sure if I would be in a better place if he had just hit me.
Words hurt. Actions hurt. Lack of actions hurt. They stay with you for a long time. He kept a calendar of “shame” on the door of the office. There, each day, he would write down if I had been a “good” wife or a “bad” wife. This was arbitrary, obtuse and I have since determined that the measurement was not by anything that I did or did not do, but by his own feelings of how he felt about himself each day. Let’s just say that there were many “bad” wife days. I think I could forget those days better if I had a scar that is now gone.
There were times when we were out, and he would see old friends of his, and he would introduce me as Wendy. Not his wife, not even as a friend…just Wendy, and that was if he introduced me at all. Because I began to realize that was how he felt about me, I was no one special, just the person that met his basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. Never a gift for Christmas, Birthdays, or Anniversaries. I could not “buy his love” he said…I knew that also meant that I would never have his love, no matter what I did. The fingerprints of his slap in the face would be gone by now.
He moved out the bedroom.
My husband and I made love less than a dozen times during the course of our marriage. It is quite humiliating to beg the one you love to make love to you. Once, Basil, the dog, jumped on the bed, and my husband said to me that we could not make love because it would upset the dog. Really, upset the dog? I began to question my body, my attractiveness, my sexiness. If my husband did not want me, and I chose him, then who did? And while he would be with other women, even with them in our home, I don’t think it was for pleasure, it was for sport. The sport of causing me pain.
I lived not knowing which one of the many “models” from his “business” would be the one he was loving that night. Not knowing what was wrong with me, and why couldn’t I be the one he loved, talked to, laughed with, slept with, made love too. I thought, what was I doing that made him react to me this way? I did all that I could to make myself appealing to him, to no avail. A deep purple bruise would be gone by now, had I been punched.
He shoved me once.
He actually did put his hands on me once. He shoved me when I was going to buy a car I wanted. I got up enough nerve to call the police, and they came. But the officer was a friend that he grew up with and so after they had their mini-reunion, the officer said that I really didn’t want that car anyway, it had too many miles. I felt so totally devastated and alone. My husband never put his hands on me again, but that just made him meaner and nastier, mentally vicious and an expert in psychological warfare. If he had pushed me down the stairs, my broken bones would be healed by now.
And yet I stayed.
Why? I don’t know, but then I do. How did I end up in that place? Why did I remain in a place that was filled with sadness and darkness? What kept me frozen in place, scared to move? I stayed because I was afraid. I thought I had no one. I had been alienated from my family and friends. Making new friends was out of the question because they may ask too many of the right questions. I was told and treated as if I were worthless, and I began to feel that way. I was called a pig, and so I felt like one. The dog was given more consideration and value than I was.
He kicked my brain in the ass.
Catching an ass whipping in the brain is nothing nice. It begins with an overkill type of love. You are the most important thing in his life. There is nothing that he can do without you, the grocery store, getting your hair done, retail shops, picking up a meal at the drive through are all done together. You are made to feel that you are important, because maybe you never felt you were important before. He paid you attention, and no man had paid attention to you before, at least not like that. He made you feel safe, but later you realize it was a twisted type of safety that was really keeping him safe from his feelings of inadequacy.
“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness.”
I was mentally beat down, and a shell of the person I knew I was the day before I met him. I did not remember who I was, where I was from, the experiences that I had. There were not even memories of the happiness that we shared. There had to have been good times right? There had to have been times of laughter and joy in the midst of the anger and hatred. It could not have been all bad, was it? He filled my mind with so much “stuff” it was hard to tell what was real and what wasn’t. It was all his plan, total domination of Wendy, and it was working.
People who have scars can tell not only the story of how they got the scar, but can tell and show the healing process. Those who have seen you broken, and wounded, see you in your new state of healing. You know you are healed because it, the wound is not there. The bruise is gone. The black eye has return to its natural pigment. The broken arm has been set and is better than new. You remember the circumstances of the injury, but you are witness and testimony to the healing.
A closed head injury, a wound to your brain, takes longer to heal, and some never heal. You get better, bad memories begin to fade, you remember the good, and you learn how to love again. But the minute you feel threatened, you revert back to those behaviors that kept you safe and sane. It sure does make it rough for whoever comes next to try to love me. I apologize in advance for the hard time I will be giving you.
And so where am I?
How do I know that I have been healed? What are the signs? There is no internal wound, just the pain. There is no scab to fall off, just the pain. There are no bandages to put on, just the pain. There are no stiches to be sewn in the fabric of your being, just the pain. No antiseptic ointments, potions, and gels, just the pain. The pain of wondering if my selection was so off on this, how can I trust that I won’t make the same mistake again? How will I know that my next choice is a right choice? How will I know that I won’t be hurt again? I guess the answer is that I won’t know, and I will never know until I know until I risk being vulnerable again, open myself up again, and choose to feel again.
I am sure that there are those who have felt the pain of physical abuse who will strongly disagree with me, and that is their right. I can only speak to my experience and my life. There are those who know me now and never guess that my life sings songs of sorrow and pain, but it has and it does. And now the darkness that was given to me, was really a gift. A gift of life, joy and happiness. A gift of strength and power. I made it through, I got out. I found myself and reclaimed me and all that I am and will be. And still there are moments that I feel that pain and become afraid that I am crawling back into the nightmare that was my life…and I think, I wish he would have just hit me.