My eyes are often drawn to the imprint of my wedding ring on my hand. I haven’t worn it in six months, yet there it is. Mocking me. Taunting me to move on. The grief cycle is a peculiar thing. When I first left my husband, I struggled to remember exactly what happened. The details seemed to be just out of reach of my memory. I could remember the feelings, but not the events that caused them. As time goes on, the memories now haunt me. Vignettes of moments in time come to mind without warning. A picture of my new husband throwing a wad of bills on the nightstand after we had sex. He’d look straight at me, daring me to react. I’d try my best to act like nothing was happening. But, surely he could see the hurt and confusion on my face. He must have enjoyed it, because he’d do it again. The part that haunts me is not that this happened. The part that haunts me is that I don’t remember ever asking him to stop. Why didn’t I take the money and throw it back at him? Why didn’t I tell him that his behavior was totally unacceptable and I had done nothing to deserve being treated like a whore? Instead, I did my best to appear stoic.
Over the years there is one thing my husband used to tell me, “You’re a hard woman”. This was always puzzling to me. I was crushed by the horrible things he said to me and the names he called me. I was filled with despair at the thought that I was doomed to live like that until I the day I died. His words brought me to tears. Perhaps, not as often as it should have. As I was reflecting over this today, I realized that, most of the time I kept my feelings to myself. I didn’t want my husband to have the satisfaction of knowing that he was “getting to me”. I didn’t tell anyone else because I was ashamed. Ashamed and scared that they would look at me with contempt for allowing it to happen. I was very close to my Mom and I didn’t even tell her. She believed that Christian women did not divorce. I had already been divorced once, this was my second marriage. The thought of being divorced twice was unthinkable.
Now, as I meet other couples that appear “normal” I wonder what really happens in their house. When they’re all alone, with the windows closed and the blinds shut. Does normal even exist? In my experience it doesn’t. Life was an emotionally draining roller coaster. It seems like the good times were inevitably marred by a blow up. We could be driving down the road on vacation and something small would set my husband off. He’d rage at me, with my kids silently sitting in the back seat. I was just glad that it wasn’t directed at them. However, now that I consider it, they really weren’t so lucky. When I think of them witnessing my husband’s rage towards me it doesn’t seem so lucky anymore. It seems tragic. Tragic that my son may think that it’s acceptable to lose your temper and say hateful things to your wife. Heartbreaking that my daughters might think that’s the way husbands treat their wives.
I went to a new church today. My faith is a big part of my life and I don’t want to lose it. I don’t want to blame God for what happened to me in my marriage. I don’t want my husband’s actions to turn me into a bitter woman. A hard woman. I thoroughly enjoyed the sermon. He was educated and didn’t waste the whole time on feel good stories. Chicken Soup for Sunday morning, if you will. But, surrounded by mostly married couples it seems surreal. I felt disconnected, and even a bit uncomfortable. Added to that, it was a very small church and I was likely the only one who didn’t know anyone. I found myself surreptitiously looking at the couples sitting next to each other. They looked happy enough. I know all too well that looks can be deceiving.
Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be okay. Or, if I will ever have a healthy relationship with a man. At this point, I have no desire to even socialize with someone with one of those offending appendages. I’m concentrating on detoxing from my marriage. My husband left me with more than an imprint on my finger. He left an imprint on my soul. A wound, if you will. Not a scar, but a wound. It is still open and tender, throbbingly reminding me that it has not yet healed. For now, I go on with life trying my best to act like I’m okay. As if life is running it’s course and my heart is not broken. I’ve even somewhat convinced myself of this. In fact, the only time I feel like crying is occasionally in one of my counseling sessions. I think my counselor feels a little bit of victory when my facade cracks. But, I’m crying on the inside. Driving down the road, working on a customer file at work, watching TV. All the time agonizing over what was, what could have been and wondering what will be.