He Never Hit Me. You Can’t See My Wounds.
This is my fantasy: He barges in my room, drags me out of bed, and punches me in the face.
There is blood, and maybe a broken bone. I guess it doesn’t matter, as long as it leaves a mark. I run across the street to Ann’s house, and she hurriedly ushers me in, horrified by the sight of her poor, dear neighbor. She scoops me up in her arms, and cleans my bloody and tear-stained face. She sweeps the hair out of my face and pushes my head to her breast, whispering, “You’re safe now.” Did I want her to call the police? Hell yeah I did.
Punish him for hurting me.
I have this fantasy on a regular basis with slight variations. But it always ends the same: I’m saved, and he is whisked away out of my life. No questions are asked because punching your wife in the face is clearly wrong. There is no ambiguity involved. Everyone knows hitting is bad.
But he doesn’t hit me.
The wounds he’s caused aren’t visible. No bruises or broken bones or blood to see. The hurt is deep inside my soul. It’s a hurt that’s not easily explained. It happened slowly, over time. Years went by as he slowly chipped away at my self-worth. And then, without even recognizing it, I had lost myself completely.
Let me say something before I continue, because I need you to know this about me. I am a college-educated woman. I have a career, and am financially independent. I am not young or dumb or needy. I have a million friends, and a big family with whom I am very close. I have dated many men. Many men still want to date me. I have never been in an abusive relationship. I have no history or experience with abuse of any kind.
So how did I end up in this horribly emotionally abusive marriage? How did I become a pathetic shell of the strong woman I once was? A person who constantly walks on eggshells with a pit in her stomach, timid, afraid to say the wrong thing, constantly striving to please, but never quite good enough? Someone who is constantly apologizing and questioning her sanity because she is always being told things didn’t happen as she remembered?
A person who fantasizes about being hit because that would be easier?
I’ll tell you.
It started when I fell for a charming, handsome (so handsome), and smart (oh-so-smart) man. Things progressed quickly. He called me his queen. He loved me so fucking much. He said no one was ever worthy of him until I came along. But me, I was worthy of him. And that made me feel good. I was the one he had been waiting for. The abuse started immediately, but subtly. We stopped going to restaurants I liked, watching movies I wanted to, or listening to the music I preferred.
It was because he had better taste and more knowledge than I did about these things. What I wanted to watch on TV or talk about was boring. We started doing things his way because his way was just more logical. If I disagreed with him, it would start a huge argument, so I eventually stopped. It just wasn’t worth it to disagree anymore.
He was slowly conditioning me.
I can’t say I was completely unaware of it, but I pushed any doubts I had aside.
I was so hopeful.
After a while, his demeanor became more condescending. He criticized the way I cooked, the way I dressed, how I cleaned the house, did his laundry. I wasn’t good with finances, so he took them over. If something went wrong, it was always my fault. I wasn’t organized enough. I wasn’t thorough enough. I was careless. I didn’t listen to him intently enough.
I was not good enough.
And he let me know it at every chance he got.
Now, if you saw us on Facebook, you would be jealous. He spoke so highly of me, and was sure to post pictures of every present he ever bought me. You would see us drinking expensive wine and eating at expensive restaurants and smiling. Always smiling. We were so cute. Everyone told us so.
But they had no idea. No idea that behind my smiling eyes and upheld champagne glass was that fantasy. Looming. Always looming. I was begging the Universe to make it a reality. Desperately pleading.
Remember, I’m not dumb. I knew this is not the way a marriage should be. But whenever I tried to discuss my concerns with him, it was never the right time. It was too early in the morning or too late at night, he was too busy with work, or he hadn’t slept well the night before and was too tired. When I finally forced the conversation and demanded to be treated better, he dismissed everything because clearly I didn’t remember the situations I cited correctly.
Not to mention, according to him, I was just too sensitive, I was nagging him, and that no marriage is perfect.
So I started to justify the way he treated me. I mean, maybe I am too sensitive. It’s true; no marriage is perfect, right? Maybe this is what a marriage is like.
Through all of it, there was a voice inside me that yelled, “No! No, this is not right. You know this isn’t right!” But that voice that started off screaming vehemently, slowly over time exhausted all of its energy, and became quieter until it was barely a questioning whisper… then finally collapsed and conceded altogether.
I now walk around on those eggshells, a robot, who, before doing anything, instinctually asks the questions, “Will this make him happy?” “Is this good enough?” And the answer is always No. Nothing is good enough. He is never satisfied. Never happy. As hard as I try, I cannot be good enough.
So, as I lie here in bed, I will begin to indulge in my fantasy. And tonight, it’s going to be brutal. There will be so much blood, so many bruises and broken bones.
Everyone will see my hurt.
And then I will be saved.
A Solitary Soul is focused on awakening her true self after removing herself from an emotionally abusive marriage. Her main goal is to move forward in her new life with kindness, grace, strength, and peace.