There. I said it. It’s out there. Yes. My husband beat me.
Damn. That is so hard to read. I mean, I’ve lived through it – to a certain degree still do – but seeing it in print, knowing people will read these words maybe one day even people who know me. It’s rough. They’ll know my business. The secret I’ve tried to hide all these years. What a loser. No, not him. I mean he IS a loser…and a coward but yes, I mean me. And not in the sense where I blame myself for what has happened. Believe me, I am far from a television talk show episode where the girlfriend/wife tells her story and says…I stayed because I love him. I never understood those women. What the hell is wrong with you? You stayed because you LOVE him??? Whatever love I may have had for this man – which to this day I refuse to believe there ever was “true” love – was gone the first time he touched me. Maybe not in it’s entirety, not at first, but each strike tore down that … in like, in lust, in love … gone completely never to return again.
So what’s your question? Why did I stay. If this is the first time reading my blog here is a quick recap. Met my husband when I was 15 (he was 5 years older), had a total crush on him, he was the resident bad boy who eventually left the neighborhood due to said trouble. Met my ex and fell madly in love, dated for a year and a half, perfectly happy, content, and looking forward to the future. Bad boy returns, proclaims I am the one for him, uneasily broke up with ex, now dating bad boy (at 17), hit for the first time within 2 months of dating and by 7 months dating….18 and pregnant.
On to the wonderful wedding. City hall. Pregnant teenage bride-to-be accompanied by parents and future mother in law. Married to a man that says he loves me. He says it so meaningfully. Convincingly. I kind of still believe. Even after being hit for the past several months, I believe there is a possibility for change. Maybe he didn’t mean it, maybe it was because he was drinking, maybe I did do something to bring it on. Yeah, I did. I stayed. That may not have been what started it but it’s what kept it coming.
We were married almost three months after living together. In that time, broken camera, broken stereo, broken telephones (yep, the ones that plugged into the wall – and yes, plural), broken jewelry and of course broken spirit. My view at 18. How can I turn around, after I praised him to my parents that he was not as bad as they thought, got pregnant, etc. etc., and now run back home because he’s beating me? I had too much pride. I was not going to tell. Yes, I know some people around the neighborhood may have seen us fight, they may have even seen him hit me, or maybe even a covered up bruise, but back then people turned the other way. It wasn’t their business. Plus, because my husband had a bad reputation there was no one that was going to challenge him. I was the sucker for going with him…whatever happens, happens.
Four months after getting married my daughter is born. For as many bad times there were in that first year and a half – there were good times. We had a nice apartment. Had friends/family over. His mother would cook delicious meals for me. We both had decent paying jobs. Overall, my pregnancy was not bad. I mean it was good as it could be for a teenager. After a while age wasn’t a factor. Another close friend of mine had a baby a couple of months before me. Another friend would have one a couple of years later. In the 80’s it was worse to be single and pregnant then it was to be young and pregnant. We were both happy with this new bundle. It changed us both just a little. We definitely matured, quickly.
Of course, I thought he would mellow but that wasn’t the case. Hindsight…20/20. Ain’t that some shit. I’ve failed to mention that over the course of this relationship…jealousy abounds. I’d get calls at work, do I work with any guys? Does anyone come meet me for lunch? Have I met anyone new in the neighborhood (where I worked) – and the list goes on. He’d also talk about my ex, other guys he knew I had crushes on, guys I dated before I even knew him. There was one incident in the early stage of dating where he wanted to know about a guy I messed around with…how many times did I go to his house, how many times did we do it, did I like it, do I still want the guy (all of which I blocked out of my mind when I was happily dating my ex) but he wasn’t having that “I don’t know” bullshit. So he tried choking the answers out of me. His hands around my throat, in the schoolyard of my junior high school. I remember thinking…how the hell did I get here. How did I get out of that moment? By pledging my unwavering love. What is that called these days? Oh yeah…enabling.
There were so many more times after that. It becomes sort of a blur. I can remember incidents that made an impact on me – no pun intended. For instance, there was a time when we got into it and somehow I ended up on the grass and he was on top of me hitting me and when it was over my double name plate (necklace) was actually bent. It looked like a warped record. And it was pretty thick. A nice piece of gold. I couldn’t even figure out how that happened. There was another time in our apartment that he hit me in the face. He RARELY hit me in the face. This may have been the first time (since the initial slap) and I tend to think where his fist actually connected was accidental. He was very calculating to hit me where no one could see the bruises. It was either the way I turned my head or maybe I flinched too fast but he hit me in my nose and blood literally gushed all over the place. It was out of control. I thought for sure my nose was broken. It wasn’t but something with the cartilage in my nose got torn or something to that effect because it was never the same after that.
Subsequently, after being married, he started to threaten me about if I ever decided to leave. It was first and foremost murder. He’d kill me. And not for nothing…I believed him. When he hit me there was a rage – something that wasn’t there when he was in a normal mood – it was almost like witnessing a blackout but he was still awake and beating me. Not only that but now that I had a baby, where was I going? It was clear my parents weren’t going to take me back otherwise they would have let me stay in the first place. I couldn’t run back to my ex because now I had a baby by the man he feared would break us up. So….I stayed. And I made a promise to myself. I will leave when this baby turns 18. I have 18 years to bring her up and to teach her how to become a responsible, self reliant woman by the age of 18. If I could handle the responsibilities of being a wife and mother, have a job and an apartment without a problem (aside from the beatings) at the age of 18…then I will bring my child up to be able to handle the responsibilities of adulthood – minus the wife and mother part.
That was it. I settled in to stay and keep things as calm as I could. Be a great mother and a good wife. If I have to change my personality when he is around so he doesn’t think I’m being abrupt or nasty with him then so be it. I am still my normal self on the outside. No one notices a difference.
I got this. I can do this. And I did. Like my life depended on it….because it did.