This blog has been five years in the making. It’s taken me that long to to get the courage to share my story.
My story begins in 1996. I met and became engaged to a man I thought was kind, generous, and funny. He was my first and only. That meant something to me, but evidently not to him. He cheated on me for the first time while we were engaged. He confessed it to me and he cried so sincerely that I thought for sure it would never happen again. So in 1997, I married him. He started out so sweet, said all the right things, and love bombed me constantly. He was everything I wanted in a man. Whatever I said I was looking for, he claimed he was. Much like a salesperson talking you into something you don’t need, he had all the right answers to get me to buy. I had no idea these were red flags. I was young and so naive.
He seemed so honest and transparent. He told me about his relationship issues with his father, about mistakes he had made in his past, and how he had changed. I felt so bad for him and was drawn to his sense of remorse. His openness made me love him even more. He used pet names for me like “ding-a-ling” and constantly “teased” me when I said or did something he thought was dumb. The teasing eventually turned into put downs, eye rolls, and deep sighs whenever I spoke.
About eight years into our marriage, I began to suspect he was cheating. I had two young sons at this time, was a stay at home mom, and he had chosen a career in car sales and then into management. He became very different- distant and uninterested in me or the boys. The way he kissed changed and sex became just sex with no attempt at love. There was a girl at his work who stared me down at me every time I came up there. I was sure she was the one. He denied there was an affair then and he still does. Not long after that I caught him watching porn. Porn was a no-go in our relationship, he knew that from the beginning. He claimed at the time that it was a one-time thing and would never happen again. He still claims to this day that there was no affair and he must have changed due to the porn use.
Things just got worse as time passed. He went from being mean to just plain cruel. He would drink every night, often too much, and would belittle me, make fun of me, and complain about what I said and what I did. And that was if he even came home. Almost every night he went out drinking with the guys and skipped dinner with his family. Not that it mattered, he complained no matter what I made, it was never good enough. It always needed more salt, different sauce, or it was overcooked. He fancies himself a wonderful cook, so he’s always known best what food needs. He rarely saw the boys during the week, he left for work before they woke up and came home after they went to bed. He constantly fished for compliments and needed, and still does need, constant affirmation that he’s attractive, successful, a good cook, funny, etc. He accused me numerous times of coming on to guys, and once of even having an affair. He got mad if I even hugged a guy and said I was doing it just to press my breasts up against them. I’m a hugger, I pretty much hug everyone! At the same time, we couldn’t go to dinner without him ogling any halfway attractive woman in there. He would look women up and down as they walked by, stare at them while seated, and check out any woman that walked in. Somewhere around this time, he quit kissing me on the lips. He would still kiss the top of my head when he would leave in the mornings, but he didn’t kiss me on the lips again for the next ten years. I had no passion, no love, no feeling of someone desiring me for more than my body for a decade!
I felt used, ugly, not good enough, and beaten down. All the while, he’s telling me how lucky I am to have him. He would stare at himself in the mirror and tell me he was a catch, and I was a lucky woman. I was no longer the strong, independent woman I used to be. The very traits he claimed to have been the reason he had fallen in love with me, he stole from me. Through all of this, we were both very active in our church. I sang and played keys every Sunday, and he often ran the lights. We had small group that met every week and we participated in Bible Study. I had no idea that he had his church friends’ persona that was different from his work friends’ persona. He was the good Christian husband and father at church and with our couple friends, but was the cussing, drinking, life of the party with his work friends. I didn’t discover this for years.
Due to his first of what would become many job losses, we moved to another state. Here he took a job that involved a lot of traveling and work trips. Ever the optimist, I fully believed him to be faithful and honest on these trips. But, as I found out later, they included lots of porn, drinking, flirting, dancing, and basically acting single. After I discovered the affair that happened later in our marriage, he actually bragged to me about this time period. Told me how a woman propositioned him on one of these trips, asking to give him a tour of the town, and he agreed. He claims he changed his mind later and didn’t meet up with her and she told him he was a good husband for that. He actually bragged about the one time he changed his mind about cheating, after I caught him cheating!
He eventually moved into running car dealerships. He made more money now than he ever thought he would, and it made him nearly intolerable. He jumped from dealership to dealership because he constantly believed himself to be worth more money, more power, more decision making, more whatever. His sense of entitlement grew with every new job, and so did his cruelty. By this time, I was starting to realize that he was making a mess out of his life. I started seeing how cruel he was to me and to our oldest son. He couldn’t walk in the front door without first criticizing one of us. He was never happy to just be home, there was always something wrong with home. The boys were too loud, dinner wasn’t ready, there were toys on the floor, rooms weren’t clean, etc. I kept a nearly spotless house and it still wasn’t good enough. He rarely had dinner with us, but he began not even eating what I cooked. He would stop and get himself his own food on the way home, grab some beers, and sit in front of the TV while the boys and I ate at the table. This eventually turned into just going out with the guys and not even bothering to be home in time to tell the boys good night. He also became loud and violent.
This is the hardest part of my story to tell and brings me the most shame. I still can not comprehend why I didn’t walk away when things got worse. He began belittling me while shaking a finger in my face. He would curl his hands into fists while he yelled at me, and sometimes beat a fist into his palm right in my face. If we were in bed, he would climb on top of me and hold me down so I couldn’t get away. He never hit me, but he clearly wanted to scare me. Because there was no hitting, I never considered what he did as abuse until later, when my rose-colored glasses were abruptly shattered.
TO BE CONTINUED