If you zoom out, we're doing okay with the normal ups and downs of marriage. If you zoom in, at rapid shutter speed it looks more like this.
The weekend is over. There is no such thing as "us" in some sort of attachment to Friday-Saturday-Sunday any longer. There is only surviving with the kids around or surviving when they're not. The two instances can be both positive and negative.
And then there are the days in between.
Physical manifestations of harm are no brainers. Verbal, emotional or psychological, and sexual harm within marriage are more difficult to define.
The cycle began when I moved to Happy Valley. I keep pushing the date back, because I keep looking with more and more clarity at the development of our relationship and the patterns that existed from nearly the beginning. In the last two years it has gone through varying stages and rough approximations of a wheel that looks like this:
My mother tells me from an outsider's perspective the abuse is escalating.
The last sexual incident, Halloween night, as left me with headaches, flashbacks and body memories that will not resolve themselves. He attributes the ache and pains to a cold no matter how many times I clearly explain what he has done and what those actions have done to me.
The last emotional/verbal incident, a week ago Sunday, has left me feeling completely isolated, nearly hopeless, and completely frightened to trust him even when his behavior is "good." Although "good" always comes back around, and in the past I have given in, this weekend I found I could not.
His solution: Forgive me, let it go, move on.
I rarely if ever get full, heart-felt apologies, and the sorry never lasts. Apology is usually, "I don't think I've done anything wrong. I'm sorry you think I have."
My mother told me last night that forgiveness ≠ reconciliation. And so I can forgive. I do. But until our wheel is acknowledged by more than myself, until the spokes are crumbled, until I feel safe, there is no full reconciliation.
I tell myself that abusers are not all bad. I know I've hurt him. I've yelled back, (though never when he's grown silent and retreated to another corner of the house to weep privately, or when he had lost a child, or when he was cowering in fetal position with his fists balled over his ears, as seems to be his style of tyranny at its worst.) It's been months, but I can own that I've thrown punches. The fact that I'm abusive seems to be graven in stone according to him. It's never accepted that it's the other way around. And so I tell myself that he's not all bad. Good men and women can have abusive tendencies and learned behaviors that are not the full sum of their parts. I can give the benefit of the doubt, but I cannot let my guard down.
Last time I saw my therapist I said the words out loud, "I am being emotionally, verbally, and sexually abused, and have experienced some level of domestic violence. I'm trapped. I don't know what to do."
And because I'm not ready to leave, she replied, "I don't know what to tell you." And we scheduled appointments for the month to come.
My mother recommended this book.
Thankfully my Nook hides it well enough that as long as I hide my Nook I feel safe having it in the house.
The reasons I stay:
I am financially incapable of leaving.
Staying offers "stability" for my kids after my past two divorces.
I hope that he will change.
I feel guilt over the prospect of abandoning covenants.
The reasons I would go:
I am no longer in love with him, and loving him grows more and more difficult.
No one should ever be treated this way.
It is slowly destroying my will to live.
I don't know if he will ever change.
Last time I spoke with my bishop he said our marriage needs the Atonement, not therapy. I want to believe that is inspired direction. But I know, deep down, that it is not. My husband presents well, while I am the bipolar wife with a crooked past. I don't hold it against my bishop, but I don't think he's looked closely at the developing print in his hand.
The Atonement is not just about forgive, let go, move on. There must be repentance as well.
Because I stay, I suppose you could say I'm waiting for that to happen.