What’s that old saying, “The devil is in the details?” That phrase has cycled through my head many times in the past couple of weeks. Followed by silent conversations about how that’s not the devil’s only hangout.
The week or so before last was, to put it mildly, a week from hell.
The best way for me to explain what I mean is to just tell you what has been happening.
On Saturday, June 29, I asked my husband to come to bed at about 3:30 a.m. This is around the time when he normally decides go to bed. He is either on his tablet surfing the Internet or playing video games until the early morning hours. Every night. I honestly don’t mind the video games. I really don’t. But I don’t have the same feeling about the tablet. When you are repeatedly told that “this tablet and the Internet are my life,” it makes it hard to see it coming into your bed at 3:30 in the morning when you are not feeling well and would just like to get into bed with your husband at a normal time and feel like there isn’t something more important in there between you.
This night was no different. Except that when he brought the tablet up and proceeded to get into bed with it, I asked him if we could just have one late night (early morning) without it.
A few seconds before, he had taken the clean socks that were sitting on the bed half folded and shoved them all onto the floor.
As I bent over to pick them up and put them in the basket, I made the “Can we just have one night without it?” comment.
A split second later, I was seeing stars. He had taken his pillow, and with a significant amount of force, was swinging it back and forth at me, smacking me in the front and back of the head. The force was enough to knock me down.
My ears were ringing and I was in shock as I stood back up.
He looked at me angrily as he climbed into bed, turned the tablet on and put his headphones on, cursing at me all the while.
I was shaking as I thought, “It’s now or never.” You see, I had decided a few days before that the next time he hurt me or one of the boys, I would get him out, come hell or high water.
I would have welcomed a flood that night. But it was hell that came instead.
I have been asking him for as long as I can remember to leave when he flies off the handle. But he always refuses, stating that it is his” fucking house” and that he is not going anywhere. We bought the house together after both contributing financially because I had a pretty good job as well. I worked really hard and had been saving since I was a teenager. And in the past few years since he has been out of work and we have been running a small business together, it has probably been me who does the lion’s share of the work. And, honestly, ever since his job loss and my cancer diagnosis, we have been swirling in debt together. So even he, with his nasty comments, can’t convince me that the house is “his.”
Normally, I beg him to just let me stay in the house with the kids until I die, and to be left in peace with them. I tell him I will take care of the mortgage. And then he can have it when I’m gone. Of course I don’t know how much time this will be, but given the details of my diagnosis, I know it can’t be forever. So I think it sounds like a good deal for him. I pay the mortgage and take care of the kids. And then he gets it all in the end. And no one has to know about how he’s been treating us.
But he says he would never let this happen. That he’ll make sure I get nothing. And he will not leave the house. If anyone is to go, it will be me who has have to get out of his “fucking house.”
I know he feels he can wait me out and that he’ll get the house in the end anyway when I’m gone. And I think he believes that the sympathy would end for him if he were to walk out the door. He knows that no one would think he’s the doting and kind husband he has tried to lead them to believe if he were to leave and people were to know the truth about how he treats a wife who is not well and who has been through more surgeries and cancer treatments, complications and crap than I’d care to recount, even in a cancer blog. So he has never left before. Just created a path of destruction. And I kiss his behind the next day because I just want peace.
But this night I was bound and determined. I told him that I was done with being treated this way and with having the boys be treated this way. I said that given what I had been through to just simply stay on this earth, I shouldn’t have to endure so much stress, or to live with the knowledge that the person I married doesn’t think I’m worthy of his kindness. And that if he didn’t think I deserved at least this much, then he would do us all of a favor if he just left. I told him I wouldn’t tell anyone what he had done if he just left. And when nothing worked, I threatened would call the police if he didn’t leave. He told me to go ahead, not believing that I’d actually do it.
After a couple hours of pure hell, I decided that if I didn’t do it now, I never would. I told him that if he wasn’t willing to change his behavior, I had no choice but to call and I went for the phone.
He yelled, “If it shuts you the fuck up, I will go.” He grabbed a bunch of things, including the tablet, and said he was taking the better car and leaving our older minivan with the flat tire and a mountain of problems behind.
He had been swearing at me the entire time and telling me how I was a bad mother and how my kids were going to be ruined by me. He yelled all of the things that he knew would hurt me, along with plenty of “fucks.”
He said that I would get nothing, save for the ocean of debt we are swimming in. He would take responsibility for none of it and would make sure I suffered.
And then he went outside to move the cars so he could get out of the driveway. When he came back in, I started to back down, afraid of what would come next. He continued to be nasty to me. So I said that this had started because I made a normal request for the tablet to not come into our bedroom for that night. And that, like every “night,” it wasn’t really night, but morning, when he was finally ready to get into bed with me.
He began to flip out all over again, shouting that he was the “fucking normal one” and that I had no right to ask him for that. He told me to “Shut the fuck up” and threw the minivan keys at me and stormed out.
It was 6:00 a.m. when he finally left.
My mother had been staying with us for a few days at that point because she was in transition from her own divorce. She heard everything from the next room (and from upstairs when we went downstairs), so when he left, she came to see if I was alright. She said that she had wanted to call the police and had her cell phone in her hand the whole time. She said she didn’t because she knew I would be upset if she did because she knows how I have tried to protect him over the 20 years I was with him and how I never thought I deserved the kindness plenty of observers over the years said I did. I always stood by and protected him and his image. And she knew that I wouldn’t have the heart to turn him over to the police that morning. But she was appalled by the things she heard him yelling when our boys were just down the short hallway asleep (for part of the time, anyway).
I was sobbing. And I never sob.
It felt horrible. I felt horrible.
I was physically sick and just riddled with the fear of what his retaliation would be. It was awful. Almost as horrible as learning that I had cancer.
I will add more as I can. Or maybe not? I don’t know how much more I can bear. I gave in and he is back in the house. He vacillated between intimidating me and promising things would be so much better. In the end, I couldn’t take the fear of what would come next any longer — I was physically ill — vomiting and shaking — and just felt so completely broken. Plus I felt that I could give him one more chance. I always like to give people the benefit of the doubt and despite everything, I wouldn’t have felt right about not giving him another chance when he made it sound like he was sorry and would change. I have always been loyal to a fault. [I still see the doctor who told me I was too young for breast cancer and whose office wouldn’t see me the next year when I’d lost my health insurance and was so sick because the cancer had now engulfed my breast.] I felt like I had to give him another chance, despite what my gut was telling me.
It took a great deal of wrestling for me to share this or anything like it here, but I think telling you is the right decision.
Thank you all for reading and for helping me get through this without even knowing that you were…