After so many years, pretty much the entire marriage, of doing everything I thought I should do to be enough for him, I finally realized that I wasn’t the one who was crazy. Maybe I was crazy, but I wasn’t the only one who was. The difference between me and him, I discovered, was that I wanted to be better. I wanted to grow. I felt like there was more to life, like there should be some happiness. I guess he was happy with things the way they were and couldn’t understand what my problem was. I suppose that whatever he envisioned for his life, either we had it, or we had exceeded it, and he was completely satisfied. But I was dying and it was because that marriage and my overall environment was slowly killing me.
When I was 7 months pregnant with our baby, he was frustrated because I had only let him touch me once since my 3rd month. I had shut down. I was constantly thinking about how to get out. I had planned to leave sooner but when I found out I was pregnant, I felt it would be better to stay with him until after the baby was born. I was extremely depressed, and I didn’t know how high my blood pressure was due to him worrying me so badly. One day I was sitting at the breakfast bar in the kitchen and he was in the family room. We were having another disagreement, probably about money, and I felt the atmosphere change again and began to get quiet. This angered him more and he said, “Let me get out of this house before I have to hurt somebody”. Excuse me? Ain’t nobody here but you, me, with your baby in my belly, and our 1 year old daughter. Who the hell are you gonna HURT!!!! Your pregnant wife? Your unborn child? Your toddler? WTH! When he said it he walked past me to leave, and with one hand he did a huge sweep and everything on the breakfast counter went flying all over the kitchen floor. I froze. And that moment I said to myself, “he just gave me my way out”.
You might wonder why I felt like I needed a “way out”. If I wanted to leave, I was a grown woman. Why not just leave? My answer is upbringing, environment, religious teaching. We were taught that women didn’t leave their husbands. It wasn’t even an option or something to be brought up unless the woman was being referred to as a Jezebel type, or a woman who had walked away from God. We were taught to stay there and pray and try to do all the right things and wait on God to work it out. Because of my upbringing it was embedded in me that I was responsible for making it right. So I’d concluded that what I needed was for him to give me a “reason”, and this incident became my reason, my grounds. What I’d really wished for years was that he would cheat on me or at least get caught cheating on me. But I guess if I was going to use some kind of sexual misconduct as grounds for divorce I should have done it years before when he behaved inappropriately with a few family members.
He came back a little while later (for some reason I was still sitting in that spot, probably petrified) and stood next to me and asked what I wanted. Did I want to separate? (as if that was a standard question to ask at that time) I wanted to separate because I knew it was my avenue to divorce. But I thought against saying it at the moment because he was still angry. His eyes still had that slightly crazed look in them, and the atmosphere around him hadn’t shifted back just yet. I didn’t say anything and decided to wait until he calmed down. To be honest, I believe I heard the Holy Spirit advise me not to say anything until he was completely calmed down. It took a few months but it finally happened.
You see, I didn’t need to tell him that I wanted to separate from him while he was angry. That wouldn’t be safe. I had to wait it out. That one blow up let me know that it would only be a matter of time before I would have my moment, my open door. I was also still considering that I wanted to wait until after the baby was born. I went through my last two months of pregnancy, labor and delivery, and when she was about 4 months old it happened. The newness of the baby had begun to wear off, and there had been more frustration with me not allowing him to touch me. The first and only time he tried, I pushed him off. I decided once and for all that if I’m not going to let him touch me, I should leave. I thought it would be downright cruel to live in the house with a man and refuse him sexually, especially since we were married.
One day we were riding in the car, having just left my brother’s house and he asked again what I wanted to do and if I wanted to separate. I was still cautious until I could clearly hear his tone of voice and sense the atmosphere in the car. It was interesting how he was saying all the things that it seemed he thought he should say at the moment. It was like he thought he was playing the role in a drama that he had seen other people play, and he had it down pat. I didn’t feel that he was reaching out to me from his heart. I felt like he was going through all the lines he knew he should say, and then I would say what I was supposed to say, and then we would make up, and then he would get to go to church and preach about it. But he had no idea. When he stopped talking I quietly said, “I want to separate”. He also had no idea that my statement that I wanted to separate was loaded. I knew that for me, separating was an automatic first step to getting my divorce and finally being free of him. It seemed as if he was both surprised and not so surprised when I told him I wanted to separate. He still knew the next set of lines he would need to say, so he began to ask me questions about how long we should be apart, and did I want to go stay with my mother for a few days, or maybe his mother. Not once did he volunteer to leave, especially considering that the babies would be with me. This was the first sign that as much as he wanted to make me believe he loved me, he loved something else a lot more. Throughout our whole ordeal of separation and divorce he had no clue that I was listening to his statements and responses and coming to understand that he didn’t love me nearly as much as he loved his image with me, the image we created together, or better yet, that I created of us, and the things he’d been able to obtain as a result of being with me. His first love wasn’t me or even God, it was money. So I figured, “Fine. You can have it. The house, everything. But you’ll never touch me again”.