Over the years I started to learn some of the patterns that would set John off… but most of the time I wouldn’t see it coming. As a result I found myself walking on eggshells all the time. As I mentioned in a previous post, I would question anything I said before saying it. I tried very hard to never have a weak moment and to always keep a smile on my face because if I didn’t he would become angry and pick a fight over some small thing and the twisted tango would start again. When my children entered my life I became even more careful about what I would say and do because I was trying to protect them from witnessing the aggressive behavior as best I could.
I’m not sure how much worse it would have been if this was not my new normal, but it definitely didn’t stop John’s aggression. Multiple times a week I would still find myself being chased by him or cornered by him. If it wasn’t that behavior then it was yelling, name calling and swearing or some unpredictable reaction like punching walls. There was always something. I rarely asked for help with anything because it would result in some kind of blow up. I did all of the laundry including his (and continued to do it until 4 months after I had served him with divorce papers … how perverse is that), I did all of the cooking and cleaning and I took care of everything related to the children. I took them to all of their doctor’s appointments, made all of their meals, bought all of their clothes and went to all of their school meetings. As my son started to develop symptoms of Autism I took him to occupational therapy, counseling, social skills groups, physical therapy and behavioral pediatricians with my daughter in tow…. by myself. I missed countless days of work for appointments and sick days because John made it clear that he couldn’t take any time off of work for these things. I made John’s life as easy as I possibly could and I did my best to never complain and never ask for help.
There were two occasions that I can recall where I didn’t tread lightly enough. The first was when my colleague passed away. We were close and my heart cracked on the day that she died. I was too sad to put a fake smile on my face. John came to the funeral and held me while I cried…. while he had an audience. I don’t remember specifically what small comment passed my lips or what facial expression he claimed I made that caused him to explode when we got home, but explode he did. The same happened when my cat passed away. Asking for solace and comfort was too large a request for me to make. Showing weakness and sadness was selfish and I had to be held responsible for that selfishness. One wrong step, one faltering smile … and I would be made to regret it. So, I did my best to walk on eggshells.
There was a time, early in our relationship when I told John that I felt what he really wanted was a “Stepford” wife. Someone who never asked questions, did as she was told and kept his life as comfortable as possible. He had denied it of course. I responded by telling him one day I was just going to end up being fake with him and pretending I was happy because I couldn’t take the blow ups anymore. He responded by saying that would never happen because he would know I was being fake. Besides he made me happy. All he does is show love and kindness to me. Love and kindness…… Love? Kindness? Really???
I wonder why it never occurred to me that my partner should want to provide me with comfort and solace. That love would mean seeing the burdens that I was carrying alone and finding a way to lessen the burden… to share it. That just because someone SAYS they love you does not mean that they do … or that they even know what love is… or are capable of love. To be honest, part of me still wonders if that truly exists. I hope it does. I’d love to experience it at some point in my life.