As my daughter grew inside of me I focused on the joy and anticipation of holding her in my arms as well as the love I had for my son. I continued to walk on eggshells…. I continued to take care of the majority of the household chores and responsibilities… and I continued to learn as much as I could about Autism so that I could support James in every way that I possibly could. The aggression from John continued, but I kept very busy… which helped. The less idle time I had around John, the better. After all, we couldn’t have conversations, let alone arguments, if I had no time to sit in the same room with him. When we did have arguments, it continued to be over things that were so insignificant that they don’t stand out to me enough for me to remember. It’s just his reactions that stand out to me.
By the time I was eight months pregnant I was HUGE and exhausted. I couldn’t wait to meet my baby (at the time I didn’t know she was a girl). One night after James fell asleep, I recall John starting on one of his tirades. I can’t remember what had started it or what it was about, but I had done or said something that had upset him.
I had become very good at staying calm when these arguments started, as I had had quite a bit of practice. So when this argument started I did everything I could to try and deescalate John. I even tried to use “I statements”. As John was screaming I said, “John I feel really uncomfortable right now”. “John please listen to the tone of my voice and then listen to the tone of your voice. They are very different”, “Please John. I’m very pregnant and I am feeling really upset right now. I feel that this isn’t good for the baby. Please, can you stop screaming”. Of course my attempts were futile. Did I really expect a different outcome? I think deep down I thought he would put the well being of our child ahead of his need to unleash on his wife… but looking back I now realize that unleashing on me was how he relieved the stress of his day. He needed to do it for some sick reason.
I could feel my body reacting and I just kept thinking… I don’t want my baby to feel this… what if this is the time he finally crosses the line?… What will happen to the baby?….. I need to get away from him. So I calmly told him that I could feel the tension in my body and that I needed to walk away for the sake of the baby. I asked him not to follow me and headed upstairs. I closed the door and walked to my side of the bed. That was a mistake of course, because I put myself in a corner. Would I never learn???
John swung the door open, screaming and yelling. “Please John… you’ll wake James.”, “Please, I’m just asking for some space so I can calm my body down. The baby can feel this”. The screaming continued. The accusations that attacked my character continued. And now I was cornered. I panicked. I told John that I needed space and if he didn’t leave me alone I was going to have to leave the house. I begged him not to follow me and explained that I didn’t want to be forced to leave the house. I was eight months pregnant, it was snowing and it was ten o’clock at night. I had nowhere to go.
I pushed my way past him and out of the corner and headed back downstairs. He followed… yelling the entire way. I gave it one last try. I told him I was going to go to the basement. Once again I explained that my body was reacting and I was worried about the baby. I begged him one last time not to follow me and to allow me a few minutes of space to try and calm down. I had tears in my eyes and explained I felt I was going to have to leave the house if he couldn’t find a way to cool his temper. (I was nervous about leaving James alone in the house with him when he was like this … but I was becoming more nervous about what was going to happen to the baby and I) I could feel the terror building in my body.
I went to the basement and said a quick prayer…. and I then I heard the door open. I didn’t wait. As soon as his foot hit the bottom of the stairs I headed back up. I could hear him following me back upstairs as I grabbed my coat, purse and keys and ran out to the car. I ended up driving around for two hours. I had no idea where I was, but I had no where to go … so I just kept driving. I was shaking and sobbing… eight months pregnant …driving in the snow at ten o’clock at night… because my husband couldn’t walk away from some perceived injustice that I had forced upon him. I bet if he was asked today about this incident he wouldn’t even remember what I had said or done to deserve this reaction. He would probably even deny that it happened. But in that moment that this reaction is what he thought I deserved.
His wife… who loved him and who made his life as easy as she possible could… who was carrying their second child…. deserved to be chased out of her house in the middle of a winter storm. He saw nothing wrong with his actions. There was no shame or remorse. I upset him…. he needed to make me feel it. And I was definitely made to feel it.