Today I share Elaine's story. Her story is an example of abuse comimg in many forms. Again, I ask you notice any compassion or judgements you find yourself experiencing. And, to practice self-care.
Growing up I honestly thought that I would be single for my whole life and that I would never have any children. My future seemed rather bleak and lonesome to say the least. I was too shy and too scared to allow my guard to come down because of my past history of abuse. I didn't want to be alone but I felt like no one in their right mind would want someone like me. Why would they? I often thought, what did I have to offer anyone? At the time thinking, surely not much.
After I graduated college my mother convinced me to move down with her. She kept telling me that my Dad and Step-Mom did not want me around and that they did not love me as much as she did. This verbal onslaught was never ending and finally I complied and came down to live with my brother and her. Up until that point I had never dated and I really was not looking for a relationship by any means. It took me a while to find a job, but eventually my brother was able to help me acquire a job in the bakery at the grocery store he worked at. I enjoyed working in the Bakery, I was able to use some of my artistic abilities when it came to cake decorating. I was quiet and soft spoken, I pretty much kept to myself. I would respond if I was addressed but I was not a conversation starter.
There was this young man, a few years younger than I was, who always liked to talk to me. He was very sweet and kind, a charmer if you will. Yes he was physically attractive, but I had not interest in pursuing a relationship with him. We did become friends, however. He was the first male friend I had had, I tended to keep a healthy distance from guys. I was always polite but I never let them get too close. As he and I became friends we discovered that we had a lot in common; we had a similar taste in music, we liked the same genre of movies and shows, we played instruments, we loved to write poems, and we were both relatively quiet and laid back but had a good sense of humor. Overtime our friendship grew and we started to care for one another. He started to look at me differently and on a few occasions he attempted to kiss me. I would pull away and tell him that I did not think that was a good idea but he would always say “so” or “I don't care.” He started to make his feelings known more and more, and I kept trying to discourage him. But what he wants, he gets. He won't stop until he gets what he wants. Despite me telling him us being a couple was not a good idea, he asked me to be his girlfriend anyways. I was surprised he asked even though I tried to discourage him, and I thought that maybe he did really love me. That maybe I wasn't meant to be alone after all. So I nervously said yes.
Almost as soon as we became an item he wanted to make out and have sex. His logic was, we were dating so we should be sexual with each other. But I was not ready for our relationship to be sexual yet. I needed the relationship to go slower, to build trust, to gently ease into being physically intimate. I had already told him about my abuse history and that I needed to take things slowly. He told me that he understood. But again, what he wanted he would get. Two weeks after we started dating he had been so persistent, that we attempted out first sexual encounter. I was so scared, and just not ready. But he did not listen to me, he moved forward and I was too nervous and scared to say anything. My body was trembling with fear, my hands were sweaty, ringing was sounding in my ears, and my stomach was churning round and round and I felt like puking. Not at all romantic. Our first attempt had failed and I found out the hard way that I was allergic to latex.
Again he started pressuring me to try again, but this time he wanted to try it without protection, because the condom limited sensitivity for him and he felt it would be better for both of us. I told him that I didn't think it was a good idea and that I would probably get pregnant because I wasn't on BC at the time, I had not planned on being sexual with someone. He tried to ease my worry and say that he would be careful and we would time it when I would be least fertile. He tried to convince me that I would not get pregnant. Several weeks of pursuing me, trying to convince me to let him try it at least once, I finally caved again. Against all that my gut told me and against all that I knew, I agreed. And my period was late, I was pregnant!
I was not ready for a sexual relationship, and I surely was not ready to be a mom. But there we were, expecting our first baby. We told our parents and it was met with mixed reactions, but none were overly excited at the thought that were we going to have a baby. His mom spend over three hours trying to convince me to abort my baby, trying to convince me that it didn't mean anything at this point that it was just a ball of cells. I was 6 or so weeks along, their heart starts being between the 5th and 6th weeks of gestation. I morally would never be able to abort a baby of mine, I would never have been able to forgive myself. Abortion was not an option for me. Then my mom immediately jumped to us getting married. She wanted her grandchild to be born in wedlock, she did not want to have any bastards as grandchildren. So with her persistence he and I got married when I was 23 weeks pregnant.
Neither of us were ready to be married, but we tried hard to make the best of a not so good circumstance. Our early married life was chaotic to say the least. We bounced around so much at first. In our first couple years of marriage we moved a total of six times and had two babies amongst all the chaos. He worked hard to support us and I worked hard to keep our little family going. Money was always tight, but we always made it through. I tried to work to help make ends meet, but all that I earned went to childcare costs. Things seemed overwhelming. He decided to join the army, and things started to get better for us financially.
Sex was often hard for me, although I tried very hard to improve. At first he was caring and understanding, but he has always been impatient and has always made me feel like my efforts weren't good enough. More often than not I would get triggered during sex and have unrelenting flashbacks of my abuse I had experienced as a child. It was a struggle to be comfortable and present with normal sex, but he wanted to try new and different things. I was uncomfortable with them but he was so persistent and would not give up. He gets what he wants. I would eventually cave, because I had been conditioned from an early age that what I wanted didn't matter and my voice meant little to nothing. So this is why I complied. Sex always seemed to be about what he wanted or needed, I seemed to take a back-burner in that department. I would have to say that eight times out of ten what he liked would hurt me, I would tell him that it hurt but he would continue anyways. I can remember closing my eyes and praying that he would just be done already while holding back tears from the pain. My wants and desires didn't seem to matter much at all.
The army sent us to Germany for our first duty station. It took some time to adjust to the cultural differences and to being so far away from my support system. The kids and I lived In Germany for four years, and of those four years I lost three babies and gave birth to my last child five months before we departed for the United States.
Through most of our marriage he spent the majority of his time at home on the recliner with his laptop on his lap, spending endless hours playing games, working on code, or doing homework. Mostly playing games. He had little to no interaction with our children and most of the time he was yelling at them to go away because they were annoying. There was also very little interaction with me as well. When I would ask for his help with the kids, or setting the table, or helping around the house that I was dumb for asking him to help that I should be able to do it all on my own, and that I was wasting his time. I tried very hard to interact with him; I tried to watch movies with him, I tried to cuddle after the kids went to bed, and I tried to engage in conversation with him. But his focus was always his computer. I tried very hard to be a good wife and a good mother to our children, but he never appreciated me or what I did.
The moment he would walk into the door after work the kids just seemed to go wild. I know it was because they wanted his attention, but he would just get angry with them and tell them to go away. He had no patience with them, and all they wanted was attention from him and to feel loved and wanted. I would have to saw that dinner time was always the worst time. Our middle child is a very picky eater and he would spend much of his time picking on her to eat her food, and he would threaten that if she puked it up that she would have to eat it anyways. I was mortified and so angry with him. I often would tell him to leave the table since the kids seemed to upset him so. But he was so stubborn and refused to leave. He just sat there with a mean scowl on his face.
The only times he seemed to pay me any attention was when he wanted to have sex. That seemed to be all that I was good for, and I wasn't good enough anyways. His desire for sex was the only time he would step away from his computer and the television. I would go from being ignored and put down, to his undivided attention. Most of the time he ignored me, ridiculed me, made fun of me, said I ruined everything, always challenged my thoughts and beliefs, said I was stupid for believing what I did, and called me annoying for asking for help. Often times in our disagreements and arguments he would not allow me to leave to have time to calm myself and gather my thoughts. He would restrain me by my arms or he would block me from leaving. If I did happen to get away from him, I would go to our bathroom and lock the door. But he always managed to unlock the door and further belittle me and make me feel so small.
Why did I stay with him for seven years? Because he was the only man I had known in what I thought was a consensual relationship. Because he was the father of my children. Because he had been so sweet and kind to me when we first meet. Because I loved him and wanted things to work.
But finally the last straw fell that broke the camel’s back. When I became pregnant with our last baby, he became so cold and wanted nothing to do with me. He started hanging out with his friends more and more, going out to bars each weekend. He met a women from Hungary while on his weekend bar trips. He started to pursue her, he felt that she was his soul mate. She was 5 years older than I was and had no children, and she liked to party. I guess that was all very much appealing to him. He didn't tell her until after I had the baby that he was married and had a family. She told him that she didn't want to come between he and his family. He told her that he didn't care and that he wanted to be with her. What he wants he gets. He asked for a divorce; he had given up on his family, he had given up on me. So I arranged housing for the kids and I back home, requested an early return home, and then flew from Germany to the United States all by myself with two young children and an infant. I was done.