Hopeless and Helpless
I am a stay at home mom. My husband and I have been together for sixteen and a half years. We have three boys ages 19, 18, and 13. When my husband and I met, he was a single father of a two year old and I was a single mother of an almost 3 year old. Neither of our oldest boys' other parents were interested in raising our children, although one of them was actively involved in making all of our lives difficult in every possible way, as a result, our older children have emotional issues and one has developmental difficulties. But they're both gone, living their own lives now.
After dating and helping one another out for three years, life seemed as perfect as we could make it in spite of it all. It was him and I; a working team; a partnership; a family raised from the ashes. So, we married and had a child of our own. That's when we started living in the "Twilight Zone."
My husband has lied to me from the day we met. He’s lied to me about money. He’s lied to me about toilet paper. He’s lied to me about what he did do. He’s lied to me about what he didn’t do. He’s lied to me about what he wants to do. He’s lied to me about what he meant to do. He’s lied to me about others. He’s lied to me about me. He’s lied to others about me. His words and actions seldom match.
I was completely duped, or maybe I just didn’t want to catch him. I didn't really catch him until after our youngest was born. He was so sensitive and understanding. He was so nice to me, and I so trusted him, believed in him, and loved him. Things really started changing in the year before and during my pregnancy, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt due to all of the stress in our lives.
That was a mistake. He's certainly cheated on me financially, emotionally, and probably physically. I’m fairly certain that he did once (and probably more than once), but I'm not able to prove it. If he did, he would never, ever admit it unless I could prove it, and I can’t believe him when he says he didn’t.
He used to sneak out into the barn and spend hours with the magazines he had stashed there while I was inside taking care of the house and children. He also used to kiss me gently and sweetly at night to make sure I was asleep, so he could spend time with his computer images. In fact, that was the first time I caught him in a bald faced lie. And when I caught him, he lied. He even got down on his knees and swore he would never lie to me like that. He said he respected me and our marriage too much to jeopardize it in that way. I reached over and clicked the history button of the browser while he was still on his knees and pulled up three sites on the top of the list. He quit after I caught him a few more times over the next year.
He doesn't call me names. He doesn't hit me. He's not an alcoholic, nor a drug addict. He doesn't do anything overt. There are no bruises. There are just words: His words against mine; My words against his. He said, she said. It is all subversive. I suggest passive-aggressive, because his behavior fits what they say that label describes, but he says he’s not because he doesn’t like labels, and he won’t look into it because I keep suggesting it.
But.... on the surface, he is so intelligent and funny and clever and interesting and understanding and concerned and nice. So nice, in fact, that none of our mutual friends believed how emotionally abusive he was. They didn’t understand why I was so sad and angry all the time. Nor did they really want to know. When they found out, most of them dropped us, either because they didn’t believe me, or the situation is just too bizarre.
Example, thirteen years ago: The day after our youngest was born, I was in bed with hemorrhoids, a torn perineum, and a nursing newborn. It hurt for someone to walk in the room and vibrate the floor. My mother in law complained that I didn't do anything besides lie in bed all day. That night my husband stood at the end of the bed and cried. He was worried that I wasn't attracted to him anymore because I didn't want to have sex.
I took him in my arms and reassured him that the only reason I didn't want to have sex was because of the pain I was in. Then I held and rocked him until he fell asleep. I was still naïve, and I loved him and wanted take care of him.
Fast Forward to twelve years ago: He took me and all three kids to one of his wealthy friend's wedding of five hundred people I had never laid eyes on before. Our kids were 1, 6, and 7. Some very curvy girl there in a mini-mini skirt and all-but-bare breasts caught his attention at the beginning of the evening reception, and I didn't see him again until he was ready to leave. He spent all evening with her. I didn't even get to eat my dinner because they took it away while I was chasing our children. He was angry with me because I was and embarrassed by his behavior and angry at him for abandoning me like that.
Fast Forward: I wanted to buy a book for 9.95. We were really broke then, but I thought we could afford it. He said no. Then he went out to do errands. He returned that afternoon with a hibiscus tree that cost 21.95. He doesn't do plants.
Fast Forward to 9 years ago: We took the children to NYC to see the 4th of July fireworks. We were invited by an artist friend of a friend of my husband's to go for tea afterwards. In front me, the children and God, he sat there and told those people he was a composer. He is not. I was so embarrassed. In the car on the way out of the city, I asked him why he had said that. He said he was trying to impress them. I asked him if it wasn't more important to impress me, because he had to live with me. He became angry at me for being angry at him for lying to those people.
Fast Forward to five years ago: His mother had been living with us for a year and a half. She became very ill during the last six months. She was dying. She was also in denial. So was my husband. One of our children found her wandering through the house naked, out of her mind, and peeing on herself. My husband wouldn’t believe us. For months our children and I had tried to make him listen. He wouldn't, even after she ended up at the emergency room and in ICU at least three times. She said she was fine. He wasn't here most of the time. He believed her: My word against theirs.
The last time she was released from the medical facility, my husband and I agreed that she would not come home without a Visiting Nurse. Once home, she canceled the nurse, and he did nothing about it, in spite of my protests. She said she didn't need one. I was the one who had to take care of her, and all three children. He was gone at work or out doing errands every day.
When his mother did die a week later (after she had to be air-lifted to a hospital half way across the state because she was bleeding uncontrollably from her nose, and tried to hide it from me) my husband went around telling everyone that her death was sudden and unexpected. He was angry at me because I was being unreasonable and insensitive for being angry at him for not listening to me or the children about the state of his mother's health. He has never willingly acknowledged the living hell that situation was for me or the boys.
Fast Forward to four years ago: When I was recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, I was in a straight brace, and in a wheelchair or on crutches, for six months. I was restricted to the first floor. Our bedroom was on the second floor, so I slept on the couch. My husband routinely left his shoes and socks at the bottom of the couch and his dirty clothes on the floor piled in front of and around the toilet. I asked him repeatedly and kindly and beggingly not to leave them there because it was difficult enough for me to get to the bathroom and actually sit on a toilet without having to navigate his clothing. Every time he assured me that he wouldn't do it again, but he always forgot.
One day my crutch slipped in his dirty laundry while I was trying to get onto the toilet, and I fell forward onto my face. I began yelling at him for not picking up his laundry. As I was picking myself up out of the pile of laundry, he stood in the door and yelled at me for yelling at him about his laundry. Later, he said he didn't realize that I had fallen.
During this same period of time, he told me he was going to redo our bedroom, so it would be nice when I was able to go upstairs again. He gutted our bedroom and didn't get around to putting it back together. We didn't have a bedroom for three and a half years because I refused to put it back together. I finally made my own bedroom in another room. After that, he finished "our" bedroom, but we no longer share.
Fast Forward a few months: One evening I noticed that the rocking chair was broken. I told him, "The rocking chair is broken." He said, "It is not." I said, "It is too. Go look." He said, "I don't have to look." That argument lasted for 10 minutes before I yelled at him to make him go look at the rocking chair. He said, "Oh... the rocking chair is broken," and walked off. I told him I was frustrated that he wouldn’t listen to me or look at the rocking chair. He apologized, and then got angry at me for being frustrated with him.
Fast Forward to this past Sunday: For Mother's Day I was told that I didn't listen to him or support him and that's why he shut down for all of these years and didn't participate in raising the children or making a home or a family. He said I was never committed to our marriage. Of course, when I told him I would not accept that. I would not allow him to accuse me of that because it just wasn't true, he agreed with me and apologized. I told him to put it in writing, and he did. Now I have his own words with which to defend myself against his accusations and lies, but I don't trust that he's sincere, one way or the other.
These aren't the only stories. I could go on and on and on and on, before and after and in between. I could write a novel of these stories. I could flesh in all of the sordid details, all of my bad reactions, and all of my good reactions. Things like these, some much more minor and some much worse, happen weekly, even daily sometimes
When confronted, he often denies that he did it. When presented with evidence, he says he wasn't thinking, he didn't mean to do any of those things, or he doesn't remember doing it. He is always sorry. He always apologizes. His behavior doesn't change. He often denies the same thing he admitted before, and we go round the same way again. He just wants me to stop being angry.
He says that, once he apologizes, the issue is resolved for him even if he repeats the behavior. He says that the problem is my anger. That he can't stand for me to be angry at him, so he shuts down and can't think and behaves this way. I have been begging him to get help for years. We went to therapy for a couple of years -- his, hers, our child's and ours... Three of them urged me to leave him. Our couples' councilor got so frustrated with him that she said not to come back because she and I had no one to work with. There was no point. I had already come to that conclusion.
Now… the older two boys are out of the house. I home-schooled them, and I am still home-schooling the youngest. I haven't worked in over 12 years. I have no income, no career, no family (they're mostly dead) or close friends other than my husband and kids. I am in poor health with no health care, and no place else to go. We are supposed to be getting health care, but he said that three years ago, two years ago, last year and yesterday. I'll believe it when I see it.
All I have is our house. Our house is paid for, but I'm broke. I have asked, begged, pleaded, and demanded for him to move out repeatedly for three years. He won't. I asked him six months ago to work with me on an amicable divorce. He won't. He is just angry at me for being angry at him. He once said we wouldn't have any problems if I didn't keep creating them. He keeps saying he wants us to work it out. I don't see how.
I keep thinking about all of our dreams and plans that never happened, all of the broken promises, all of the lies and weirdness. I'm mourning the marriage and family I thought we would have, that he promised me, that I believed that would be if I just worked harder and loved more, the marriage that never happened.
I'm not sure I hate my husband, but I am very angry with him, and there is little I like about him. He has certainly never been my friend. I know this is cliche, but I have stayed in this for the children's sake. I've really had no better options, only worse ones.
I feel like the more that happens, the less of me there is. I don't know if I can ever be a happy, healthy person. I feel so damaged. It gets harder every day to even show my face outside my house. I am so ashamed and embarrassed by my marriage, my family, my home. I don't want to inflict myself on anyone else. I keep thinking that only five more years before the youngest is 18 and then I can go be a happy bag lady.
But every day gets harder and harder. Every day I think I can't take any more. I am so tired. I barely get through the day. I can't wait for each day to be over, and I don't want the next one to begin. I wake up screaming every morning. I hate my life. I'm too tired to start over by myself. I don't know what else to do but to stay here and count the days. I am so hurt and angry. Maybe it's too late. Maybe I'm just crazy, after all.