The Cat Had It RightWithin a day or two of returning from our honeymoon there was an incident that led me to start questioning the sustainability of the marriage. It wasn't related to sex. It was just related to how he was going to be treating me now that we were married.
Before the wedding the sex wasn't absolutely over the moon, but it was frequent enough and he seemed free enough that we could make the sex work out well enough. Before the wedding the relationship wasn't perfect either but it was good enough that I was pretty sure with compromise, patience and love on both sides we would be ok. I failed to account for one factor in my calculations that turned out to be absolutely crucial. How he treated people who were his family was vastly different than how he treated me as girlfriend/fiance.
It never occurred to me before the wedding that he would treat me as poorly and abusively as he treated his family once I became his wife and was therefore "family". If there's one message I wish I had been able to send to my younger self it would be "Do you see how his parents treat each other? Do you see how he treats his siblings and his parents? When you become his family he will treat you like he treats the rest of his family."
So when we got home from the honeymoon I was now family. Through a series of unfortunate events involving relatives of mine we came home to our house trashed after a pretty big series of parties while we are on our honeymoon. To me, it was a disappointment in them but it did not change anything about my commitment and feeling about my marriage to my XH.
One of the things that happened though was that my (previously feral) cat had gotten spooked by all the noise and activity from the festivities. He had run into the garage and was refusing to come out. He was an indoor only cat but had spent a week in the garage while we were gone. Long story short, after several days of living in the house and having him be in the garage, in the car engine and hiding elsewhere in the garage I decided we could no longer be held hostage by the cat. We needed to use our garage. I came up with a plan that would either get the cat back in the house or at least get us back the garage, the car in the garage out of the garage and our lives back.
My plan backfired. We got the garage back but the cat ran away into the cold winter day. I was terribly sad and upset that my plan hadn't worked. Looking back, it was a good chance that was going to happen. But we did need the garage back. I felt sad standing there on the driveway watching him make a mad dash into the wild again to return to being feral. I was mad at myself. After days of trying to figure out how to coax him back into the house my plan had been what caused him to run away. I cried and reached to him for a hug. Until that point in our life together he would have put his arms around me and comforted me. But I wasn't family before this happened.
When I reached for a hug and comfort from my then-new-husband he physically pushed me away from him and began screaming at me in the driveway. I cried harder and looked at him in disbelief. He told me that I had a stupid idea and look at how that had worked out and now he's gone forever and going to get hit by a car... etc. Shocked I was in full flowing tears at that point and I fled inside the house, into our bedroom and locked the door to cry my eyes out. Never had he done anything like that before. For a few days he felt justified and would bring it up every time he thought about the cat. That was a turning point in our marriage. I didn't understand his why, but I knew it was amazingly different.
When we went to counseling a few months later I brought this up and he blew it off. There were other, similar incidents over the next few months. Getting screamed at like I had burned the house down when I asked him to empty the dishwasher one day, in front of both of our families who were over. About 4 months into the marriage after he fell asleep while driving he was diagnosed with sleep apnea. I probably would have left the marriage at that point if it had not been for that diagnosis. His doctor explained that he had stopped breathing for 50-65 seconds about 20 times the night of his sleep study. This could impact mood, behavior and ultimately cause death. I gave things another chance at that point because severe sleep apnea could have been part of the cause for the awful behaviors he was exhibiting.
I now realize that they can make you sleepy and they can make you cranky but no matter what happens only people with abusive tendencies will get abusive towards you if they are sleepy and cranky. The moods got a little better and so did the anger. By that point I had walled myself off in preparation for his outbursts yet again and was "safe" from them because emotionally I was tough and hard and had a big wall around me. It kept me safe. I never turned to him for a vulnerable hug like I had done when the cat ran away again. I learned. I learned a lot.
Looking back, the cat had it right. As he ran off into the nearby brush to become a free cat again, I should have followed him and grasped onto my freedom too. He's still a free cat in that neighborhood. Sometimes when I go visit people there now I will see him sauntering down the sidewalk like he owns the whole place. He & I started two separate journeys that day for freedom. His lasted a few days in a garage. Mine lasted several years in a marriage. Both ended in what was right for each of us.