|June 3, 2003
Dear Dr. Irene,
I have been visiting your board for a few years. Kept coming and going and
finally this past year I became ready to leave my own marriage of verbal
hell. Last year I saw a post I had made while I was pregnant with my son
six years ago. I felt so much compassion for that person. I didn't
realize it was me until I had read the entire thing once and began to
reread it! Then I knew I had to do something.
I became involved with my soon-to-be-ex in 1984. From the beginning it was
angst-filled, though exciting and (seemingly) intellectually stimulating.
We were both working on Master's degrees. After a year of torture in a
horrible triangle situation with his first girlfriend, who he didn't tell
me about until after we had been seriously dating (red flag number one,
where was I looking? I know, I wasn't!), him and myself, she finally got
smart and got out. He proposed a lifestyle that he said he needed with me
in order for things to work. This basically involved me simply being there
to serve his needs so that he could get ahead in his career while I (his
words) "put my life on hold." (another red flag...)
We ended up moving to
another city where we both began work on our doctorates. This was a point
of contention with him because he saw the fact that I was pursuing another
degree and not doing things "according to our plan" (our?) as willful
refusal (yes) and a character flaw (no) on my part. Even with all this,
and so many fights where I'd dissolve into tears while he ranted at me with
his "logic" as to why things needed to change and "when was I going to
start acting right" lectures, I told him either we needed to get married
or the relationship was over. I must have thought the marriage would fix
things. I saw my "misbehavior" as due to the fact that we weren't married
and therefore I had trouble fully committing to our relationship. I guess
I thought the marriage would prove his love to me.
He did agree to marry me. I cried and cried the night before and nearly
backed out. He convinced me to marry him. Ignored my gut. We actually
had a nice time on our honeymoon since his father had given us money and
that wasn't an issue. During the entire relationship I think he basically
saw me as something to benefit him and to use to fulfill his needs, and to
him this meant using me to make money.
Twice during our marriage I got pregnant. Yes, I used birth control. One
time I had misplaced a cervical cap inside the vagina (I have a short
cervix and probably shouldn't have been using that method) and honestly I
don't remember what happened the second time. I had a lot of problems with
bladder infections (I am small and he was rough with me which didn't help)
and sometimes would use only foam when I felt it was safe to do so. Not
smart, I know. Both times he wanted me to abort the pregnancies. I felt
angry and sad, but I detached and rationalized it, thinking we needed to
finish degrees and get our careers underway. After the second I vowed if I
ever got pregnant again I would not abort. And I did get pregnant a third
time, while using foam. I was terrified to tell him. When I did he asked,
"What are we going to do about it?" I had told him previously that I would
not abort again and had suggested he get a vasectomy if we weren't going to
have children. I told him I was having the baby. He tried to act happy
He had finished his degree and had a job with a non-profit he had created.
I was proud of his accomplishment, but he earned a very small income. I
had not finished my degree. I spent a lot of time typing papers for him
and doing other projects for him. Kept putting my needs "on hold." He had
applied for many college positions and had been one of the final candidates
a number of times. However he always managed to turn off the committee in
the end. I would always hear of the "asshole" on the committee he knew
that didn't like him, or the people were all racists (he's Jewish) or they
just didn't have a good enough program for the likes of him. I free-lanced
and made a small income myself, still half-heartedly trying to get that
doctorate done before the 10 year limit expired (It did. I didn't.) I was
pleased that during the pregnancy there were only one or two fights.
However, he wouldn't work and I took a horrible job at a call center.
While there I developed gestational diabetes and had to quit the job. The
rest of the pregnancy was difficult. I ended up being induced and then
having a c-section for my 8lb 10oz boy. Whew. Remember, I am a petite
woman! I was in the hospital for three days, very weak, very traumatized
but ecstatic with my new son. My husband stayed the first night but left
because he felt he had to get back to his work. I had a very bad night the
second night due to pain and post-partum stuff. I had to be sedated.
Early the next morning I tried and tried to call my husband. He had
disconnected the phone. He finally answered and I tearfully asked what was
going on. He told me he had disconnected the phone because he needed to
rest. I told him I really needed him, I was having a bad time and I needed
him. He said, "You have nurses there to take care of you, don't you?
You'll be okay. I need to rest." I begged him to come. He finally
agreed to come -- after he had gotten some rest. Either that day or the
next he was in the room with me and I was crying. He began telling me how
I needed to get a full-time job the minute I was out of the hospital to
support the baby. I told him I couldn't do that! I had said before that I
wanted to be with the baby as much as possible. I was crying and he
wouldn't stop haranguing me. I told him to stop or I would call a nurse
and have him thrown out then he threatened to divorce me if I did that.
Wish I'd done it now. It would have saved me some grief.
I did not get a full-time job. I taught students out of the house and
continued free-lancing. We got by. It took me a full month to come close
to being recovered. I had had a very hard time in more ways than one.
Luckily my son was healthy and beautiful and I was awed by that sense of
humor these little ones seem to possess. It was a beautiful time for me.
It transcended the bad stuff.
When the baby was three months old, my father-in-law came for a visit. My
husband has a very difficult relationship with his father. They are from a
Latin American country and there is definitely a strong machismo and
authoritarian stance involved here. At one point during the visit we were
out. I had been riding in the back seat with my baby. The stroller was in
the trunk. The men went to get the stroller. They couldn't figure it out.
I laughingly got out of the car and said, "Here let me do that, you go get
the baby." My husband kind of looked annoyed. He reached in to get the
baby. I had unbuckled his safety belt so that I could take him out of the
car seat to put him in the stroller. My husband, who hadn't read one child
care book or safety booklet on the baby equipment, removed the entire car
seat, neglected to snap the handle into the proper position, so that when
he picked it up by the handle the baby was tipped right out onto the
concrete! He didn't even see what he was doing. He was gazing off in the
distance. That had to have been one of the worst moments of my life. We
took the baby to the emergency room and he was okay. I began to get angry
and asked my husband, who was terrified, how could he have done such a
thing? How could he have not been aware of the child? He got angry at me
and blamed me for it, because I had unfastened the safety belt.
Gee, now I see why some of these posts can get so long. Suffice it to say
that it has been difficult, but things did change and start to get more
stable financially. We moved to another state for a couple of years,
making career changes that stabilized our lives in that way. I hated this
place though and longed to return to our former home. I know now it was
because I needed my support network of friends so that I could finally
leave this marriage once and for all.
We moved back two years ago. We have been to counseling. Years ago he was
asked by a counselor to stop telling me what I think and feel, but to ask
and listen instead. He was never able to do this. I asked and asked and
asked him to stop and to listen. My concerns with my child were belittled
and there was a constant battle. He wanted him in daycare and me working.
I wanted time with him. It was a battle, but I managed to be with my son
most of his first three years.
Last summer I began taking classes for a certification in another field. I
met a man I liked a lot. He became friends and study partners. He
confided in me that his wife of four years had gotten pregnant with another
man's child. I started telling him about my unhappy marriage. We offered
each other support and sympathy and as these things go, one thing led to
another and we got involved in an affair.
I had told my husband I was getting close with someone else. I tried to be
open and honest with him. Before I had even made love to the other man, I
told my husband I was having serious problems with our marriage. He
fluctuated between seeming relieved and understanding and being angry and
hurt. We seemed to come to an agreement that our marriage wasn't working.
The he got in to my email and read one to my friend which was simply asking
when he wanted to get together to study. I saw my friends email address on
my husbands notepad while looking for something else, and he had cut and
pasted that email on to there. My husband also read some email to a
girlfriend of mine. I had told her how exasperated I was with the
situation in my marriage and had said that I "sometimes wished he would
just drop dead." More than the affair, this seems to be the thing that
clinched it for him. Gave him the excuse to go, be the victim, not own his
responsibility. Two weeks before our son was to start kindergarten, he
moved out. I had asked him not to, asked him to wait for that very reason.
He said I should have thought of that before I had the affair.
He said I caused it and forced him to leave. His sister came and helped
him move out.
He has found a new girlfriend who happens to be in the counseling field. I
can't help but wonder when his facade will crack. yes, I can help but
wonder. I have better things to do. I have remained friends with the man
I got involved with. It has been very difficult. He is conflicted about
his marriage, though I can't see why he is still there at all except for
the fact that he feels he needs to be a father and he is getting older and
has no other children. Though this one isn't his either. Go figure. In a
few days they will either attend court and finalize their divorce or they
will remain married. Of course this is a huge mess with the biological
father, me, in-laws, what have you. I am pretty much tired of all the
drama and haven't seen my friend in weeks, though we communicate fairly
My divorce has not been filed. I have been trying to work it out as
amicably as possible with my husband, which has probably just been a
continuation of old patterns and my denial to completely face what has
happened here. Last night I received a shock that has gotten me moving.
My son's gerbils had gotten out of their cage and I found one of them. I
called over to his dad's house where he was staying because I wanted to
tell him the good news. His father answered the phone and I asked to speak
with my son so that I could tell him. I was told he couldn't come to the
phone right then. I asked why and he said it was because he was out in the
pool. My first thought was that his girlfriend must be with him, then I
asked, "Who is with our son?" He said no one, but that he was watching
him. From a second floor apartment! The pool is locked and gated, eight
feet deep and my child is six and doesn't know how to swim! Regardless, I
don't think a child should ever be in a pool unsupervised. In fact it
probably isn't a good idea for anyone to swim alone. I told my husband he
needed to get down there and watch him. He said he was watching him, he
was fine. I told him he needed to get down there. He told me I was
over-reacting, that I am smothering, that I cause my son's problems with my
behavior, etc. I told him I was coming over. Luckily I stayed calm when I
got there and it wasn't a scene. The child asked to come home with me,
which I knew upset his father. I said, "Oh, I'll bet he wants to see his
gerbil." The child acted like that was it, though I am not sure. His dad
agreed and I brought him home.
I am hiring an attorney and seriously considering filing for sole custody.
I have wanted to avoid a fight, but now I see it may be necessary to roll
up my sleeves and get in there. I am terrified for my son's safety giving
the history with his father. What terrified me is that I cannot talk to
his father about these things. As long as he won't or can't see me and I
struggle to be seen, no one is watching out for the child....
Look up from the pond, Narcissus. Find your own voice, Echo. Life is not
a frozen moment. It lives in the hope of a child.
Thank you for everything your site has done for me and will continue to do
for me, I am sure. Thank you for providing this means of catharsis. I
needed it tonight. Thanks. It is worth the all Trubble. Well, worth it.
Wow! You've lived
one powerful story, and certainly have found your courage. Our thoughts and
prayers are with you and your child. Life certainly is not a frozen