It’s been a year since #MeToo swept the nation. So this month I decided to open up my platform to allow some other amazing women in my life to share their anger as well. Want to be a guest writer for Angry Feminist as well? Let’s talk! – Darci
This is part 1 of a 3 piece story.
I am 27 years old. This year, I left my husband. And it is the best choice I have ever made for myself.
While getting divorced was the best choice I have ever made for myself, it was in no way the easiest choice. This decision took me five years to make and act on. I did not rush into this, and I strongly believe that no one should. I do not think my ex-husband was a terrible person, just someone who couldn’t face their own issues. That being said, divorce is not the black sheep that we have made it out to be.
Let me give you some back story.
My ex-husband and I met when we were 18. We started dating within a week of meeting each other, and because we lived in the same dorms we spent essentially every waking minute together from day one. He was my first real boyfriend, my first relationship that lasted more than three months, the first person I kissed. We were madly in love. We could talk for hours on end about music, something we were both passionate about. I felt fully comfortable talking to him, like I didn’t have to put on an act and be cooler than I was. He would buy me little gifts even though we were both poor college students and went out of his way to make me feel special. He respected my boundaries and didn’t kiss me until I was ready. This carried on for a year and a half, and then he proposed when we were 19. Neither of us had finished college. Neither of us was out in the real world yet, but I was confident we would be good partners. We were at a Christian school that has a reputation for “ring by spring,” and I felt like I had found my person. My conservative religious upbringing was pointing all fingers towards marrying him. He had a rough upbringing and his parents had a troubled marriage that we talked about constantly. He told me how much he disliked their relationship, and how committed he was to not falling into the same patterns they had. He wanted kids right away, but I talked him out of it with the draw of traveling the world.
We were engaged for another year and a half, then married at age 21. That first year of marriage, I continued on and finished my degree, then was hired in the career of my choice. He did not and found a blue-collar labor job that he felt was beneath him. That first year was the best year of our marriage. We were poor, we lived in a terrible apartment on the bad side of town, we bought groceries with change, but we were incredibly happy. He still went out of his way to tell me how much he loved me, how fantastic it was to be sharing life with me, and I felt the same about him.
The following year is when the emotional abuse began. I was 22. I found a different job, where I immediately felt a sense of belonging and fulfillment. My paycheck increased, and we lived in a beautiful house instead of a crappy apartment.
It started small and didn’t feel like anything out of the ordinary. He would eat the dinner I made every night, but would find something to complain about, and would not help clean up. His reasoning was that I made that mess, I wanted to cook, therefore it was my responsibility. Always. Then the same story happened again when we got a dog. I wanted the dog; therefore, it was my responsibility to clean all the floors in the house. Always. These were both things I’d grown up watching my mother do for my father, so I didn’t bat an eye. I told him I would like some help, but his reasoning was solid and he couldn’t be moved.
And apart from those things, our relationship seemed good. We could be goofy together, we liked watching the same shows, he made me laugh and feel loved. We had a million inside jokes and were constantly making more. I still thought our relationship was fine but was starting to realize I wasn’t the same kind of wife as my mom. I didn’t feel it made sense for us both to be working full time jobs, but for the running of the household to fall on one person. I knew he loved me and I loved him, but I started having questions about our relationship. I knew he was unhappy with his job but thought that once he found a better one things would improve.
Then clearer cases started to show up.
When I was 23, I would come home after a hard day at work, talking about my frustrations, and he would stop me to say “Well you chose this, so you can’t complain. I don’t want to hear it.” That was the end of me talking about my job. But since his career was not what he “chose” he was allowed to talk about it for hours on end. He began telling me I needed to work out because I wasn’t as in shape as I should be. I look better when I wear more makeup. I should be sexier. I must be afraid of my own sexuality. I must be stupid, because I can’t navigate to a new or very recent location without asking for directions or using GPS. My job is easy and overcompensated. I wouldn’t take a keychain off my purse to fit his visual preference, so he wouldn’t talk to me at a friend’s wedding. He did not speak for the rest of the event. For the entire drive home. We left early because he was making everyone around us uncomfortable.
At this point, I realized I was married to someone I had completely misjudged. I found myself dreading going home. We lived somewhere that had his friends surrounding us, but none of mine, so I felt like I had no one to turn to. Eventually I broke down with a couple girlfriends, crying that my husband, who had promised to love and cherish and support me until the end of our days, thought I was worthless, stupid, ugly. He had to be right about everything. If I disagreed on something, he would beat the subject until I said he had changed my mind. We were 24 and had been married for three years now. I was heartbroken that the person I trusted most was betraying my trust, was telling me terrible things about myself and hurting me in ways I had never thought possible. He had promised we would always talk things through, but I began realizing that meant we would talk until I gave up on changing his mind. This was not the partnership he promised, the open communication and respect to avoid the trap his parents fell into.
To be continued….