Monday, February 08, 2010

How Do You Make Sense Out Of......?

One time, I took Supergirl and her sleepover friend over to his office (the cabin next door) so he could sleep in while they played loudly.
Couple hours later, he woke up. As always, whenever the white noise was turned off, there was an automatic tensing and clenching in the house. Because then it would begin.
Why are there crumbs on the floor? (breakfast and lunch, which I fed them)
Why is there so much noise? (kids)
Why didn't you start a fire? (hard to chop kindling with a toddler attached to me)
What is this on the table and why? (playdoh and because we were playing with it)
What mess are you going to make for me to clean up next? (what's for dinner?)
Why are you going? When are you going? Where are you going? What are you doing? Why are you doing that? What is that for? Why did you do that? Who did this? Who did that?

Every day, all day, he snipped and sniped at anyone in his way. He parented when convenient. I even coined it 'optional parenting' and yes - I hurled those words in his direction whenever we fought.
He woke up at noon, spent all day in his office, coming out for lunch or to admonish someone. Took a daily sunset hike, occasionally returned for dinnertime, usually put the kids to bed (upon my insistence 2 years ago) and then disappeared again. Insisted he had to stay up til 2am and sleep until noon, because 'that was when he worked'. I never asked what he did between the other waking hours, but he wanted to know exactly where I would be and why I couldn't do it myself if I even asked him to take Bubbles to one of his 3x weekly speech appointments.
I was reprimanded for not offering enough foods (never mind that he couldn't feed anyone), berated for wasting too much food (that he never bought) ignored when in tears of overwhelm, and scoffed at whenever I had any physical illness or weakness.

Once he drove me to Planned Parenthood to get an abortion he insisted I get after he refused to get his promised vasectomy. I screamed at him the whole way there. He sat in stony silence, willing it to be over if he just ignored it. And me.
When we got there I took the keys and left him in the parking lot. I came back an hour later to pick him up and he yelled at me that I was a terrible mother because I wouldn't get an abortion. I cried and sobbed and told him that, while I believe firmly in choice and I also believed another child would be very hard, I couldn't do it after losing Elijah. That they were connected for me and I didn't know how but they were and please stop please please please stop.
He sneered at me. "You are selfish. This just proves how selfish you are. If you cared at all about your children you would do this."
Supporting me was only possible if I agreed with him.
I cried myself to sleep for weeks until the blessed event: the miscarriage. It was a late one - 11 weeks, I think. He had been exceptionally angry the night before. He wouldn't talk to me, but would only growl insults at me. He grabbed me roughly and reminded me how selfish I was and he spat his disgust at me by stripping away any confidence I had as a parent - he knew the most deadly weapon available to him and he knew how to find my emotional jugular. When I went in for another ultrasound the next day there was no more heartbeat and I remember feeling relieved as I was prepped for the surgical removal of all this conflict wrapped up in a dead embryo.
I'll never forget how he was so nice to me on the way to the OR. He held my hand, he hugged me, he was 'so so sorry this had happened, Babe' but I was 'going to be strong and be just fine' and he gave my hand a tender squeeze. I was speechless. But there was a whole audience now, so I just accepted it and was wheeled off to the OR and soon completely unconscious and unable to try and make sense out of that one.
When I stopped bleeding, we went to Hawaii, with hopes of amnesia I suppose.

The day that I took the kids next door to play so he could sleep in, I went back over to the cabin to grab my laptop after he got up and we had returned to the house. The moment I left the house, I heard my name being screamed. Again. Angrily. Shouted. Again. Really mad. I prepared for the worst and ran back over to the house. Apparently, Bubbles had just knocked over and broken a glass lamp.
"WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU????" He screamed at me.
"I was getting my laptop WHAT HAPPENED?"
"Whaaaaat?? Where is he?? Where the hell were YOU? You were HERE! You can't yell at me like some wayward nanny!"
"You're no nanny. You are a pathetic excuse for a mother. You weren't even HERE. A NANNY would have done a BETTER JOB!"

He insists there is no history of abuse, but I can't stop my mind from trying to make sense out of his actions in April. I can't stop thinking about it, and if I can make sense out of it, then something will....I don't know. Fall into place? Make me understand the risk with more clarity? Prevent it from happening again?

And in some ways I can make myself make sense out of it. Like the first full nelson he put me in. He completely lost all impulse control. No filters, nothing to stop himself. But after he let go and I screamed back at him, after I reached for the phone, and
and this time with more purpose.
While screaming at me with purpose.
About how 'someone' should have 'done this' to me 'along time ago'.

I just can't make sense of that. Was it pre-meditated? Did he really just hate me that much?
Did he simply feel entitled to shut me up? Was it supposed to be forever?
Where did the filter kick in and why did he stop?
Did he realize when he dropped me onto the floor that this was some bad shit or did he just want to kick me on his way out?

I can't make sense of all this and it physically hurts. I watch my kids try and make sense of it and I know why it's so hard. It's crazy making.

The exchanges we had which were so memorable and so hurtful, the experiences which carved the paths of our canyon come back to play themselves out again. As if they will reveal the answer.

I don't know.


Miss Grace said...

Hey. I love you.
Also My word verification is 'marvelous'
I just thought I'd share.

Anonymous said...

After awhile these things do make sense. You slowly learn that you were not the crazy one, that you were not incompetent, that there was a history of abuse despite his denials.

In my case my ex claimed he was entitled to verbally abuse me because he was "just being honest". He challenged our therapist. He told her I was mentally ill and she should just prescribe medication to me so I'd be "controllable" again. She told him he was pushing me out the door. He told her she was incompetent.

Today, fourteen years on, I still marvel at two things: that back then it took me so long to call it what it really was, and how right my decision was to get me and my two boys out of it. They're almost grown now, polite and respectful, fully aware that you don't treat your partner to a shouting match to get your way.

Regardless how my ex might see it, I saved my boys' lives. I saved mine too.

My best wishes to you. It does get better. And there are a lot of revelations about your own strength yet to come.

Jess said...

Lovely Gwen...

It really is impossible to make sense out of something that contains none. You cannot put yourself inside his brain to even begin to comprehend his actions. And honestly, even if you could, I would advise you with all of my strength and all of my heart not to do so.

I used to wrack my brains, replay scenarios, try, try to just comprehend why he was upset...why he'd said the things he'd said, done the things he'd done...just why? Like, the time he came to visit me in the hospital, and he blew up, in the psychiatric ward in front of nurses and patients, and then handed ME the keys to my car and left. With the dogs locked inside. In a parking lot. In June. And me being locked inside the psyche ward. And how I then had to scramble to convince a nurse to allow me outside, convince them to allow me to take the dogs home after my brother arrived finally a few hours later, and then convince them to allow me to travel back to the hospital on a bus. All against Doctor's orders. While I was INSANE. For the life of him he could not understand why that behaviour was unacceptable. That not only had he risked two living creatures lives in the heat,but that his actions in that moment could have cost me the dogs, period. Not to mention the fact that I was in a freakin hospital because I had completely broken down.

And then over time I realized that sweet Jesus, I did not WANT to comprehend his actions. I really didn't. And the scary part was how badly I was trying to understand. And how, in a semi sick and twisted way, that I was still there, still stuck replaying those scenarios. All the pain, all the fear, all the detruction. And he was no longer there to keep it alive. So...I did.

Until I didn't. I couldn't. I didn't want to. And I really couldn't move on. So...I finally stopped trying to understand, and just accepted the fact that it didn't contain sense. And, I let go.

And it was that moment exactly that I realized how long I'd been holding my breath for, and just how long I really hadn't been living. And I grieved in that knowledge for a short while, until one day, just another ordinary day, I drew in a deep breath, and my lungs swelled and filled. And life began again.

It is so very beautiful to breathe. I wish you peace my friend, and hope that you take time to breathe.

Rachel Dysart said...

It's called "crazy making". Have you visited Walnut Street Women's Center yet? It's free and I found them to be usefully for free counseling for abuse. They have advocates that will go with you to court (for free) as a victim of abuse.

Ben and Bennie said...

I cannot add anything better than what has already been offered other than to say you can't make sense out of insanity. Unfortunately this reads like the typical abusive spouse. He wanted you to feel like shit so that he could feel a little bit better about being a piece of garbage.

mossum said...

Jess ("it didn't contain sense") and Ben & Bennie ("you can't make sense out of insanity") have said it best. The phrase my best friend chanted to me for about two years was "You can't make sanity out of insanity."

I'm guessing you want to find the sense in it for two reasons: one, so the ground under your feet will be logical and dependable and not contain scary surprises; two, so you can help the children achieve the same.

Here's the thing: X is broken. Pure and simple. That may sound and feel just annoyingly simplistic to you at this stage, but it's really what it comes down to. He's broken and no amount of your mental calisthenics can fix that.

My sons are now grown. It's taken several years for them to understand, without me bad-mouthing their dad, that he's just broken. They are now able to love him, with that understanding, and they deal with it by rolling their eyeballs a lot and making rude, inconsiderate jokes about him. Hey - whatever it takes. We just say, "He gives us such good material!"

When he left, the vortex left with him. Take Jess's advice. Breathe.

Alexicographer said...

I think mossum is right.

Absent the physical abuse and the baby loss, it's eerie how much this reminds me of my father's behaviors when I was a child.

Last year, I spent 5 hours one afternoon "persuading" my father to move from the skilled nursing home where he had been living (but no longer could) at Medicare expense to an assisted care facility that he could afford. Rather than back to his second-floor apartment. Accessible only by steps. When he was wheelchair-bound. It was exhausting. Just moving him was exhausting.

The next morning, I woke peacefully and pleasantly (and early) to the (loud) sound of my young son (whose dad had arisen and gotten him up) riding in furiously energetic enthusiasm on his spring-mounted horse.

I suppose it's the juxtaposition of the two events, but what immediately sprung to mind was a long-neglected (not forgotten, not suppressed) memory of the many times my father stormed through the house at ... 10 a.m.? 11 a.m.? Yelling at my mother about why couldn't she keep the children quiet so that he could sleep (for the record, he didn't work a job that required odd hours or anything).

It's so nice to have better. It's so nice to know I'd never dream of bringing my now ailing father home to live with us, nor regret not doing so, and, yes, even to remember why not. It's so nice to see how my mother has blossomed after all the effort she put into extracting him from her life.

I hope and trust you and your children will get there, too.

Margaret said...

I can't even imagine the pain you must be feeling. I am so sorry that you have to go through this.

I am a new follower of yours!

Anonymous said...

You are not powerless; you have a choice; you can let go.

Connie Reagan said...

Sounds like he has a personality disorder. Narcissism, perhaps?

There is no sense TO be made here. The behavior you describe was simply his total inability to choose to think about anyone other than himself.

And I am so very, very, very sorry you had to live with that for one single solitary second.

オテモヤン said...


Anna said...

I look back and what's the insane part to me is how I let it go on so I didn't see it for what it was, see him for what he was. Him, his insanity...there's no making sense of it. Why he chooses to do and say things that hurt our son when he knows better, when he's been told by professionals better...there's no making sense of it. I got out, I'm teaching my son to process it, and someday he'll be able to make sense of it for himself; how there's a way to act and a way not to act, and why. That's the only sense I can come up with.

Which Box said...

I am so, so sorry. It is unbelievable the shit and abuse you put up with for too, too long. All the while writing incredible words and only showing glimpses of just how bad it really was.

There is some superb counsel above, and wise women who have been through the storm and emerged. I've read this enough to know that someday, you too will emerge and wonder why it took so long. You will come through and get to a new place that puts this all in perspective enough that you don't have to try to make sense of the senseless. He is damaged, he is broken. And he tried, oh how he tried, to break you mentally and finally physically. But he didn't. He didn't.

Anonymous said...

I don't know you, and you don't know me, but sweetheart? This is abuse. This is abusive. This is the definition of an abusive relationship. I know, I've had one myself. I'm recovering from one, recovering in one. We're both in treatment and it took an intervention from some professionals for him to get that he was an abuser.

It takes that.

The situation isn't going to change without something happening. Could be something good like therapy or counselling. Could be something that is a change - you walk out with the kids and don't go back. He walks out without the kids and you learn what the new life looks like. Could be bad - once they unlock that guard that keeps them from touching you in anger, you can never re-padlock that fence.

Only you can know what is right for you. If I am allowed to say one thing, though, it is this - children follow in their parents' footsteps, both good and bad. Break this cycle. Break it for them.

You are not alone.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

You won't ever be able to make sense out of it because it doesn't make sense. Hurting other people doesn't make sense.

WarsawMommy said...

My God... really??

I'm a first-time visitor (hi!) and I read this with my mouth hanging open, then I went through your archives a bit to get a sense of what was happening in your marriage. You survived all that? With your sanity intact? And your two kids are sweet and funny?

Miracles do happen, indeed. Hugs. Hugs. Hugs.

Volker from Germany said...

Ich haben eben Eure Internetseite besucht und nutzen sogleich die Gelegenheit,euch auch einen Gruß aus Deutschland in Eurem Gästebuch zu hinterlassen. P.S. Kommt uns doch auch mal besuchen
Urlaub an der Ostsee

Jules said...

This post really bothers me because this is my friend's husband. I hate it to death that she stays, but I love her and know its her decision to stay or go. All the while I remain her friend, closet confidant and her emotional support system.
Lord this sucks balls......