There have been a lot of stories in the news lately about men hitting women. This is obviously domestic violence. It is obviously abuse. But not all abuse is as easy to identify. Fists leave physical damage, but words and other actions leave psychological damage that takes much longer to heal. Maybe you’re married to a guy who freely admits he’s arrogant and self-centered. A narcissist. Maybe you’re convinced he thinks men are superior to women even though he’s never used those exact words. Maybe he told you he “just doesn’t like women” once and it’s haunted you ever since. Even since then you’ve wondered, “What does that say about me? Does that mean he doesn’t like me? Does that mean he doesn’t respect me?” You think, “I can’t possibly be the only exception to his statement.” You never asked flat out, but that conversation made you realize that he would never see you as his equal. And somehow, at the time, you accepted it. Maybe you’re married to a guy who finds little ways to make you feel like you’re not worthy of his love or respect. You don’t think he’s doing it deliberately or consciously, but that doesn’t make it any easier to brush off. Even if you can dismiss 99% of his subtle insults, that last 1% slowly builds up, day after day, until you’re completely crushed under the weight of the chides, tsks, and sighs. Until one day you wake up and discover that you believe him. You’re not worthy of his love. You’re not worthy of having a partner who doesn’t expect you to walk one step behind him. When it all boils down to it, you realize that you’re scared on him. Not because he hits you or verbally assaults you, but because he looks down on you. You’re his inferior. And you know that whatever you do, inevitably to try and please him, will more than likely fail. On some level, at least. For one detail or another he’ll look at you like you’re an idiot and you’ll curse yourself for screwing up yet again. You’ll berate yourself for not living up to his standards, even though the rational part of your brain knows that’s impossible. And after each incident you’ll be even more scared of messing up the next time. You’re afraid of his disappointment, his explanation of what you did wrong, and his lack of appreciation for all of your efforts. This is emotional abuse. Plain and simple. It’s not as obvious as physical violence or outright insults, but it’s just as damaging.
It’s been a long time coming, but I can finally announce that as of January 28th I am no longer married. I got a copy of the divorce judgment in the mail on Thursday, confirming my single status. But while the legality of it is still very fresh, I’ve actually been living on my own for over a year. I obviously haven’t stated it outright here, but I wasn’t trying to hide anything so I’m sure it was easy to read between the lines of my posts and figure out what was going on. I moved out of the house in Redondo Beach and into my apartment in Seal Beach in October 2012. After that I hired a lawyer and filed for divorce that December. That process was rather long and drawn out, considering it took more than a year to complete (I accept some of the blame for that, but my lawyer was awful so that was a factor too), but now it’s done and I’m free. I’m honestly relieved. Most people who read this blog know that I’ve been through a lot in the last four years, and that I’ve dealt with hardships that I never expected. To be blunt, my marriage was not kind to me. I tried to make it work after some dark times, but at some point I realized that I would never be happy there. So I left. It was the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make, and I certainly didn’t take it lightly, but there’s no doubt in my mind that I made the right one. I’ve thought about writing on this subject so many times, but I decided to wait until all of the paperwork was said and done before doing so. But now that the time has arrived I’m having trouble knowing what to say. The last thing I want to do is go into a profanity-laced woe-is-me diatribe about all the difficulties I’ve faced, but I’ve walked a rough road since I left Dan. Things are finally starting to get easier, but I’m far from where I want to be. All I can do now is move in the right direction and hope that good things are waiting for me in the future. I’m ready for some good things in my life. It’s been a long time, and I just want to be happy again.