Monday, November 23, 2009

What I Have Learned Thus Far

Dearest S-D-T-B-X (Some Day To Be Ex),

On this most auspicious day, which will no longer be celebrated as our wedding day, I would like to discuss what I have learned about myself in nearly eleven months.

I have learned that we were perfect for each other, in the sickest sense of the phrase.

The last eleven months have made me examine what makes me tick. I have tried to figure out your clockwork mechanisms as well, but that only leads me down blind alley after blind alley.

I only have control over me. I only have control over the few square inches inside my skull. Everything else is a tangle of darkness.

I was the perfect person for you from the time I was three or four years old. I remember thinking the disordered and disjointed thoughts that every child of that age thinks. There has to be reasons for why things happen. Small children don't understand adult problems. When they are given away for their own safety and well being, they don't, on average, go into the entire socioeconomic and psychological benefits that they stand to gain by such an arrangement.

All they know is that they were given away. People give things away that they don't want. Things that are broken. Things that are damaged.

Correct thinking? Not for an adult it isn't. For a small child trying to make sense of the world? Perhaps.

I also remember, as a small child, coming to the realization that if you can give a kid away once, you can do it again.

Would I have ever been given away again? No. Did my child's mind realize that? No.

I remember being consciously aware of being a "good girl" before I even went to kindergarten. Not because I was afraid of being beaten or anything but for the simple fact that, if I was a bad kid I would be sent away.

Here is my foundation, laid bare. I was the kid in school that could be utterly gutted by a look from a teacher. If I didn't get a sticker on my paper in kindergarten and the kid next to me did, I would spend the rest of the day wondering what I had done wrong. (Do kids ever realize that maybe, just maybe, the teacher ran out of stickers?)

And it was always that... "what did I do wrong?"

Kids always place themselves at the center of the universe, that's what being a kid is. Now, place an incredibly insecure kid at the center of the universe and you will note that they will not feel that the sun rises and sets just for them. They will feel that if they don't do every single thing right and take on all the responsibility of the milky way, that everything will go horribly wrong and it will be because they are a screw up.

Anxiety much?

Yeah. Now flash forward a few years. As the child racked with insecurities and anxieties, I was the perfect mark for the pedophile disguised as my aunt's boyfriend. He was a predator and I knew that he had hurt other girls as well. I was just another in a long line but hey, I kept my mouth shut and I learned to stuff it all down inside of me so far that it only came out at night. Night time was when the monsters came whether real or in my head.

It pretty much sealed the deal on the whole anxiety/insecurity/self-esteem thing when I went to college and fell apart so badly that I ended up coming home at the end of the year and disclosing to my aunt.

When she called me a whore and said it was all my fault, it simply proved my hypothesis: I didn't matter.

Now, all of this boo-hooing and navel gazing can be very self indulgent. If I had the chance to go back in time and meet my "inner child", I would no doubt give her a swift slap upside the head. But as I have said, kids and teenagers have their own way of thinking. I don't come to my realizations lightly or with a song in my heart.

I come to my truths as a way of understanding how I could have endured seventeen years with you.

I learned to stuff my feelings from the time that I learned to walk.

Conflict is bad. Disagreements are bad. Having a voice is bad. And standing up on your own two legs when they've both been shattered is impossible.

See, I was the perfect girl for you.

For at least fifteen years of our marriage I put up with it. I put up with doing everything and I let you do nothing. Why? It didn't take many times of being called a bitch or a nag before I reverted back to my mantra: Conflict is bad. Disagreements are bad. Having a voice is bad.

You were the kindergarten teacher giving me the stink eye and I put my head down and said nothing.

You told me that I had no right to be upset about our marriage because you didn't beat me.

And I agreed. And I raised our children and I made our home and you never lifted a finger and you only told us how much we were an annoyance to you.

But I have to agree, you didn't beat me. I guess that means we had a happy marriage by your terms, right? I guess learning about you using a belt on our son after you left was supposed to make me realize what a great dad you were as well. Top that off with molestation and physically pushing your daughter around and I'm thinking that all that means is that you believe you were an absolutely stellar human being.

The last wedding anniversary that we spent together laid bare what I was planning. When I started to take control of my life and myself and lose weight and gain back my self esteem, I knew that I had to leave you. You were nothing but toxic. The kids asked why I stayed and beyond being scared of being homeless, I didn't have a reason.

So I started making plans in my head. Plans that kept me sane when I had to walk into this house and sense your presence like a noxious miasma. There were times when I would stand behind you and fantasize about bringing my cast iron skillet down on the back of your head but frankly, I wouldn't want to chance damaging the skillet.

That's where my head was on our last anniversary together. You suggested we go out for dinner at Blackwoods and you kept asking me what was wrong. The most hilarious thing, in hind sight, is that I'm sure you were trying to figure out if I knew you were cheating on me. Of course I didn't know you were cheating me. If I had, I would have whooped for joy and handed you a suitcase.

Hooray! There are other stupid insecure fucked up women in this world! Go exploit them and leave me alone!

But all I could do was sit there and look off into the distance and dream about a day when I wouldn't have to be around you.

I could have told you a lot of things that day. I could have told you how I hated coming home and existing in the same space as you. I could have told you how I wondered what my reaction would be if you got in a horrible car crash and died. Would I be able to pull of a proper grief reaction when the police came to my door? Or would I be honest for the first time and acknowledge to another human being "Good! I hope he rots in hell."

And to think, this was my story before I ever learned about your true nature. This was my story when all I knew was that you didn't take "no" for an answer at times, which worked out really well for you since abuse survivors have a tendency to freeze and not fight back. That was the story of our first sexual encounter as I recall.

And that is what being an abuse survivor can do to you. Hmmmm. I told him no and he didn't listen and I froze and I just pretended that it didn't happen and then I made the ever so intelligent move of marrying the bastard.

I have had eleven months to rake over these coals and recognize my many failures. I feel alternately like a fool, an idiot, and a dupe.

But I also feel like a survivor. I have learned so much about myself. I am stronger than I ever knew. I am surrounded by people I love and who love me. Life is alternately terrifying and exhilarating and to top it all off, I have the most wonderful kids in the universe.

We're not divorced yet but we will be soon. Since I learned that our paperwork is where it needs to be, finally, the gray fog has lifted from my soul.

In the most sincerest of ironies, the happiest time in all of my eighteen years of marriage to you have been the last eleven months when your absence has been the greatest gift of all.

I hope you're enjoying this day as much as I am!


Tripp Davenport said...

Eloquent, very eloquent. I have said it before, you should collect your posts into a book for survivors.


superiorfan said...

You definitely are a talented writer. I'm sure a book would be helpful to other survivors. Additionally your blog posts on everyday living are often a humorous and interesting read.

What I have trouble getting my head around is STBXs taking for granted of everything he had. Being that self centered is beyond my thinking.

I know I've done some self centered things that looking back even right after I did them I knew that wasn't right. I'm sure most everyone has those regrets.

I'd don't know if anyone can ever fully heal from all you've been through but I hope you and your children can move forward to a better and happier life.

Anonymous said...

Being. Feeling. Finding.
May peace and happiness follow you all the rest of your days.
Tabatha (friend in Folsom)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Thank you again for sharing your journey with us! You've come such a long way in eleven months. I hope you can put the rake away and if the coals start smoldering again, know that they do go out eventually. Because you Ms. Tina Harkness, have a stronger fire, blazing in your heart, mind and spirit.

Lynda3 said...

So this is what is meant by 'taking a negative and turning it into a positive'. Your ability to share this story WILL, no doubt, help someone else along the way.