Again I am amazed at the amount of stories and bloggers of people who have some form of PTSD and Trauma based issues. And the level of trauma ranges from violence and sexual abuse to anxiety and to incurring self-mutilation. When I first starting this new post, I thought I would focus more on the clinical aspects of trauma inflicted issues but then I thought “who was I to write about things like that?” After spending some time reading other posts I think I will continue to share my journey in the hopes that maybe others can relate. I find in the plethora of blogs out there on the topic there is also a difference in each one. And in my own pursuit I have come across information I did not have. I have felt compassion and understanding and I find this soothing. It is sort of a community. And since I do not see childhood abuse or sexual abuse or domestic abuse going away, I think it is important to talk about it and share.
So in that vein, I am going to share a dream I have had off and on for the last (I sat for about fifteen minutes while writing this and realized the amount of years and was shocked) over twenty-five years. But I must give a brief history for it to make sense. I met my first husband when I was 19. We got married a year and half later. There were signs then that he was violent and a liar and cheat but I did not pay attention. I want to get out of the even more abusive situation at home. I did love him, very much so. He was in a band, had long hair, was over 6 feet and large. He wrote poetry and sometime songs. He wanted to go to Canada with me and start a farm and not be in the military. He was pretty close to being drafted when Vietnam ended. I was a total hippie and the thought of raising plants and animals for a living has never gone away. I would never have raised animals to slaughter, but I love cows and sheep. I grew up on farms of my friends and was no stranger to the hard work that is farm living. But I was young and very healthy and strong back then.
From the day I met him, being unfaithful was going to be a part of my life with him and his friends. His best friend was cheating on his girlfriend and wanted to “date” my best friend, and was hitting on her. That was how he and I met. Once we became a couple, in short order, I realized we had a different meaning of being committed. I never caught him red-handed, so to speak, before we got married. But there were signs. I wanted to be married and on my own so I went onward. But there were a couple of situations where his temper flared, including taking a hammer to the windshield of his van and smashing it right where my face was. This was to be his method of attack in the future. He never hit me directly in the face, but would smash things very close to my face such as the wall or throw something. But, after the home I came out of, violence was nothing new.
What became more pervasive was the onslaught of girlfriends. I will not go into all the details of it right now. In the later years it got so bad that he would pick up women at bars in front of me and go off. Early on I knew something was up and would go through his wallet and find names and phone numbers. I had no shame about going through his wallet either. I knew what he got paid, I knew what he gave me, and I knew how much cash he blew on going out. Early in our marriage, he would explode when confronted on things, and I learned to let it go. But I did not let it go. I brought it all inward. It ate away at me all the time. What self-confidence and self-esteem I had was GONE by the time I was 25. GONE! I remember we both went on medication induced diets and I lost a ton of weight. I was gorgeous and had a body like Marilyn. I attracted a lot of attention. But my head image never changed and I had no realization of being anything but a fat, ugly, unwanted woman. The weight came back incredibly quickly and doubled. He had joined the police department, and the level of ostracization became intense. He quickly gravitated to a couple of women in his class and became too friendly with one in particular. This relation lasted for years. She made it very clear to me that he was involved with her. I was embarrassed and humiliated because everyone in our personal circle knew about it and accepted her and the relationship. She was not the only one, believe me, in the 27 years we were married. He had one affair that lasted nine months before he had to confess because she contracted a STD and he had to tell me. BUT…. I have to explain something that will make sense why I was subjected to this for so long and never got out.
After he became a cop, he changed. I believed in marriage being sacred. My mother instilled abject fear about divorce in me. She said it was the ultimate disgrace and failure on the woman. At the time, I did not know her mother was divorced. I did not find that out until several years after she died. I thought it was my duty to stay and put up with it. In hindsight, I know I was also terrified. And this is what he fed into, as most predators find the Achilles in their victims. He would also become the most violent after I confronted him. One time he got so mad he punched the wall and broke his hand. (served him right) He had to go to the hospital and get it cast.
But he also isolated me. He even admitted he did this when we were going through his divorce. He would do horribly embarrassing things when we were with my friends. And my friends could not stand him. So in short order, the only girlfriends I was allowed to be with were the wives of his friends. I was very blessed that my dearest friend forgave me for the period of time when I did not see her and we have become close again. Other friends did not hang in there. The women who I was in relationship with were very nice, but, I would not befriend them now. There were too many differences, especially with his closest guy friend and his wife. She was a simple woman whose whole world was her family. She had no children of her own, which was horrible for her. But without being condescending, she was also not the brightest woman I have ever met. I have not heard anything from them since the divorce either. The rest of the women were in the same predicament as I. One lady, Linda, had been with her man for ten years. He had another woman, Carol, who he saw every Sunday. He also spent time with her as he pleased leaving Linda crying in the house they shared. We were never sure who he would bring to a party. He cheated on Carol, when he met Linda. One gentleman died “in the saddle” of girlfriend #2. It was such a joke they called her Killer. I am sure his wife laughed all the way to the bank when none of the three girlfriends got anything and he was very rich. There was one guy who kept bringing this woman to our house and events and I made the faux pas of calling her his wife. Nope; girlfriend for over ten years and the wife knew all about it. She preferred to stay home with their children. This list goes on. They all were not cops, but many were. And this is not to say that all cops cheat, but in my permitted circle it was the norm. Most of the women were not highly educated and although some worked, none had management jobs. Some were secretaries, or hygienists or in medical offices. This sounds highly condescending, but they were not interested in anything else. None had outside activities except going to shooting matches with their men. I am serious. Some actually shot. Conversations were about house- hold cleaning products or television. I was even ostracized even within this circle because I believe in gay rights and was called a Feminazi because I was a feminist. It added to the depletion even more of my self-esteem. I had to get out of that circle to figure this out. Many of his circle of friends divorced when the cop husbands retired and they ended up with much younger wives. Very sad. But the real tragedy is what this constant degradation of the wife and the humiliation that goes with being treated that way does to the woman. It strips away every drop of self-esteem you have. Many did not leave because of children, but I found out later, many also were subject to mental and physical abuse. I joined a divorce support group and one of the members turned out to be the wife of a cop I knew only by name. What he did to her was criminal. Being married to a cop has many challenges as the Blue Code protects some and hurts many others.
Now back to my dream. I will preface this also with the facts I am married now to a man that fidelity is not an issue. My husband is the most faithful and loyal person I have ever met. The reoccurring dream is one where I am still married to the ex and he goes through a string of behaviors that flaunt his connection with another woman. The dreams started when I was still married to him. I would wake up crying and humiliated and also very angry. When we divorced, the dreams increased in frequency. I would wake up stressed and upset. Eventually, in the last two years, the dreams would change at the end to me beginning to fight back. There was a couple where I flayed on him. He was a big man so it was futile. It only added to the frustration. More recently, the dream resolves where I am starting to tell him to go f**k himself. Most times I don’t get it out as I become inarticulate and I wake up.
This morning I slept in and the dream came again. Just as I was about to have to face this woman picking up my ex-husband and I to go to some event, yes all three of us in her car carrier truck,…it’s a dream but the other woman always is more macho in activity or had children (we could spent a whole month of that) and I go WHOA…..”you’re an asshole”….and I am about to rip into him and tell him how I feel about this and my current hubby opened the bedroom door to allow our little peanut doggies to wake me up. I was so close.
I have been divorced for 13 years. I have not spoken to him since then. I wrote a letter once but of course never sent it. It helped with some of the anger. The anger I have now is not at him. He was a pathetic jerk and so were his friends. None of them deserve anymore of me. But I am angry and frustrated at myself for not being able to resolve all this in my dream world. It gets to the part where I pull up my big girl panties and I am about to invalidate him and I fail. I am sure there is a whole mess of psychoanalysts who can tell me what this all means. What is very weird is that I have not really talked about much of this period of my life to anyone except in my writing. I think I am still grappling with the humiliation and the fear of retaliation that was so pervasive for almost thirty years of my relationship with this man. He began his isolation and exclusion of me from his life almost from the moment I met him. There is consolation that I am getting closer to speaking up in the dream. In the real world, my self-esteem and self-worth is still pretty fractured. If you couple my childhood years with this period it is 47 years of pure hell. I guess I need to give myself a lot more credit for being able to even have some peace now.
Although I celebrate the New Year on October 31st, I am sending everyone a blessing for the upcoming year of 2015 to be one of great healing and recovery. I hope we all get a bit stronger and fight for help for all the people who are impacted in some manner of trauma to become the Spiritual Warrior they are meant to be. I cannot help but believe there is a reason we all are here. And those who have had some huge battle with the evil of the world, whether it is on a battlefield or in our own homes, we are here to stop it from happening in the future. I really see and feel in my deepest regions of my soul there is goodness and light in everyone and we are not meant to hurt each other. I struggle every day with the whys and what ifs. But the future is where the change can occur, so I wish for it to be a better world for us all.