Story: Why Can’t You Be Normal?
October 9, 2020
“Be normal, just be normal”, my husband yelled at me. I stood looking at him, but mainly at the two suitcases he had sitting by the door leading to the garage. “Why can’t you act like other women?” he was still yelling. By now my hearing had shut down and I could only read his lips. My husband needed me to be normal; the problem was I didn’t know what normal looked like. At least what was his impression of normal was, or his assumption of how other women acted?
“How you can be numb and still your body feel pain?” mine did. As he walked into the garage, my eyes followed him as he threw his luggage into his car. Angrily he backs his car out of the garage, neither closing the garage door or door into the garage. “Should I run out after him” was my internal question? No answer followed. Instead, I sat down in the doorway leading to the garage. We had a circular driveway with a fountain in the center. I felt our gardener had done a splendid job keeping the front of our house picture perfect with flowers and other plants. It was the inside of our home that had developed into such a mess.
“For Sale” on my neighbor’s house across the street had a SOLD sign it. The youngest child had left for college and they downsized. I remember my neighbor saying, “Twenty-four years of marriage and three children out of the house, now we can live”, she announced. “Now we can live?” I thought to myself what had they been doing for twenty-four years. The rumor was that after their last child left home, they both were going their separate ways. Yes, they were downsizing, but for two locations.
Similar to a crack in a dam, I felt the tears dripping, and then the crack opened as tears saturated my face and chest. When you look into the lake, you can see a reflection of you; I stared into my tears and saw a reflection of me holding a hand full of pills. It drained me struggling to make sense of my life as I looked back. I saw an image of me wandering the street at night with nowhere to go, so much of my life showing in my tears. After getting myself together, I realized I had wept for my neighbor too.
The sun had bid us goodnight. I watched the night entering as the moon and stars now showcased the sky. I would have to go to the other side of the house to watch the sun go down. “Why did my husband pick this time of day to leave? Why couldn’t it have been sooner?” This would have given me time to adjust within to the approaching night, the darkness? Instead, I sat as a statue while observing the sky.
Even though the sunset was my favorite, I appreciated the nights. Our house was so far out that you could see the stars at night brightly and hear the serenading of crickets. My body refused to participate with my mind after several attempts to stand. I decided to just relax. I know the body follows the mind, but my mind seemed in timeout and wasn’t giving my body any instructions. It’s strange how the silence can be so loud that it shakes you. I could no longer see the stars, and the serenading had ceased. Gradually getting up I pressed the garage door button and watched it close. The now noticeable darkness of the house startled me as I turned to go back inside and close the door.
“I want you to be normal and act like other women” was echoing in my head. It can be tough trying to develop into one when you come from two different households and apparently two different worlds.
“Bread goes on top of the refrigerator”. “No, the bread goes in a bread box”! “Stop squeezing the toothpaste from the bottom. Why do you roll the tube up and never put the top back on it”? “Why do you have to argue?” “Why are you silent and never responding?”
My body, now in motion aimlessly but suddenly is aware as I notice for the first time there were no pictures of just us. I hadn’t recognized before now. Every picture of us had other individuals in the picture. There must be at least one picture with just us. There has got to be one. As I went from room to room, not one picture displayed just us. I grabbed our wedding album and there was a separate picture of me on the first page and a separate picture of him on the next page. Every picture throughout the album with us together was with someone else in the picture. Normal, I thought “Oh my God, we didn’t even start out normal”.
My husband came from a family that argued and where he literally saw his dad beat his mother throughout his childhood. He mentioned his father beat his mom so severely that she’d collapse; he and his younger sister would pick her up and lay her in the bed. There were times she could not function; they had to take care of themselves. After the beatings their father left and not come back home for days. Which I’m sure explains why my husband had two other siblings that were not his mother’s children.
Not until we got married had I found this out. We both got married late in life. He had never wanted to get married, and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to get married. When we met, it was no doubt that we wanted to get married. Another matter I found out after being married for a month and going to his family reunion was that he had been in two long-term relationships and each woman had left because of abuse. Needless to say he never brought me to another family event. This recent information prompted me to have a heart to heart discussion with him. A week later he grabbed my arm and pushed me against the bedroom door. I was walking away from a conversation that was progressing into an argument. I couldn’t figure out what he had not understood in my conversation regarding any physical behavior towards me.
Just the look in my eyes when our eyes met backed him back off me. “I was a punching bag throughout my childhood and couldn’t do anything about my family status. During those times I made a firm resolution that if a man ever hit me when I got on my own, he would die.” It had to be the look in my eyes and the calmness of my voice that confirmed my husband that this was a vow I willing would keep. He left the house and didn’t come back until I had gone to bed that evening. Sometimes a few words can curtail behavior and/or bring to surface childhood issues that were dormant. A graveside service for my husband while I watched handcuffed to a police officer was in my mind. The pains in life can lead you to form decisions that are hard. It showed we both reached that place.
We were financially secure when we met, which meant we both brought something to the table to create an exceptional start in life. We had the house of our dreams within a year of marriage and cars to match our lifestyle. They knew my husband well in the city, with him having been born and raised here. I had moved to the city four years prior, being hired as a Trainer for an up-and-growing company. I rapidly became established outside the firm, applying my natural talent of speaking. My skill was lucrative and how I met my husband who owned his own business.
From our first date to the honeymoon, our conversations were what we would do together. I had met a man with goals and vision, someone who had established his own company. He had found what he claimed was his perfect helpmate. After one year of being married, we agreed that I’d resign from my company and I did. I worked with my husband in his business, which was advancing at a rapid pace and my speaking engagements increased exponentially. Our life was going great, I thought, until he tried to pull me into a discussion one morning at breakfast. He wanted me to give up the speaking circuit. I found out later it was because he had become threatened by how much money I was making on my own.
When you have money, you can have a variety of toys, even human toys! I recall the house phone ringing and upon answering listened to a woman on the other end of the phone explain to me the purpose of their shelter. Puzzle by what she said, I asked: what type of shelter,” she answered it was for women in abusive situations. Stunned, I told her she had dialed an incorrect number. She explained that she understood and that if I ever needed her, please call back. Thinking it was a crank call, I at once dialed the number from the caller id. The woman on the other end asked me if I was in a safe place and if I needed transportation to get there. Hanging the phone up, I felt uneasy and couldn’t figure out why.
During dinner that evening, I told my husband of the call. His expression caused me to lose my appetite. “What did you say to her?” he asked. “What do you mean, what did I say to her?” He replied. “It’s a simple question, babe, what did you say”? “I said she had dialed an incorrect number”. I stared at my husband puzzled this discussion had gone this long and that he was sweating. That evening, I raked most of our dinner into the trash can.
Two days afterward I stood staring at our home phone ringing, not able to explain why my stomach was in knots. Telemarketers always called and occasionally I answered. The ringing stopped, and then promptly started again. I picked up the phone and was silent. So was the person on the other end, “who is this?” I asked. “Are you safe and do you need any medical help?” “No, I do not need any medical support and I’m safe in my home. Why are you calling me?” I heard myself yelling my voice shaking.
“Madam, you called us and left your name and phone number with our receptionist,” she calmly explained. “I never called you, please disregard this number and never call me again,” I responded. I was about to slam the phone down, but I could hear her urgently appealing to put the phone back to my ear. “I realize you’re scared, you don’t have to live under those conditions. We can pay for a one-way ticket for you to leave the state and move anywhere you wish.”
Again an outburst issued from my mouth, “I never called you and undoubtedly there’s someone who requires your help, but not me.” It was then I knew what it meant to be frozen in time. She called me the name of the person who left her name with the receptionist. I asked, “Repeat the name you just called me,” she repeated the name. It was not mine, but it was a name I knew. “This is the name you have connected to your file” I whispered? There are things in life that can cause you to lose it. This was one. One phone call can turn your life upside down.
Dressed and driving, I knew the female name as someone introduced as one of my husband’s business associates. We had been to her home last year for a Christmas party. I remembered where she lived. I know what it means to drive in an unconscious state. When she opened the door I was not expecting to see relief on her face. She invited me in but I refused because I was in a place within myself I had never been and thought it was best not to tempt fate.
Now driving to my favorite café, I sat looking out the window as I repeated in my mind what she had told me. My husband had convinced her we were getting a divorce and because we were only acquaintances, she was ok with the affair. She explained he had bought her a ring, and they had set a wedding date for next year. The car in front of her house, he had bought for her for her birthday. Then the beatings started and after her second trip to the emergency room he told her he was never letting her go because he was too old to be starting over.
When she realized he seriously would not let her go, she called the shelter to talk to a counselor after her second trip to the emergency room. She found our home number and gave that number as her direct contact, hopefully to alert me to the affair. It was her belief that this was going to get her out of her abusive situation. She wanted me to get her out of the situation of a 2 carat Solitaire engagement ring and the ivory Mercedes E-class coupe displayed in her driveway. When you have money, you can have plenty of toys, even human ones.
I found my voice, and the argument was intense when I got home. This shocked my husband, because I never argued even when he tried to pull me into confrontations. He denied nothing, but let me know I was his reason for going outside the marriage bond. He watched me while ducking from everything I threw in the room at him. He had not abused me physically, but he had shattered me inside. Twice today, I was at a place within myself I had never experienced before and didn’t have a clue what to do next. Finally he grabs me and throwing me against the wall, his fist whizzed pass my face into the wall and putting a hole in the wall. Unfazed, the look in my eyes signaled him, “tonight was the night”. He moved back and threw the only thing I hadn’t thrown at him into the mirror.
I ran downstairs and sat in the family room. A tug-of-war was going on in my head as I was preparing myself for jail time. Since I would not need the insurance money, I was thinking of an organization I would donate the money. I knew what was going on in my head wasn’t rational, but nothing that has gone on in the past twelve hours had been. Childhood decisions can make you a prisoner, putting you in solitary confinement with no escape for resolving adult matters or a place for healing.
I had locked a killer within me and “no Baby I’m sorry or I didn’t mean it” could silence the killer who was now standing up in me. My husband and I both at this very moment were locked into our respective childhoods. He was his father, and I was the bruised girl with welts on her body. This didn’t look good for neither one of us because at that moment there was not an adult present. My husband coming downstairs with his luggage and leaving saved both of our lives.
Two days later the police were at my house looking for my husband. When I opened the door they at once pulled me outside the house. I told them I didn’t know where he was, but they continued searching the entire house. My husband’s fiancé was in the hospital on life support. They found the shelter phone number in her purse after she staggered into the hospital and passed out on the floor at the front desk, I was told. They called the shelter and connected her name with our home address from the phone number they had on file.
For the next couple of weeks, my life was in chaos. No one knew where my husband was, and they parked a plain police car across from our subdivision. My best friend encouraged me to seek counseling, because the turmoil within hadn’t subsided and was causing havoc within me. My troubled soul couldn’t reach me. Childhood wounds not healed will cause you to not have a fulfilling life. My third visit to the therapist she told me “Forgiving both my husband and childhood abuser was the first step”. I started laughing, got my coat and walked out.
When I got to my car I didn’t realize I had gotten into the back seat. Stretched out on the back seat, I laughed until my stomach started hurting. I knew I was losing it. I will go to prison, but I was not willing to lose my mind over a man. “Forgiving both my husband and childhood abuser was the first step”. I started laughing, got my coat and walked out. When I got to my car I didn’t realize I had gotten into the back seat. Stretched out on the back seat, I laughed until my stomach started hurting. I knew I was losing it. I will go to prison, but I was not willing to lose my mind over a man.
What was it I was to forgive? Maybe I should have stayed long enough to ask the therapist. Lying on the back seat lifeless, my killer within broke the silence. “Remember, remember you know why I’m here, to protect you” the voice yelled, provoking vivid pictures of me balled in a knot crying on the floor of my bedroom as a child. I missed my next two sessions, and it was the torment raging inside me that made me make another appointment. In the therapist's office, I asked, “What was it you said I needed to do?”
Over the months, I learned that when you don’t forgive; it holds you in that place of the abuse and filters those emotions into everything in your life. Outwardly you may look free, but inwardly you are on lockdown. You become the abuser by continually reliving the actions of the past years. Your mind signals your body to relive what happened to you, what they did to you. Isolate yourself, get in bed. Don’t talk to anyone because this happened to you and they can’t understand your pain.
I learned when you don’t forgive; you not only carry your hurts but the hurts of the abuser who didn't forgive his or her abuser. Your abuser abused. Their abuser abused, which perpetuates generations of pain. That weight causes you not to stand in life. After six months of therapy, reading and much prayer, I could release the killer, the wounded child. It’s an amazing peace you feel within when you are the only one living inside you.
Life can throw you curve balls and surprises you couldn’t imagine ever. My husband’s girlfriend survived and the money he put in her account with the promise to never contact her again satisfied her need not to press charges. I divorced my husband. Between us we decided that he would keep the house and buy me a condo. This wasn’t the curve ball or surprise.
A year later, I heard my husband’s ex-fiancé was starting a transition house for women of domestic violence. I asked one of my lawyer friends to look into it and see if this was true and it was. It amazed me of her vision, her goals and the building setting she wanted. She had a workable two year’s plan I was told. As I knocked on her door this time, it surprised her to see me. “I read your two years business plan for your transition house, I have the money to get you there in a few months,” I said. This time the door shut with both of us inside, saving ourselves and others.
. All Stories and Poetry is originally mine and has Copyrights!