Friday, August 13, 2004

Silent all these years

Before I start this - please understand that I don't need or want your condemnation for what this contains. You are entitled to you opinion of it, and of me, if you so choose... but I have made my own peace. Please understand that.

I was nineteen. I was married for less than three months. I was on the pill. And I knew. I knew without need of tests, of confirmation. And I rejoiced. I was incredibly happy. I felt that it could save our marriage. I found out with a test bought from Walgreens in the last stall on the right hand side in the bathroom of our undergraduate library. The test line came up positive before the control line. I cried with fear and joy.

It was the beginning of the holiday season. We had a tiny two bedroom apartment, and I printed out pregnancy calendars ticking off the days until a due date. I imagined how to decorate the smaller bedroom as a nursery. I wrapped baby booties under the tree for our parents. But I was afraid to tell him. It was finals time, he was working on his masters degree and we were stressed out. We were driving to his parents house and I made him pull over because I was sick. I was green all weekend... and his mother asked me if I was. I told her no.

The next day, on a Sunday - I told him while he sat on his parents couch. He took a gun from the closet and pointed it at me... then at himself. I begged, I pleaded and he called me an ungrateful whore who was sent to demolish his life. I was heartbroken and sobbed the three hour drive home. As we drove over a bridge, he quickly swerved the car to the edge and told me that he was going to throw me out and finish off his two problems at the same time.

He wanted me to have an abortion, and made an appointment for me right before Christmas. I couldn't go through with it... and cancelled. He hit me. Again and again and again. I honestly thought I would die. The week before Christmas, I was finally so broken that I caved in. We didn't go to my didn't go to my parents house for Christmas. I called but they knew something was wrong. I wanted that baby more than anything in the world. I unwrapped the booties, and put them in the closet.

It was the Tuesday after Christmas and we drove to another town so no one would recognize us. As we walked out of the apartment I sobbed and started dry heaving. He yanked me up by my hair and slapped me and told me that there was no other choice. He said he would cut it out of me if I didn't go. I threw up green bile. We drove in silence - I started bleeding more on the way to the clinic. When we got there, we sat in the waiting room together. They had a water fountain which was constantly running. It was cold inside. I was bleeding as we got into the doctor's office. There were a lot of women there. No one made eye contact. They gave a urine test, and then a sonogram. I asked to see, but they refused. 8 weeks 6 days.

I went back in the waiting room. He was gone - sitting in his truck. I went outside and begged him to take me home. I didn't want this. I just wanted the three of us to be a family. We would manage somehow. He refused. I went back in, dejected and bleeding heavier. They gave me a pill, and a little while longer they began. I begged the doctor not to, but he said it was too late. I sobbed so loudly they told me I was frightening other patients. The doctor saw the bruising, and asked me if I wanted to do this. I told him no - but there was no other choice. The doctor told me the baby wouldn't have survived anyway, that there was no heartbeat and that I was already beginning to miscarry before he saw me. I've never been able to reconcile the truth of this but I needed to believe him.

I bled heavily for weeks. He refused to take me back to the doctor. I went alone... and the doctor told me I had to get out. He said that maybe this was my chance to save myself.

I had a breakdown after that. Completely lost it for awhile. I would hide under the dining room table and sob. Hiding from him, from me, from everything. I have never been as scared or as depressed as I was then. I was too afraid to commit suicide or I would have. He finally told me that it was enough. We were over. He couldn't understand why I didn't "just get over it."

We split up soon after that. I couldn't stop the self-hate, and he couldn't - or wouldn't - understand or help. I finally summoned up the courage and moved out in May and filed for divorce. We tried working it out, but we were at an impasse. A barrier had been erected by my sorrow that I couldn't let go of. We spent one night together after that.

He bought a number of guns, and he broke into my house - my car, waited for me at work every day. He tried to commit suicide a second time. He told me that he had a vision of the devil as a black dog, and had spoken to him about me. He called me at work to tell me that he was going to shoot himself in the head with me on the phone. I heard him cock the gun, and then line went dead.

He took a handful of pills again. The police told me that it wasn't safe for me to stay with him, that I needed to stay away. His mother called me to tell me that I was destroying him. It was my fault. I found out the next morning. Again. This time there were no tears of joy and elation. This time I felt like I had to get out. I made an appointment, drove to another city and had them put me under. CNN was on in the waiting room. JFK Jr.'s plane had just gone down. Dolly Parton was signing 9 to 5 in the dressing room.

I was less than five weeks. I had a fever. I begged them... please - let me start over. They refused - it was too early, they couldn't guarantee results. I sobbed... and finally they agreed. They put me under, and I don't remember anything for about two days after. When I went back for a check up the doctor told me that she had been there before when she was in graduate school. It wasn't the right time. She asked how I was and I said I felt hollow. As if all hope had been extracted from my body. She said it takes time. Ben Folds Five's song "brick" was on the minute the car started.

I started over. I moved to another state. I changed names, haircolor, and started law school. For the first few months, I was afraid... I would sit and listen every night at the door afraid he was there. Years went by, and I met my current husband. I learned what it felt like to hope - to love. We eloped. We started a life together, I learned what a marriage is supposed to be. We started trying for a baby... and nothing. Month after month after month. Nothing. The doctors assured me that it's not because of the previous 'procedures'. My ex husband married someone else within a year of our divorce. He emailed me to show me pictures of the son they had - due on my birthday - and conceived on the first try.

As we try time and time again, I am faced with the awful guilt. What if I have already used up my "chances" - what if that's all that I had?? When we were first married, my sisters and I sat around with a needle on a string divining our reproductive futures. Two children were predicted for me. An awful feeling crept up on me. What if I've already used that allotment. What if there is no such thing as starting over? What if there are no second chances?

I'm no longer afraid to sleep at night. I have a husband who I adore, and who would never raise his hand to me. But I still wonder why I wasn't worthy for the first. Why was it that she was? The what ifs make my head swoon. All I want is a baby with M. I just want this hollowness to finally go away. The doctor said it would take time. I never knew she meant a lifetime.


At 3:26 PM, Blogger akeeyu said...

I'm so sorry, hon.

No condemnation, just admiration of your strength, and a hug.

At 10:57 AM, Blogger Dee said...

I just found your blog through Julie's (A Little Pregnant) comprehensive list. Nice to see a fellow Floridian in the ranks!

This post made me look back on my own life. Between 18 and 21, I was stuck in a relationship that wasn't very healthy. When I found myself pregnant at 18, the decision was made and I ended it.

At 21, I met the wonderful man who is now my husband. We dated for 6 years before we got married and have now been together for almost 8. During those 8 years, we'd been trying to conceive for 3 of them. I found myself wondering if I missed my only chance at age 18, and if my choice then was to blame for my situation now. So I asked myself, would my choice at 18 have been different? I can't say for sure but I'd like to think not...if I hadn't been in such a crappy relationship, it wouldn't have paved the way for me to meet my (future) DH. Mutual friends introduced us--because they felt bad for me that my then boyfriend was such a shit.

While I know it's easy to say and hard to do, always remember that you are not being punished for decisions you made in the past. The situation we find ourselves in now can be from any one of a number of things--the least of which are choices we made years before. I certainly don't condemn your choices or mine at all but I want you to know that you're not to blame in this. Call it fate, the gods, or's all a big unknown for the most part but you did nothing to bring this upon yourself nor do you deserve it, none of us IFs do.

It's often been said that you've got to go through the bad to get to the good. Maybe your bad relationship with husband #1 happened because you would ultimately meet and marry the wonderful man who is in your life now. That's the way I like to think of my own situation and while I know there's no one solution for everyone, it sounds to me like you are blessed to share your life with such a wonderful husband. I know I am and I hope your dreams do come true. Hang in there.

At 8:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find myself so utterly humbled by the sincerity of your post, the depth of what you've been through and your bravery through it all.

No condemnation or judgement here - just someone touched and in tears at reading your story. You were no less worthy, there was no reason you "deserved" what happened. I suspect none of his actions were about you and I'm so sorry you went through so much.

Hoping and praying you have the family you desire with your wonderful hubby.

At 6:38 PM, Blogger The Lioness said...

I couldn't read this and not tell you I think you are unbelievably brave. So sorry. I wish you luck and that it may not last a lifetime afetr all.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Lala said...

I can't even begin, I mean I did the needle thing too and I know EXACTLY how you feel. Is two all I get and did I blow it when I was nineteen. I know.

At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your account is such a vivid account of what an abuser does to destroy a person's humanity and crush a soul. I really am so glad you got out alive. I weep for the women and children who are still in the grip such evil. And it IS evil. I hope only good comes to you now. Best wishes


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