Reflections

Victim Mentality

Being a victim of domestic violence isn’t something that just happens to a person, it isn’t just a characteristic of their past, like, “I was a victim of addiction, but I don’t use anymore.”  It also can’t be described as something that happened to you, or that you experienced.  Rather, it feels like it becomes a part of who you are, in some way stealing your true identity and replacing it with a shell of what used to be you, but inside is filled with anxiety, fear, anger, doubt, resentment, and a constant longing for it all to be over.  A longing for the pain to be a memory of what you had to endure, instead of the constant reminder, behind the daily struggle of morning time nausea that you’ve just gotten used to, the same way you got used to your empty bed.

The single biggest challenge for me has been my anger.  I had anger management issues when I was an adolescent, and I spent a lot of time focused on bettering that part of myself, and through reflection and behavioral changes, I was quite successful.  I struggled with alcoholism, and through the help of my family and friends, I am sober, and quite proud of that success as well.  But, I’ve learned that just when you’re feeling good about yourself, something or someone will float your way, like a nasty, dark, little rain cloud to ruin any warm, sunny feelings you might have.

That’s what bothers me the most, knowing that this person, the one I trusted and loved more than anyone, could take the power of my happiness from me.  The person I fought for, that I defended to my family, friends, and my own better judgement, would take joy in my pain, both emotional and physical.  This man, who was supposed to protect me, instead, calls the police on ME and lies about my actions and character.  The man that I put before everyone, including myself, could take advantage of me and whatever little I had, and still felt the right to evict me from my own home.

I’ve never witnessed abuse in my home as a child, so, naturally I was confused and ashamed.  I knew that I had to call my mother, but I was scared now of her disapproval, her disappointment, and most of all, the pain it would cause her.  I was afraid she would see me as weak person, to allow myself to be victimized, choosing a man that she didn’t believe was up to my standards or in any way a good or decent person.  But even she gave him a chance, so how could she blame me?  I believed in love, I believed in a happily ever after, I believed in second chances and the power of good influence to change a person.  Then again, I also once believed in the tooth fairy.

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February 11 2013

My “wedding” day.  

I dreamed, like most little girls did, of one day getting married, having a beautiful reception, and living happily ever after.  And, as a desi girl, I understood the importance of a wedding (whether or not I agree with the extremes some people go to in an effort to impress others is entirely besides the point), inviting people you know AND like, documenting the day with photographs, eating cake or gulab jamun… just making memories and celebrating happiness.  That being said, I wanted, and still want to participate in this tradition.

My soon to be ex husband, however, did everything in his power to kill my dream.  About 5 years into our relationship, he became engaged to another woman.  Not just some random person, but a girl he had grown up with, a family friend, someone who I thought was obsessively infatuated with “my man.”  The truth behind this event is still a mystery to me, I’ve heard many different stories, and the one told to me by my husband assigns the blame to blackmail, obsession, and his parents’ need to control him and keep him away from me.  Sure, I was naïve, but love is blind and that’s my best excuse.

Regardless of the fact that his previous engagement was celebrated with all the festivity of a small wedding, he was adamant about not having a big celebration, we went back and forth, I wanted to stand up for my dream, but it was proving to be more difficult than I had imagined, I felt avoided, ignored, and dismissed.  I tried to involve my future in-laws, but experienced the same reception of rejection and disinterest.  His father left the country just days before we had planned to marry, in a passive aggressive attempt to show his disapproval.  My brother was coming from overseas to join us in the celebration, which eventually just became a religious ceremony only attended by my immediate family, my cousin, my husband & a friend who photographed the occasion.  It was supposed to be the happiest day of my life, so I ignored my feelings of disappointment and just tried to pretend it was what we wanted.  Through extensive reading and self-help I’ve realized the extent of his control over me.  Not just my actions, but my opinions, desires, feelings; all were adapted to his comfort and acceptability. 

That morning, the day of our wedding, he told me he had gambled away $400 the night before.  Disappointment. It was to be the theme of our life together.

Snow Day

When I was a child growing up in this town, Charlotte got maybe one, two days of snow, at the maximum, and I never remember them being so close together.  Usually one in December, another a month later, and every time, the white would slowly start disappearing, completely melting by the afternoon.  Back then, snow meant no school, an endless number of neighborhood playmates, hot chocolate… but most of those things change when you’re an adult. No work means lost sales, too many kids at home are now a nuisance, and for me, really bad, horrible things always happen when it snows.

A few days after my marriage (I don’t say wedding, but that’s for another time) it snowed.  The night it started, my husband was out with his coworkers, drinking, and I was at home trying to be the good wife, cleaning, keeping to myself, trying to give him the “space” I’d read about so many times in different articles on how to make your marriage “work”.  He came home earlier than I expected, and not by himself, but with his coworkers, whose names I neither recall nor care to remember, in a horribly sour mood.  He had run into one of his friends who, according to my husband, took this opportunity to talk shit about me (another long story for another day, none of my husband’s family or friends accepted me as his wife) and this conversation resulted in blows.  So, his coworkers got him out of there and decided to move the party to our tiny apartment.  Lots of drunken bullshit transpired, I was annoyed, disgusted, tired, and just ready to be alone again, not knowing exactly what would happen that night.  

After his guests left, I started getting ready for bed, and I asked him why he just didn’t walk away, why he fought and why he had to bring so many drunk people back to our home.  These questions, which I thought were simple enough, and I was justified asking, resulted in the first fight of our marriage.  I was berated, insulted, my character questioned. I was man-handled (he’s not a big guy, but I’m a very tiny woman) and mind-fucked.  Finally, he went to my car, grabbed our marriage license, which was to be mailed the following day to become official in the state of North Carolina, stood outside my window, and ripped it up into tiny pieces, all the while staring at me and maniacally laughing.  That image is forever etched on my brain; his mean expression and how he could laugh knowing how much he was hurting me.  

He left that night… and I should have too.