Saturday, March 8, 2008

Geez, what an idiot

It is challenging to read the previous post without thinking, "Geez, I must be the biggest idiot."

Yes, I stayed in a cycle of domestic violence well past the expiration date. I understand I should never have married the man based on the fact that he choked me over a bathroom sink even before we were engaged. I get that, I really do. So, what compelled me to stay after he slammed me to the ground on a camping trip in Dinosaur National Monument, leaving a handprint on my face that he asked me to explain as a hives break out? How could I have loved such a villain?

Simply put: hubris. It's an old-fashioned word. It means excessive pride or arrogance. I loved him, but it isn't as simple as loving him and believing he would change from that. It is a complicated mixture of believing I could conquer the monster in him and bring out the lover, and believing that it didn't matter who I married so much as it mattered that I commit myself 100% to the success of the marriage, and believing that I was so special that I could actually bring peace to our violent relationship and thus be a true drop of success in the cesspool of our world's habitual commitment to agression. I mean I read books on Non-violence and brought them home. I was my own experiment in learning "grace". I was not always successful in rising to the demands a non-violent response required of me, but it was my intention.

Why did I love him? I loved his humanity. I loved his cock-eyed enthusiasm, and his lack of rhythm and his disjointed meaningless, though oddly meaningful poetry. He told my parents the first time he met them that he intended to take care of me, and so I loved his intentions as much as I loved my own intentions. In many ways he did his best, I believe, as did I but we were not a match in temperment, in ways of being and no amount of praying for relief could really make up for that fact. He longed to climb mountains and go to dangerous places. I longed to be on the stage singing in musicals. He longed for fame as a director. I longed to produce the great work that would be an artistic legacy. He would have been so happy had I just written one commercial script that was basic and scary. I would have been so happy if he could have just stopped moving the camera so much. We couldn't do any of this for each other.

We lived in 12 homes in the 20 years we were together, moving more than once every two years. It wasn't like he or I was in the army. We just couldn't get comfortable anywhere. I kept moving with the thought that in this house the violence would finally end. There were periods of seeming stability. Moments when I was sure we'd turned the corner. That's why after 11 years together I decided it would be all right to bring a child into our mess. I got pregnant at a time when I was able to support us with ease. I made $15K a month sometimes and we spent every penny of it on what I have no idea. We bought a better house, a house that I thought would be the violence free house, but wasn't, and rather than help me with daily chores while I worked and nursed around the clock, I had to pay for a housekeeper, a nanny, and a gardener. It was really as if I was alone anyway. He spent his time installing two-way television phones and producing and directing short films and working occassionally for me.

After the children joined us it became a mission to end the violence and to stick it out in the marriage because I remembered the disjointed feeling of my own parents' divorce. I had discovered shortly before I got pregnant the first time, that psychologists were no help at all and often detrimental to my good health. The therapist I had gone to for help decided even though he was 70, that I must really think he was a hot number and that I wanted his body. I really felt completely alone.

The longer I stayed in the marriage the more unbelievable I felt my story would be to those who attested to care for me. They would feel betrayed. They would see how I lied to them. I would be the most untrustworthy person on earth.

There were clear moments when I could have should have would have left because of some other atrocious behavior -- like his untimely confession to my clients in London that they were paying him for absolutely nothing at all except the use of our house. Or when he decided that we should declare bankruptcy and move out of the city where I had found good friends and our children were happy and into a farm town on the Front Range into a house that his mother had picked out, bought and paid for a block away from her eventual home. Those were obvious times to leave. Yet, I loved him and still I believed that if I believed in him as his parents so obviously didn't, if I showed him that he could in fact save himself, if I just shrunk up a little bit more, that all would be well.

So, my mission of invisibility began in earnest when we left Los Angeles, and ended when I told him to leave our home in Boulder 8 years later. I actually had figured that if I just went limp that maybe he would fill the void and not be such a scared little boy. I folded up my wings, my ambitions and determined to do only the smallest things, to only support his endeavors, to focus my energy on the kids, and to let him have the rest of the world. If things came to easily to me, I stepped back from them in the hopes that he wouldn't notice I had stepped out of the unspoken bounds.

I had a friend who finally pointed out that maybe I was thinking too much. That maybe all of my scheming and thinking had so eclipsed my feelings that I no longer knew them. Believe it or not, this was my revelation. Feeling my way through my life became not only possible but my life line. It was only reconnecting to my feelings that allowed me to climb out of my strategy.

1 comment:

Phoenix Rising said...

Amanda, the story is sad but your honesty is beautiful. Thank you for this. Susan