Saving the children

Wow. Living with my verbally abusive and physically threatening husband, I have kind of lost grips on reality. Only very close friends and a few family members know my full story of what is going on. And sometimes, his behavior, I start to assume that I am seeing things as worse than they really are. I do view everything he does through this negative lens.

Last night, my 13yo asked me to comfort her because she was overwhelmed with anxiety. She’s afraid there are people hiding in our house. Like she thinks there might be someone behind the couch, in the closet, under her bed. Logically, this is laughable because we are home 24/7, we have cameras on the doors, what would these hiders eat? But fear is not logical. So we went into her fear.

We laughed a little bit about how our house would be a terrible place to hide and talked about how hard it would be to hide here because we are all home all the time. Then her thoughts jumped to her dad making her give him a hug goodnight after she told him she didn’t want to kiss him. And in that embrace, he asked her, “Am I a good dad?” Her gut was to say. “no,” but she doesn’t want to upset him so she said, “sure.” And he released her. But then, my poor sweet child, was upset with herself for saying something that she didn’t want to say. He is making her betray herself.

And then we talked again about her anxiety. And how never being on solid ground with H, we never know how anything we do will be taken. It will either be accepted or loudly rejected but there is no way to predict which way he will go. She is tiptoeing around all day trying to not make him mad. She plans her meals around when she sees he has left the house because that is how strong her desire to avoid awkward and self-betraying conversations is.

For a long time, I thought he was a good dad. Even up until maybe a few months ago, I would have said, he’s a good dad. But that’s a lie and the kids were aware of it long before I was. He does the same things to them that he does to me. Asks an opinion and then attacks your opinion. With things as ridiculous as what kind of ketchup you like. Disagreeing is not allowed.

What has this taught my kids, it has taught them that to dad, there is a wrong answer to every question. And just like me what they have learned to do to cope is to just stop speaking to him. He doesn’t care what we think, he only wants us to confirm what he thinks.

I was lying to myself, or I was unaware, for so long of the damage he is doing to them. I thought, it was fine except for the way he treats me but the way he treats me is the only way he knows how to interact with people. He doesn’t have empathy in relationships, he just wants control and coerced respect.

13yo agreed last night that when we are allowed outside again, that she would go see a therapist. I just hope the damage is not too far gone. I hope that having two separate houses will at least give her one place of refuge. I secretly hope that when he sees it isn’t all fun and praise for him with the kids that he will lose interest in seeing them so much.

My poor babies. I feel completely responsible for this. I know better now and I am doing what I can to get myself and them some space from this dementor.

I just hope it is enough.

They are wise. They have good hearts. I just need to keep enforcing that they should trust their visceral reactions and not ignore them. Their feelings matter. Their opinions matter. How they feel matters.

He is such a psychopath.

Beautiful Hopeful Day

I woke up early and made my favorite matcha green tea. While my phone was charging, I read my book, sipped my tea, and read the ness on the iPad. This morning the headline is that US cases of coronavirus have exceeded China.

My son woke up and came to snuggle with me. My husband came downstairs and said “good morning.” They left to walk the dogs and do some calisthenics. As they were leaving he said, “go ahead and tell the lawyer we are ready for the finalization session.” I went up to take a shower.

The light in the bathroom was gorgeous. Streaming in through the slits in the blind. The birds are chirping outside. It’s a beautiful spring day. There is an end in sight. I can handle this. I can make it.

After my shower I retreated to the basement office to finish my online lessons for next week. My son joined me to work on his school work. My husband followed because he doesn’t like to be alone. I was working when he said, “Have you seen this house? It’s $250k, is that in your budget? You could move there?”

“This is not your problem to solve,” I said. I didn’t mention that he’s looking for houses on the wrong side of the tracks and my budget is closer to $130k, but it doesn’t matter. It isn’t he business.

“DON’T BE RUDE TO ME!” He yells.

“Husband, I am working. Can you please let me work?” I replied. My sons eyes are welling with tears. He covers his ears.

“Why did you take my stuff? Would you like it if I took your stuff? I’ll take your book bag,” he picks up my school bag that I need for work. “How about I throw this on the lawn?” he shouts.

“I didn’t take something you need. I HID something that can kill me. When I can move out you can have it back.” I have already explained to him it was hide the gun or take the kids and run to safety.

“You are a real idiot,” he hollers. “Why do you always act like an idiot?” My son is crying now. “Expect to find your things on the lawn. I’m throwing your stuff out!”

“Try it and I’ll call the cops!” I shout after him as he heads back upstairs.

He comes down a few minutes later and rummages in the closet. He can’t even find the ketchup in the refrigerator, there’s no way he will find his gun. Maybe a 1% chance.

My son and I keep working. I calm him down. Explain that his dad has his feelings hurt because I want to move out so he’s acting out. That it’s okay to cry. He calms down and 10 minutes later is in a Zoom with his class, bright-eyed and cheery.

We went upstairs for lunch remembering what a beautiful day it was. We made our lunches and ate on the deck where my husband was reading his phone. He says to me, “I really love you. I still think you are cute. I do love you.” Is this the same guy who just screamed at me that I was an idiot? Am I the crazy one here?

The deck is big so we can all sit out there. Later he tells me again that he lives me and asks what he can do to fix this.

“Nothing,” I reply. It is too late. I’m afraid of him. I don’t trust anything he says. He just called me an idiot this morning, threatening to throw my things away, and this afternoon he loves me?

The lawyer hasn’t responded to set up a mediation appointment. It is a beautiful day. It carries so much hope. Tomorrow it is going to rain. And so these are the things we know are true, good times and bad times come and go. If times are bad now, eventually things will change. Just be patient and do what you can to create a new reality.