The stress of living with abuse causes emotional and physical fatigue. Tiredness, inability to concentrate, and irritability commonly plague abuse sufferers. I felt tired and cranky way before I was pregnant, although I was pregnant at the time of writing the Skipping Work journal entry referred to in this post.
Will said he wanted a baby because he wanted to be a dad. In hindsight, he wanted a baby because that was the next item to check off his list. He needed to present an image, and a wife and child were part of that.
I wanted a baby because I thought a baby would bring us together. My reason for wanting a baby was faulty. If I had been wiser, I would have dealt with the problems in our relationship instead of binding a child to them. I didn’t understand that he abused me all of the time.
I didn’t know about psychological or emotional abuse, and I thought we passed through the only incidence of physical violence we’d ever have. You see, soon after we married, he used my neck as a handle to beat my head into the door and held my face inches from a hot stove burner. I believed him when he said “it” would never happen again, and for a very long time he did not put his hands on me. He didn’t have to because the memory of what he did to me kept me in line although I wouldn’t think of it that way, let alone admit it to anyone.
I fooled myself and a bunch of other people too. From the outside looking in, we were a perfect family.
Beating me wasn’t the only thing that changed after we got married. Magically, Will’s attitude about women in the military changed too. Before marriage, he respected me for working hard and being principled. After marriage,he lumped me in with the “military whores” who were trying to “do a man’s job” and couldn’t. Sometimes I was the whore, and some days he admired me but couldn’t protect me from the male soldiers who only wanted one thing. He decided if I was a whore or a saint by considering whether he saw another male soldier look at me that day, what his buddies told him, or how much Jack Daniels he drank.
He ruthlessly pointed out the other female soldiers’ poor military performance, citing weak stomachs, their periods, their libidos and lack of physical strength as reasons women shouldn’t be soldiers. But not me – I was the exception. He told me I misunderstood what he meant about women in the military. But really, his sexism was easy to see. I thought that since he admired me as a female soldier, perhaps I could change his mind about the others.
However, instead of being patient as I fulfilled my obligation – my promise to my country – he made my life hell. He kept me on my toes emotionally, mentally and physically. I never knew what to expect. I believed that if I could get out of the military then life would be good. I thought that if I were a mom, a stay-at-home one, then he would respect me as a person, as a woman, as myself.
The one person he always admired was his grandmother. He talked about her being a real woman, a perfect mother who raised his perfect mother. He told me he respected women who raised their families without working outside the home. He implanted in my mind that if I became a mother, he would treat me better because I was a real woman.
He knew that getting pregnant would allow me to end my military commitment, so pregnancy was his solution. I felt so worn down from the constant abuse that I agreed. I went off my birth control pills and soon after I was pregnant with Marc. Of course, this is only my opinion and he disagrees vehemently with it even today. He says I tricked him into having a baby before he was ready.
So, let my hindsight be your foresight.
Don’t date someone who diminishes women even if he loves his mother.
Don’t think a baby will make him love you. (You’ll be lucky if he loves the baby!)
Don’t sacrifice your integrity to get someone off your back. If a person will nag you into doing one thing you don’t feel good about, then they will nag you about other things you won’t feel good about.
Don’t think you will hear the truth from a liar.
Related to Skipping Work, January 1993