As I go through the Power and Control Wheel I’m going to be pulling things I’ve written from my journal. I’m going to put all of my old thoughts into red so that you, dear reader, can differentiate what I’m writing now (in black) from what I wrote then (in red).
Before I get into the Power and Control Wheel, I’m going to talk briefly about the incident that made me leaving possible – my wake-up call. I now see that day as the worst day of my life and the best day of my life all rolled into one. It was the day that marked the start of the end of my marriage and the start of my brand new life. It was both a death and a birth. Although I didn’t know it then, it was my first step to freedom.
Bubba had been going through some big changes in his professional life. All he defined himself as was wrapped up in his career. His career started going down the tubes and Bubba started sinking into depression. It got to a point where I was afraid of him – both for himself and for me. He made an off-hand comment one evening about taking all the pills in the house and just ending it. That, coupled with the fact that he was losing his temper more and more frequently with me and the children, had me extremely concerned that he was going to hurt someone. I was finally able to talk him into going to the ER and he was admitted to the psych ward for three days.
Those three days were such a blessing to me. I felt guilty about how happy I was that he was there and not at home with us. While he was there, he called a few times and asked me to visit him. I told him that I was too busy with the children and that they needed me. They didn’t understand why Daddy was in the hospital and I didn’t want to leave them with anyone so I could drive over to visit him. Besides, what I wasn’t willing to admit back then was that I had that same vague notion of him being annoying that I’d had when we were dating and he was out of town. All I kept thinking was, “This isn’t all about him. Our children need me to be here with them right now and they come first because THEY ARE CHILDREN!” Even though he said he understood, I could hear the concealed anger in his voice. I knew I was in trouble but those three days of peace was worth whatever he would dish out to me when he came home.
When he got home from the hospital, I had such high hopes for Bubba. He was admitting to the abuse he’d suffered at his parents’ hands as a child and young adult. He was admitting that he didn’t treat the children and me the way we should be treated. He was admitting to being depressed and needing help. I thought, “This time it’s going to be different.” I can’t count how many times, after explosions, I thought that. But each time, I well and truly believed it and it always came crashing down around my ears…
Bubba then proceeded to badger Liam about how he was doing the dishes. We then watched a movie, so I wasn’t really paying attention to Bubba. Once we got both boys in bed, I tried to talk to Bubba about how he was talking to Liam about the dishes. I told him that going over and over the same thing and badgering Liam would only make him shut down and that he felt awful by the time Bubba left the kitchen. I asked what I could do to help in these situations. Bubba totally flipped out. He was completely irrational and was getting louder and louder. Serenity and I sat there and looked at each other because we could not see where this attack was coming from. I tried to walk away and Bubba started to yell. I sent Serenity back to the bedroom. Shane was already asleep but Serenity and Liam heard everything that happened after that. They heard him slam his computer to the ground (from over his head) and throw his cell phone across the room. They heard him scream at me that we can all just go to Hell. When I told him to leave and asked for his house key, they heard him say that he was never coming back and that he hoped I had fun raising those kids by myself.
He then went back to the bedroom to change his clothes (since he had been in his pjs already). They got to see the sheer fury on his face. Serenity fled to her bedroom because she was so scared. Liam stood beside me, ready to grab the baseball bat out of his room if he needed to protect me (he told me about this later). After Bubba finally left, Serenity and Liam were too scared to stay in our home. I called a good friend and asked if we could crash at her house for the night. Since she was house-sitting, we went to that house as Bubba would not know where we were.
When we arrived there, everyone was too keyed up to sleep. By this time it was about 9:30. Shane had had his nightly melatonin and since I’d woken him up, he could not get back to sleep. Liam came down off the adrenaline and proceeded to throw up three times. He has since decided that adrenaline is an evil thing and he doesn’t like it.
It is hard to go back and read my words about “The Incident.” It is hard to put myself back there and remember that night and the terror we all felt when Bubba finally lost it. After he’d badgered Liam so much, I’d very simply told him that it wasn’t helpful and that Liam was very upset. I asked him how I could help him in these situations since he’d expressed such an interest to me, after coming home from the hospital, that I teach him how I disciplined our children. He said he saw the amazing relationship I had with them and he wanted to learn too so that he could also have a good relationship with him. My offer to help him that evening was not unsolicited.
Once the children and I got to my friend’s house, I realized that my world had crashed around me. I knew that I couldn’t take my children back into the home with Bubba when we were all so terrified of him. The blinders had been ripped off of my eyes and I could see that we were living with an abusive man. And I understood on some level what that meant – we weren’t safe to go back.
I also knew it was time to tell my family what had been going on. You see, I kept everything from my family. They had been avoiding Bubba for years by this point because he’d been so awful the last time they’d visited us. He’d been mad at me and took it out on them. I know now that that is classic abuser behavior. Exert power over your victim by treating those she loves horribly. She will fall in line faster if she thinks you will treat her loved ones better if she “behaves.” I had that eternal hope that Bubba and I would fix our marriage and I didn’t want my family holding everything against him so I stopped telling them how he treated me. I never talked about Bubba much at all to them and when I did, I made everything sound like it was going great.
I called my parents that next morning on Skype and told them what had happened. They seemed very sympathetic and caring. They were shocked by what had been going on and that my marriage had been steadily crumbling for years while I never said a thing about it. My parents welcomed the children and me into their home for many weeks after “The Incident” and were more than happy to help me out. I knew they were confused by the whole thing and they didn’t understand how Bubba could be like I was telling them because I’d hidden it so well over the years. I later learned that hiding it was my biggest downfall and Bubba’s greatest ally.