Fly Away From Here

Yesterday Serenity and I were in the car and a song came on that pulled me back in time.

We used to live near an airport; this was when the children were really small. Even though I loved where we lived, I was completely miserable.  I was solo-parenting because Bubba was working about 80 hours a week.  When he was home, he was sleeping or angry at me for – well, for everything.  It hadn’t even entered my mind then that he was abusive.  I thought he was simply self-centered, an uncaring, ladder-climbing workaholic.  

One day I heard the song- Fly Away From Here by Aerosmith. The “we” in the song became the children and me.  I would listen to that song and close my eyes and fantasize about packing a few clothes for each of us, driving to the airport, going to the ticket counter, and just telling them I wanted three tickets to wherever the next plane was going.  I never thought about what I’d do to support me and the children because I never let the fantasy take us that far.  But I dreamed of that plane. I know now that I only ever dreamed of getting on the plane and no further because of fear.  I didn’t feel I had the right to leave.  He wasn’t hurting us so I convinced myself that there was something wrong with me.  

 He was hurting us.  It was around this time that he threw a plate across the kitchen in a fit of rage. The plate shattered when it hit the sink. I can still see Serenity at the kitchen table crying in fear, and trying to make herself small. He treated me like a maid, a nanny, and a whore; always demanding a clean house, quiet, well-behaved children, and me waiting in bed when he wanted me there. He never lifted a finger to do anything in return.  He had the male privilege thing down pat even way back then.  

My journal entry from back then:

Whoever said that crying helps is obviously an idiot.  I just had a half-decent cry and all I have to show for it is a terrible headache.  When did I become so unhappy?  I thought maybe I would start a journal and maybe it would help some.  Heaven knows talking to Bubba won’t help.  All that will accomplish is to put him on the defensive and he’ll go into attack mode.

I guess right now I’m just sick of my life.  He had this huge blow-up a couple of weeks ago and since then I’ve just been unhappy.  He was hollering that I didn’t understand him and I don’t appreciate him and etc and so on.  Same old garbage, but this time he smashed one of my good plates and scared poor Serenity half out of her mind.  

Then I had to sit and listen to one of his lectures.  I don’t cook enough, I don’t clean enough.  Basically, I pretty much suck at being a wife.  I don’t appreciate all he does.  He works so hard.  Yes, I understand that.  I’ve understood it for years now.  What he fails to realize is that my job is stressful too.  Plus, I get no support from him at all.  Most days he gets home in time to go to bed.  And who has to put the kids to bed? Me!  Because he has to eat something and do more stuff for work.  

It is like everything else in our lives.  I basically have to sit back and do what he wants because I don’t want to be the cause of holding him back.  So what if I’m sacrificing my kids and my soul to make him happy?  But, oddly enough, he is never happy.  He always finds something to bitch about.  He was complaining that he didn’t have time to go to work and be a husband and father too.  So, I just meekly apologized and came in to bed.  He followed me in and asked if I had PMS because I’ve been really moody lately.  I told him I didn’t want to talk about it anymore and he got mad because of that.  I don’t see the purpose in talking about it because it will end the same as every other fight we’ve ever had. It is my fault because everything is always my fault.  

I feel like I’m at the lowest point I’ve even been in my entire life and he can’t see me.  I’m drowning and he can’t see me clearly enough to throw me a life preserver.  He is never here.  We never talk.  I have no life outside of this house.  All I am is “Mom.”  Somewhere along the line I lost “Hope.”

I hate feeling this unhappy, this lost, this miserable.  Maybe I’ll call the church tomorrow and see if they have any stay-at-home moms’ groups.  Or maybe I could start one.  Right now anything would be better than sitting around and waiting for my husband to realize that he needs to help, that he needs to wake up and see me (oh, he sees me but only when he wants sex)!  I have to do something.  I just can’t do this anymore.  

Only I did do it more – for another decade.  I never did call the church.  I never did try to start a mom’s group.  He apologized the next morning and told me things were going to be different.  I didn’t write in my journal again until after I left him.  I put the journal away and actually forgot about it.  I only found it again after I left.  It took me right back to that time and I am so thankful that I didn’t lose my mind in those years between that entry and my leaving.  I was so very miserable then.

I can read that journal entry now and see all the abuse in it.  The gaslighting, “Do you have PMS?”  The male privilege – expecting me to do everything in the house.  The sexual abuse – only paying attention to me when he wanted sex and even then I wasn’t allowed to say “No.”  The physical abuse and intimidation – throwing a plate and screaming.  The blaming – it was my fault for not doing things well enough.  The isolation – I was too afraid to go out into the world.  There is so much wrong with that journal entry, so much abuse and so much misery.  I did not see it then.  

I still can’t believe that I felt I was at the end of my rope, yet I continued to do exactly the same thing for another ten years!  I take that as proof that abuse does NOT miraculously resolve.  It doesn’t change!  I spent those last 10 years actively working on being a better wife, a better mother, a better lover, a better everything! No matter how much I improved myself, he only demanded more.  The more I tried to fix me to save our marriage, the more space I gave him for his entitlement.

I heard that song again yesterday and this time my heart soared! So many things have changed!  I’d taken my children and gotten on that plane.  We’d escaped the abuse and flown to a life of freedom.  Our hopes and dreams are out there somewhere and we are free to find them and live them now!  We’re not letting time pass us by anymore.   We’re flying!

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4 Comments

  1. Aisy

    Oh, just how much none of that was your fault! You are strong! You got on that plane and you’re an amazing woman doing amazing things for you and your kids! The hardest step by far was mustering up the courage to get out. Kudos to all women out there who have made that leap. It’s a scary ride.

    Hindsight is 20/20. And I look back and think, “how stupid was I for thinking things could change?” But it’s all about hope. Hope for the future. Hope that he means it when he says he’ll change, that things will be different. That he’ll be the man you thought he was and want him to be. And things might be different for a while, but it always makes full circle back. “I wouldn’t get so angry if you hadn’t said that.” Or, “If you would just put out more, I wouldn’t lose control over myself. You’re so beautiful, I just can’t help myself.” Always my fault, even though now I “know” it wasn’t, but really believing it is still hard for me.

    • It was a scary leap to get out. I’m so glad I did it. I think that is the main reason I started this blog. I want to show women that it will be the scariest thing in the world to actually leave, but it is so worth it. I like telling the story in chronological order but I throw in the bonus posts because they are things I’m thinking now and I pray it shows women who are struggling with the decision to leave that I really do have a good life now.

      We were conditioned to believe everything was our fault. So, yes, it takes a long time to undo that conditioning. It takes awhile for our hearts to catch up to our brains. I still struggle with it sometimes.

      The hope we have while living in the abuse is a false hope. We pin our hopes on an abuser – that he will change this time. The hope I have now is true hope. I am working hard to improve the future for myself and my children. It is true hope because it is based on me and I know I’m fighting hard to get healthy.

  2. Amanda

    Every day of my life do I echo this passage “and fantasize about packing a few clothes for each of us, driving to the airport, going to the ticket counter, and just telling them I wanted three tickets to wherever the next plane was going. I never thought about what I’d do to support me and the children because I never let the fantasy take us that far. But I dreamed of that plane. I know now that I only ever dreamed of getting on the plane and no further because of fear. I didn’t feel I had the right to leave. He wasn’t hurting us so I convinced myself that there was something wrong with me.”

    • There is nothing wrong with you! Having fantasies of escaping is a red-flag that we are being abused.

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