Bubba had a habit of calling me “My Wife.” He rarely called me Hope. He would walk in the house after work and say, “How’s My Wife today?” or “What is My Wife doing?” When he called to check up on me during the day he’d ask, “Is My Wife busy?” He was clearly showing that he considered me a possession. To him, I did not deserve a name, simply what I was to him. Until he got mad.
When he was mad, I was Hope. “Hope, we need to talk,” he would say if he called me from work, upset about something I’d done. Instead of just waiting until he came home to address it, he’d call and say we needed to talk then refuse to tell me what we needed to talk about. I was left at home to wonder what I’d done and what my punishment would be.
“Hope, why is this garbage all piled up like this? Why didn’t you take it out?”
“Bubba, that is your one job in this house. You saw it was full this morning before you left for work.”
“Hope, what is wrong that you can’t take it out instead of letting everyone pile it up so far that is spills over and is hard to take out?”
“Because I’m too busy doing everything else around here.”
“Hope, I work hard taking care of this family. I don’t have time to take the garbage out in the morning. Hope, you need to pick up the slack. I work too hard to have to do everything.”
At that point he would begin yelling, especially if I tried to stick up for myself and stick to my guns that it was actually HIS job to take out the trash. He’d take the garbage out but he wouldn’t clean up any of the mess it made on the floor. That, obviously fell under “mopping the floors” and was my job.
I remember getting some emails right after I left. I got one while I was at my parents house that included a 5 page document that he’d written about what he’d done to us and his plans to change. It was a 4,000 word document. He used the term “my wife” 49 times. He used my name zero times. Not even once. He might as well have come over and peed on my leg to mark his territory.
After I counted how many times he used “my wife,” I decided to count how many times he used the children’s names or called them “daughter” or “son.” He didn’t use their names at all. He used “daughter” 6 times and “son” 10 times. What really got me was when I decided to count how many times he used, “I.”
Two hundred and sixty-three times! 263!!!! It really was all about him, wasn’t it?
I still cringe every time I think about how he used to call me “My Wife.” It wasn’t a term of endearment. It wasn’t a term of pride. It was him claiming his possession. I was never an equal partner in our marriage. I didn’t have a marriage certificate. He had ownership papers. I love that he can no longer call me “My Wife.” I’m not his wife any longer. He doesn’t own me. He has no claim on me.
I am Hope.