As I came home from work one day, a dilapidated box void of gift wrapping or bag, was lying on the kitchen counter. It contained a pepper mill inscribed with the name of the resort where Charles had attended a business meeting he had just returned home from. Due to the condition of the package, I assumed it had been a gift to the attendees of the meeting and Charles had rapidly torn open the box, obliterating some of the box in the process.
When Charles walked into the kitchen, I asked if the mill had been gifted to him. As was his customary tone, in a loud and sarcastic voice he cited, “no, it is a gift for you. I bought it.” I sincerely thanked him and extended my appreciation. Not desiring to upset him further, I wondered why a gift would be presented in such a manner. The box had been ripped with a portion of the box removed. I had never delivered a gift to anyone in such a haphazard and slovenly manner, as I believed it would negate the message of concern for the recipient.
If I wanted to let another know I thought enough of them to purchase a gift, I offered it with the appearance of stating, “I care about you.” Over the years I have reflected on Charles’ attitude and manner in bestowing this gift and often wondered if there was a convert message to me, “here is a token gift, but you are not worthy of receiving it with care.” Additionally, why the extremely unkind manner in telling me it was a gift?
January 1998 began with a bundle of delight; our 1st grandchild; a grandson was born January 14, 1998. This would have to be a wonderful year when there was a new baby in the family. I also turned 50 and realized that skills I desired to learn would need to be sooner than later. One of these was learning to play the harp.
I flew to a harp store in Chicago to try out different harps. I then obtained a harp teacher and I was ready to begin. When Charles asked me what I desired as a gift for my 50th birthday, I noted, I would love to have a harp. “No way”, he cited. “ A harp can’t be worn or seen by others. I want you to have a piece of jewelry.” He wanted to purchase the bracelet he had promised me 5 years earlier, but never fulfilled. Why now over 5 years later? Also, why would this birthday gift be what he desired for me, instead of what I desired?
I had saved money for several years to purchase a harp, but how I would have loved to receive it from my husband. For many years which followed, other adult, women, harp students would share about their husbands purchasing their harps. They were not only as gifts of love, but also as gifts of support toward their wives. My heart was always gripped with envy.
Charles’ gifts to me frequently had an ulterior motive; so that persons would see his success. He selected a bracelet and I was to be content with it. No, it was never my choice, but his. I wore the bracelet only a couple of times for it symbolized to me his continual control of my heart and life.
As the months passed and life remained status quo, there were the occasional business trips which were extended to pleasure trips. For a few days we might enjoy our time together, but occasionally even the trips were fraught with arguments and unkind words. Could there never be a time in our lives when we could have even a few weeks of joy with one another?
As had happened several years prior while residing in FL again there was what should have been an inconsequential incident, but Charles opted to make it a great conflict. Because we had a two-story house and due to medical issues with my knees, it was customary that I would place items on the steps to be taken upstairs during one of my second story trips.
One night Charles deliberately chose not to turn on the lights as he was descending the stairs and he stepped on a ceramic soap dish for the guest bath, breaking it and missing a step as he did. As he had done in FL, he screeched out in anger as to why I had been stupid enough to place a dish on the stairs? He knew placing items on the stairs was customary. Why had he chosen not to turn on the lights so he could see if there was something on the stairs?
As was routine with Charles, he deemed his actions totally my fault. I queried him often if he spent his days thinking up ways to make false accusations against me? Of course this prompted only a greater anger from him. However, I wondered frequently why he never accepted blame for any of his errors? I felt I spent more time in our marriage apologizing to him for things I had said/done than I did for praising him.
Please continue to follow me on my autobiographical journey, which I began blogging in April 2016. It’s my life filled with the emotional and physical pain of abuse and betrayal, but also of God’s blessings and healing.