It seemed Charles found fault with me daily. I wondered often how I had managed to survive 50 years and beyond with my inability to do anything correctly. I knew in my heart I was not the wretched person my parents and subsequently my husband deemed me to be.
Nonetheless it was challenging at times to know what reality was or merely “their truth” My 29 years of counseling had enabled me to understand that I was not as flawed as I had been portrayed. However, my self-esteem was non-existent. I knew God had granted me with talents and abilities, but none which either my parents and now my husband or children believed I possessed.
Charles’ 29 years of instilling in me and our children that I was beneath him had taken a hold as authenticity. Why did I remain in this abuse? It would be years later that the regrets of my actions to remain would have a tight grasp on my life. Did I have missteps and make mistakes along the way? I most certainly did. I know I said/did things often which were not as Charles or others desired. However, I was eager and willing to offer a rapid and sincere apology and assurance not to repeat my actions.
Charles attended counseling sessions with me less than 2 dozen times in our entire marriage. He vowed he had no desire to spend his time and money with someone whom was telling him he was wrong. His sincere belief was that he had never said and/or done anything wrong, so there was no need to receive counseling.
The counselors frequently reminded me it was not marriage counseling when Charles refused to attend. Nonetheless I realized that if I remained in counseling, it would provide the tools to better cope with life’s situations. When my countless pleas for Charles to share his life’s interests with me failed, I realized I must seize each occasion for joy and peace in my life.
In addition to purchasing a harp and learning a new skill, I was also a PhD student at Oklahoma State University. When the opportunity arose for me to be an adjunct instructor at Oklahoma City University, I realized I would also be able to begin a long-awaited goal; to earn my doctorate and teach full-time. Without it I would never be permitted to be more than an adjunct instructor.
I also continued with my love of singing and vocal music, being a member of a large faith-based women’s choir. Additionally, I sang with the local community choir. Such opportunities provided me with not only increasing my knowledge and competencies, but also opened doors for new experiences. From the time I was a child, I believed God provided such times in our lives to enable us to grow as individuals.
March 1999 was one of the most memorable times of our entire marriage. On our 30th wedding anniversary, Charles took me out for not only a lovely gourmet dinner, but presented me the gift of a lifetime; an anniversary trip to England, which he had planned. For that evening and the next few days which followed, Charles was an entirely different husband; kind, loving and caring. Perhaps our marriage truly could turn around and we could begin to perceive what God intended as man and wife; to love one another.
Because it was tax season, our anniversary trip would be delayed until the summer, but the wait was worth every day and minute of anticipation. England was all and more than each of us had expected. We spent one week in London and the second week in the Cotswolds. I didn’t wish to come home. I could have remained there forever.
Our time there was filled with compassion and courtesy for one another, perhaps because we were experiencing new adventures. However, I wanted so earnestly to believe it was because Charles might truly love me. I knew the great love I had for him and I wanted only to grasp tightly these two weeks of benevolence for one another and never let it go.
Over time the contentment of the previous few months waned, and the conflicts returned to our marriage. We were still enjoying our infrequent times with our family and young grandson. The holidays also brought me a special joy when I could decorate our home, plan and prepare baking and meals for the family and holiday guests.
Charles and I each stayed busy with our careers, but it seemed his ability to become upset with me was as close as the lashes on my eyes. It had become a fearful way of living. As the discord increased, I queried Charles if we should part ways. I told him numerous times during our marriage that I knew for certain we were each very good people, but not good for one another. His threats never changed, “I will not give you a divorce. If you try to divorce me, I will make you pay and you will live to regret it.” I understood his words were sincere, but also as strong and fervent as his anger toward me.
Please continue to follow my autobiographical journey, which I began blogging in April 2016. It’s the emotional and physical pain and abuse of my life, but also of God’s healing.