I’d like to preface my story by describing my childhood. I led a charmed existence. I was smart and idealistic. I chose the field of medicine, despite my passion for writing, because I wanted to see humanity on its most fundamental level. My parents are hard working, and have built an empire from the ground up.
As a young woman, I never would have imagined I’d become a victim to domestic violence. Nor did I dream I’d ever divorce. And it didn’t happen overnight. There were layers upon layers of abuse that came in many forms, starting as attacks to my self-esteem. When I finally looked up domestic violence at a desperate moment many years (and many lifetimes later, it seemed), I realized that I’d suffered EVERY aspect of abuse on the “cycle of abuse” chart. Every single one.
I’m a professionally educated physician. I met my ex during my residency in Internal Medicine. He changed, drastically, the day we were married. In fact, and during the wedding reception he ignored the announcement for our first dance as husband and wife. Prior to that he was kind and gentle. He constantly asked me if I was ok, or if I needed anything. He catered to me completely.
We had planned on moving from his hometown, the city where we were both training, to my hometown, a smaller town in the same state. He was proud of his ties to his community, a tight ethnic community, complete with a history of organized crime.
Although we had attended the same med school, I (3 yrs older) didn’t know who he was until I had graduated. He never really assimilated into the student environment, preferring his community. He lived at home, for the most part, up until we were married. When I told a close friend from school that I was dating him, she was skeptical until the 3 of us had dinner during our engagement. She saw him continually asking if I needed anything or if I was ok, as this was prior to the wedding.
I had completed my residency in 1993, 3 yrs prior. He went to great lengths to pursue me, yet I had no way of knowing just how much until well after. (And I came to realize that he knew intimate details of my prior relationships. He would use this knowledge later to seem omnipotent. He would start reminding me of various incidents that I had long since forgotten but would embellish the details so that I questioned my sanity. He played that up as well, making me feel like I was losing my mind. Interestingly, he would always take the things he knew about and then he’d embellish my part. He would try to make me a slave to my sexual desires, but adding a twist of maliciousness to each story. For example: he would continually tell me that I had used premeditated maliciousness in certain circumstances, often whispering in my ear over and over, all night long. He could get me to agree the sky was green and grass blue but as he would press into the morning hours I would sooner or later get angry saying that’s not right. At the time I thought he was just trying to make me feel bad about myself. But now I think he was searching for company in his sociopathic traits—hence the frustration when I wouldn’t ultimately give in and say that I acted maliciously and without feelings.) But I diverge…
This came up after 10 yrs, when his abuse was fullly on the offensive with the exception of moments of an exquisite affection, typical of the abusive cycle. We were married 1 yr after our first date…on the same weekend, Halloween —how about that for poetic “injustice.”
I was pregnant by early April. He continued to be mostly supportive until right before we moved, and yet, on the night I went into labor, in December, he disappeared. He wouldn’t answer my repeated pages and I had to call his brother, who still lived at home with his parents. His father answered and was furious.
When he finally returned, at 7 am, and me ready to go to the hospital to deliver our son, he was only concerned about what his dad would do if I didn’t produce his grandson. I know, now, he was with a close friend and 2 other women. The friend he was with that night in December died of self inflicted wounds in an unfortunate accident.
It was at his funeral, 6 months after I delivered our son, that I saw pictures of him from what I knew was the night I went into labor. He was with his (now deceased) friend in compromising photos. I noted the clothes he wore in the photo and remembered it was what he was wearing earlier in the night (prior to my onset of labor.)
I confronted him, but was reserved, as he was distraught at the funeral. Even later, he never sufficiently accounted for where he was. (He could never be wrong, typical of a sociopath, and would then put me on the offense in some way.)
After that he became increasingly violent with berating outbursts. And while he had become increasingly verbally abusive as the move approached, when our son was 6 months old, the real abuse started with the move and after the death of his friend.
When I say real, I mean that he ignored me with the exception of hostility and disdain. There was little to no sexual relationship between us with intimacy occurring roughly once every 4-6 months. This was the case until our 10 yr anniversary. (At that time his sexual appetite became intense and perverse.)
He continually undermined my self-esteem, early on, after the move, which was easy as we shared a medical practice. He would come home from work, bypass me and phone his mother.
I should note here how easy it was for him to ignore me. We lived in a rather large home, a home that sat on 2 acres in a beautiful neighborhood, developed and owned by my father. My parents generously oversaw construction while we still lived in his hometown, where we were waiting the completion of his medical training.
As I mentioned, my childhood was rather charmed. My parents lived the American dream, through hard work and diligence. We went to church every Sunday, and my siblings and I were never pushed to study. It was always about doing your best and being proud of giving 100%. My father worked his way through college and professional school and with the help of my mother, developed real estate extremely well.
Our offices were in a professional subdivision, also owned by my parents. We weren’t on top of each other, however. My parents always respected our privacy. I turned to them as I had done my entire life, for support through medical school, and in opening our medical office. Through their reputation for hard work and our credentials we negotiated a recruitment contract that was extremely generous. (Incidentally, I owe them my life, for without their love and continually unconditional love, I would not be alive today.)
In medical school, I stood out, as I was not only attractive, but I lived in a nice apartment and drove a nice car. This was something my father swore to himself that he’d provide his children after struggling while supporting himself in school. Friends occasionally asked me why I was there. They knew about my family’s success, implying that I didn’t need the financial security.
As I alluded to before, during that time my ex had been asking questions about me for 6 years before we “met”. He later referred to me as a “trust fund baby” during the most abusive time before our separation and subsequent divorce.
Tomorrow: He whittled away at me