LOVE SCENE INVESTIGATION
Wilson and I had been living together on the Upper West Side in a brownstone for 7 years. We were well into our couple’s routines for eating, date nights, holiday time and planning to achieve our work and life goals. Or so I thought. Early on, we had mutally decided that condoms were our family planning contraceptive of choice. But for the last 6 months Wilson had been getting sloppy about using one right away when we made love. I interpreted it as just enthusiasm. But then I’ve been feeling ill for the last week. Picture me with black circles under my eyes, chronic nausea and unending diarrhea. I was weak and not digesting food. I worked up the nerve to express concern about it to him and to my co-workers. Wilson just bolted out the door, reminding me to feed the cats. Then my boss who has a toddler advised that she thought I might be pregnant. I told Wilson that I might be pregnant. Instead of sympathy or even a loving stance toward the possibility, he confronted me like, “Aha! Now I have you right where I want you. You will do as I say!” Which to him, meant threatening, “You can marry me but first there’s just some things you’re gonna have to improve on. Or you can get an abortion if you want and I’ll support you in that.”
My husband of 9 years Derek had been absent from our date nights and ducking out of family events for a while. Late nights at our catering business was his excuse. Come to find out he was due to have a baby by another woman who happens to be our underage employee who works weekends as a server. So fast forward: Derek’s on trial for statutory rape and I am dumbstruck. I believe in marriage until death do us part but do I really stand by Derek when he brought Hell down upon us? He’s pushing me to mortgage the house, sell the cars and borrow against our retirement savings to bail him out and pay for his lawyer. He hasn’t even thought about support for his new baby mama and child.
“The popular notion about marriage and love is that they are synonymous, that they spring from the same motives, and cover the same human needs. Like most popular notions this also rests not on actual facts, but on superstition….”
— Emma Goldman
The big double cross. You never saw this one coming. It was a sneak attack. Do you get that the sneakiness and the damage came by design? Your guard had to be down to give your loved one the best shot at getting his way. He saw you as a gateway to his opportunity — for marriage, a baby, your shared assets under his terms. His big gambit was played at all costs for maximum payoff. The play came down to exploiting you — the disaster-shocked person. Your loved one tried to use your disorientation following a shock to achieve control with his own program of “shock therapy.” If you truly loved him, the logic of this therapy goes, you’d follow the program he’s offering as a remedy. It’s supposed to be your only option. And if the first shocks don’t utterly annihilate your resistance, don’t worry number three is coming in the form of an ultimatum, split, or otherwise pulling of the rug from underneath you.
Being treated like a means to his end doesn’t feel so nice or lovey-dovey. But as Frank Herbert wrote, “The unclouded eye is best no matter what it sees.” Especially when it’s brutal shock & awe warfare courtesy of your honey.
And guess what? You just met your future ex-husband or ex-partner!
Some things are a big deal. Big enough to reshape life as you know it and your future. Some challenges are so ugly and dangerous you have no choice but to walk away. And that, my friends, is what is called “being a grown-a** woman.” And it sucks sometimes. Big time.
What does it mean to be in control of your life? Autonomy. You are the Queen of your existence and you alone have the ability to choose what is right for you.
Making choices with clear intentions is the key. If anybody took a picture of you at the moment of devastating impact, they might be shocked that you were even able to recover and go on afterward. The shock and pain cost you a lot. The difference between winning and losing is doing what losers won’t do. Some people prefer the passive role, because it imposes no real pressure to decide or be accountable for the consequences. And, in fact, losers find it tough to identify what isn’t working in their lives and cut it off.
But winning takes rolling with the hard punches and throwing a few of your own. Just so we can maintain and carry on. Self-defense is always gonna be a step in the right direction.
There’s a hundred different ways to continue to suffer under an exploitive man’s thumb. And often one way to get rid of him and that thumb.