Outbursts From Late-Stage Marriage
I had a disastrous marriage that lasted for seven years.
When I got divorced, I was in a traumatized stressful haze and I wasn’t sure what happened.
I wanted to leave for years, but something was stopping me; I was afraid, I couldn’t imagine how to take steps forward when I looked to the future, I couldn’t see a future. When I would ask myself, “how do I imagine life in a month, 6 months, a year?” All I would see is darkness, no details, I couldn’t even imagine myself walking down the street or petting a cat.
I saw nothing.
At the end of my marriage, the volume of verbal and emotional abuse increased exponentially. I could feel a visceral force field around me trying to shield me from his words. This force field was described in Star Trek; using the force field drains the power source.
Self-protection takes energy, its subtle, visceral energy coming from the core; it does its job, but it also robs the imagination to conjure up scenes of the future.
As a result of his verbal bombardment, I became silent, I said very little.
There wasn’t much to say to my husband. He was a deeply needy person, I felt sad for him because I don’t think anyone could fill the types of needs he had.
He was dysregulated easily, which meant that he was emotionally unstable and that anything could set him off; in a weird way, I thought maybe he got off on being unstable. I did see that he was suffering from his own dysregulation, but also I did witness the joy he got from his own vengefulness and cruelty.
I had never met anyone who had such a need to talk constantly. I was baffled by this type of talking, which had nothing to do with conversation, sharing, connecting, or the exchange of ideas. This constant yammering drove me to despair: I searched Google for, “logorrhea,” “verbal diarrhea,” “compulsive talking.”
I Googled in order to understand what he was doing, what he needed, what I should do to cope, but I was looking in the wrong place. He needed to talk at me, in order to feel himself and his own existence; I was a vehicle for existence.
The more he talked, the quieter I became. I think this scared him.
When I was at home, I was often still working — reading, writing, researching.
I had given up trying to connect with my husband. I had no idea how to connect, but I knew how to connect deeply with my own work and I enjoyed it so much, so I withdrew from him and stayed where I was safe and free to explore in my own thoughts through research.
In the last year of our marriage, my husband began having outbursts at me. To be honest, his outbursts were fascinating. Some outbursts were completely clichéd, others were so bizarre, I wrote them down.
He would pop his head in my office and he would say a one-liner and then flee.
He was like a little child who popped his head in the door and yelled, “boo!”
On one occasion he popped his head in and said, “you know, if you leave me, no one will ever want you, you’re damaged goods.”
I looked at him impassively and stared at him, I searched his face twisted with hate.
I said, “ok.”
He stomped away. I don’t think he got what he wanted or needed from me at that moment. I’m not sure what he wanted me to do.
Why would anyone say what he said? Even if I were a completely damaged person, what would be the motive to say that to the broken person? My reaction was to analyze what he said. I wonder, if somewhere deep down, whether I felt hurt because I didn’t feel hurt. I felt like I was in a self-protective bubble where there was a wall between him and me and that also meant a wall between his words and me.
I know it is clear to the reader, that my husband said what he said, to hurt me, to make me feel bad about myself, and to make me equate myself to ‘broken goods.’ He wanted me to feel not merely broken, but worthless, and perhaps, disposable. He also wanted me to feel fear about being alone. Hence, it was a very strange manipulative attempt to make me stay with him.
His underhanded threat didn’t work because I wasn’t afraid of being alone.
At that point, we hadn’t gotten divorced because I didn’t know how to get divorced since I had never done it before. I didn’t know when “the right time” would be to get divorced, how to go about it, even though I had a divorce lawyer retained for years, I didn’t know how to have the conversation, but he felt divorce coming and so did I.
Another time, he popped in and said, “you know, you disgust me. You are uncreative, unimaginative, conservative, and a coward.”
I just stared at him. I think I gave him a look, like, “really?” I worked for the United Nations in an area of military conflict for three years and I was a war reporter for a short period in my life, I know I am not cowardly if we are talking about courage in stereotypical ways. I’m not a particularly creative person, but my imagination is strong and I knew that.
These three words: uncreative, unimaginative, and conservative — he had used these three exact words to describe his first wife. I wonder what was going on. The ‘coward’ one was a new one, reserved for me, but it didn’t really have an impact and fell like a brick to the ground.
The third outburst I will recount here blew my mind. I was working on writing a lecture from around 5 AM in the morning. He generally woke up early as well. I was working quietly in my office and he stood at my office door and angrily said, “OK FINE, I’m going to work because you refuse to entertain me.”
I said, “what?” “Entertain you?” During this particular outburst, I felt really sad for him. My purpose for existing is not for entertainment, but I don’t think that’s what he meant.
I think that was his hamfisted way of saying “I want to connect with you,” but it didn’t come out that way. I just didn’t want a connection with him anymore.
I wasn’t sure what my husband’s game was; he had so many mind games. I was no longer playing.
But I do think that a certain imperviousness is a sign that I was ready to get divorced. I no longer reacted, I was no longer invested, I was gone. I know he felt incredibly alone, but I had run out of energy to be there.