Trigger Warning! - Adapted excerpt from Rock Bottom and Faithless
My first Valentine’s Day with Tom was in 1987, back when we were dating. It was a memory I held in secret and pulled out every once in a while, to try to soothe my fears and pain.
We were stationed in Korea at the time, and he couldn’t decide what to get me. So he got me one of everything.
A big box of candy…
A huge, beautiful card…
And a six-foot-tall stuffed polar bear.
I was overwhelmed. I had never felt so loved. Imagine being showed with so many gifts so early in a relationship – this was surely a sign of greater showers of affection to come!
I held that memory tightly during the moments I watched his steady breathing after he had fallen asleep… moments after screaming filthy names at me
Holiday Triggers: Memories & Lies
On our third Valentine’s Day, when we were snowed in at Fort Lewis, Washington, Tom walked to the store a mile and a half in the snow, telling me it was to get me flowers and a gift! What a loving and thoughtful gesture. (I later found out the real purpose of the walk was to get himself cigarettes, but I learned to easily forget that part of the memory.)
Over the next few years, three or four times he bought me a bouquet of I’m sorry flowers. They always brightened my mood as I proudly displayed them in the kitchen (even though something in the back of my mind said they were sending the message that I was supposed to ignore all of his bad behavior).
The Lie: If I Try Hard Enough, the Nice Guy Will Return
Sadly, those examples are a sampling of the few nice guy stories I can remember from our twenty-one years of marriage.
By the time our second child arrived, Tom was so tired of buying me I’m sorry flowers that the last batch of flowers he gave me came with a huge disclaimer. Tom was not going to apologize anymore.
At the time, I thought for sure this was another one of his rambling, spontaneous statements. I never believed he meant he was never going to buy me flowers again. There was no way he really meant that.
But he did. He told me he wasn’t wasting money on flowers anymore, and he meant it. Apparently, I didn’t deserve them.
But I continued in denial. My husband wasn’t so bad. After all, he was an army officer, people throughout the military units we were assigned to respected him so much. Those horrible stories in the news about men abusing their wives were terrible, but thank goodness, my marriage was fixable. My husband was really a good guy- that’s what everyone in the military units told me.
Seeing Truth Clearly
It was when I was able to give words to the truth that I was finally able to bring clarity to my world.
Here’s the painful truth I had to process: Tom was a cruel man who wanted to hurt me, and he wanted to make up excuses to do it.
I was manipulated, controlled, abused, and afraid. That “good guy” that I fell in love with so many years ago, he’s gone and he’s NEVER COMING BACK. No matter how hard I try to please him, no matter how hard I try to “do things right,” his anger and control issues are going to be taken out on me.
If anyone reading this finds themselves realizing a painful truth, please consider reaching out to:
Stay vigilant in your surroundings, your actions, and the actions of others,
Blessings to all,
Transforming from Victim to Survivor
Hi, I'm Sue
Welcome to my blog! I served twenty-one honorable years on active duty, living a double life of capability and accomplishment in the service while enduring brutality and abusiveness in my twenty-one year oppressive marriage. Today I'm happily married and have three children who are my inspiration and motivation.
My goal is to help combat the lies of abusers with the truth of God. I hope you find my words to be healing and helpful through your own life experiences.
Being separated from my abusive husband didn't make me a domestic violence survivor. It surely didn't release me from the grip of his brainwashing control and the innate power he had on me.
Read the full raw story in my new book, Rock Bottom and Faithless.