(Inspired by a significant domestic abuse case currently rocking the Bay Area Community in its vibrant dance of horror and injustice)
I laughed with you when you laughed with masculine irreverence at my ambitions and opinions. You labelled them as ‘not important’ and ‘childish’. That’s how I learned to keep my mouth shut.
I held my head down and quietly tagged behind you as you felt too high to walk beside me.
I smiled when you expected me to blend in and laugh and agree with everything you said, even though my ideas were contrary to yours.
I complied pleasantly when you ‘corrected’ me in order to better me for my own good.
You needed me to fit in to this image that you had of me, make myself small just to take away your anxiety, end your struggle to the way I am. Otherwise, I am not ‘caring enough’ or ‘loving enough’ or ‘righteous enough’. In order to please you I learned to shrink myself, hold myself back for a husband who liked his wife invisible.
You told me I am nothing without you and I believed you, repeated it to myself like a programming “I am nothing without him” until finally I faded into the background of you. And yet you were not pleased.
But your ‘perfect’ image of me has only towered over my spirit. It has exhausted me, made me less alive. No matter how much I try to fit in this image, there is always something that I fall short of. I could never decide if I love you or I am frightened of you. I could never tell the difference between your ‘love’ and anger.
I know your intentions are loving! I know you really want to help. You think you are honoring and loving your partner when you laugh or yell at me. You only want to educate me. You only want me to improvise so that you can approve me more. You truly believe that you are a positive, kind, and caring person. A good husband and a partner.
But I want you to know, dear husband, it doesn’t feel like ‘love’ when you express it in this way. It feels like violence.
I am tired of allowing you to make me feel anything less than whole. I am exhausted by feeling unsafe in my own surroundings, always looking over my shoulder for the next outburst.
Dear Husband, I am taking my life back.
The violence stops now.