The epiphany of a trophy wife
I met my current partner when I was one year out of a psychologically abusive marriage, and five years removed from a physically abusive relationship (I sure can fucking pick them, can’t I?!)
I was still fragile. It was hard to admit and acknowledge what I’d survived.
That was 19 years ago. I was a different woman then. I’ve grown and changed since then in ways that surprised me; especially over the last five years or so. I’ve felt a partial return of the young woman I was before the abuse-almost a click, of something locking into place, like the perfect piece of a jigsaw puzzle. I see her in the mirror, under the laugh lines and ‘thought lines’ between my brows. I’ve missed her. It’s a relief to see her again.
My current partner didn’t know her. And now that he’s seen her, I don’t think he likes her. She is not the partner he chose 19 years ago. He chose the girl who hated crowds, hated to be touched, who woke screaming in the middle of the night and even swung at him because in her half-asleep terror he looked like the guy who tried to kill her. The girl who didn’t trust herself, had numerous fears, whose spark was so dim it almost went out. Her confidence was destroyed.
Little by little, that girl regained her footing. She had her chance at bat, took her stance, swung hard…and hit it out of the fucking park.
The more successful I am, or the more successful I feel, or the more successful he sees me; the angrier he gets. Maybe he didn’t think I’d get through graduate school, much less pretty much ace it. Now that I’m settled into a job and doing well, he seems to be angry whenever something good happens. Not overtly, but his attitude changes and he gets shitty toward me. And the better I do at work, the more he withdraws.
Some people get married and don’t expect their partners to change. Some people change very little or not at all. I changed because I finally began to heal.
My partner has his own demons-hell, we all do. His demons are not mine to discuss. I do not know all of them, because he’s shared only a little with me. He needs to heal too. I was hoping we would heal together. We were very broken people when we met. I’m not saying I’m no longer broken, or that I’m ‘fixed’ or that I’m better than him in any way. But as I have healed, I’ve changed. I know I have, I can feel it. He knows it too. And I think he’s afraid.
If he’d had my back and encouraged my healing, I don’t think we’d have the problems we do. Even if he was neutral, and stood back and let it happen, that would probably be fine. But he has fought me every step of the way. In some instances he’s outright sabotaged my efforts to get and stay emotionally and physically healthy. From forcing me to interact with a man who groped me and sustaining a friendship with him afterwards, to interfering with my schoolwork, and even using passive-aggressive tactics to keep me from friends; he has hurt me in immeasurable ways. Although for the most part I still feel physically safe here, I have lost almost all trust in him. I do not think he has my best interests, or even the best interests of this relationship at heart. What he wants is an intact home life, or at least the appearance of one. I don’t think he loves me; at least I don’t recognize much love. He knows I’m not happy, but will not let me go to find happiness on my own.