Remembering the burden - emotional abuse

Ok, so you better get used to this - as I walk the #WhenIBecameFree project journey, there may be days where I feel the need to write more than one post a day. Hearing all the stories will no doubt bring back some memories.

Just a little while ago I was walking the aisles at my local grocery store. I was trying to figure out something to make myself for dinner when all of a sudden I had a flashback memory cross my mind. I left for the store right after posting my last blog.

I think the reason for the flashback was because I was thinking about all the physical abuse the victim endured, and I wondered about the emotional abuse that I didn't know about. Describing physical attacks can create a visual in the readers' mind and will more than likely get their attention to keep them reading. But often it is the emotional abuse domestic violence victims sustain that keep them frozen in place. One word kept playing over and over in my head, "burden."

I hate that word. I'd much rather be called a bitch than a burden. It was a word my ex-husband and his family of alcoholics threw my way many of a day. It was a word I even heard my mother use against my father when his illness kept them from selling our home and moving from Illinois to New Mexico. She called him and his health a burden.

Perhaps I am also thinking about it all now because much like the days when my ex-husband at one time used it against me,  my health has been dictating my life -what I can do and what I cannot do.

When I was 22 years old we planned a large formal Catholic wedding. I knew full well I was marrying an alcoholic. There had already been some physical abuse towards me that I excused away despite having to wear a turtleneck in the middle of summer to hide the hand shaped bruises around my neck.  When he left those marks there it was during an alcohol-induced blackout. The next day he denied doing it, even though his fingers were perfectly outlined around my neck. Every time he saw the black and blue marks he would get mad and his denials would get louder. Keeping my neck covered until it healed was easier than listening to his denials.

Despite all of that I was still eager to marry him, I loved him - I understood where his flaws came from as he was once a child growing up in an alcoholic family. At one point in his early childhood his parents sent him to live with friends because they couldn't afford childcare and work at the same time, or so that was the story he was told. I understood his wounds to the point of excusing the wounds he left on me. The deepest of which was the emotional wounds.

That formal Catholic wedding ended up being a jaunt to Las Vegas and earlier than we had planned. The reason for this was I needed insurance to be able to have a surgery. It was a surgery to repair an incisional hernia from when I had my spleen removed. There were actually three areas along that incision running from just below my cleavage down to my navel that needed to be repaired with wire and mesh. Every time I coughed my chest would balloon out with three large bumps. Thankfully when I did see the doctor for it the first time, he didn't officially diagnose it - he knew I didn't have insurance and was planning on getting married, afterwards I would be insured under my husband's plan from work - he didn't want the condition I was suffering from to be labeled "pre-existing. "

The large wedding was canceled - there were more important things to take care of, me.

We had to wait two months after getting married before the insurance kicked in. We were at his parents' house a week or so before my surgery. His father, his brothers and him had all been drinking to excess. It was a typical day for them. Somehow my surgery got brought up and his father went on and on about how my husband had to "deal" with such a burden of a wife right off the bat.

Later that night when we were home at our apartment and in a drunken stupor, my husband went off on me on how I was going to be a burden. The surgery I needed and the time off I would need from work to recover, 6 weeks, was a burden to him and I should count my blessings he married me.

The surgery came and went, but those scars were the emotional foundation of abuse in our marriage.  Ever since then when I hear the word burden, I cringe. The wound is deep.

So as you read the stories of life from the survivors, remember that every time physical abuse is described, there is already deep wounds from emotional abuse absorbing the hits.  I know that for me, while I can remember those handprint bruises around my neck, the image no longer causes me pain, but that word burden still does.

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