It is day 22 of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Today’s In His Own Words tells the tale of “Kyle,” nice guy from an abusive family who fell for and married an abusive woman who likely has Borderline Personality Disorder.
When I first met my second wife, D, I thought she was perfect. She was everything I thought I could want in a woman. She was funny and caring and into all of my hobbies with a smile that could melt your heart. A real dream come true. However, what I didn’t realize at the time was this was simply her mask.
I had come from an extremely abusive home, so I was definitely the kind of guy looking for a woman to valid my existence. I told myself that this wasn’t the case after having been through several bad relationships and a previous marriage to a personality-disordered woman before. So, I thought I had “learned” from my mistakes and was ready for the right person to love me in a way that no one else could.
In the beginning, there were very few red flags or so I thought. Though, to be honest, at that point in my life, I was so ready to find my “one and only” that I was readily willing to ignore what Dr. T calls those “WTF moments.” I thought I was safe as I had been friends with D for a year previous to us dating.
However, if I knew back then what I know now, I would have run at some of those early warning signs and never looked back. For example, about three weeks into dating D, she showed up at my doorstep with a bag full of laundry, giving the impression that she was: 1) hopeless in managing her own affairs, and 2) ready to move in. As bad as it was having someone whom you’ve only dated for a few weeks wanting to move in, it was worse. She had the expectation that I was responsible for her laundry.
Not only did she passive-aggressively bring more stuff over to my place, but she started to complain that I was not washing her clothes for her while she was moving her stuff in. Being the “nice guy” that I was, I eagerly complied, since I was looking to win her approval. Yet, this wasn’t even the worst part.
After a great night’s sex, she took off early in the morning, and I proceeded to do her laundry. I was also in a hurry to get ready for work, so I didn’t thoroughly check all of the pockets in her jeans before I threw them in the wash; there were about 10 pairs in total. I didn’t realize that she had left her cellphone in one of her pairs of jeans. It wasn’t until I heard a clunking sound coming from the wash machine that I realized what had happened.
A couple hours later, I got a call from D while she was at work asking about her cellphone, and I promptly explained that I had accidentally washed her phone. I apologized for my mistake, and offered to buy her a new one. This is when the “fit hit the shan.”
D exploded in a verbal tirade about how I had purposely washed her phone in a resentful act to hurt and offend her. I kept repeating that I was sorry for the incident, but I hadn’t done anything on purpose. Further still, I was confused about what the problem was, since I had offered to buy a replacement. This still wasn’t good enough.
Not only did I have to buy her a replacement phone, but I also had to admit that I purposely washed her phone “to hurt and sabotage her.” After going back and forth like this for about 45 minutes to an hour, I was rather worn down and confused. I was also working (I run my own business and was now severely late getting to my next job site), so I simply “confessed” my crime to be done with the conversation.
This wasn’t the end of D’s tirades. D comes from an extremely religious family, so her wanting to move in with me before we got married was considered a big deal, or at least it was to them, not so much with D. D’s family blamed me for corrupting their daughter and turning her into “a whore and a prostitute”, as well as literally calling me Satan. Despite all of this, D sided with her family’s actions and blamed me for causing her emotional pain and distress, even though she had no problem living with me or having sex with me outside of marriage.
Even worse, D’s family blamed me for causing her to break up with her previous fiancé shortly before we got together, although they repeatedly told me how much they hated him. Of course, they also refused to pay for the wedding as a way of further showing their disapproval of me, as well as threatening to hit me at more than one family function.
This didn’t bother me because I was “in love” with D. She told me in those first few weeks, while she was moving in, how she had never felt this way about anyone else before in her life, and how much she loved me/was falling for me. I was pretty hooked on what Dr. T calls the BPD crack pipe.
I offered to pay for the wedding myself: big mistake. D tried to plan the most elaborate wedding I could think of, totaling about $15,000.00. Although I wasn’t going to pay for something that expensive, I wanted D to be happy, since this was to be her first and “only marriage.”
Planning for the ceremony was awful, too. Anytime I would make a suggestion, D would scream and yell and point her finger (trying to shame me), or she would break down crying, leaving my head spinning about what was going on. Fortunately, I was able to calm her down by “agreeing to the alternative plans” that she was willing to agree upon. But in doing so, I realize now that I was being primed for years of emotional, psychological abuse, and physical abuse, although that didn’t start until later.
Finally, after a year of dating and planning our wedding, we got married. Things seemed to die down. Yep, I was so naïve I let a girl I just started dating convince me that she was in love with me enough to get married right away. Worse yet, I was convinced – mainly through oral pleasures – that we didn’t need a prenuptial agreement, since that wouldn’t have been “romantic.” I rationalized all of this away.
I had known and been friends with D for a year before dating, so I thought I knew what she was like, which made it easier to explain away the crazy. Plus, anytime I didn’t rationalize things away or I was upset about something, D would either blow me off, blame me for everything, or give me so much sex that I couldn’t think straight.
Soon enough things started to get worse, a lot worse. About a year into our marriage, I was continuing to have health problems from growing up in an abusive household. My health was getting worse, and I needed to see more specialists about what could be done. I was losing my ability to work, which of course bothered D. (The long story short on this part, I was left to freeze as an infant from my parents, and although I was resuscitated that evening, it caused permanent injury to my body from frostbite. Further, I was not taken away by Child Services, and in the process of surviving my household, I was taught that pleasing my parents and anticipating their needs was my only way of receiving love, priming me for an abuser like D.)
So, as my health deteriorated, D escalated her abusive behaviors, especially when I had a cancerous tumor develop. She actually blamed me for getting sick because it took the focus off of her and the money away from the gifts and trips that she was receiving. Even worse, she yelled at me and emotionally terrorized me whenever I pointed this out, going so far as to point and laugh in my face for wanting emotional support. She still expected me to do all of the cooking and cleaning, like I had been doing up to this point. Anytime I was having issues, she would conveniently be gone with her friends or give me the silent treatment for days or weeks on end.
While I was recovering, I was still expected to bring home the bacon, which I did because I felt it was my duty as a man to be the provider, regardless of the circumstances with which I was faced. No amount of pleading with D helped. It was around this time that she started to take her frustrations out on me while I was sleeping. That is, I would wake up to D punching or kicking me in my sleep.
For example, I remember waking up to my head being slammed against the wall, causing me to have a goose egg on my forehead for about two weeks. When I looked over, D acted like she was sleeping. I again rationalized D’s behaviors away by saying it was me being exhausted from surgery and working so much.
The craziness began to die down again as I started to get better and bring home more money. I thought that D was finally coming around. I was trying my best to set boundaries, explain why her actions were inappropriate, and not be such a pushover. After getting things back on track and paying down our bills, not only from my medical expenses but also D’s refusal to limit her spending, I was blindsided. During this time, she kept gaslighting me, engaging in double standards and no win situations, and being physically confrontational like charging and flailing at me (similar to Janay Rice).
I noticed my personality was beginning to change. I was developing severe anxiety, having problems leaving the house, losing work contracts, and was no longer as outgoing as I used to be. In fact, I was even diagnosed with depression and loss of self-esteem at the time from a counselor that D forced me to go see. He said “[I] was having relationship problems”, causing my issues. Though, I explained this away – once again – as having relationship problems with my friends, not D, since my social circle was also starting to contract, leaving me rather isolated.
This is when my true nightmare began. I was going through a several legal issues with a few different contractors at work. While I was attempting to correct the problem, D was going behind my back sabotaging my clients and business. Then, in true borderline fashion, she complained that I was not supporting her enough financially. I got good at alternative means of making money, like selling my prized vehicle and downgrading to an older car to use the difference to support D.
No matter what I did, it was never enough. D would even secretly open credit cards, then throw them in my face when she got tired of paying the minimum balance. D even hid the title for my new/old car for several months, claiming that it had never shown up in the mail. Then, one day, she conveniently pulled the title out of her purse while we were at a doctor’s appointment (more on that later), claiming “look what I forgot in my purse for the last three months.” Now her purse was not one of those duffle bag style purses either, more the kind that you could barely fit your driver’s license and a pack of gum in, so I knew she was lying.
Thank you, Kyle. I will post the second half of Kyle’s story tomorrow.
In His Own Words/In Her Own Words is a joint effort between Shrink4Men and AVoiceForMen to help raise awareness about the invisible victims of domestic violence, men. If you would like to submit your story, please follow the guidelines at the end of this article.
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Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD provides confidential, fee-for-service, counseling, consultation and coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.