Words hurt. The way we hear words can change the true nature of a moment extremely. Even the strongest of people can be broken by another’s sharp tongue, as it rips through the core of someone’s confidence and begins to decay their heart. A simple comment made by the wrong person at the wrong time can send anyone into a downward spiral of self-loathing and destruction. When simple comments that seem like nothing at the time keep compounding on each other, the result can be catastrophic, at least, it was for me. Especially when those comments come from your best friend, your husband.
At the beginning of our relationship, Dominic and I were inseparable. Everyone we knew was “in awe” of how in love with each other we were. Apparently, it was a sight to see. I can imagine it though because we were sickeningly in love. We held each other in the highest regard. I knew with my whole heart that he truly loved me, love handles and crazy brown hair included. He was everything I ever wanted in a man; smart, strong, tall, dark-haired, Godly, and most of all, kind. The day we got married was the happiest day of my life. Now, only two short years later, I’m sitting at my kitchen table, in my “perfect” suburban house, praying to God he comes back to apologize and wondering if maybe I should just grab my bags and hightail it out of here.
I can remember the first time he made me feel small, worthless. He was coming home late, which was strange because every day since we got married, he was home by 6. That night, he got home at 8. I made a small comment about him coming home so late. He told me “Well, Alex, maybe if you actually contributed to this family then I wouldn’t have to work so much.” That singular comment didn’t affect me much and I excused it as Dom just being stressed. We had talked before we got married and said that I wouldn’t work the first year so I could finish college. But as the late nights continued, so did the comments about my lack of contribution to our family. His words started to get to me; Was I really as useless as he seemed to think I was? Maybe my education isn’t important to him. Maybe I’m not important, just the money I bring in is. If I can’t help our family out, then why am I even here? I may as well be a dog that Dom must come home and take care of. My internal questions and his snide comments started compounding on each other only heightening my lack of confidence. I’m not sure what happened to us.
For the first couple of months of our marriage, everything was great.
“Hey Alex! I’m home!” Dom said as he slid through the door after coming back from his two-day trip to Savannah. “I brought you something.” He pulled out a dozen orange Daisies. Dominic knew my distaste for the traditional roses, due to their cheesiness, but he also knew that I loved flowers, especially orange Daisies. “Dom, you really didn’t have to do this. I’m just happy you’re home. But, thank you anyway. I’ll go put them in some water.” I kissed his cheek and he smiled at me. Later, we sat at the dinner table with my freshly cooked, medium rare, steak and grilled vegetables (it was Dom’s favorite meal), and the Daisies sitting in a vase in between us. We discussed Dom’s trip and he recounted how amazing River Street was. He mentioned that one day, he would love to take me so I could enjoy some freshly made Pecan Pralines. The perfect suburban life with perfect suburban dreams.
Currently, I am sitting in the exact same spot with some cold, leftover pizza from two nights ago on my plate. The orange daisies are long gone, probably decomposing in some landfill right now. The dreams we had of visiting River Street never came true. I’m not hungry at all.
For a while, the comments Dom made were merely about my lack of work. I struggled with accepting them but I learned to cope. What I could not cope with however was the new remarks Dom started to make about my appearance. He knew that my appearance was something I struggled with everyday. I had never liked my pasty pale skin or my long curly hair that always matted every time I wore it down. I was tall, taller than most girls I came across, and for a long time, taller than most guys. My big hips and plush tummy were things I always tried to conceal. That was until I met Dominic. I’m not sure what it was, but whenever I was around him, I felt good about myself. My pasty skin turned into ivory, my tangled locks became cascading waves down my back, my height wasn’t an issue due to his enormous stature, and my hips were, for once in my life, beautiful. I relished in the way he made me feel. I did. But as quickly as he made me forget about my insecurities, he shoved them right back into my face.
He came home drunk. He never came home drunk. This was only two weeks after he showed up late for the first time in our marriage, which was only 3 months after we were wed. I tried to talk to him but all I received was a verbal assault. “Why do you care huh? You don’t care about me. All you wanted was a husband to make you feel better about yourself. What did you think, by marrying someone your hair would be pretty and you would lose weight? Well that’s not how it works sweetheart. Obviously.” His words were meant to cut me into little pieces. For some reason, he wanted to hurt me. I should have known then to leave him but I loved him too much. So, the only logical next step was to forge myself into a beauty fit for him. Over the next two months, I lost thirty pounds. Everyone I knew told me how great I looked. It’s amazing what can happen when you don’t eat. But it still wasn’t enough for Dominic. He continued to assault my appearance and I continued to try and please him. My long hair that I had come to love, I cut off and got a perm to give me smooth waves. He hated it; said that I was trying too hard. He told me I was pathetic. And I was. That is what he reduced me too: a pathetic woman trying to please a husband that didn’t care.
My bags are now packed, sitting beside me. I have the essentials: clothes, toiletries, money, a picture of my and my friends, some beef jerky, and the keys to my car. I don’t want to leave him, but I have fear that I might have to. I can’t take this torment any longer, not after what he said to me.
“You really are as worthless as I thought. You can’t even think for yourself anymore. Why did I ever marry someone like you? We both know I could have done so much better. Maybe I should have married Cathy or Virginia. At least I had a good time with them. I mean, I still have a good time with Cathy every now and again and it’s so much more fun keeping it a secret from you.”
My face apparently showed the feeling I was trying too hard to conceal.
“ Oh, for God’s sake, stop acting shocked. It’s not like you didn’t know. Or are you really that oblivious? Well either way, you know now.”
My mouth stood open for a good bit but no words formed except for one: “Leave.”
Dominic stomped out of the house. What have I done? I just asked him if he thought my red dress looked nice for dinner. I obviously upset him in some way. I wanted to apologize. That was until I fully comprehended the words he had just said to me. He cheated on me. Multiple times. He doesn’t care. My lips began to tremble until I could not hold it in any longer. Tears poured out of my eyes until they became puffy and I was sitting in front of the toilet puking up whatever small amount of food I had consumed.
Once my stomach was emptied and I had dry-heaved for about 10 minutes, I got off the floor and proceeded into my room (Dominic and I slept in separate rooms because he said I took up too much space on our King sized bed. I decided not to argue with it.). There, I pulled out the bag from under my bed that was already half packed and stuffed the rest of my clothes in, not caring if they got wrinkled. I shoved the rest of my belongings into another bag and took my things into the kitchen.
The only reason I haven’t left yet is because I have a small ounce of hope that once Dom comes in the door, he will apologize and we can try to work on our relationship. I see the lights of Dom’s car pull up into the driveway. He comes to the door, seeming to have some trouble unlocking it, and comes in. He takes one look at me, sighs deeply, and walks into his room without saying a word. I sit still for a moment waiting for him to come out. He finally does.
“Why are you still here? I thought you would have left by now.”, Dominic said.
“I’m the one that told you to leave. If anything, I should be the one wondering why you are here.”
“Well, it’s my house and I’m not leaving. You can either get out, or you can be here when Cathy comes over.”
I pause for a moment to collect my thoughts. Was he threatening to cheat on me, in my own house?
“It’s my house too. It used to be our home, but you broke that a long time ago. You can have it though. I don’t want to live in a place like this anymore, not with someone as horrible as you. Goodbye Dominic.”
I picked up my bags. For a moment, Dom looked defeated. Then he corrected himself, cleared his throat as if he were about to say something, turned around, and slammed the door to his room.
Without shedding a tear, I walked out of the house, and closed the door behind me.