The beach.

I was excited about going to the beach. During my consultation for my operation, my Dr had outlined certain milestones that I had to pay attention to. One of them was that I couldn’t immerse in water until after a certain period of time. Being a lover of sea and river bathing this was a little hard but I adhered to it. In fact on numerous occasions after work (before my operation) we would stop at the river to bathe and chill out before heading home. The cold clear water was always a welcome end to a hot humid day. I missed it. Now the moment had come to embrace the waters. He decided we would go to the nearest beach to home. We took the bare essentials and headed out. We sat on an old sun bleached tree log taking in the beauty of the spot. I was anxious to get wet. I untied my wrap and headed into the cooling waters of the sea. I floated on my back and stared at the immense blue sky while he swam a few laps. We headed back to the log to sit again.

I had been waiting for a long time to ask him a question. Now seemed a good time. He was relaxed and at peace. The question wasn’t contentious.

“Will you be able to help me brush up on my driving so that I can take my driving test?”

“Why do you need to drive?” I was confused. We had had conversations in the past about this. I had started learning to drive before I met him but had never taken the driving test. I knew my weak area; I needed to be confident about parking before attempting the test. He had agreed to help me and to even buy me my own car so that I wouldn’t have to depend on him. He said I could be independent. I reminded him of all this.

“I will not allow destructive decisions to be made in this marriage. You cannot expect a busy man like me to teach you to drive” he growled.

“What do you mean by destructive? How is my learning to drive going to be destructive to our marriage?”

“I will not make that mistake again. When I was married to Deborah she always visited her mother in the village leaving me at home by myself. If you need to go anywhere I will take you.”

“Firstly, stop comparing me to Deborah. Secondly, you didn’t like her mother so why would she ask you along? Thirdly, you said it would be good for my independence, at least I can return to being punctual to work and you won’t be able to keep accusing me of treating you like a taxi driver.”

He went into a tirade of how rude I was, that I was being very disrespectful and undermining his authority. I shouldn’t question his decision and it was high time I started being obedient and submissive.

Let me unpick this. When we initially spoke about driving, Mr Impatient was merely playing along to lure me into a false sense of importance. He recognised that being able to drive was of value to me, therefore he appeased me by adding his recognition. It can be a typical ploy in a narcissistic relationship; build someone up in order to drop them. They find ways to add value to an individual and just as quickly make them feel worthless and unworthy. He felt justified going back on his word because it meant he would generally always know my whereabouts. Control. I would have to depend on him to go to certain places. If your movements are being controlled covertly or overtly you may be in an abusive relationship. If you are being tossed between being valued and undervalued, you are probably in an abusive relationship.

That day I was in fight mode. There are many things to hate about being in an abusive marriage but perhaps what I hated the most was the fact that I even had to develope a defence mechanism. Sometimes you let things go over your head. You ‘disappear’ somewhere in your mind to avoid the emotional slaughter of who your partner says you are. If you travel far enough in your psyche you don’t hear anything they say therefore you don’t feel anything. The numbness helps you survive anther day until the next onslaught. Other times your incredulity at the tarnishing of your character will not allow you to remain silent. The injustice of it fires up inside you and you can’t help but make your voice heard.

There was no one else on the beach so I didn’t hold back. Predictably, he was unhappy that I had expressed myself. He said that he was going to the car. I sat down on the log, feeling deflated. Happy first day in the sea, not. I went back into the water and floated. The sound of the waves was soothing to my angered being. When I felt I was calm enough I walked out of the sea, grabbed my wrap and made my way to the car. Unpredictably, the car wasn’t there. He had left me on the beach.

Getting home wasn’t an issue. It was only a twenty minute walk.  I was upset because he had chosen to leave me. He had said he was going to the car but had said nothing about leaving the beach. All I had on was my swimsuit and a wrap that just about went around my waist. Appropriate for the beach, not appropriate for walking on the roadside. Suddenly I felt very under dressed, and naked. Well there was no way to tell if he was going to come back for me and I had no reason to hope that he would. I had been abandoned and would have to walk home.

I was trying to figure out how I should react to him once I arrived, but some things can’t be plotted. As I approached the house I could see that the car was parked in the driveway. I climbed the stairs and opened the door. He was sitting at the computer. I walked past him and went to the bathroom. When I came out he informed me that he had written me a letter and had left it on the table. So you were calm enough to write a letter but not calm enough to collect me from the beach? I don’t remember the specific contents of the letter, but if I were to hazard a guess, it’s likely that it was a continuation of his beach berating.

That night as I tried to fall asleep I reflected on the afternoon. It didn’t matter that he didn’t apologise because it would have been meaningless, but yet again I was reminded of my place in the food chain that had become marriage. Marriage is a union of two persons. In the book of Genesis Adam said ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh . . .’ (Genesis 2:23 King James Bible). Why couldn’t he see that he was hurting himself too? This wasn’t love, he needed a reminder, but who was going to do that?

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trust God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7  The Message Bible.

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