Slowly & Subtly Entering Supression
I ended the last post up to the point in which I’d met my (ex) husband. (For writing purposes, I will call him Bear.) After not seeing Bear around for a couple of months after initially meeting him, we ran into each other at a charity event, which turned into a drinking event. He was with a group of military guys from his job and invited me to join them while we bar-hopped around town the rest of the afternoon into the evening. I liked Bear right away; he was really sweet to me, and there seemed to be something sincere about him. From that day on, we didn’t separate until the end of our marriage.
But there were red flags that I either ignored or didn’t notice.
Up until the time I met Bear, I had been single (unmarried) for 13 years. I’d had a boyfriend in college for a couple of years and had dated and lived with someone else for about a year, but otherwise no commitments. Dating was extremely difficult as a single mother, because I wasn’t just thinking about myself when it came to relationships. Besides, I was super independent. I had a really busy schedule with jobs, my kid, a college class, a little bit of a social life, and my regular hobbies. I felt like I was at a good place with my creativity; I felt genuinely happy for the first time in a long time.
Bear’s job required him to be gone for days or weeks at a time, which worked out great for my schedule. I really appreciated and enjoyed the time we had together; it seemed to work well for me. It seemed we wanted the same things out of life (at least that’s what he’d told me). But things moved quickly, which was a little scary to me, because it’s always a red flag when things move too quickly. Three weeks after we started dating, he asked me to marry him.
We were sitting in my living room watching a movie when Bear turned to me, holding a ring that belonged to his grandmother, and saying, “Will you marry me?” It was unexpected and way too soon, and I certainly wasn’t ready for that type of commitment. There were things about him I didn’t like but ignored, lots of things I didn’t know, and it concerned me that those things would become issues. So I told him that it was too soon, let’s wait and see how it goes, that I wasn’t quite ready for a ring yet.
Bear was the only guy that I’d dated that was truly kind to me, treated me like a real girlfriend and wanted to be in an actual relationship. Plus, he was really good to my child, and that was a huge factor. Despite having already been married to my child’s father and dating/living with other men in the past, this was something I’d never had or felt before. My other relationships always felt like something was missing. My first husband was a terrible husband and father who didn’t want to be in a marriage or have any responsibilities. The other men I’d dated were immature and didn’t know how treat a woman properly; they’d gotten along better with my child, because they were man-children themselves. But Bear was different. He seemed mature, he had a stable job, he seemed more like a man than the guys I’d been dating. There were no games, no calling other women behind my back. Bear would take me to dinner, open doors, call me when he said he would, and do all of those things you see in movies when two people fall in love. This was all new to me, and I didn’t think it was possible. I was not used to nice or good things, especially in a relationship, or the affection or the attention at all. Two months later, Bear moved in. About a month after that, we were married. I was truly in love with the person I saw.
We got along great most of the time, but eventually, all of our big arguments were a result of Bear drinking vodka. He turned into a real demeaning asshole and scared the shit out of me more than once. Because he was nearly twice my size, there were times I feared for my life or safety when he was drinking, especially during the moments we had guns in the house. He was also very controlling and jealous, which I didn’t realize until later, because I was used to those types of controlling relationships and never knew how to stand up for myself – or that I could. Plus, I wasn’t used to being in a relationship, period, and didn’t know what was considered normal.
I vaguely recall our first argument, and I cannot remember whether or not he’d moved in yet. We were at a waterside bar with Bear’s friends, all people that I didn’t know. One of his female friends that he’d also dated was there. She was wearing a bikini top, and suddenly Bear stood behind her, cupping her breasts – right in front of me! I was like what the fuck… Automatically, all of the questions went through my mind. Is it really over with them? Is this how he is when he’s not around me? Can I trust him? Being that I didn’t know anyone there, I stepped back and became very quiet, which is usually what I do when I’m in a situation I’m unsure about. I think I may have walked away or started to leave, because I know for a fact I didn’t want to be there after that; I just wanted to go home.
Once we were back at my house, I don’t recall exactly what words were said or how things went. I recall asking Bear if he always cups the breasts of his female friends, which of course started the argument; he couldn’t understand why it upset me so much. The night ended with me still crying and upset, tripping over a box and nearly breaking my elbow, eventually getting it x-rayed (it was fine). It was a stupid argument, as were most, with alcohol always being the common denominator.
Shortly after he moved in, Bear pretty much took over everything, and for whatever reason – I let him. I trusted him, and at the time I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I didn’t mind that he had more furniture than I had, because my place was spacious, and I was still accumulating things after the hurricanes. I used my large dining area to work on my paintings for school and other projects that required space. Bear didn’t like my things being out “taking up space,” so he put everything away. The immediate thought I had that I’d never felt before was don’t crush my spirit, and that was the beginning of me becoming suppressed. I just didn’t know it. For whatever reason, I allowed Bear to make a lot of decisions and allowed him power that he fully took. I understand now that I had never established boundaries in my relationships, and this was one of them.
Shortly after we married, Bear’s job moved us to a different area, which meant I had to leave my job and start new. Again. The bright side was the area was my hometown, so I’d be close to some friends and family, and I was familiar with things. However, I had left my hometown because it was dull and so were the job prospects, but Bear didn’t understand that. This was the beginning of the recession that started in 2007 – not a good time for starting something or buying things. Bear insisted he wanted us to buy a house, and the area he told me about was not an area I wanted to live. I suggested that we should rent for at least a year and see how it goes and it would give us enough time to figure out what would be best. Bear insisted he wanted to buy a house, because he had an option from his job to take early retirement money and use it. Even though we were married, I considered it to be his money, and he could do what he wanted. Although we moved into a beautiful new home, I knew that financially it was a bad decision. It was one instance where I later learned that if Bear wanted something, he was going to get it, and if I disagreed, he would tell me anything in order to get me to agree.
For the most part, the first two years of my marriage to Bear were really good. I felt he was a good husband, he worked hard, he was good to my child. He was a good partner in a lot of ways, and I’m happy that I was able to experience a decent relationship for at least some part of my life. However, there were a lot of unhealthy things about it. I was still learning and ignoring or not noticing red flags all over the place, but compared to what I’d come from and experienced in the past, my marriage to Bear wasn’t bad at all.
About two years into the marriage is when I saw the side of him that I never knew existed, and of course, alcohol was the common denominator.