Mind's Eye or Mirror?
A Minute to Myself (58)

Excerpt Twenty-One: First Year of Teaching

The first year of teaching is supposed to be one of the hardest job there is. For me, as tough as it was, dealing with life at home was harder. The constant stress of living in an abusive relationship was much tougher than teaching one hundred and thirty reluctant teenagers the eight parts of speech.

Is relationship the right word to describe my marriage, perhaps predicament or situation is better? How can something so nefarious be a “relationship”? Isn’t that a word with positive connotations, doesn’t it signify something that brings happiness, isn’t it something that you want to be a part of?

Learning how to plan interesting and effective lessons; reading and understanding the short stories, plays, poems and novels I was to cover; writing quizzes, tests, and warm-up assignments, homework assignments and essay questions; speaking to and emailing students, parents and administrators; reading, commenting on and grading papers were all difficult, but coming home was infinitely worse. At school, although there were tough days and tough kids (or, kids being kids, or kids reacting to a tough teacher) who challenged me by slumping or ignoring or doubting or questioning, at least they seemed to respect me and knew (I think) that I was doing something for them, or at least that I was trying to do something for them. And I was. At home my husband made me feel that my very presence was anathema. That pervasive feeling of negativity is what made home so much tougher than school ever was.

Since my husband did not work for a year and a half, including the entire first year of my teaching (the ostensible reason was that he was laid off, but I interpreted it as part of his absolute commitment to make my life hell), he was at home most of the time, and so everyday as I drove home I would wonder if he would be there when I arrive. The drive home usually took about 40 minutes; it was generally a good transition from school. I would take the highway, so I could just drive along with the flow of traffic (three o’clock is still too early for traffic, even in this area), listening to music, snatches of my day coming up to me, with all of the accompanying ‘should haves’ and ‘could haves,’ a calm easy time between two worlds, but in a world of itself.


That is until I would drive down our driveway and click on the garage door opener. Is he home or isn’t he? Because of the lighting in the garage, it always takes a few seconds for the garage door to open enough for me to know the home situation. If the car is not there, I would smile broadly and continue the easy transition. But, if it was there, I would generally say (out loud for emphasis, to show that I really mean it, that this is more than wishful thinking, this is a demand, a desire that is so strong that it deserves speaking out loud, making it more possible, perhaps it will reverberate into reality), “Get a job! Go away!” And then I would drive in with an absolute anchor as a heart. I could feel myself being beaten down just by his presence; just by the tangible prove of his reality—of my reality:

     That I live with a man I hate;

     That I live with a man who is constantly insulting me;

     That I live with a man who treats me with absolutely no respect;

     That I live with a man who finds it acceptable to ridicule me;

     That I live with a man who is constantly trying to control my life.

I am confronted with the fact that my home is no one’s castle; that my home has become my prison, and I am an inmate.

If he is home, he is generally on his laptop in either the basement or at the kitchen table. If he is at the kitchen table, he generally gathers up his computer when I come in and goes down to the basement. While I relish his going away so that I don’t have to confront his verbal abuse or stony countenance (which I find repulsive even though I am unable to look directly at him), it is still upsetting that my mere presence is repulsive to him, too. Certainly I don’t expect unbounded joy when I come in, but this summary dismissal is still hurtful. I simply said that I don’t love you any more, I don’t want to be married to you anymore; I did not verbally assault him. I shared with him more than twenty years of my life before I really felt what was being done to me and voiced my decision. Why is he so vindictive? Why has this degraded into a game of wills that is counter-productive? Why is he (perhaps it is we by now) unable to confront each other and talk the end through? Why do I have to come home day after day to a man who has become an evil entity, who simply wishes me ill?

I had always prided myself on being a mature person, so why now, when maturity is so much in need, am I incapable of getting past his solid wall of antagonism. It just does not make sense, or maybe it does too much, that what I say and do is not enough to end this marriage with grace and timeliness. Continuing in our sorry cycle, it must be according to his time-line and conditions, otherwise we barely move forward. It seems that he can’t prevent himself: he must be a bully till the end. And finally, I can’t get over it that I am always prevented from getting what I want, even when I am forceful.

Am I so weak? Am I too nice and too understanding, always questioning myself, doubting myself and my experiences, and not him and his motivations?

* * *



wow. whew. You are SOME kind of woman. I almost feel as if our lives are parallel, in a way. My own marriage is a long, long story. I won't get into it now, because I am full of emotion after reading yours.

I am sending you strength woman!. (p.s. are we looking in the same mirror????)


you are so much stronger than you think. I am still waiting for the day when you get your vindication on Oprah because the world should learn from your strength!

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

I still don't see the strength, just dealing with life as it comes at me. With help from friends, met and never met, yet.

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