I am hoping that someone out there can help me gain some clarity in my current situation.
You see, my husband (47) and I (30) have been married for going on 10 years and now separated for a little over six months. This is the fifth time I have left him, but this time is different. In the past I have always left while enduring overwhelming feelings of sadness, bought into every word he told me about how he had changed and always returned home after only having been gone for somewhere between two days and two weeks. This last time, I knew that I was leaving for good. Something in my brain had snapped and I had no more emotion. This time, it did not hurt. This time it felt good to leave. This time I knew that I was doing the right thing for me, my self esteem, and my sanity.
I was your statistical wife caught up in the cycle of abuse. My husband began showing signs of being the controlling type within about six months into our relationship, but I did not really see it, as we always make excuses and brush off the mistakes our loved ones make in the beginning when they seem small. Everyone makes mistakes and flies off the handle, or overreacts every now and then, right? Well, four years into our marriage, after being verbally, mentally, and emotionally abused every so often without noticing, my husband also became physically abusive. The first incident was extremely dramatic and degrading, but I will spare you all the gruesome details of that particular event. The abuse only worsened from there. Over the past ten years I have been physically abused about five times (never a punch or slap; was choked, kicked, spit-on, nose busted, denied medical attention, dangled in air by one arm, restrained with one arm behind back, face smashed repeatedly into mattress, etc.), was sexually abused two or three times (forced to perform oral sex twice, guilted into taking pornographic photos once), mentally abused continuously (was told repeatedly that my memories were not real, asked where I had come up with things, words severely twisted, told that I lived in my own world and was the mayor of that world), verbally abused continuously (called many horrible, degrading names, etc), and emotionally abused continuously (told I was nothing, would never amount to anything more than trailer trash, that I did not do anything, selfish, that he did not want to have children with me, etc.). To put it in a nutshell, on many days, life living with my husband was hell. I was miserable and walked on eggshells every day, as I did everything from cooking, cleaning, raising his two children from two previous relationships, attending college full-time while working full-time and even adding a second part-time job to my already full schedule, begging for his forgiveness for whatever I may have done wrong to upset him, and more just to hopefully one day gain his approval of me as a wife and mother.
Now, over the course of the last six or seven years of us being together, I saw two therapists on my own and two more therapists with him. To his credit, after the second counselor we saw together threatened to put him in prison for harming me physically, he had not physically abused me since. So, for the last two years while there were a couple of times I was scared that he would, he did not harm me other than backing me up to a corner, once by pushing the tip of my nose with his index finger, and once by pressing his nose to my nose. He did not hurt me then, just scared me. He is a pretty big guy. He is 6’4” and I am 5’4”. The exact foot difference in height can be very intimidating at times.
As I stated before, this time is different. He was not able to talk me into going back home this time. When he would ask me if there was a chance of us getting back together I would say “No.” I never even intended to speak with him after I left his time, but it is very hard when you feel like you are being mean to someone you love as they cry on the other end of the phone, or send you text messages begging and pleading for you to talk to them. I did not leave him because I did not love him. I left him because I wanted to be happy. I wanted to love myself, and not love him anymore. I was thinking with my head rather than my heart. I had almost completely cut my heart right out of the equation.
I wanted to start a new life immediately, as I felt as though I had wasted the ten best years of my life. My twenties, my youth, was now gone. I felt as though it was stolen from me, as I had nothing to show that I had gained anything from my marriage. I was one week shy of turning 30 when I left him, and did not want to wake up at the age of 40 in the same boat. I even invited another man out for coffee the day after I left him and began a friendship with him over the phone, and did not feel guilty about it at all. I was happy that I was able to see myself moving forward, but all the while have been afraid to actually go through with my divorce. My husband and I have formally filed for a divorce, and I have not been able to commit to my decision to divorce him. Our court date was supposed to have already taken place a few weeks ago, but about one week before the court date I called him and asked him to hold off explaining that I needed to be sure that I knew what I was doing. I got scared because this time he seemed different.
From the moment I left him six months ago, he has sought counseling and claims to have read two self-help books. He tells me that he has changed. He tells me that he is aware that he was very abusive to me and that I did not deserve any of the mistreatment. He tells me that he knows that he was extremely controlling and that it is his fault that we are in this position. He tells me that it has been very hard for him to accept the fact that he was an abusive husband, but now does and regrets all the pain he has put me through. He tells me that I was the perfect wife and mother, and that he wants to have a baby with me. He tells me that he wants to spend the rest of his life making up for the past and wants to show me the love, respect and appreciation that I have always deserved. He tells me that he owes it to me. He tells me that he has admitted to his friends and family that he was extremely abusive toward me, and that he is prepared to apologize to my family for the way he has treated their daughter and sister. He cries and apologizes to me constantly. I am starting to think that I should give him another chance. One last chance. However, I am afraid to risk it, and am afraid that I will never be able to get over all that he has done to me in the past. It was bad. It was really bad. I do know that with each and every time he hurt me, more and more of my respect for him as a husband disappeared. I don’t know that I have any respect for him at all. I realize that I really was a great wife and mother. I realize that there was never anything wrong with me. I feel so healthy away from him. I want to continue to feel healthy.
The trouble is this time I believe he means every word he says, but what if I am wrong. Every other time that I had left him in the past he told me that I was right and that he would never hurt me again, but within a month or two of my returning home he would simply revert back to his old ways and even tell me that he lied about everything just to get me to come back to him. What if he does mean every word he says, but cannot follow through with being a decent, loving and respectful husband to me? What if he hurts me again? How long will it take me to leave again for good this time? If he is good for the next six months to a year, I would have definitely let my guard down and it may take me another ten years to feel strong and healthy again. But wait! What if he really has changed? What if he really has seen the err of his ways and is prepared to be good to me for the rest of his life? What if he really does have it in him? What if I pass up the opportunity to experience all that I had longed and worked for? What if I divorce him and he gives the great treatment that I deserved to another woman and even gives her a child? What if I wind up realizing that I am totally in-love with him and will never fall out of love with him? What if I never find love again? Then where does that leave me? What if I wind up longing for him forever, as I watch another woman living the life that I should have had? The life that I deserved!
Please, somebody tell me. Should I give my husband another chance?