This is not the post that I was planning on writing today. What I was going to write about is how going on a few dates has left me feeling off-kilter and my senses spinning like they have been assaulted. How a number of men portray themselves as one thing, but when you meet them, there are some stark differences in reality. It has left me feeling disappointed with a number of men (ie: not all men….) and feeds my confirmation bias that too many of them don’t respect boundaries, don’t respect a woman’s right to say no and need their egos fluffed endlessly. Got that off my chest. Anyway, I find myself compelled to write about what follows.
I watched a series tonight in which one of the characters told her boyfriend that she was too tired to have sex but he wouldn’t stop. When he had finished, she started crying and he got out of bed, got dressed and left without saying a word. It touched a nerve. I experienced marital rape. I lay on the bed wondering if prostitutes feel so debased on a daily basis. I thought about how the experience might be more tolerable if I was high on drugs or numb with alcohol. I felt emotion drain out of my body and leave me hollow on the inside. I couldn’t cry. A shell doesn’t cry.
The same character in the show had a miscarriage. She didn’t know she was pregnant. The midwife was consoling her and saying it didn’t matter that she didn’t know. In fact it made it harder as she then had to process both the pregnancy and the loss. I had a miscarriage about 8 years ago. I didn’t know I was pregnant either. I was working at my desk when I felt some cramping. I thought it was odd to be having period pains, as it wasn’t the right time of the month, but passed it off as my body doing what the hell it wants, when it wants. The pain got worse as the day progressed. I have high pain tolerance, but this drove me to bed. I was in agony. I eventually went to the toilet as I felt the need to go. I sat down and then something big passed out of me. The second it happened, I knew. I knew I had miscarried.
I was stunned. Then I was numb. I didn’t know what to do. I sat there for over an hour. I was mortified that I had miscarried into the toilet. I was too scared to look. I thought that I should get gloves and take the embryo out and give it a proper burial. I was so ashamed of myself. And yet I sat there immobilised. I couldn’t think straight and couldn’t make a decision about the right thing to do. I don’t recall what it was, but something made me realise that I needed to get out of the bathroom and couldn’t sit on the toilet forever and so I needed to make a decision. In the end, I flushed. I regret that to this day. I have not really forgiven myself for that, nor for the fact that the miscarriage occurred.
I told my ex about what had just happened. He looked at me and said that we had had a lucky escape, considering that we already had 3 children and after all, I couldn’t be sure that it was a miscarriage as I hadn’t done a pregnancy test. Then turned back to his laptop and tuned me out. I got back into bed and just lay there. My body was sore and my mind was frozen. I don’t remember the rest of that day.
I didn’t tell anyone at first. I cried in private as there was no-one to turn to. Then I was out grocery shopping and I bumped into a friend who asked me if I was okay. I knew that she had had several miscarriages, so I told her what had happened and she gave me a huge bear hug in the middle of the shop. She said the things that I would have liked my ex to say. She told me that I should rest more and that it takes time for the body to recover. She was kind and loving.
Roll forward 4 or 5 months and there I am saying no, I don’t want to have sex to my ex and he is not listening. He told me that I should be doing my wifely duty. I told him that I was terrified of falling pregnant. He said I was ridiculous and carried right on.
When we separated, we went to court to decide on how the kids’ time should be split between the two of us. The judge ruled that there should be a psychological assessment be done to decide. Being the narcissist that he is, my ex went all out to put on a good show. He even went so far as to musing about how I was clearly not myself anymore and obviously depressed. He “blamed” himself for not taking better care of me and misjudging how the miscarriage had affected me. It was laughable. He tried to paint this picture of how he had always tried his hardest to be a good partner and father. There was so much deception thrown into the scenario.
When it came to the divorce, I had filed stating that it was because of psychological and emotional abuse. I had cited the miscarriage as part of my statement. In the counter-argument, he stated that I had never told him about the event. When i read that sentence, I was lost for words. I knew I had told him. I was in such a state of stress and depression at the time, that I didn’t put two and two together that he had told a bald-faced lie to the court and I had the papers to prove it. It was gas-lighting in writing.
I can still feel a small part of the numbness and sadness from that day 8 years ago. I didn’t know it was lurking underneath my skin until I watched that scenario unfold on the TV screen in front of me. Time blurs memories. It makes me forget about the things my ex did and, on the odd occasion, I wonder if he was right and it was just me making up shit in my head about him; he isn’t the person I described in the court documents. Then I remember the times like these – the gas-lighting, the dismissal of my feelings, the non-consensual sex – and know that I wasn’t wrong and made none of it up. A Pyrrhic victory, if ever there was one.