When we finally returned to Amarillo, I resumed the job I had previously quit to go to California. There was a new supervisor there who didn’t like Dan. The feeling was quite mutual. The longer I worked there, the more agitated Dan became. It all finally came to a head when the supervisor told Dan he couldn’t hang out at the restaurant anymore, which caused Dan to finally lose his temper and break out a window in our car with his fist.
Unfortunately Timothy was still in it, strapped into his baby seat.
The cops were called but Dan had already fled the scene. The police took a Tim, a coworker and me to the hospital to see if he was hurt (he wasn’t). The policeman then had to tell me that in running all our records he found that a warrant had been issued for my arrest for a traffic ticket I had forgotten to pay. Since I didn’t have any money, that meant I had to stay in jail for several days to pay it off.
My friend took my son so that I wouldn’t have to lose him to CPS, and I was processed and incarcerated. Strangely I felt more protected than I had in a long while, though I was certain that I’d eventually hear Dan’s voice coming from across the way where the males were detained.
A few days later I was taken out of my cell and brought before a few detectives who wanted to know if I knew the contents of Dan’s briefcase.
Dan had always been very paranoid after all the experiences he had, and kept his most important papers locked away in a briefcase. Even I didn’t know the combination.
They wanted to know if he kept explosives in there, to which I think I may have almost laughed. Dan had his moments but he wasn’t insane.
But it turns out that he really did snap when they wouldn’t let him see me or let him know the whereabouts of his son.
It ended up with a showdown between Dan and a police officer, where Dan got out of the car holding a pair of nunchucks. At the time, he wanted that police officer to kill him. Of course the cop did not, but he was charged with aggravated assault of a police officer even though he never struck the cop at all.
I was ultimately released and got Timothy back, and when I tried to go see Dan he wouldn’t see me at all. Our car was impounded and I ended up living out of a motel, but I still had my job and I had my son. But I also missed Dan and felt like a piece of my heart was missing. It was 1990 by this time, and I had loved him for three years. As bad as things got I wasn’t able to just turn that off. I knew that he wasn’t the kind of person to hurt someone else, and that doing so would have left him completely wrecked. He lived with so much guilt, regret and remorse for every relationship he had ever had.
What happened with the car wasn’t a deliberate attempt to hurt our child, and I knew that if he had really wanted to hurt that police officer he would have.
He simply wanted to die because he thought he had lost everything.
When he finally called Jeff to contact me, there was no way I would turn my back on him.
It was still my job to protect him, to heal him… to save him.
With the help of a friend I got a one bedroom house to rent, and managed to keep things afloat while Dan stayed in jail for eight long months. I was tireless in his defense, and was even willing to marry him in jail. It never worked out that way though, but we kept the relationship going through letters he’d painstakingly write daily to promise me he’d spend the rest of his life making up for all the mistakes he had made.
He was finally released and we were promptly evicted from the little house owned by my friend’s parents. They didn’t want any trouble and so we both had to go. We ended up back in a motel until my friend Jeff came through with another apartment. In the duration we got married and the bliss lasted a few months before he made another huge mistake. Regrettably I tested him and he failed the test. The guilt would kill the intimacy in our relationship almost immediately.
Once that went, it was easier for the old Dan to resurface.
But no one seemed to know what was going on, even when he broke my hand during one of our confrontations. I lied of course, said that I broke it in the car door. It was really the only true injury I’d sustain during the relationship – which only confused me more. How could he be abusive when he never actually *hit* me?
There were threats and God knows he could be truly terrifying when he wanted to be. He slept with a knife under his pillow almost from the time we met, and though he didn’t really get into guns he had all sorts of other weapons like swords and nunchucks.
Years would pass and the pattern would stay the same. Things would be good, then things would get stressful and Dan would ultimately do something to scare the hell out of me. Rinse, lather, repeat.
I’d get pregnant again – remarkably due to our lack of intimacy – and we’d return to California to have Jeremiah. While I was pregnant with him is when things got really bad, but I was more entrenched than ever. Threats were endless, and a few times he actually got physical with me. He threw a cup of coffee on me at one point, and then later would threaten to crush my head in with a trophy he’d earned at trucking school.
It was like living with two men, and I never knew from one moment to the next which one I’d end up seeing. I was afraid to leave because of the threats he’d made against my best friend and my mom. I walked on eggshells much of the time, never knowing what would set him off.
The years would drag on and I’d find other ways to manage my own trauma… mostly by gaining a shit-ton of weight and having that other affair. The one time I reached out for help from the law I was told since he hadn’t really done anything I couldn’t file charges. They suggested that when he got violent again to call the law, but I knew I’d be dead by the time anyone got there.
On and on it went until after the affair blew up in my face, when I was sure that Dan would literally kill me. He didn’t. Instead he ended up reaching out and getting help. The therapist diagnosed him finally, and with the help of medication his “Shadow” as he called him would ultimately disappear forever.
The good Dan was back thanks to the pills he took. Much later he would even be featured in the Amarillo paper for how he’d managed to turn his life around.
Despite how we all came through it, apparently the trauma still lingers. There are still triggers that hit on those old wounds. Though Steven is the total opposite of Dan, whenever he does have the extremely rare bouts of temper it leaves me off kilter for days. Tim, who works through his own issues with rage, has also been a huge trigger on occasion when we’ve had our nose to nose confrontations.
So how does it happen? It happens because you love someone more than you love yourself. You value their path more than your own. Once I decided to take care of Dan, my life never felt complete unless that was what I was doing. I made all the excuses, hid all the evidence, and soldiered on doing the only thing I thought I could do at the time.
I made so many mistakes. I hurt people I never meant to hurt. By enabling an abuser I became an abuser myself… and I don’t think that’s changed all that much.
It’s just the person I abuse now is myself.
How to patch it up, I have no idea. But I think the first step is to throw the cloak of silence off of this very significant portion of my life and finally get real about it.
My psyche decided today was that day.