He stood looming above me. I knew I had it coming to me. I was in for a long lecture. All I had left to save me was to stay silent and not complicate the lecture (rant) by speaking up to defend myself.
It was 2:30 in the morning and the drunken stupor he was in always brought a very mean streak in him that was crushing. This was a regular affair in our home. He’d come home dreadfully drunk then lay into me. He’d call me every abhorrent name in the book and accuse me of the most appalling things.
His usual ritual was to call me names that I don’t want to print and tell me that he knew all about my affairs and the guys I’d been with. He would go on and on, sometimes for hours. It was hard to cope and for the first few years I would sit and cry and even apologize to him thinking that I must have done something for him believe that I would do something like that. I never argued with him because I was so scared of him.
It really was ridiculous because he had me under lock and key. He drove me to work and picked me up most days and his parents lived with us so if I went out at all, he would know it.
Eventually, I got to the point where I knew how to handle the diatribes. I would sit and pretend to listen to his raging and I would count the breaths that he took in between rants. 15, 111, 376… Later I started to pray through the tirades and just stay silently in front of him with the words going over my head instead of piercing my heart as they had before. The lecture could last for a couple of hours and the praying and counting helped me cope.
I never thought of it as abuse because he didn’t hit me. He bullied a lot but that is not the same as beating me. It never occurred to me that I was a victim. I simply thought that he was a bad drunk. When I would try to talk to him about it when he was sober, he’d say that I was lying. Even when his parents had witnessed this behaviour, he denied it, told me I was a bitch and trying to cause problems.
One day, as he was driving me to work, we were arguing about the night before, I snapped. I told him that I am not the problem and that he was. It seems so simple to see that, but it took me ten years of a bad marriage to get there. This did not mean that I had the strength or courage to leave him, but it lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders just to realize that this had nothing to do with my behaviour or my personality. I didn’t accept it. I told him that I would not let him berate me like that any longer (did he even know what the word berate meant?).
I felt light-hearted when I realized that it wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t me. I was naive beyond reason and he had me on a tight string by slowly cutting my friends out one by one. I had no outlet other than praying and spending time with my sisters who were too young to talk to about it with.
It took me a long time, but I did figure out that I needed to leave after sixteen years and hundreds of lectures more, but I did it. Packed up the kids, five laundry baskets of clothes and left.. and then life began anew.
If you are someone who goes through tormenting “lectures” like this or bullying from your spouse or partner, parent or child, there is help out there for you. Don’t accept it as normal or downgrade it to a bad mood because it is not. It is abuse. Talk to your family doctor for resources and take the steps you need to get out of that situation.
As an aside, I am a Christian and believe that my faith helped me tremendously. I have been through a lot before and after leaving my ex-husband but I could always pray to find peace… even when I was being lectured.