I feel like I need to clarify my last post.
I appreciate eveyone's feedback. It helps to see how others see it. It's so easy to be too close to the situation to see it for what it is. It also helps me see where I wasn't clear in my writing.
Since it's my life, and has been a part of it for so long, I sometimes don't see how bad it is. Or take it really seriously. When others comment it helps me see it differently. As I write my story, I honestly can't tell if the things that bother me are normal and I should just shut up and deal with it or if they really need to be addressed. That's part of why I write and why I tell my story.
But apparently something was unclear. I was unclear about the fear.
I apologize to my husband for not writing again for so long. I left things hanging. As far as anyone knew he was still not taking responsibility and things were still horrible at home. This isn't the case. I got sick and have not been up to writing and finishing the story.
The day I wrote that post, he and I talked about it. He didn't remember pushing anyone (and this wasn't a shove, it was a push out of the way; still shouldn't happen, but it's a degree thing). Once I started telling him how it affected me and what happened he started to see it. That's part of rage. As I understand it, from what I've studied, rage is a whole different level to anger. The thought processes bypass certain areas of the brain, the logic center. That's why there is no reasoning. That's why there is no memory. My husband is a lousy liar; I know when he's telling the truth. I see his face when I tell him what happened. I watch the change happen as he goes from no memory to that-sounds-familiar as I describe it. He believes that it happened. He knows he did it. He just doesn't remember doing it.
Things are not like they were for so many years. If they were, I know enough now to leave. I am strong enough now to leave. I have enough support now to leave. But why would I leave now?
He has worked so hard to improve. He has taken full accountability. He has had lots of therapy. He takes medication. He is willing to admit his shortcomings and try to see how it affects others. He knows now that he sees the world differently and is willing to ask others if his behavior is okay, if his stand on something is out of the norm.
I love him. The children love him. Right now we would rather have him whenever we can (when he's not retreating from the family and hiding out in his room). We know there are bad times, but comparison matters. It's important to see where he came from and where he is now. I'm not going to cut and run because he slipped up and made a mistake. I make mistakes, too, and he gives me another chance.
There are limits. He knows that. There are absolutes that he cannot cross or we're through (to be addressed in a future post). It took me a long time and a lot of therapy to get to this point. The point where I am willing to say that the kids and I are worth sacrificing the marriage if it has to be that way. I am there now. And he knows it.
But I wanted to address the fear. I talked about being afraid. And I was. But it wasn't current fear. It was leftover fear.
PTSD is an interesting thing. Emotions and memories come flooding back when something is similar to a traumatic event from the past. It's especially difficult if during the initial trauma you attempted to suppress or ignore those feelings. If you don't feel them during the event, you will eventually feel them -- when it's safe. So that's the point. The fact that I felt the fear intensely is important. It means that in the here and now I felt safer than I did in the past. Safe enough to acknowledge that I was so afraid. Safe enough to keep my distance and tell him I felt threatened by him. Safe enough to protect myself and draw my own boundaries. Safe enough to begin to process the events from the past and start to heal from them.
Because in the past I didn't. I ignored it and waited for it to pass. I avoided the confrontation. I asked that things change instead of demanding it. I tried to make things better because I thought it might be my fault.
Not this time.
I took responsibility only for my part of the problem, which was small. I refused to take responsibility for his portion or to excuse it. I held him accountable for it. And once he understood, he took responsibility.
It's a growth process. The change doesn't happen overnight. It doesn't even happen in a few months. It takes lots and lots of time, and there will be mistakes along the way. But as long as we are both still working, still making progress, I'm staying. Because I want to.