Pandora’s Box

Domestic violence comes in unique packages, often missed by the naked eye.
I had no idea how rapidly my life was about to change. I had taken a new job at a hospital across town. As a single mom for ten years, I was independent, successful, and content. Shortly after, a colleague suddenly stopped me saying, “Girl, I know the man you’d make a perfect suitor for- he is a doctor.” The colleague’s name? Pandora. Perhaps that should have been my first clue. In Greek mythology, when Prometheus stole fire from heaven, Zeus, the king of the gods, took vengeance by presenting Pandora to Prometheus’ brother Epimetheus. Pandora opened a box, left in her care, containing sickness, death, and countless other evils released into the world.

I initiated, and we met. We had a lot in common, but he was not a Christian, so the relationship came to a halt. He, however, pursued a spiritual interest, asking if he could go to church with me, confessed he was missing something in his life. He honored every one of my boundaries, kept an emotional distance, and began attending church, meeting folks, and within several months, confessed he got “saved.”

We married, and shortly after conceived a son. He no longer wanted me to work, but to live my dream of staying home with the children. Everything seemed like a fairytale. Then it began. Women called the home phone, asking to speak to my husband by his first name. He reassured me these were women who didn’t know he had married. Yet, I thought, they had my landline number. Playboy magazines began to arrive in the mail. He had a subscription and would cancel it. I realized as honest as he said he was, he was hiding habits.

It wasn’t long until conflict broke out between him and my children. He began pitting one person against another. Then, child porn was found on the home computer with his name attached to a PayPal site. He blamed my children, rationalizing he was a man, not a child, that this was their problem. Then, one day out of the blue, he said, “I need to get out of this town; let’s move.” He was now eight years out of his first bankruptcy and filed another.

I began to get sick, my hair was falling out, and we didn’t have insurance. My husband told me I could go to the health store, but not a doctor. He was yelling all the time. I became withdrawn. As the years went by, his conflict with the children grew. I heard him in the garage, yelling at my 14-year-old daughter. She screamed in terror; the door swung open as she raced up the stairs; he was just behind her with a baseball bat, shouting. I ran up those stairs, grabbed that bat, and told him to leave. He would not.

It wouldn’t be long before his anger would spill out on me. As I sought to confront him on his sociopathic behaviors, he responded, well, like a sociopath. He grabbed me by both arms, leaving marks. He shoved me against the wall and, spittle flying, told me he hated me. The night he spent in jail did more to unsettle me than it did him. Therein may be the most insidious thing about domestic violence, that tip of the spear where the mental and the physical come together- fear of violence coupled with a fear that it is the victim’s fault.
I forgave. I trudged on. I stood by this man through more infidelities, more betrayals, more acts of violence, more crimes, more character assassination. I sought help from my church that tossed us both aside as hindrances to the image the church wished to maintain. In the end, he left, and in his trail was all the destruction that had poured forth from Pandora’s Box.
But God.

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