Life with John had quickly trained me to be used to doing things by myself. I rarely asked for help because when I did he would either purposefully act like he had no idea how to do simple things, or he would have an excuse why he couldn’t help. (For example when I asked him to go to the pharmacy and buy Children’s Advil he would act like he had no idea what aisle it was in or which store to go to or if I asked him to do laundry he would put the clean clothes in the hamper with the dirty clothes.)
One day, however, I needed his help. My back was still very weak from when I herniated a disk, and would continue to be that way for years. I had bins of clothing that the children had outgrown that I wanted to take to the local consignment store. Since it was a Sunday, and we had no plans, I asked John if he would come along and help me to lift the bins.
Everyone loaded into the car and off we went. It wasn’t a long drive. We were only going to the next town over. I’m not sure if it was something I ate or something in the air, but I started to feel carsick. When I rolled the window down to try and get some fresh air, John looked at me and said, “What’s wrong?” I explained that I wasn’t feeling well and I was feeling a little carsick.
Nowhere in my mind could I have EVER imagined that would be enough to set John off or to make him feel like it was OK to put our children’s lives in danger….. but it was. John’s face morphed into the angry, hate filled expression that I had come to know too well. He spit out the words, “I’m driving perfectly! If you’re going to get carsick anyway then I might as well drive like a jerk!”
He proceeded to speed up and weave between cars. He sped up to the car in front of us and slammed on the breaks. He cut the car off in the lane next to us and slammed on the breaks. Red light…. slammed on the breaks. I turned around and watched my kids heads jerk forward and then slam back. Forward and back. I immediately said, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Please stop!” There was only about 2 miles left before we arrived at our destination and he did slow down a bit with my pleas as the lanes merged into one.
I couldn’t believe that my involuntary feelings of illness had caused such an aggressive reaction in John. It had caused him to make a choice to put our children’s lives in jeopardy by driving erratically. All because I was feeling nauseous. I was starting to feel as if I couldn’t share a single thought or feeling because I might accidentally be putting my children’s safety at risk. How do I keep my children safe? How do I protect them? More feelings of helplessness as John’s attempts to overpower me extended now to things outside of my control. Walking on eggshells is not going to be enough to protect them. What do I do? He was a ticking time bomb and being around him was like playing Russian Roulette…. or waiting for a grenade to explode and hoping you can survive the blast.