I married my rapist because I thought it was right. I had never been physically intimate with a man up until the time that I was raped. Over the fourteen months that my boyfriend and I dated, I told him time and again that I wanted to wait for marriage before we would "be together". The 'glazed-over look' in his eyes when I said this caused me discomfort especially when he would giggle and tell me, "It's okay, God understands." The sickly smile on his face and the way he seemed to be looking through me with no mind to who I truly was or what I said, caused me to feel non-existent as if he was speaking only to the air itself. Then he raped me. Not right away. It took more than a year. More than a year of me telling him that I wanted to wait.
That is when the darkness first began to close in around me in a mock attempt to conceal the numbness I already felt. But the numbness remained. It is still present in me to this day, 35 long and weary years later. The difference is that now it is joined with anxiety, depression, and feelings of hopelessness.
I timidly explained to my boyfriend that I could be pregnant and he reluctantly agreed that we would marry. My young naive mind 'reasoned' that my boyfriend would finally be able to see me if we were married because then his uncontrollable urges would now be sanctioned by what we both believed was morally right in the sight of God. I believed that this could only serve to improve our relationship and make it emotionally deeper.
I also feared that God would stop loving me if I did not make amends to Him by marrying my boyfriend. The thought scared me more than the new frustration I now had of previous plans to break up with my boyfriend before he raped me. But to do that, would be to disobey God in my naive and confused mind. I wanted more than anything to please Him.
Our first daughter was born eight and one-half months after we married in the office of a local court clerk. Her younger sister joined our family less than two years later. I feared the thought of becoming pregnant again after that because my husband had informed me that he wanted no more children. After finding myself expecting once more in less than 3 years' time, my fervent mind was certain that I needed to ask to be sterilized after my next delivery thus assuring my husband's desire and happiness. I pushed my dreams of having a large and happy family into the dark recesses of my mind where they would not interfere with my present reality.
Already having two little girls, my family and his crossed their fingers for a boy. One of the grandmas mailed our daughters an anatomically-correct male baby doll so that they would not be confused when their expected 'brother' arrived on the scene. My husband confidently proclaimed, "It's gotta be a boy; we already have two girls." The prospect was causing a new light in his countenance which was not there before.
After giving birth, the nurses immediately whisked away my baby while I patiently waited for someone to tell me the sex of our new addition. Busy with bathing our new little one and performing the APGAR, the nurses across the room kept to themselves in respect to our privacy. My husband was now pacing back and forth and looked to be in a mild panic. He was quiet as he stared sullenly at the floor. Wanting to break the awkward silence I blurted out, "Was it a boy or a girl?" My voice seemed to jar my husband from his stupor as he replied, "It's another girl". His tone was one of exhaustion and utter defeat. He looked troubled and his body language screamed dejection. In shock, the nurses glanced at me and then quickly away. I still recall the shame I felt at failing my husband once again. My mind immediately went to work devising ways of how I might make it up to him and offer comfort as soon as would be possible. My own inner joy and excitement of receiving my secretly hoped-for third girl were crushed by my supposed failure to provide a boy for my husband.
Today, my husband still does not see me or the person I am inside. When I share my sadness with him while holding back tears, he will casually reply that he is "taking all that I said to heart". Afterward, he changes the subject to that of something he would like to do and then tries to get me involved. The deep things I entrusted to him will never be brought up again unless by myself. If I do bring them up again, they will be spun into endless circles of confusion without any expectancy of healthy change. I ask myself when I will finally admit that he is not capable of sympathizing with the pain of another unless he can 'superimpose' that pain onto himself.
Besides looking my way without truly seeing me, he talks at me rather than to me or with me. This is not communication by any definition. At my turn to speak during a conversation, his obvious anxiety reveals his impatience for me to be done in order for him to continue his selfish monologue aimed at bringing his own desire to fruition. When I finish my say, his typical reply is a barely audible "okay" under his breath before determinedly making his point. He does this with little care, and oftentimes, partial or no memory of what I had just spoken. In my mind's eye, I see physical letters handed to him which he impatiently pushes out of his way so as to not deter him from the mission he is trying to accomplish.
Comically, I have learned to 'throw him off at times' by casually remarking, "What are your thoughts on what I said"? This is mostly met with his nervous response of "Wait, I'm not sure I heard what you said. Can you repeat it?" He often has a list of excuses as to why he did not hear me even when it was just the two of us present, facing each other, talking.
I recently made the discovery that it does not matter whether I listen to what he says or not because he is not normally expecting any answers anyway; unless of course, he is trying to manipulate me to agree with him. Verbally agreeing with him is something I taught myself early on in order to hopefully avoid persuasive confrontation and lectures. This turned out to only be a failed attempt at keeping a semblance of quiet on the home front and only served to make me neurotic since lying to oneself never lends to the truth or to emotional healing.
Today I begin a new journey of realizing that it is healthy to see the truth; that truth being that my husband will never be capable of seeing my needs without getting on meds (as was formally diagnosed by a psychiatrist). Completely opposite to what my husband ingrained into me for all those years, I do need to love myself. It is a healthy thing to do. And I am capable of taking care of my physical, emotional and mental needs. (My husband once randomly told me in an angry tone, "You'd never be able to take care of yourself". He was speaking to the concept of me living on my own).
I picked up a spiral notebook to use as a mind-dump journal for organizing my thoughts. I also purchased a bullet journal to write in reminders of things I wanted to keep track of such as washing and putting lotion on my face daily, (something I am just learning at almost 56 years of age). I also made a list of positive things I can do each week to enjoy myself such as creating art and music, reading interesting books, or sitting in quiet meditation while pondering the vastness of our earth and all the opportunities it still has to offer me. For this, I am newly optimistic, and eternally grateful. <3
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on April 16, 2020:
Powerful and honest narration.
Kathryn Collins (author) from UK on March 06, 2020:
Bushra, that is so sweet. It is therapy for me.
Anya Ali from Rabwah, Pakistan on March 06, 2020:
You have an excellent writing style - not a wasted word anywhere.