One weak man

This is dedicated to a poster here, to Exodus.

She wrote, “I have let one weak, small minded, evil man destroy my quality of life and rob me…”

In her post, she talked about personal loss, one of which was giving up playing the violin.

That was a gut shot.  In my case, it was a man of petty resentments and jealousies that I blindly succumbed to.  A man weak enough to resent my strengths, abilities, and opportunities.  (Today, he says he’s sorry for all that.)

When I was a kid, I loved the saxophone, but my best friend wanted to play the violin, so naturally I did too.  I say naturally because I was probably codependent from birth.  Funny thing though, I began to love playing my violin in the orchestra. I was never first chair or even second chair, but I was good enough to be chosen by my teacher to play a duet with the first chair at a school competition.  I was good enough to be chosen for an elite ensemble that played for fund raising.  A partial handicap was a not very good violin that my teacher tried to work on to improve the sound.

Now enters the part of my story that I don’t have time to tell here, but in my junior year of high school, which turned out to be my last year, I dropped out of orchestra to make room for another credit.  Foolish young thing that I was, I was cramming in credits to graduate early so I could start a vocational school early, so I could get married one year earlier. 

Married?  I was in love, but not even engaged.  As a teenage student, I tested in the 99th percentile, and all I could think of was getting out of high school to get training – so my boyfriend (at the time) and I could get married – and I could work to put him through school.  ugh ugh ugh 

A question I was never asked at home… What do you want to be when you grow up? 

Or… What do you want to do after high school? 

Okay, so I was messed up.  I really don’t want to go back and slap myself anymore, but I do wish I could go back in a time machine, hug myself, validate and encourage myself, talk straight talk sense into my young self, and cheer that insecure but promising young woman on. 

But I met my husband and got married.  And as the first years of marriage went by, I continued to miss playing my violin in the orchestra.  I was only a handful of years out of playing, and while rusty, could easily have come back to fit playing form.  One day I asked my husband if he would mind if I found another orchestra to play in.  There was a community college near us that had an orchestra, and I wanted to try to get in.  I told him the catch was that I’d need a new violin, and it would cost approximately $1,000. – $1500., and yes, I knew we’d have to make payments… but could I please?  He was very enthusiastic and supportive.  He said it was a great idea, that he’d love to see me do that for myself, and I should get going on it. 

I was so excited.  Beyond excited.  I felt elated.  I went to the school and talked to the teacher conducting the orchestra.  I told him that I needed to find someone to give me a few lessons to brush up and catch up, then I’d like to join.  It turned out that the orchestra was mainly adults like me that just wanted to keep playing.  He gave me the name and number of a teacher who actually played in the orchestra.  I contacted her, and told her I needed a new violin.  She told me that she worked with a man that sold violins, and kept an assortment at her home for students to try out.  I was welcome to borrow them one at a time until I found one I wanted.

Oh. Oh, oh.  I found a violin for $1,000. that I fell in love with.  Yes, you can fall in love with an instrument.  My feeling of elation was now at the burst with happy float on a cloud level.  Everything felt so right and good and hopeful.

My husband and I had to drive together to sign the loan to be able to get the violin on payments for one year.  About a block away from our destination, he abruptly and somewhat casually said, “We can’t afford to get the violin.  I need the money from this loan to pay bills.  Maybe later.”

And that was it.   Crushed.  Stunned. Flat.  Young and trapped and saw no way out.  Saw no way through or past the pain.  Saw no hope.  Saw no choices.

Exit violin from my life.

I didn’t entirely give up.  We had a piano that I didn’t know how to play.  We’d bought it (payments) when I was working nights in a restaurant when we only had one child (just a toddler at the time) with the intention that she and any future kids would have lessons.  (yeah… that didn’t exactly work out either)

I found a beginner’s group piano class at the same community college.  This would only cost $50. total, and I scraped that out of the grocery budget.  It wasn’t my violin, it wasn’t the orchestra, but it was hope.  It was music and hope.

The teacher was so encouraging.  He kept asking me how many years I’d taken piano lessons growing up.  Zero.  Nada.  But his assumption made me more hopeful.  He said I was a natural.   I kept happily practicing at home.

Well, not entirely happily.

My husband worked from home.  He kept finding reasons – almost every time I practiced – to interrupt me. I’d either feel him staring behind me, see him standing there waiting (feeling his resentment and irritation), or he’d just start talking as though I wasn’t doing anything.

Would I run an errand for him?  Had I planned or started dinner?  Did the mail come?  Did I launder his socks or shirts yet?  What were the kids doing?  Did I want to go for a walk later?  He was tired.  He wasn’t feeling well.  He was hungry. Could I do some typing for him?  He wished he had spare time to play his trombone.

He played the trombone when he was in school.  He was pretty darn good at it too.  I would have loved to hear him picking it up.  (In fact, I still occasionally encourage him to pick it up after all these years.)  I guess if he wasn’t playing, I shouldn’t be playing?  I shouldn’t get anything unless he does too?  That sounds ludicrous and childish, but objectively analyzing events over the years, it pretty much has played out like that.

It was relentless.  The interruptions and unspoken resentment ground me down.  I finished the class.  I tried to keep practicing, but one day, it just felt like too much.  I stopped, intending to start later…

One day.

One day never came.

Not many years later when I was pregnant and experienced a serious trauma, I got a sudden onset of arthritis.  My hands have been stiff and clumsy ever since.

I still miss it, but I can’t imagine quite how to get it back in my life. 

Yet.

 

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7 Responses to One weak man

  1. Exodus says:

    Oh my gosh PJ’s, you and I have traveled so much of the same path through life that I often feel as though we are soul sisters. It made me cry to hear about how the music died in your life. It made me cry for myself. My violin is an extension of my soul and physically losing it would devastate me. Every time we have a storm, I pack her ( I named her Bronwen) up and put it in the safest place in my house. If I lost everything, it would mean nothing compared to losing my violin. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I would end up at my violin lesson and break down in tears because my husband would have done something to interrupt my practice and upset me right before I left home. I would be so nervous and frazzled and feel as though I was such a failure. As you know, studying classical violin can be intense and requires concentration and relaxation. I rarely ever felt relaxed at my lessons and my husband would constantly interrupt my practice sessions at home. He would also constantly badger me before I left for my lesson about how he wishes that he had time to just sit around playing violin all day…ALL DAY??? One time, my violin teacher ( Russian) told me that I should take a shot of vodka before I practice and it would help me to relax and be less reactive to my husband’s unreasonable demands and interruptions. I don’t drink but I did heed his advice once and he was right, it worked and only one shot was needed!

    I haven’t been playing much lately but the other day I listened to a lovely song by Secret Garden called, Hymn to Hope: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cFu9RfR6js

    … and so I took Bronwyn out of her case, tuned her up and rosined my bow. It felt so incredibly good to play again. PJ’s, you must find a way to continue your playing. It might even heal your arthritis even though I know how painful just picking up a violin can be…or rather in my case, putting it down. I have a lot of shoulder pain now that makes putting the violin down extremely painful but I know much, if not all, of my physical pain is directly related to the stress in my marriage and how it affects my immune system. Anytime that my husband upsets me, my jaw (TMJ disorder) and my entire body flares up in intense pain. I’d give anything if I lived nearby and we could play together. Wouldn’t that be incredible and so much fun and so uplifting! My violin was a very old antique German Strad violin that a luthier purchased on Ebay and restored. I paid 500 for it ( he cut me a deal because I loved her so much) and I also purchased a very nice used bow for 200.

    What your husband did with the loan money for your violin is exactly what my mother did to me all the time. My mother would encourage me to borrow money from my grandmother for something like taking a ballet class or college class or even to start my business but then, once I got the money, my mother would take it from me telling me how I owed her for all she did for me when I was growing up. She’s a real piece of work similar to my husband in many ways.

    You wrote: ” I guess if he wasn’t playing, I shouldn’t be playing? I shouldn’t get anything unless he does too? That sounds ludicrous and childish, but objectively analyzing events over the years, it pretty much has played out like that.”
    …….Yes PJ’s those are the rules in their kingdom.

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  2. lonelywife07 says:

    I’m so sorry PJs….passive aggressives can be so cruel…I can’t believe he was driving you there to pick up the violin….and then turned around….wow! Well, actually, I CAN believe it! It’s what they do!

    I hope you will do whatever makes YOU happy…either piano or violin…maybe you’ll struggle because of the arthritis…but at least you’ll know you’re doing something for YOU!!!
    I don’t remember PA Man doing anything like that to me….except when I was in the hospital 10 yrs ago, after I lost my baby, I was 14 weeks, and instead of waiting in recovery, he went out to the parking lot, and got into our car, because he was tired, and he fell asleep.
    When it was time for me to be discharged, no one could find him…the nurses were paging him over and over again….I laid there for I don’t remember how long…waiting for him to wake up and come get me…I was so humiliated!
    When I asked where he had disappeared too, he got all defensive, because he was tired after working the night shift, he went out to the car, to take a “little map and didn’t intend to sleep that long”…..never mind that I had been up ALL NIGHT in severe pain, vomiting until I was dry heaving….and my then 17 yr old had to drive me to the ER at 4 in the morning!
    I remember the ride home though….I was soooo hurt! I couldn’t believe that MY husband hadn’t been waiting in recovery, anxious to see me ASAP! I had lost a lot of blood, he KNEW that….but his needs came first.
    It still hurts me to this day. When I let myself think about it.
    Someone please remind me…WHY are we here? WHY are we still married to these selfish men….who I feel are mentally not right in their heads!!! WHY???

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    • Exodus says:

      Lonelywife, I have heard so many stories about how these men abandon us in our time of most need whether it’s physical or emotional or both. I am so sorry to hear about your loss and having to deal with the additional painful frustration and hurt of being abandoned by our husband! Their behavior is so foreign to me. I cannot imagine how any human being could be so selfish and cold. You will not forget that kind of betrayal. Those types of betrayals are the ones that constantly chip away any hope for a better marriage. and yes, why are we still here? Why do we believe that we can’t do any better than this?

      I think about that question every single day and I know that the reason that I’m still here is because I didn’t leave in the beginning. Through all the struggles and the hurt and the screaming and fighting, I learned to tolerate more and more and we get older and before we know it, years pass. It’s become almost second nature for me to just cope with the abuse. I know it’s wrong, I know it’s bad but I am so worn down and beaten up now that it’s hard for me to even imagine if I could survive on my own. My mind is not sharp anymore, I am so traumatized that almost any sudden noise sets off a horrible panic in me and I have difficulty in decision-making. I’ve noticed this has gotten much worse just in the last year. I no doubt have PTSD but I always think I can manage it on my own. I’m always living on the edge with one foot in the door and one trying to get out. This is a horrible time for people to split up with the bad economy, no jobs, I’m self employed with my husband so there’s no way he can help support me, ..it is a horrible situation.
      We should join forces and get a house of our own.

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  3. newshoes says:

    lonelywife07 – because we are loving individuals and they know which buttons to push to make sure they “control” the situation, whether they are conscious of this or not. Mine is very good at reminding me that “he’s trying” and there’s progress yes, but there’s also the relapses as well. They are good at keeping up “hooked”, sometimes they will use the puppy dog face “but I love you so much” and cry or they will threaten “if you leave I’m going to kill myself” mine used that one a lot when we were just married or “the kids will never forgive you adn they will live with me”…. but it’s ok for them to tell you that they will leave you because they hold the reigns. Sometimes we stay because of money, because of status, because we hope and think they will change.

    Having gone to therapy several times with mine, I know now that they cannot. It’s so deeply ingrained in them they do not even realize even when faced with bonafide truths about themselves just to what extent they will go to in order to retain what they see as within their control. They will hurt the spouse, the kids, the family pets by yelling, screaming, cornering you, turning the tables, lying, spying on you, interfering, ruining family outings, birthdays, parties, Holidays, etc etc etc…. they will use any and every ammo they can find. And we stay, I’ve pondered a lot why. Mine is very good at convincing me that this time is the right time and that he has changed forever, but as we all know, this is temporary.

    When it’s not about them, it’s not about them and that is not good. It better about them or else. I gave birth to my first son, it was a terribly difficult birth, I lost a lot of blood, I was weak, in pain and had hours of stitching. Once I was in my room, the nurse told him he had to leave in order to let me sleep so that I could heal but he wouldn’t leave, claiming that he couldn’t go home without me, he cried there for hours, making sure every one heard how he just couldn’t let go, how he would be lost without me. It was embarrasing but more importantly he couldn’t care less that I was in the worse shape of my life and I needed medical attention, this was about him and how he wouldn’t be able to sleep without me next to him. The head nurse finally came (bless her heart) and kicked him out but I fell asleep crying and wanting to escape. Except I had a cute little boy to raise and as time went on, I forgave him and life continued. Today looking back, I don’t know what all that was about, but I wish his family had seen this, I think they would understand why I am the way I am today. It’s hard to explain something that is not tangible to someone who has never lived through such a relationship where you’re mind is not your mind and you have no control over your own life and where the sh*t can hit the fan at any moment. They cannot understand why you would stay there for so long and why in the end, your ambivalence is all you have.

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    • lonelywife07 says:

      New Shoes….I agree with everything you said. My PAH DOES know what buttons to push…but I’m also learning a few things for myself…like how to secretly put money away from my future…like how to buy NICE things now, in case I can’t buy them later, if we separate or divorce…PA Man lets me buy whatever I want…I think it’s his way of “proving” what a great guy he is…but I’m now turning that to MY advantage! I’m taking care of ME and looking put for MY future 😀

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    • Exodus says:

      Newshoes, you are so right about the PA behavior is so ingrained in them. My husband can’t grasp at all how he hurts me and our marriage. I have mentioned several times that even the psychologists don’t want to work with him and certainly not with us as a couple.

      You mentioned how they might hurt children and animals. Well, I’m so glad that I never had children because I think I would have killed him, I know I would have killed him if he ever put my children in harm’s way and I know he would have because he put our animals in harm’s way so many times that I almost killed him for that. We had a dog that had a liver shunt and required a very special diet. Our dog could not have anything outside of that diet. One Thanksgiving, I caught him feeding our dog turkey. Because the family was here, I calmly asked him to stop and explained that it was very toxic to dogs with liver disease ( he already knew that). Everyone at the table understood but no sooner than I said that, he kept right on feeding. You should have seen the expression on everyone’s faces! They could not believe he was ignoring my concerns and harming our dog. Rage filled my entire body and got up from the table and pushed him away from the turkey and our dog, covered the turkey and sat back down, burst into tears and well, Thanksgiving was over. The next day, our dog began having seizures.
      On many other occasions, my husband would deliberately leave our front door open or our gate open so that the dogs would run away and I would have to search for them in a state of panic. The last time he did this was about 4 months ago. I no longer have any dogs so I don’t have to worry about him harming them anymore. I want a dog so badly but I can’t bring one back into this hell. It’s so dangerous and cruel and I can’t physically or emotionally deal with the worry. I should also point out that he has on many occasions uttered words about our dogs that eluded to how he was jealous of them. He is so jealous of anyone or anything that I love and that loves me back.

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