In the summer of 1994, I could no longer live with my mother and step-father. Things had gotten increasingly difficult and tense there. I took my baby and moved in with my boyfriend. It wasn’t a particularly good relationship. I should have known better. But, I honestly thought it was the best I would be able to do, so I did it anyway.
My boyfriend and his college roommate rented my father’s house. My father had moved to LA for work. It was a three bedroom brick ranch. The roommate had one room, my boyfriend had one room and the third room was set up as a computer network. The boyfriend and the roommate were computer science majors, along with most of their friends. My boyfriend had a close female friend who failed out at GT at the same time he did. So they were working together at some various jobs around town. CompUSA, A&P, some other places I can’t think of. The female friend had a live-in boyfriend who came and helped with the move. I had never met him before, but we got a long wonderfully. I had been worried about meeting him because the female friend and I clashed a little bit.
So, we moved in together, maybe in July? My baby had his first birthday in August. We got married in October. I was still lonely. I am not sure how I was lonely when I was living with 2 adults and a baby. But I felt alone and isolated a lot. We didn’t have company much. The place we livedin was on the southwest part of town and most of my husband’s friends lived on campus or on the north side of town. They were almost all still in college. To make up for not having people around, we utilized the computers. I started playing on a game called a MUD. Multi User Dungeon maybe? It was like a super early version of games like World of Warcraft. The game was all text based, no pictures. It had a cool communication interface though. I spent a really lot of time playing. Not so much time gaming as talking and chatting with people. It was odd. I made a few transient friends there from other states and always had someone to talk to. I played almost every night with the female friends live in boyfriend. He was still in college and she was working, so he had spare time when he wasn’t in class or doing homework. It was such a huge boon for me to have a friend I could meet up with and talk to all the time.
Not long after we got married, my husband finally landed a regular full time job. He was working in a computer related field, I can’t recall for sure, but I think the company made and coded those cards like hotels use for keys. The kind that has a chip in it and is secured somehow to only work certain places and for certain people. As much as it was a relief for him to have a real job, he hated it. It was a much more rigid system than CompUSA. They expected better dress, better manners, more punctuality, stuff he didn’t have as strong points. He started drinking more often at home. He would come in from work and need a drink to wind down. He had been drinking only on the weekends before. But now he was drinking almost everyday. And as the weeks went by, the drinks became more than one, up to three or so a day. I started being panicky and bitchy.
I know he was under a lot of pressure. He was young, he had this job, he had a family. He had failed at college and wasn’t happy with his employment. The baby was teething like crazy all the time. Molars come in during the year between the first and second birthday and those things make a baby super cranky and whiny. I was (and still am) a very lazy housekeeper. I made dinner every night, but nothing else was done with regularity. He came from a well to do family and they had a maid. He wasn’t used to living with a woman who didn’t keep the house clean. The roommate was extra anti-social and hated having a baby in the house. The husband started to lose control of his anger and drinking.
We had always argued. I am just like that I guess. I argue with my hubby now. I yell at my kids. I am aggressive and probably a bit belligerent. I know it was worse back then because I wasn’t on any meds then. Things got worse as time went on. He started to push me when he got mad. He would yell right up in my face and block me from moving with his body. He’d shove me out his way when he was done. He’d grab me by my arms to keep me still and in my place while he railed. I did my fair share of screaming right back. I was used to being man-handled and physically reprimanded. I would push back. When he’d crowd me in, I’d push my chest against his to let him know he couldn’t control me. Sometimes, I had bruises. I didn’t ever think of myself as an abused wife though. He never hit me. Honestly, he never even hurt me. Bruises happened, sure, but that was nothing compared to the times my mother had slapped me hard enough to break my glasses. It never even occurred to me that this was not normal. It was just how we argued. Physically as well as verbally.
The less we got along, the more time I spent on the internet playing at the MUD. I turned all of my mind to the MUD to escape the everyday reality of life that I didn’t enjoy. I can’t say I was a good parent during this time. I didn’t neglect my boy in anyway. But I probably didn’t play with him as much as he needed. I used the television too much to keep him occupied. The more we fought, the more I checked out on the computer.
Eventually, the roommate failed at school too and his parents made him move back home to go to a local college. I had a cousin who was splitting up with her husband and she came to stay with us since she had nowhere else to go. She had a boy who was one year younger than mine. It was spring when she arrived. It was such a huge relief to me to have someone home with me. The babies played together all the time. I was no longer lonely. I talked and hung out with her all the time. It cut into the computer time I had been having too. The only time I got on the game anymore was to talk with the live in boyfriend of my husbands female friend. For a little while, after she came to live with us, the husband and I even fought less. Some of the pressure on me was off. I was a little easier to get along with because I had company and help during the day.
But it didn’t last. One day in May, we had a last big fight. My cousin was there, but when we started fighting, she went to her room with her baby. My sister and her husband had stopped in to visit. My husband wanted to go out to eat. I wanted to cook dinner. We never ever had enough money to make ends meet and he wanted to charge a dinner out. We argued. We kept the credit cards in a little decorative box with some rolled change. He grabbed the box and started digging for the credit cards. I grabbed a roll of pennies and threw it at him. We were yelling and cussing. The pennies didn’t hit him, I have never had good enough aim to hit anything when I throw. But OMG, it pissed him off like nothing ever had before.
I was holding my son. He was near two by now. He was crying and hanging on me because of the yelling and stuff. My husband came at me. He was grabbing me and pulling me and pushing me. I can’t remember how it all went down. But he had never done it in front of people before. My sister was horrified that he was acting like this. No matter how much she and I yelled for him to stop, he just kept on. He didn’t actually strike me, but he was hurting me. She called 911. She was really afraid for the baby. She knew I could hold my own, but she couldn’t believe he would do this while I was holding my son. She came and got the baby from me so I wouldn’t drop him. We continued for several more minutes with the yelling and pushing and stuff. Then, it finally hit him that she had phoned the police. He jumped in his car and left.
The police came and he was gone. I was shaken up, but not damaged. The police made a report. They asked me so many questions! I answered everything. Then they left. They came back a little bit later and said they had found him in his car parked up the street and were arresting him for domestic violence and fleeing the scene. It was all a bit shocking. I didn’t know what to do. His family lived in NJ and I didn’t even call them. I figured they would be his one phone call and I had no idea what to say to them anyway, so I just sat at home and did nothing. It was the Friday night of Memorial Day weekend. He had to spend several days in jail. The bail hearing wasn’t until Tuesday.
At the hearing, I explained to the judge what had happened. I tried very hard to downplay the situation. Very calm and very non-accusatory. I just wanted my husband to come home. I didn’t want to have to pay a huge bail, we were already broke. But it didn’t work out that way really. He kept interrupting me and he talked back to the judge and he made it very accusatory and pissed off the judge. He was threatened with contempt of court! It was alarming. So, the bail was low and his father paid it. But the judge issued a restraining order and told him he couldn’t come home. He went to stay with the female friend and her live in boyfriend. The boyfriend came by the house and picked up a lot of stuff, clothes etc. The husband took his car, which was the only vehicle we had. I went home to my cousin and our babies. Alone.