My husband has been physically and verbally abusive for over 35 years. But even after he abused me I loved him – the good part of him. I was always too insecure to leave.
I gave all of me to him but I can’t do it anymore. I’m 56 now and I know I can't spend the rest of my life with him.
Everyone else in my family has a perfect life. I don't know how I got so low…
We met at a cooking school on 81st Street. I was learning to cook and the first time I saw him he was walking by the school with his mother. Later, when I was getting ingredients in the grocery store, I saw him and we started talking. He was living in an SRO (Single Room Occupancy) and in the process of getting evicted. I took him in because I wanted to help him. Even back then he was friendly and cute in front of others but manipulative and mean to me. He had anger issues but he wouldn’t admit it or get help.
He’s never worked a day in his life so I’ve always worked to support us. I worked as an X-ray technician at the Hospital for Special Surgery for 23 years. Towards the end of my career I had anger problems because my husband was always angry and he made me angry too. But the hospital couldn't fire me because I was getting psychological treatment.
After two decades in the operating room they transferred me to another department. I wanted to do something that my colleagues in the operating room would remember me by, so I wrote ‘Lisa was here’ on the X-ray machine. They fired me when they discovered what I had done, but I knew the end was coming because I was having a lot of emotional issues on the job.
Throughout my career I’ve always used my earnings to buy my husband books and collections of toys. When I lost my job I cashed out my entire pension to support us. Now we owe $5,500 in back rent. I always asked my husband to sell his books and toys to help pay the rent, but he always refused.
A few days ago he finally agreed to sell some of his books because he didn’t want to be homeless. He gave me three books to sell at the Strand Bookstore downtown. I usually get $15 for the leather-bound books, but one of the books wasn’t real leather so I only got $1. When I got back to the apartment he was furious I only had $31, even though he knew one of the books didn’t have a real leather binding. He set me up but I didn’t see it because I wasn’t thinking straight.
I’ve left him before and gone to women’s shelters, but the shelters are dangerous and the people look at me and think, “What are you doing here?” They always assume I’m rich or something. That because of how I look I don’t really belong.
My husband always calls me 'dody' which stands for ‘stupid.’ He tells me I’m ugly. But I know I’m not stupid, and I’ve had random men come up to me on the street and tell me I'm beautiful. I don't need to be put down. I can do things if I'm allowed to do them. I used to take all of his insults but now I give them right back.
Today I decided I’ve had enough and I left him. It felt so hopeless being with him; I feel better now that I’m out. Now I’m looking for a place to go. He never let me have any friends over the past 30 years, so I don’t have any friends’ houses to go to. I think I’m going to buy a plane ticket to Mexico City – I’ve always wanted to go to Mexico, the hostels are cheap and I haven't had a vacation in years.
Goose Chronicles Outtakes:
“Do you have any advice to anyone who is starting to get into a bad relationship?”
“I thought that he was a special man and that it was my responsibility to take care of him. I put his interests above mine. But now I know you just have to do whatever you need to be happy. If you’re unhappy leave right away. Don't stay because of guilt or duty to help someone else. Get out now or it will only get worse.”
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