As I walked into the kitchen the other morning to get my coffee, to start my day and knowing I had curlers in my hair, which is very odd for me. During this pandemic, I have let my hair grow, which was always a short pixie style but now it flows down my neck and gets in my eyes on windy days. Hey, it was 2020 so why not shake up some things even more. It is actually shocking that I did this, as I do not like change. I had this short hairdo for years, like twenty-five years approximately. I always felt the short hair would draw attention to my face, my eyes, or just my upper body since my weight had increased over the years due to life, depression, pregnancy and again, depression.
Normally, I am alone in my area of the house and no issues of crossing paths with my husband in the way our house is designed, which is actually perfect. It’s an odd set up, it’s an odd relationship. Still, that morning with the curlers, this would be one morning that he may come up the steps and see me. A cringe, embarrassment and fear struck me. How sad is that? He would see me. In that moment, thinking and feeling, the Ugly Duckling blog was born.
I never felt pretty to him, was never told I was in all these years. The closest I got was that my looks do not matter, as I have a good heart. Really?!?! I should have known early in our marriage, with those words spoken, things would not go well or that I would fully understand this man I married. So, I have a kind, loving heart and that is a good thing. Still, a husband is to admire their wife and make her the most important one in his sight. To love and to cherish, I heard those words in our vows. Maybe I had this whole thought of a marriage relationship out of balance, and I expected way too much, now feeling fake and non-existent. Perhaps I believed in the fairytale of it all.
“When a woman feels loved and cherished by her man, she feels more secure, not more insecure.”
Whenever in my kitchen, I keep a pair of readers on my windowsill for those instructions on cooking, ingredients, etc. It sucks getting old. While I wear a different pair now, actually I have a cheap pair in every room. A year or so before, while preparing for a holiday dinner of a gathering for his side of the family, I had these thin readers on that my sister had given me. He was over by the refrigerator looking at me and I heard him snicker. I could have cried but I did not have time. As I write this, I still have those little, thin readers now in the back of my cabinet, hidden. Hidden, just the way I have wanted to do so often while in his presence.
So many years I have seen this man gwak at women in my presence, not just a glance, I mean up and down and back again. Always denying this while I would stand and just watch him. So many discussions of just this over and over again and even in the church, it happens. Never admitting his viewing when mentioned. I am observant but I have learned to be through this, because it cuts to the core of a wife, I am his wife. How could he do this but not realize he is doing it? Years and years and many tears.
There comes a point to when you feel crazy with his denial and seeing things but the reoccurance was so often, how could this not be real. Maybe I am crazy, I thought often. I do know it was hurtful. Stuff like this, who in the world can you talk to about and hopefully they not think you are crazy also or defend him, he’s just a man. If I did make a hint of such or slight comment, I was informed of how nice he is and such a good father and everything was true. It was between him and I that they did not truly see, it’s not their relationship. It was not their place to see that and how hurtful it made my heart just ache. I quit having friends and family over due to watching this gawking in my own home. I do not deserve that and soon, the house was empty with nobody knocking on our door or over for dinner or is out to dinner, as couples. Was it my fault? I was just exhausted of having the same, deadend conversation that proved I was nuts, that he did not gawk. He did.
“He’s just a man. All men look.” I have been told this but hey, I am just his wife and this hurts, is disrespectful and is killing our marriage. Your invalidation that as a wife, I must accept. No! No, I don’t.
So this morning as I walked through my kitchen with my coffee, somewhat hurrying and cringing of the fact he might see me, I relived all the years that I was made to feel as an Ugly Duckling to my own husband. He still has no clue and will still not admit of his gawking back then and possibly now. Now, I really do not care as we go about life separately but that remembering the way we were together, I never want to experience again. No woman deserves to be treated this way, unknowingly or not.
It was in 2014, walking into my former counselor’s office and my first words was that I felt I was going crazy. It was not just the gawking he was so good at but so many other things that just did not make sense. What is up with this stranger in my house? Thank God she realized after weeks or months that he has Aspergers. I was not sure of Aspergers or if that was fact. I did my research and the book I found, it was like he was a textbook example. His name might as well have been written on every page.
Now understanding him more so and why he did the things he did and now still does, it helps but the relationship is dead. It is just a legal-binding marriage license on paper that keeps us existing under one roof. In the way he is, he is nice, very calm and patient to a point, plus denial holds a place in his mind that we are a happily married couple. He will make it sound like we are when talking to others because we did this or that or went here. Going to Home Depot is a date, he thinks. He will hear enough of what I am saying to my sister or another, and share like he actually knows me. He does not know me.
We have no vacations together, my choice, as I will not place myself in the same position of watching him gawk and deny. I don’t need that in my life or to be stressed over. We may go and pick up our own grocery items, visit his elderly parents and perhaps go see our two sons and a daughter-in-law. For the most part, I drive down alone to visit them, and odds are they notice and sense that their mom is less stressed and more fun.
Even in the short stints together, I can handle. Same for him, as his routine, that is part of Aspergers will come to the forefront and he can only handle so much before he changes. In the home, 10:00 pm lights out, not just for him but when the boys were growing up and myself. Now, even the cats in the house know what happens come 10:00 pm. Yes, the cats know they must settle down. It is the strangest thing ever. A routine, a timetable is a daily ritual for this man. At times, it’s fun just to mess it all up for him, just because I can. Life is boring without fun and laughter, for me anyway.
News Flash!!!!! I am not an Ugly Ducking. I am Worthy. I am made in the image of God. He loves me. My appearance, my approval from my husband is not required anymore. There comes a point of healing the broken pieces of a good heart and person, whether it be trusting the Lord, seeing a counselor, taking care of one’s health (physical, emotional, spiritual) to become a better you. I will never change him, but I can change me. When I am strong enough and get my ducks in a row, seeing that I can move forward in life, as I deserve more. I am getting closer. Taking care of me. Same for you, if you are in a familiar place that I have walked. There’s more to life than feeling like an ugly duckling.
It’s a sad to have a marriage relationship that is more like a business partnership, brother/sister and sometimes in this case through the years, as mother/son. My three sons, is my life.
This is not just my life but many that we may know and may not necessarily know, as pretending to be a happily married couple happens. My situation may not be the same of gawking as another but other issues, where marriages are crumbling behind the closed doors. Looking at the link earlier of Leslie Vernick, noted below, the comments tell exactly the same story but in different words and situations.
If this is you, do know that the Lord knows your name, He knows exactly where you are, He sees and collects each tear. He loves you, you are His Child, and you are worthy. Trust Him when all hope seems gone and in the midnight hours.