Just before my 40th birthday, I got a job in sales for a local furniture/interior decorations store, in a big two story building in the heart of downtown Bend.
It was a bit surreal to be working downtown after all of these years. The last time I’d worked there, was in 1978 when I was 19. Part of starting over after a divorce is taking a step backwards. For me, this was a giant step backwards.
But I enjoyed my position and was promoted to sales manager within one month. I also liked that I worked with an all women team, even the owner. It was fun to be around women all day and to be surrounded by lovely things.
In the center of the building was a grand staircase that looked like something out of a movie. When I would walk down those stairs, I felt a bit like Loretta Young or maybe Scarlett O’Hara making a magnificent entrance.
That is until my right knee gave out and I had to hobble down the steps one at a time with my left leg leading each step. Not long after that my doctor advised surgery to fix the issue. But the recovery time would be 6 to 8 weeks.
By the end of that year, I was spending my days on my sofa with my leg in a brace. I couldn’t drive for the first week, so my boyfriend was thoughtfully driving me about and getting groceries for me. He saw to my every need.
We were all discussing Y2K and it was a bit exciting to be experiencing that part of history. This millennial change was far different from the last one. Some people thought the way to fix the issue was to stockpile food and provisions for the moment everything would shut down.
I’ve always liked technology and was fascinated by people’s opinions about what would happen when computer clocks changed to 00. I had faith that everything would be just fine, but so many other people were sure our entire infrastructure would fail, and we wouldn’t be able to use any electronics or credit cards or anything that used a computer.
I started chatting about it to my boyfriend, as we were planning our New Year’s Eve. He listened for a while and when I asked him what he thought he said, “I think it’s a bunch of stupid shit that only dumbass people care about. I’m not sure why you think you are smarter than anyone else. You’re just another dumb fuck like everyone else.”
And on and on…
January 1, 2000 came without any crash or problems, except the turmoil going on inside of me. Of course I knew it was wrong for anyone to speak to me that way. But I thought I could fix it.
This is honestly something I cannot explain. In trying to figure it out, I came upon this quote from Psychology Today:
“The emotional abuse cycle follows the same pattern as the physical abuse pattern, in that once the victim of emotional abuse figures out what’s going on and starts thinking about leaving or seriously calls the abuser on his actions, the abuser will suddenly become very apologetic, romantic and begins to woo her back into the fold. He will buy flowers, cook suppers, tend to the children, or whatever else he has to do to make her believe that what she thinks she saw, what she believes to be true, is actually false.
No, he is a perfectly good husband or partner and there is absolutely no reason for her to be thinking about leaving. But as soon as she comes back around and begins to trust that he will no longer emotionally abuse her, he starts back up with the same old abusive patterns. Now, it is harder for her to leave, because she has begun to believe in him again.”
It would take two more years of this abuse and three major events for me to find the strength to walk away.