Chapter 16: Hard Times
Around six thirty this evening, I hear Jackson coming through our wing of the house. He shouts my name, but not in a way that causes me alarm. When I first hear him, it sounds as if he’s at the very front of the house, but the sound of his voice quickly comes closer. It appears as if he’s jogging, if not running, toward me.
Jackson’s ringing voice is much louder now. “Ellie!”
“I’m here, Jackson,” I answer. I’m past our bed, around the corner, where my office is located. He has no sightline of me from the doorway.
“Ellie!” he utters as he clears the corner at a run. He turns to face me as he comes to a halt. He’s breathing hard, his hair is mussed, and he has an unusual, slightly panicked look in his eyes.
I step from behind my desk with the intention of going to him, but, instead, Jackson closes the distance between us. Now, I clearly see the panic runs deeper than his gaze alone.
“Jackson! What on earth is wrong?!” I exclaim as I reach out to touch his arm.
Wordlessly, Jackson claims my mouth with his. His kiss contains a fervent energy. I’ve never seen him behave like this. I’m sure, though, no longer than we’ve known each other there is more than one aspect of him that’s still unknown to me. Ultimately, a big part of marriage is the process of spending one’s life learning about another person.
I reach up and stroke his cheek. I ask because I have to know. “Jackson, you’re scaring me. Are you all right?”
“I am now,” he says seriously. He quickly peels off his coat, shirt and tie and stands before me in all his bare-chested glory.
“What does that mean?” I ask absentmindedly because, in this instant, my focus isn’t really on a conversation. I’m busy marveling at his physical perfection. I rest my fingers against the hard planes of his broad chest.
Jackson kisses me again. His kiss is hard and there is an expectant, authoritative urgency that oozes off him. He speaks with such intensity he sends chills throughout my body. As he talks to me, he interrupts his words with intermittent randomly placed kisses. “Ellie, I can’t stand it. I’ve thought about you all afternoon. It took every ounce of self-control I have to leave you earlier and now I’m finally home.”
Jackson’s words are rife with passion and energy and are punctuated with hoarse heavy breaths. He unzips his pants and steps out of them. I could have, should have, helped him disrobe, but I’m still reeling from the surprise of all that stands before me.
Jackson takes me in his arms and bends me over backwards. He holds me so tightly, and his kisses are so frequent and ardent, he steals my ability to breathe. His passion is reminiscent of the life force kisses in the hotel that day.
He stands me erect, picks me up by my bottom and brings my groin to his waist. As I latch my legs around his abdomen, he brings his hands up under my dress to my bottom.
Incredulous, Jackson asks, “What?! You’re wearing panties?!” He seems so surprised and disappointed at the same time.
Quite calmly, I inform him, “Contrary to what you may think, Jackson, I do wear panties most of the time.”
Without warning Jackson turns loose of my bottom. Not wanting to fall, I clasp my hands together around his neck. Jackson reaches his right arm in between the two of us and goes to the left side of my body. He uses both hands to rip apart the seam of my panties. Next, he reaches his left arm in between the two of us and goes to my right side. Here again, he uses his hands to rip apart the seam of my panties. He reaches in between us and slides the broken, silky fabric forward against my swollen labia. I close my eyes and moan, dropping my head onto his shoulder.
“That’s it,” Jackson says with finality in his tone. “I’m done with foreplay.” He carries me to the wall at the far end of my office and pins me against it. He frees himself from his briefs. I don’t have to see his shaft to know it’s hard and ready.
Jackson fails to check my readiness. He’s usually far more thoughtful in his approach to me. He toys with my clit briefly, just because he can and because he wants to. Of course, my body arcs toward his pelvis, the obvious source of relief. Without hesitation, Jackson aligns our bodies and drives deeply into me. My body is ready for him, but the pressure is incredible.
My mind reels on two levels now. Jackson is creating within me a need for him that grips me and screams for satisfaction. The other level is my thought process. This Jackson is not making love to me. Jackson has already had several orgasms today, so this is not about his need of his body. I don’t understand exactly what’s going on, but there’s more involved in this moment than mere sex. I’m not even sure the true objective he seeks is sexual in nature. One thing’s for sure; I don’t know this man.
My brain is so busy cranking on an explanation it forgets to cooperate with my body.
Suddenly, Jackson grabs my lavender dress and rips it off over my head. Instantly, he latches onto my nipple with his lips while he begins an assault on my other breast with his hand. He’s rough and coarse and primal in his treatment of me.
All too quickly, I realize Jackson is scaring me. I bring my hand to my breast in an attempt to separate my body from his mouth. Jackson doesn’t appreciate the interference. He captures my hands together high over my head so that I am trapped before him. I find myself vulnerable, but not in a good way, not in a healthy way, not in a safe way.
Shock strips me of the right to any defense, even a vocal one. I can’t find my voice. It’s trapped, hiding somewhere inside me. It’s completely squelched by the complete disbelief at what’s happening to me. I’m helpless to do anything about Jackson’s aggression.
Jackson thrusts into me several times and then rests his groin by turning his attention to my breasts. Biting, tugging and desperate hard suckles pull my breasts, as well as, longing from my center. My stupid body betrays me again. I’m in fear for my safety and it still allies itself with Jackson. How is this even possible? How can I be scared and needy at the same time? Lord, help me! Help me stop him!
As if acting on some primal instinct Jackson develops a pattern which consists of forcing into me repeatedly, pinning me harder against the wall with each thrust, until he’s ready to come. Then he diverts his attention to my breasts so that his climax is averted. I’m not sure how many times the cycle repeats, but, very quickly, my body decides it’s had enough of his aggression and my breasts begin to hurt.
In this instant, Jackson’s attention is focused on my pelvis, so he releases his hold on my hands. I tug them free from their position over my head. Even though I still don’t understand the dynamic at work, his treatment of me has to stop.
My cry for help finds God’s listening ears. He hears my prayer. Suddenly, my mind is clear enough and my fear is now strong enough that it helps me find my voice.
I’m getting a crash course in what my husband is capable of and I don’t want to push him too far so I have to tread carefully. “Jackson?” I ask politely, but sternly. The only response I get is a primal thrust of his groin into mine. He just keeps coming at me, several deep punishing thrusts which bang my back and head against the wall.
“Jackson.” I demand. He still doesn’t respond or even react to my voice. I get the impression that Jackson is not merely ignoring me. It’s as if he truly can’t hear me. There’s some agenda in his head, known only to him.
Now, Jackson is back at my chest again. He roots into my breasts, mashing them into my body with his teeth and jawbones. He’s aggressive to the point of leaving blood blisters and bite marks. I cringe and cry with each nip. I push against his shoulders and do my best to put distance between us.
My efforts prove useless. Jackson suckles, pulling so aggressively, I have to follow the motion of his pull on my nipple, arching my back away from the wall so as to limit the damage he does. I’ve never seen Jackson so primal, so carnal. Is it possible he can sever me from myself? He’s relentless, back and forth between the two, my bosom and my groin.
My fear level rises to terror. I bring my fists down hard on his shoulders and scream like a mad woman. “Jackson!”
I can’t tell if it’s the blows to his body or the shrillness of my voice that works, but, finally, I break through his mental obstruction and he looks at me like he’s seeing me for the first time.
Now, that I have his attention, I could tell Jackson to stop, but I’m truly afraid he’ll only ignore me. So, instead, I decide to ease my way out of the situation. With every ounce of strength and authority I can muster I command, “Finish this! Now!”
Jackson instantly obliges me and drives into me over and over, pushing harder with each effort. There’s no doubt he’s trying to rid himself of more than just his seed. He grabs my bottom and pulls me onto him with such force that I swallow my scream as he bears into me with his final drive.
Jackson’s clenched teeth scream is deafening in my ear and unearthly in its content. His vocal release completes the entirety of the emotional struggle from which this expulsion of his body doesn’t free him. I can feel the sheer size of his shaft throbbing against my center, releasing wave after wave of tension from his body. His pelvic bone grinds into mine with the last of his effort. There is no thought of tenderness for me. I am only a receptacle for his seed and his emotional rage.
I wipe the tears from my cheeks and take a deep breath while I try to get my bearings. Jackson is breathing hard but lowers me to the ground. He doesn’t look me in the eyes. Again, he behaves like he’s disengaged mentally and doesn’t even realize I’m present.
Jackson’s deposit is a runny mess down the insides of my thighs. I grab tissues from my desktop and clean what I can quickly reach. I take a second to inspect my swollen battered chest. My breasts are beaten to pieces. I sob against the anguish Jackson’s assault brings to my heart and my body.
In a few days, my breasts will bear no evidence of this horrible day, but I don’t know if my heart or my trust will ever recover. Without looking at him I retrieve my dress and slip it over my head. It might be upside down, or inside out, for all I know. I don’t care either way, I just want something between my nudity and Jackson’s gaze.
I turn and start towards the bathroom, but my steps falter as my anguish consumes me. I’m dying a silent death inside. My spirit, my hopes, and my faith are crushed, and I feel less, somehow; less me, less whole, certainly less married. I have an overwhelming urge to shower. I cradle my forehead with the palm of my hand. I want desperately to cry, but I’m too angry, too broken, too confused.
My ability to think clearly is compromised, as well, but that doesn’t quiet my brain. My thoughts scatter in ripples around me. I hurt so much, in so many places, in so many ways. Is it possible that I’ve been used by my own husband? No, that can’t be, but, yet, here I am. Who is this man? How did we get here? Was he simply being more aggressive than usual? Am I overreacting?
As I stand and plow my way through the melee` of my thoughts, my thinking slowly rights itself. It matters not that Jackson is my husband. For all intents and purposes, and by anyone’s definition, he just violated me. I have every right to be angry!
Moving in stealth mode, Jackson suddenly appears before me. His expression is full of shock and self-loathing. “Ellie, did I just do that… to you… against the wall?”
I’m furious now that my brain has had a moment to clear and process the previous few minutes. I willingly give myself over to indignant rage. “Yeah, Jackson. You sure as hell did! What was that?!” I demand to know. “You may be my husband, but you don’t get to treat me with such disrespect. No one treats me like this! I won’t stand for it! Do you hear me?!” I scream at him.
Jackson starts toward me. “Oh, my God, Ellie! I’m so sorry.” I back away from him. There’s no way I’ll allow him to touch me.
Jackson reaches out for me and falls to his knees, “Forgive me, Ellie! Please forgive me! I’m so sorry!”
“Yes, Jackson, you’re always sorry, aren’t you?” I rage sarcastically as I gesture with the arm that isn’t holding my battered chest. “There’s always an explanation that’s supposed to make your unacceptable behavior understandable. Sorry is supposed to fix it all, isn’t it?”
Jackson covers his face with his hands and begins to sob.
Where is all this coming from? I don’t know what to do. I’m so lost, God. I’m so confused! The part of me that cares for him, or used to, wants to comfort him. The rest of me doesn’t care that he’s hurting and wants to kill him for what he’s done to me and to our marriage.
Help me, God, help me! Give me strength and guidance!
“What is your problem, Jackson?!” I scream at him as I wipe tears and runny mascara from my face. “We had such a tremendous time together this morning. You tried hard to derail it, but you redeemed yourself and I thought it ended on a high note. I was so sated physically and emotionally by you. I was so happy and peaceful that I laid down and took a nap. It’s been two weeks since I’ve slept that well. “Did you come home this evening determined to destroy every ounce of good we created this morning?!”
Jackson shakes his head. “No, Ellie, honest,” Jackson counters with guilt and fear careening throughout his features. “I feel the same as you. This morning was out of this world. I was so happy our fight was over, and that you’d truly forgiven me. The sex was incredible. I’ve never been more at peace in my life. I agree with everything you’ve said.”
“So, what happened Jackson? Is this your “thank you” for all my efforts this morning? Cause if this is how you express your gratitude, you suck at it!” I spit with deadly venom lacing my voice.
I start around him, but Jackson jumps to his feet. He’s standing but stays put. He senses my fear and is unsure of my reaction should he start toward me.
Jackson is shaking throughout the length of his body. It’s a vibrant, nervous energy which has nothing to do with his body temperature. He runs his hand through his hair and says, “Listen, Ellie. Something happened in my brain this afternoon. I just kept thinking about all you’d done for me this morning. How good you are. You’re so kind and compassionate…”
Suspicion inches its way up my spine. I step slightly closer to Jackson so I can read his gaze more easily. Is he playing me? Am I being manipulated?
Honestly, the only things I find present in his gaze are utter remorse and fear he’s messed up so badly it’s unfixable. I’m somewhat satisfied he’s being honest with me, so I prompt him. “Go on.”
“The afternoon wore on and I just became obsessed with you. I think, at some point, self-loathing set in and by the time I got home I was nearly crazed.”
In a voice laced with anger, an element of disbelief and residual fear I ask, “I don’t understand, Jackson. Why did you start hating on yourself?”
Jackson continues. “I had to show you my ugly side, Ellie. You keep forgiving me for the stupid things I do. I think I was so filled with hate for my treatment of you…”
“That you had to treat me badly again so you could hate yourself more? Come on, Jackson!” I rage at him. “I’m trying to understand! Just be honest with me, if you can!”
“No…no, that’s not it,” Jackson states as if he misses my sarcasm. He’s obviously struggling with the ability to explain himself. For the life of me I don’t know if it’s because he truly doesn’t understand why this happened or if he’s stalling, buying time, until he can manufacture an excuse of some sort.
Jackson looks at me with utter defeat shining from his eyes. “I think I wanted you to see that I don’t deserve you, Ellie. Oh, my God, Ellie, I don’t deserve you!” Jackson falls to his knees again. “I’m so afraid of messing up to the point of no return that you’ll finally see that I’m right. I do not deserve you, Ellie. You are far too good for me. Part of me had to make you understand that.”
I’m aware of the possibility that this is an act to save his butt, a last-ditch effort and all. I walk over to Jackson and lift his chin so I can read his expression. Fear, absolute sincerity and hopefulness are all that’s present in his gaze. Somewhere, in my mind, God reminds me that Jackson has never lied to me about anything, not one single thing, he’s ever shared with me.
Please, dear God, keep me safe while I try to love Jackson the way he needs to be loved. Help me get past my fear to do what’s best for him, for us.
“Well, Jackson, I’m not sure I follow your logic, exactly, but I can see you’re telling me the truth. I don’t know how you managed it, but it sounds like you’ve got me up on a pedestal I have no business occupying. I’m just a person like everyone else. I can’t live up to that standard, Jackson. Bring me down off the pedestal. It’s too much pressure. I don’t want your worship. I’m not worthy of it. I just want to be your wife.”
Jackson’s face still shines with complete transparency. He’s hanging onto every word I utter.
I finish my thought for him. “It’s pretty straight forward, Jackson. I just want to be your Ellie.”
Jackson shakes his head at me. “Ellie, you don’t see yourself as I do,” he says with quiet sincerity.
“Evidently not, but it sounds like that’s probably a good thing,” I tell him. “Jackson, I’m extremely self-aware. I know how I act and what I think. I know how others perceive me and how I prompt them to act. More often than I care to admit, my thoughts are not what God would like them to be. So, you stop all this. Right now! Do you hear me?!” I yell at him.
Jackson throws his arms around my hips and pulls me in close. He sobs into the front of my dress while I stroke his golden head, attempting to soothe him. I want him to feel better. I can see there’s a part of my husband that’s still a little boy who’s been shattered by the death of his beloved dad. Jackson possesses all this pain and insecurity for the want of an unfinished childhood. How do I turn my back on someone who’s hurting so badly?
Suddenly, Jackson straightens from where he kneels, picks me up on his way to a standing position, and heads for the bed. Instantly, panic fills me. I was so stupid to trust him! I beat on his chest and shoulders while I flail in his arms. I do everything I can to make him release me.
“Jackson, put me down! I’m not having sex with you! Do you hear me?!” I’m fighting for all I’m worth, hitting him over and over, giving him the best beating I can, but I have no luck freeing myself.
Jackson whispers calmly into my ear, “Ellie, I’m not interested in sex.” I pause in my attack and I look up at him as disbelief rings in my ears.
I ask him to repeat himself. “What did you say?”
Patiently, Jackson says, “I’m not interested in sex right now, Ellie. All I want is to lay and hold you. I need to draw from your strength, ok? I need to know you forgive me. Again. I shouldn’t have to say this, and I’m terribly ashamed that I need to, but Ellie, I promise I will never treat you like this again. Do you hear me? I promise.”
I look up into his eyes. Absolute resolve of my own meets Jackson’s gaze. “You do and it’s all over. I promise. I’ll leave your sorry ass in my rearview mirror. Got it?” I ask him.
“Loud and clear,” Jackson assures me.
Jackson burrows us under the thick, luxurious blankets and pulls me in tightly next to him. For several minutes he holds me, pulling me closer to his body every so often. I hear his breathing behind me. It’s even and rhythmical, but I can certainly sense a component of apprehension as well. I know the tension between us is the reason, but I don’t know how to fix it. We both remain quiet, so it seems as if Jackson is also unaware of any marital repair tactic. I guess, in this moment, there’s nothing left to say. Or, maybe, there’s so much that needs to be said we have no idea how or where to begin.
Jackson is physically and emotionally exhausted. Me? I’m simply fearful and confused. My mind won’t shut down. I’m far too nervous to relax enough to embrace sleep. No, there’s nothing about sleep that remotely interests me right now.
In about twenty minutes, I hear Jackson’s breathing reach the deep, slow pitch and rhythm of solid slumber. Jackson’s arms slowly go slack around me. In another five minutes I manage to extricate myself from his arms and steal off to the bathroom.
I stand in the shower and weep over the damage that’s been done to my body, my heart and our marriage. Twenty minutes later, I emerge showered and shampooed. It’s too late in the evening to mess much with my hair, so, with my bath towel wrapped around my body, I simply dry my hair and let it be. I look so different without my signature curls.
I do my best to conceal the swollen redness of my eyes with additional cold water and some make up. I don’t know why it matters. It’s nearly dark outside and I’m going to sit in a completely dark theatre. I’ll be alone so there will be no one along from whom to hide my tear stained face.
I find myself grateful that the beating I took is confined to my chest and will be easily covered by my blouse. In a gesture of kindness to my beaten body, I decide to go braless. I’ll wear a sweater and carry my purse high against my body.
While dressing, I do my best to avoid my reflection in the mirror, but the mirror runs the entire length of the bathroom counter. I don’t want to see, can’t afford to see, and realize I’m not ready to see my body. Feeling injured is bad enough, yet, I find that I’m morbidly curious about the damage Jackson perpetrated. Torn as I am about inspecting my bosom, I stifle my sobs and step over into the huge closet to finish dressing. There’s time to look later when some of the rawness has passed.
I finally pull myself together and exit the bathroom. I check on Jackson and find him sleeping soundly. I leave a note that says I’m going to the movies and will be home around eleven. I have to get out of this house. I have to get away from this memory. I need fresh air, even city air at this point. I have to get my mind off this incredibly intense, horrible day.
I arrive at the theatre, purchase a ticket and my beloved popcorn, and find a seat, but unfortunately, I fail to accomplish my goal. I’m completely unable to quiet my mind. I keep reliving all that happened today. I’m obsessed with trying to understand the ‘why’ of it all.
As ashamed as I am, and as badly as I hate to admit it, I feel as if I need to keep my guard up. I started my marriage having given all of myself, including my trust, to Jackson. Quickly, though, he’s all but destroyed that trust. With the passage of enough time I’ll manage to forgive him, but how can I continue to put my heart, and now my body, in a position where Jackson can add to the serious damage he’s already inflicted?
The future, which seemed so bright this morning, is growing a cloudy, storm filled sky. The weariness of my new reality sits so heavy on my heart. My shoulders and back groan under the mere thought of its weight.
I alternate bites of popcorn with swipes at my swollen, soggy eyes as I sit and sob quietly in my theatre seat. I’m grateful there are only a few of us in attendance at this showing. No one sits especially close to me, so I make a concerted effort not to interfere with anyone else’s enjoyment of the movie.
It’s so obvious Jackson needs therapy. I’m pretty sure Jackson’s self-loathing and inability to connect in an emotionally healthy way are wrapped up in his father’s death and subsequent treatment by his mother. I’m no therapist, though, and recognizing a problem is not the same thing as treating one. Jackson needs someone who can help him face his devastating loss and understand himself.
I can suggest therapy to him, but he’s such a guy he won’t listen to me. Then again, he did offer insight into his own behavior twice today. I suppose it’s possible, on some level within his psyche, he’s aware he needs help. Maybe, he’s ready to face his issues. I suppose this entire grisly evening could have been an earnest cry for help.
If I’m the one to bring up therapy, going so far as to insist he pursue it, what will that do to us, to our marriage? What’s his emotional issue already cost us? The total tally isn’t in just yet, but I do know the cost so far has been high. The cost to our marriage, even to our friendship, will only keep climbing if there isn’t an intervention. We can’t improve as a couple nor can we get past this without help from a qualified professional.
Will our generational differences enter into it? Will he accuse me of trying to mother him? If he throws our age difference in my face, after all his promises that it doesn’t matter, it will be the death knell of my trust in him.
I’ve offered forgiveness to him over and over, always will, but when I’m the one who disappoints will he be as forgiving as I am? Will the final nail in the coffin of our marriage be Jackson’s unwillingness or inability to forgive me for insisting upon his cooperation regarding therapy?
Many times, through the years, I’ve thanked God for a husband who was kind to me. I never feared Thomas and I knew how fortunate I was to have him. Even when things were tough for us, I worked diligently at inhabiting gratitude during my marriage to Thomas. Now, though, I find I’m a statistic.
I am a battered wife. This is where our differing worldviews collide yet again. A Christian man, someone truly devoted to God, although not perfect to be sure, would understand his position before a sovereign Creator. He’d have already admitted that he can’t save himself because he’s not worthy. A true Christian man would have already come to terms with his own unworthiness before Christ’s sacrifice could be accepted as a substitute for his own.
So, there’d be no sudden jolt of revelation like there’s been with Jackson. Let’s face it, there’s no contest when you compare yourself with other people as opposed to comparing yourself with God. It’s easy to look around at other people and find their faults. It’s even easier to look inward and think of ourselves as better than them.
However, when we hold ourselves to the standard of an eternal Someone who’s perfect, Someone who never lies, Someone who never breaks promises, Someone who’s love is large enough to send His Son to die for those of us who aren’t perfect, then we understand our place in the universe with honest perspective.
Jackson’s thinking, however, hasn’t progressed to the eternal. All of Jackson’s thoughts, his comparisons, are here in the temporal world. His comparisons are evidently directed at me, even in my own imperfection, because I’m all he has. How incredibly terrifying it would be for Jackson to compare his worthiness to the One who’s truly worthy of standing on the pedestal on which Jackson has placed me.
However, understanding Jackson on a deeper level doesn’t remove the big question; do I want to stay with him? Right now, the answer is a resounding ‘no’. I don’t even want to go home tonight much less face tomorrow or the coming days. Should I simply cut my losses and walk away from him? I’m not dependent upon him for a single thing, except for the fact that he won my heart. Oh, yes, of course, there’s that.
Maybe I should sell the Oakwood house Thomas and I built and move closer to my boys so I can start my life over. Again. There’s a problem there too, though. Two of my boys will kill Jackson for hurting me like this. I have to be very careful when fielding questions about a divorce.
On the up side, though, I can do my ministry work anywhere. There’s no locale in existence that’s devoid of hurting people. Folks everywhere need God. That will never change.
However, if I walk out on Jackson, where does that leave my walk of faith? Scripture is very clear that divorce is acceptable only under one condition. Being battered isn’t it.
Infidelity is. I can hire a private investigator to follow Jackson and determine if he’s guilty of the divorceable offense. Jackson’s told me twice now that he’d never do that to me, but I’m fairly certain if he’d been asked about the occurrence of tonight’s event, he’d have denied its possibility too.
I hate to spy on my husband, but I’m dealing with a different dynamic now than I had when we first married. Heck, I’m dealing with a different dynamic than I had this afternoon. With Jackson’s large security detail in place, an investigator will quickly be discovered. Maybe it would take a succession of them or a number of them simultaneously. Probably a few days’ time is all it would take for me to get my answer. Is it really such a stretch to believe that a man who’s capable of this kind of behavior is capable of infidelity? No, I assure myself. There’s no stretch involved.
Dear God, I’m in a situation where I hope to find my husband guilty of infidelity. How did I get here? I close my eyes and cry harder because I already know the answer.
After a moment of tearful release, I collect my thoughts and send them off in twenty directions simultaneously. I know I can’t live with a man who treats me this way. God knows my situation. Even if divorcing Jackson is unscriptural isn’t God’s grace big enough to catch me? Divorce isn’t identified in scripture as the unforgivable sin. Blasphemy is. So, God can and will forgive me for divorcing Jackson even if he hasn’t cheated on me, won’t He? I mean, it’s not grace if there are limits on it, right? Or, am I simply rationalizing what could potentially be a necessary decision?
Is it possible I’m overreacting? Jackson doesn’t drink. It’s not like he came home drunk after a night out with the boys, already mad about something and took it out on me. This wasn’t about showing me who’s boss or putting me in my place. This isn’t a control thing for Jackson. If it were, I never would have been allowed to leave home tonight. Jackson’s security force would have been instructed to keep me home, not keep me safe while I roam around town. This is something altogether different than drug or liquor induced anger. Do I need to give him time and try to love him through it? Yes, I probably do, but what if he kills me next time?
If I don’t pursue therapy intervention for Jackson’s sake and the sake of our marriage, am I being a coward? I’ve never backed down from a fight in my life. Should I start now? Is that the best approach for the time being?
I love Jackson so much. I hate to see him hurting like this, but if he refuses to address the problem, is making him mad over therapy going to help our situation? Conversely, is protecting his feelings by staying silent going to salvage our wrecked marriage? I immediately know the answer to that question.
Suddenly, I remember the conversation Jackson and I had in the maze that night. It was like pulling dinosaur teeth to get Jackson to tell me why he was so upset. He kept telling me he couldn’t bear it if I were disappointed in him. When he finally told me of his jealousy regarding Thomas, I remember thinking that it wasn’t significant enough for me to be disappointed in him. At the time I didn’t understand the true reason for Jackson’s concern.
Now, though, I see Jackson’s jealousy of Thomas wasn’t limited to the time Thomas had with me. Actually, it might not have been about that at all. Jackson was already having these feelings of unworthiness. What bugs Jackson about Thomas is that Jackson perceives Thomas as having been worthy of me. Jackson feels like he doesn’t measure up to Thomas.
Talking about his feelings is so difficult for Jackson because they become real and make him vulnerable when he shares them. Trusting me with his fears, and potential failures, pushes him far beyond what he can comfortably manage.
Truth be told, in the maze that night, I don’t think Jackson understood himself well enough to make the distinction between jealousy of my time with Thomas and jealousy due to his feelings of unworthiness. Somewhere inside him Jackson knew those feelings would cause damage and would result in my disappointment in him. He couldn’t have been more right. I’m so disappointed in him I can barely breathe. All I want to do is flee forever or cry forever. No…, I quickly realize, I want to do both. I want to run, screaming like a little girl, far, far away, never to return. Unfortunately, that’s not the way emotionally mature believers should handle their problems.
Now, I remember Jackson’s hesitancy regarding his return to work today. He made it so evident that he wanted to spend the afternoon with me. If I’d have agreed, he’d have blown off the board of directors meeting and clients alike. I’m not quite sure how, but his hesitancy to leave me today is connected to this assault on me. This whole situation centers on strong emotional connections. There’s something about them that absolutely terrifies Jackson.
Is this my future if I stay with my husband? Will this sort of thing happen every time we make an honest emotional connection? Is this our new norm?
Is it possible he’s using my faith against me? Is he inherently dishonest enough that he behaves as he wants and then begs for forgiveness because he knows my faith requires forgiveness on my part? Has it been his intention this entire time to exploit what he perceives as emotional generosity in me?
However, isn’t being married to someone a huge amount of extra baggage when you can stay single and enjoy life as you want without being encumbered by a spouse from whom you need to constantly seek forgiveness? Why take on the extra work of marriage?
No, somehow, there’s more to this than Jackson taking advantage of my faith. There has to be a pay-off of some sort in order for him to take the nuptial plunge. Just because I don’t yet see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Finally, the movie ends. I bring a screeching halt to the convoluted mechanism that has become my thinking process. I do my sincere best to focus on what’s next. I have nowhere else to go, unless I stay for another show, but that doesn’t interest me. I’m already up past my usual bedtime and, despite the horrors of my evening, probably even because of them, I find myself quite fatigued.
I suppose I could check into a hotel. I have money so I have resources. I don’t have to go home to Jackson tonight. Doesn’t that only delay the inevitable, though? I mean, I have to go home eventually and, while some time apart from him would certainly be welcome and restful, I’m afraid it would only give my trepidation a chance to flourish. I don’t need to make my situation more difficult. That’s the last thing I want.
So, in the absence of any truly viable option, I decide to go home. I’m going to trust God to care for me as I try to do the right thing for me, for Jackson and our marriage. Chances are I won’t see Jackson until morning anyway. He’ll be gone, chasing bad guys and saving the world. A whole new world of tears floods my heart and forces their expression.
When I get to my car, I turn my internet radio wide open. I sing my head off to my favorite Christian music the entire twenty-minute ride home. God’s music never fails to lift my spirits. Innately, I know I need it worse tonight than any other night of my life.