I left off with Keith returning to therapy because I totally bribed him. And it worked.

It didn’t change overnight. In fact, real improvement didn’t happen til around halfway through the year. He did get better steadily, but he was still very angry, especially because I didn’t have a job. He saw me as a financial burden and now that Edwin wad going to school he wanted me to get a job and pull my weight. Which is fair–we aren’t as poor as I was growing up, or even what we had been all marriage, we were much better off, but we were still living paycheck to paycheck. I published novels and was getting paid for that, but only quarterly and it wasn’t enough to sustain regular financial contribution.

And then I got a job. My current job at the bakery/deli/coffee bar. And I started contributing. I pay some bills now, and can provide my own necessities like medication and clothes and I can actually afford my doctors’ visits and such. I can get myself lunch if I don’t have the energy to make it. I don’t have to ask Keith for stuff anymore. I mean, sometimes I still do, because I’m making about 1/6 of what he’s making, but it’s something, you know?

And after that he just…changed. he calmed down. He became more supportive and listened better. I figured out–he gained respect for me. He hadn’t had any before, not since Iraq, barring a few instances like Edwin’s birth. He saw me as a Really Useful Engine (I am shuddering) and treated me accordingly.

Am I grateful? Yes. Am I peeved that he didn’t respect me at all for most of our marriage? Fuck yes. He thinks I brought it on myself, but recently we had a very serious and open talk about our history and the abuse in it and we were honest and he apologized for being awful. Which is a start–he is earning back my trust, but slowly. The more days we go without him jumping down my throat, the better it is. He’s not perfect, though–he still snaps sometimes and blames things on me. But it’s a lot rarer nowadays and while we are still different people with different viewpoints, we work as partners, finally.

So there you have it. Keith and I have a long and complicated history that involves some of the worst experiences of my life. But also some of the best.


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