Monday, October 3, 2016

Blame a woman for a man's actions. It's all the rage.

I've had this post in my heart for awhile and I've never gotten it down because it never felt like the right time. It never felt relevant.

In the last few weeks we've had the obvious outrage over the Stanford rapist who will only serve six months in jail for "20 minutes of action" after he raped an unconscious woman. Thankfully we have two men who saw this and tackled the rapist because that's the only way he was going to be punished for his crime. Surely he wasn't going to sober up and decide he did a terrible thing and turn himself in, considering he doesn't fully understand that his 20 minutes of action have irrevocably altered the course of this woman's life. All her future relationships, her personal safety, everything. It's all changed because of his poor choices and all he gets is six months.

Which is outrageous, even more so when you realize that in this country, most rapists either serve no jail time or very little and what about those victims? It's pretty horrific to think about.

But I also see a lot in my Facebook news feed about Hillary Clinton and how though she's the first woman to clinch the Democratic Presidential nomination and we should all stand in awe that we were alive to see such a historic moment, no matter where you are in your political stance, we aren't doing that. In fact, it's hardly lauded at all. And that's really a shame because if that doesn't highlight to you what a screwed up country we live in that instead of applauding someone for a lifetime of work that has gotten her to this point, we all are looking at ways to bring her down a notch and take that moment from her, from all of us, really.

The most disgusting argument against Hillary is how she can't possibly be for women's rights because look at her husband. Look at her dirt bag husband who cheated on her, openly, "embarrassed her", is a womanizer and a good for nothing son of a bitch.

He may be all of those things, he may have done some pretty horrific things as a husband but how in the world is that HER fault?

One of the worst memes I've seen is a picture of Bill Clinton essentially saying, "I chose other women, you should too" and that? That my friends is disgusting. We rail against rape culture, we talk about how it's not OK to be disrespectful to women and yet.. this is funny to us. We laugh at this and say she'd obviously do anything to gain power, including staying with a guy who treats her like crap.

As a woman who has a husband who has cheated on me, who has embarrassed me to the point where I was afraid to leave my house and I changed my phone number, who has spent countless hours in counseling to really understand that nothing he does is reflective on me, it upsets me. He could murder 20 people tomorrow and it's not my fault. It's not my children's fault. It's only his fault because he made those choices. He's a grown adult, fully cognizant of consequences, cause and effect and yet he still chose to do what he did and I don't own any of that.

For years I would tell people our struggle and how we got through it and the number one thing I heard was, "Oh- I'd leave at the first sign of trouble." Which, OK. To be fair, I was that person too. You cheat on me and I'm gone because once a cheater, always a cheater, right? But then it actually happens to you. It happens to you and you have a two year old daughter. You're not in any financial position to go out on your own. You go to file for divorce and find out, hours before, that you are pregnant again despite being diligent and responsible with your birth control. You're in a rock in a hard place. What do you do? You put one foot in front of the other and you make rational decisions that are for the benefit of the family because you're a parent now, it's not all about you.

I spent long hours crying, alone in my room after our daughter was in bed. I worried about our finances because it wasn't just that he cheated on me, but he got fired from his job at the same time. He had our health insurance, I'm pregnant, I have a toddler crying for her daddy that isn't here, and I wondered what I was going to do. Then one night, I sat down with our wedding album. As I cried going through the pages and wishing I could be that hopeful, ever in love, not a worry in the world girl again, I came across our wedding vows.

For better or worse, 
for sicker or poorer, 
good times, and bad. 

If this wasn't the worse, poorer, and bad, I didn't know what would be. I really didn't want to know to be honest. And I decided that I made those vows in front of family and friends, and God (though I'm not religious at all, we did get married in a church so he was presumably there) and I meant them. And you can't just mean them when things are good or they mean nothing at all. Because that's what marriage is. It's a mix of all of this, sometimes it's all of the bad at once and sometimes it's all of the good at once. No matter what mixed bag of life you get, you vowed that you were going to do it together.

So I demanded we go to counseling. He had to go to a doctor and find out what was wrong with him and it turns out he has some mental health issues he hid from me from the start, things he was scared to deal with. Is it what I signed up for? No. Would I have left him if he had cancer? No. I'd stick by him and did everything I could, and I couldn't thumb my nose at mental health either. Sure, it's not easy, it's hard all of the time for me even now, but you know what? I love him. I always have, I always will. I may not like the things he does, or the choices he makes, but I know he loves me. I stay because it's worth it. I promised him that I'd stay on our wedding day and I didn't go into marriage lightly. I have divorced parents, so it isn't like I have this fairy tale of marriage in my head.

But I know that my husband provides for us. He loves us. He does the best he knows how. He doesn't abuse us in any way, he's there when we need him, and I love him, for better or worse.

So when I see people bash Hillary Clinton because she stayed with Bill, I get angry. Because I remember what it was like to be criticized for staying. I remember being told I was stupid, an idiot, asking for it to happen again, I was ruining my child's life, I was being selfish, I was enabling his bad behavior, I wasn't thinking of anyone but myself.

When in reality? It was the opposite. I thought of everyone but myself and then I decided enough was enough. Nobody knew what it was like in my marriage. The quiet moments when our child had gone to bed and it was just us. Nobody knew my struggle with post-partum depression and how that made him feel. Nobody knew the struggles we went through privately and how we worked so hard to get through.

We spent three years in counseling, both alone and together. It was hard, it was humbling, and it was emotional. I can say we absolutely are not the same people we were when we started. Our marriage is 100% different and we are in the sweet spot. I think we appreciate what we have so much more because we know how hard we worked to get here. The best part? All of those people who told me what an idiot I was? Divorced. They are all divorced, some more than once. Not one of them are happy. You'll find them at the bars each weekend looking for their soul mate. Meanwhile I'm at home. Cuddled on the couch with my husband, watching HGTV and talking about what we want to do when the kids are all grown and gone. Making plans together for the future.

Just like before we got married, 12 years ago.

So I guess I think that in a time where divorce is common and nobody wants to do the hard work that a marriage requires, maybe we should applaud her for not throwing in the towel when everyone wanted her to. Maybe people ultimately feel threatened when a couple can rise above turbulent waters, work through their issues, and come out better in the end because it highlights their inability to do the same?

1 comment:

Mattie @ Northwest Native said...

This is such bullshit to me too. (The Hillary/Bill stuff, not staying with someone after being cheated on.) Honestly, whenever I see them together at events they seem to be really happy. Bill looks SO proud of her and of their daughter. People will use anything they can find to bash her.

I think every situation is different. My father cheated on my mom at least three times (with different women). So it was basically once after each kid. She left each time, but always went back until the third time. She actually ended up marrying the ex-husband of the last woman he cheated with, and he was a million times better as a husband and dad. My father also got mad at my mom when she was pregnant with me because he said, "We should only replace ourselves" aka a couple should have a maximum of two kids. I am SO glad my mom divorced him. And I think some situations are like that, where it's better for everyone involved to divorce. But there are situations like yours, and (presumably) the Clintons, where they stay together and it makes the marriage stronger.