Are you wearing your rings? It’s what he’d always ask as I left the house. Had I put on my “shield” to protect me from men with ill intentions. He needed a perfunctory kiss and I had to be wearing the rings. If I wasn’t wearing the rings “someone” might think that I wasn’t married. Without their protection, I was at risk. The rings represented the fact that he “owned” me. He felt like they emitted an invisible shield that would protect his “property”.
Some days the felt less like an adornment than a yoke around my neck. A constant reminder that I was chained to him indefinitely. I began to hate them. They were the first thing I took off when I got home.
I’d hide my fingers as I left and came home. Pretend to go into the bedroom and take them off. I’d be punished if he found out. He’d stop talking to me. Or yell at me. Or there’d be some other passive aggressive activity. I’d still take the chance sometimes.
When I had an excuse not to wear them – I took it. My fingers swelled when I was pregnant. They made painful red marks around my fingers – I showed him and explained I was afraid they’d cut them off. He didn’t want that. At first he insisted I wear them on a chain around my neck. He wasn’t very worried about it though. It was OK because I was hugely pregnant and to him – ugly. No one would want me anyway. So I slowly stopped even wearing the chain.
I didn’t put them back after our son was born. As I was now with the baby 24/7, I had a new “invisible shield”. In his mind, no one would be interested in me. I was fat. Ugly. Encumbered.
Although I should have been glowing after the birth of my son – I was so worn out from caring for a baby and my husband 24/7, I was ugly. I was a shell. No one would want me. I didn’t even want me.
I was a ghost in those following years. I worked. I cared for my son. I took care of the house (barely). But that was all. I rarely went out with friends – he wouldn’t permit anyone else to watch our son outside of daycare when I was at work. I took small breaks when he was working to go to the beach, to the mall, anywhere – but for the most part I stopped interacting. I withdrew.
It took all my strength to get out. It was only when I saw my son starting to take on some of his father’s characteristics that I knew. I couldn’t raise him like that. I couldn’t let him think that it was normal.
After I left, I put the rings in a box. At the back of my closet. I didn’t want to see them even in my jewelry case. As I moved on with taking my life back, I started to declutter. I got rid of a lot of things…but when I came upon the rings, I hesitated. Rings are supposed to be something that you pass on to your children. My sister has my mother’s rings. My mother divorced my father. But she kept the rings. They were my great grandmother’s.
I get it. Some rings, like my sister’s have a lot of sentimental value. Mine just didn’t. Any emotional attachment I had to the rings was negative. I realized that although the children might ask (and they have), I didn’t need them or the things that they represented. I put them into my purse – and went to the mall one day. I stopped at two places. The first said that he couldn’t offer much. He recommended waiting. The second offered me enough money to cover a night at a hotel in a neighboring city with the kids. And I took it. And used the money to make some memories.
My son has asked a couple of times about the rings (I suspect his father has been talking about them). I answered honestly. They did mean something to me once. But I have something out of that marriage that means so much more – him and his sister.
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