They met when they were 12 & 11, they spent the summer holidays together playing down the beck and in the fields.
Things that kids today don’t do.
They had a ‘double date’ to the cinema, the boys sat on an entirely different row to the girls, that’s just how it was done. For their first, clumsy kiss he had to stand on a rock as she was just that bit taller than him. It was a glorious summer but she was in a higher year than him at school and thought her friends would make fun of her so she ‘chucked’ him.
Years later she was in a pub when a gorgeous young man approached her, she thought he was going to ask for a cigarette, instead he reminded her who he was. She couldn’t believe this was the same boy, and she was more surprised that he was still interested in her. She considered herself fat, frumpy and ugly.
He looked like a rock star, he was confident, funny and kind. He was WAY out of her league yet he was SMITTEN with her. In the early days she used to have to tell him to stop looking at her so much as he was freaking her out.
From that meeting in the pub they never looked back, within a year they were engaged and living together. They had a lot of ups and downs, they had financial hardships and split up a couple of times.
She had never been happy in herself. She saw nothing but flaws in how she was and how she looked. She had always been overweight. She never truly understood why he chose her but knew she should be grateful, after all, no one else would want her.
She didn’t think other people could understand why they were together either, friends saw him as funny and laid back, the kind of guy you wanted to hang around with. They saw her as moody, uptight and a bit of a bitch, she was just wondering how bills were going to get paid and fretting that one day he’d realise that she was a fat old bore. They managed to get through it and 8 years later they got married.
The perfect love story.
Around this time she met new friends outside of the bubble they lived in. These friends turned out to be the most important friends a girl could, no, should have. They taught her to like herself a bit more, they encouraged her to be the best she could be. She grew more confident, fun and independent. She loved him and their relationship but she realised that she needed more than just him and their shared friends and interests.
For her to like herself she had to be herself.
This didn’t mean going their separate ways, it meant just doing some things apart from one another. She needed to breathe a bit, their relationship could only improve if she were happier with herself.
One night, while they were in bed, he rolled over tried to instigate sex, she was tired, she wasn’t up for it, she told him. He got grumpy with her and turned his back on her. She thought it odd, then thought maybe it was normal. Maybe all men behave like that when rejected. The next day he was grumpy with her still, at bedtime he tried it on again, she said no. He’d been in a shit mood all day and so she wasn’t feeling in a place to want to have sex with him. He was grumpy again, this time she turned her back on him. He gave her a cuddle, she thought he’d realised he’d been an idiot.
Then he tried it on again.
She said no. He did it any way.
There was no struggling. There was no fighting. He finished “See you wanted to really” “No, really I didn’t”
She got up and went to the spare room. After a while he followed, he was so very sorry. He had misunderstood and thought she had changed her mind. It would never happen again he promised.
Sometimes she would cry. Sometimes she would just lay there. Every time he would tell her she wanted to really. One time he told her she might as well say yes. Every time he would tell her he was sorry afterwards. Sometimes he would cry.
She was confused, so confused. She loved him so much. She didn’t want to upset him, he might leave her. Maybe she did want it really. Was it that really that big a deal? Why couldn’t she just lay there and let him do what he had to do? If he were a stranger it would be rape wouldn’t it? Who would she even talk to about it? What would she say? Is it even a problem if you love and are married to the person? Was she just a bit frigid? Is he confused because sometimes she wants to have sex and sometimes she doesn’t? He only did it because he loved her. If he did love her why would he do it? If she told someone he might get in trouble. She was probably making a mountain out of a mole hill.
Although it was never ‘aggressive’ (rape on the TV is always aggressive) she was a bit scared. She was scared to kiss him or cuddle him in case he took that as a sign she wanted to have sex when she didn’t and then she would have to endure it again. She spoke to a friend of theirs, one who was a bit of a earth mother, feminist hippy type (which is a fantastic type to be).
“Don’t be ridiculous. He’s your husband”
Well that answered her question, if this friend didn’t see it as a big deal then no one would. There was no point in fretting about it further. She would just have to carry on. She did for a while, but then the relationship came to an end. Not because of that, more because he was a complete dickhead who behaved like a petulant child.
Over the years she went over and over it all in her head. As she grew she became sure she wasn’t in the wrong, HE was. She realised it for what it was, marital rape. She truly hoped that he never did the same to any future partners. She believed it was her attitude to herself that made him feel comfortable in treating her like that. She believed that it was his insecurities that made him behave so terribly. She never let it define her, she went through some tough times and she punished herself for how he made her feel but she brushed herself off and decided she wasn’t going to be a victim.
She is ‘comfortable’ with it but never speaks of it. She doesn’t want others to think she is attention seeking. She doesn’t want others to feel uncomfortable. She knows a lot people wouldn’t understand, she still doesn’t really understand.
Now she quietly feels empowered by her personal response to it.
She knows it may make others feel awkward but it is her life, she owns that and the right to talk about it. If only to make one other person who may be in that situation know that it’s not OK and they don’t have to put up with it. If only to let one other person know that if you speak about it, it WILL be taken seriously. If only to let one other person know it’s not their fault.
Kayleigh was kind enough to let me post it there as I wasn’t quite brave enough to put it into my blog at that point. I feel a bit braver now but I have put it here, in the archives, backdated just so it’s not staring me in the face.