From a neurological and psychological standpoint, this is very curious.

Photo by Damir Spanic from Unsplash

I told this story about my ex-husband to a neuropsychiatrist friend and he said, “that’s not a little weird. This is possible psychosis.”

My friend wasn’t making a diagnosis but telling this story to him made me realize that maybe I didn’t realize how profoundly disordered my ex-husband was. To this day, I wonder what his diagnosis would be, had he gotten one. It would have made a world of difference had he been diagnosed, for clarity’s sake.

Here’s the story:

Early on when I was married, I found my husband in the stairwell of our house. He had a…

What Died As Spousal Abuse Grew.

Photo by Roberto Nickson

The feeling of taking a hot bath is something that I savor.

I love sinking into the bathtub, feeling water envelop my body.

The water casts off the world and the world becomes the tub. Everything disappears; time stops marching forward for the duration of the bath.

Serenity and a sense of pleasure embrace me.

I enjoyed baths like this for more than thirty years.

I remember the period in my life when this pleasure disappeared. Repeated baths, where I laid in the water baffled by the lack of sensation. I felt the water, but I lost the feeling of…

Jealousy Enacts Digital Abuse.

Photo by Stephen Phillips from Unsplash

When I was married, my husband went through extreme bouts of jealousy that resulted in him taking actions that violated my privacy.

One day I was driving to work, my husband was in one of his jags where he was accusing me of having multiple affairs when the truth was that he was having an affair. His own affairs made him paranoid, and he was convinced I was having an affair.

This projective mechanism in his psychology still intrigues me.

I was exhausted from his accusations and his hysteria.

Driving to work, he called me, “Who is Andreas?”

His voice…

Self-protection takes energy.

Photo by Alexis Mora Angulo from Unsplash

I had a disastrous marriage that lasted for seven years.

When I got divorced, I was in a traumatized stressful haze and I wasn’t sure what happened.

I wanted to leave for years, but something was stopping me; I was afraid, I couldn’t imagine how to take steps forward when I looked to the future, I couldn’t see a future. When I would ask myself, “how do I imagine life in a month, 6 months, a year?” All I would see is darkness, no details, I couldn’t even imagine myself walking down the street or petting a cat.

I saw…

Dumped at the ER in the Time of Illness.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Unsplash

I was visiting my friend Elizabeth in the hospital. She was in a hospital room with one other patient, an older woman named Margo.

Margo was sweet and engaging and a bit lonely; a blue-eyed woman in her seventies with white hair.

When I visited Elizabeth, often the three of us would talk; I was happy that Elizabeth wasn’t going through her illness in the hospital alone and had a roommate.

I felt something lurking in Margo; one day as we were exchanging pleasantries, she burst into tears.

“My husband dropped…

Photo by Jordy Meow from Unsplash

Back in 2002, I lived in the West Bank to keep a school open during the Second Intifada, because I believed in civil society.

The school that I taught at had multiple locations, one in Ramallah, one in East Jerusalem, and one in Bethlehem.

When the Israeli army encircled Ramallah, I was confined for around twenty-eight days under shelling and bombing. The checkpoints were sealed and I was trapped.

One day, the director of the school found out that some checkpoints would be opened, and much to my dismay, he asked me to leave Ramallah and to attempt to teach…

This was incredibly eye-opening.

Photo courtesy of Anthony Tran from Unsplash

When I got divorced, I ruminated on my husband’s behavior. I had been in a haze for years, trying to survive his chaos.

I started thinking about a particular behavior of his that I didn’t understand.

I had stopped driving to work with him two years into marriage, because of his bizarre behavior in the car.

When we turned left on one particular street three blocks from our home, it would trigger a sexual scenario in his head. This would be a Pavlovian reaction to turning LEFT on that street, not right. …

Part of who I am comes from all the relationships I had in the past.

Photo from Conscious Design

One of the many things that I couldn’t understand when I was married was the visceral disgust that my husband expressed toward my former boyfriends.

One autumn night, my husband came home from the bar drunk.

I was in the kitchen; I had spent the evening enjoying myself, making a beet salad, and cooking chicken stew.

“I’m hungry.”

I fixed him a bowl of stew and salad.

Soon after, he climbed into bed.

“My shoulder hurts.”

“Let me massage your shoulder.” I felt warm and gentle toward him.

I felt around his shoulder for inflammation.

“Is this how you massaged…

Ian from Unsplash

Reading Michelle Brown’s article Here’s the Truth About Partners Who Think You’re Cheating on Them in Heart Affairs was like drinking a gallon of water after walking lost through Death Valley parched for 9 years.

Reading Michelle’s experience about a jealous partner helped me explore my own experiences of spousal jealousy and what that did to me.

Though I knew that my ex-husband was undiagnosed for personality disorders and I intellectually knew that engaging in false accusations were part of whatever problem he had, hearing from Michelle’s lived experience made me feel solid. …

Consent is actually a deeply sexy process.

Photo by Stephen Radford

When I was married, I spent much of the time exhausted and bewildered.

I could not identify what was going on; the incessant stress impaired my cognition and I didn’t even know it. I also drank a lot of alcohol to self-medicate and that further impaired my ability to gain insight into the situation.

But one thing is clear: I did not feel emotionally safe at home.

One day early on in the marriage, I had finished a long day of teaching at a local university and was driving home and was developing a bad headache.

I called my husband…

Poppy Nagano

Researcher, cat mom, heirloom vegetable obsessed gardener.

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