I wasn’t innocent, but I never cheated on my spouse.  My dad was a serial cheater, which made me immune to the snake charms of married men. Instead, I became the moral authority. That was my sin. I weaponized my morality. Thou shalt not commit adultery was my mantra. I was the saint, and my spouse was the sinner. I attacked his addictions, past, present, and future. I’m doing everything, and he’s doing nothing.  I blamed him for it all. I hit him where it hurt, telling him he deserved every whipping from his dad. I threw his suppressed, confidential issues back up in his face. I emasculated my spouse, taunting him about Viagra, slamming his manhood, complaining about his job, and calling him a drug addict. I ranted about everything I remained silent about. Before, when my spouse went low, I went high. But I felt small, and turning the other cheek was exhausting. Now I’m going low, and I feel energized. I had zero control when my spouse came home late, looking sexed out and guilty. As soon as he opened his mouth, I closed my ears. I didn’t want to hear his lies; I wanted to rage. And I did.

I went down the list of his deadly sins, followed by hard truths he tried to minimize. I threatened to call his old, wise, sympathetic sponsor and tell him my spouse smoked weed and does not practice recovery. Period. That shut him up; he feared getting exposed to the one person he respected. I held that threat over his head. He walked away, and I followed him, still shouting obscenities. It got so bad that I started feeling sorry for him, but so what. I wanted to hurt him, and I did. I got tired of suffering in silence. I did unto him what he did unto me. Now he was the one who looked scared, humiliated, and nervous. And I was glad. My spouse walked on eggshells the next day, not me. And I called truces when I felt like it. Addicts are sensitive, they can dish it out but can’t take it, and I exploited that. I couldn’t change him, so I joined him and gave as good as I got.

I stopped my spouse dead in his tracks with my viciousness.  I laughed and boasted about my verbal victories one day, then cried and regretted them the next, but that didn’t stop me. I was mad and wanted to drive him out of the house. My spouse backed off me, but still, there was no peace because I was the one causing the chaos. I reacted instead of responding, interrupted instead of listening, and answered questions with questions. I was deliberately uncooperative and unreasonable. I was defensive and lashed out at him if he looked at me the wrong way, the right way, or at all.

This cycle went on for a while. The verbal victories began to ring hollow. I was losing whatever I was trying to win. I morphed into a scorned, resentful, judgmental, self-righteous heathen. My tongue went against my long-lost values. Going low drained me mentally, physically, and emotionally. I no longer have the appetite to fight fire with fire. Hurting my spouse hurts me. I was a hypocrite and too embarrassed to look at my kids, who heard my disgusting outbursts. My voice got hoarse, and my stomach twisted in knots. I would call in sick and then wallow in shame and guilt all day. I gave as good as I got and got nothing. I do not like myself, love myself, respect myself, or who I am becoming; I am stuck and don’t know what to do about it.