Chapter 3 – True Colours

Around middle 2006 I left my native country to join my husband in the country he lived. He had left another company where the people were “only trying to discredit” him.
This, after he refused to fly with two new pilots and felt sour that he was omitted in negotiating the purchase of a new aircraft. He said they went behind his back.
He informed everyone he knew, including the company they negotiated buying the new aircraft from, that these people “went behind his back”.Shortly after arriving in the husband’s house to start this marriage, I realised that the man I was with now, was not the same person I was with before. It was small incidents that made me realise this: A few days after I arrived I asked him to help me open a bank account. He told me nobody helped him and I am on my own. Before, I had not heard the cold, angry voice he used or experienced his attitude. When one of his friends phoned, asking for help with opening a bank account, he was helpful. Weeks later he then did make arrangements for a bank account for me without saying anything.

He made decisions concerning my time and life without even discussing it with me. For example, telling his friend he is going to “drop me off” to visit with his wife, without having asked me. I questioned him on this behaviour about 5 days after my arrival, after he invited people with on our honeymoon trip without consulting me. His reply to me was that I am the most selfish person he had ever met. Before he married “the most selfish person he had ever met” he made an issue just over where I would like to sit in a restaurant. For example, in the sun might be too hot, shade might be too cold and what about my view? Continuously asking if I would like something else to eat or drink. His excessive behaviour did irritate me then, but he was behaving in that manner with others as well and then I assumed it was the caring part of his personality.Because of his changed behaviour, I thought, this marriage is obviously a mistake and I need to leave. My shocked mother told me not to give up so easily. Saying marriage is not easy and two people have to work on it together. I pondered this. We had only been together for a week and this man was jobless and probably irritated. I decided to stay and work at the marriage. I became pregnant with our first child.

When I followed this husband in silence and complete obedience — no opinion, speaking or questions — it was bearable. If not, the man resembled a puffer blow up fish. He acted like a 4 year old, throwing a silent tantrum or ran out of the house, saying in his cold, deep voice, “If you are going to be like this, it is not going to work. You are on your own.” Sometimes he would be approachable, but I could never tell when he was the approachable man. It was always a game of chance.

He had plans to renovate his house and asked me if I did not want to take over the building project from the architect. I did not see how I would manage this effectively, as I did not speak any languages of the country or that the builders understood, I knew nothing of building and was pregnant. I refused to take the project over, but agreed to help. The building plan consisted of a new extension of 4 by 8 metres on 3 levels and a complete renovation of the old house.
This husband again found work and it required of him to be away from home a month and a half at a time. I had known his profession when I got married and this did not bother me. What did upset me was that he ignored me when he did come home. He would spend the entire day sitting on the sofa, surfing the internet and phoning people. When I spoke he would wave me away with his hand, saying I bother him and he is working.
I almost left when I was 7 months pregnant. He phoned me, from where he was, and said he had booked training for himself. The dates he gave fell over the baby’s due date! I reminded him of this. I thought maybe he had just forgotten. He replied, “When am I supposed to do my training?”
Recurrent pilot training is a 5 day training course that a pilot does every year to keep his pilot’s skills and license up to date. Various companies offer this service and a pilot booked his chosen course dates. This husband chose, knowing I was on my own in a foreign country, of which I do not speak the language, having our first child.
I did not answer him, but when the conversation ended I started packing. I reasoned I could still fly, being seven months pregnant. A friend of his phoned and I told him I am leaving and why. Shortly after this husband phoned again, saying he changed his training dates and that he had only forgotten it was the due date of the baby. I once again stayed. This friend’s wife and I went shopping a few weeks later. She told me her husband phoned him and told him not to book his training on the baby’s due date. Being embarrassed for having chosen a husband that does this to me, I made no reply. At home he denied having changed the dates because of this friend phoning him. He said he decided on his own to change the dates, having forgotten when the baby was due. Also that he already changed the date by the time this friend phoned him.

In this time I was kept busy with the building project. The building construction was to be done in three phases. The first phase was the renovation of the apartment on the second floor. We planned to live in this renovated apartment while the construction of the extension and renovation of the ground and first floors of this building were done.
There were delays and confusion. Some days, neither contractor, nor I could make contact with the architect’s building supervisor. I would end up instructing the builders on what they asked, in sign language, to enable the work to continue. The architect phoned me, saying I am interfering with his work. He said he was withdrawing from the project. This husband had asked me to take the project over, promising to put the apartment section of the house in my name as payment if I do, and I then decided to do it. Warning this husband that I was going to make mistakes. He did not seem to have a problem with that.This husband that was away from home for most of the time was also offered a contract with a corporate jet managing company. I had a dormant company registered in my home country. I opened it with the idea to develop inventions. Now, this husband said we have this company, so we can use it. I agreed to this. He asked me if I would draw up the contract between him and this corporate jet managing company and, when the contract started, also asked me to handle the invoicing. He claimed to be struggling with the computer program and said it took too much of his time. I said I will help.
This husband was still working on another contract and gave me names of pilots to contact for employment on this new contract. The pilot I employed wanted to work full time, but planned to leave after six months. This husband planned to work on this contract himself afterwards. He left his previous company for the birth of the baby. He said, because of how he left there was friction and they did not want to pay him. Around a year later he tried to sue this employer, saying he could only find new employment several months later and had to pay for his own recurrent training. These were lies. He was taking commission from his corporate jet managing contract. He also waited for the employed pilot on this contract to leave so he could take it over, meaning he did have a job. This new company also covered the expenses for his recurrent training. He did not pay for this himself.I had health problems in my last month of my pregnancy and did blood tests every 2nd-3rd day. The doctor called it Hellp syndrome, pregnancy induced hypertension. The baby was also overdue and a Caesarian section was scheduled, which I did not want. God made a woman to give birth and there must be a reason. I drank castor oil. Our first child was born in the hospital. This husband was there. He held a lamp for the doctor. He repeatedly told me, while I was recuperating in the hospital, how incredibly busy he was at home, having to do the washing. I had asked him to wash some clothes of me and the baby. We had a washing machine and dryer, but he created the impression that it was an effort for him.

The 2nd floor apartment was completely renovated by the time of the baby’s birth. The renovation of the two lower floors of the building and the exterior extension still needed to be built. We needed to move from the 1st floor apartment to the 2nd floor apartment for this. On arrival home, after about four days in the hospital, this husband asked me to help carry sofas and cupboards to the 2nd floor apartment. I did not feel well and asked him to rather phone his friends to help him do this. I doubted if I had the strength to carry a sofa up a flight of stairs. This husband was angry and told me I am ungrateful and unhelpful.
He stayed home for about three months, before taking over from the pilot which was leaving. The main construction on the extension of the house started a month later.

Apart from doing a stock take when he returned home, which included literally counting the cutlery and making me search for any that is missing until I find it, this father had more games. It involved convincing a person of having lost all their senses, perceptions and true feelings. This was done by using lies, manipulation, repetition of insults, deception and denial of what had happened or what was said. Also included in his games were dismissal or denial of another person’s emotions. To explain this to people was difficult. Small things, tiny, petty incidents were used as his justification bases for his actions and words. Used mostly in not worth mentioning, or unimportant, situations. No, he would say, I never said that, you cannot remember anymore. No, I did not put the bottle there, you cannot remember what you are doing anymore.

Eventually my thoughts were: if it is not he, then it is I, but I don’t remember putting that there. Could it be possible that I cannot remember what I am doing, seeing, saying or hearing anymore?
He would say, no, you never said you’re sorry — this while I was busy saying I’m sorry. When I point this out, he would say, no, you are not feeling sorry, I can see. If I forgot something, he would repeat, see you can’t remember what you are doing anymore. His other sayings were, you deserved to be treated badly. You were rude to me, so I will be rude to you. But, I could not remember being rude? He constantly asked where everyday things were in the house, saying I keep moving things around. When I did not rearrange cupboards at all?When I tried to discuss something with him, he cut me short, saying, “You think you know everything,” or, “You just want to fight.” There would always be punishment, for example, being ignored for days and reminded by him of what I did or said wrong, according to him.

This husband had other games as well. He would also find fault. Even the smallest incidents, for example, me closing a door too hard and then, later in the same day, I had not closed a door at all. If the wind blew a door closed he would be angry at me and stayed cross for a whole day, because of a door. His reaction was so severe I looked at this door, thinking, am I missing something? Maybe it is not still there and in working condition? But it was.
If I did counter him, he would start with respect. Respect for his “things” and my lack of it. And how this, according to him, meant I had no respect for him.

One day we climbed through a window inspecting the building site. When it was his turn, he accidentally pushed the cookie jar off the window-sill. It fell and broke. He turned to me and said, “It is your fault. You put it there.”
By accident, he pushed something off the top of the kitchen cupboard. When it fell and broke, he came to me, at the time in another room, and told me I broke it. I had put it on top of the cupboard, so I had broken it, he said.
If I tried to explain to him he had an accident. No one is to blame. This resulted in a fight, where I listened to him saying I do not have respect for his things. This always evolved into him saying I have no respect for him. And I would be ignored later as my punishment for either “not having respect”, having done or said “something” he does not approve of or for having “talked back” and then told I am rude to him.
The mistakes that I did make, or accidents I had, were hugely exaggerated on and I was constantly reminded of them.

I was kept very busy. I had the new baby, the building architecture, construction management, finding quotes for the building, this husband’s administration and the normal house management. This husband also decided that I am his personal assistant and called me this. If I refused to do something I listened to him saying how ungrateful and unhelpful I am. It felt as if I was frantically treading water the whole time.

Somehow I could not put into words what was happening. These incidents seemed so petty, meaningless and small to me. How do you complain over someone saying you had taken a simple small bottle out of the cupboard, but you did not. How do you explain to someone that a small petty incident did not make sense to you? He also made me feel like I was at fault and a bad person, which made me feel guilty, ashamed and this inhibited my speaking up. He made it sound as if he was making the correct judgement on me.

He did all this gradually and slowly. He kept periods in-between where he would be “nice” and normal. Over the years of marriage these “nice” periods shortened while his “game” periods gradually increased.

I became pregnant again when my eldest child was eight months old. During the pregnancy this husband started mentioning the one flight attendant a lot when he spoke to friends over Skype. He sang her praises and told people what a good person and worker she is. Then I started noticing a lot of pictures of her on his camera. Pictures of her and their outings. Pictures of them clinking glasses in restaurants, pictures of them on a boat, pictures of her in front of monuments, etc. He himself showed me these pictures. He always smiled in these pictures and looked happy. I did not perceive him that way at home. He never looked happy when at home unless he was speaking to a person on Skype. When I asked him if he would take me out for dinner he replied he does not enjoy going out for dinner. He said he only goes to a restaurant while working, because he needed to eat not because he likes it. Before our marriage we used to eat out and he seemed to like it.

Our second child was born when the eldest was seventeen months old. I had decided on a home birth. This father had no preferences and met with the midwife.
It was holiday season and also the builders’ holiday when I phoned the midwife at 8:30 one morning and told her I am in labour. This father kept on telling me I am exaggerating and not in labour. The midwife said if I can speak to her in such a manner, the baby is still very far away. The baby was born at 10:00. The midwife was late. This husband caught the baby. He immediately gave the child to me, saying, “He is not breathing.” The midwife did show us what to do under the circumstances, and I held this brand new life in my arms while he gave his first breath.
This husband did not understand that I needed to rest and spend time with my new baby, and ignored my requests. He invited people to visit the entire next two days and expected me to carry on as if I had not just given birth. I obliged, feeling helpless in a sense, and then got mastitis a few days later. To which I moved into the spare room with the new baby, stayed in bed for a week and for once I ignored this father. He did bring me food in bed. He phoned all his acquaintances and boasted how he had to deliver the baby.

My mother came to visit when the new baby was 1 month old. The builders had begun working again and this husband gave me instructions, as if he was ordering an employee. The building was all he spoke about. What I needed to do. How I needed to do it. What I should be busy with. What I had done wrong. I digested the whole situation and I told this husband he must say thank you to God, because He is the only reason I am still around. This husband laughed, as if I had made a joke.

Still during my mother’s visit I was speaking on Skype with this husband one evening around 23:30. I stopped speaking, because I could see his attention was not with me. He seemed to be reading on the internet and had forgotten about me. I watched on the video as the flight attendant this father had described as wonderful, walked, without knocking, into this husband’s hotel room. She came and stood against him and put her arm around his shoulders. He carried on reading, putting his arm around her waist and sat like that. After a moment he jumped up and said, “Say hullo to my wife.” When he came home, I confronted him. No, he said, he was not having an affair. She did not have a camera. She was asking him to take pictures of her, hence the many pictures of her. No, she came to fetch water in his room that night! She could not find water anywhere else, because he had the water in his room. I just listened to this.

A month later, he again showed me pictures of their sightseeing trips. These again included pictures of the camera-less flight attendant. Then I saw a picture of him, this flight attendant and another pilot on a bed, with her lying against this husband, in the crook of his arm. Not in both pilots’ arms, only his. I got upset and confronted him. He said the picture was meant as a joke. They sent it to everyone at their office, because they were accidentally booked into the same room. I was not laughing. I told him that I am not taking pictures of me with building constructors on a bed as a joke. I worked with them all day in the house. I told him it felt as if I was in a desert, dying of thirst and he was giving my water to someone else. I told him if he wants to live on the borderline where one is not entirely sure on which side of the line he really is, then he can go. For the first time this man apologised to me. This air hostess, after a year without one, managed to buy a camera. While I listened to this husband saying I am only a jealous person.
I had feelings of jealousy. I caught myself envying anyone that appeared to have a normal, loving marriage. I even envied people that said they had maternity leave with time to just spend with, and enjoy, their baby.

I used to be very sure of what I liked and wanted. This gradually changed. I became unsure of myself, doubted myself and drifted with the current. I pretended in front of visitors that everything was normal. I even pretended in front of this husband to be happy about things when I was not. My reasoning was, that I will make the sacrifice to make it work. I must just try harder to do everything right. On occasion the old me came back and I would be like a donkey, but mostly I kept silent. I reasoned the more perfect I am, the less he will have reason to complain about me. The more I do, the more he will appreciate me and not call me unhelpful, ungrateful and would not ignore me. It felt as if I was on a roller coaster. This husband told me it is my fault. I was to blame.
I do have a temper and can be a bitch, I knew it. This made me feel guilty and ashamed afterwards if I had countered him. I thought myself to be a horrible person. This man started saying I have hormone problems. He phoned my mother regularly and told her this. When I spoke to her, I would tell her something is wrong, because I don’t seem to remember things anymore. My mother would then say, you are just pregnant, you are just breastfeeding, you are just not getting enough sleep, the building is difficult for you, you have too many things on your plate. That was true, but it did not explain the hatred I felt from this husband, because I did not manage to be “perfect” somehow.

This man was mostly away and when he came home, he inspected the building site. He would tell me what I still need to do and voiced his disapproval of things that had been done. He did not instruct the builders. He expected me to do this. His contribution was to ask the builders if they wanted coffee or tea and then he made it for them. When he was away from home he would phone on the house line and then angrily ask me why I am not downstairs supervising the building.

A wealthy Russian businessman he had worked for, disappeared mysteriously. This husband laughingly told me this man had sold a company to two people. I looked, but could not find this in the news. This husband also told me they smuggled this businessman’s highly pregnant girlfriend into America, but, in the news, this businessman was married with a child?

Each month there was a problem at the bank with the payments from this husband’s corporate flying contract. The bank kept refusing to accept the money transfer from this company. They said the money is transferred in the name of a company and the account holder’s name is this husband’s. Using a friend of his, this husband then opened an account at a bank in the name of my company. I found this out when he sent me the new account details for his administration. I thought how is this possible?

I started confronting him regarding tax. I had done the administration and invoices for more than a year. As far as I could see there was no tax being payed. He replied he does not need to pay tax, since he is earning his income in another country. As far as I knew, if a company makes money it needs to pay tax. That he was using my company name started bothering me. I told him I am done doing the administration for his contract. Also that I want him to leave my company alone and use his own, like he had been doing before. After a while, mail arrived from another bank in my company name. He opened a credit card account and my company name was also on it? I got cross and told him to change it. He said he can use any name he wanted. I said, “So do that.” He did not. I kept on asking him for two years with no result. I still kept on wondering why he is not using his own company and discovered the answer. He had made me an accomplice to fraud, and he was using this to attempt to threaten me into silence.

He withdrew money in cash, walked over the street to another bank and deposited it into his fraudulent accounts. This was, simply put, a game creating difficulty in pinning the tail on the donkey. The line that lead to him was difficult to trace and proof.
I had also noticed it was as if he avoided signing any contracts with the building. He would tell me, “Handle the builders. You can speak their language.” When I did not speak their language. The architect sued this husband for payment for his first work and I was made to handle this, after this husband refused to speak to the architect. He did not answer the phone when this man tried to phone him, but would give the phone to me. The court case lasted over two years. This husband did not attend court once, translate any court papers or write any counter arguments.

That was left to me. He was nowhere.
He carried on with his internet research on the current news and phoned friends to inform them of the world situation. Nothing more important was ever happening directly around this husband that he deemed required his attention more than this research and him needing to keep contact with other people.