The Five Worst Words

My husband tormented me with these words for years

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Why? What was the goal?

I never understood the end goal of this conversation. Sometimes I felt Eric was trying to be funny. Other times I wondered if he thought I traveled too much for work, and this was his way of punishing me. Or was it his method of asking for attention and more conversation? In my clumsy way, I tried to meet his needs. I would talk to Eric for as long as he wanted at night. I would ask him seriously if the pets were ok, and ignore the triggering phrase “as far as you know.”

Manipulation level: expert

As the years went on, I did the only thing I could to protect myself. If Eric used the phrase “as far as you know,” I either handled or ignored the issue. When he had medical check-ups, I would ask how they went, but when he invariably answered, “I’m fine, as far as you know,” I replied, “ok,” and went on with my life.

I love you, as far as you know

As our marriage deteriorated and began to include verbal and emotional abuse, my anxiety and hatred around the phrase “as far as you know” grew. I became even more insular, making sure things in my life were running smoothly but leaving him to his life. Because of “As far as you know”, I no longer reminded him of his family’s birthdays or other significant events.

I’m living happy ever after, now

Now that I am happily divorced, I sometimes wonder about our issues. I think I could have dealt with that phrase better. At first, Eric honestly thought it was funny, and when we got married at age 19, I’m sure I did too. Later it warped into a way he could control my behavior. If he said, “As far as you know,” I would go do whatever it was that needed doing. Once I stopped setting myself up for that answer, he made sure he could still slip it into a conversation, so he must have enjoyed manipulating me. Even 5 years later, writing about these five little words has my stomach in knots.

Feminist, dirty liberal, thoughtful absurdist.

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