BIRMINGHAM-Brian Bailey, a lifetime resident of Gardendale, located right outside of Birmingham, Alabama, met Maria Cox about five years ago. They quickly dated, were engaged though they had only met two months prior, only to elope one month into the engagement. Though Brian truly believed his life to be somehow complete after marrying Maria, he soon found that things were not exactly what he had longed for in a marriage.
JSC: So she began to change, you told me in your email, Brian. Will you elaborate?
BB: Well, it began with impatience over intimate things. I mean, I would be leaving a room as she entered, and if I hugged her, she became huffy and would pull away. Sometimes she yelled, “Would you stop?”
JSC: How soon did this behavior begin?
BB: Oh, maybe not even three months into our marriage. Then she seemed embarrassed to be with me in front of people. She would actually blush when I spoke to others. She also started cutting me down with criticism in front of people.
JSC: Tell me about one of those times, Brian.
BB: Oh, man, we were in Wal-Mart and had finished shopping and were heading to the checkout lane. I unknowingly stepped in front of an older lady’s cart. Maria raised her voice and said, “Move, Brian!” Then she told the lady, “He’s just so rude sometimes, Ma’am. I apologize for him.” The lady just looked at her blankly and mumbled something about it not being necessary to apologize. It was as if the lady thought she was way out of line. God, I did too.
JSC: So it began as a type of condescension on her part, especially in public where it would be doubly humiliating, and escalated into what?
BB: She just, I don’t know – changed so much. Okay, for instance, I loved the way she worked a flower garden before we were married. A month or so after, she said she hated planting “all that crap.” In the same way, her whole attitude and feelings toward me changed. Once at a party, I saw her speaking with a guy who had just moved into our neighborhood. No big deal, right? I asked her about it later at home and she flew off the handle completely. She screamed that I was accusing her of having an affair. Well that just made me think she was!
JSC: Was she?
BB: You know, to this day, I don’t know for sure who, if anybody, Maria had sex with. It certainly wasn’t happening with her husband.
JSC: It must be difficult to have no closure over suspicions that bring such undue pain. How deep did this “you’re just accusing me of having affairs” go?
BB: Let me tell you, it was insane. She went shopping one day and I realized she had left her phone on the kitchen counter. So I got a little nosy. She had calls to a number I didn’t recognize. I got on-line and found that you can do a search called a “Reverse Lookup” for land lines. It came back to a Russell -something. When I questioned her, she said she didn’t know what I was talking about. The more I pressed, she said she believed our phone company was over-billing customers by causing their phones to dial numbers! I was shocked that she thought I would believe such a ridiculous statement! I even knew she didn’t really believe that!
JSC: Ever find out who the Russell guy is?
BB: In a way. He was no one.
JSC: I don’t follow.
BB: See, she eventually turned everything around on me and I would end up feeling wrong somehow for asking her any questions about anything she did at all. It wound up listening to her tell me that I needed to get some kind of help. If I ever questioned her, she would smirk and say, “Someone isn’t feeling well today, I believe.” But Russell was a turning point for me. I was starting to believe I was really insane and that I needed her more and more because she alone understood me! And I had to make her love me again because it was probably something I did to make her not love me any longer. Okay, I got up one morning and couldn’t find one of my shoes – for hours. She just shook her head and sighed. There are three pairs of shoes that are ruined because I could never, to this day, find the matches!
JSC: That’s incredible, Brian. And how does Russell then become what you call your “turning point?”
BB: I finally saw his number so many times that I downloaded Google Earth and mapped the address so I could just go see this guy for myself. When I knocked on his door, I was petrified. Going against Maria and investigating her was scaring the hell out of me. She had called me “Sherlock” in a cruel manner once for questioning where she had been half the day and it had hurt terribly. Basically, I found out that Maria had been talking to no one! Russell and his wife had been puzzled for a while over the strange number that would call and the caller would just sit there silently while the answering machine recorded! They played a few for me that they had saved because it had been so odd to them. When they had called the number back months before, someone (Maria) would answer, but just sit there and say nothing! It was like she was running the minutes up knowing I would check how long she was talking to this Russell guy by looking at an itemized statement of her cell phone bill!
BB: She moved all sorts of things out of place – some things just by an inch or so, other things to an entirely different room – and then proceeds to tell me she didn’t know what I was talking about when I asked her why she had moved it. She would just look at me like she was worried about me mentally. Looking back, I knew it was her, but she made it as if there was no proof it was her. If I didn’t have proof she did whatever I was asking about, I had better not even mention it to her! I remember going weeks without smiling once – confusion and sadness and fear and insecurity just rakes across a person all the time when they are a victim of this type of abuse.
JSC: Why do you think she did all these things, Brian?
BB: I believe Maria is very sick, Jeanne. The sad thing is, no one would listen to me in her family or even amongst our friends because she convinced everyone I was abusing her and divorcing her because I wanted to be with another woman.
JSC: Horrible! During the divorce hearing, did she con the judge also? And how long were you two married?
BB: That is actually the one thing that worked out in my favor. I explained to the judge everything I had realized she had been doing, and this finally resulting in me filing for a divorce. He took one look at her after I finished speaking and began scolding her for playing manipulative, painful games with people. He didn’t award her anything! I pretty much got everything, which had been mine before I married Maria, anyway. Uhm, we were married about ten months before I filed for divorce. I should have left much, much sooner, but I questioned my own instincts and mental capabilities – something no one should ever do.
JSC: In closing, Brian, is there anything you can tell other people who may be going through the same thing you did?
BB: Yeah, there is. YOU’RE NOT CRAZY. If something doesn’t make sense to you and it’s something perpetuated by someone close to you – but you still wake each morning the same person you always have, and everything else in life is logical and sane – chances are, the thing that doesn’t make sense is the gaslighter. And it’s useless to make them understand how they have hurt you, folks. If they had any sympathy or compassion, would they have thrown away one of your shoes knowing you would look forever for it and even question your sanity? Would they drive you crazy so they could have their own fun without you knowing it because they can just claim “You need help, Dear?” Love doesn’t want you to feel fear. I would have never allowed Maria to believe she was crazy, even if she had become certifiably insane! It would have broken my heart to see a tear in her eye, which by the way, I never saw.
JSC: What does the future hold for you, Brian Bailey?
BB: I’m catching up on fishing, taking in a few football games this year, going to the Alabama – Auburn game. I’m not worrying about love right now. It may or may not happen, but I’m happy now the way my life is. I don’t dwell on Maria much anymore. I don’t love her at all.
JSC: I’m very happy to hear that, Brian. Best wishes to you.