I am a woman on a journey. After much soul searching I have decided to exorcise a few demons from my existence. In an earlier blog, I shared a small portion of the abuse I suffered in a marriage that endured 17 years. For the last 5 years, I have travelled down a road of self discovery and learning how to live. When I started dating my ex-husband, he swept me off of my feet. He was charming, funny and smart. I was divorced and had a 1-yr old daughter. We dated for a year, then lived together for another year before we married. We argued, but it never seemed out of the ordinary. He would tell me everything I was doing wrong and always seemed to have valid reasons for his harsh judgement. After all, he loved me and just wanted me to do everything right. I would make whatever change he requested. I would make sure the house was clean, his meals were prepared and run whatever errand that needed to be taken care of. We decided we wanted to have another child and actively took part in making sure it happened. I came home from the doctor and shared the happy news; we were pregnant. He flew into a fit of rage. He began picking up anything he could get his hands on and hurled them at the wall, shattering on impact. He was screaming face red,” What the f#*k am I supposed to do now?” I said that I though we were trying, that this is what we wanted, he said “No, it’s what you wanted!” and stormed out the door. I knew this wasn’t right somehow. I just didn’t know what the hell was happening. He returned a couple of hours later begging me to forgive his terrible behavior. He was just so suprised he didn’t know how to handle it but he really was happy. Flash forward a few months, I’m 8 months pregnant. He left his wallet in the car and I needed another dollar for the cashier waiting for me to complete my transaction. I waddled to the car to get a couple dollars out of his wallet in which I found a phone number with a woman’s name. When confronted, he became defensive and accusatory with me. He again started scraming and I knew he was losing control. He picked up a bottle of baby powder and whipped it in my direction hitting me in the right temple area. I was so dizzy I reached up to my head sobbing, thinking wow, I’m crying a lot. The front of my night gown is soaking wet. I turned to walk down the hall feeling like I was going to pass out. I flipped on the light and slid down the wall, covered in blood. I said “I’m bleeding!” He said “Boo hoo! Big baby.” I told him that I need a towel and felt like I was going to pass out. When he saw me, he went into a panic just repeating “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He convinced me that going to the hospital was not an option since we didn’t have insurance and we wouldn’t be able to pay the bill. Sitting there blood soaked, I was scared. All I could think was what was I going to do? I have a 4 year old, one on the way and it was my second marriage. I couldn’t fail at this again. I knew I was alone and trapped. He went out of his way for quite awhile to be sort of a husband until after our daughter was born. It seemed as though each day brought forth some new form of drama from belittling me, to lying and various forms of cheating. I would always be to blame somehow, some way. As my kids grew, I tried to be more independent. I was never allowed to shop or purchase anything without him. I went back to work. This was a threat to him and he found any and all reasons he could to get me back in the home, his trap. When I resisted, he became more combative. The benefits of a dual income far outweighed his want to have me home so he decided to control me in other ways. Keeping me awake all night to argue, hiding my car keys, taking my bank card or changing the password. He changed them as soon as I figured it out. He verbally assaulted me with “you’re a stupid bitch, you’re fat and useless no other man would ever want you. Get out of here before you make me hit you.”
I would try from every angle to make sense of it all but in the end it was my problem not his. When I would get up enough courage to leave, he would threaten me. He was going to keep my kids from me, no matter what it took, or he would kill me. It would be worth going to prison he said 3 hots and a cot was better than living with me. The thing is, I believed him. I would make myself think that it would get better, it never did. I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and weighed over 300 lbs. I was a type-2 diabetic, at the end of my rope and alone. I decided the first order of business was to lose weight. I was working for doctors at the time and asked them about weight loss surgery. It was a two year process before I received a lap band. As my health started to improve, my mental stability declined. I just couldn’t take it much more. The final straw was when he went to visit a family friend in another state. I knew things were strange because he hadn’t called. He usually called several times to check in and make sure we were all following his orders. Turns out, he met a woman and fell in love on a weekend trip. He tried to hide his new relationship from me but decided to tell my kids about her. He told me to get out and that, if I didn’t, he would make my life a living hell. He kept his word and did everything he could to make me leave including talking to his girlfriend in our living room with all of us sitting there, him telling her how crazy I was. He turned my kids against me and it was like i didn’t even exist. I felt like I had lost everything. I started popping xanax like Tic Tacs. I hurt so deep inside that I wanted it to go away. That’s how I ended up in the back of an ambulance, hitting rock bottom.
When the doors opened up to the hospital, I knew that life I had known was over. For 3 endless days, I sat in group after group talking, listening, learning. There was one certainty, I could live or I could die. I wanted to live! I was worth something and I matter! I was released with a new purpose – me. I was in therapy for a year . I filed for divorce and rented an apartment on the advise of council. I was also instructed to go to our bank and withdrawl half of what was in there. He had already closed the account. He was ordered to pay spousal and child support as well as my car payment. Two months later, my car was reposessed. He didn’t pay support of any kind for almost a year after the divorce. He then went on a medical leave and didn’t report that to the courts. He wouldn’t allow me to see my daughter and, on the rare occasion that she did visit, he texted and called her constantly. He bribed her with money, vacations and cell phones. I was portayed as a crazy enemy. I requested the courts help me get counciling for her. I went to her school to beg for help. They ignored me. I was helpless and trapped. I didn’t have the money to pay court costs and attorney fees. I had no income! I had no car to get to and from work. I walked to every business around my apartment looking for anyone that would hire me. I was over qualified for many and under quailified for others. I knew if I was going to make it in any way, I had to go back to school. My friends have been my unwavering source of support. My friend of 38 years gave me her car. They have helped me pay rent and buy food. They have paid for my books and school supplies. More than that, they walk behind me quietly, with strengh and patience and holding me up when this road gets to rocky to walk. They stand on the sidelines and in the shadows watching over me. I know they believe in me. I know they love me. In the meantime, both of my daughters are now out of his control. My oldest has made a new life for herself both figuratively and literally (she and her husband have a 9 month old daughter). My youngest is on her way to finding a new life for herself. I am now attending university pursuing a double major. I have come a long way.
I know my story is not uncommon. I know that my pain is not mine alone. I share this personal story in the hopes that if anyone in your life ever needs your help, you be there to help, support and stand behind them. Your standing behind a woman (or anyone, for that matter) in need may be the one thing that sets that person on the road to a new life. We are our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers.