Some place deep within me I firmly believed that staying with my husband would end my life. The years of stress had impacted my health in such a profound way that I almost lost my life. The beauty of that is that it showed me that things had to change. Deciding to leave would take two years.When I look back at the journey it blows my mind. The fear was and at times and on occasion is very real. The impact of the fear is minimal compared to the days of psychogenic seizures and bouts of amnesia related to stress.
People often feel that leaving is the end, but it is truly the beginning. You build your self-esteem in baby steps. It takes time to learn to trust yourself. The guilt is immense. My guilt came,because I felt that I had let myself down by staying with my abuser for twenty years. I’ve learned that is not the case. We make choices based on the information that we have at the time and denial is powerful. Denial is what convinces a person that their abuser will change. The brain uses denial as a defense mechanism to protect from things that are too painful to accept. Accepting the betrayal that comes with abuse is very painful. Love isn’t supposed to hurt and when it does, we search for the answer to explain why this person that we love is hurting us.
My path to peace comes from understanding that a person that does not love themselves has no chance of loving me in a healthy manner. I still have moments when his words are loud in my thoughts ,but I no longer give them power. Those thoughts are quickly dismissed. My abuser remains in conflict with the world around him and I have accepted that we are on different paths. When my former(and I stress “former”) abuser finds bizarre ways to hold on, I just shake my head. How empty his life must be to keep the fight going. A fight that I left a year and a half ago. I’ve been blessed with a beautiful life in another state and I honor it by releasing the past. It wasn’t an instant process. New wounds from the past still surface, but their power has been revoked.
In the end it was never really about me. I was always worthy of healthy love. My love was just given to a man who was not capable of healthy love. I choose to let us both off of the hook . He never had the right to abuse me or take parts of me,but I have those parts back. I’ve walked through fire and come out of the other side. My strength,courage and beauty belong to me and me alone. In my mind that is karmic balance.
I think about the last bruise that you put on me
It was a crisp November day
My soul extended you kindness
Your words were full of venom
You thought that I could be silemced
I no longer fear what you may say
I stand here big and bold as shit
Living amd loving myself beyond your anger
One of the biggest catalyst for leaving my marriage was what staying was teaching my daughter. Staying in an abusive marriage was teaching her to accept the scraps of love that someone offers and to not question if there is more.The patterns in her relationships were beginning to mirror mine and I couldn’t allow her to strive for love from men that she wasn’t giving herself. I was her role model and if I stayed then I was showing her that I didn’t respect myself and in turn teaching her not to respect herself. Yes, I left for myself, but what I was modeling to my little girl was a huge component. I didn’t want her to think marriage was the only option. It was important that she understand that as a woman she has choices. She could be a wife or live her life as a single woman, but never that marriage was the only option. If she was going to be brave with her choices then I would first need to be brave with my own. My hope was that one day she would look back and think that her mother learned to stand up for herself at 39 and that my daughter would use that to invoke her own courage concerning life choices. Yes, I was fighting for myself, but in the deepest parts of myself it was my desire to not have this cycle of abuse passed on to my daughter.
After twenty years of abuse and a catastrophic break down that impaired my cognitive functioning, it became necessary to leave my husband. I had been in treatment for PTSD since August of 2013. I left Rob in April. During a meeting with the head of my trauma team, he was educated on treatment, recovery and that living with him was unhealthy for me. Days after I left he told my daughter that I had abandoned them. Many months he lied and twisted the details of our separation. In June my estranged husband sat my daughter and I down and admitted to these actions. We had peace for a short period and then the bottom fell out. Out of the clear blue he demanded an earlier divorce after we decided that would not be an option due to my need for medical insurance to continue my treatment. He had begun dating and solicited Angela a medical provider to violate my medical privacy. In the whirlwind of all of this was our seventeen-year-old daughter.
My daughter and I were always close. Against my wishes, she had decided to live with her father. He had finally started paying her attention for the first time in her life. I have since learned that this is a tactic by abusers to begin parental alienation.
We went from visitation to his claims that she no longer wished to see me to Angela’s texts with outrageous claims of “emotional damage’. An abuser will always solicit outside parties to take up their cause. These outside parties often have little background of a situation and are one sided in their support despite claims of looking out for the child’s best interest. My daughter turned eighteen in the midst of this and the court could do very little to intervene. My daughter has been discouraged from a relationship with my family, her older brother and myself whom she was very close to. A support group has helped me identify this as parental alienation. Parental alienation is a tactic used when the abuser has lost all control of their former partner. Rob has continued to assert control that he does not have by putting in an unauthorized change of address, unauthorized pick up of a class C control substance in my name, emptied joint accounts and the list continues.
The funny part is that I laugh at his arrogance and stupidity these days. Who commits felonies and leaves a paper trail? Each action reminds me of the importance of leaving and I will always fight for myself at this point. I do not need to hide behind an outside party that has no regard for their actions or those of their partner. He is now under investigation for mail theft and she is under investigation for violation of my medical privacy. If she is found guilty, she could lose her medical credentials and he could loose his freedom. Each time that I share this story, I go back to the beginning of this journey. Leaving was the scariest thing that I did and the most profound. If you are considering leaving an abuser then prepare yourself because it can get nasty, but know that you have the strength to survive anything that is thrown your way. This is coming from a woman that s been there and thrives each day.
There was a pivotal point that I knew leaving my marriage was imperative. It had always been abusive just as my other relationships. The decision to take a journey of healing would change so much. It would require changing me more than anything else would. Through many painful days and nights, I reclaimed my bruised inner child. I learned healthy boundaries and to love myself enough to never settle. It was my time to shine.
I had helped him build everything that he had and raised his children while he stayed locked in a room playing video games their entire childhood. We met when I was around fifteen. He hit me with in six months of our marriage when I was twenty. He would eventually require therapy for porn addiction and domestic abuse. It was too late. Sixteen years had been spent waiting for him to become emotionally available. My children and I had carried the weight of his manipulation, lies and depravity long enough. A day came when we separated our bedrooms and started to live as a separated couple in the same house. My health had been too rough for us to support two households. When I look back at my fabulous self, I know that I will never settle for convenient again. The soul pays the price. Each day of those twenty years felt like doing hard time. My spirit felt as if died a little each day. After two years of living separate lives, the day came to cut all ties. I left with four changes of clothes. I left my Mercedes and designer wardrobe behind. He used my personal possessions to gain leverage. He did not rely on me being so desperate to have his negativity and abuse out of my life that he could keep those things. He eventually surrendered my stuff and I let him keep that car. He needed it to define him, but I never did. The divorce is entering the last months and I laugh each time he uses something else to manipulate.
I know my worth and it was always more than a dirt bag like this man. He still debates his abuse and claims he was “pushed” to that point. Abuse is never the survivors fault. Abusers need you broken and will do it at any costs. His current girlfriend sent text after text defending him. The only thing that I can do is laugh. My ex-husband’s abuse to my son and I was documented through years of counseling records. I know that I was not ready to see his passive aggressive nature and abuse until I was ready. The only thing that I truly left with was myself and that was all I had come for in the first place. My son and continue to thrive and grow. We are patient with ourselves and know that we will forgive him when we are ready. We do not dwell in the anger but do allow ourselves to feel it. After, a hiatus from dating, I began to date a friend. It is so different to be with a well-adjusted and secure man. We work to keep ourselves from being enmeshed in co-dependency. I lived that life for a long time and my healthy boundaries are very new so they are not second nature. It will take time and I am proud of the progress. After a lifetime of abusive men, it will not happen again.
“With time those very qualities that gave the child its aliveness-curiousity, spontaneity, ability to feel – are forced into hiding. In the process of raising, disciplining, and educating children, adults often turn the children into a predictable adult. By eradicating the child’s vulnerability (along with its lack of control), they severely damage the essential self to the child. The baby is thrown out with the bathwater. The adult world is not a safe place for children. For survival ‘ s sake, the growing youngster sends its delightful child spirit underground and locks it away. But the Inner Child never grows up and never goes away. It remains buried alive, waiting to be set free.”- Recovery of Your Inner Child by Lucia Capacchione