Monday, August 19, 2019

The Hell in Which I Lived

When I was 18 I met a man while I working and he instantly swept me off my feet. We went on our first date and we were infatuated with each other immediately. He was a marine stationed at the local base, so he wasn't originally from my area. After two weeks he "joked" about how if he gets married he gets a lot of extra money and I would be entitled to $400 of it. At 18, I thought this was a great idea. I could get an extra $400 a month, I could still do whatever I wanted, and in a year we would divorce. No big deal, right? WRONG. This began my nightmare that I lived for 5 long years.

To me, we weren't really married. To him, I was his property. The first several months involved a lot of fighting. A lot of threats, a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of days filled with tears. It should have been enough to make a "normal" person realize he wasn't a good person and I needed to run, fast. But, without him, I would have to move in with my grandparents, whom at the time I really didn't want to live with, and I wouldn't be able to afford the nice new car I had bought myself. So I stayed and ignored everything. I eventually had a night so bad that I cut myself. He called an ambulance and immediately the police handed me a leaflet on domestic violence. As I was in the ambulance about to go to the hospital I could hear the police officer yelling at him because he wouldn't give me my phone. He said it was his because he pays for it. Eventually he handed over my phone to the officer who handed it to me. Another big red flag that I completely ignored. Nothing came of that night; I was discharged from the hospital in the middle of the night and we went home.

Shortly after, I got pregnant with our first child. I was in the process of switching birth control when it happened, otherwise I wasn't ready to be a parent. I was even more trapped now. How was I supposed to take care of a child by myself? So, we began telling everyone and accepting our fate. Then one night, we got into a really big fight. I had texted my father that I was scared and he called the police. He was then arrested and we were ordered to be apart. He had to live at the barracks until further notice. For some strange reason, I continued to fight for him. I wrote letters to his chain of command asking for forgiveness. Begging, for him to be able to come home. I immediately ignored everything that had happened. I wanted my "husband" back.

Tragedy struck, and his father and brother were killed in a car accident. They let him come home and the next day we were headed to his hometown to be with his family. Tensions were high, and we got into a fight when we were 15 minutes from his parents house. He ended up getting out of the vehicle to walk, and I got a hotel. I stayed at a hotel for 3 days and then he and his mom came and got me. We dropped it. I felt very uncomfortable there. I had only met some of his family once, and felt I didn't have a right to be there because I didn't know his father or brother. His father and I were actually not on speaking terms when he passed. I eventually shut down and asked my grandparents to come get me because they would be somewhat in the area visiting another family member. When I confronted him about wanting to leave because I felt high levels of anxiety it didn't go well. We got into a big fight and I quickly wouldn't get out of the bed and stopped eating and drinking because I felt trapped. I locked myself in the bathroom (in the basement away from everyone) because I just needed to escape. I started to have a panic attack when everyone began yelling at me and I called an ambulance. I spent the night in the hospital and a family member of his eventually took me to a hotel where my grandparents came and got me.

When I returned home I found out I had been fired from my job for accompanying him home. The depression really hit. I was emotional from being pregnant, I was alone, I didn't have a working vehicle, and I felt that I was psychotic.

He eventually came back a couple weeks later and we had made up, yet again. This time, he was allowed to live with me again, after a lot of arguing with his command. I eventually got another job and we both went about our lives. When our lease was coming to an end we, well, I had asked my grandparents if we could live with them until he got out of the service (about 4 months) so we could "save" money. They agreed. Our son was born and a month later when he was discharged from the service, we moved back to his hometown. In his deceased father’s house no less.

After a few weeks, he went to work as a traveling ironworker. He was gone for several weeks at a time. I was a new mom in a town with absolutely no one and went into a spiraling depression. At the time I didn't have any idea what was happening and I didn't have anyone to reach out to for help; so it got worse and worse. Our fighting continued constantly and it got to the point I dreaded him coming home. He eventually turned to drugs, telling me I was the problem, and of course everything got worse. We already never had any money because he blew it all nonstop and it just got worse. I stopped paying bills entirely. It got to the point my grandfather was sending me money for groceries. I was living on ramen and spent everything else I was given on healthy food for my son. His mother was our landlord otherwise we probably would've been on the street. Our fights started getting so bad that when he was home things would be destroyed. In one instance he even took every TV in our house with him on the road because I didn't deserve them. I was expected to stare at the wall every day. When he was on the road he would ignore me for days at a time, while I would be left home crying and just wanting any sort of attention. It was a miserable life. But I couldn't get a job, so my only option was to go to a homeless shelter but I was too scared. Time went on and he eventually got fired from work. During his time at home we got into a fight because he thought I was cheating on him (facebook message) and he locked me out of the house and told me if I came inside he would kill me. I called the police and asked for some assistance just to get some clothes for my son and myself and I was going to sleep in my truck. The police ended up arresting him because I told them I didn't feel safe. The crazy part is I was just at the grocery store and I had a receipt to prove my whereabouts when the supposed cheating was taking place. So that was his second stint in jail in less than 2 years for domestic violence. Just like the first time, I fought for him. They wouldn't drop the charge this time, but they dropped it to disorderly contact and he was on probation and had to pay a fine. It was my fault that he had to pay the fine so of course that caused fights for weeks.

Fast forward, his mother eventually sold the house and we were forced to move within a matter of weeks. We found an apartment and moved. I also forgot to mention that I had gotten pregnant again. I was a few weeks shy of giving birth to our second child. I didn't have insurance before I got pregnant so I had no way to get birth control.

I give birth and soon after he goes back to working on the road. I was alone again, this time with 2 children. He was eventually fired because he quickly began abusing heroin (Which he admitted to me but I was still too scared to leave) and his boss (his mom) didn't want anything to do with it.

He eventually got a local job but ended up getting fired from there too because he was constantly late. Money was always tight, fights always happened, it was a nightmare. I was eventually encouraged to get a job, and I knew this was finally my chance.
While he was home our fights consistently escalated. It was to the point I was sleeping in the living room or on the floor in the kids’ room because he had screwed the bedroom door shut. I truly felt if I crossed him he would kill me. Multiple people knew that if I turned up dead, he was the reason. Our fights eventually got physical and I got to my breaking point. I eventually started recording, EVERYTHING. One day, we had gotten in a fight and when he tried to come break my phone I screamed but managed to catch him threatening me and charging at me. When the police showed up they saw the video (the kids were present as well) and saw all the damaged stuff the promptly arrested him. I had been working for a month or so at this point and was in the process of finding my own place. This was thankfully the perfect opportunity. When he got out of jail there was a restraining order in place but YET AGAIN, I ignored it. I let him come by the apartment that we shared. I had not secured my own place yet, but quickly knew I had to act fast. A friend of mine let me stay at her place for a while. Her husband asked me to leave a few weeks later. Thankfully, within a couple weeks I was able to get my own place and escape!

I moved out, but still let him see our children. Eventually I got sick of the kids coming home smelling like smoke, and I had the money to file for divorce and told him he wasn't allowed around anymore. It has been 2 years since he has seen our children. I have full custody, my divorce was granted and I haven't actually spoken to him in a while.

This is only a glimpse of the life I lived, a lot of details have been left out. I gave him $2,000 to put towards my child support so he didn't go to jail, he lived with me off and on, he was on my phone plan, etc. Even after being separated I still took care of him. There were many nights I contemplated killing myself and our kids because I couldn't stand being around him. Not to mention, I felt that if he killed me my kids would be in danger. Thankfully, I never acted on those thoughts. But nonetheless, it was brutal.

I wasn't perfect during those times. I cheated on him, I yelled back, sometimes I even instigated fights because I was so desperate for attention (even if it wasn't good attention at that). If you speak to him, he will tell you everything was my fault and I'm lying and so forth. For a long time I believed him. For a very very long time I believed I deserved everything that happened. It's been over 3 years since I left and I still struggle sometimes. I struggle in my new relationship, I struggle being a parent, I struggle attempting to be normal. I even found notebooks a little over a month ago that I used to write my feelings in. They go into intense detail of our fights and my depression. It's taken years, but I finally know that I am worth more than what he says I am. He used to say no one would ever want me with 2 kids. That I would never amount to anything. I used to believe him indefinitely. Now, I can EASILY stand up for myself because I know he can't hurt me. I know my kids are safe. I know I am safe. I know that I am worthy of a good life. I know who I am and I now know that he doesn't define me. It took me a while to leave. He was arrested 4 times during our marriage and each time I helped him get out. I regret more than anything not letting him get what he deserved.

He still affects me to this day though and will continue to for years. He is $14,000 behind in child support and I know I will never get a dime from him. Which is fine, I can take care of my kids without him. The car he drove (which I co-signed on over a year after we split) he stopped making payments on and I had to wait for him to get arrested for drug possession before I was able to get it back and get it repossessed, is hurting my credit. I'm working on it getting off my credit report so I can buy a house. But, at the end of the day, I'm okay. I'm better now. He is facing a lot of jail time for nonpayment of child support, for skipping child support court and for skipping court for his possession charges. One day I hope karma catches up with him, but in the meantime I am bettering my life one day at a time and excited for what the future holds. I never moved back home, I live in a bordering state now and my family is still 500 miles away but I have established a life that I am proud to live.