Thursday, December 12, 2019

I Survived, It Was Worth It

My life has never been easy, I grew up in a low income home and was sexually abused by my stepfather, my real father never wanted me, and my mom and I had no connection. My grandparents, great-grandparents, teachers, and friend’s parents were my only positive parental guidance. After high school I moved to Cincinnati to get away from the toxic relationship that i had with my mom. I moved in with two guys and another girl. This small town girl was enamored by the “big city” life. I moved in, thought I was invincible and had an arrogance about me. At my core I was kind and still tried to make friends, and I did, many of them. They were all so wonderful, a few are still some of my closest friends today. One of my male roommates, became a close friend and I tried everything to make him happy. He told me to jump I would ask how high. I don’t know if it was because I was rejected by most of the other men in my life but I wanted so badly for him to love me and want me. I was so blind and addicted to his charm that I ignored all of the red flags of abuse that I was about to embark on.

My confidence and self worth rapidly fell and I was trapped. There were still days and slivers of hope that I would try to convince myself that those small rare moments outweighed the abuse, and honestly I didn’t even realize it was abuse i just figured that’s what love was and it was normal. I would envy the relationships my friends had with their boyfriends/husbands that were healthy and how happy they were with each other.  I slowly became a shell of who I once was, I did things that I never thought I would do, like drank wine until I went to bed.

Finally, I had the courage to leave and get divorced. I thought I was starting over, he put his charm on even stronger, and pursued me. For a couple years I did well avoiding him, and no one seemed interested in me besides him, so I started to open my heart back up to that possibility. I prayed and asked guidance from my Grandpa (who had passed but I still have a spiritual connection with). I thought maybe God was leaning towards getting back together with him but I felt nothing from Grandpa. I chose to get back together, it was a struggle at first because he acted like he was a hot commodity and I had to compete for him. I refused and he broke off what he had going with another woman and chose me. I finally felt like he had put me above others. I again ignored the red flags, I wanted so badly to be loved and to have my son with me 24/7 that I stayed and remarried him. I wanted another child, and along came out daughter.

Once she was born and my time was taken away from stroking his ego, he went back to the narcissistic asshole. The tension was hard at home and myself and the kids were walking on eggshells. I was depleted all over again. I couldn’t understand how I had friends, or why anyone would even want to be around me. I became someone I didn’t recognize and I was not the person, mother, wife, or friend I wanted to be.

After joining a women’s group at my church they prayed so hard for me and my marriage and I wanted things to work out in God’s vision, but what I soon realized was this was not how God designed marriage to be, this was not love, it was the exact opposite. I went on a spiritual camp with thousands of other women and my small group prayed for me and encouraged me to leave if I had to in order to save myself and my kids. I found a therapist that also led a class for survivors of abuse. I had originally thought that he only abused me emotionally, and since he wasn’t actually beating the crap out of me it was ok. The more I learned and the more I realized how toxic this was for me, I began to plan my escape. The point that changed everything was the day I realized he had been sexually abusive. Yes, your own husband can sexually abuse you. Every sexual experience with him was abusive. We never made love, I was never “freaky” enough for him, yet he would never tell me what he liked, well besides having a threesome and swallowing were priorities. There were many things during the 17 years I’ve known him that I let him talk me into, whether it was sexually, financially, spiritually, and emotionally. He made me believe he wanted to get out of debt but he had no impulse control and spent money we didn’t have. Am I innocent? No, I did my fair share of spending but many times it was against what my goals were because he would throw a tantrum if he didn’t get his way.

My friends, other survivors, and therapist encouraged me that I could in fact leave him. I could make it. After things were put into motion, I walked away from the house I bought and fixed on my own, and decorated. I walked away from many things that I cherished in that home so I could be free. A quote by Glennon Doyle struck me during this time “if a woman has to choose between saving her marriage and saving her soul, she must save her soul”, and that’s what I was doing.

My dear friend had just went through a divorce herself and invited my kids and I to live with her for the time being. I don’t think I could ever repay her for the generosity that she has shown my kids and I. We had nowhere to go and she invited the three of us in. I couldn’t make it on my own, and would have either had to have moved back home in with my grandma or in low income housing. I was scared the most of failing my children because I couldn’t put a roof over their heads. I had kept praying that God would make a way for me to financially get out of the marriage and He opened this incredible door with her.

Once I moved in, the biggest weight that I had been carrying for years had been lifted. I was beginning to sleep again, and perform better at work, and enjoying life again. After the final hearing, it was a relief but felt like another day, I just had a little bit more pep in my step.

Now, I’ve reconnected with an old friend from high school. He is someone I have had feelings for since Junior year but I never had the guts to say anything. Finally, after all this time, I was vulnerable and I told him how I felt. We are dating and taking things slow for now. He made the comment that God had a reason for having us wait this long before we got together, it was his timing and not ours. I have two blessings that I wouldn’t have had and honestly, I don’t know if I would have truly appreciated him as much as I do now. He makes my heart happy, and I feel like I am finally dating my best friend, he makes me feel safe and that I can be myself with him. I can’t stop smiling because of him. It’s as if I handed him my fragile shattered heart that’s been pieced back together, and he delicately took it in his hands and has held it like a newborn baby.

If God would have told me 17 years ago “look, you’re eventually going to be happy, and find joy, and peace, and have two kids and a good man. However, you will have to go through hell and back a few times before this happens”. I would take off my shoes and march through fire if that’s how I would get to the moment I am at now. The struggle, heartbreak, and work was worth every ounce of joy I feel now. Don’t give up, don’t let the lies of a narcissist discourage you because you can do this, you can survive, but you have to do the work. It is worth it.