October is domestic violence awareness month
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
A NEW LOVE interest
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
I still believed these verses and I still wanted to live these out even if he did not. But after a long time of trying I came to the realization that I couldn’t love enough for two. I could live these verses out for myself alone.
I found a new love and began a love affair that continues to this day. Shocking, I know. I didn’t plan it; it just…happened. I started going out with my girlfriends and I took up jogging. I got in shape physically and emotionally. In the process I found my self-respect and discovered that I had a lot to offer. Yes, I fell in love with another. Me.
I learned to love myself and began to take care of me. Instead of always putting him or my marriage above all else I began to put myself, my safety, and my needs first. I learned that unless I loved myself I wasn’t really worthy of love and couldn’t properly love another.
Divorce was still a dirty word. But I decided it was better than the alternative. Though I still viewed it as sin I decided that the options of suicide or murder were more sinful. These thoughts, fleeting as they were, were a wake-up call. It terrified me that I could even ponder these things.
I daydreamed about driving my car into a ravine. I envisioned picking up a knife the next time he had his hands around my throat. This shit is hazardous to your health in more ways than one! These are not normal thoughts.
It’s really bad when you either wish you were dead or, you know, there might be some unfortunate accident on your partner’s way home. This may be a startling admission on my part. But it’s honest. So I entertained the previously unthinkable and initiated a separation.
I discovered it was against my religion to enable my abuser’s behavior to continue. Eff martyrdom! Where’s the glory in that? God would surely forgive me for breaking my vows. They had long since been broken anyway. Honor, cherish, protect, love…all gone the first time he hurt me.
I could no longer live in shame. It was overwhelming and debilitating. The only way for me to continue to live was to honor myself.
I figured out that his problems were his and they didn’t have to cause me shame. I figured out that it didn’t matter what other people thought. It only mattered that I could hold my head high because I knew the truth.
I figured out that I was worth saving.
recognizing my weakness
I recognized my propensity to be insecure and self-deprecating. I recognized that I found esteem in being the perfect wife. Not from my abuser, but from my God and from those in the church. Being a help-meet was not all I was created for. It was not noble and prized by the one person who should have appreciated it.
I still had my weaknesses, no doubt, but knowing what they were my abuser could no longer exploit them at every turn. I grew weary of the mind games and emotional blackmail.
Having been emotionally tied into knots I saw the belittling for what it truly was. There was no way to be better enough. Better would never be good enough.
i was stronger
I still have that same tenacity. I’ve just employed the old slogan, ‘Work smarter, not harder’. Still, if I am a failure it won’t be said that it was because I didn’t try. I just came to the realization that I can’t fix everything. Anything can be fixed. Everything…not so much.
I could fix me and only me. He would have to do his own repair work if he thought it necessary. But I could not. In order for me to repair what had been broken inside of me I had to make different choices. I had to set up boundaries; something that before I never thought I had a right to.
I found strength in knowing I did have a choice. So I exercised my right to live in a safe, stable, sane environment.
I had to acknowledge that it was that bad no matter how often it happened. It could be worse but so what? Why should I settle for bad simply because it could be worse?
Fists are not the only way to physically abuse. I had to acknowledge that strangling, hair-pulling, pinching, and having my head bounced off of inanimate objects is physical abuse. It should have frightened me to know that he could have killed me.
People may say that sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. But that’s a lie. Words hurt and leave scars that will never completely heal. That’s what pushed me over the edge. I could have taken the punishment, but the near-constant verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse was more than I could bear.
I stopped minimizing the danger and pain I was in. Once I was out of denial, once I saw the abuse for what it really was, there simply was no way to stay.
You can find the reasons why I stayed here: Why I Stayed