As some of you know, I am a survivor of domestic violence. The man I was involved with was a professional manipulator. He also had a mental illness. From early on I knew that something was wrong, and that I needed to get out, but he used my insecurities to make me stay-he blackmailed me and threatened me, and when that didn't work, he'd hit me.
I often wonder why he picked me to scam-but now I see I was the obvious choice. I was already down-just coming off a divorce, looking for someone to pay attention; to make me feel better. What he saw: someone who was smart, capable and depressed-he'd hook me, be my "savior" and then when I realized what he was doing, I'd already be in love.
The problem was that I started missing life. I started to miss my laughter and my freedom. I missed feeling special and missed being able to look nice or smile without being told how fake my "Disney Smile" was.
I started missing the people who love that smile.
I began thinking about how I could disappear-and I'm not talking about living as though no one could see me. I'm talking, not come home from work one day, disappear. I started making lists in my head, gathering information and thinking about where I'd go. See, he threatened me-told me that if I ever left he'd kill me.
I believed him. He'd threatened before. It was possible.
Then one day he blocked me from leaving the house. I knew something had to happen, otherwise I'd soon be badly broken or dead. The next day I went to work and didn't go home until he was gone.
On that bitter cold day in November, God took me by the hand, and gave me the strength to do what I couldn't the year before-I asked for help.
Ashamed and embarrassed, I looked to a then co-worker for help. She didn't know me very well, and vise versa, but somehow, she knew even before I could tell her my story. And just like that, I wasn't alone. I had Judy.
Today I look back and think about why I couldn't call my family. I know that some of them, particularly my mother, were hurt by the fact that I stayed with friends, especially because it was during Thanksgiving, which, incidentally, was also my father's birthday. But sometimes you need a place to go where the people just aren't related and don't know who you were before the moment in time in which they met you. And also, sometimes God just knows where to put you.
And He did.
I'm not certain why I chose today to write this post, or why I am even sharing this at all. Most of you already know my story-in fact, most of you are even characters in the story. I guess part of what I have learned is that not only does time heal wounds, but so does communication.
About 2 months after all of this happened, I wrote Jamie a letter. Because there was a restraining order, and also because he's nuts, I was not able to say to him all of the things I needed to. The letter never got sent, the words never read by anyone else, the hurt never got handed off to him. And I am glad that I was patient. I am glad that he never read these words...
Things and times I think of you-when I gain 5 lbs, thinking how bad you'd make me feel instead of encouraging me and helping me like I would need you to, or when I lose 5 lbs, knowing that when I'd tell you I wouldn't get a congratulations, I'd get a "Good, now lose another 95 and you'll be all set." When I decide not to put my dishes in the dishwasher or fold my clothes right away-b/c I can, and you aren't here to yell at me and make me feel lazy for working 50 hrs a week to support you AND come home to cook AND clean up the mess you made b/c you were too busy playing a computer game or digging in the dirt like a child. When I buy something to make myself feel better such as a new shirt or pants, b/c I know now I CAN look nice-it's allowed and no, I don't have a date and am not cheating just b/c I want to look nice for work. It feels damn good to be able to look pretty outside the house again. Let's see, oh! Yes, when boxes are strewn all over the floor and presents are filling up the entire room b/c it's Christmas-b/c "We have too much in this small house already!" Or when I want to fix up the house that I BOUGHT me, by myself, the house that I am so very proud of b/c no, I'M NOT SELLING IT IN A YEAR. Or when Lance has been bad and I have to put him in the cage or smack his butt lightly or knowing I won't get yelled at or threatened to get my nose rubbed in pee or shit. Or when I make a meal from a recipe and use salt-and not be accused of trying to kill you or poison you. And especially when I want to have my family over or go down there. Well damn you-these are things you took from me at one point or another and I've taken them back.
WHAT I TAKE FROM YOU-independence. Never allowing anyone to physically or mentally abuse me ever again. Strength-in knowing that I can survive, yet again, and that I am a good person, even though you tried to make me think I wasn't. Faith-a renewed sense of God's presence in my life which has been blessed with the very family and friends that you claimed so many times did not care about me. Courage-to face the things I would rather not. Freedom-from the abusive relationship that you tried so hard to hide from me by keeping me sheltered and mentally beaten down. And I take it back, I am grateful that I met you, b/c fake or not, you did make me laugh, you did show me a different side of life, and you did occasionally make me feel special.
You had a friend in me. I loved you. Know that, keep it. Because THAT is real.
"Be Well" I pray for you....
Thank you for allowing me to finally let this letter go.
*No one should ever go through the pain of being abused. If you or anyone you know is in an abusive relationship, please have the courage to get help. I am here if you need me.