Monday, July 27, 2009

Remembering My Past, Looking To My Future

Sympathetic Character –Alanis Morissette

I was afraid you'd hit me if I'd spoken up
I was afraid of your physical strength
I was afraid you'd hit below the belt
I was afraid of your sucker punch
I was afraid of your reducing me
I was afraid of your alcohol breath
I was afraid of your complete disregard for me
I was afraid of your temper
I was afraid of handles being flown off of
I was afraid of holes being punched into walls
I was afraid of your testosterone
I have as much rage as you have
I have as much pain as you do
I've lived as much hell as you have and
I've kept mine bubbling under for you
You were my best friend
You were my lover
You were my mentor
You were my brother
You were my partner
You were my teacher
You were my very own sympathetic character
I was afraid of verbal daggers
I was afraid of the calm before the storm
I was afraid for my own bones
I was afraid of your seduction
I was afraid of your coercion
I was afraid of your rejection
I was afraid of your intimidation
I was afraid of your punishment
I was afraid of your icy silences
I was afraid of your volume
I was afraid of your manipulation
I was afraid of your explosions
I have as much rage as you have
I have as much pain as you do
I've lived as much hell as you have and
I've kept mine bubbling under for you
You were my keeper
You were my anchor
You were my family
You were my savior
and therein lay the issue
and therein lay the problem

While there are some lines that didn't apply to me, the majority of this song was my life for close to 11 years. I know that I've told you some of my past with Ex#1, but I'm not sure exactly how much I've told you, or how much you even want to know.

I was only 17 when I met him; he was 26. I met him through a friend, and I was never really attracted to him. I had only had maybe 3 dates before I met him. I was at a point where I believed that I was ugly, and that no boys would ever want to date me. Looking back, it's amazing the things that I worried about as a teenager. I didn't hang around with the most appropriate people when I was in school either. When we moved to Ohio from Indiana, I ended up in 2 different schools where the kids had been together since Kindergarten. I was a social outcast. Ex#1 was the first guy who paid attention to me. I was naïve, and I fell for it. He was not drinking at the time we started dating. I had no idea about his past arrests (trafficing in marijuana, breaking and entering, DUI's and receiving stolen property). I hid it from my parents that I was seeing him.

Then I got pregnant. He started drinking again a few months before Dustyn was born. I was very ignorant to it all. I come from a family with 27 collective aunts and uncles, only 2 sets were ever divorced. They rarely ever drank, so I had no clue of the consequences his drinking could have. At any rate, I went with the flow of it all, and I thought I was happy. I worked in a low budget salon, and had low budget clients. I seemed to fit in for the first time since I moved to Ohio. Then I changed to a nicer salon. The staff was more middle class, and so were the clients. I wanted to fit in with them. When I started hanging out with the girls I worked with, things started to change. I got my driver's license to (I was 22). With that, I had more freedom than Ex#1 liked. I didn't have to depend on him to take me everywhere. I still could not come and go as I pleased though.

The abuse started slowly...at first, I didn’t even realize that the things he was saying and doing were abusive. He would say something mean, I would cry, he would apologize a few days later and I believed him. When I left that job and started a new one, things took a turn for the worse. He would take me to work every day so he didn't have to worry about me leaving, and if I did drive, he would time how long it took me to get home. He didn't want me going anywhere or doing anything with anyone. Every time we went to a hair show he would go nuts.

I started lying about the bruises. He was also sexually abusive, which I didn't realize until years later. Everyone knew what was going on. My boss went so far as to give me the number for Project Woman because they were so worried. I started bucking him. He wanted me to quit my job. He DEMANDED that I quit my job. I left him. I had left him before, but he had always manipulated me, or threatened me, into coming back. That job was more important to me than he was. He had me convinced that I could not make it without him, which for me to believe was stupid on my part. It took me 11 long years to leave and stay gone.

One major event that let to me leaving was the night he had me backed into a corner screaming at me. He was drunk, so drunk that he fell down the steps. There was a hammer lying on the kitchen table and I was trying to will myself to pick it up and hit him with it. All I could think about was that my kids would grow up without me because I would be in prison. It never dawned on me that the same scenario was possible by him killing me. He tried to choke me that night. All this happened in front of my kids. They screamed so much that he finally stopped. I dialed 911 and he took the phone from me. I knew they would come anyway, so I went to the living room and stood in front of the window so they could see me. He came down and had a hold of my arm when they pulled in. They saw it. He went to jail and I testified in front of the grand jury. They wanted to know what the argument was about, so I told them the truth, he was mad because I would not got get him Taco Bell (it was 2am). They chose not to indict him, which dropped the charges against him.

I was frantic.

He wouldn't leave the house, and he wouldn’t let me go. I had been getting my ducks in a row with child care and some other things so I could just run when I had the opportunity. One day, I decided to just turn it over to God. A week later I came home from church, he was in a drunken induced sleep, and I told the kids to grab what they wanted so we could leave. It took the 10 minutes to stuff a few trash bags full of toys while I filled laundry baskets with our clothes. We took what we could fit in the car and we went to my parents. He was LIVID. He just could not understand what he ever did wrong. I went back with a police escort a few weeks later to get more of our stuff, and they ended up taking him to jail for threatening me (when we arived, the police could see the hole he had punched in the living room wall...it went all the way through the kitchen), so I was able to get the rest of our things.

I finally had the strength I needed, and I never went back. I was happy for the first time in my life. I had a nice place and I had friends and the kids and I were making it. What I never did gain was self esteem, which is probably why I ended up with douche bag #2. I don’t know why I let myself get into that mess, but I got these beautiful kids out of it, so it wasn’t all for not.

I have PTSD from the abuse. I have a lot of triggers. The smell of beer makes me sick to my stomach. Driving past our old house makes me tense up. Sophie's coach sets off a lot of my old behaviors. The way Dustyn walks, talks, yells, gives dirty looks, etc. all make me shiver. I know it is the reason we butt heads, I also know it's the reason I give in to him when I shouldn't (I have a feeling he knows this too).

Over the years, the nightmares have stopped. I have been so fortunate in my current relationship that he has never done anything remotely like what my ex's have done. I have also learned from my past to be more sensitive to what abuse others have endured. This is one of the reasons I have considered Domestic Violence prevention as a concentration for my Social Work degree. I think there is a need for education at a middle school and high school level on the warning signs of domestic violence.

Recently, I made the decision to agree with Sophie and look for a new ball team. It has taken me almost 3 years to realize that her coach intimidates me the same way Ex#1 did. It is not healthy for me, and it is not healthy for Sophie to see everyone bow down to him, and to expect her to bow down to him. He asked me for a commitment for her to the team a few weeks ago, and I told him that I hoped to move out of town by next summer, so I could not commit. I know he is going to ask me again the next time he gets his hair cut, and I am going to tell him the same thing. I am also going to tell him that Sophie will not be able to play fall ball for him in September because it will interfere with the only day we have to spend together as a family. I know that I am taking the coward’s way out, but I HATE confrontation, and I know it will cause one if I told him that we don’t want him as a coach anymore. She is going to try out for a team in the area where Tim lives in a few weeks, and we are searching for a few more try out dates for teams in that general area. I will admit to you though, I have told more than one person (ok, so I tell everyone that will listen) that I do not want to live in Springfield by next summer.

I have my heart invested in my new relationship with Tim. We are building a very strong bond. I want us to be happy. I want us to be forever. One day, we were at the mall, sitting on a couch talking, and he asked me why I've never been married. I told him that I had been asked (and threatened at some points) but I would never do it because I knew that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with the men who asked. I know it was irresponsible of me to have kids with men I knew I didn’t want to be with, but at the time I didn’t think about what it would do to them in the future. Tim is the FIRST and ONLY person I have ever been able to envision growing old with. I can't imagine my life without him. If you want to know the truth, I have our entire wedding all planned out in my head. That is something I have never before even contemplated.

A girl can dream, can't she?

5 comments:

  1. Wow. That was powerful stuff. You should post it on Violence Unsilenced.
    http://violenceunsilenced.com/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for sharing your story with me. I am sorry to hear all that happen to you. I am happy you have found a new person in your life. But it is strange that you do go through certain things in your life then when you see things like that again it brings it all back. Thanks for being a strong person...

    ReplyDelete
  3. :( bless your heart. I'm so glad you got out of that ♥

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, that was intense to read. I'm so sorry for all that you have been through but I'm happy to know that you are a success story of a true survivor. And it's wonderful that you want to go on to help other women who are experiencing the same thing.

    Good for you on finally breaking free from him and I'm thrilled that you have found a man who is finally worthy of YOU...you deserve the best.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is my first time stopping by, but I wanted to say that I can relate too well to this post. My circumstances aren't exactly the same as yours, but we tell a very similar story. Or, I *told* a very similar story. My husband and I met over nine years ago, we've been married nearly four. I still remember feeling like he was the man I was supposed to have waited for (as opposed to the men I accepted mainly just because they'd have me... so glad to be past that). I hope that in nine years you'll still be feeling the same way about Tim that you do now.

    Hugs!

    ReplyDelete