This is a story that is long over-due and can be extremely valuable to single parents who have suffered through an abusive relationship. This is meant to be educational, but it also stands as a public apology to those I have hurt in recent years.
So you left your abusive ex-husband and you feel wounded and frail. You picked yourself back up and put your life back together caring for your young children. The feeling of doing everything on your own can be very invigorating and extremely addictive, but it important to realize that this feeling empowerment may only be temporary? Abuse related PTSD can sneak up on you when you least expect it. It happened to me and I denied it for far too long, causing more pain than I ever imagined was possible. The sad part is, all of the pain I experienced was my fault. I spent years blaming other people, and all I did was make life unbearable for myself and the people who are closest to me. I am sharing this story in an effort to make peace with myself and help others out there who may be in the same situation I was in. It is important to get help for your abuse related PTSD before your situation becomes the pain I experience today.
Mistakes at 15 Never Really Go Away
When I was 15, I was under the misconception that I controlled the world. I did exactly what I wanted, exactly when I wanted to. I dropped out of high school, moved in with a 24 year old man I had known for several years and expected to become an all mighty queen. I am sure you can guess that my life turned out completely the opposite of what I had always dreamed. Without divulging too much information about the subject, especially since the man in question would gladly attempt to sue me for revealing information about our previous relationship, I finally decided that there was a major chance of me dying whether I stayed or left.
Leaving An Awful Life Behind…At least I Thought
On December 23rd, 2006, I stood in my living room holding my one year old son. I was 2 1/2 months pregnant with my second child and ten minutes before I was filled with joy that I was carrying another bundle of joy. I knew I was going to give them the best lives they could ever imagine. At that moment, reality came crashing down around me. I was backed up against a plaster wall and my drunk husband and his brother. His brother was holding our display sword and swearing at me for becoming pregnant again and ruining his brother’s life a second time. Thoughts of the last five years of my life ran through my head at the speed of light, I still remember the exact order.
- Never being allowed friends
- If I did make friends, we had to move
- Every paycheck was handed over
- Black eyes
- Repeatedly broken jaw
- Fighting off a drunken man to remain safe
- Countless nights of tears, begging for the fists to stop flying
- Police at the door
- Lies about being clumsy, falls, bruises
- Who knows how many gallons of cover-up to cover the years of bruises
- Surviving cervical cancer and chemo while living with the most violent person I had ever met
Out of nowhere, anger took over. I could hear the two “men” in front of me laughing hysterically and talking about what they were going to do to me when I put the baby down. My mind went blank and I slowly lowered my son to the floor. I looked him in the eye and told him to run to his room, a statement he was all to familiar with. In that moment, I realized that this situation was worse than any I had ever been in before with them. I finally realized that I had to get out and doing so may cost my life, a chance that I was willing to take. This wasn’t living, I was simply dodging grenades in a war zone. Life would never get better as long as he was involved.
Ten minutes and one neighbor calling the police later, the two of us were in handcuffs, my ex-husband’s brother was being loaded in an ambulance, and my mother was coming to pick up my one year old son. All of the anger from years of abuse spilled out at once. While I do not remember the entire event, I can share what I do remember here since the case was heard in court and is now public knowledge.
When I placed my son on the floor and told him to run, I watched until he reached the door frame leaving the living room. At that moment, I remember the sword coming toward me. I reached out and grabbed, my brother-in-law’s arm and jerked around putting my back into his chest. At that moment, everything became fuzzy. I heard a loud snap and a man scream. I looked down and my brother-in-law was laying on the floor holding his arm. I had no control of my own body. I went after my then “husband.” I remember swinging repeatedly and making contact. I felt a few jolts from punches from him, but I felt no pain. The next thing I remember, the police were kicking in the door and we were all under arrest.
After spending five days in jail, all charges against me were dropped. My ex’s brother was facing 60+ years in prison, and my ex was out on a $50,000 bond. After I had my second child, a beautiful little boy, I felt what I though was post-partum depression. I talked to my doctor and he referred me to a psychiatrist. I was desperate to feel normal again so I made an appointment immediately. After several sessions, the psychiatrist revealed what she felt my diagnoses should be. He stated that he felt I had depression, PTSD, severe anxiety and a mood disorder, all caused by the horrible childhood I had dealt with and the years I had spent married to a man with an anti-social disorder, bipolar and an alcohol and drug addiction. I landed on several medications to help me pull myself together. I didn’t feel much, but I was functioning again.
Five Years Ago – Dreams Really Do Come True
After the ordeal I had been through I was not looking for anyone in my life. I had spent more than three years taking care of my children alone. I had worked two jobs, put myself through college and I was working on building a successful writing career. After years of living through hell, how could I ever trust anyone again? Why should men interest me? Dating seemed unnatural, being alone with a male friend was awkward, unsettling and scared me to no end. My best friend, who I have known since we were five-years-old talked me into joining a website called “Plenty of Fish” or as it is commonly known “POF.” While his intentions were not for me to meet the love of my life, he did want me to get back out there and see what the world had to offer. Reluctantly, I signed up and set up my profile. Even though I was not really interested, I wanted to make my friend happy. He had worried about me being alone for so long and he really was trying to help me feel better.
I sat at the computer writing and randomly checking messages I received on the website I had signed up for. Exactly what I had thought, within the first two hours of signing up, I had received over 300 messages from perverts, men with mommy issues and guys asking if they could come to my house that night. This confirmed what I had feared, men were no longer worth my time. I was about to turn of my computer for the night when I received an unexpected message. A guy who seemed genuinely interested in my mind. Somehow, we got wrapped up in conversation and before I knew it, 4 am had reared its ugly head.
In the first month, we had exchanged messages constantly throughout the day. We talked through Facebook, text message, and over the phone. I finally felt more alive than I had in years and even though I hate to admit it now, I began to fall in love with a voice on the phone. We decided to finally meet and it was the best decision I had ever made.
The Perfect Relationship
Our relationship moved extremely fast. We immediately knew we were meant to be together and we were in a hurry to start a life together. The fear of being judged for my past caused me to make a horrible decision. I stopped taking the medication that kept me going. After a few weeks, I still felt amazing. Who knew, all I need to do was move on with my life and stop living with the ghosts of my past. My nightmares stopped, my anxiety was gone, my irrational mood swings were gone, I no longer felt like I had to live in my work to make it from day to day. I never could have guessed how wrong I really was.
Within a few months, the man of my dreams, my two children and I were living together. We were expecting our first child together and I had never felt more confident, happier, or more satisfied with life. I realized how amazing he was with my older two children and they did too. Since their biological father was no longer in their lives, it made me light up that they finally had someone to call daddy. The overwhelming joy I felt when he proposed is a feeling I have never felt before and honestly cannot describe. My life was complete. At least for the moment.
A few months later, everything went awry. Life started falling apart and he was the one at fault. He had to be, I wasn’t doing anything wrong, was I? Given my mental state at the time, everything was someone else’s fault and I was working hard to provide for everyone. Why was everything happening TO me. Why was no one being fair? Why was everyone out to hurt me? Why was I surrounded by crazy people? My beautiful new life was falling apart. What was wrong with him?
I will not talk about the things he was doing at the time, mostly because the entire situation still hurts as if the wounds were created yesterday. However, I can look back now and say that his actions may have caused me emotional pain, but they were not all his fault, they were mine. I had unknowingly become emotionally distant, distracted, angry and irrational. I was beating him up emotionally and leaving him to live life on his own, taking care of my kids and the child we had together. He treated them all as though they were his own, I never saw it. There was always something to fight about and I didn’t see that he was hanging on my a thread. No one could handle what I was putting him through and I was so far out there that I didn’t notice. Everyone around me saw the massive chip on my shoulder but me.
For years, we lived like this. In my blind rage, he had been blamed for everything you can imagine. While he was guilty of some of the things I yelled at him about, many of his nights were spent being yelled at for things that happened years before we met. All of the pain and anger I had kept locked inside from my years of torment was finally spilling out and the man I love and want to spend the rest of my life with was my target. I was in such a dark place, I didn’t even see the pain I was inflicting. To add insult to injury, every time I flipped out on him, I expected everything to be fine. I expected him to forgive me for the way I acted. After all, it was his fault … at least in my head.
In the middle of this insane mess that I call my life, we welcomed our fourth child, and fourth boy, into this world.
The End of Happiness
Now that my blind fury has ended and I am finally ready to put life back together, I am hopful but heart broken and crying. I am pulling myself back together, controlling my anger, taking better care of my kids and I do so as a single mother. I spent the greater part of five years tearing down the man who sits across the room from me. I love him as much I as I did the day he proposed, but he no longer feels the same way. The words “I am sorry, I don’t love you anymore” still resonate through my head. The pain is very real. I waited too long to put things the way they should have been and there is no turning back. Our final goodbye is just months away and I have no one to blame but myself. I had a lifetime of happiness in the palm of my hand and I threw it away with my selfish pride, my unwililngess to admit I had a problem, and because I was unwilling to see that it wasn’t the world against me … it was me.
I will always love him and the pain of losing him will always be there. I lost my soulmate because I was too blind to realize that I was ill and had a problem. Even though I was dealing with a disorder that I had no control of, I still had control of what I was putting my children and the man I love through. If I had not been so caught up in denying that I had a problem, my life would have turned out a lot different. While this is meant for educational purposes, it is also a public appology to my children, to the love of my life and to everyone I have hurt over the last several years.
This may be the outcome I have to live with, but I am hoping that sharing my story will help others who are suffering through similar problems will learn from my experience and seek help before their situation becomes out of control. Abuse related PTSD is real and can have a serious affect on your life. The only person who can take control and change your destiny is you. If your life is spinning out of control, do not assume that the people around you are to blame.