forget me not: My JourneyFebruary 3, 2016
Over the course of several years I have been on a bit of a journey, if you would like to call it that. This journey took me far away from the person I am. So far away, in fact, that I didn’t recognize the person in the mirror. She looked the same on the outside, but if I really looked into her eyes, I didn’t know the person staring back. She was empty. She had little interest in anything. She found no joy in the happiest of occasions. She was a shell.
This was very distressing for all of the obvious reasons, of course. But what was far worse was that I couldn’t comprehend how I had let it come to this. I was a strong, independent, ambitious woman. I had a plan for my life…and this was not it.
They say it takes half the time you were in a relationship to get over it. For me, that would be eight years. I was over him within months, but being over the relationship is a whole other story. The damage that I incurred over those sixteen years has created a number of obstacles that I’ve had to overcome.
It all began as a blissful, high school romance. But, within months, there were signs I refused to see. It seemed that everything he did involved trying to control me. With every good thing that came of our relationship, his behavior and anger escalated. It started with guilting me for wanting to spend time to family and friends, to putting me down and calling me names, to manipulating circumstances to hurt me and raise himself up. Soon, everything he didn’t like about his life was my fault, and I paid for my “wrongdoing” with emotional and physical attacks.
I didn’t look right, cook right, clean right, make enough money, work enough, exercise enough, eat right, or lose enough weight. His temper would flare over the simplest of things, resulting in broken keepsakes, slaps, arm bars, wrist locks, chokes, being slammed against walls, being kicked and punched, being pinned down, emotional abuse, and my broken spirit. Through all of it, I lied to friends and family, covered for his actions and absences, and protected him with all I had. I learned that nothing would change someone who does not wish to change.
It took me sixteen years to decide I could take no more, and several months to walk out. It was something as simple as being accused of cheating that was the catalyst that propelled me out the door. I had done nothing but been faithful, in every way, while he treated me like the dirt beneath his feet. I could take no more. I didn’t realize the damage that had been done and what I had waiting for me. I had to work through health issues and psychological issues. I had to learn to interact with others again and start picking up the pieces of my life.
As I write today, I can say with confidence that I am no longer looking at that same reflection, but I am still learning to live with me. It has been exactly seven years since I faced my fears and walked out the door. Seven entire years since I said I was done and made the heart wrenching, terrifying decision to leave my marriage. It has been a journey like no other, bringing me to places I never comprehended, lows I don’t wish on my worst enemy, and love I never knew existed.
Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. It takes some of us longer than others to realize that. But, no matter how long you have stayed and endured, there is a beautiful life that can be had. Believe in yourself and find it.