I was that annoying girl in college. You know the one who had perfectly crafted vision boards lining her dorm room walls. I had my entire life planned out. I had everything on a time line, go to law school at 23, get married at 25, and have my first kid when I was 27. And one day as Fate always does she took my perfectly crafted boards and turned them into a burning heap.
Law school!? Ha! I got accepted but never went. I chose to get married to someone who wouldn’t wait for me to finish. He told me “you can make a new dream.” The only thing on my timeline that I got right was married at 25 and after my wedding my line melted into a hot mess.
My marriage was perfect in the streets. But behind closed doors it was a mess . I fell in love with a man who only loved the idea of loving me. He had a sex addiction and put me in situations that no one should ever put their wife in. On top of that there was the daily mental and emotional abuse. He would constantly tell me that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough. That my weight is what drove him to sleep with other women and if I was skinny he wouldn’t do it. He took my light and I began to loose who I was. I believed him when he said “you will never make it on your own.” So I stayed, I stayed in a toxic marriage.
Time and time again he chose the other women over me. When I was in the hospital recovering from a pulmonary embolism and stoke (more on that later), I looked over to see him on Craig’s list looking for his next fix. It didn’t matter to him that his wife had just fought for her life, his needs were greater than mine. Frankly he cared more about the bill we’d be receiving than my actual healing. I should have left him then, instead I stayed
I stayed and ended up getting pregnant. It was an unplanned but very wanted surprise. Even in pregnancy he managed to cut me down. He didn’t like the fact that I was gaining weight and didn’t have a sex drive. It became normal for me to come out in the morning to an adjusted drivers seat. While I slept he roamed. He told me it was my fault because I got pregnant and he didn’t find me attractive.
My pregnancy wasn’t meant to be. He was in Vegas when I heard the words “I’m sorry there is no heart beat.” I called to tell him the news and he refused to fly home. He was to busy in someone else’s bed to care about his wife and now dead child. Now Sherri, Sherri did what no friend should have to do. She showed up on my doorstep, took me to the hospital and stayed with me until it was time for me to go back to surgery. She was there when I said goodbye to a son that I never got to hold. She did what my ex-husband wasn’t man enough to do, she stood by me as I breathed in the hard reality of pregnancy loss.
Sherri became a safe space for me and little by little I told her what was going on in my marriage. She slowly planted the seeds that I was good enough and capable of living on my own. Losing my son taught me that I was stronger than I could ever imagine and one day I woke up, and I took my life back. I sent Sherri a text telling her I was done and wanted to look at apartments. I left my ex-husband on that same day.
A week later I had an apartment and I moved out of my perfect suburban home. Sherri did not judge me or ask questions, she just showed up and packed. Leaving a toxic relationship isn’t easy. The last words he ever said to me were “you will never make it on your own! You will fail! No one will love you.” His words, they became my fuel. I didn’t want him to win, so I fought tooth and nail for a better life. Little by little I found myself again. I thought I had worked through my marriage on my own and that I was healed. Boy was I wrong. My emotions would bubble up to the surface and I’d shove the shame back down. Until I put on my big girl pants and found a therapist.
I finally walked into a therapist’s office four years after my divorce. Truth, I should have gone to therapy sooner. I laid everything down for Ms. Emily and she didn’t judge me. She explained to me that I had been mentally, emotionally, and sexually abused. Until that moment I never saw myself as abused. To me abuse meant physical like beating your wife and it didn’t happen to professional women like me. She explained that mental and emotional abuse are the worse forms of abuse as they leave no physical scars. Instead they leave a lifetime of pain that no one but you can see. Simple words or situations trigger me and send me back to my marriage, PE/Stroke, and death of my son. Ms. Emily diagnosed with PTSD and told me “it’s perfectly ok, you’ve been through hell dear.” She was right, I had been through hell. I wasted so much time trying to distance myself from the trauma instead of healing. The first step in the healing process was learning how to love myself and once I did that everything else fell into place and I’ve never looked back.
If you’re reading this and nodding your head, I want you to know that you are not alone. I’ve been where you are and I know how scary it is. The first step is the scariest one to take, after you take it the rest will surely follow. And I know in my heart that you can do it. You are strong and you are enough. You can and you will make it on your own. Don’t be like me, seek a therapist right away and work through the trauma you just left. And of course if you need a friend you can tune into our podcast. I promise my post divorce and dating blunders will make you laugh. Laughter is good medicine and you my dear need the strongest available dose.
If you or someone you know is in need of assistance please visit the links below: RAINN