I got pregnant. Even though I originally didn't want any children, I was excited about it - I have an ability to adjust to change easily because my dad was in the Army and we moved a lot throughout my childhood, so I consider that a blessing.
After my ex and I got married, I constantly wondered why I was unhappy because I thought I had it all - a husband, I was able to stay home with my baby, I wrote my first novel at 19, and I had time for journaling... but I was miserable. I thought it was me.
He accused me of cheating on him when I went to the grocery store. He blamed me when he carved the word "PAIN" into his forearm with a pocket knife. All of that was my fault, according to him.
He threatened to take away my babies. He threatened to kill me if I left. He threatened suicide. He threatened to hire a hit man to kill me.
And on and on.
Finally, he pointed a .45 in my face for making out with a girl... then proceeded to force us both to have sex with him. She was 16... and his step sister.
When I woke up on Mother's Day in 2005 to find finger-shaped bruises on my daughter's arms, I had it. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. The whole day was horrible... it was Mother's Day... MY day... but I don't remember feeling that horrible on any other Mother's Day since then.
I had to sneak away to escape. I'd mentioned divorce a couple of times, but he always threatened to take the kids or kill himself or kill me. I ended up in the hospital at one point with an atrial fibrilation, which is where only half of the heart is beating, so the half that still worked was beating twice as fast as the whole would normally beat. I had a 24-hour vacation from life and it corrected itself.
After I left and went to live with my parents again, I was extremely jumpy and anxious for almost 2 years, afraid that he would be lurking somewhere with his stupid gun to try to shoot me. I had my first experiences with panic attacks and flashbacks. I was extremely angry and emotional, often treating the people in my life like dirt. I turned to alcohol and drugs to kill the pain. I had a lot of meaningless sex because getting too close meant I would inevitably bawl my eyes out afterward because that was what my body and psyche were conditioned to doing.
When my little brother pointed a toy gun at me, I freaked out, started hyperventilating, kicked him, screamed at him, and couldn't breathe properly for a good 20 minutes.
My oldest daughter wouldn't go near my dad because the first time she saw him when we got back he was in uniform. My ex was in the Army. When a male would raise his voice, her instinct was to go hide in a closet in the dark.
That part of my life will never go away. Nor will it ever heal completely. Nor will it ever be okay... but that part of my life made me stronger than I ever imagined I could be, even though I liked to think of myself as a "badass" when I was a teenager. Black hair, dark makeup, biker jacket... I was a child, though, no matter how tough I looked on the outside.
What I can do now is learn from what happened. I can share what happened so that others know how much domestic violence affects the victims as well as the children who witness it. I can understand that my older two children will always have some issues and explain to them how they can make things better in their own minds, that there is life - prosperous, successful life - after a horrific experience.
There's nothing that can wake you up more effectively than a near-death experience - especially when that experience is at the hands of someone you're in love with and dependent on.
I'm starting this blog to help other victims and survivors reach out, feel less alone, and hopefully sharing some of my story will be able to help others overcome the fear that their abusers have planted in the base of their subconscious.
I'm here to tell you all that there is hope - life doesn't need to be painful or full of fear. You had dreams once, before they were painted over by that gray, black, and blue coat of fear and conforming to an abuser's control.
I want to help you rediscover those dreams and move past the fear to a place of gratitude and joy - strength, happiness, and courage.