Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Closing Time

In every blog’s life this part is inevitable, the last post. Angela and I haven’t posted anything new in over a year and we’ve decided that this is something we no longer have time for. Both of our lives have had some drastic changes over the past year. Angela’s family has moved yet again (their second since we started the blog) and their latest move is taking them out of the country. For me things went a little sideways. I am no longer a stay-at-home mom, nor married. My former husband decided that the family and life we had built together were no longer what he wanted and moved on with another woman (a married woman who lived across the street). My children and I weren’t given much notice in the change of plans, and I had to make some tough decisions, so we packed up our stuff and moved to Texas to be closer to my family. The past year has been a blur with the divorce and getting my kids and I back on stable ground. We are still a work in progress but I am thrilled to be starting nursing school this Fall. Before I say farewell I wanted to talk about some personal things that have had a huge impact on my life. Things that I wish someone had talked about with me. In my marriage I was emotionally and verbally abused. It started soon after we were married. First it was little things like making fun of me or telling me that I wasn’t good at something. After our daughter was born and I left the Army to raise her, it got worse because now I had no monetary value to him, yet he was the one that begged me to leave the Army so I could raise Emily. With all this placed upon me, I spiraled into a deep pit of Postpartum depression, it got so bad I couldn’t think of anything else but dying, and because of this depression I was even more blinded by how poorly I was being treated and how that was affecting me. Being emotionally and verbally abused, to me, was very insidious, there was no clear cut sign that I was in an unhealthy relationship. And the longer the abuse occured, the more accustomed to it I became, and the easier it was to blame myself and make excuses for him. Ed never hit me but he came close a few times. One time I was so afraid that he was going to hurt me I fled the house with the kids and hid in a hotel. Hours later, I finally decided to turn my phone on, only to have him call and threaten me. He told me that if I didn’t come home he was going to call his friends that were police officers and they would come get me. It was beyond scary and I wish that night I had gone to a shelter, that I had reported what had happened. But instead I went home, because I only had $20, no gas, and no job - how was I going to feed my babies. After this incident things were better for a while, however they didn’t stay that way. At first I thought I was being dramatic, but now I realize I was just trying to keep my family together by ignoring serious warning signs. One of the biggest and scariest signs I started noticing was after getting angry with me or us fighting, Ed would go to our bedroom and pull out his handgun. He would drop the magazine, clear the chamber, reload the round into the magazine, load the magazine and chamber a round. I would have this thought every time I heard him do this - was today going to be the day he finally kills me. But I would brush the thought away, telling myself I was being dramatic. Ed did other things too, like coming home one day to tell him he was going to start up an affair with a young woman in one of his graduate level classes, he actually smiled when I broke down in tears. A few months later he would end the relationship, saying he wanted to focus on us and had realized how much the affair had hurt me. However, unbeknownst to me he had already started his affair with the married friend across the street. And a few months pass and we come to the point of the story where he tells me he wants a divorce because I never made him happy, that he never loved me and never knew why he married me. And that was it, the kids and I moved to Texas and started our new chapter. The physical separation finally allowed me to began to process everything I had gone through. I started talking to friends about the scary things that had happened in the marriage, and I finally began to see that I had been in an extremely abusive relationship. One of the friends I confided in recommended a book called “Why Does He Do That” and that really drove home that I wasn’t crazy that there were actual words that described his behavior, like gaslighting. I now know I am “lucky” to have been released from that marriage, even under the circumstance it ended in. That had it not been for the woman across the street, and Ed’s desire to watch me suffer in pain (legit, I asked him right before we left NJ if he enjoyed hurting me and he just smiled and shrugged his shoulders) I might never have gotten out. So if as you read the cliff note version of my story and see yourself in these words, please know you aren’t crazy, that the fear you have is real. You have a choice, you don’t have to stay in this relationship. I know how hard the decisions you have to make will be. If you are like me and haven’t worked in years, you are going to have some serious doubts about how you will provide for your children. You are going to be scared of a future that could includes no health insurance, no retirement and more wing and prayer than most people are comfortable with. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get free. There are days when all I want to do is be at home with my kids again, to have our “old” family back together, but it can’t be - it won’t work cause it takes two to have a marriage. It takes mutual respect and mutual love for a marriage to benefit both people. Your partner has to choose to change, you can’t save them for themself. So with that please seek guidance from your church, start being honest with your friends and family, and go to a women’s shelter and ask questions. Please remember that there is only one of you and you are precious. Know that you are valuable no matter what your spouse is saying or doing to you. You have a choice. I know this last blog post is a hefty one, but I’ve learned over the past year from telling my story that there are women going through or have been through something similar. But I would never have been able to connect with these women if I didn’t start being honest, and I think abuse in the marriage needs to be something we start talking honestly about, and maybe we can change the narrative for our daughters.

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