This week I had a moment with a friend that made me stop and realize how far I’ve come since April 2016. My friend was venting about how much she works and how when she goes home it’s to a messy house and demanding people. She arrived home at 8:30PM after working a 12 hour shift. Her husband was off all day and chose to sleep rather than be domestic. She made a dinner which her children refused to eat and her spouse couldn’t understand why she was so upset. I understood her feelings all to well.
She went on to tell me her car tire has been losing air for a month and every day she has to fill it up to get to work and then again on the way home. Her spouse wasn’t concerned by this, and he has no plans to fix it. Me being a fixer, I immediately started thinking of how to help her get it fixed. She wanted no part of it, she wants him to show he cares by fixing the tire. We both agreed it wasn’t going to happen the way she wanted. I had to do a lot of my own automotive fixes through the years. I’m an expert on oil and tires. I’ll send her to my tire guy.
When she walked away from me I was immediately grateful for Adam. Adam has spent the past 3 years trying to teach me how I should be treated. I’m still a work in progress as I don’t let him help me with much but I know if I asked he would go to the end of the earth trying to do whatever I asked. When we started dating Adam had 3 goals; to make me feel safe, comfortable and loved. He’s had his work cut out for him. PTSD is a beast!
When I was struggling in my marriage, many people told me to leave, and to get out. When I hear people advocate that option for abuse victims I understand. Normal people would leave, they would seek better surroundings. The problem lies in the self talk of the person in the abusive situation. I can only speak for myself but my self talk went something like this…Why should I leave the home I earned? I’ve paid for everything. If I leave I will have nothing. I’m to old to start over. No one will believe me. I will lose everything including my boys.
Well, guess what? I started over anyway. I lost everything. The things I held on to were old and worn out and had to be replaced. Children make their own choices, you can only influence them, not control them. Mine moved halfway across the country, and while they are in their mid 20’s it was still a bit of a sting that they both left within 2 weeks of each other. Talk about ripping the bandaid off…sheesh. Nothing is how I thought it would be.
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think maybe if I had been brave and left early in the relationship that things would have turned out different. Maybe Jerry would still be here and my older boys would be exploring Texas with him. Then I look at the little boy to my left and realize I would not have him and I just can’t imagine my life without him. I know that God works in mysterious ways and at the time T was born God knew I needed a life line. Maybe he’s an unintended consequence of me staying, a reward for enduring and adapting.
I do know this for sure, if you are in an abusive situation it is not going to get better. Leave in a manner that works for you and get help. My friends watched me suffer for years and didn’t know how to help me. I’m watching my friend now and feel helpless to help her. There is one thing I’m going to try though and that is cultivate her confidence. If I can show her and help her understand that she is brave and kind and smart and not alone; maybe just maybe she will find a way to create a safe space and get out of her situation.
I’m one of the lucky one’s and I know it. Every morning when I wake up I say a little prayer of gratitude for one more day. In 1984, I learned what domestic violence was when I lost a classmate. That event was a pivotal moment in my life and I am forever marked by it. In 2016, I learned how quickly a bad situation can go horribly wrong. One of the first things my Dad said to me was “thank goodness you are still here, this could have been so much worse”. He’s right and I’m grateful the disease Jerry had didn’t take me with him.
I’ve learned so much about myself in the last 4 years and 4 months. I want those who are suffering in bad situations to know there is hope. Life is hard enough, don’t make it harder than it has to be. If you are in a bad place talk to someone, don’t be afraid that they will judge you, most people just want to help you. Let them.
**Note: I wrote this in January of 2020 prior to Covid 19. I know Covid has made domestic violence/abuse worse. If you or someone you know needs help please call the domestic abuse hotline: 1-800-799-7233