Wednesday, June 22, 2016

From Victim to Survivor

I have many questions come in each month as my readers sift through and read between the lines in the many things I write about... Much of them concern being in a “toxic” relationship, whether it be emotional, verbal, physical or sexual abuse. Its a touchy subject, and while I cannot mention names or refer to one person in specific for legal reasons, I am going to attempt to tell a little more in depth about how I freed myself from being a victim of relationship abuse and made myself into a survivor of relationship abuse.

As with any, unsuspecting young woman (or maybe even young man) we usually find ourselves in toxic relationships in our younger, much younger years because we are naive about how cruel people can actually be and we are at the age when no one can tell us anything... Essentially this is the hardest part of our lives, the part where growing up means finding out you don't know a damn thing you thought you did. Many of us that find ourselves into one or more of these relationships are usually pegged at a “crazy ex” or “cheater” for the simple fact that its our side you'll never hear.

At the time, I was 16 and had just broken up with a boyfriend that cheated on me with three other girls, this I did confirm... This man who was definitely a man's age but much less in maturity made his move on me. I had very fragile self-esteem at the time ( a severe understatement really) and I thought he was an amazing person, he even made me feel amazing, like I was the best girlfriend he'd ever had. Simply put, he was not amazing, and I was the best girlfriend he ever had. Now that I look back he was so incredulously opposite of me, with only a few hobbies in common with me, he had no drive, no ambition, and an “I don't care” attitude about everything... typing this very moment, it disgusts me, how much he lacked a drive or will to do anything.... God what was I thinking?

Anyways, he was extraordinarily manipulative, when we started dating, he did whatever it took to keep me interested. He'd come over every night and play Xbox with me or I'd go over to his place every night. Now I was about two months from graduating high school at this time, so my mom let me drive one of her vehicles and I had two part time jobs to fund my summer fun....and his... Red Flag: He hardly ever paid for anything we did, if we did it was money his mom or step-dad gave him. He was in college but not full time and he refused to work while attending fact: he was only in college so that he could get the “free” grant money..... I know, I know...Don't say it.

But back to my story, we spent every night together, he always took showers (this is relevant I promise), smelled nice and dressed decent. As time passed he finished college and actually did get a nice paying job. Despite my family telling me I could do way better, him and I were determined to be a modern-day Romeo and Juliette and stay together no matter what... It was pathetic really, and I was way out of his league, but my self-esteem didn't do much for me in those days, so I figured a 375 pound asshole was the best I deserved....NOT!

A few months before we decided to get married, while I was in college, I encountered so many problems between him and my family, it was so stressful all the time. It was constant chaos, there was no end to the madness. Everyone all the time was always yelling at me and starting a fight about something he did or how I could do better. I figured the man was doing well for himself, he did get a good job, he did have a car, he didn't have his own place but he was working on it.... But what I didn't realize is he hadn't proved himself to me long enough.

I was hospitalized in the ICU for four days and spent a total of 7 days in the hospital due to a serious infection in one of my insulin pump's IV sites, on January 8, 2013. At this point, I was taken to the hospital unconscious, at the time I had collapsed from this infection, I was in the middle of a fight with my grandmother about my boyfriend. I had decided then I couldn't take this anymore and that I needed some time to think and that him and I were going to take a break. I woke up covered in my own vomit in an ambulance. Somehow some lines got crossed and all of my family, including my boyfriend was told that I had had a heart attack. Not the case, but I was very ill, near death if you will. I remember getting there and blacking out after I had an allergic reaction, I even recall bits and pieces of the doctor in the ICU shocking my heart back into rhythm. I seriously thought I had reached the end. My family all showed up and for once no one was fighting or giving me hell over my stupid decisions. At the end of the day I did make it out of that hospital alive, with a nasty scar on my thigh, one that is actually covered up by 8 mallard ducks flying. (The original thought behind that tattoo was that was sort of the “official” engagement day, but now I like to think of it as a reminder... I hope to add 4 more ducks to it to change the meaning of my tattoo to a more positive step in my life, 12 ducks for moving to Illinois to better my life on the 12th day of August, that's another story though.)

However, my boyfriend did show up from work, he had tears in his eyes. He rattled off some bullshit about how he thought I was gonna die before he could make it and he can't live without me, yada, yada, yada... And then he said he had enough money for a place and he asked me if we'd like to get married. Being the stupid teenager I was, giddy with excitement to get married, I threw my plans to break up with him and chose to marry him instead.... what a dumb idea.

Good lord, did that ever piss off my family, the only people in attendance at our wedding was my grandmother, one of my brothers and my husband's entire family....I should've known then. I remember telling my mom that if she was going to cause a scene by saying “I object” then I didn't want her there... She didn't come, I guess she wouldn't have been able to hold her tongue, I don't know. But I allowed my ex into manipulating me to think she was such a bitch and terrible mother for not attending her own daughter's wedding. In reality, if I were her, I don't blame her, what an embarrassment. I chalked up this big engagement story to my family and all this, how he got me an expensive ring... LOL OKAY WHATEVER! I bought my engagement ring ($25), my wedding band ($15) and his wedding band ($30). To the last day we were married he never ever bought me a piece of jewelry, after two years of promising to make things right and buy me a real ring set, he never did, of course he really intensified those promises when I served him with papers for divorce.

Anyways, throughout the course of our marriage, I allowed him to alienate me from my family without really even knowing it. Not only that but when we moved in together after we got married, his true side came out... Its funny how someone can hide and pretend for two years just to get a trophy wife... I was assaulted by him on a regular basis, I had doors slammed on my face, literally, I was choked to the point I had bruising on my chest cavity. I even realized I was victim to some rape, I didn't think it was rape, because I loved him, but I think back now, he had no concern for me, how I felt. He always treated me very aggressively. But of course I lied and kept him up on a damn pedestal...I thought I was fooling everyone, but I was only fooling myself. I was always covered in bruises. He would compliment me but then tear me down, if he ever got jealous of me, or saw I was making progress in life he'd pull me down so low. No one would ever love me like him, is what he told me, no one would want a divorced 20 year old girl, I was overweight at 5'7, 120 lbs (he weighed 450lbs at one point at 5'6) he would cheat on me and say it was nothing, and I'd catch him having inappropriate conversations with other girls, he'd say that he was panicking that I was going to leave him, and he didn't want to be left alone. (Really?) Jeez.

I felt so trapped all the time, my family saw that I was drowning. My mom was even afraid I'd commit suicide to get out... I didn't see an end, I hated my life... But of course, I am a Capricorn, we are known for our undying loyalty, known for being easily taken advantage of.... I loyal to that man more than he deserved.... But that's who I am.

It was not all bad though (yes it was), I did learn many things about marriage, many valuable lessons and principals that will enable me to one day be a good wife to the right man, but I will never go through that again.

I would have random breakdowns and I developed severe anxiety disorder because I had an ungodly fear of death, I didn't want to die, I didn't want to be remembered by all of mistakes and who I was married too, I didn't want my family shaking their heads in disgust as they peered into my coffin. Every time one of my health conditions acted up or went through a flare up, I thought it was my time, and I didn't want it to be my time. (Funny now, most of my health conditions are still present, but I do not have near as much trouble from them now, and they are easily treated with medicine, its amazing what stress can do.)

He made it impossible for me to socialize, I allowed him at one point to convince me that all my friends were against me and constantly conning against me along with my family. Some improvement was seen when my grandmother co-signed on a loan for me to purchase a car, I gained my independence back and this scared him into straightening up.... For a little while anyways... He went right back to being my knight in shining armor, with many apologies... Life was good for about 3 months. Then he'd slowly become aggressive again, physically and verbally. It'd slowly happen, and I'd threaten to leave and go stay a night with my mom or grandmother and he'd straighten up for another couple of months....It was a pattern, there was no constant, no stable environment.

He always acted perfectly sweet in front of everyone, even though everyone knew he was worthless, they still never took him for the abusive type. When I finally did get away, I kept my mouth shut except I spilled my guts about everything, all the lies, and trying to pull the wool over and all this crap I had done to make him look perfect, I did tell my family and my two best friends. They all nodded and said they already knew. Of course though, he started trying to peg me as a cheater, a crazy ex, someone who was with him for his money. (First of all, I believe in psychological terms this is called deflection.) He took everything he ever was to me and made it seem like I was him. He said I cheated on him with 10 guys, when I never did, heaven and hell knows he had our car most of the time anyways. I was a crazy ex, yet he was the one blowing up my phone and sending me pages of texts to try to get me to take him back. I was with him for his money, yet he was unemployed most of our marriage and went through 12 different jobs, so we lived with my family while he sucked them dry financially....

When we split up for the fifth and final time, I lost most of our mutual friends. I didn't have it in me to fight and give my side of the story, I figured if they were going to play along with his loyalty war, then they weren't really my friends at all. I went through so many emotions... At one point I almost took him back, before I moved to Illinois, I begged him to take me back, I had a few beers at this point. He refused because he was still angry that I served him with papers... When he realized a month later when I was getting my act together, had developed a successful career and graduated with Ph.D., he realized I didn't need him anymore, and he turned into that sweet, charming guy that he thought would make me look past his excessive weight gain and grocery store job. (No offense, but going from welding to a grocery store is a downgrade.) It didn't work. While I was busy playing catch up, integrating myself back into society and making friends and repairing relationships with my family, I tooled around with him to just to get my kicks.

Of course this was actually before I filed for divorce, but had already left. I would meet him, talk with him and then rip his heart out. I'd play sweet and like I was going to miss him and that I couldn't live without him, I fucked with his head just like he fucked with mine. While I see this was immature at the time, I wouldn't take it back, because sometimes, revenge feels just so right.

When you come out of an abusive relationship, you are so fucked up in the head, that you are emotionally unstable and still miserable. If you hold out though, and trust in your family and friends, you will see the light. Every day you will feel better and better about yourself, you will turn your life around. You will keep on until one point you are so happy with yourself, your life and your ambitions, that its shocking. You will learn to love the person in the mirror again.

I've been told many times that I'm cocky and arrogant, and maybe I am. But who I was a year ago today, I was so bent and broken, I was so unhappy with myself. I love who I am today, I am proud of who I am, I have a tongue like quicksilver, I am cocky, I am arrogant, I am self made, I am successful in my career and my life, not because of anyone else, but because of myself. I know what its like to be in a normal, healthy relationship, with a man that builds me up and makes me feel beautiful, who doesn't try to change me but supports me instead. I am now who I am because I chose not to be a victim, but a survivor.

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