Monday, March 30, 2015

To the Ones Still There

I do not consider myself strong, an inspiration, or even brave.  I see my flaws, my weaknesses, and my inability to protect my children when they were so young.  I see the moments of today, when I struggle to get to work on time, trying to not snap at little girls who love to stay in bed almost as much as I do, tired from rushing from one activity to the next.  I see a young girl, naive enough to believe in fairy tales, while knowing deep down something was not quite right.  Wanting more than anything that happily ever after that  every little girl dreams about.  Wanting the picture perfect family, who overcame the odds, in spite of the “rough patches.”  The life-changing testimony of a family God restored and rebuilt.  Instead, I have my story.  The one handcrafted for me by an almighty God who knew just what I would need and how I would get there.  How God did change my life, but only by removing parts of it.   

Since I posted a few weeks ago, several friends have asked if I have regrets.  Things I wish I could go back and do differently.  You may wonder the same thing.  The answer will still remain a solid, “No.”  I don’t have regrets.  I have God-given purpose.  I have lessons learned.  I have faith that is solid, knowing a God who is always faithful.  I have three precious little girls who call me, “Momma.” And sometimes, “Mom?  Mooommmm…  MOMMA!!” Even in those frustrating moments, maybe because of those moments, I have no regrets.  

My choices led me down a dark, scary path.  Not the path I thought I was choosing, but the path that ultimately led me into the love filled arms of my Savior.  I got married at 18.  I became a mom at 19, then again at 23 and again at 24.  It wasn’t easy,  nor would it be a path I would recommend.  But, it was the path I walked.  Without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  As desperately as I despise parts of where I have been, I would not be the person I am today without every single moment of where I was. 

With all of that said, my heart has been so overwhelmed in the last month with the knowledge that hundreds of thousands of women are still living the life I used to call mine.  Those women, standing at the kitchen sink, dreading the promises of the man she married.  Wondering if this might be the night he finally finishes her off.  Or makes her wish for the hundredth time he’d just hurry up and do it.  

This post is for her.  Them.  The thousands of women still there.  Still in oppression.  Still terrified of what tonight might hold.

My dear, sweet, friend…  You don’t know me, but I know you.  I know your fears.  Your worries.  Your panicked thoughts.  I have heard the words he says to you.  The lies he tells you to keep you quiet and afraid.  I have felt his hands hit my face.  His fists pummel by legs, arms, whatever might have been in his path.  The threats that you will not make it out alive.  That your kids will be hurt.  That no one will believe you.  And above all else, that no one will ever want you or treat you as good as he does. 

You work so hard to keep everything absolutely perfect.  The way he likes his socks matched, his shirts hung, and his shoes lined up.  The way he wants YOU to do it, because he doesn’t think you love him otherwise.  But, it’s just never enough.  There is always something you forget.  

Like the time dinner burned on the stove.  Or the other day when the rug didn’t get vacuumed before he got home, cheerios still sitting there from this afternoon’s snack.  Days like today, when you just don’t feel like you can possibly keep up with the ever growing lists of demands.  Sweet girls…  You will never be enough to make him happy.  He loves you, as best as he knows how, I am sure.  But, the love he shows isn’t genuine love.  It is conditional.  Based on what you can do for him.  How you make him look; how you make him feel.  You are worth more.  

When I finally decided I couldn’t live in this environment any longer, that I would never be enough, the grace of God was there, went before me.  My husband left our home.  Not without a fight, though.  It has been a long hard battle, that ensued daily for months, and even occasionally now.  What I wished I could have understood was that his abuse wouldn’t end that day.  That for months that turned into a year after, he would continue to inflict his emotional hell on my life.  That on the days he doesn't speak negatively over me, if I do not guard my mind, I will do it for him.  That it would take years to undo what he had done.  But, that I would really survive.  Thrive.  Move on.  Know how good belly laughs felt.  Or the giggles of little girls who aren’t afraid to laugh or play because Daddy is home. 

The first few months were the toughest.  I was so afraid of him, mostly because I couldn’t tell people the reason the marriage had ended.  He had promised so many times he would kill me or take the kids and run with them if I told anyone, that I didn’t want to do anything to make him want to keep that promise.  I filed for divorce after the phone calls became worse and the texts were so frequent and harassing that I just kept my phone off until I needed to make a call.  He would turn up in places he knew I’d be.  While the police were informed, they thought I was crazy.  Reminding me they couldn’t stop him from driving on the road by my house, or shopping at the grocery store at the same time.  But, with each “coincidental” meeting, the underlying message was that I would never truly be free.  That he would always be there.  That he was always waiting for me to have my guard down, so he could follow through.  

Yet, here I am.  Finding the courage to publicly speak out against him.  What I enabled him to do.  What I refused to let him do, and he forced me to do anyway.  The 8 years of hell that was my marriage.  What I learned through this experience is that these abusers are just flat out liars.  They tell us we are fat.  That we are ugly.  That no one would want a woman who had mothered three kids, whose stretch marks disgusted him.  That we aren’t even worth the time, but that we just needed someone to feel sorry for us.  That we will never be capable of taking care of ourselves, because we are just that stupid.   

These men aren’t our heroes.  They aren’t our knight in shining armor.  They really aren’t men at all.  But, they do have the power to teach us the most valuable lessons of our lives.

They have taught us what we can withstand.  That when we don’t think we are able to keep moving forward, it just takes one step at a time.  That we are far stronger than we ever thought possible.  That his words will always echo through my mind, but only I have the power to allow them to cause death in my life.  The thing they didn’t plan on  teaching us is that their constant attacks have trained us to do battle.  To become mighty warriors.  That we can survive without them.  That we do not need their put downs, in fact, we thrive without them.  We do not need them to teach our children how a woman should be treated.  By leaving, we teach our children what we are worth - what they are worth.  By healing, recovering, and fighting for ourselves, we prove to ourselves and everyone watching that we were created for greatness.  Then, one afternoon, four years later, you sit back, and look at words you typed on a screen, and finally realize you did it.  You survived.  You’re still in one piece.  And you have the rest of your life ahead of you.  

“Always remember : You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” 

~ Christopher Robin


  1. Amen.

    Hugs to you. It's hard. I've been out for 9.5 years and I still have my days, but life is genuinely better, which I know you now know.

  2. I continue to be so proud of you. And of course you know, I hope, how very much I love you!