Many of us grew up with like-minded aspirations of falling in love, getting married, starting a family, and making memories with them. This is the story of my first love.
I married my high school sweetheart at the age of 21 and divorced at 24. I lived a life of domestic violence that was somehow disguised as happiness and common place struggles. I spent 9 years of my life dedicated to pleasing him, caring for him, nurturing him, and ultimately enabling him. We had the best times and we had the worst times. I never saw the damage being done to me and my soul until I hit a breaking point. I found myself exhausted from just waking up every morning. It was to a point where I just didn’t want to wake up anymore. I share my story with the hopes that other people that were in my shoes will not wait until it’s too late to see the warning signs of an abusive and toxic relationship.
Fresh out of high school, we both went to college. We had dreams and goals that we shared together and set forth to make happen. Well, life happened instead and we both wound up dropping out and moving in together and took on full time jobs. Things were rocky, but I saw that as typical issues couples go through. I never understood the severity of the yelling, cursing, and occasional abandonment. He always came back and apologized and cried and said he would never do it again. I believed him. Every. Single. Time.
We got married in 2016. The wedding was not ideal. But it wasn’t what mattered to us. We loved each other and we wanted to share it with people who loved us too. This is when the verbal abuse escalated to mental and psychological abuse. There would be days where he would twist stories around and I believed them to be true. I was the perpetrator. I broke him. I never loved him. I used him for his money. I believed I was this monster because he was the one with chronic depression and I was not. At some point, I asked myself, “Then why doesn’t he leave me if I am this way?” I reached out to my good friends who honestly never knew anything behind closed doors; from an outsider’s view, we were the perfect couple. This is when my friends and family started getting concerned. Well, I sometimes listened to them but explained they will never know what it’s like living and loving a person with mental illness. They won’t get it.
I felt alone. I felt isolated. I felt like I was fighting a battle that was never going to end. The days of him attempting suicide were escalating and it seemed to be his shield or defense against me speaking out or retaliating. He was slowly losing his control over me because there was something in my head that clicked one day. I decided enough was enough. I sat him down and had a very deep conversation about respecting me and how he needed to do better and I was no longer tolerating his abuse. He acknowledged his wrongs, like always, and we went about our life together.
In 2018, we split up. We needed space, I needed space really. He did not take it well. He kept blowing up my phone, trying to force himself back into my life. He would get super understanding and be peaceful but then the next day, he was calling me a crazy bitch and that he fucking hated me. When we did see each other, that was the first time he got physically abusive. Sure he’s put holes in our walls and wrecked cars out of anger but never once laid a hand on me. It was the first and last time that happened. It was over. The police were involved and he was gone. That was my wake up call.
My rope was at its end and I was either going to hang from it or swing and jump from it. I chose to jump and take my life back. And boy, I have never looked back, only to reflect on the signs I chose to ignore.
I want people, especially women, who find themselves in my shoes to know lying, cannot be tolerated. Name calling, cannot be tolerated. Using suicide and mental illness as a crutch to manipulate you, cannot be tolerated. Punching holes in walls or destroying property, cannot be tolerated. All these are signs that lead to domestic violence of every variation. We wind up being the enablers but that is what happens when we are THE VICTIMS. However, we aren’t victims forever. We are survivors and there is life after all the chaos. It’s not easy. We will have our fair shares of struggles. Best advice: use the resources given to you: your friends, family, work place, hobbies. Do not deny help as we want to, it’s necessary and will only make the process easier.
My divorce was finalized on a summer day in 2019. This is known as the day I was finally free. I no longer needed saving.