Game of Life

Dice

I’m all for second chances. Lord knows, I gave my ex a million.

But how do you know where to draw the line?

I think most of us want to see the best in people. We are optimistic when they promise change, promise to get help, or promise they won’t hurt us anymore. What we don’t realize at the time, is that usually those promises are empty. We’re told what they know we want to hear. They know exactly what to say to pull us back in and have worked too hard to mold us into their puppet to lose us. And we’re left gambling our life away, taking a risk that they’re being serious this time. This time they mean it, this time they’ll get help, this time. . . how can you tell if they’re sincere in their desire to change their circumstances?

Yes, occasionally, the person causing you emotional pain wants to change. . . but it is a rare occasion!

Here is what I did, and suggest to others experiencing these issues:

First, if they can’t discuss your fears and concerns in a civil manner, they will not be willing to seek help for the problem at hand. Whether it be a drug addiction, constant abuse, discord (we’re talking about seeking help and change for toxic behaviors that are tearing down your relationship and possibly even endangering you). Asking them to change their personality because you’re embarrassed by how loud they are, or you don’t like it when they’re lazy is never okay.

Second, if they are willing to sincerely seek out rehab, counseling, family counseling, or therapy to overcome their addiction or problem and they are not abusive to you during the process, it may be worth it to give them another chance. However, if this is the umpteenth time you’ve been through this they are never going to change.

Third, always ensure that you are not in danger staying in your environment.  If you are in danger, seek out help immediately. It is not worth it to risk your life. Healthy relationships will never put you in danger, make you feel worthless, or feel like your concerns don’t matter.

I endured the roller coaster for so long that I exhausted every bit of my ability to forgive my ex. I reached the point to which it was easy for me to walk away because the constant emotional abuse left me depressed, resentful, and cold. Don’t wait until you are so miserable you would rather die. Don’t wait until you are no longer able to lead a happy, normal life. Don’t wait until your kids can read your pain on your face.

Your happiness is the most important because without it you cannot successfully make those around you happy. We can only pretend for so long until exhaustion takes over. Do what you need to in order to find peace.

~Christa G.

Abuse Under a Bushel

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This week’s post is by a very special guest . . . our mother.

 

Any form of abuse is not okay and you should avoid such relationships if you can. This article comes from a situation that a friend of mine is currently facing. I’ve been disciplining myself to not make Facebook a platform for discussion on religion and politics. I still need to work on that discipline. I try to be positive, most of the time, but this incident has really shaken me to the point of needing to write or do something to make us aware, not only as a person, but as Christians too. I confess, if I lived in the Victorian era I would be the mama chained to the wheel for Women’s Rights Movement. So, here I go.

A friend recently explained to me about certain issues her family is facing with their church. There is one thing about my friend that I know, they have put their life into serving the people and pastoral team. Several families are the backbone of that particular congregation. Are they perfect? No, but neither are we.

I realize every church faces different circumstances and every pastor has their way of handling these situations. I would not want to be a pastor, as I know this job is very stressful. Let’s face it, when you pastor a congregation, you are dealing with people. And dealing with other people’s problems has got to be the hardest and most frustrating job in the world. That is why it is important, that it is really your calling from God.

1 Peter 5:1-14

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

Not much else needs to be said, this verse wraps up the calling of a Pastor, but the fruit of the Spirit is also key for any Christian.

Galatians 5:22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against, such there is no law.

Abusive situations can and will arise and there are abusers even among church leaders and church members. Here are some things to look for in an abusive situation:

1) Public or private humiliation
2) Angry yelling
3) Afraid to invite others to church because of what may be said from the pulpit or by other church leaders or members
4) Ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments
5) Blame you for their own abusive behavior
6) See you as someone that can be ordered around
7) Intimidation or threats
8) Accusing and blaming
9) Judging and criticizing
10) Shunning

If you are a church member, leader, pastor, teacher or if you feel that you are in an abusive atmosphere, respect yourself by walking away. If you are enlightened and find yourself being an abuser in either one or more of these areas, you can change. We all have moments where some of these characteristics need to be squashed. However, when it is reoccurring, then we need the grace of God to change us. Self-help books, counseling, prayer…whatever it takes to help us to not abuse those around us.

I too, have taken on the mindset to be more positive, more caring, more respectful to others. It’s not always easy, as there are some times great aggravations when dealing with people. However, God is the only one that can change a heart. The only thing we can really do is encourage and support.

~Cindy C.

Impressions

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When I was a little girl, I was described as a giggle box, deliriously happy, always smiling, and a bundle of joy. I was the little blonde thing bouncing around, skipping along, singing, playing, imagining, and creating. I couldn’t sit still, but I’m pretty sure I was a bucket of fun! Always mischievous and getting into something.

And then. . . I grew up. Growing up changes us. Through our teens and early twenties, we are the most impressionable. Soaking up the actions, words, and advice of others like sponges. It only takes one insult to bring in doubts. A few jabs at your looks, intellect, actions, or opinions and your self-esteem will drop fast. And sadly, in most cases, it’s only one person wreaking havoc on your self-worth.

My unhealthy relationship took its toll on me and left me stripped of the ability to find joy. I soaked up the degradation, name-calling, and misery. And it left me feeling worthless, depressed, and confused. I began believing all of the insults and twisted stories.

I lost myself in his version of me . . .

There was a time when I heard my mother say that I was like a zombie. I showed no emotion, and seemed to be walking through life aimlessly.

My father, at one point, told me he missed my care-free spirit and the girl that laughed at everything, even the things that weren’t that funny.

I had been molded into a woman with no confidence in myself or my abilities to overcome obstacles. I was quiet, compliant, never spoke my mind, looked at myself as plain, unattractive, and unable to achieve success.

This is what happens to people that are continuously put down, and made to believe their opinions don’t matter.

This is what happens when you’re told you would look like a guy with a short haircut.

This is what happens when you’re blamed for everything that goes wrong.

This is what happens when your life is dictated by your partner.

Today, three years free of that relationship, I have found that bubbly little girl that can laugh freely. My grandfather, rest his soul, recently told me that he was glad to see me so happy and successful. People that have only recently met me can’t believe I ever struggled with low self-esteem or confidence, and can’t even begin to imagine that I was ever depressed and suicidal.

Once I was free from the manipulation, I was able to find myself. I was able to see that I am smart, confident, and successful. I was able to be the mother that my children needed. I no longer allow the degrading criticism of others to dictate how I should feel about myself.

Don’t get lost in the opinions that other people have about you. Don’t let your abuser define you.

Find yourself. Find your inner-child. Find your happy ending. . . and free yourself from those that hold you back.

I decide who I am.

~Christa G.

 

 

Slipping Away

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Sister night. Girl’s night. These were impossible to have with my sister while she was still in her abusive marriage. He always had a reason for keeping her from spending time alone with me or her friends. The only chance we had to hang out was if we went to her home, unable to speak candidly or even relax because she was still the one to have to watch the kids. I didn’t understand it at the time. I thought he was just being selfish and lazy, not wanting to have to deal with the kids once we left. I thought his reasons were more innocently mean. I thought he was just a jerk. Until I actually lived through an abusive relationship, I never realized his underlying motives.

On the surface, isolating a partner from friends and family may just seem like an act of selfish disregard. And at first, the abuser may disguise this type of control as flattery . . . “You look too sexy in that dress, I don’t want any man lusting after you . . . I don’t want you to spend time with your friends tonight, I want you all to myself . . . You’re too smart for those friends of yours, how can you hang out with them? . . . If you stay in tonight, I promise I’ll make it up to you this weekend . . .” Early on, this type of possessiveness may seem a compliment. But as the abuse continues and worsens, the isolation is a way to maintain that control. By destroying the victim’s support group, by breaking it down, it increases the victim’s dependency on their partner. This is exactly what the abuser wants, he has her right where he wants her.

Eventually, with the loss of a support group, the victim loses their individuality. My sister was able to be molded into the wifely drone that her abusive husband desired her to be. She could not express herself outside of his manipulative grasp. This is vital to obtaining complete control over someone, because they will have nowhere or no one to turn to.

I felt my sister slowly slipping away from us. She was no longer the bubbly, optimistic and loving woman I used to know. I attributed it to exhaustion, to taking care of the kids and cleaning and working all on her own. I had no idea she was little by little forfeiting her identity over to her abuser. I had no idea she was having to keep the peace in her marriage at such an expense to herself. And then one day, after I left my own unhealthy relationship and began researching patterns of abusive behavior, did my eyes truly open to the reality of my sister’s situation. It was heartbreaking, but it was like suddenly stumbling across the cure to a disease. I knew she had to leave him. He was the tumor. He was the cancer destroying every cell in her life. I knew it was a life or death matter.

Years later, I have my sister back. We now can unabashedly drink wine and eat chocolate and drunkenly sing as many Phantom of the Opera songs as our little tipsy hearts desire. I will cherish these sister nights for the rest of our lives, because there was a time when I truly thought we would never have a chance to spend time together again. There was a time when I thought her husband would keep her from us. And there are those who have lost family members to an abusive partner. Verbal abuse most often leads to physical abuse and physical abuse most often leads to death. And if verbal abuse does not lead to physical abuse, it can lead to serious depression or suicide. If you know someone who is in an abusive relationship, please go to our helpful links section of our blog, there is plenty of material out there that helped us learn how to best help our loved ones. If you have a sibling or a loved one, treasure your time together.

~Lindsey V.

Transparent

More Transparent

I write a lot about what I went through in the past with my abusive relationship, but I haven’t shared much about the night that I made up my mind to leave for good.  I tend to stay quiet about it because it was the start to some nasty rumors that tore me apart and destroyed some friendships. But tonight I am going to be completely transparent. . .

I had been working as a security guard for a few months, 12-hour shifts that could be quite boring.  I made several new friends while working that job, both male and female.  One such friend was a great listener and during times of high stress I would confide in him my marital problems. We began chatting via Facebook or text message, and it never stemmed beyond friendship. There was never any indication that he wanted more than a friendship, and I never gave that vibe either. I realize some would say a married individual should never confide in someone of the opposite sex, and maybe I was wrong . . . but I didn’t have a relationship to begin with.

I was alone in a miserable marriage, with a man that never wanted to talk, and when he did it was to belittle me or yell at me. I lived for 12 years believing I was the problem, I was unlovable, I was incompetent, I was crazy, I was a terrible mother, and an ungrateful wife. And so I talked about my frustrations with others because he wouldn’t, and didn’t care to listen.*

So, I befriended a young man that I worked with. One night, my husband went into an outrage and began throwing a fit over this friendship. He cornered me in our laundry room and while hovering over me, began accusing me of cheating on him and wouldn’t listen to reason. It was in that moment that it dawned on me, I had done nothing to deserve the way he treated me! I was the one who had been truly faithful for twelve years while he lied about going to parties, doing drugs, and spending nights with “friends.” I had endured all of his name-calling, yelling, and fits over the years. I was the one that took him back after his family decided to hold a drug intervention for him. I was the one that took care of everything. Why was I letting him get away with being angry when it should have been the other way around? When I couldn’t answer that question, I decided that it was enough. I would no longer let him dictate my every move, or decide who I could befriend, or decide when I could go out with my sister. . . I had enough. And so I left.

Of course rumors spread that I was the reason we were divorcing. I cheated on him, oh how unfortunate and pitiful for him. It ate me alive! I couldn’t stand the fact that people actually believed him. I constantly worried about how everyone viewed me. What everyone thought of me. I hated that anyone thought badly of me and was stressed over it for months. But in the end, those that truly loved me saw the entire situation for what it was. They knew the truth to everything and that was all that mattered.

If you are in an abusive relationship and are contemplating leaving, please know it will be incredibly difficult at first. One of those difficulties is that your partner will try and manipulate family and friends to think that you were the one that cheated, lied, and tore apart the relationship. They will do and say whatever necessary to appear to be the victim. Just remember to keep your head up. You know the truth, and you will be much better off when everything is settled.

~ Christa G.

*In a healthy marriage, you should discuss your problems and concerns with your spouse. It is not healthy to discuss every little issue with friends and family. They will not hold the same respect for the spouse that you will, especially if they feel that person has wronged you. This could, in turn, create a rift in family relationships that could be difficult to undo.

Dangerous Innocence

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Every time I would contemplate leaving my abusive partner the first question that would come to my mind was “what will everyone think of me?” And it wasn’t simply that they would think I didn’t try hard enough, but that they would blame me for the failure of my relationship.  It was an irrational fear, most of my close friends and family could see past his charm and knew there was more going on than I admitted. But a fear none the less, and one that kept me from leaving multiple times.

Society is chomping at the bit to throw the blame on anyone that finds themselves in a threatening situation. Women are blamed for their rape because they were dressed too provocatively, or were giving off the wrong signals, or were too drunk to say no. Women and men are blamed for their physical abuse because they were being too strong-willed, or used the wrong tone of voice, or didn’t do as they were told. Children are blamed for their abuse because they were misbehaving, or didn’t clean their room, or didn’t follow the rules. The point is the victim is usually the first to be scrutinized, and this is why so many rape and domestic violence cases go unreported every year. Victim’s fear being blamed for their torture, and fear having to relive it with every statement they make to try and gain justice.

Why are we so quick to think that the victim asked to be assaulted?  Well, she was wearing such revealing clothing, so she was asking to be raped. Remarks like this are never okay! No one wants to be beaten, raped, or dehumanized. No one deserves to be shamed and made to feel guilty for the illegal acts that someone cruelly subjected them to. Regardless of your social status, financial stature, ethnicity, gender, etc. . .  you are not at fault for the illegal and unspeakable acts done to you.

It seems as though we are quick to blame the victim because no one wants to be held accountable for their actions, but victim blaming is not just about avoiding accountability. It’s also about avoiding vulnerability. The more innocent a victim, the more threatening they are. They threaten our sense that the world is a safe and moral place, where good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. But when good people fall victim to vicious acts, it implies that no one is safe and we are all vulnerable. The idea that misfortune can be random, striking anyone at any time, is a terrifying thought. A thought we are faced with every day. Therefore, blaming the victim makes us feel that they must have played a part in the tragedy that befell them. Giving us a little more sense of security in our own well being.

It has to stop. Everyone must realize that a victim is just that, a victim that will suffer mental trauma for the rest of their life due to the unforeseen circumstances that happened to them. No one asks for it. No one deserves it. No one. Stop blaming the victim and hold abusers accountable.

~Christa G.

 

 

When Trusting You is Killing Me

 

 

Trust . . . it’s a big one. It’s HUGE.

You cannot have a successfully healthy relationship without trust.

Without trust, doubt runs rampant.

Without trust, your mind can play games.

Without trust, you will not be able to respect the other person.

I married at the age of 19. I was young, naïve, and didn’t know the meaning of doubt. I didn’t know it was possible for someone who loved me, to lie and disrespect me.

“You need to tell your husband to stop emailing my fiancé,” came the demand from a man I had never met, nor spoken to.

“What? What are you talking about?” was my surprised response.

He then proceeded to read emails that he found in his fiancé’s archived messages, from my husband, in which he claimed I was a terrible wife, a lazy mother, and I never took care of anything.

I was flabbergasted. I was the exact opposite of all of the accusations he brought against me. And while there was no romantic evidence in those emails, there was only one intent behind him gaining her pity.

Even while writing about it, the memory of the adrenaline rush and utter disbelief came rushing back to me.

Covered in a cold sweat and fighting off nausea, I hid in the bathroom, curled up on the floor, and tried to keep myself from shaking to death.

He stood outside the door and begged for forgiveness, claiming he only said those things because he knew that he was guilty of them himself and it made him feel like a loser.

And so, I felt sorry for him, and that began a long line of excuses, tall tales, and undeserved forgiveness.

This was the first panic attack of many to come in later years. We had been married for 3 years, he had just returned from Iraq, and it was the beginning to a long, drawn out history of lies, cheating, manipulation, and verbal abuse.

This was the beginning of many years of misery, degradation, pain, tears, and depression.

This was the beginning of a million empty apologies and pleas for my forgiveness.

This was the beginning of me giving him the benefit of the doubt and allowing “one more” chance to make things right.

NO MORE . . . After 12 long years, I was finally able to put an end to the madness and left.

You can only offer your forgiveness so many times, before the emotional roller coaster of being let down over and over eventually takes its toll on your mental health.

Yes, most often, you have to take a leap of faith and allow yourself to trust. Just don’t allow your trust to be stomped on time and time again.

There is a time to heal and work on your relationship, and there is a time to put your foot down.

If you find yourself being asked for forgiveness for the same mistakes every time, then you must realize . . . they are no longer mistakes, but choices being made consciously. Knowing they will hurt you and knowing that you will forgive them.

Stand up. Stand Out. Stand Tall. Take back your life, find what makes YOU happy and do it!

~Christa G.

 

Not Just a Statistic

 

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There I was again. Sitting. Alone. Crying. Over what? Most of the time I was left confused, and struggling to understand why I was being yelled at and degraded, yet again. What did I do to deserve this, was a question that constantly plagued my mind. This time was different. He had wrung out every last hope I had for us. I had been mistreated, disrespected, degraded, and neglected for so long I had no room to accept any more empty apologies. This time, I left for good.

As I sat across from a desk and listened intently to my lawyer, the severity of my situation quickly came to light. He strongly suggested that I get myself and my children into a Safe House until the situation died down. I had just explained to him the chain of events that had taken place over the last several years leading up to leaving my ex. My lawyer looked at my father and me with sincere concern. He stressed the fact that he had seen far less abusive situations, in which the estranged spouse had no history of domestic abuse, PTSD, or drug abuse, still end in tragedy. My ex possessed all of those histories. The realization of the possibility of becoming a statistic was chilling.

. . . 1 in 4 women will experience severe physical violence in their lifetime.

Against the suggestion of my lawyer, I opted to move two hours away from my ex, instead of staying in a Safe House. Besides, the Safe Houses near me were all full and I didn’t know about other organizations, such as ALIVE Inc. (Alternatives to Living In Violent Environments). So I moved in with my parents, and felt comfortable with the fact that we had some distance between us. After a year-long battle over debt, our divorce was finalized and I was able to get back to a normal life. Unfortunately, this is not the reality for many victims of domestic violence. Too often, it ends in the death of an innocent person trying to break free from their abuser.

The CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention states that Intimate Partner Violence is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans and results in serious consequences for victims, families, and communities.

  • In an average minute, about 24 people are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.
  • In 2010, 241 males and 1095 females were murdered by an intimate partner.
  • In one year, more than 12 million women and men reported being a victim of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.
  • In their lifetime, 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) report experiencing severe physical violence (e.g., hit with a fist or something hard, beaten, slammed against something) by an intimate partner.

At first I was surprised to find that the Center for Disease Control would have a division dedicated to violence prevention. But as I began to think about all of the issues caused by abuse, it made perfect sense. Not only is domestic violence to blame for thousands of deaths and millions of injuries each year, it is also a main factor for mental health issues. Domestic violence leads to millions of people being diagnosed each year with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, and other mental illnesses. Help spread awareness, support your local safe houses, and let’s find a cure to end domestic violence.

~Christa G.

Speechless

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Not all abusive relationships are with intimate partners. Some happen between co-workers, friends, or siblings. And then there are the ones between parent and child. When we think about child abuse, we often think about the children that are beat, locked in closets, and starved. Verbal abuse is the most prevalent type of abuse, and it takes place without being recognized. Tonight we share one such story with you from the perspective of a teenager, who for safety purposes, wishes to remain anonymous. The first key to overcoming manipulation and verbal abuse is to recognize that it’s taking place. Here is a piece of her journey. . .

 

One blow after another shot straight into my chest and mind. I will admit, I wasn’t prepared at all. The words I had gathered up to say had all been blown to smithereens, leaving me hopeless, confused, and lost. I had been preparing the things to tell him the entire ride here, staring out the car window at the trees that blurred by. However, now my brain’s gears had stopped grinding, and I was left speechless. His refusal to let me speak my mind was like a rope keeping my thoughts and opinions at bay. My father always had to have things his way, and he had such a manipulative way of talking it was hard not to give in to his will. The conversations I had with him were like the most intense battle I had ever seen, and I lost every time. I don’t know if it was because of fear, if my game plans weren’t good enough, or if I just didn’t have the will to speak louder than before.

I guess I need to start from the beginning. My parents divorced when I was twelve, and I wasn’t that surprised or hurt by it. They had been arguing all my life, and I never saw my father much, because he was always away, either at work or in his room. Life hustled on like always, and I just went with it, going wherever the winds of fate blew me. However, I didn’t really agree with how my father decided to live his life. He had been smoking since he was in the army, which was when he was around eighteen or nineteen. I had tried to get him to quit for so long, and those turned into miniscule arguments on their own. The point was, when I tried to tell him my opinions, he always shrugged it off with a look on his face that said, “I’m always right, and nothing you say will contradict that.” I never wanted to feel that ashamed again, I was frightened of that feeling of error. I hated it, the feeling of a scorching face as covered lies were thrown at me. Even though they weren’t the truth, the way he twisted it around made it feel like they were. I wanted to speak back, but I couldn’t make out the words. I was too afraid of that feeling, but little did I know, he was too.

One heated argument has really stood out to me. It happened a few years ago, when I had just turned thirteen. I was in my father’s apartment. It was an extremely small basement apartment, with only two rooms and one bathroom. It had a tiny kitchen, which did not have an oven, and the microwave gave off a wretched smell when we used it. I was sitting on the ragged green couch in our living room when I got a text from my mother. I didn’t know that this small text would be the cause of my horrible embarrassment later on. The text read, “How are you guys doing? What are you up to?”

I answered truthfully, “We’re not really doing anything, Dad’s in his room asleep.”

She answered me back, “Okay, well, text me if you need anything.”

Little did I know, my mom was going to get on to my father about how he was asleep, when he should be spending what little time he had with us. I was on my phone for a little bit longer when my father stormed into the living room. He looked tired, but extremely frustrated and upset.

“Jenny! Why did I just get a text from your mother telling me I should be a better father?” He bellowed.

“I-I just told her that you were asleep . . .” I stammered. His glare was putting me in the position of a mouse trapped by a cat.

“You don’t need to tell her anything!”

I opened my mouth to say something, but he kept talking.

“This isn’t her house! She isn’t here anymore! You don’t have to tell her every little thing we do!”

“I’m really sorry, I didn’t think she would get that mad . . .” I apologized. He didn’t pay my apology any attention, and just kept ranting.

He shouted more and more, for what seemed like hours. I wasn’t really listening through half of it. Instead, I was hugging my pillow, trying to hide my tears. I tried blocking him out, pleading in my mind for him to just stop already. I understood, I was sorry, and I wanted it to end so I could go back to doing whatever I was doing before I got that stupid text! I tuned in a little bit to what he was saying now.

“I might just have you leave your phone at your mother’s house so you can’t contact her at all!” My father was threatening.

I felt outraged. That wasn’t fair at all! My cheeks felt like they were burning, but I couldn’t think of a word to say that he wouldn’t contradict. I racked my mind for any kind of phrase or sentence that might hit home to him. What if I told him it was unfair? No, he’d probably just say that telling Mom everything we’re doing is unfair. Thoughts of things to tell him raced through my mind, only to be shot down by my other ones. The result ended with me not saying anything. I just sat there, vulnerable, like a sitting duck. Speechless.

Eventually, his rant died down, and it was quiet. It was a horrible, awkward silence. I had so much to say, but I hid it, and he had run out of things to say. We kind of sat in that silence for a little while, until he just walked away. Leaving me alone to my thoughts.

Time passed and I was still on the couch, my face a little pink from the crying. My dad walked in, and tried to apologize. I forgave him, of course, because he’s my dad, and I love him. I know he loves me too, he just, has his days. I don’t think he’ll ever really understand my feelings, because I don’t think I’ll ever have the guts to tell him. I know, deep down, that I’m going to have to tell him eventually. However, I don’t think that time is now. I have told myself over and over, I’m just waiting for the right moment

Well, I think that moment might be soon, really soon, but I might need a little more time to think about what I’m going to say.

Leaving

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Leaving.

To go away from.

To leave, what may have been, the majority of one’s life behind.

To step out, into the unknown.

The first time I contemplated leaving my abusive relationship, I was met with a wave of uncertainty. The what ifs of life came pouring in and stopped me in my tracks. I would outweigh the pros and cons of becoming a single mom on almost a daily basis. I was basically a single mom already, so it all boiled down to being able to afford living on my own. What would everyone think of me, though? Everyone will think I’m taking the easy way out. They’ll think I didn’t try hard enough to save my relationship. They’ll blame me. But I eventually came to the point that everyone else’s opinion of me no longer mattered. The safety and well-being of myself and my children became more important to me than anything else.  But leaving isn’t easy. Leaving requires inner-strength, support, and help from family and friends. The process is emotionally draining and becomes a psychological “tug-of-war.” My mind was being pulled in so many different directions. I knew my relationship was toxic and causing serious mental health issues for myself and my children. I knew that the most logical thing to do was to leave. And I knew that all of his promises were empty and nothing would ever change, but I was still hypnotized with his pleas for another chance.

After leaving, the psychological “tug-of-war” continued. I was inundated with text messages every day. The messages would start out with proclamations of his undying love, but they would quickly change to hostile threats, messages that would never come from someone that loves you. In one message, he would claim he missed me and couldn’t live without me, and in the very next message he would call me a cold hearted b*%#h. He would call me terrible names simply for the fact that I wouldn’t respond to his cries for me to come back. He would send messages threatening to make sure I couldn’t get full custody of the kids, and messages threatening to make my life a living hell. He would send messages telling me that I would never find anyone as good as him and so on. These messages would last several hours every day, and became so overwhelming that my father hid my phone on a few different occasions. I was in an unfortunate circumstance of not being able to cut all ties because we had children together, and he had visitation rights.

During this time, I maintained a focus on the end result. I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and knew that it was only a matter of time before the “hate mail” stopped. Soon, I would be free. I would no longer be stuck on that dreadful “roller coaster” of misery. After a couple of months away from that toxic relationship, my friends and family could see a physical change in my demeanor. My happy and carefree spirit started to resurface, and my ability to find joy was no longer hindered by belittlement and antagonism.

All abuse, whether it be verbal, emotional, sexual, or physical, present detrimentally damaging effects in all victims. So, when you decide to take the giant leap to leave, it’s best that you have a plan in mind. Have a support system available to offer strength and help during the healing period, you will need it! Look up other blogs on abuse and read other stories about overcoming an abusive relationship. It helps to know that you’re not the only one that’s been through this, you are not alone. If you haven’t left yet and are considering it, be sure to delete browser history after looking up blogs on abuse, help links, hotlines, and crisis centers.  The Emotionally Abused Woman: Overcoming Destructive Patterns and Reclaiming Yourself by Beverly Engel is a great book to help you leave an abusive relationship. Emotional abuse is often hard to detect and accept, it helps to have an objective perspective about what it is and how to deal with it. There are also crisis hotlines and abuse shelters everywhere. Search for one in your city if you need help getting away from an abusive relationship. In St. Louis, MO we have one organization in particular called A.L.I.V.E (Alternatives to Living In Violent Environments) that will go to whatever extent necessary to find a safe place for victims of violent abuse. Never be ashamed to reach out to them, they are here to help, no matter the extent of abuse.

Abuse is toxic to your mental and physical health. If you are in an abusive or violent environment, reach out to someone for help, come up with a plan to get to a safe place, and be prepared for the difficulties that will arise right after you leave. It’s best to completely cut all ties, but if you can’t, be sure to limit your conversation to only things that are necessary. And continuously remind yourself that it will get better! Eventually you will be free of their hold, you’ll feel liberated, whole, and happy again. Wait it out, don’t go back, you’ll thank yourself later…

~Christa G.