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Moments of Insanity – Facing the Reality of an Abusive Marriage

My divorce wasn’t ugly. There was not a bloody battle regarding custody. There was never a question on who would carry health insurance for our daughter.  I never sat through mediation to discuss the split of our belongings.

If only the marriage was as easy as the divorce.

But life is never easy. There are reasons for everything, right?

During my first marriage,  I envisioned myself walking away after every demeaning word that left his mouth. I plotted my escape, with every hit. I dreamt of a new life, after every tortuous fight. My identity suffered.  Conflicted with trying to make marriage work and my sense of pride, left me tired and confused.

 

Mentally, I gave up. Physically, I stayed.

I easily accepted seeing the world through the prison cell of an abusive marriage. I continued on with my life sentence, facing the world with fake smiles and dark secrets. Hiding away in dark corners, trying to conceal the bruises and my sadness.

A sense of insanity ruled my life.

 

I was not brought up in a violent home. Mental or physical. The person that my parents raised disappeared the first time I went back to him. Each morning, as I looked in the mirror, I saw myself slowly disappearing.

 

For 2 years, I stayed. A shell of wife and mother, I went through the motions. I kept condoning his rage. His jealousy. His lying and cheating sat upon my shoulders. I accepted them as my burden to bear. Never his.

Photo Credit: Flickr https://flic.kr/p/eFZs5G
Photo Credit: Flickr
https://flic.kr/p/eFZs5G

 

I accepted his silence, instead of apologies. Silence was better than provoking the beast that lived within him. Retaliation was a never ending nightmare.

His words slowly suffocated me. I ceased to live. I quit breathing for myself. My lungs never taking in the healthy air my body and soul needed.   I started to  believe I was not good enough to be without him. That no one else would ever want me. I was ugly. I was stupid.

I became a prisoner to my fears. To his words.

 

Living inside your own fear is crippling. Your senses. Your logic. Your power is handed over   to the person who vowed to love you, but seems to only hate you.

 Waking up and Taking Action

Deciding to end my marriage was not a hard decision. I decided everyday.    Acting upon this decision, was a different story. Taking the first step was the hardest thing I had ever done.

Yes, the first step is always the hardest. But….so are the hundred or so that follow.

I opened my eyes and realized I deserved a marriage that was beautiful, as well as loving. My daughter needed a mother who was strong. If we stayed, she and I would both lose.

 

Photo Credit: Flickr https://flic.kr/p/hRCLgV
Photo Credit: Flickr
https://flic.kr/p/hRCLgV

 

Visiting a lawyer and filing for divorce was scary.  I had no idea what to expect. My marriage had been a horrible, ugly existence. Why would my divorce be any different?

The moment my husband was served the papers, I received a call from my lawyer to warn me. I had to be prepared for anything.  His rampage. His fight against my freedom.

Nothing came. Only a dreaded silence. The violence I lived with and the monster I faced for years, seemed to vanish into thin air. Like he never existed.

The calm before the storm gave me a chance to assess what I had been through.

REady to live
Photo Credit: Flickr https://flic.kr/p/9vKiza

At the time, I didn’t define what I lived through as abuse. I only thought of it as a failed marriage. That somehow I caused his anger. I caused him to chip away at my identity with demeaning words. It was my fault. My staying was the reason for everything bad that occurred.

Fear still existed inside me, but I was able to work on building strength.  With this, came clarity.  Then acceptance set in. Anchoring me to my new reality.

I was going to be okay. I was breathing on my own. I was living.

The day my divorce was finalized, I entered the courtroom expecting to slay the demons that have lain dormant for the past 60 days. The room was majestic and intimidating to my young, twenty year old self.  Heavy wood accents and large windows broke up the monotony of  beige walls and business suits.

Standing in front of the judge, I held my head high and attempted to show signs of courage. The sunlight entered through the windows, casting glittery, unwelcome spotlights on the people seated in the wood benches behind me. My own cheering section of silent strangers, awaiting to face their own destiny.

His name was called. I turned to survey the room, but I only saw strangers. Some brave enough to meet my gaze. Some turning their heads, pretending they were invisible. Nowhere did I see the man I had vowed to live through life with.

We waited. But, he never showed. He chose to run and hide, instead of facing the end.

The empty echo of the slamming gavel, shook me.  That was it. A complete stranger, declared that I was free. My husband was now my past. He was now only a “he” that could no longer torment my life.

Legally, my nightmare was over. Mentally, I was still healing.

 

Healing. Accepting Life. Finding Beautiful Love.

My divorce began the healing process. It was not my end, but a new beginning.

My marriage left scars. They still exist, but no longer hurt.  Only serving as a reminder of my strength. I no longer deny that I was in an abusive relationship. Coming to terms with my past, allowed me to live my future.

Letting go of the embarrassment and the stigma that abuse held over me was difficult. Maybe I never actually let it all go, but I realize now that I am more than that specific moment in my life.

With the darkness of divorce, there came a light. I know……..that sounds cliché, but I have no other way to describe my relationship with my 2nd husband.  He is the love of my life.

??????????
Craig and I at our oldest daughters High School Graduation.

 

He is the strength that I see every day when I wake up. He is the love that warms me every night, as I drift off to sleep. His voice soothes my nightmares. His love fuels my dreams.

Our life is our own fairy tale. Full of bumps, twists, and turns. We live through our highs and lows. Always together. Supporting and guiding and loving.

Insanity still survives all around us. But I no longer allow it to claim me as its prisoner.

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6 Comments

    • jenniferpreissauthor

      Kristin,
      Thank you for the encouragement. Your comment means the world to me. I struggled with writing this, but not as much as I struggled with sharing.
      Courage is something we, as women, should not be afraid of.
      Again, thank you!

        • jenniferpreissauthor

          Thank you Kristen. I plan to keep moving forward and opening my eyes, mind and heart to the world around me. Here is to a great 2015 for us all!

  • Elaine Mingus (@SuperRadWriter)

    As a daughter of divorced parents, I mourn for you because an abusive marriage leaves scars, getting divorce leaves scars…hell, life leaves scars!

    I’m so sorry that your first marriage was so painful. You should have not been abused. That was wrong.

    I am happy that you’ve found a man that is loving.

    My mom’s husband is the opposite of my angry father (who I love very much). My stepfather has healed her heart in so many ways. He IS my father too (I love him so much).

    As the daughter, it is very confusing. Scars from abuse and divorce affect all of us. I wish it were different.

    • jenniferpreissauthor

      My heart hurts that you suffered along with the anger. I still hold guilt about my daughter having to deal with the fall out, even years later. I am happy you and your mom were able experience the type of love my daughter and I have. Scars do fade and I believe they help remind of us that life is meant to live, not to hide behind the abuse that caused the pain.