We met at a high school basketball game. He was so charming, smelled amazing, and made me laugh. At the time, we were dating long distance and he would drive up every weekend after school. In between, we talked on the phone hours at a time and I wrote him letters. When he came to visit, he was always the life of the party! My friends loved him and he treated me like a woman. He bought things I could never afford and asked me to marry him my senior year. He was 2 years older and had a good job. I was so in love with him, so I moved in with him at 18 after high school.
By then, he would continually party all night long. I was going to college and he worked full time. I had met his family and never thought he would end up like his dad. I thought I could help him as they did not get along well. His dad was an alcoholic and he had mentioned briefly that his dad had physically abused his mom, but that it stopped when he and his brother got older to stop him. In our relationship, he had never physically hurt me ever. His abuse was verbal and emotional. But the whole time, you never see or understand the strain that those types of abuse have until you get out.
We ended up marrying and had 2 beautiful boys. His father passed and he started using drugs. He hid his drug problem pretty well until I figured out there was no way for him to stay up like he did, then crash for days. He wouldn’t come home and I’d have to go out to look for him to get him to come home. I loved him so much that I made excuses and took care of everything for him. He lost his job and I started working full time. I moved up quickly and eventually was making more money than he was because he could never keep a job long. He worked hard but missed work a lot or always had an excuse.
I was finally fed up and left for the first time. My youngest was two. That lasted two days before he convinced me to come home. He would manipulate every excuse for not being there and blame me. It was always my fault. He would get in an argument just so he could leave. He isolated me from my friends and family. About 8 years into our marriage, my taking care of mostly our family, the rage started with me. When he was younger, he was quick to anger and get in fights with friends or others but never at me. It’s like he took his issues out on other people but then it started on me too. Mostly because he’d chased most of his friends/family away.
He would scream at me for hours. It didn’t stop. It started out with him yelling just at me – but then the kids, and then in front of family and friends. Family stopped coming over. He would rage so bad and never come down until he left. I had left him many times over the years but always went back because of the kids. This is my biggest regret – that I should have left when they were young. Kids will understand. I have learned that without you even telling them, they know. I never badmouthed their father, and they saw the difference after I left for good. It just took until my youngest boy was out of high school.
During that time, I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I covered it up as much as I could! Looking back and not seeing the signs – like his father’s abuse to his family and how his father treated him, his constant partying and drinking that eventually turned into hard drugs, his lying and asking me to agree with it, trying to convince me I was wrong for seeing or hearing direct lies he had told me, his fighting with others and loss of friends.
Today, I am so happy! After 24 years of my life, I am free! I am no longer a caretaker! I am no longer in fear nor have to tip toe in my new house. I don’t have to worry about saying something to upset him. I have sought counseling before and now, I am healing more and more every day.
To anyone experiencing abuse… Pack an emergency bag and hide it. Keep a close friend to hold your savings and find a safe place to get away. Then when the time is right.. leave. It took me 24 years and I thought I could change him. Don’t wait until you’re 40! Live life every day and don’t look back!