I love my life. I love how I get to choose who I speak to and who I spend time with. I like that my kids want to be with me and I love the opportunity to be with them as they grow up. I even love that I’m in school, loving more that school is almost done. I love it all. My life is amazing. Yet… I still feel the sting, burn, of my past.
I had hoped that I could establish a ‘friendly’ relationship with my ex. I set myself out to be kind, to learn to speak of small things, to chat while waiting for the kids. Two or more times I put myself out there, allowed myself to be just a tad more vulnerable, allowed myself to ignore my feelings of fear, of abandonment, and of abuse. I thought, since all of the legal mumbo jumbo had finally ended, that I’d be able to show a positive forward movement for my kids to see. I want them to have the best in their lives. I don’t want them to see me complaining or whining. I want them to see me strong, brave, and willing to ‘make amends’ for their benefit. I wanted to see if I could handle it, you know, test the waters.
I started to get grouchy, I started having nightmares again, I began to feel tired all of the time. I got sick. I felt overwhelmed, lost, and scared. My old feelings began to resurface and I finally caught on. I wasn’t ready. ‘The way to get over a fear is to immerse yourself in it.’ I believe that’s true. I, however, don’t think I’m going to ever get over the abuse. In fact, I don’t think I’m supposed to. What happened to me in my past has shaped who I am, and I like who I am. I have an empathy for those who have walked similar paths. I care in a way that allows others to grow. By allowing that my past is real, by remembering I didn’t make it up, by knowing that he was plain evil to me, and it wasn’t my imagination; I have the opportunity to be truly who I am meant to be.
I have a habit of slighting myself. I don’t give myself credit for the things I’ve accomplished. I have belittled myself, and spoken words to myself that no one should ever hear. That needs to change. The power I gain by remembering who I am, by being honest to myself, and others; that power is mine for the taking. I am the one who was there. I was the one who packed up the kids to hide. I was the one who collected rent money near midnight alone. I was the one who faced the fury of our neighbors. I was the one who slept with the kids when they were ill. I was the one who manged the house, the bills, the schooling and numerous other things. I was the one who earned the respect of my kids. He was not.
He was the one who pouted when he didn’t get his way, he was the one who whined and who gave up. He was the one who couldn’t decide if he was happy, sad, or angry. He was the one who sat and cleaned his gun, who left in the middle of the night, who left me crying at church. He was the one who went to sleep rather than see that I made it home safe from working an extra serving job. He was the one who didn’t care that I had hit a deer at one in the morning. He was the one who pushed me against the wall, who held me too tight and bruised my arms, who pushed his son into the door, who punched his nephew in the stomach, him.
I spent too much time in his presence. I saw him on Tuesday and came home remembering how awful it was. Although he didn’t touch me, I could still feel the weight of his body and the slime of his skin on me. I could still smell him and it affected me. This isn’t a problem that time is going to fix. What he did while we were together was wrong, always will be wrong. I will not be subjecting myself to making things better again. This new strength and freedom that I have found must be protected. He does not have the right to real estate in my head, let alone my body.
I was snappy, sarcastic, and rude to my family that night. They had done nothing wrong and didn’t deserve to be the brunt of my emotions. True, I didn’t realize why I felt the way I did, but now I do. In order to protect my family, I need to protect myself; and that includes putting my kids’ dad back into the little box in my head that he belongs. The test of strength, the test to see if I could deal with him? That was a success, not a failure. I have learned, I can be cordial, friendly and kind; but I don’t have to do it unnecessarily. I have a right to protect who I am and who I am becoming. We all have that right.
thank you for reading,