I was young, naïve, gullible and needy. I wanted someone to love me. I had been sexually abused as a child, and considered myself damaged goods. Barely 18, I walked down the aisle of the church to marry someone because he told me he loved me, and that nobody else would want me. It was as close to love as I figured I would ever get, so I seized the opportunity. Were there red flags? Multiple ones waving like banners reading, “Do NOT do this!” But he told me he loved me. He also told me I was too heavy, and stupid, and useless, and unwanted by others. But he told me he loved me.
Years passed. Almost a year after we married I miscarried my first pregnancy. Gone was that life of the one I was sure would love me in an ‘as is’ condition. Time passed and I was blessed to give birth to a son, and five years later, a daughter, both beautiful and healthy. Finally, somebody needed me—and loved me.
The drinking intensified, consistently. I was told his drinking was my fault. He rarely told me he loved me. Rather, he ordered me around to do his bidding. I had come to believe his words were true. I was overweight, not at all smart, unwanted and unloved.
So, why go on? The sensible solution in the most senseless time of my life was to go to sleep—forever. I’m not really sure I set out to intentionally commit suicide. I just wanted the pain to stop. I wanted some peace in my life. I wanted to feel worthwhile, if only for a day. I wanted to rest from the weariness of what life had become—continual verbal and emotional abuse, seasoned with threats and accusations. The fact a successful suicide would result in death did not register. Death being permanent did not register. I just wanted to sleep, to rest, and eventually awake from a life that had become a very bad dream—a nightmare. God’s grace kept me alive through this darkest night of the soul. I remained alive, and after being discharged from the emergency room, my parents took me with them. A week or so later I was allowed to return to my own home—and my children—with stipulations and demands.
I was alive, but only physically. My spirit, my very soul had met what seemed to be their demise. I was the walking dead. No dreams, goals, joy or anticipation for tomorrow dwelt inside. I was a mere shell passing through the world.
My children suffered, as well. They endured the endless times of screaming from one party and the other self-medicating to make it through another day. They heard words and terms no child should ever have to hear. Then it became physical, and there they were, the innocent victims of domestic violence. Little ones watching Daddy hurt Mommy, and Mommy refusing to fight back—not verbally, not physically. She just took it.
Many years have passed. There was an injunction issued. A divorce secured. A short period of Mom trying to cram the single life she never got to live into a few months. Still the children suffered.
Divine intervention took place at the time I chose to finally surrender and let it happen. I finally realized my capabilities of finding “normal” were insufficient, and I needed His help, along with competent counseling.
Just about the time it all seems like a dream, something will trigger the memories. Maybe it will be a word or phrase spoken by someone in the same manner he verbalized it, or the word “stupid” will be heard. I cringe. Scenes on television of a man grasping a woman’s long mane of hair, meant to be romantic, take me back to the day of being dragged by my hair, being slung around and slammed into a door. I inhale deeply, exhale slowly and tell myself, “You’re free, sweet one. You are free from the abuse and violence, and you never have to go back there again. YOU, my love, are a survivor.”
About that time the phone rings or an e-mail message comes up—a victim or struggling survivor reaching out for help—and I know that I know that I know why I’m still here. . . healed, happy and a fellow traveler who followed others that blazed the trail ahead of me. Now it’s my turn. It’s the trail of hope, trust and restoration. Here’s my hand. Come, let’s walk together.
Carolyn is an advocate for sexual/domestic violence and assault awareness, also focusing on child sexual abuse. She is a Life Direction & Empowerment Coach, working with victims and survivors of molestation, sexual assault, domestic violence or spousal abuse, and bringing training to organizations seeking to help victims. Read her story in her book, ORANGE BLOSSOM WISHES: Child Molested, Woman Abused—Her Victorious Journey to Freedom and visit her website: orangeblossomwishes.com.
- Emotional Abuse and Domestic Violence – Partners in Crime (cshennecy.wordpress.com)