In 1992 at the age of 15, I met a man who was a sociopath and married him when I was 18. I was a teen in a violent dating relationship.He was a known gang member, violent, aggressive, rule-breaker, a bully, explosive, stalker, and very popular. People feared him, and many still do. Fast forward, I am 45 years old and I am still dealing with the aftermath of being in an unsafe, unhealthy, and unstable relationship.
Not all Wounds are Visible
I have been in therapy for about two years, and finally through the help of my church, found a trauma therapist who is a Christian. I have learned alot through these sessions, and am so thankful that I am finally able to share my inner most thoughts with a therapist. Many years while I was married, I attempted counseling, but I was so ashamed of myself for being married to the man who harmed me so deeply. (It is important to note: I have forgiven him for all offenses, and hold no bitterness.) I could never be a wife to him because although my heart forgave him, my body remembered what he did to me. The body keeps count/memory of the trauma.
When I was 15, he stalked me for several years and shot me. At the time, I was living in Los Angeles. He was a menace to society, to me, and my family. I did not feel safe. I had nowhere to turn. What does survival look like at the age of 15? He threatened to hurt others if I didn’t come back to him. I believed him. Why would I not? After all, he hurt me. He hurt my step-dad. He hurt my family. He hurt several people. I remember seeing him drive down my dad’s street while my little brother was playing outside, and he drove by with a gun. This is after he shot me.
“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”
― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
As an adult, I carried so much shame about being with someone who harmed me in such a significant way, and continued to hurt me. Some of my closest friends that I met in adulthood, had no clue about my past, or why I was unhappy. On the outside looking in, he appeared to be the perfect Christian husband. I protected his image, while slowly the little girl inside me was dying.
I broke away for about 7 years from 1999 and reconciled back in 2007. Leaving him in 1999 almost cost me my life, the 2nd time. Again, he did what he knew best, to stalk and be violent towards me. FACT: Leaving an abusive partner/husband is the most deadliest time for a victim. I went back to him because I was young and under the influence of false teachings. I really believed that I would be cursed because I divorced. Had I got proper mental health counseling/therapy, I would have learned this is false. One’s faith is never a reason to stay in a broken marriage. Its a lie from the pits of hell. Its damaging to children and future generations to stay in an unhealthy relationship for the sake of children and/or due to biblical convictions. Divorce is not an unforgivable sin.
As I began to grow and recognize he still was disrespectful, significantly lacked empathy, manipulative, and downright harsh, I made up in my mind to get out. I started memorializing the events that made me want to leave while I was married because I found myself minimizing his behaviors. And, I didn’t think it was acceptable to leave a marriage for emotional abuse alone. I was taught a woman could not leave a man, unless adultery was involved. My faith made my decision so much more complicated.
2021 Unpacking Trauma Bond
All I hoped for, was that we could be mature, respectful, and kind to one another for the sake of our children and grand-daughter. Yet, he has not changed. He is being tormented and has so much hate for me. I am still dealing with toxic text messages, phone calls, threats, and hate. He continues to drag my children in his toxicity, parentification and alienation. He uses Holy scripture to instill fear. And constantly tells me:
Death is upon me.
I am the reason my brother died.
I am the reason why my dog died.
I am the reason why Cooper misbehaves.
My back issue is because of my sin.
I am going to hell. I will be turned over to the tormenters.
He hates me.
Worst yet, when bad or unfortunate things happen, he’s the first to say, its because of my sin.
My sin has destroyed the family.
The text messages are so damaging. His words have assassinated my character as a woman and mother. He has modeled to my sons how to harass, humiliate, bible beat, stalk, and treat women. Sadly, my children believe he loves me. They are confused and manipulated by his behavior as well.
In 2020, as I began to shatter the fantasy of him changing, the pain was so overwhelming. The deep anguish I buried for so long, began to present. I am still hurting and healing. It is possible to hold joy, hurt, and hope in the same hand. Yes, I moved on with my life, but I still hurt, and remain hopeful.
I grieve for that young woman I was becoming before I met him. I grieve for my baby that I lost. I grieve for my children who are hurting. I grieve for my childhood that was taken away from me. I grieve over friendships I lost during the divorce. I grieve for the marriage I never had. I grieve over the relationship. I grieve for the person he never became, that I hoped he would through Christ.
As I close, I will often share a song that is meaningful to me. Remember, leave people in a better condition, then you’ve found them. In loving memory of Gabby Petito, Rest In Peace.