Life After Abuse
“When I’m finally single, I’ll never, ever date and certainly will never get re-married.”
“No man will control and manipulate me ever again. I don’t need one.”
“I’ll get a spending account at the adult toy store and probably become a lesbian.”
These words passed my lips probably 100 times in the last few years before the end of my marriage and I genuinely believed them. After all my ex-husband had put me through there was no way I could ever allow another man to do the same. I’d sooner be alone. I had an aunt who was alone for 30 years before getting a boyfriend after her divorce from an abusive man. They kept separate residences. She’d go see him when she felt like it. I thought that that was the greatest thing ever.
I was, and still am, fortunate to have a small tribe of women who would listen to me every time I’d vent about what I would do if I ever got the lady balls to leave my incredibly verbally and emotionally abusive husband.
He is a textbook covert narcissist.
“Caught him on the dating sites again…first he lied about it, then he blamed it on me!” This is just one of the many things I shared with my tribe about. My god those women were patient. I’m sure they just wanted to shake me, but they didn’t. They always listened and remained supportive in whatever decision I made.
It took a bit of a team when I finally decided I’d had enough. My tribe and a very select few knew ahead of time I was leaving. As I own a business, there were extra steps I needed to take before I could put my plan into action.
First, I contacted my old boss, explained I was leaving my husband and I was shutting down my business. I asked her for a job. She said she would hire me back in a heartbeat. It was a priority to ensure my kids didn’t go without because of the decision to leave. I had immense guilt and needed to do everything possible to prevent a negative impact on their well-being. Next, I contacted the guy who installed a bunch of expensive fixtures in my business and told him the situation. Money from those fixtures would benefit my children, so I asked them to be removed and sold.
Then, it was time.
The day I left came and went very quickly. My tribe was there to ensure a smooth transition from my marital home into my rental. I didn’t tell my husband I was leaving. I couldn’t. I waited until he went to work. I tried to leave many times before but was always talked into staying with apologies and fake tears- promises to do better and the occasional threat of suicide. But, this time, I was ready. This needed to end for good.
Leaving was the best decision I had ever made. I saved my own life. I saved the lives of my children.
This next chapter in my life was going great! I absolutely love single life. I worked when I wanted, did what I wanted and went anywhere I wanted. The kids and I felt an immediate lightness with that weight being taken off of our shoulders. I really didn’t do anything but work, exercise, hang with the kids when it was my week, and binge watch all the Netflix that I wanted. Nobody was dictating my life anymore. I was writing my own story. Dang, I could get used to this.
Not long after I left, I was in the middle of some random movie when I got a text message. It was the man who installed the fixtures in my studio. It said “Hey, I was just thinking about you. I hope everything is going ok for you.” I thought that was nice. I knew him from my past as we dated in high school, so it was easy to talk to him. We proceeded to text all night. He separated from his wife of 18 years a few years prior and coincidently, our children are the same age. The conversation was just so natural. We quickly began spending a lot of time together after that.
Although I felt comfortable, I was incredibly guarded with this man. He’d always say things like, “you’re so beautiful… you’re so amazing…I can’t believe you’re with me.” He never missed an opportunity to compliment me. One evening we were being intimate. He had a mirror on a closet door at the end of the bed. He spun us both around so I could see myself. He said, “I want you to see what I get to see…how beautiful you look right now.”
It did make me feel beautiful… he made me feel beautiful.
Slowly, this incredible man was chipping away at my wall, but I still couldn’t let him all the way in.
This went on for quite some time until one day he put his hands on both sides of my face, looked into my eyes, and said, “you know I’m madly in love with you, right? I’ve never felt like this about anyone before.” It sucked the wind out of my lungs. I had this strange feeling in my belly- burning, tingling. The look in his eyes was so intense. I’ve never had anyone look at me like that before. I think he really meant what he said.
My wall crumbled down that day.
Then there was a massive shift in our relationship. I let myself become vulnerable, and in return, our relationship became even more amazing both physically and emotionally. Intimacy became absolutely beautiful and brought us even closer together. I gave my whole self to HIM.
He encourages me and supports my passions. He understands my need to stay connected with my tribe and doesn’t discourage me from seeing them. He’s not jealous or clingy; he trusts me. He accepts my newfound freedom and says he loves watching me grow. He even has me learning how to make peace with my past… and my ex-husband. He says I deserve to be happy, and he wants to create happiness with me.
He’s so good with my kids and they like him as well. I said to them one evening, “he’s just so nice to me. He says nice things to me and makes me happy”. My daughter said, “he’s treating you the way you’re supposed to be treated, you know, with basic decency.” How profound. I will never forget those wise words from her teenage mouth. I’m so glad she didn’t see how her father behaved toward me and thought it was normal.
Every day, I work on healing from my toxic marriage to ensure that my past relationship doesn’t poison any in the future. It’s going to take some time as my wounds are deep, but I’m working with a wonderful therapist who understands complex PTSD from narcissistic abuse.
There can be love after escaping an emotional and psychologically abusive relationship. I never thought I could love with my whole heart again. I’m so glad I was wrong.