Sometimes our memories can get the best of us.  When you’ve been in an abusive, controlling relationship, you usually do not see the pain until much later.  I am a couple of years past counseling and the point of no return in my marriage and that’s all I remember now.

I cannot explain why I stayed, I cannot explain why I didn’t see the lack of all the important values required in a relationship and I cannot explain where my confidence went for so many of the years that I struggled to make it work, but I remember, very clear, the day I knew I would no longer tolerate any of it any longer and I will never allow someone to treat me in that manner again.

Memories… shortly after our wedding, we drove to my father’s house to have a wedding shower.  We had a good visit and received lots of gifts before heading to my mother’s for another.  After loading the car to head to the next event (3 hours away) we began arguing.  He reached across the car and hit me in the face.  This was the first time he physically hit me – it was 2002.  I was silent for the rest of the trip.  This was the first of many physical outbursts.  It served its purpose and shut me up this time.  Thankfully, over the years I found my voice again.

Memories…When I was 7 months pregnant with our first child, we took a road trip to see family. We planned to see his first and then mine.   We got to his family’s and had a nice visit, but he didn’t want to leave, when I finally got him in the car to go, much later than we had planned, he rolled the windows up and said he was going to smoke cigarettes in the vehicle until I turned around.  I really wanted to see my family, but after a full cigarette of second-hand smoke and a shattered heart not understanding why someone would do this, I turned around.  We stayed at his family’s house (they all apologized) but he got what he wanted and that’s all that mattered.  I was sick that evening due to the smoke and I slept alone.

Memories… when our daughter was a newborn, he wanted to go out one night and I remember asking him to please stay home with us.  He responded by saying, “We are married now and you don’t believe in divorce, so I’ll do whatever I want.” He left that night and didn’t come home until the next morning.  I was up all night crying, alone and worried – it wasn’t the first time and definitely wasn’t the last.

Memories… when our daughter was one, I got an apartment and moved out while he was gone partying one weekend.  I had warned him and his family (who was very involved) many times about his lifestyle and how it was not appropriate for a child or a wife and I deserve better.  His parents called to see how I was doing and claimed to not realize it had gotten that bad and offered their assistance financially and offered to go to Al anon meetings and help in any way they could to get their son some professional help. My ex apologized and promised changes as well so he moved in with us.  The support from his parents, while appreciated, came with a price.  The Al anon was only attended by me, professional help was never sought out and changes never happened.  In fact, things just got worse.

This was all in the first two years of our marriage.  I still do not believe in divorce, but thankfully, I was given back my voice and my confidence and I also do not believe in a marriage based on zero values.  Values have to be present on both sides. Trust, respect, honor and love were never present from him – I just didn’t see it. I wanted to understand how I could change to make it all better.  This is all too common.

My memory is long and very clear now.  My prayer is that someone sees in my memories their present and can find their way out sooner than I could.  The path isn’t easy, you must first find yourself and stop worrying about him.  Memories… what do they tell you?

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