Have no fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand ~Isaiah 41:10
Powerful words and so true!
For many years, however, other words echoed in my mind. Words like “I’m going to be alone….” Then just a few short, but dreadful years after those echoes left their scars came, “I’m not strong enough…” Those two statements were as equally powerful during the time I lived them as the words of God are for me today. They summed up my entire two year 11 month marriage. I’m remarried now, to my wonderful, loving Ryan who sometimes gets on my nerves… He can’t help it. It’s the Y chromosome.
I met my first husband (who remains nameless, and not because I’m protecting him) my junior year at Centenary College in 1992. You know how blind dates stories go; a friend of mine was going out with a friend of his blah, blah, blah. He was five years older than I and in the Army, a tanker to be exact stationed at Fort Dix in New Jersey. Even as we started dating our relationship was bumpy. He’d make jokes at my expense and lie all the time. I always forgave him. In 1993 after graduation, I moved in with him. We lived in a ” summer cottage” in the Pine Barrens. I moved in with him because I wanted to and because of the not-so-subtle pressure from my family to take the next step in my relationship. When I moved in, my mother was opposed to the timing of it all. My parents went south for the winter soon after my move and my mother thought I was sneaking away. A ridiculous idea, for I wasn’t, it just happened that way. Besides, I thought moving in with him was what she wanted anyway.
But that’s a story for another blog.
There, at 207 Spring Lake Boulevard, it started. Pushes. Slaps across the face. Breaking my things. The verbal and mental abuse. Why did I stay? Looking back, it was because of the “take what you can get, Linda, you don’t want to be alone forever do you?” statements in my head. I was trying to make my family and everyone around me believe and see I was “normal ” with a “normal” life. I tried hard to make my mother happy instead of fearful of what kind of future I was going to have. I gave over so much power by allowing myself to be torn apart for the sake other people’s happiness. Looking at it now, it really pisses me off that I allowed that to happen.
We got engaged, and again, I did so to make other people happy. I didn’t know that then, of course. I wanted to get married, have children, a house etc., but I was definitely goaded into the union, pressured by the questions of “isn’t it time you got married?” Of the wedding itself, it was a traditional, big wedding that makes me feel like I wasted a perfectly good party on an a$$hole. I had a lovely father/daughter dance and all that it goes along with it. My wedding to Ryan didn’t have a father/daughter dance. My father died a year before we got married. Ryan never met my father because he was really sick for a couple of years before his death and never came back to Warwick during that time.
In the winter of 1996 my first husband got stationed in battle Creek, Michigan. So we moved to a place where I knew no-one, a 12 hour car ride away from home. There the abuse really got bad. I had to go on anti-seizure medication because the stress, abuse, and seizures were so bad. I’d have three seizures per day. I had seizure issues before that, but never had to be medicated for them. I endured every kind of abuse, and if I had stayed, I truly believe I wouldn’t be here today. My turning point came when he-who-shall-not-be-named held a pillow over my face so the neighbors wouldn’t hear my screaming. That made me leave him (if all the other things he did weren’t enough). On July 9, 1997 after I sent him off to work with a kiss and a “have a nice day, Honey” I got to work on a new direction for my life. I called up a friend who came over and helped pack my car along with my dog and cat. At 1pm my freedom began!
I drove 12 hours straight with my animals as my co-pilots. I’d love to say I never looked back, but I can’t. Although I never went back to him, the thought did enter my mind. That’s just one side effect of the diagnosed PTSD his abuse caused.
The first time he hit me across the face I heard a voice say, “and so it begins.” God uses fire to refine us. I’d not change a thing of what happened to me because it made me the person I am today. I’m not sure if the “it” ended with me leaving him. Maybe the “it” was, and is, a journey; a lifelong voyage to I say “I am your clay, God, mold me and refine me.”
I was never alone throughout that time in my life. God helped me carry on and helped me be strong. Toward the approach of my turning point (while cooking dinner of all things) I heard a voice say, “Linda, you don’t have to take this.” I stopped what I was doing and realized that that was the voice of truth. The fact is, I never really believed that I didn’t have to take it anymore, I was too weak at the time, but God used that moment for His glory and to make me stronger and make His voice louder than my fears. A few days later I was gone.
In the days before I left, I was happier than I was in a very long time My ex husband even commented on it. I was because I knew I had the power of choice. The power of a free and independent will that no filthy words and no fists could strike. I was a child of God and stronger together with Him. My sincere hope is that anybody living with domestic abuse of any kind realizes this: You are never alone. Yes, you are strong enough to get out. It’s not about how strong you are, it’s about how strong you are in Christ. God is stronger then Superman and Ironman combined! He’s on your side! How cool is that? I’ve an image that might help: imagine standing up in front of this ginormous foe with Jesus at your back and say to yourself, “I’m going to tag out of this one” (granted, as you pee your pants for the step you just took…. )
Well guess what? You can tag out of the fight. Step aside, smile at the adversary and let Jesus slay the dragon. Please, get a good lawyer; call 911 or the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse at 1-800-799- safe (7233) Trust in God that you will be ok in the end.
I’d love to have my ex see me now! First place winner in American Challenge National Championship last June for the deadlift; 143.2 lbs and in this past January in Virginia State Competition first place winner in deadlift at181.2 lbs and in bench press 70 lbs….
In your face a$$hole!I