What happened that made you decide to leave?
We used to work together. One day, he brought another woman to work. She followed him around helping him and he looked happy and so did she. I sat at a computer and she followed him into the room. He stood right next to where I sat and did not introduce or acknowledge me. I was stunned.
We made eye contact but he looked away from me. She waited for him outside the door. He walked off without say a word to me and called to her using a term he used for me. I cracked inside. I left in anger but later, when I returned, he met me in the parking lot to apologize. Later he was mad at me for calling her his girlfriend sarcastically. He started lecturing me that I was immature and like a child.
How did you feel about your abuser and/or your relationship in the days before you left?
I was confused and anxious. I felt there was something wrong but I did not know what it was. I was so worried about him because he was angry and ignoring me. I tried to comfort him and I was scared of him. I did not know what was going to happen next.
He started to share more of his views of things which was fine, but it was not open for discussion. He was right about everything. He wasn’t the person I knew when we’d first started dating. He kept making references to me learning to be quiet and obedient and then stopped talking to me. So I was confused about him because I felt like I didn’t know him anymore. I was scared of him and then angry.
What three emotions did you most experience in the days closest to leaving Abuse? How did you deal with them?
Fear, anger, and guilt.
I felt guilty for not being a better partner and co-parent to his three kids. I felt guilty for not doing anything right. He said to me in an exasperated tone, “Do I have to tell you what to do? Do I have to tell you how and when to do everything? Tell me what we do everyday. What is the schedule?” I felt so stupid after that and I am an intelligent woman. I thought it was because of me that he was angry so I worked harder trying to please him and take care of the children.
I could feel his discontent and tried to figure it out. I asked him but he would not tell me. I ignored me mostly and I felt this anger inside, but it would immediately turn to fear and guilt. Overall, I was confused as heck, and started to consider my faith to match his. I thought if I did then he’d feel better. I massaged him, asked about his faith, and took care of his children and it was all to make him feel better and hopefully for us to bond. I cared about him and I still loved him then.
What planning did you do before you left? Who knew you were leaving besides you?
I did not plan. I happened on a Saturday morning. I woke up at my house after crying all night. I woke up crying. He had brought another woman to work, later he got after me – lectured me on immaturity and jealousy, and then said he did not want me to sleep over at his house. I was devastated because I did not understand why everything was so messed up.
Well, I woke up crying, and my gut said, “No. Do not go there.” It literally weighed me down in bed. So I cried and I knew, I knew he mistreated me. He had not lifted a hand to me, but all the subtle cruel comparisons and put-downs had finally broken me after he brought another to work. I was humiliated and finally wrote him a simple email saying that I loved him dearly, he and his children meant the world to me, but I did not feel appreciated and loved. I wanted respect and when he was ready to give me love, patience, respect, and kindness, then he knew where to find me.
I sent it and later I tried to retract it because I was so afraid of him. Then I was afraid of losing him because I loved him. It was a spur of the moment reaction. My instinct, my gut, God was telling me not to go back to his house. I did not know that I had started the steps to the break up.
What were the one or two BEST things you did before you left?
I listened to my gut. I could not go back without communicating my pain. I had to listen to my gut and it hurt so much. I really felt this pain and I also feared losing him and his children. I am glad I told him how I felt and that I felt taken for granted. I honored myself and it was so hard because I wanted the family more. I wanted, I had hoped that he would see my pain and snap. Snap by realizing that he took me for granted, that I loved him and his children, that I was tired and exhausted, and that he would be kind and loving towards me like at the beginning.
If there was anything you wish you had not done before you left, what was it?
I wish I had not cried and begged and let him talk to me like I was a child or a dog. After sending that email I went to talk to him. He was so angry with me. He asked why I was at his house. He called me so many names – unstable, demanding, high maintenance, and complicated. That I was not simple, but so damn complicated. He yelled and put me down – said at one point as I cried, “Look at you. Look at you! You expect me to talk and share with you?! You weird me out, you know that? You weird me out. I don’t even want to be in this room with you because you weird me out!”
I regret going back and begging him to give me another chance. I regret letting him speak to me in such degrading tones. I wish I had yelled or fought back – had some dignity. When I say, fought back, I don’t mean physically. I regret not standing up for myself and telling him the truth.
How long ago did you leave? How do you feel today?
It is years since that Saturday. It did not end there or then. He stalked me and would not speak to me. His children’s hearts were broken and he would not allow them to see me. My heart was broken, my spirit gone.
He broke into my house twice, the first time to take my picture. He ripped it from my picture frame. It was of a time I felt happy and he knew the story behind it. I was scared for months after because of the break-ins, and he would park by my window at work and watch me. He also watched me in the parking lot – to see who I walked with and just to watch me. Then he’d drive off. Someone would knock on my windows late at night at my house and I could not sleep. When a male colleague spoke to me at work, he would pace and walk by my office all the time – agitated and annoyed. All this for about nine months after the break up. He married that woman and they are expecting his fourth child.
I am not sure how I feel sometimes. I feel stronger – so much stronger than the day I felt. I ended up resigning my job and returning to graduate school. He had told me to not go and I had put all those dreams aside, so now I am doing them.
I feel sad some days and still remember these awful moments. I have been going to counselling for the duration of the break up because of the abuse. It was very bad, the emotional abuse I endured. There are times I feel amazed that I have gone on and it was so difficult at first but I am happier and more at ease, but I entered into a field that is intense and beyond anything I’ve done before. It’s amazing how much I have had to work to overcome the things he told me about me. The brainwashing is real.
I was an accomplished and amazingly independent woman before he came into my life. I have worked so hard to get to a level of acceptance about it all. I am not completely there yet, but I will continue on.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
I am grateful for the spiritual and professional support I received and still continue to receive. I know I am a strong woman and that he was abusive. I will say that I do not want to enter into another relationship that would make me doubt my self worth. I will continue to follow what makes me happy and I want to just be myself.
I want to feel this sense of peace and let go of that awful sting of rejection. I used to feel that rejection all the time, but now, I work at rejecting him and others like him. I don’t want to feel like I have lost him and a family, but that he was lucky to have been with me and it’s his loss. It is a long journey and I admit there are days I wish it would all just go away because of the loneliness that creeps up from time to time.
I also feel fortunate and blessed to have escaped it too. I am fortunate that I have my family’s support and my faith in God. This has taught me so much about myself – I am amazingly strong, with dignity, and integrity. I am not a coward.
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