What happened that made you decide to leave?
My life was in jeopardy. Doctors thought I had cancer. Six weeks of limbo gave me time to really question why I kept trying when he would not seek help for any of his mental health or addiction issues. Yet, he blamed me for them incessantly, despite having all those issues before we ever even met. When they said it wasn’t cancer, I knew I had another chance for a happy, fulfilling life, just not with him.
How did you feel about your abuser and/or your relationship in the days before you left?
In the days before I left I was nervous because he behaved like a chart graph, spiking hotly with anger and then grabbing me and telling me how sorry he was for treating me so inhumanely. It was very heart-wrenching and I almost backed down. But the day the moving truck came, he wouldn’t stop yelling at me and I said, sit down, we have to talk.
He screamed, there’s no time, we only have the moving truck for so long!
I said, yes, there is a minute, that’s all we need. We sat at the kitchen table, I held his hand and said, “You and I both know this hasn’t been working for a very long time.” He nodded. “Do you have any better solutions than me moving out?” I asked.
It was quiet. He gripped my hand hard and tears welled in his eyes when he answered, “No.” He helped finish loading my stuff and when I got to my basement apartment rental an hour away, I wept with relief. And a peacefulness overcame me that I hadn’t felt in years and years and years.
What three emotions did you most experience in the days closest to leaving Abuse? How did you deal with them?
In the days closest to leaving because we had no children and there was nothing he could really do to prevent me from going, I left with almost nothing and he knew I would just leave when he went to work if I had to, my emotions were primarily anxiety at having to start all over again, having all your youthful dreams shattered and fear threatened to paralyze me at many steps of the way. An incredible sadness seemed to weigh my bones down, wearying me to the point that I thought I might not make it. But I did.
What planning did you do before you left? Who knew you were leaving beside you?
Everyone knew I was leaving because I told them. When I returned from visiting my terminally ill mother in Ontario (where I was promptly banned from seeing her because I got H1N1 on the plane) I was so ill for 12 weeks afterward with a bronchial infection that I had to be wheel-chaired on and off the plane as I broke out in a cold sweat when I walked.
He picked me up at the airport and when we got home, the place was a mess, he hadn’t grocery shopped, beer cans were everywhere and he was angry because he had to take care of all that and me and said, “I just wish the fucking plane crashed and you died on it!”
The year before he said, after a hysterectomy because they thought I had cancer, he said the day I got home from hospital, “I wish you died on the fucking operating table.” So, when I got home from Ontario, I began searching for a place to live. By Christmas 2009, I had all my stuff packed and moved. A friend of mine says she still marvels at how I did all that when I was so sick. So do I. But I know how. It’s called the will to survive.
What were the one or two BEST things you did before you left?
One of the best things I did before I left was exhaust all avenues of repair. I said to my sister I wasted 10 years there. I wish I would have left 10 years ago right after I learned his first awful secret.
My sister said, “just a goddamn minute here, you walk tall and hold your head high knowing you have done all you can and there is nothing more you can possibly do!” I do. But if I had it to do over again, I would have left at least a decade sooner.
There was always something going on. Either his work changed, or we were moving or his mum was dying or… My takeaway is: there will ALWAYS be something going on. No matter WHAT that something is, if we must leave, we must leave no matter what. As soon as we can. It is never safe to stay. I am now in therapy trying to undo all the years of mental and emotional abuse damages.
If there was anything you wish you had not done before you left, what was it?
As above. Giving more time to a hopeless situation is probably the only thing I wish I had not done. Of course, I reacted and called him names, etc but I don’t berate myself for that because if he were “normal,” there would have been nothing for me to react to.
Once for two months he stopped drinking and said to me, “I’m so sorry I treated you so inhumanely. I never knew life could feel like this.” But then back into the nether regions of his mind he went, booze in hand and the writing was on the wall again. It’s the old “honeymoon cycle” where you think oh, he get’s it! But he doesn’t. Because if he did, he could never resort to the old patterns with such ease.
His “epiphanies” would matter more and his new-found way of being would have been something he did not give up so easily. His inner demons drive him and I just chose to drive away.
How long ago did you leave? How do you feel today?
Three years ago. I could not live that way ever again. I am so glad I am not in that toxic environment where sleep was often impossible due to his antics, where feeling safe was almost never possible, you had to be so vigilant of everything, he could explode at you any moment for anything. One night, for example, he kept me up all night ranting and raving about the clutter under the bed. The “clutter” was under bed containers of stored winter things and keepsakes. Bear in mind my homes were always kept well and sold better than the neighbors, I have many photos as proof. But he wouldn’t let me put a bed skirt on. He said it was dirty, they collect dust. So I pushed the containers in under the bed but you could still see them from certain angles.
He screamed and yelled at me about this one whole night. But this was not unusual. We once owned recreation property and he once spent four days there telling me how every wrong choice he ever made was because I was a good-for-nothing whore that nobody would want to ever fuck and I made him that way.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
Abusive people sometimes abuse not for any reason other than they can. They get so used to it, they don’t even know the difference anymore. But my husband knew the difference many times.
Whenever we were out people adored him, and thought him the nicest guy going. Even in leaving some of those places, he would already be calling me stupid or complaining about something I did or asking me if he acted okay, and if I didn’t answer him, “What’s wrong, you deaf, you stupid bitch? Did you hear me, do you think they thought I was okay?”
Oh. How I wanted to scream. So many times. Screaming now. Forever.
Don’t stay a minute longer than you have to. My life is so much different than I imagined it would be at this age and stage of life. Still, I am glad I got out. The only thing worse would have been dying there, knowing that’s as good as life gets. It is so much better than that. Learning to love myself, my life, and those I love more and more and more each day. Thank you.
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