How I’ve Been Strong

My heart is in knots it has been since I left my husband. Mourning is what I’m told it is. How could it be there is no way I would mourn him after the way he treated me. So much pain much humiliation. The fighting and begging, giving and giving only to be taken advantage of and lose everything in the end. No, I don’t mourn my husband. I am happy I left him. I could no longer justify staying after he threatened to kill his own son. I know it would have only been a matter of time and he would have turned his full rage on me. He told me all the time I never had to worry he would never hurt me that way. He had no remorse that he already had. This is not my first rodeo so why does this one hurt so much more? Could it be because I expected it to be my happily ever after? We are all fed these fairy tales. So few of us actually see any of our dreams come true. We dumb down our dreams to meet our reality and numb the pain with our drug of choice be it sex, money, drugs, alcohol. Some of us help others try to make their dreams happen because at least then you can see happiness somewhere. When all of that fails and reality hits you square in the face you are depressed you are crazy you have this or that you’re not adapting to your world. How do you recover from all the mourning all of the pain and depression you accept it. Other wise you are a quitter a looser how dare you be suicidal. People around you tell you how much you have to live for and for who and why but it’s all bullshit. They don’t believe the crap spewing out of their mouths. They know their dreams are not going to happen they are just at a different stage of denial. I spend a lot of time talking about the pain and suffering I have endured through my life and my desire to make the suffering end or to find a different happier ever after.
I was 6 the first time I stood up to my mother. I stood on my tip toes while she held a fist full of my hair and said no. I would not do what she wanted. She wanted me to do to this man what she would beat my brother for doing to me. I was forced to do it anyway. That is just the way it was. But I fought, I kicked and I bit and I did everything I could to get away. I was eight the first time I tried to run away. I didn’t get very far. But I was brave and that kept me strong. I knew one day I would be strong enough to fight. This turned out to be true but the fighting never stopped there was never a time I dared hope for the best or trust another person. Always watching waiting for the next person to hold me still. I learned to be still. I learned to do as I was told. I learned to wait for the right time to run, to fight. I knew I was strong. I knew if I waited long enough my strength would make me safe. It never did. There were many times I thought I was safe I thought I had found the place to let my guard down. I was wrong or it took too long to see to find. As a young teenager I started to lose faith in my strength. It wasn’t just family that hurt it was people who were supposed to be friends. People who said they could protect me people who promised to care for me. I ran, I fought, then when I was too tired I tried to die. Trying to die also took strength. I wanted so much to be loved, so much to have hope. I just didn’t have the strength. I did have the strength to choose. So I choose to die, I took those pills, I used that razor or that piece of glass. I would go unconscious or watch the blood bubble from my arm. But I didn’t die. The Dr’s said it was because my will to fight was too strong. I heard that on many occasions. When at sixteen I realized that I was unable to die for a number of reasons I ran from those who promised to protect me and failed. I learned that running at least gave me choices.
I ran from foster care many times only to return for one reason or another. The last time I ran I gathered all the strength I had. I refused to let another person use me. I took only what was on my back. I didn’t want to have any memory of the past I was going to be a new me with a new life and no one had to know that I was a whore. No one had to know what I had done what I had seen. And I was strong so I didn’t tell. I got on that bus and took it to the closest city. It wasn’t a big city but I knew I could hide there. I knew I could disappear. I was strong and could take care of myself better than any of them had taken care of me. I was wrong. He found me freezing and walking the streets. I let him take me home. He was strong and he was handsome. He told me I would be safe. He didn’t hit on me. He didn’t touch me. He talked different and acted different from anyone I had ever met. He took me to a home that wasn’t his. He said he was staying with friends. The gave me warm clothes and food. It had been days since I had food. I was sure that with him I would be cared for. They taught me how to find food. How to get warm. He waited until I was ready to touch me. That first time he hurt me but he didn’t mean to. I just didn’t do it right. I should have known how to do it right so it wasn’t his fault I had made him mad. After a few months we moved into a place together. The hitting wasn’t bad and I had to do worse things to be safe so what he asked of me wasn’t to bad. I became pregnant quickly. When I was three months pregnant he broke my back. I didn’t tell. I lied about what happened when I learned to walk again and got strong I ran. With my belly big with a baby I called my family. The only way I knew to do to get away.
I showed my family I was strong. They didn’t hurt me while I was pregnant. I thought they had finally accepted me and my strength. Then my daughter was born and hell began again. She tried to take her away from me so the fighting began again. This time I wasn’t just fighting for me. I was fighting for this beautiful life that I was responsable for. I was sure for her I would be strong enough to protect us both. I was wrong. I went to a shelter for woman who had been abused. I thought I was safe. They said they could protect me from him and them. I didn’t tell. Just enough to get help. Telling is what started this fight we don’t tell. Only enough to get our needs met. After about three weeks he found me. He was sitting on my bed with a gun. I ran, I yelled they got my beautiful baby and got out. I didn’t. He kept me there for eighteen hours. I was strong. I did what I had to do to get out. That is what I was told when it was over you were strong they said. The next day they let him go and kicked me out of the shelter because I was now a liability to the other woman there who needed help. They gave me a ticket and I went back to the city. Once there I was strong. I found a place to live. I got a job and food for me and my baby. I met a good man. A man I didn’t have to watch as closely. I wanted so much to trust him. But then I was found again and I again did what I had to do to be strong and protect my baby. I married him. He took me away to another state. It was hell. He locked us in when he wasn’t there. The beatings weren’t so bad at first. Then one day he came home mad and went after our daughter. The next day I ran. I gathered my strength once more and called the police and the man from the city. I got a bus ticked and ran to him. He hid me until I felt safe enough to stand on my own two feet. I thought I had found my knight in shining armor.
One year after my trip to Florida I fell in love with my knight. One month later I was pregnant and I was so afraid that I sent him away. I was strong for a long time and took care of my unborn baby and my beautiful daughter. After he was born I got sick. So I called his father. I went back to him. I told him some of why I ran. He understood. I spent the next year in the happiest years that I had spent up until then. I was brave and strong and loved and I loved my little family. Then the nightmares started. It was time to run again but this time I made a mistake. I took my little family to my mother. He was not strong enough to fight mother so I made a choice. I sent him away. I hurt him but I stayed strong. I took care of my babies and me. Until I met another. This was a slow start not like the others. He was honest about what he wanted and I was strong and independent. Life progressed this way for a long while. Then one day I found out I was pregnant. He didn’t believe that I didn’t do it on purpose but neither of us wanted a child. I had an abortion. It was hard and it was painful and I had so much guilt but I was strong so we soldiered on. We fought a lot after that. No violence. The second person in my life who didn’t hit. Three months later I was pregnant again. This time it was too late for an abortion. It took too long to figure out. He again didn’t believe that I didn’t do it on purpose. We split got back together and the baby was born. He was born early and sick. But he was going to be okay. We tried to make it work but the nightmares were so bad. I was only 21 years old raising my third child. We split many times and I was not strong. My world kept falling apart. I could no longer believe in love in miracles or in myself. I wanted to die. I spent the next three years trying to find my strength between suicide attempts.
For two years I found a reason not to die but chose not to live. I lived in one room of an apartment that I lived in. I had my first two babies with me. The youngest I sent to live with his father. I tried to gain strength but it wasn’t happening. I met a man. This man was a good man with lots of lovers and no reason to be involved with me. This man saved my life. He brought me out of my fear. He treated me kindly and while he had feelings for me never truly loved me and I accepted that. He was honest and not always strong but strong like me. We stayed together for a lot of years. He took care of me and I him. Then one day I fell in love with him. I thought sure he would do anything to keep me. I got a divorce. I got strong and brave. I told him he should marry me to keep me. We split up. I stayed strong and moved out then moved right back. He wouldn’t marry me but he would give me a ring and make it look good. I agreed at first then realized that I was worth more than that. I deserved to be loved. So I took my older two children and moved back to the city. My youngest’s father had remarried and I was in the way so I wasn’t allowed to see my son. I accepted their rules. I thought I would be strong enough to make it in the city. I was right for a while. After moving back I met my first son’s father and we tried again. When this fell apart again. I lost my mind the fear and the doubt and the nightmares came back. I went looking for help. I told them everything that I had lived through. They put me through ECT electro convulsive therapy. It will help you not be sad they said. So they were right and they sent electricity through my brain until I forgot. I forgot so much and I was happy. I met my new husband.
He said he loved me, he said he would care for me. I was strong so no one was going to hurt me ever again. I was brave so even if they tried I could persevere. I was wrong. My daughter had already grown up and moved out. My son was graduating and I was getting married. I was in love. I knew no fear. After we got married that fear set in again. He started to fight and I didn’t. I had stopped fighting because I thought I was safe. So when it happened it was slow I didn’t see the signs at first. I knew they were there and I ignored them. I thought I was being strong, being a good wife. Then the violence started. I told him why that couldn’t happen why he couldn’t keep yelling or hitting. Why life needed to be the way it was. I told him everything. I became a whore in his eyes. Everything changed. I tried until I couldn’t try anymore. Now they tell me I am morning… I don’t know how you mourn someone who hurt you so much. But I ran and returned to the only person who never hurt me. I am strong but the dreams hurt, the fear is exhausting. I don’t want to live like this I don’t want to die. If I am morning it is only the loss of any dreams I may have had about my happily ever after. I know that dream is not for me. I will never hold in my hands the kind of love I have always wanted. I am not in pieces I am not paralyzed and I am not trying to kill myself. But I am not happy. I don’t feel safe. I am faking my strength and I want it all to end. If I have to live my life without love, acceptance, compassion I don’t know how I will survive. I have given all of those things and more. My baby’s are grown. I have a relationship with all of them. I am trying to find a reason to fight but it’s hard.
*****There is one more. Another who is fighting just like me. He is strong. I want to give him my hope. I want to give him my love. I want to share with him my strength. Could it be possible? Could there be another like me. Do I have reason to hope?

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