For over two years now I’ve been having this one specific feeling from time to time. Typically, this emotion erupts while I’m in the kitchen doing mundane chores. I’m reminded when hearing a garage door, opening the dish washer, and most recently while cooking pancakes for dinner.
I left my abuser. Something I never thought that I could actually do. The emotional entanglement and years of mental torture kept me prisoner. Over time the physical abuse became expected. All while telling myself, this is the last time that I will stay. Watching myself over and over again trying new ways to avoid things from getting to “that point”. Rushing around the home making sure everything was perfect before hearing the garage door. Attempting to settle the children prior to that door opening. Allowing the stonewalling to continue while my abuser walked in the home, past the children and myself with out a word. Nervous to speak because the anger could come out and then my children would hear words no mother wants spoken. Making sure that dinner was always ready at any moments notice to diminish the possibility of irritation from hunger. If only I had a dollar every time that I was asked-what do you even do all day? Prompting me to do more and more trying to appease my abuser (it was never enough). My anxiety was never settled living in that home. Telling myself over and over that things could change and that I loved this man. Constantly making excuses for my abusers behavior.
I’ll never forget that one moment walking out of a local restaurant. Carrying a lemonade in my hand that was for a long drive into the city. My abuser was in the parking lot and yelling at a woman. This woman started walking away and then walked directly past me. Instantly I blurted out to the woman, “What’s wrong?”. This woman immediately asked me if I was with him (pointing), and I confirmed. She went on to tell me a quote that stuck with me the remaining years. The woman looked directly in my eyes, then back at him and said, “I feel sorry for you”. The woman who was just called a bitch by my abuser then walked away. My abuser was never wrong, he would tail spin every story to make him look like a victim. After hearing his version of that story my heart sunk. This man I was getting back in the car with, stuck sitting next to, was out of control. That woman’s child was in the car witnessing it all, my heart felt broken.
This very personal writing is not about the physical, emotional or sexual abuse that goes on in abusive relationships. This post is for every woman who is being abused, but also the ones who got away. I hope and I pray that you get away. If you stay, I’ll never judge because I almost stayed too. Although, I’m not sure I would have lived very much longer. The emotional abuse can tail spin your mind. Beyond thankful I had a trusted therapist in the end.
The subtle comments abusers make (as if they are joking, but they’re not) can be paralyzing. For example, You’re lucky you’re not buried six feet under that swing set out back. No explanation is necessary on how that statement instills fear. Fear is what abusers use to keep you. Trying to leave can be life threatening and people wonder why we would stay with our abusers. Well, you might think of him as the nice guy that you see in the community smiling and acting like a family man. Abusers don’t want you to know who they are. Most parents have talks with their children about “tricky people”, as adults we need to also watch out for them. When trying to leave an abuser expect that they will attempt to manipulate everyone around you. This is a tactic only set up to keep you. They want you to feel helpless that people will believe your truth. Abuse only thrives in silence, speak up and their lies begin to crumble. My abuser use to say, “No one will believe your truth Trina, because no one cares about you.”
A few years ago, while unpacking my new home I had an indescribable feeling come over me. The amount of times I attempted to escape that abusive relationship, but failed, made me believe that I was never getting away. Finally, after many attempts to leave I then succeeded. My current home may be small, I don’t have a back yard for my kids, the children share a bedroom, but we are safe. SAFE! Inside these walls as I sit here typing this, I’m not fearing the garage door opening, not fearing the words my children will hear, not fearing the violence my son and daughter would witness.
Everyday I’m reminded that this home was once not mine by a simple spoon in the dishwasher. This is very personal (and maybe cheesy to some of you reading), but there is a spoon that the old tenants left behind, I leave it in the dishwasher as a reminder. That spoon has been washed about a million times. While looking at that spoon (daily) I’m reminded that this home was once not mine, I was once not safe and instantly I become overwhelmingly grateful staring at this spoon.
Some have a gratitude stone, I have a spoon.
Most recently I was in my kitchen making buttermilk pancakes for dinner when “that feeling” hit. This is the feeling that I pray every single women who has ever been abused experiences. A feeling of gratefulness, peace, safety and joy all at once. If you are reading this and have also experienced this incredible wave of emotion please leave a comment. Let’s instill hope in others still battling to escape. Praying that all abused can have that moment of peace-being in your kitchen, the kids playing happily, making pancakes for dinner and not fearing the garage door opening. Tonight, I’ll pour myself a glass of wine after tucking the kids in bed and not hold my breath fearing the unknown. I’m free.