Not so long ago.
A few years back I got married. It was a beautiful day in my life.
Underneath the soft veil and the pink silk dress I carried a secret. I couldn’t tell anyone because I couldn’t yet admit it to myself. If honesty is the first step, I wasn’t ready to face the truth of my relationship. I wanted my happily ever after at all costs. At all expense, I walked away from my knowing, down the aisle.
Self-betrayal is torture. Sometimes the truth is too buch to bear. I hid my real feelings from myself. I lost myself in the image I wanted for my wedding…. pink roses, silk, champagne and a honeymoon in an exotic location.
The reality underneath was just too painful.
He and I were good friends. We had great sex, shared a love of spirituality, travel and enjoyed the fine things in life. We adored one another. Yet I was suffering in silence. Around every six weeks I would get yelled at. Screamed at, in my face. Full pelt. It was awful.
I was so ashamed. I loved this man. I really loved him. I decided that I didn’t want to be on the shelf any longer. I convinced myself I had hit the jackpot. After all…. he was successful, good looking, healthy and spiritual. He was a wonderful lover. The abuse didn’t happen all the time, in fact it was fairly random. Most of the time things were good.
In the beginning I was in heaven. I was smitten. I was so ready (I thought) for commitment. Not my own, of course, his. Disney had nothing on me. I was far gone, swept away. Nothing could stop me once my sights were set on the wedding.
Of course it wasn’t going to work. First we have to marry ourselves. I did it backwards so that’s why I am writing this, to perhaps help other women get it right. You do not need to waste years in unfulfilling and unsatisfying, not to mention un-healthy, destructive, drama filled relationships.
I had not yet made the leap. I had not yet attended to the inner marriage. I was still looking ‘out there’.
I wanted someone else to do for me what I was not willing to do for myself.
I simply could not see a flying pig for the sky.
For seven years I had been a single parent so I thought I had hit the jackpot when I finally met a man who was spiritual, healthy, employed and (oh so very important to me) committed.
And committed he was.
Committed to putting me down.
Committed to scaring me.
Committed to demanding sex.
Committed to controlling our finances.
Committed to saying things that broke my heart into a thousand pieces.
It was harrowing.
I was living in my own very personal version of a horror movie.
I was so in denial and filled with shame I couldn’t even admit to myself what my life was becoming. Even writing this now my head is pounding. For what has been hidden for a long winter is now blooming into the warm spring sun.
I was called ‘filth’. Keys were thrown at me. I was forbidden to speak to other men.
I felt like a woman living in another land in another era. This stuff just doesn’t happen to women like us? Oh yes it does. Lots of us. 1 in 4 actually.
Over the years my self-esteem crumbled, first to little rocks, then to dirt. I began to disappear. I became invisible. I stopped doing the work I so loved. I dimmed in colour, becoming a pale version of my former bold and brazen self.
For years I pretended to myself and others that everything was okay.
I believed love would solve everything.
Yet self love and fierce mother love saved me in the end.
It was my commitment to me that had me find the courage and the strength to leave.
It took several goes. Many failed attempts and returns. I wanted to be sure I had made the right decision. After all, he joined a mens group. For a year things were good. And then the same old stuff. I got really angry. I had to do something.
It was my eventual stand for peace that set me free.
It was my love for myself that broke the chains around my neck.
It was my young daughter who finally awakened me, begging me to stay out of the relationship for good. Children are far more awake than we parents can be sometimes.
During those years….
I stopped doing what I loved and I ceased earning money.
I stopped seeing friends.
I stopped speaking the truth.
I stopped going out.
I lived in hope.
I lived in terror.
I felt totally ashamed.
I felt crushed and crippled.
I felt stuck.
I felt trapped.
I felt imprisoned within my own life.
I even thought of taking my own life.
I felt hopeless and frightened.
I knew I had to leave, but I didn’t know how.
Here’s the clincher…
For ninety percent of the time the relationship was good.
We had fun together.
We travelled the world.
We enjoyed eating out.
We had great sex.
We enjoyed time with our kids as a family.
It didn’t make sense. It was crazy making.
It wasn’t until I went into therapy that my counsellor nailed it.
I will never forget it.
She said “you are in a cycle of violence”.
I was fully aware that the verbal abuse I was experiencing felt horrible but I was not aware it was domestic violence.
We had tied the knot, and no-one was supposed to be leaving the room.
I felt I had made a vow for life.
I honestly felt that I couldn’t just walk out and leave.
Yet that is exactly what I had to do, to save myself and my daughter from destruction.
Talk about feeling trapped. Talk about living a lie. Talk about living in fear.
Can you relate?
I absolutely loved this man. He has many many good and divine qualities.
Looking back I can see that the truth was made available to me in the early weeks of the relationship. Yet, early on, I had my rose coloured glasses firmly on. I chose to glance over the odd behaviour, the strange intensity, the generous gifts and the increasing demands.
I pretended shit didn’t happen that did happen.
By this time the eros was flowing and I was hooked. Line and sinker. He was a truly great lover. He was charming. He smelled good. He bought me beautiful presents. He talked about things I was interested in. He was beautiful to look at. I was a goner. Hook, line and big heavy sinker. I felt safe on the one hand and trapped on the other.
I am writing this because after years of hiding inside my shame and silence it is my time to speak. I want to set the past free.
I have learned my lesson.
The biggest thing I learnt was this…..
It’s all staring you right in the face honey. Everything you need to know. Hello! Wake up. Smell the coffee. Hear what you hear, see what you see and mostly believe what your instincts are telling you. Don’t dim your vision or dim your light to be loved. That’s not love. Love grows in kindness, honesty and freedom. Love grows with nurturing and gentleness. Love grows with trust. Love grows with goodness. Love grows with generosity and patience.
And of course I know I created it all. I moved in with him. I got married. I saw a dead rat at the wedding venue the day we booked it. I turned away. I pretended. I dreamed on.
And ya know what?
I lived the dream. But it made me sick and my daughter got sick too. I had to draw the line. And eventually I did. It wasn’t easy.
I left for good. I got a divorce. I grieved. I packed up the house. I cried lots. I blamed myself.
Slowly, I made peace with the past.
I cried on girlfriends. I stayed with girlfriends. Thankyou Neikah. Thank you Georgia. Thank you Deanne. Thank you Liat.
It’s all so very simple.
See what you see.
Feel what you feel.
Listen to what you hear, not just with your ears, but with your gut.
Go when you need to go.
Run if you need to run.
Stop kidding yourself (years are going by).
Grow a boundary.
Get a plan.
Change the locks if you need to – I did.
Get a life.
The nightmare can end. And as for my romantic heart…. there will be another wedding.
I can hear the sweet words of a song by Deva Premal and Miten……All that remains, when we’re free of our chains, is the love we shared.
I release the past.
I release shame.
I break the silence.
I live and learn.
I am grateful for my journey into darkness, but I can tell you I am a lot happier in the light.