Okay, where do I even start here...
First off. I was never one to be pressured into doing things, even in high school. I never felt like I gave in to anything I didn't want to do. Hell, it's 2017 and I still have never smoked weed and I'm cool with that. Not my cup of tea. I liked doing my own thing. I still do. But peer pressure is absolutely nothing compared to being scared to leave an unhealthy situation.
Eighteen years old. Working part time making smoothies with my friends and hanging out. Your typical teenager. I've always been into the internet and blogging; hell yeah I had a melodramatic, a live journal, a myspace, flickr, etc. you name it. I had no real big online presence by any means, but that has never stopped me from writing and being social. One thing lead to another and I met a guy online through a mutual friend who lived a few states away. A bit older than me, but at 18, that was totally cool. *exaggerated eye roll* As these stories go, they are great in the beginning. Of course. No complaints. I felt loved and treated well and I was happy. I visited him, he came out here to CA once, and within 3-4 months I made the 18 year old decision to quit my job and move there. Fuck it. You only live once, right?
There were definitely red flags once I made the move. Nights when I would be on the phone with my mom and had her asking me if I wanted to come home. But in my mind, all I could think about was that I had already made such a big commitment in moving, my car was driven all the way out here, I had no job to go home to, I was scared. I would brush it off, cry and wake up the next day hoping it would be better. Sometimes it was or sometimes a blow out argument would occur for the slightest reasons. Yet there I was, still taking photos and posting them to everyone like everything was great. It's weird how you go to this place in your mind where you're numb and everything is cloudy and you're just sort of floating through each day, walking on egg shells and trying to them happy and forgetting about yourself.
Not even 2 months later, we came back out to visit my family for the holidays. Apparently he asked my parents permission to marry me and they told him to wait longer. Of course he didn't listen. It was hardly a proposal. I don't even think the words "Will you marry me?" came out of his mouth at all. He just tried putting on a ring that was at least 3 sizes too big. He got angry and threw a little fit. Romantic, right? I tried to stay calm. I was scared and not knowing how to act. He told me that my entire family was waiting at the house and that I "needed to act happy." I threw up a little on the way to the car. Trust me, a congratulations was hardly needed.
I sometimes wonder how painfully obvious I was to the people around me or how completely oblivious everyone was. I never knew what people were thinking but I never really told anyone because the days would fluctuate so rapidly. I was usually pretty good at hiding my emotions back then. I got flung into wedding planning and was enjoying it. What girl wouldn't at 18/19? We ended up getting matching tattoos and told each other that after the wedding we would each get the second piece to complete it. Needless to say, I got the second piece after the wedding and he never did. Clever foreshadowing, universe... if only I had taken notice. A few months flew by, we ended up moving out to CA because I knew I would feel safer near my family. I really missed home. The wedding happened. That's all I have to say...it happened. No fond memories or crazy enjoyable moments. It was awkward and I was painfully sober. A big waste of money is what I think and it makes me physically sick. What an expensive lesson. I am so sorry mom & dad.
Nineteen years old. Newly married to someone I had zero respect for and who clearly had zero respect for me right back. Tumbling down the rabbit hole we went. I figured, well, this is my life I can't back out now. Not even a month into the marriage, being in an unfamiliar place for him with zero friends, he put me on constant watch. It was go to work and come straight home. If I didn't, I was questioned. No grocery store by myself, because why on earth would I go without him? What's the password for your computer? Email? I would take my laptop with me to work just so he wouldn't try and break it if I wasn't there. Most arguments would end with me trying to be calm and stepping outside to get some air but getting locked out of the house or locked out on the balcony in the cold. One time when I stepped out I took my keys with me, because I knew his locking pattern, yet came back to find the door barricaded shut with the coffee table. A few times I was forced to pee in our kitchen sink because he locked me out of our bathroom. Getting called stupid for overcooking dinner or folding the laundry "wrong". This did not seem like typical married life to me but I didn't know what to do about it. I was always told you get married once. I had never had the "What if I want to get divorced?" talk with anyone before.
No, I was never punched in the face or thrown down a flight of stairs but that does not mean this relationship wasn't abusive. There are so many different types of abuse. There were times when I would wish he would hit me so that I would have a reason to leave and I'd have physical proof to show people. But you almost feel foolish running to the police or any authoritative person with "He's calling me names and being mean to me." You somehow, in your naive frightened mind, feel like it's not a good enough excuse. But I'm telling you, it is. It fucking is.
Twenty one years old. I left. I lasted 1 year and 10 months somehow. I don't even know how I made it that long. I am the first one to always admit that it takes two people to create a problem in any relationship. I wasn't going to walk away from this unless I knew I tried everything possible to fix it. Just for my sanity. I got myself a therapist. It felt amazing having a neutral person to talk to about my frustrations but of course, I was still a bit guarded in disclosing some details. About 2 months later, feeling a bit more confident... I was slowly gaining respect for myself; I started to see the light. She had asked me to invite him to our next weekly session. Now, this was my ah-ha moment. My light bulb. Everyone has one. I asked him to come, and I got the response: "Why would I go when you're the one with the issues?"
He went out to visit his family a few days later, I did not go with him, and while he was gone I had friends and family help me move my stuff out. I finally felt strong enough to leave. I tried everything to better myself for the sake of whatever was left of the relationship and he basically spat in my face when it came to doing his part. That's okay. I'm okay. I'm better without you. I will never have a "what if" thought because I tried so I'm moving on with my head held high.
I have never publicly written about this portion of my life before. Even when it was happening. Mainly because I was still healing from everything and trying to move on, but mostly because I didn't want anyone to feel sorry for me. Yes, I was the victim, but I never wanted to be viewed as a victim. Does that make sense? I also felt like it was really nobodies business and if they wanted to make their own judgements about me without asking, then cool whatever. I lost a few friends who never bothered to ask and just assumed I was young and wanted to play the field some more and didn't take the institution of marriage seriously. *shrug* When you're 21 years old and you're at the courthouse alone filing for a divorce, you don't get the most comforting looks. People don't know and that's okay. I knew what happened and that's what's most important. People will still assume and say to me "Well you're writing off marriage now huh." Um... Absolutely not, I definitely want to get married again. Why would I blame the institution of marriage because one person was a complete asshole?
The best thing I did afterwards was stay in therapy. Building myself back up and focusing on ME was so important. The worst thing I did was try to find comfort in jumping into other relationships. Going from the mentality of "this is forever" to "okay it's not forever, I'm free" is quite a culture shock especially since I was so young and still very naive. The one thing I do regret is jumping into things so quickly because I ended up hurting some people who didn't deserve it.
It's now been 6 years since I left.
I just recently covered a big piece of the past. That matching tattoo. This was a total psychological cover up. Nobody should ever be forced to carry around a painful reminder and nobody should ever feel ashamed for the ways they need to heal.
This tattoo is now mine and only mine. I feel such a sense of pride in this. Fuck. It feel so good.
Now. (Almost) Twenty seven years old. Today. I am 200% confident in saying that if this all never happened to me, I would not be the person I am today. Now, that's not saying I'm glad it happened...at all. What I'm saying is it's all about perspective. I spent years trying to grasp "why me? why me?" and sulk about it but when it came to eventually healing... it ended up shaping me and making me strong because of how I viewed the situation, not because it happened. I'm really proud of who I am because of that bullshit. Thus my "give no fucks" attitude was born. I now put respect at the top of my list when it comes to relationships. Even friendships. I am so happy now and I recognize my worth because of the times when it wasn't recognized. I am in a healthy relationship with someone who respects me and loves me and pushes me to be better. Spencer, you are an angel.
A very big part in why I'm choosing to share this with you is... I never had someone to relate to, to run to, to confide in when I was going through all of this shit. When I was slowly realizing that the things that were happening to me were not normal I would print out articles online regarding abusive relationships and make all of the necessary connections but as we know, wikipedia isn't always very personal. There could be 5 million different definitions of this shit. I'd rather hear from a freaking human being who's been through it. Who is now.. me.
I'd like to think I'm a good example of how you can trudge through trauma and still come out on the right side. You are not unlovable. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to be the one to create it and you have every tool necessary. The more I viewed this whole situation as one big lesson, the less and less I regret it happening. I just think - the more I learn from, hell.. everything that has ever happened to me, the better person I will be tomorrow. All of the times I got fucked over, the times I fucked others over, it's all to help you grow - it just depends on how you look at it. Like I said, it's all about your perspective.
If sharing my story helps even just one person who is currently in the same position or a similar position I was in so many years ago, that's all I want. Know that I am here and you are not alone. This is not the end. So much life exists after abuse and so does love.