Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Whirlwind Romance

From the outside looking in, my marriage was a whirlwind romance. We met online via a dating site. His profile was pretty minimal where as mine was a page (typed) of traits I looking for (and not looking for) in a man. I had a head shot picture and his were from a ways away (not to mention he had a ball cap and sunglasses). He messaged me and to this day will tell you I was the only one he ever sent a message but only recently I've started to think he was lying about this too. We chatted online for a day or two and asked that we talk on the phone before agreeing to meet in person. We talked and he seemed fairly normal. The thing I like was he was from the same province but was older so we wouldn't have known the same people. 

We met at a coffee shop on a cold December Saturday night. As I pulled into the parking lot I thought to myself "I have no idea what he looks like so hopefully he spots me". He did spot me and we sat down and talked for hours. The coffee shop actually closed and we have to leave. We met up a few days later for dinner. From there it was a date with him every few days. About a month he he dropped a bomb on me, he was a cocaine user in his younger years. He told me this during an argument and I left his place. I should have kept driving and trusted my instincts to flee but I went back. We ended up talking it out and I thought to myself "I used to be a binge drinker, who am I to judge him?"

I had been told by Christian friends to save myself for marriage (though I hadn't done that in previous relationships) and thought that sounded like a good idea. I was trying to live a Christian way of life without actually being one. I stumbled, I slept with him within the first 6 weeks of our relationship. I wanted to stop but he had already wiggled his way into my head and the control had already started unbeknownst to me. He convinced me that he wouldn't continue to date me if I wanted to wait until marriage. This seemed normal to me, I wasn't a Christian so why the heck did I want to live my life their way? 

He decided to sell his house and move into my basement suite instead of me moving in with him. This seemed odd to me at first but then again, it would be cheaper and we could get debt free quicker. He sold his house within a few weeks and was moving in mid-April. The final day at his place he proposed to me. I had told myself the reason it's moving so fast is because we're both old enough to know what we want and ready to settle down. Looking back, he was in a hurry to seal the deal before the truth came out and his true self was revealed. 

Two weeks out from the wedding I had developed a migraine, this migraine lasted over a week and my prescription medication stopped working. Finally, I asked to be taken to the hospital. After waiting in the waiting room for a few hours they put me in a room and hooked me up to an I.V. which resulted in my first panic attack that I can remember. Instead of actually trying to calm me down he said "what did you think they were going to do, of course they were going to give you an I.V." in a condensing way. They started pumping me full of drugs but I asked them to stop after the second of the three they wanted to give me. I asked they give me sometime to see if those two were enough because I didn't want the "hangover" that comes with a migraine to be worsened by a drug hangover. An hour later the nurse comes in asking if I was ready for my morphine. MORPHINE, what the heck made these people think I wanted the hard drugs?! I declined and he kept telling me to take it. This was the drug addict in him talking. 

We married that fall and were proud to say we paid for the wedding ourselves. Honestly, I didn't really enjoy myself at the wedding. I felt faint before walking down the isle (granted I was really sick), I felt awkward at the reception and I had sweat my butt off during photos (it was 30C something at the end of September!). I hated the dancing part, the having to be social.

I woke up the next morning and though "I'm a married woman" and was really excited. We had to go through our wedding cash we'd received to pay our parking and went home. We had nothing in our bank account and I didn't even have a credit card at that time because my credit was so horrible. He didn't have any either, which I later found out it was because he hadn't been paying his bills. 

The first two weeks of our marriage we great, aside from the garnishment of his wages of course. We were getting along (we'd had frequent squabbles during our engagement which I attributed to the stress of planning a wedding). He held it together for less than a month before the abuse became apparent. It was too late, I was married. I didn't want to divorce him and thought "what would I do without him?". 

To sum up the beginning of our relationship, if it seems to be too good to be true, it is so run like HELL!

Monday, 28 September 2015

Finding a Sense of Safety

If you've lived through abuse you know what if feels like feel like you aren't safe anywhere. That feeling like you need to look over your shoulder every minute you're outside the security of your home. I catch myself doing this often, at the grocery store, riding the bus and even walking my dog. I've resorted to changing my routines and patterns. I no longer walk my dog before I leave for work, I've resorted to 6:30 am (basically as soon I wake up and have been sufficiently "coffee'd") and not walking him in the evening until 6:30 pm (when normal people are eating supper). I shop on weeknights at a different grocery store (instead of weekends). The bus however, there is nothing I can change so I leave that one to God.

I had my first shift at my new part time job tonight. I realized that I wasn't looking over my shoulder tonight. I worked an entire shift feeling perfectly safe. I'm grateful for the job God provided me because I work in the VIP section (box seats) and I'm certain he doesn't know anyone who can afford a box nor can he afford one.

I even made it home via transit without looking over my shoulder. It felt FANTASTIC.

Today's success moment was making it through my shift without feeling like I might die or fall asleep. Note to self though, bring more snacks, was really hungry and my packed lunch didn't cut the mustard.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

$5000 Shoes

If you were born after 1980 you are more likely to be "me" focused, at least that's what my pastor said in church today. Do you believe this? I certainly do. Except that wasn't the case for me for the last four plus years. It was all about him. Was the house cleaned to his liking, was dinner seasoned enough, was he getting enough sex, did I appear enthusiastic enough, was there enough money in the bank account for him? 

So what am I supposed to do now? Make my entire life about me? That's not really what Christ calls me to do. So what am I supposed to do knowing this? I am to follow Christ, allow Him to heal me and move on with my life. 

Yesterday I went shoe shopping to buy shoes for my new job. I'm working for a sports and entertainment company as a conceige. I need black polish-able shoes and I didn't want to cheap out on a pair. I have to stand my entire shift which means they need to be as comfortable as possible. You see, the shoes I buy are an investment to debt freedom. I bought a pair on sale for $90.00 and wore them around the house yesterday a bit to break them in. I looked down at these shoes, this granny looking black shoes and told myself, "these are $5000 shoes, these shoes will make me $5000". I need $5000 in the next eleven months in order to achieve my goal, debt free by my thirty first birthday. 

Once I get debt free I'll actually accomplish another goal, to travel. I don't know where I'll go just yet but it's not going to be Oregon, that's for sure. I want to travel somewhere warm, with a beach, that requires a flight to get to. 

Today's success - I went to church (two weeks in a row!) and I took my dog on a much needed long walk. 

Saturday, 26 September 2015


I've changed my entire life. I've changed apartments, daily routines, hobbies, financial situations, family relationships, my social life, all because a change of relationship status. My counselor pointed this out to me during one of our sessions. She told me this because she was trying to make a point; she wanted me to recognize and acknowledge all of my courageous accomplishments 

I couldn't understand why I was so exhausted and yet antsy the first few weeks. While I may not be consciously aware of all the changes I'm dealing with my subconscious is hard at work. It's a lot to process and most of the changes I listed happened overnight. 

One of my weaknesses is not giving myself enough credit. Before she pointed out all the things I've done I caught myself thinking, "so what, who couldn't do that too?". Then I realized, a lot of woman can but don't or can't but want to

I gained the courage the leave him, to make plans and step out of the life I had lived for years. The fear of change held me captive for years but my desire for a better life grew stronger. The hardest part once the decision was made was waiting four weeks. God took care of the logistic details (apartment, finances, a vehicle to move my things, people to help me move, a consolidation loan for a debt and a part time job to help me pay off the consolidation loan). God has shown me how much He loves me, how He has a better plan for my life than I could ever imagine.  

Thursday as I was crying I prayed and heard God say to me "I'm pruning you." Pruning is described as "an essential gardening skill. When you prune correctly, you encourage healthy growth and flowering (in the case of flowering plants), as well as good looks". This year is a year of pruning for not just re-growth but becoming stronger. It's not going to be easy or always happy but it's necessary. As I type this I'm secretly hoping it will be easier than I think but we both know that isn't really going to be the truth. 

Today's memory that came back was when I used to sleep in my car. No, I was never homeless, I was avoiding him. I finally had my own car again (after a year of not having one) and I would go home and let my dog out and leave right away, before he got home from work. I would drive to another residential area and have a nap. I'd wake up and go have a cheap supper somewhere and go home sometime after dark. I can't remember how long I did this but I only ended up having that car for a few months. I ended up writing the car off when I was rushing to work one day.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

My Wedding Anniversary & Babies

Today is my four year wedding anniversary. It brings a certain amount of sadness but I received wonderful news this morning, my younger sister had her baby girl. I'm glad that both are healthy and resting but I'm also disappointed, not in her but in my life. I've wanted kids for a few years now but never started trying with him. Their were a few reasons behind this some are more obvious than others. 

For the first two years of our marriage people would ask when we would start having kids. I would say that I wanted to wait a bit because we got married so quickly after meeting. Realistically it was because I wasn't ready, I didn't feel grown up enough to be a parent. Eventually I felt ready but my marriage was so abusive and volatile that I didn't want to bring a child into the world to be raised in that, like I was. He would complain that he was getting too old to have children (he's six years older). This past spring I caught the fever, baby fever. I wanted a child so bad, before time ran out, that I was actually considering having a child. I realize in hindsight that this was selfish, not caring how the child would be raised only that I would have a child. 

The reason I didn't start trying was because a few years back I had an abnormal PAP. I was sent to a specialist and I had to go in every six months to ensure it didn't turn in to precancerous cells. I had laser ablation done in year two of marriage and had put off my follow up because of the move to Vancouver. I decided to go in for an annual check up in June of this year and was told my results would be available in about a month. This was around the time I was really unhappy in my marriage and was slowly allowing the thoughts of leaving him to enter my mind. 

In early July, the same week I had scheduled a meeting with my pastor, I called the doctors office for my results. I was expecting to be told I would need to see a specialist which would mean I still had abnormal cells. She casually said I was fine and could book in a year. I made her repeat herself because I thought I misheard her. I was so relieved, finally after seven years of bad news in that department I was given a clean bill of health. I just had to remember not to mention it to him. In fact, I lied and told him it was still an issue as the explanation for distance and stress for the next few weeks. The actual stress was planning to leave in secrecy. 

So here I am, 30 years old, finally healthy and painfully single. Well, not even single and free to date. Separated and waiting to file divorce papers. I don't want to start dating anytime soon, I need time to heal and deal with all the trauma before I can get back out there. If I start too soon I could attract the wrong kind of man again and end up in this situation again.

The other thing is that this time I'll be released into the dating pond (as I've aged out of my twenties it's no longer an ocean) a Christian woman. The dating options are lessened even more. I realize that if it's God's will for me to remarry and have child(ren) that it will happen. 

I had initially planned to get my nails done as my treat to myself today but frankly, I can't managed to keep myself from crying long enough to even walk to the nail salon. I had thought that because I was no longer in love with him that today would be no big deal, how wrong I was. I was thinking that I would be happy today because my little sister gave birth to a beautiful little baby girl, again, how wrong I was. 

I truly think that there is a disconnect between my head and heart as I head down the healing. Off to bed and fingers crossed I'll actually fall asleep before 11.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Anxiety & Giving Myself Permission To Do Nothing

My goal is to post daily. I missed yesterdays and only remembered at 10:30 last night when I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep. In the past I would open my laptop and post my draft. I didn't do this. I'm really trying to work on taking time for doing nothing. This may sound unproductive but it is actually the exact opposite. 

For years I was constantly trying to make sure everything was clean, put away etc. The less I left out, the less would get broken in the event of a tantrum. I was guilt-ed about taking time for myself to relax. The last activity I clung to was taking a before bed bath (every night) for the last year or two. I even bathed nightly when my city announced a water restriction due to drought! It was the only time I could be alone and relax. He would complain if I was longer than 30 minutes, "you were in there for an hour" was a daily occurrence even if it was less than that. But then again, why would I rush out of the tub to bed? It meant that he would expect sex from me. By the end, I did have "one hour baths" to avoid sex, it was not even a possibility in my mind. What if he got me pregnant?! I would forever be tied to him.  

I have a busy few days starting today and knew that I could very easily burn myself out. Last night the only things I planned to accomplish was making supper and picking up dog food. It turns out that I had to clean my oven (because of Monday's dinner) but otherwise didn't do anything productive. I have a list of things I want to accomplish this week written on my bathroom mirror but I know I can't do them all in one day so I try for a few. 

I have not been officially diagnosed with PTSD but do have many of the symptoms. Two of the most prominent symptoms are anxiety and memory loss. I have forgotten a lot of things that happened during my marriage but each day some memories come back and they haven't been the positive ones. Today's was the vet bill I had because he didn't pay it in full before leaving the clinic. Before I was married I had him take my dog into the vet for me for updating his shot. I couldn't take him myself for some reason (probably work). The clinic later threatened collections on my when I hadn't paid it. How did he manage to leave without paying the balance in full? Looking back, this was a clue that he didn't have all this money he said he did. 

My memory loss is also short term memory loss. I'll forget something you told me yesterday sometimes. My family knows this and doesn't judge me for it (thank God!) and I do my best to make lists at work and set reminders for things so I don't forget. As I write this I remembered I didn't check the mail today and had intended on making a bank deposit (clearly not happening today). 

As for my anxiety, my dog helps tremendously. My dog changed since we left him. He is calmer, quieter for the most part (except people in the hall, he barks EVERY time). If I can manage to take him with me on outings then it means I won't be so on edge. I had a few errands to run last Saturday and wanted to take him with me so I reserved a car through my car share program and took him along. In the past he would whine in the car after ten minutes, these days he's quiet as can be. Three and a half hours later we both got home and he didn't whine once. 

My dog is also dealing with PTSD because of him. He would terrorize him and think it's funny (a sign that he is psychotic). My dog is afraid of cardboard boxes, grocery bags and the vacuum, care to guess why? He also runs when I move the furniture because he was too terrorized by this previously. Now, I reassure him with my voice when these triggers my upset him. I was so proud of him the other day when I was unpacking a box. I kept telling him he was ok and a good boy as I opened, unpacked and collapsed the box. He didn't run away like he normally would, he came up and sniffed about. 

I had been planning a trip to my Mum's for Christmas but discovered he was too big for in cabin which caused my massive anxiety, I couldn't even think of traveling without him. My older sister recommended looking into having him registered as an Emotional Support Animal. There is no registry in Canada and the only thing required is a letter from a medical professional. This morning I got my letter! Flight booked and this will be the longest visit EVER with my family, two whole weeks. 

In the past, visiting my family was not a possibility. Visiting his family was a yearly occurrence at Christmas. He said I could invite my family to his mothers house for Christmas since we were driving eleven hours to his and mine was an additional five to six to see mine. This never sat right with me but I learned early on to pick my battles. 

I booked a visit this past March for five days. He didn't complain much except about spending the money (and my Mum paid for some of my ticket). "I'll be booking a flight to see my family whenever I want since you got to visit yours. Oh, and you aren't coming with me." He said this as an attempt to hurt me because he knew how much I loved his grandparents (I don't have any living grandparents). He refused to visit my family with me and frankly I'm glad he did. The night before I left he came home from work and I was in the midst of packing. He asked if he could help and I asked him to polish a pair of boots for me. He refused to do it since he'd never done it.... later that evening he demanded sex despite the fact it was late and I hadn't sat down all day. I refused and he got angry. In the morning I received a text from him at work "have fun complaining to your family about me". He didn't say a word to me after that until the last day of my visit where he Facetimed me for five minutes. 

I'm very excited to visit with my family and not be worried about what I'll be coming back to. I'm also excited to take new family photos. The only family photos I have are some from my wedding, but not a lot. I didn't visit very often (twice in the entire relationship in fact) so I don't have any photos from the past 5 years. 

Monday, 21 September 2015

You Date/Marry What You Know

Did you know what I married both my father and step-father? Let me back up on that statement. I am reading "The Emotionally Abused Woman" by Beverly Engel. The chapter I just finished talked about how you are most likely to marry someone like your first (or most hurtful) abuser. It asks that you make a list of people in your life (I.E. Mom, Dad, Step-parent, childhood bullies, friends or bosses) then list the positive and negative traits for these people. Actually, let me back up a bit further. 

Months before I left him, while I was in the deciding phase, I had the realization that I married a man exactly like my step-father growing up. This man was my first abuser. He physically and emotionally abused my Mum, my older sister and I. He would pick on my Mum first and if she wasn't around my older sister would take the brunt of it in an effort to protect me. I remember a time when my Mum was running away from him and ended up with a sprang wrist from trying to keep the door closed and him out. The police were called a few times and he was locked up for the night. He'd been thrown out more than once and we had left more than once. It was not a pleasant period of time in my life. I remember when we left how stressed out and short-tempered my Mum was. How she was a mess for at least a year after we left. I couldn't understand why she was acting the way she was. I certainly do now. How she managed to leave him with three daughters to worry about and provide for, I'll never understand. 

I realized that my soon-to-be-ex husband was just like my step-father. They were both short-tempered, controlling, manipulative, isolating but could lay on the charm and be the funniest person you've ever met. They both successfully had people believe that they were great husbands. 

My father is a workaholic, controlling, alcoholic. He was once funny, outgoing and an animal lover. He had aspirations of being a vet but that's all the were, aspirations. His foster parents convinced him to become a police officer (like their son) after he finished his contract with the Canadian military. This changed him into a racist, misogynist and arrogant man. My father became a workaholic and when my Mum realized he had chosen his work over his family, left him. He to this day speaks negatively of my mother. I have chosen not to allow him into my life. It's been nearly nine years since we last spoke. My older sister had a relationship with him up until this last spring when she had enough. He hadn't changed, he didn't want to put forth the effort to be a father and grandfather to her nor her children. Her husband (the most passive and understanding man you will ever meet in your life) finally had enough of him and the way he was treating his family and kicked him out of the house. I must say, I was so proud of him!

My soon-to-be-ex husband was an addict before I met him. He spent the majority of college high on cocaine. The story goes (as I no longer believe a word that came out of his mouth) his mother surprised him with a visit and caught him in the midst of a binge. She drove him to rehab then shipped him to his uncles house once released. His uncle was also a police officer who ironically enough was in training with my father. 

If you combine my father and step-father's traits, you get him. Sick isn't it? That we are drawn to what we know and what I knew was men who didn't treat woman like they should. Even now, I hear my heart telling me that I deserve a good Christian man, one who is actively seeking God. Then I catch myself thinking "will he be boring?", "will I be attracted to someone like that" or "will I be able to relate to him". 

Back to my book that I'm currently reading... more tomorrow.

Today's success (drum roll please!)....I worked out this morning and I applied for my dog to be an emotional support animal (because he really is!) so I can fly with him at Christmas.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Organizing.... and Beef Ribs

Today's success was attending church today. The main reason I went was my gal pal needed me to pick her up a book needed for our weekly community group. I sent her a text this evening thanking her for forcing me to be accountable.

I left church before the final song as I felt my anxiety rising. As I walked towards the bus stop I saw one of his co-worker/ friend. I tried to not look scared but I was. What if he texted him where I was?

I was so freaked out I went to a grocery store 25 minutes from home to avoid potentially running into him. The bright side to this, they had beef ribs! Now this may not seem like a big deal to some but I'm allergic to pork and for some reason I can never seem to find a small pack of beef ribs if I can even find one at all.

I spent the rest of the day at home. I had a feeling at church that I need to get better at accomplishing things that are productive. I was determined to clip my dog this weekend and managed to get that done today. I also used my bathroom full length mirror and made a daily to-do list and a list of things I need to get done this week. I then managed to read my bible, my "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" book and my "Emotionally Abused Woman" book. Look at me go! All productive and stuff!

I realized this weekend that I need to find a non-melatonin way of getting to sleep. I don't take on the weekends so I don't become addicted but then I'm up until at least 1 am. I then wake up around 8 am. My mind races and I can't seem to settle.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

My Last Control

Food was a way for him to hurt me, to control me. He would throw it out during a tantrum and threaten to empty the bank account. I mentioned this in previous post. Food was pretty much the only thing I could control at that time. I could control how much I ate, especially on days he was at work. 

Over the years I learned that I couldn't keep snack food in the house because he would eat it all. I even tried buying junk food I only partially liked that he didn't in an effort to have snack food in the house. Even then, he would eat it. I had to resort to hiding it in the baking cupboard. 

When I left him I couldn't figure out why I kept buying junk food. It dawned on me a few weeks later that it was my rebellion. I could finally keep food in the cupboard and it would be there the next time I wanted it. I put on a few pounds and started to worry; I was comfort eating. There is a hole in my heart, in my soul from the last few years of my life. 

I stopped exercising every weekday morning and I had stopped running months before. I didn't need to rush out of bed or answer to anyone else. I am now trying to get back to exercising regularly in the morning but running is still challenging. I don't want to run outside, he's out there. I'm currently keeping an eye out for a folding treadmill so I won't need to leave the house. I need it to be fold-able since I don't have extra floor space in my 350 sq foot apartment. 

I also struggle with what to eat. Granted, I'm have some limits (gluten), but what does a healthy, normal single gal eat? I think part of the reason I struggle is I don't want to eat things he would make me. 

He did most some of the cooking, at least on his days off. He loved to cook and took great pride in it. He also expected me to pay him big compliments on his creations. He also expected me to make him something amazing on the days h was working. If it wasn't perfect, it would result in a fight. He would gaslight me, make me think that something was wrong with me because I couldn't cook a simple supper. "Why is it so hard for you to cook" or "is it took much to ask for you to make me a decent supper after a 12 hour shift"? He would imply he did all the cooking when he wasn't working. When he fact half the time he would want to go out for supper somewhere.  

I used to be so concerned about time, specifically making time for myself on Sundays to decompress from the past week. I always felt like there wasn't enough hours in the day to take care of myself and get done all he expected of me. I would buy a pack of cookies or a pint of ice cream or something else I know he would eat the moment he found it. Except he would never find it because I would eat it all then hide the wrapper. I became a binge eater. 

Adjusting has been interesting, I have so much time for myself now but was and sometimes still have that scarcity mentality. I don't need to spend a hour plus daily tidying and cleaning up after him. I don't have to spend an hour daily in the kitchen making sure his dinner is cooked. With all this time to relax you would think I would feel better but I've never felt like I'm on the verge of a migraine more often. Apparently this is normal; that I'm decompressing from years of stress and trauma. 

Today's success - I went out for dinner with a gal pal of mine and walked around a very busy department store without having a panic attack. 

"That Bad"

I read stories of other abuse survivors. They tell the horrific details of being strangled, kicked, bones broken and hospital visits. This was not like my abuse. Does it mean my abuse was less traumatizing? Does it mean that my situations doesn't really qualify as abuse?

This is his control and abuse rearing it's ugly little head. That I'm not good enough, that what happened to me wasn't really that bad. This was a concern of mine before I left, that I would minimize the abuse and go back to him. This is all to common in abuse situations. I refused to let myself fall into this trap. A few days before I left, after a fight, I went out to walk my dog and took the car I was car sitting. I drove away from the apartment and parked somewhere quiet. I decided to video myself, the fear, hurt and tears. This video would be the reminder I needed when I got lonely or when I minimized. 

In this video I made mention of how I felt, what he did and what I needed to remember to avoid the thought of reconciling. I used my cell phone, which I guarded with my life the last two months. The abuse cycle shorted to a day instead of what was a week and what at one time long ago was a month. I slept with my phone, kept it in my pocket at home and out even took it into the bathroom with me. It was locked with a code he didn't know but I still worried he could hack in. I changed the code every few days in case he had seen me unlock it. I also kept it close in the event I needed to call someone. Not the police, what good they had done me in the past, but someone. 

I watched this video after I filmed it to make sure it was clear enough to hear. Then figured I wouldn't need it for a few months. I listened to it (since I couldn't watch it with him around) the night before my escape. I was questioning my decision to leave. Was it really that bad? Could I survive without him? I was so thankful my Mum was flying in the next morning to help me move. It cemented the fact I had to leave. He hated my Mum so she certainly couldn't stay with me if I stayed with him. 

He never punched me in the face but he has assaulted me. He had blocked me into the bedroom, pushed me, punched me in the thighs (people wouldn't see if I actually bruised), he's even flicked my lady parts. I don't remember bruising from these attacks. Does this mean it wasn't that bad? 

I think that this idea of "that bad" is a relative term. Is a woman being beaten and hospitalized "that bad" when compared to women in India that a set on fire because they "shamed" their families? What about being constantly told you're crazy when compared to female genital mutilation in Africa? Is being manipulated and control by your boyfriend / husband "that bad" when compared to the sex trafficking in Cambodia? 

Their will always be someone worse off then you. Their will also always be someone better off than you. So how does one make sense of "that bad". In my mind, "that bad" is anyone who's abused me in anyway (emotional, physical or sexual abuse). He would fall into all three of those. While my abuse wasn't severe enough to require medical attention, it does require attention and counseling. 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Lair, Lair, Pants on Fire

As an abuse survivor I am now realizing the magnitude of the lies I've been told by him. "I'm sorry", "I'll change" and "I'll get some help" to "who else would put up with the way you treat me?", "you're crazy" and even "it's your fault I get so angry". These are things I listened to weekly if not daily. 

You would think that once you leave, these lies will stop hurting you. Not true. It takes time to realize all the subtle ways he's hurt you. He's damaged you both physically and emotionally. He's damaged your neuropathways. You're brain doesn't work the same as it once did. It takes hard work to re-wire your brain back to some semblance of normalcy. Leaving him is like coming up for air from drowning. It's bright, overwhelming and you don't fully remember what just happened because shock has set in.

"You're crazy" runs through my head from time to time these days. I know I'm not crazy. I suffer from depression and have been on medication the last 3 years. He would tell me I must be crazy or even weak to go on medication. I had depression as a child and probably my whole adult life but it worsened with him. I medicated myself to help cope with him. Think about that for a second. I'll take this medication so I don't want to kill myself nearly as much when I'm with you. At the time, this seemed logical. What I think about now is, why didn't the doctor question my situation further? Why didn't my counselor ask more questions about the situation I was in? Domestic abuse is a tricky thing, I get that. But why did they let me slip through the cracks? My hope is to over time lower my dosage as I deal with the trauma. 

"Who else would put up with the way you treat me?" I should have held up a mirror to his face when he would say this to me. This is something he would say to me regarding our sex life. That because I didn't want to have sex with him as often as he thought I should, I was abusing him. What women would want to have sex with someone hours after he tore the house apart in his fit of rage? Or called you a names I don't care to repeat? I really started to question if I was abusive? Sure, I would refuse to talk to him for the most part. I would still acknowledge his existence. He however, would ignore me to the point of not speaking a single word to me for days at a time. He wouldn't acknowledge I was even there. 

He is a narcissist. This means that it's never his fault and always about him. I realized this in the second last month we were together. This helped me immensely. Knowing that I would never win an argument so why continue to try. The only solution was getting out. For years, I would try to argue with him but I would never win. He should have been a lawyer the way he would deflect and lie. A marriage is about compromise, this was not a marriage. 

He would blame me for him getting angry. He would blame me for his unhappiness. I knew that happiness was a decision and it was his to make for himself. He never took responsibility for himself. He only finally admitted to anger management issues after 3 years of marriage. He promised to change, to read books and to go to anger management classes. He read a book, he signed up for the classes but "forgot" to go to the first one and would have to wait until the next set of classes that started a few months from then. He never went. 

"We know what the problem is, we don't need someone to tell us". This was said at the conclusion on his fight. He would ask me why we hadn't changed since the last fight. My answer was either "because we're two selfish people" or "I don't know". "I don't know" was a frequent sentence I said. I am a peacemaker, I don't want to fight. I would say this, even though I did know, when I needed to take the fight down a few notches. This didn't always work, sometimes my response angered him even more. His statement was a way to avoid going to counseling. He also gave the excuse that would couldn't afford it (he had benefits that provided counseling for free). In reality, he didn't want someone else to find out how bad it actually was.

I'm a liar, at least I was and sometimes still am. I would lie about the status of our relationship as say how great it was. I would lie about being happy. I even lied to my pastor when we had started seeing him for counseling. These lies however were not really my fault. I was being abuse, my memory would block out the specifics of a fight and he would be sitting right there so I couldn't be as open as I wanted. I now lie, well actually avoid a direct answer, when church friends ask how he is. I don't want their potential judgement. While I haven't encountered anyone who's actually told me that divorcing him is a sin, I have one friend that doesn't want me to make my decision right away. She's hoping for reconciliation if possible but also agrees that divorcing him isn't a sin.  

"I will make sure you always go without". This is something his father said to his mother, sister and him as he pulled out of the driveway leaving them forever. He hated his father and thought he was an evil man. He desired to be nothing like him. "I will make sure you have nothing", this is what he said to me a week before I left. He became what he hated, whether he wanted to admit it or not. He was talking about food. He would frequently throw out food during his tantrums. My lunch, his lunch and even went as far as to throw out all the produce. The bank account was empty and their wasn't a lot of food in the house. This was actually caused by my lie. I lied and said that I wasn't getting a full pay check earlier that month because I switched from temporary to full time at work thus changing my pay schedule. I had money, he just didn't know about it. I had a separate bank account I could use to buy lunches during the week. It didn't come to that, he didn't throw out all the food and I could make a few lunches to get by. He had threatened to transfer all the money from our joint account into his account so I would have nothing. He had a separate bank account but forced me to close mine. 

The lies continued after I left him. He promised to change, that things would get better, that he was going to counseling. He pleaded for me to come back. He tried to make me feel guilty because he didn't know where I was. He'll always be a liar in my eyes. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

It's all about the Benjamin's baby

Money is a funny but necessary thing isn't it? For those of you who have found yourself in an abusive situation with a significant other you may understand my sentiments towards it. Money is one way he controls you. Money is the way out of that control. While money isn't the only thing needed to escape it is necessary in the logistics of survival once you're out. Money was one of the ways he control me, one of the ways he would hurt and guilt me. It was a duel-income-no-kids (DINK) situation the entire marriage with a two month

I now live on a single income now but somehow feel like I have more money. I work for a  non-profit organization that I love but doesn't pay me what I made previously. I don't make enough to make my bills and pay off debt currently. I had to take out a consolidation loan to pay off my high interest credit cards and make it so I only have 2 debts to pay every month. This is something I talked about with him a year ago and he didn't want me to do this because then I would have set payments. This meant the money would come out of the account on pay days which would prevent him from being able to spend it on his entertainment. I've also acquired a part-time job. 

Hundreds and sometimes up to a thousand dollars would be spent on entertainment in a month. He would want to go out for supper at least 3 nights a week plus a lunch on Saturdays. He would buy himself clothes on his days off. He would go to the casino and play poker on some occasions. He NEEDED money on his days off. If he didn't have money to spend it would result in a blow out, a knock down/ drag out fight. He was used to a life where he once could afford to spend this way. He made six figures when we first met and could afford to spend that kind of money monthly. This was not the case by the time we moved to Vancouver the winter of 2014. We made maybe $60,000 a year combined and yet my debt never seemed to get paid down.

The first year and a half our marriage was spent paying off the $14,000 plus of his debt that he racked up prior to marriage. Actually, it must have been old debt that he completely ignored because the creditors had set up garnishment of his wages. Thirty five percent of his gross income was deducted each cheque until the debts were paid off completely. This meant I had to take on more of the household expenses. This meant that my debts (that could have easily been paid off by now) were only paid down with minimal payments. During this time of garnishments, you would think that he would ramp down his lifestyle. You.would.think. While we did live in a basement suite for the first year of marriage the entertainment spending never really decreased.

I've missed payments in the past, I had $25,000 plus of debt at one time and it was horrible. I also know that I was never actually close to garnishment because I periodically made payments. This was at least 3 years of not being responsible for spending I had done years before.

I finally feel like I can breath financially. Yes, I have less money in the bank BUT I have money in the bank. It's tight especially since I haven't started the part-time job yet which will cover my debt repayments for the next year as well as the legal costs of divorcing him. I have the ability to buy groceries, coffees, books and even a guitar (my 30th birthday present to myself three weeks after I left him). I don't spend money on getting my nails done anymore but I'm happy.

I have the ability to buy clothes. This is a big deal. Rarely was I allowed to buy clothes. The only time I really felt like I was permitted to do so was when he was with me and suggested it. I hated this. He would try and make me buy clothes I hated. They were not my style and I needed clothes that could also be worn to work. Even when I was with him I would get "must be nice" thrown in my face minutes or hours later. He told me that I could get my nails done if I wanted, if it meant I would be happy, so I did every two to three weeks. This also resulted in "must be nice". I would go out for sushi after church every other weeks again "must be nice" thrown in my face to guilt me on my spending. My Mum even commented on the size of his closet versus mine. Most of my clothes were getting worn out, had holes and don't even get my started on the shoe situation. 

Money also allowed me to furnish my apartment with my Mum while she was out to move me. I actually bought things I liked. Pink, turquoise, white things. My life before was a sea of beige. I HATE beige: it's boring as heck. This is the first apartment I've had where I actually decorated it. This was very exciting for me and I'm so proud of my little bachelorette apartment. I'm so glad I decided to invest a little money (mostly at Ikea) to furnish this apartment because I spend a lot of time in it. I'm still in his neighbourhood (I'll touch on that in another post) and have anxiety about leaving my house. I walk my dog twice daily (early AM and mid-evening), I also take him to the courtyard to pee a few times a day and I make sure I leave my apartment outside of those walks once daily on weekends. Outside of this, it's really hard. Even the weekend outings are really hard. He's out there, not in here so why would I go out there? I know this is the PTSD talking. I know that one day I won't be afraid of him anymore. That his control over me will be so far in the past that I'll have the courage to see him out somewhere and walk right by him without feeling like I need to run for my bloody life.

Money will be the route of any potential issues for my divorce. It will be the last thing he can use to hurt me. He could ask for spousal support, he could put up a fight about paying half of the outstanding debts. The way I see it, he should have to pay half of all debts, not just those acquired during the marriage since I could not pay them during his garnishments. I'm not sure the law will agree but I think that's more than fair and he's getting a deal considering my debt is under $7000. I'll have to get some further legal advice but either way, he owes me money and the law is on my side for some of it. 

Money. It's such a part of our daily lives. It's like air, when you have it, you don't think about it. When you don't, it's the only thing running through your mind. When you go from having no control over it to complete control, it doesn't even matter how much you have, it's still freedom. Money doesn't buy happiness but being without certainly doesn't. For me, happiness was getting away and all the support I had and still do. I'm so grateful for my Mum, her finance, my two sisters and my friends here in B.C. that have helped me in one way or another, even it's just to listen to me. 

God has blesses me exceedingly with an amazing support system and most certainly with a Mum who not only loves me unconditionally but also understands exactly what I'm going through. He's taken what the enemy intended for evil and worked it out for my good. 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Normal Men

What are "normal" men like? My heart tells me that real love exists. That not all men abuse the women they say they love. But my head starts to argue with my heart. I've been with a man who has treated me badly for five years. It's hard to imagine what a non-abusive would be like.

"Men are the head and woman are the neck" still runs through my mind from one of my favorite movies, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Christianity teaches us that men are the head and men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. What does that actually look like? Sometimes I feel like a child peeking through the curtains looking at adults interacting. I see one couple in particular, she is a social butterfly who speaks her mind. She is not the stereotypical Christian wife, meek and quiet. Her husband is the quieter of the two but somehow still is clearly the spiritual leader of the house. It confuses the heck out of me.

I've learned that men and women are equal but different, each playing their own important role. But it a post-feminist society where the world tells me I am the same as a man and I don't need to conform to gender stereotypes how do I know my actual place and role?

I became a Christian after marrying him so going into the marriage I had very different ideas then I do now. I now understand how God designed marriage. I now understand that while I am different than a man, I am no less valuable to him. The problem arose when I became a Christian and was now being taught what a healthy Christian marriage looks like. But when your spouse doesn't share the same beliefs he sees as subservient and I became an even easy target for abuse. Christian friends telling me how I should let him lead and allow him to make the final call on things. This was a HUGE mistake. He was now even more in control which is what he craved. I tell my older sister that I am a cautionary tale of what not to do in ones life. When did this become me though? How do I change myself into a tale of redemption?

I have been thinking about my previous relationships since leaving him. Obviously we broke up for a reason but what originally attracted me to each of them? What was the relationship like and what are my sentiments about each of them now.

When I look back at each of them only one truly stands out as a "normal" guy, a good guy. I began to think about what set him apart and the reason we ended the relationship. It was amicable but still heartbreaking. He was starting university and I was just finishing high school and had no idea what I was going to do with my life. He was on the path to be a lawyer.

What values did he possess that the others didn't? What made him so different? He was raised by parents that were not only still married but clearly loved one another. He grew up in the Mennonite church. He wasn't the perfect little Mennonite boy because he smoke, drank and danced. He was polite, kind, thoughtful and put my happiness at the front of the line as far as things that were important to him. He didn't always understand why I needed something but recognized I needed it and would not only do it but do it with a smile on his face. He was a romantic, planning weekend getaways and private dinners.

After this and frankly before this I dated men that were nothing like him. Why was this? Where did I go wrong? I didn't really understand this until recently. I'm reading "The Emotionally Abused Woman" and I have learnt a few things so far. I've learned that because I grew up with violence in the home and an absent, alcoholic father I never witnessed a normal, healthy relationship. I had no great example of a man to compare potential boyfriends to. I had an abusive, controlling step-father or an alcoholic father who was a police officer. I mention his profession only because if any of your have dealt with the police as far as domestic abuse, you know they don't think to highly of women in this circumstances. The police I've encountered put his rights above your safety and frankly above your rights. I am not painting all police with this brush but have found the majority of them to be like this. I learned around the time of my escape that my Mum found out after divorcing my father, that he refused to drive woman to the women's shelter if he was called out to their home because of a domestic dispute. Are you kidding me?! He thought so little of women he wouldn't even drive them? My father, what a peach.

So in saying all this how do I get my head to agree with my heart? I guess this is just part of my journey to healing.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Today's Success & Realizations

Each day I have what I call my realization of the day. Something becomes clearer in my mind and heals me a little. Today's realization was that the constant desire I once had to jump out the window in the copy room at work is now gone. I would stand there waiting for a print job and look out the 7th floor window and look at the drop from this floor length window. I would imagine myself falling to my death. It would be the release I was desperately needing. Now, I could never actually do it because the windows didn't open enough to accommodate this desire and it wasn't every single day but most days. Today I stood there and focused on the sun shining through the clouds. I saw the traffic driving down the street and people walking around. 

I would also be walking around town with or without him and have this desire to scream out to people as I passed them. "Help me, please help me" or "he is an abusive asshole, please help me get away from him". I would want to cry out but never did. They wouldn't help me, I would be stuck with him forever. After all, a "good" Christian woman makes her marriage work and doesn't even have the word divorce in her vocabulary. I thought my only way out without sinning against God was to either hope he would one day divorce me or to commit suicide. The problem with suicide is its the final and absolute sin against God's plan for your life. This wasn't really an option, I may have been going through hell on earth but it wasn't eternal, though it certainly felt like that more often than not. He would never divorce me, he would see it as letting me win. After all, I was the one deliberately not changing to the person "we" thought I should be to make this marriage work. I was the one making him made so he would lose his temper. If he divorced me, he would lose control over me. This was never going to be a possibility.  

My counselor told me last week to stop being so hard on myself. I am, I know I am but I don't know how to stop. He spent years telling me "my ass is a star" in a sarcastic tone anytime I shared something I was proud of myself for. I learned to stop sharing excitements. I learned to focus on all my faults. 

I somehow continue to have this idea in my head. I'm free now, let's just move on with my life like nothing happened. I'm fine. If I'm so fine then why do I have such a hard time finding the desire to leave the house? If I'm so fine, why do I beat myself up and tell myself that I'm wasting my life away by sitting inside (something he would complain about if I tried to take time for myself when he wasn't at work)? If I'm so fine, why is it when I have an appointment for counselling or today's legal advocacy appointment I feel a panic attack brewing and I'm an emotional wreck when I'm done? I'm not fine and I think it's ok to not be fine right now. I don't want to sweep my emotional pain under the rug and jump into the dating scene anytime soon. I'll end up right where I am years down the road. I have some serious self discovery and healing to do and I need to keep taking life on day at a time.

My Mum recommended I make a note on what I'm proud of myself for each day and to let go of the things I wanted to do but couldn't. Today's is I managed to stop myself from having a full blown panic attack and I managed to muster enough strength and courage to walk my dog, C when I got home from my appointment (normally I'm too far gone which my PTSD to leave the apartment). Oh, and I left dirty dishes in the sink. This might sound like something I should let go of but it's actually an accomplishment. I would constantly be cleaning, tidying and putting items away. If I didn't, they would be used during his tantrums when he would break them not to mention at the end I feared he may actually kill me in one of his fits of rage. It's been hard not to continue to be forever cleaning. Obviously I don't want to go to the other extreme but rather find a balance. My apartment it tidy but my sink is full of dishes. Insert applause!

Sunday, 13 September 2015


I had been single for almost a year. My previous relationship, with B, had ended when he broke up with me in a text message. We met online and he was a sweet, caring, country music loving man. We moved in together after 8 months. We bought furniture together, we bought a dog together. Things were moving towards marriage, at least so I thought. He ended thins 10 months later while I was at work. 

I was devastated by the break up and spent the next 
year getting my life back together. 1000 km from home and refusing to run back with my tail between my legs I figured it out. Housing, different job and pulling myself together with little local support. I ended up moving into a one bedroom basement suite in a less than desirable neighborhood in north Edmonton. I could afford it and they allowed dogs so I took it. I had a bought a car with B.  when we moved in together and was fighting to keep it, the one thing I had left to prove to the world I wasn't a complete loser, I had a new-ish car. During this year, it was suggested by my Christian friends, R. and B., to make a list of the qualities I wanted in a man. I dug deep, the list was a page typed and included that he must love dogs as my dog was one of the most if not the most important things in my life. He gave me a reason to get out of bed, he cuddled and consoled me when I cried

Saturday, 12 September 2015

First Timer

First time blogger here. I'm not actually writing this blog for anyone specific, outside of myself that it. I first started writing in a journal and then decided to write my story. As I began to read the pages I'd written the gravity of my life became clearer. 

I am a daughter, a sister, an entrepreneur, a Christian woman and among another things, a domestic violence survivor. This blog is a story of my life and therapy for me as a write it. All I ask is if you have cruel or hurtful opinions of me or others who have endure horrible things please keep them out of the comment box.


Prairie Gal