This blog comes to you from the Pacific Northwest, where I live with my young son in the hip city apartment that we happily traded for the isolated suburban palace we used to call home last December. That’s when we fled the emotionally abusive man that was my husband and the father of my son.
My ex was emotionally abusive to me the entirety of our marriage, starting with a seemingly benign incident about two weeks into our relationship, and increasing in frequency and intensity over the next five years. In my heart I knew that one day I’d need to save myself and leave, but the idea took on a whole new sense of urgency after my son was born and my ex-husband began to use him as a way to control, manipulate and terrorize me.
The strategy worked at first. There is nothing that gives a mother more anguish than being forced to watch her child be tormented by the man who is supposed to love him. There is also nothing more motivating.
The more my ex-husband began to mistreat my son, all of the parts of me that my ex had beaten down over the years - my fighting spirit, my sense of right and wrong, my commitment to justice - came back to life and rallied around the tiny human that was my beloved newborn son.
It took me almost two years from the moment I “knew” to gather enough courage to walk out that door (technically I left through the garage), and I haven’t looked back since.
I’ve been “out” seven months now, adapting to life as a single mom, navigating a complicated legal process, and making sense of my time with “him”. At first I was barely coping, but over time, maybe in increments of about two months each, I moved from barely coping to getting settled to feeling grounded. Within the last month, I entered a new phase that I’m going to call moving forward. I hope to stay here.
Even though I’m still in the middle of it (divorcing abusive spouses is a tricky business), I’m beginning to catch glimpses of what’s possible in my new life. Without “him” to control me, it’s possible to feel alive. Without “him” to beat me down, its possible to feel confident. Without “him” standing in my way, it’s possible to feel hopeful. I don’t feel these things all the time, or even much right now, but at least I know they are there. That is something new for me. Would it be new for you?
Writing about emotional abuse is part of my moving forward phase. It’s a way to honor my preferred art form, process my feelings, and at the same time bring awareness to an issue that seems to touch almost every woman I talk to (and at least one man). This blog is a work in progress, because I am still a work in progress, but I hope that something you read will resonate with you, make you feel understood, and eventually empower you to take action in your own life.
Leaving is possible. You can do it. In fact, you should.