"A heart breaking is the loudest, loneliest sound in the world....that no one ever hears."
How It Can Happen To You....
When I met him, (I will call him Leroy), for the first time, my world changed forever. He looked at me, smiled held the door open and told me to have a great afternoon. I smiled back and the feeling of a missing piece inside me clicking gently into place spread through my heart. I knew this person I have never seen before, and I knew him well.
We didn't see each other again for a few weeks, and then one afternoon, we met again. Leroy worked with my husband, and was one of the guys he hung out with after work. My husband had suggested that I meet with him and the guys for a few beers and I did. That was the beginning of a new relationship. Leroy and I quickly became close friends and talked about issues we were having with our spouses at the time. Neither one of us was happy in our respective relationships, nor was it nice to have someone else we could commiserate with that understood the need to vent. We continued to build our friendship for three years.
I knew he was interested and all I had to do was give him a sign that his interest in me was returned, but I was trying so hard to salvage a doomed marriage. After three years, my marriage issues came to a head and I could not fool myself anymore--it was finally over, I was done. I was out of love, patience and the marriage was out of time. It was time to leave and start over. I was ready to file for a divorce.
When I told Leroy, he didn't say much. But he did give me an odd look and changed the subject. Later on, he told me he had also made the decision to call it quits with his wife. He could not take any more of her religious obsession, condemnation and snide remarks. We drank a few more beers and parted for the night.
A couple days later, I got in a huge fight with my husband and took off in my car to drive around and cool off. I pulled into the gas station and Leroy was there gassing up his own rig. When asked what I was doing, I told him and he suggested grabbing a few beers and heading up to our drinking spot. I agreed, knowing that venting to him would make me feel better.
We talked, complained, sympathized and went on to happier subjects. When it cooled off too much to sit outside, we went and sat in his truck. I was telling him about the horse I was training at the time when he grabbed my hand, looked at me and said, "See what you do to me." And cradling it under his placed it on the crotch of his Levis. As soon as I felt how hard and ready he was, I lost it-over, and over, and over again. I had never had such amazing, hot, needy, and fulfilling sex before, and never had it felt so right.
I had never cheated on anyone before and was unprepared for the remorse and guilt. I arrived home at 6:00am and started packing my belongings. I moved into my own place that day. My husband was upset that I would not try yet one more time to work things out; I couldn't tell him I was hot and heavy with one of his friends. He knew I was out of love and we agreed to divorce.
Leroy and I spent every waking moment, and some sleeping ones as well together. We went out of town, he stayed at my place sometimes and we still went driving to our spot. He told me he loved me and I got scared. He was still married. I did not want to do this, be in this situation and still--it felt so right. He completed me, fulfilled me, made my life complete. On our one month anniversary as an illicit couple, he moved in and filed for a divorce. Once his papers were filed, we came out as a couple. There was so much conflict and strife from the people who knew us, but we managed to come through that time together. Our love was so deep and strong, so right and complete so powerful. He was my soul mate, my other half, my destiny and future and he felt the same for me.
The first time we argued was a shock. I didn't realize he had such a temper and to be jealous over a 68 year old man who just wanted me to teach him to email his grandchildren was ludicrous. He was so angry and unrelenting, so enraged so dark. Of course, secure in our love, I tried to explain and when that didn't work I got angry, too. This happened a few times over the next month, but the making up!! Oh, talk about heights of passion! And he was always so apologetic afterward, sweet and spoiling me with attention and small gifts.
When he pushed me the first time, we had been together for almost six months. In that time, I gave up some of my friendships with other guys, decided to spend more time with Leroy instead of my old friends and learned that his temper was not going to mellow out. Even some of the stupidest, simplest things would set him off. I honestly did not think too much about it, just figured he would mellow out after we worked through the minor kinks in our new and powerful relationship.
Then it happened. We were in the middle of what I thought was a friendly argument, when he got up, turned red and pushed me hard enough to make me slide on the carpet when I fell. Immediately, he started apologizing and had tears in his eyes. He couldn't believe he had done that to me. It didn't happen again for a while, but he became verbal. Not in a blatant way, but subtly tearing me down and eroding my confidence.
The night I heard my heart break, he came tearing into the game room and grabbed me by the back of my head. He kept shouting at me, asking me who I was talking to. There was no one there and I told him that, he kept saying he heard me talking to someone and to stop lying. I went blank; I could not understand what was going on. He beat my face against the doorknob of the bedroom until there was blood on the ceiling, all over the walls and it looked like someone had been murdered on the carpet. When he was done, he threw me on the floor and left the room. I crawled out the back door of the house and into the garage, where I sat listening to my heart break. Wondering what I had done to deserve that and not believing it had really happened.
The next morning, he came out to the garage to get in his car to go looking for me. I was sitting right there and was so hurt, felt so broken and was so disbelieving. After all, that would never happen to me, I would never put up with any abuse. No way!! No how!! He had tears in his eye when he explained that he was drunk, out of his mind and was so sorry--it would never happen again. And what would I do without him? Where would I go and how could I support myself and my daughter? Luckily, my daughter was at her dad's the previous night. Then he told me he had planned a special surprise for us, to regroup and get our love and relationship back on track. And I believed him.
The verbal brainwashing is so subtle, so sneaky and so damaging. You die inside one little piece at a time without realizing that just like a jigsaw puzzle, all those pieces connect to make a whole. By the time you realize what has happened, it does not matter anymore, the damage has been done--they own you. Your flame has turned to ash and you are only a shell of the person you used to be-your abuser has turned you into an empty vessel and the flame of hope and trust has died. Crushed by them as an ember under their shoe.
Then the threats start, the fear is firmly entrenched and you know that if you try to leave, he will kill you when he finds you. And he will find you--just try it and see. The physical abuse continues, escalates--they know they have you now, that you are theirs, that you are owned. Lock, stock and barrel.
In between the abuse and arguments are the good times. The fun, adventurous, happy and memorable times. We laughed, we played and we had some incredible days--moments I will cherish for a lifetime!! He is still my best friend, my confidant my lover and eventually, my husband. When he was good, he was very, very good...but when he was bad, he became my worst nightmare!
The amazing highs allowed our love to grow and form a bond, and the sad, crushing blows of abuse continued to reign over the next seven years. I was embarrassed, ashamed and dispirited with my situation. I had enough pride left that I hid the abuse from everyone, I was too ashamed of myself for allowing it to happen and continue to ask for help. I was embarrasses because even after all the abuse, I still truly loved Leroy, still wanted our life together--when he was sober and good. I was horrified at the thought of someone finding out and trying to 'rescue' me.
But most of all, I was scared. Scared of the judgments people make of abused women. Scared of the unknown without Leroy in my life, scared I could not make it without him, scared I could, but most of all, scared of what would happen when he hunted me down and found me. I had lost myself, and honestly, I was past the point of caring. I just endured until he was sober, survived the storm and existed to do his will. And I did.
The Ember of Self-preservation...
In one of our good times, we had purchased a business together. Leroy already had his own business so this was mine to run and manage. The business was growing and was making a good amount of money for a few years, and then a small, economic slump hit and most of the small businesses in our area took a hit. It was not too bad, but it was enough to make a big difference in the profit margin of the business. Leroy delighted in holding the business over my head and using it as leverage to further erode my confidence and independence.
What he failed to think of, however, was that I had been to college and had taken many classes on business management as well as the legal courses to go with my paralegal degree? He had no idea how to run a business with overhead, inventory and employees. I had a bit of independence at the business and somewhere deep inside, an ember came to life, and I learned to keep things hidden from him. I would hide anything I knew would set him off, I became good at avoidance and keeping secrets. My self-preservation was making its presence known. Over a couple of years, I had the majority of control over the business. As far as my career went, my confidence was slowly growing and I was learning to fight for it. The business was all I had to keep me sane, it was the last bit of me left.
The more pride I developed in my work, the more I learned to fight back and stand up for myself. I was broken and battered and bruised--but there was still a part of me deep inside that had had enough! I quit hiding the bruises and bald spots in my hair and quit making excuses for my wrenched and sore body parts. Leroy learned to abuse me where it would not show, where no one would know.
He also started to kick me out of the house when he was finished with the abuse. I started to stay at the shop instead of begging to come back--I had a place to go, I had something he could not take away. I was getting mad!! It was time for me to stand up for myself and get a life back!! The ember inside me was growing, and it did not stop until it raged out of control. I might have lost the naive, innocent, trusting person I was when we got together; but I emerged a woman. What does not kill you can make you stronger; it can also make you fight to be the person you were destined to become.
I had not lost my fear of him, not by any means. I do not know if I ever will lose the cautiousness and doubt...but that is later in the story. Like every epitome, every rising of life from the ashes; there are pitfalls and hurdles along the way. It amazes me to this day the part desperation can play in success or failure. I wonder....how many fights and hurdles were overcome due to desperation alone.
The Catalyst, Redemption and What's Love Got To Do With It....
The catalyst in this situation was absolutely monumental. Born out of terror and extreme desperation, the end results were cataclysmically worse and phenomenally better than anyone would ever have predicted. The speed in which it happened and the rapid, out of control force driving it, was comparable only to a runaway train, on a steep downhill grade at full throttle.
The economy in our area declined steadily and my business was hit pretty hard. I went from having a solid and steady profit to running in the red. The only reason I did not give up was my absolute terror of my husband's anger and abuse if he ever found out. You know there is a problem when you would rather face the IRS than tell your husband the business is broke. I quit paying taxes, telling myself I would make it up next month. A few years of this, creative robbing Peter to pay Paul financing and sheer desperation kept the business going and his suspicions dampened.
Until I could not pay my rent and had an eviction notice. I immediately started running around town, talking to anyone and everyone I could think of about a cheaper place for my business. I dug, begged, drove and called enough people that I found one in a few days. It was not close to as nice as the one I had to vacate, but there were many other bonuses gained in the location. I played them up and made it convincing that my move was just a very smart business decision--not a necessity. I managed to move, with the help of my one employee, one complete business in three working days. Telling my husband that I had already moved everything after it was a done deal.
The new location ended up being great for visibility, allowing for more effective advertising and the usual moving promotions to bring in business. And my world was quiet for a while, before the storm, that is. The IRS got tired of waiting for me to afford their payments and called Leroy at his work. They let him know just how long it had been since they had received a payment and just how much I owed them--and they wanted it NOW! Little did I know when I left work that day that the end had come? Judgment Day was here, and one of us was going to lose everything.
I will never forget the last time Leroy beat the hell out of me. The events from the time I walked out of my shop to the last beating are permanently etched in my mind. Every time I think of it, the only feeling that comes over me is an overwhelming relief and redemption. Never again will I ever put up with a man hitting, pushing or punching me, those days are over. I have become strong, I have become whole and I have become me.
I walked in the door, put my purse down on the couch and felt it...the punch that set me free. I was on the floor, blood gushing out of my mouth, staring stupidly at my two teeth lying on the rug. WHAM!! My head whips around and he is on top of me, choking me, I cannot breathe! I struggle and loosen my neck just enough to gasp in a quick breath. Leroy grabs my hair and is pounding my head into the floor, the wall, the corner of the couch--and I am helpless. He is screaming at me, the words of fury spewing out of his mouth, spitting and as I caught a glimpse of his face, the world disappeared.
When I woke up, he was pacing the living room, clenching his fists and rolling his shoulders. And for the first time, I knew no fear. I stood up, went into our bedroom and grabbed my loaded pistol. The cold, calm feeling of ultimate power came over me as I clicked the safety off and walked into the living room. He turned to face me and was crouching to rush and tackle me when I pulled the trigger. I did not stop until the gun was unloaded. When I was finished shooting all six bullets in the floor between us, I turned around, went back into the bedroom, grabbed my jewelry box and left the house.
I was shaking and bawling so hard I could barely drive. I had to stop a couple of times and throw up at the side of the road, but I managed to get safely to the local S.A.F.E. House, a shelter for abused women. My business was shut down for a week while I dealt with the aftermath of the beating. My ordeal was not quite over yet.
Leroy was frantically looking for me and eventually he called my employee to ask her to have me call him. I was filing the divorce papers when he caught up with me; he had a meeting with his attorney about the domestic abuse charges. I agreed to talk with him and his attorney which is how I found out about the call from the IRS. When I spilled the whole story of the abuse, the fear, my desperation and overwhelming sense of terror at angering Leroy, his attorney looked at him and told him that he was going to jail and there was nothing he could do about it, other than try to bargain down the time.
My husband voluntarily checked himself into an alcohol treatment center after he left the court house and sobered up. Part of the healing and treatment is apologizing to those you have wronged, hurt or have been affected by your alcoholism. I agreed to meet him and listen to what he had to say. To make a long story a bit shorter, I truly believe that the words he said that day were the most honest, heartrending and painful words that ever have come out of his mouth.
He told me he could not give me back the years spent with his abuse, or give me back all the hours spent in his bottle but he could promise that he will never make me feel that belittled, full of terror and alone again. He promised to prove to me that I would never feel his hands or fists in anger again and that he wanted us to try to rebuild our trust and faith in each other. When I walked out and pulled the trigger, he realized that at that moment he had lost everything and it was due to his anger and alcohol. I agreed to try to get to know each other again and see how it went. In the meantime, I borrowed money from my dad to pay the IRS. I stay current now!! Leroy signed his part of the business over to me as a good faith gesture. The divorce was never finalized.
The statistics show that most abusers do not change, the re-abuse and the cycle repeats itself again. We got back together 6 1/2 years ago and he has not hit me again. He started drinking a few years ago, but now I stand up for myself and leave if I feel I need to. The arguments are milder for the most part and they are definitely not as often! That bond that kept us together? I do not know how to explain that, it is love--a deep, encompassing and lasting love.
Forgiving him and leaving the abuse in the past was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Once I honestly and sincerely forgave him, our relationship reached new heights. I believe that we are meant for each other, that we complete each other. I also know that there is always a chance for him to abuse again, but I believe the feelings he shares for me is stronger than his desire to control and subdue me. Just like an addiction, the only thing that can make him change is the desire within himself to change. He has proven that he has the desire to change his abusive behavior and we have built a strong and lasting relationship out of the ashes.
We have been married for 16 years now, and our love is stronger than ever. I am looking forward to the next 16 and the 16 after that....