I am a SURVIVOR, not a victim!

Relationships, Relationships, Relationships… It is only human to want one because most people want companionship, but why do people rush to be in a relationship with someone when they notice red flags from the beginning? The number reason in my opinion is because most people fear being alone. I was most people at a time in my life. My first real relationship was with a boy that I had nothing in common with, but he gave me comfort and he was there when I did not want to be alone. Although he was a nice guy, I never missed him when we were apart, and being only 18 years old at that time I did not notice the red flags and stayed with him another year after that. He and I broke up on bad terms because I moved on to another person (ex-husband), whom I had started to grow a relationship with. He and I had more in common. I thought to myself “Finally, someone I can laugh with & actually have fun”.

I had just turned 20 years of age when I met my ex-husband. I thought I had won a trophy because he was not a street guy, he came from a good family, he seemed wholesome, and he was very charismatic in the dating phase. In the beginning we had fun together. We would play board games, go on fun dates, and hangout together all the time. I thought us hanging together all the time was cool, because I enjoyed the times we spent together. I felt like I was deeply in love with him & those little butterflies and my lack of maturity in understanding what a healthy relationship was lead to so much heartbreak and trauma that I still occasionally deal with today.

The first red sign was that he always wanted me in his sight. I would visit his place that he shared with a roommate, and I would be there 2-3 days in a row without going home. He convinced me that it was because he wanted to spend time with me and his missed me so much when I was not around. I was young and mature, so I did not know at the time that it was not healthy relationship behavior. When someone you are dating take up too much of your personal time and drain you of your energy that is a huge red flag. Two people who can not be away from each other for a few days or even a week while dating, are not mature enough to be in a committed relationship.  

You must know how to be alone and enjoy being alone first before you involve another person into your life, because if not unhealthy attachments can take place. My ex-husband and I had an unhealthy attachment. Looking back now I know for a fact that I never ever loved that man. He and I was just co-dependent on one another. Before him I was very independent, and I hung out with my friends a lot and I would travel on my own. I was living my best life, and he literally came into my life and locked everything down and blocked anyone important to me out of my life.

In all honesty my mother was never favorable of the relationship her first thought was that he was controlling, and he wanted too much access to me. It should have been obvious to me because I changed my morals and life plans while dating him. Since I was a teenager I never dreamed of children or marriage. My plans were to join the military, travel, educate myself, and live my life freely. I am naturally a free spirit. I like to march at the beat of my own drum. I do not like being held down and feeling controlled because of my childhood trauma. Being with my ex-husband made me feel victimized all over again. My ex-husband always spoke about marriage, and children. He spoke of kids the second month we were dating & I felt pressured to be married, and to have children for him. I know today he wanted a child with me to feed his own ego, because he definitely did not want a child out of love. We were married & pregnant within 4 months of meeting/dating each other and it was definitely forced into my head that he wanted this because “he loved me”, and “he had never loved anyone or met anyone like me” He always gave me compliments and said I was beautiful, and he was proud of me because I did not act like I was “from the hood”. He would belittle me and uplift me in the same sentence.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Once the manipulating, verbal abuse, and lies started he and I was already married, and I was already pregnant with our first child. I believed in my heart that marriage was sacred, and I felt like I had to make it work for our son. The very first year of marriage he was sneaking behind my back speaking to an ex from high school. I trusted everything he said and believed everything he did was in our best interest, so I rarely ever questioned him or what he was doing. Another red flag was that he did not want me speaking to the opposite sex at all, he was jealous pf past friendships and he needed to control who I was able to interact with, but he would do the complete opposite. He would sneak and text, call, or video chat his ex-girlfriend behind my back. The same ex-girlfriend he spoke down on. The same ex-girlfriend he said was promiscuous, broke his heart, and was not worth him marrying or started a family with…so supposedly he left her because she lacked morals and the character he wanted in a woman. When he would speak badly of her I thought, thank God he meet me! But now I know that him belittling her was a part of his lies and his manipulation. He had been lying and manipulating me, but he was also lying and manipulating her. During our marriage I blamed her for the infidelity between them. I felt like she was the cause because she knew he was married, with a wife & two kids. Now that I am older and wiser, I know that he was the cause, and he was to blame, and she owed me no loyalty at all.

After the infidelity I felt so insecure because I had babies, and I felt like he cheated because the children and I became too much for him to bear, but I know now his cheating had nothing to do with me. He cheated out of selfishness. He cheated because he wanted to cheat, and the children and I was just a casualty of war. He washed his hands of us, and everything was about the mistress. Somedays he would say he wanted his family, others he would sneak behind my back and reach out to her. The funny thing is the cheating was never a breaking point for me until he mixed cheating with being an alcoholic, drug addict, and an abusive spouse.

While in that marriage I experienced mental, verbal, and physical abuse. During my first pregnancy I was held against a wall, and pushed on my stomach 9 months pregnant and the doctors thought my child was in diesters, which led to a traumatic labor that was life threatening for me and the baby. I lost out on my dream job in law enforcement because they checked my background and seen I was a victim of domestic violence and they did not want a weapon in our home, therefore I was not hired. I missed out on so much just for forgiving and trying to keep my marriage whole for my kids. Nothing he did never really pushed me to the edge, and I stayed with him almost 6 years before I divorced him.

I hated that I had to deployed to Afghanistan and leave my children, but it was a gift and a curse because that deployment changed me in ways I could never understand. And it was after that deployment when God spared my life that I decided to end my life with my ex-husband. I filed for divorce, and I decided to start my life over with my two boys! It was the hardest transition medically retiring from the Army, becoming a single mother, in a new place with no family, and no help…But I did it! I did it for me and my kids. The arguments, abuse, deployment, PTSD, and other issues at the time made me numb. Before Afghanistan he could get into my head and pull on my heartstrings. After Afghanistan I had a different aura. I felt stronger, wiser, confident, and ready for whatever it took to get my freedom back! Looking back today I could have avoided all this if I had paid attention to his controlling and co-dependent ways in the beginning. I could have escaped him before marriage & children tied us together for life. That marriage broke me down to the ground, and I had nothing left in me. I literally hit rock bottom, and before the marriage was officially over he told me “If you divorce me, I’ll go be with her” and when he said that I felt NOTHING, I actually felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders because now she would have the headache. He did end up with her, they are married today, and I have no negative feelings towards it because I believe in source energy and a higher power.

I have no urge for revenge or no anger towards either of them, and trust me that did not happen overnight. It was like two years after being divorced that I stopped depleting my energy on my ex-husband and his wife. I realized that it was a lose-lose battle because in his eyes he has done no wrong, and in her eyes, she is always right. I believe the two of them are actually perfect for each other, and they should have been together from the beginning. I appreciate her for removing the disease (my ex-husband) from my life, she helped me to cure & heal myself by taking the away the person that was poisoning me and breaking me down. My experience with my ex-husband taught me so many lessons about life and people. It taught me that everything that glitters is not gold. Because of my ex-husband I have a different type of strength, and I have been more abundantly blessed than ever before. After I divorced him, and once I officially forgave him for myself God brought joy into my life. Nothing but good things has happened for me and my children since I decided to divorce him and walk away. I am financially stable, mentally stable, physically stable, in love with an amazing man, a new daughter that I prayed for, and I could not ask for anything better! I am finally happy! I wrote this to encourage someone that may be in a unhealthy relationship right now, someone who is staying in a relationship for their kids, someone who is afraid to walk away, someone who do not have confidence in their ability to make it on their own after a divorce… This post is for YOU! You can do it! Do not accept mistreatment, abuse, or anything other love from someone who says they love you!  Love is not supposed to hurt! Love feels good, and although no love is perfect… There are healthy was to disagree in a relationship. Never accept physical, verbal, or mental abuse. I am a survivor, and I know it is not easy… But it is POSSIBLE! No matter what you are going through please remember you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13), and do not allow anyone to tell you different.

-Toni

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