And just like that my life changed……
How it all started:
I can remember it like yesterday, although it has been 8 whole years. I was in my first marriage, 9 months pregnant, & the most unhappy I have ever been in my life. When you are deep into a situation it is hard to see the bigger picture. Any person that has been depressed, abused, or in an unhealthy relationship may describe that time in their life as “a fog”. The dictionary defines a fog as “something that obscures and confuses a situation or someone’s thought processes”. The years 2013-2015 were a fog to me. I can tell you that I reported in my Army uniform to work every day, I graduated from college, I had two children I was caring for, but I was not aware of my true feelings. The marriage was for “show purposes only” I was not loved, supported, or respected. Since I was not receiving love, support, or respect I became this shielded person. I walked around completely numb, and I always had this fake smile on my face to keep my coworkers, family, & friends unaware of what I was suffering through on a regular basis.
Why I never accepted help:
A week before my second child was born, I was holding onto a stairway pole with a death grip because my then husband was attempting to push me down the stairs. I was screaming over and over “what about the baby?” with no avail at all I was still being pushed. This incident was not the first time & unfortunately for me it would not be the last time. I would never involve my family in our problems but on this night in particular I was so afraid I called my mother and begged for her help. My mother was the only person in my family that was aware of the abuse, & she promised me she would never tell or call the police because I was threatened to have my children removed from my home by law enforcement before. Law enforcement would come to the house when I would call & tell me about all the resources available for me & say “just leave!”. What no one never understood is that leaving was the hardest part.
Why I could not leave:
Leaving is the hardest part. Why is leaving hard? To leave a toxic situation you must first have CONFIDENCE! I was often beaten down verbally, so I lacked confidence and self-esteem. Beautiful was not in my vocabulary, never felt like I mattered, and I never felt like I was enough. I can admit now that I had become co-dependent, and I was in the cycle of abuse, love, sorry, separate, makeup, & things improving. Then back through the same cycle all over again. Did I think of how I could leave this man yes, but I never would actually leave longer than a month. Even when he cheated on me on a regular basis, I still would make excuses for him and blame myself. The young twenty-four-year-old me thought I could change him, or that he would change if I did better as his wife. He never changed and he never made me and our kids his number one priority. This marriage scarred me so deeply inside and I was so broken that I contemplated suicide just to get out of the toxicity. Before I met him, I was a happy & free-spirited individual that lived life to the fullest. I lost all of myself in him.
How I planned my exit:
When I look back today, I know exactly when I decided I was done, and nothing or no one could stop me from going. March 2014 my grandma passed, and I also was deployed to Afghanistan. Afghanistan was the best thing to happen to me…. sounds crazy right? I was in a combat zone, but it was the first time I felt safe, the first time I felt free, and the first time I realized what I had allowed to happen to me over the las five years. While in Afghanistan I started to think of my exit plan. Although my life was on the line every day, I was still very aware that if I survived this deployment I did not want to go back home to another war. My tour in Afghanistan ended earlier than I expected, and I was thrown back into the lion’s den. My ex had changed while I was gone, he showed me a different side as if he had changed his behaviors, which led us into living together again with our children…only for me to discover that he had not changed at all.
How I left:
We stayed together seven months after I returned from that deployment. I was mentally, physically, & emotionally burnt-out. I had physical injuries from my deployment, but I also had some deep mental scars that I needed help with. Mentally I was a complete wreck, so my first step was to ensure I stayed in therapy. I participated in trauma recovery therapy every week during those seven months and slowly but surely my mind, my confidence, my courage, & my will power began to grow immensely. When I started to look in the mirror, I seen a woman I did not recognize, someone that I was not before I boarded that flight to Bagram, Afghanistan. My first step to leaving was to have all my financials in order. I started stashing back extra funds, I placed my kids in permanent childcare, and I found a divorce lawyer. Through out this entire process I acted as if nothing was different, and I prepared to go to war again. March 2015, I had him served with divorce papers, and at this point my mind was completely made up. My mind was set, and I was not afraid of what could happen next. I had informed my company commander of everything that was transpiring, and I had support of friends and family, which made the process easier for me and my two boys. My ex-husband did not want the divorce, & he attempted on many occasions to convince me I was not sure. Not even three weeks after I had filed, he had moved into a place with one of the women he was cheating with throughout the marriage…& it was then I knew I had made the best decision for me & my children!
Fast forward 8 years later:
Currently I am retired from the Army, and although my life in not perfect, I am happy & genuinely free. As for my ex-husband he and I share the boys. He currently has visitation rights with some restrictions, and I can say now that he is still the narcissistic man I was married to, but it does not directly affect me as much because now I am confident, respected, loved, & practically fearless. I have remarried an amazing man that loves me & accepted my boys as his own. My husband and I have a daughter & currently we are expecting our baby boy Mj! My marriage is not perfect, but my relationship is not toxic, and I enjoy that. I am still guarded but in a good way. Since my experience I am now aware of who I am. No one can change my perspective of myself regardless of what they say or how they feel. The confidence I have today is unmatched and can not be touched. The hardest part used to be that I had to share my boys with someone who hurt immensely. Therapy has allowed me to separate the relationship him and I had from the relationship that my boys needed with their father. There are days my boys ask why their dad and I are divorced, and I have not given them a complete honest answer, instead I say mommy and daddy grew apart and decided to move on. One day when the boys are older and understand life more, I will have that conversation with them. For now, I just want my boys to enjoy life, and figure out who people are on their own through their actions.
As for me…
As for me, I currently run The Pearl Blog, which I started as a place to share my life experiences. I have experienced so much trauma in my short thirty-one years of life. Sharing my trauma, giving life advice, and revealing how I got through it is my purpose now. My goal in life is to help anyone who have experienced trauma or is experiencing trauma. I want all who are hurting to know there can be healing after hurting, and you can grow strength & learn through your life trauma. Trauma does not have to be the end of your life. There is healing and growing after trauma. You can follow my Instagram page @healingandgrowing_ to see how I am healing and growing through my own personal trauma. You can also shop The Pearl Blog merchandise, which was inspired by my life trauma and experiences.
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