Who knew that by letting my guard down I’d be opening the door for what would end up wrecking my world. I knew from the moment we met – in traffic, of all places – that this was a test. He was a test. A test that I would fail miserably.
I grew up in a loving household; although my parents were divorced, I never felt any lack. I also had an awesome stepfather. They each played a role in making co-parenting work and did so in such a rare, yet beautiful way. So, I didn’t have to deal with much drama involving my parents growing up. I didn’t witness any erratic behaviors or abuse – which I consider a blessing. So, when those things slapped me in the face (literally) for the first time during my very first committed relationship, the one I had been pleading to the heavens for, I didn’t know what to do with it.
I had never been in a serious relationship.
During the time I met this person, I was in my early 20s and finally feeling as if I was free; basking in the fun times I’d already experienced and awaiting the adventures I knew life had in store for me. I was coming into my own as a young woman. I literally had everything going for myself, now that I think about it; although at that time, I didn’t see it that way. Do we ever?
I’ve always been a dreamer and wanted so much more. I was enrolled in college, had an amazing internship working in community events, my own little urban apartment, great friends, what more could a girl ask for?
I wanted true love.
You know, like in the movies. However, I wasn’t sure of exactly what that would look like for me. I just knew how I wanted to feel. I yearned for a relationship where I did less chasing and guessing. I wanted to find someone who loved me wholeheartedly. Someone who was willing to invest their time and attention.
Through rose-colored lenses, I thought I had received what I had been seeking. However, it was a set-up for one of the biggest tragedies of my life; losing myself. Dismissing his flaws and abusive nature all because I couldn’t let go of a dream that he wasn’t even meant to be a part of. It started off with daytime dates, bonding over our childhood traumas, sex and long texts throughout the day (no guys my age did that, by the way). So I was attracted. I was young and dumb. I fell in love.
Within the first few months, there was a dark shift.
He became unrecognizable to me. All I wanted to do was help. I’d never experienced so much pain with one individual. Yet, I felt that it was my obligation to be there because I loved him, right?
It was so wrong. I was kept from family and friends, I was using my home and minimal finances to support us both, witnessed infidelity on numerous occasions, and at times, he would even flaunt other women right in front of my face. I was verbally abused constantly and physically assaulted more times than I care to admit, yet I stayed. I stayed out of fear, yes, but also because I fantasized about who I thought he could be.
The worst part about all of this is that the young woman who was once fierce, independent, strong and filled with enthusiasm for her future had seemed to have simply vanished. There was a part of me that started believing the lies he was telling me about myself. I felt as though God’s love was out of reach, no longer an option for me.
The daytime dates didn’t last, the long texts throughout the day turned into accusations and belittling statements. I was constantly being followed, which always had me in a state of anxiety having to look over my shoulder everywhere I went. He would show up unannounced constantly, even at work.
If I were to ever question him about his wrongdoings or the thought of us parting ways, all heck would break loose. That could look like: having my apartment trashed while in a rage, being threatened, being spat on, hit, having my family and friends threatened, you name it. I felt like I was worthless and I was too afraid to involve anyone else. I didn’t know what he was truly capable of doing and I hated myself for allowing this to happen.
By way of intervention, offered by someone I love dearly, I decided to leave him and there was no turning back.
During that time, I also found out that I was expecting. I climbed my way out of the deepest pit for my child. He was my reason to survive by any means necessary. I was able to press forward as the fierce, independent, strong woman who was filled with enthusiasm for the future that I had once been because God chose to bless me in the midst of what I thought was a storm.
Our journey together hasn’t been easy because of how domestic violence ties into our story, but because I made the decision to act, I am thriving and so is my son. There are still days when I wonder if I can bear much more, but you have to find something along your path that is worth fighting for to keep you focused. You have to find something that will keep you motivated to press forward when your heart and mind are both feeling as if they’re running on empty. You need a purpose.
My son and his future was mine. Since having my son, I’ve been able to overcome so much in the face of adversity and I owe all credit to the man above. I’ve also built a beautiful family with my now-husband. I don’t share this to boast about where I am in comparison to where you may not be yet. I share this to inspire you, to let you know you are not alone. I didn’t think this life I’m living now was possible for me back then while in the pit, but believe, have faith. You can survive and thrive. Your future is waiting on you.
If you or anyone you know is in need of support, please reach out to National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.800.799.SAFE (7233).