My guest post today is from Mariah’s blog “Recluse“.
I remember the day I realized that I was in an abusive marriage. I called my mom, who lived 800 miles away blurting out my abuse and fear. I will also never forget how she responded. Mom expressed her opinions and words, and it was if blinders were removed from my eyes.
That was the day I recognized that my husband was violent and things weren’t about to change.
When I was in my first marriage, I was very young. I was 20 when we were married, and I had been with him since I was 17. Needless to say, I was hell-bent on making it work, because I was “an adult now” and that’s what “adults” did. They kept their promises, paid their bills and took care of their responsibilities. Except when they don’t things begin to change.
Soon after getting married, my ex-husband slowly started to show his true colors. Long story short, he was emotionally and verbally abusive, manipulated our finances, was addicted to pornography and video games, had drinking problems, and he had an affair outside of our marriage.
I have experienced pain in my life, but nothing like this. I was truly overwhelmed by the hatred, deception, and betrayal that my spouse was causing me to endure. It wasn’t fair. I didn’t ask for any of that.
HE PLACES THE BLAME ON ME?
Here’s the kicker- he told me it was all my fault. If I would just have sex with him whenever he wanted it, then he wouldn’t have to watch pornography and have an affair. If I didn’t nag him so much about his drinking issues, maybe he wouldn’t be drinking. If I just lost enough weight and worked as a cocktail waitress at his favorite bar, maybe I could make enough money to pay the bills. (By the way, I was working two jobs and putting myself through college.)
LEAVING WAS EASY, BUT YOU STILL FEEL THAT “PUNCH IN YOUR GUT”
Leaving was the easy part. Initially, it was a separation, followed by divorce. I thought I would never love again. I put myself into counseling, moved out of my parent’s basement, got a completely different job, and went shopping- A LOT. I kept myself as busy as possible.
MOVING ON WAS A LONG JOURNEY
Moving on was much more difficult. Forgetting the spousal abuse was insufferable, having a huge bearing on my life, attempting to enjoy life, yet failing at the same time. I very quickly repressed the whole situation and felt indifferent toward him. But my body and mind couldn’t forget.
It took a few months to realize how five years with that man had so dramatically rewired my brain, my body, and my spirit. Trauma impacted me in unexpected ways:
- I expected the worst in people.
- I questioned myself over every little thing.
- I was afraid to leave my house alone.
- I was afraid to talk to old friends.
- I had panic attacks every time I saw a car similar to his.
- I constantly dreamt about being berated by him and his mother.
- I would wake up alone in my bed, thinking that I was in my old bed with him.
- I dreamt that my family didn’t believe what had happened and that they blamed me for it.
- I was in a cage. I was in chains.
THE SECOND MARRIAGE ~ Taking a chance
I eventually remarried, but it wasn’t easy for me, desiring to create a marriage that was nothing like my first. However, I quickly slumped into a major depressive state. I knew, and although I had moved on (romantically, I didn’t realize that there was trauma that I still hadn’t processed.
PTSD ~ IT’S TRUE, NOT ALL WOUNDS ARE VISIBLE
I expected that I would deal with the past trauma (PTSD), but I had no idea how troublesome and upsetting or what was to follow.
Three nights into our marriage, I woke up choking, leaped out of bed, running to the bathroom with my phone. I sat on the floor, hyperventilating, peering down at pictures of my new husband and myself. I had to make sure he was real and not a delusion.
Although my fears eventually decreased, I would still profusely apologize to my husband for unnecessary things, and forever worry about his reaction if he saw me for what I truly was. Those days were dreadful, always extremely emotional and ‘on guard’ at every moment with people around me.
What I didn’t understand was why this was occurring? I was currently in a safe and healthy relationship, life was running quite smoothly, yet I just couldn’t find peace.
TURNING POINT ~ I’M NOT TAKING IT ANYMORE – THE PAST WILL NOT WIN
Eventually, I closed up to the point where I wasn’t allowing my new marriage to grow or exist I felt unlovable, ashamed, and weak. Consequently, we decided that marriage counseling would be helpful for us and it was! I am now on medication, in personal counseling, and marriage counseling to help me through my PTSD. I realize PTSD is a part of my life, but I do not let it rule my life or define who I am.
TODAY, I’M A SURVIVOR!
Today, I still experience symptoms of PTSD caused from my first marriage. Recently, I have avoided phone calls with my husband because sometimes he sounds just like my ex. It freaks me out.
But I have learned to talk myself through it and remind myself that everything is okay. When I catch myself spiraling into fear and darkness, I look for my anchors that I have planted in my support system, in my Creator, and in myself.
If there is one thing I would like you to take away from my experience, it is that there is hope and healing to be found for those who have experienced trauma, abuse, and loss. Allow yourself to be strengthened and learn from your experiences, instead of letting your fears take control.
There is no cure-all for the things that happen in this life, but there are many others who can relate to you and help lift you up.
About the Author
Mariah is a 25-year-old student nurse who suffers from mental illness[es]. She aims to dissolve the shame and loneliness surrounding mental illness. To bring awareness to those who do not understand mental illness. It helps to talk about it.
About Mariah’s Blog
Recluse is a refuge for those who struggle with mental illness.
For those who love someone with a mental illness.
For those who feel they need to hide from the world.
Or for those who simply feel abnormal.