The darkest night of my life came in January of 2009. I was making Crystal Light for my husband. I accidentally overfilled the pitcher, making it too diluted. He screamed at me. He called me an idiot. He asked me why I couldn’t ever do anything right. Then he threw two gallons of red drink at me. It doused me. It covered the walls, the refrigerator, the pantry, the carpet. It was everywhere.
Then I broke.
I went in to the bathroom and got in the shower. I had red liquid in my hair, all over my clothes, in my ears. While the shower was running I decided that I was going to die that night. My husband had finally won. He had broken me to the point where I was sure that I could never be repaired.
At this point I had endured 9 years of abuse. Nine years of name calling. Nine years of him taking my purse and my keys so I couldn’t leave. Nine years of him destroying my parent’s living room furniture in an effort to get them to abandon me so that I would be more isolated. Nine years of him wrapping his hands around my throat and choking me. Nine years of being left at various gas stations across two states because I wasn’t good enough. Nine years of the punching. I can still feel his hands on my face. I can still feel his shoes kicking me in the back. I can still feel the burning humiliation as I had to explain to yet another gas station employee why my husband had left me there without a purse or a phone.
So that cold night in January I decided to die. I calmly washed the Crystal Light out of my hair and I went in to the bedroom. I got out a knife and I started to cry. Then the police showed up. The neighbors. They were always calling the police when they would hear him shouting at me. I was so embarrassed that they saw my kitchen, my beautiful kitchen, totally covered in red. They asked me if I wanted to hurt myself and I remember saying that I just wanted my husband to go away. So they made him leave.
It was late. Midnight at least by that point. I got in my car and went to Wal-Mart and bought carpet cleaner. For two days I worked on those stains. To this day if you go to that house you will see red stains on the walls and the floor. While scrubbing the carpet I reached a conclusion. I had to get out. I had to live. I had to say what I meant and mean what I said.
So am ultimatum was issued. The next time he hit me would be the last time. After that, I was done. He probably didn’t believe me but he did go to marriage counseling. Our therapist said that my husband was the type of person who needed to live alone, and that he loved the cats more than he loved me. Ironic. I was less than a cat.
Winter turned to spring and I woke up one day blind in my right eye. Then came the hospital, IV steroids, trying to figure out what was wrong with me. The fear. Knowing that I needed insurance to pay for all of these hospital bills and knowing I would lose access to it if I left him.
Spring turned to summer. I was teaching Pre K and my co teacher had gone to visit her home country for three months. I was asked to print out some pictures and make a collage so that she could see what we did while she was gone. I couldn’t find my jump drive. I asked if I could borrow his. What happened next was the most terrifying half hour of my life.
He started to rage. Why was I irresponsible? Why couldn’t I keep track of anything? Why was I so pathetic to lose something as important as a $5 flash drive? I tried to ignore him. I started to burn the pictures on to a CD instead. So he yanked the cords out of my computer so it died. I started picking up my books, thinking that I would just have to go to my parent’s house while he had a fit. Then he started throwing things at me. Glass candles. Books. He had terrible aim so most of it ended up hitting the wall beside me. I was crying for him to stop and to leave me alone, that I just wanted to leave. He came up on my right side, the side I was blind in at the time, and he punched me so hard that I fell out of the chair. I hit the floor.He started to come after me. Right then I knew that I was going to die. My therapist and the marriage counselor were right. He would eventually kill me if I didn’t leave. Somehow in that flash of time I imagined someone telling my students that their teacher wasn’t ever coming back.
So I had to do something. I went in to fight or flight mode. I picked flight. I got up and I ran to the bedroom. I grabbed the portable phone and he reached it right behind me and yanked the main unit from the wall before I could dial 911. Then I saw my cell phone on the floor. It must have fallen out of my pocket earlier. This was before smart phones were attached to us 24/7. I grabbed it and had made contact with 911 before he got to me. I guess he figured once I contacted 911 the police were going to show up anyway, so he left the room. I begged that operator to send help. She was asking me questions. I begged her to please, just send help. She said she was. I put my body between the bed and the wall as close as I could get to it. The police came and he answered the door. The officer came to the room and saw the mark on my face and that was pretty much it. They arrested him. I knew for sure I was going to die at that point. If he ever came back I was in for it. I was so scared. They helped me with the restraining order. He was in jail for a few days until someone bailed him out.
Leaving my husband was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I took a huge hit financially and mentally. I felt like the lowest person on earth. The day after he went to jail I went to work. I had to. I needed to do something normal. There were days when I would stand outside of my classroom for a half an hour trying to pull myself together enough to open that door. I would wait until nap time and then lock myself in the staff bathroom and sob on the floor. Yet every day I went. Every day I walked in the room and had 20 happy children shout my name and run to greet me. I felt like a rock start. That was what I built my new truth on. Those kids saved my life. They truly did. To any parents out there reading this, if your child was in my class in 2009 you child helped save my life. I built a brand new life on their opinions of me rather than my ex-husband’s inaccurate opinion. They were the reason I got up in the morning when I really wanted to just curl up in a ball and never leave my bed. Eventually I stopped crying in the bathroom. Eventually it was easy to open the door in the morning. Eventually my heart healed.
I have seen hope in the faces of 20 five year olds. I will never forget them for showing me God’s truth.
Here it is almost six years later. In those six years I have worked hard to heal myself physically and mentally. I have lost 150 pounds, I have attended therapy, and I have reached out to help others in my same situation. I am loved by a man who loves God and who uplifts me every single day. I have a little house that I decorate and I don’t have to worry that someone will trash. I don’t have to worry about bringing my boyfriend to my parent’s house because I know that he will always act like an adult. I have a beautiful dog who I adore.
Sometimes people try to tell me that divorce is wrong. I try not to take it personally. I mourned my marriage, for sure. I tried to make it work. I gave him the chance to change and he didn’t want to. Just as he told the marriage counselor, “I hit her because she deserves it.” He believed that. I didn’t. I know God wouldn’t want me to die at the hands of my ex-husband. I believe that God wasn’t done with me. He had a plan for me and I simply wasn’t done.
I am a domestic violence survivor. Ask me how you can be one too.