I was recently asked, “WHEN WAS YOUR BEGINNING OF FORWARD?” This was a tough one to answer.
I believe every event in my life, every choice I’ve made, has led me here. What made that question hard to answer, was trying to pinpoint the moment I decided I didn’t want to be stuck anymore, and to stop making choices that kept me repeating cycles. I spoke of my childhood last week, and how I had this extremely distorted and negative image of myself that left me feeling unworthy and ‘not enough’ for most of my life. Ends up, that view had me choosing things that continued to feed it.
MY BEGINNING OF FORWARD BEGAN SEVERAL TIMES and will probably continue to do so. Each is a part of my adventure and I have no regrets.
I believe it started when I married to my first husband. I met him just before I turned 16 years old. He showed me attention and made me feel special, both of which I was starved for. We started dating and it didn’t take long for the behaviors to change. We would make plans, I would be on the couch at my parents’ house, with my coat on, waiting for hours and he just wouldn’t show up. He started belittling me in front of his family. His mood swings were something I had never seen before. He would switch from being nice, to being the vilest person I had ever met. He would say terribly mean things and then apologize wholeheartedly. Of course I would forgive him. I was a nice person and this is what I was supposed to do. This was constant. Four years later, just after I turned 20, we were married. I remember standing at the alter when it struck me that I should not be marrying him, but it was too late to change my mind. If I did, I would just let everyone down.
Fast forward two years and we moved to a small town in the middle of know where. I had no driver’s license, no place to find work and no friends. I was alone. He worked a job that ran 12 hour shifts and required him to carry a pager from after dinner until early morning. He was gone…A LOT. It was the perfect scenario for him to gallivant around with other women, and for me to be none the wiser. I thought he was out saving lives. His meanness grew worse, in the things he said and didn’t say, and in the unspoken threats.
I finally had a driver’s license and was working 3 jobs. I wanted out, but there was no way. I knew deep down that he was unfaithful and feared one day I would somehow piss him off to the point that I would get beaten. He controlled the purse strings and I felt I had no options. I was at work one day when I discovered sign language and thought “I can do this”. I convinced him to let me study to become a Sign Language Interpreter back home in Windsor. I would get an apartment there and he would remain at our rental out of town. Of course it didn’t take much to convince him. Now he would have all the freedom to be unfaithful without his wife being around. This was my chance. Get my diploma and then get out! I believe this was my FIRST Beginning of Forward.
That was a short lived idea. I worked my butt off, carried a perfect average and then discovered I was pregnant. Being who I am, I took it as a sign that we were meant to stay together. I completed my year studying and then became a mom. Two months after my baby girl was born, I was pregnant again and this time it was a boy. Million dollar family. Back up to the small town we moved with 2 babies in tow, this time to an even more isolated location. He still worked the same job that had him gone the majority of the time and I spent my days raising the kids. I thought “God must want me to stay, so He will help him change”. Not…even… close. It got worse. The verbal abuse was constant, I could do nothing right as a wife or parent and the silent threat of violence grew stronger.
The kids were 1 and 2 when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. We moved back to Windsor, in with his mother and step-father. They would help take care of the kids while I nursed my mother. My husband spent 5-6 days a week working and living out of town. The good news. My mom only needed a mastectomy and she was as good as gold. Unfortunately, nothing I said would convince my husband that over a year later, we didn’t need to be living at his parents anymore. He was having too much fun. I didn’t think it was possible, but life with him got worse. I couldn’t take it anymore. I rented a house for myself and the kids and applied for mother’s allowance. My SECOND Beginning of Forward.
Slowly he creeped his way back in. I started working full-time when the kids were 3 and 4, and for a few months things were calm. Something was eating away at me though. I thought this time it would be different. I called his bluff and had moved out, certainly he would make a legitimate effort to change his behaviors if he wanted to keep our family intact. My gut told me something different. For absolutely no reason we had no money, he was working more than ever and something wasn’t sitting right. He basically lived out of a duffel bag and I decided one night to go through it. Wow! Proof of infidelity in dozens of letters and keys to what I was certain was his own living space that I knew nothing about. The worst part…a card from a woman that thanked him for sending her pictures of ‘his beautiful kids’. That was it for me. I woke him up from a dead sleep and demanded to know everything he was up to and accused him of putting our children’s lives in jeopardy by sending a stranger pictures of our children with his return address on the envelope! Apparently he didn’t like being confronted, and I paid for it. Physically. When he finally felt I had suffered enough, he left the house. I told him the next day I wanted a divorce. He was calm and accepted it. Later that week he came over to draw up a separation agreement. He decided he was the better parent and was taking full custody of the kids, which of course I would not agree too. An argument started and our voices were rising. At that point, my just turned 4 little girl walked out of the bedroom and asked what was wrong. He replied calmly, “get in your room, it’s time for mommy to die”. I picked up the phone to call 911, he backhanded it across the room and then walked out. That was it. There was no way in hell I was going to raise my daughter thinking she could be treated the way he treated me, nor was I raising my son with the idea that it was acceptable to treat a woman that way. I was in my own apartment within 2 weeks and I never looked back. My THIRD Beginning of Forward.
WHAT IS THE POINT OF YOUR STORY JACQUIE?
It took me years to realize MY ROLE in this. I put myself in that position, and I kept myself there. I chose that relationship. That by no means justifies his behaviors. They were disgusting, pathetic, vile and absolutely unacceptable! But…had I not chosen to be with a man that validated my feelings of unworthiness, none of those things would have happened. My belief that I wasn’t good enough had me seek out someone who treated me like I wasn’t good enough and stay there for too long!!! I created my reality. Had I believed I was worthy, just as I was, of love, respect, and happiness, I would have sought out someone who added to those things in my life. They would have been mine to begin with and I would not have had to look for them outside of me!
I needed to confront the voice in my head that was telling me I was not worthy, and tell it to get the hell out! That would take several more years.
I would like to say that by my THIRD Beginning of Forward I had changed my thought patterns. Not the case. I did promise myself that no one would treat me that way, nor would I allow any person to lay their hands of me, ever again. As I started over, with incredible new confidence in myself, the pattern of looking for acceptance outside of me would repeat again, and that’s ok. I wouldn’t be here now if I was wiser back then.
Wherever you are along your journey, whatever your challenges are, you are not alone.