Sometimes life destroys you. Sometimes it burns you to the ground. In March 2021 that’s what happened to me. In just 4 weeks I went from happily-ever-after to widowed-mother-of-five after making a dark and twisted discovery about my husband. Rather than be consumed by the fire, I choose to be transformed. This is my story. Watch me rise.
I can’t sleep tonight. Just a minute ago I heard a truck roaring up the street and for a fleeting second I thought he was coming home. Then I remembered …
Grief is hard. It’s messy. It’s painful. It’s weird.
I’m trying to untangle a web of emotions and it’s easy to get stuck or lost in memories and unanswered questions and I-wish-I-would-haves. I’m hurting; I’m angry; I’m sad; and I’ve been pretty open about that.
I’ve also continued to care for my children. We’ve been getting counseling and everyone has recently visited the doctor. I’ve been managing our home, working on my business, handling phone calls, appointments and other personal affairs, and trying to take time to just be still and enjoy life with my family – all while processing the abuse, the loss and my new role in life.
I’ve decided as part of this journey to document my healing through this blog. The negativity started almost immediately after I published the first post. Typically, I would let these comments and thoughts hold me back or stop me altogether.
Now, I’m walking through fire and I’m determined to be stronger than the flames. Since this is my story, I’m going to address a few of the questions/statements I have encountered so far that have me a little heated.
Why are you being so public about this?
Because silence perpetuates abuse. I’m speaking up because right now there is a woman somewhere who is ashamed to admit how awful she feels in her own home. There is a little girl out there who doesn’t realize she’s being hurt because her abuser has convinced her that they are playing a special game. There is a young lady somewhere who questions her very existence because she’s holding on to shame that a grown man burdened her with when he should have been protecting her.
He was a good person.
No. He wasn’t. He may have been charming, friendly, helpful, outgoing, and charismatic, but he was also selfish, controlling, manipulative, spiteful and perpetually dishonest. He willfully harmed others in the pursuit of his own self-interest and refused to take responsibility. He broke both moral and civil laws along with countless personal vows. That is the literal definition of a “bad person.” Highlighting his achievements or basking in nostalgia does not change this fact. Not to mention how disrespectful that statement is to his victims.
If he was so bad, why did you stay?
Quite frankly, I stayed because I was manipulated into staying. Yes, I loved him with all my heart, but the truth is I tried to leave many times. I could feel that things were not right and I knew I was unhappy – especially when I started noticing some negative traits reflected in my kids. But whenever I got serious about cutting ties something would happen.
It looked a little like this:
We would be madly in love, ready to take on the world and anyone who tried to come between us. He would tell everyone I was his moon and stars; he could make me melt with just a hug. I would easily overlook things and was plentiful with second chances.
But after a while I would acknowledge that I felt unheard, unappreciated, taken for granted and lonely. This would often be spun into me being poor at communicating, insecure, moody, and mean.
We would fight so intensely and though it killed me, I would know in my gut it was over. I would make the decision to leave and suddenly he would start saying and doing all of the right things.
Then I would start the mental cycle of: is it really that bad? …at least he doesn’t do X, Y and Z… where would I go if I left anyway? … what would it do to the kids? … it could be a lot worse…
Then I would start remembering our history, all of the memories we made, the family we created, the fun that we had, the love that we shared… I would doubt myself, my decision to leave, my reasoning and even my sanity at times.
So I would stay, praying that sticking it out would eventually get us to happily-ever-after.
But he had an addiction
I have 2 thoughts on this:
My first thought is that this feels like justification for criminal behavior. There is no excuse for what he did. Period. End of story.
Not only that, but clinging to this narrative completely dismisses the harm that he caused to his victims. He was not always intoxicated when he made the choice to violate children. He wasn’t under the influence while he orchestrated the nonstop deceit that it took to commit his crimes. And there are hundreds of other ways to seek gratification rather than molesting kids.
While I was unaware of the true depth of his addiction, I was fully aware that he had one – and so was he. We repeatedly fought over his excessive use of alcohol and the problems that it brought to our family. Though it was a daily battle, it was one I was willing to fight right alongside him. However, his addiction was not something he ever had the courage to truly face. Instead of seeking or accepting the help he had access to, he chose to live in denial and continue to cause harm to himself and his family. If he had been open to receiving the healing available to him, our whole world might be different today.
My second thought is that this was more than an addiction; he had another disorder. I don’t know when or where he developed pedophilia, but I understand that part of his behavior stems from biology and early childhood experiences. This doesn’t ease the pain much for me, as the realization just makes me hurt in different ways. But I do think it’s important to address, consider and discuss.
How did you not know?
I ask myself this on a regular basis. I don’t know.
He was very good at living a double life.
I was lost in my own depression and PTSD.
We had marital issues and he drank a lot, so I attributed odd behavior to that.
I misinterpreted red flags and ignored my intuition on too many occasions.
I never thought this could happen to us.
Of all the problems we could have had, I didn’t think THIS was something I had to worry about.
There are 2 sides to every story
Yes, I can be short-tempered, loud and more reactive than I’d like to admit. I have incredibly high standards and I expect a lot from myself, my partner and my kids. I know that I can be difficult to love sometimes and I struggle to communicate effectively. At times, I am downright rude.
Yes. And while I may not have always handled every situation the best that I could, I was the best woman I could be and I never stopped trying to be a better one.
Have you talked to your doctor about medication?
This question really gets under my skin. It’s not that I’m against using medication as a treatment. But I am against medication being overused.
It feels like everyone wants to put me on medication because I’m sad. Of course I’m sad, my husband and love of my life just died. Wouldn’t it be weird if I wasn’t? But why do I need to be medicated because I’m sad? Why can’t I just process all of the emotions and thoughts and let myself feel the pain? I’m still waking up every day, taking care of the kids, taking care of me, handling life’s responsibilities. I think I’m allowed to be sad and feel the heaviness. I think I need to if I’m going to get through it and not just carry it with me for the rest of my life.
My issue lies not in being asked about seeking pharmaceutical treatment, but in not being given the chance to naturally grieve without the assumption that I’ll need it.
This isn’t anyone else’s experience – it’s mine. You may not agree with me or like what I have to say and I’m okay with that. But as I continue this healing process, I’m going to keep sharing my story, keep lifting my voice, and keep rising from the ashes. I hope you do, too. #keepgoing 🔥
Do you have a burning question you’d like me to answer in the next Ask Me Anything? You can drop it in the comments or send us an email.
Abuse isn’t always black and blue. If you or someone you know needs help, please reach out to Flight of the Phoenix Collective. We’ve got your back.