It’s been many years since my husband left me alone to care for my three children. I was sick. In pain all the time. I had no money. The physical and emotional abuse I had spent nearly a decade enduring had left me broken.
I have come a long way in that time and woken up to more of who I am.
I am stronger. Wiser (I hope). Healthier. I’m doing work I love and supporting my children. I am with a man who loves me and treats me well.
But the demon of fear that lived inside me for so long was very hard to kill.
A few years ago I went to Northern California to face my ex in court for a custody trial, and everything came back.
My self-confident, intelligent, unflappable veneer was utterly blown apart as I sat in the witness stand and endured several hours of cross-examination by this man who had chosen to represent himself.
My best friend, as well as my attorney, both likened the experience to watching a rapist cross-examine his victim. My body language, tone of voice, demeanor, all screamed “VICTIM!” Whereas his…well…he was the bully.
It’s absurd, really, how guilty I felt when he asked me questions that would make him look bad.
“Did I ever tell you why I refuse to pay the child support?”
“What did I tell you?”
I sheepishly glanced at my attorney, wondering “am I really allowed to answer that?”
Apologetically, and with more fear than I like to admit, I told the court. “Because you are angry that I have custody and you have supervised visitation and you said this was the only way you had to control me.”
“Isn’t it true that while we were married you completed your college degree and went to grad school?” Which sounded like “Isn’t it true that you sold yourself on a street corner, pimped out our kids and used meth during our whole marriage?”
“Yes.” As in “I’m so sorry I had the nerve to do something so awful and pay for it myself.”
And so it went.
At the end I was shaken, unnerved and undone.
But I survived it. And it was a hell of an eye-opener.
So my story is still evolving. I still wear the scars of that life, but the wounds have healed.
I survived the court battle, got custody of my girls, and finally saw the truth of who he is.
And I no longer wake up in a panic of fear and anxiety, never really feeling safe. Feeling invisible hands choking me. My panic slowly turned to trust. The fear to safety.
The more I stay aware of who I truly am, the more I remember that my true heart is unbreakable.
He did not break me, because I cannot be broken!
As soon as I embraced this truth, I was healed from the nightmare of that life.
I write now with a lightness of being, knowing the demons of my heart have already been exorcised.
And my story is just beginning. I am living the life I love, writing full time, helping other writers market their work. I have the most amazing friends and I’m safe and happy. And I’m marrying the most amazing man I’ve ever known. A man who has stepped in to be a father to our girls, my writing partner and my best friend. A man I met on Twitter who, though young, has a wise soul and loving heart.
I am now Writing In Love.
This is the tenth (and final) part of a 10-part series on domestic violence and relationships based on my life. Please come back next Monday for my next series as I write about a truly epic love in modern times! Or follow my blog or sign up to receive email updates. You can also like my Facebook Page for updates on my blog, my books and more. To get caught up, start with Part 1: Why We Stay.