Today I am going to tell you a story. My story.
Almost six years ago, I met the love of my life. Well, I thought he was the love of my life. His name was Patrick and we had known each other for most of our lives. We grew up together in a small backwoods town where everyone knew everyone. It was the summer before our senior year in high school and everything was a dream. We spent all day texting and every night we found ourselves together hanging in the McDonald’s parking lot. I didn’t know where this dream was going, but I certainly didn’t think it would end as nightmare.
Senior year started and things weren’t so dreamy. He lied to me constantly and I knew it. I mean for God’s sake I even had proof! But this was my childhood crush we’re talking about. I was NOT about to let this go! After a few rocky months, everything seemed perfect again. We went to different schools, but he still managed to come and see me everyday. There he would be waiting for me in the school parking lot, with the windows down, music playing, looking cute as ever! I should have known right then that what LOOKS good isn’t always GOOD for you, but I would soon learn.
Winter break came and things were looking pretty good. We had a few petty fights here and there, but who doesn’t right? It was then, that winter break, that I gave him a piece of me that I would never get back. I just knew I had made the right decision. I knew that he would be the one that I spent the rest of my life with. I know you what you must be thinking. How could you know something like that at the fine age of 18? Girl, BYE! But you know we’ve all been there. No matter the age. You find a guy. He treats you like the only girl in the world. Your days literally float by as you spend every waking moment with each other. You have on horse blinders and you can’t see anything or anyone past him. He becomes your world and you’re hooked. You feel like NO MATTER WHAT you will never let go. Right then, in that moment, you decide that you are his soul and he is yours. NO MATTER WHAT.
Senior year comes to end. Graduation is here and we couldn’t be more excited! We made it! Our lives were just about to really start and we were going to do it TOGETHER! We had our plans and knew exactly where we would end up. Together. Then, a night that was meant to be fun and adventurous, turned into a night I would never forget. It was in this moment that I surrendered myself to him. I allowed him into my soul, my mind, my heart, and no matter what I said or did he would always control me. He saw the fear, the emotion, the weakness, and I was instantly his prey. He knew he had me and wasn’t going to let go. No matter what.
A bunch of our friends were together getting ready for a fun night out. We had worked hard for four years and we were ready to celebrate! I spent hours finding the perfect outfit and doing my makeup. My bestfriend and I were singing some classic 2000’s song in the mirror while drinking a cup or two of who knows what. It was time to head out when I got the look. You know the look. The “we aren’t going anywhere until I’m ready” look. I found some excuse to give our friends and I disappointingly sat down in the living room. I couldn’t believe he was doing this. Not here. Not now. Why was he ruining this time for us? As I sat there like a sad puppy, I finally had a thought. I stood up and said, “I’m leaving”. He barely even looked at me. It was as if I hadn’t said anything at all. So I got up and headed to the bedroom. I was going to show him better then I could tell him! I wasn’t going to stand for this anymore. I was tired of being controlled by his demeaning nature. I was tired of having to stifle who I was to accommodate him. I was just tired of being tired.
As I walked into the bedroom, I heard footsteps behind me. Great! He got the picture! We were about to have a fun-filled night! I couldn’t wait! But to my surprise that is NOT what happened. Before I could even open my mouth to speak, everything I had packed for the trip was being thrown across the room. He was pulling out every single item from my packed suitcase and hurling it towards me. I stood there screaming at him to stop. I honestly couldn’t believe this was happening. He had been upset with me before, but never like this. As I was watching this happen, like a fly on the wall, he began to walk towards me. All I can remember is him shouting, “If you want to leave so bad, then you’re going to leave here naked!” He grabbed my arm and began to rip off my dress. I fell to the ground in fetal position trying to protect myself as I yelled for him to stop. He continued to rip me out of the dress and I remember crying and thinking how upset my friend would be about her dress that I had borrowed for the night. He grabbed my ankle and began to drag me across the bedroom floor. As he was yelling and screaming, I looked up and could see the anger in his eyes. The rage. I just couldn’t believe it. I was screaming for help, but it was as if no one could hear me. He had drug me out of the bedroom, through the living room, past the kitchen, and almost out of the condo door and down the stairs when one of our friends had come home and was able to pull Patrick off of me. I ran into the bedroom and slammed the door. I couldn’t believe what just took place. Did that just really happen? The feeling and emotion I felt in that moment is indescribable. I just couldn’t understand why. Or how? How did this happen to a girl like me? How did I let this happen? How could the man I love treat me like this?
As time went on, I forgave him. I let him back in. I know I shouldn’t have. I know, but I just couldn’t get let him go. I just couldn’t let our relationship go. As the relationship grew, so did the violence and the control. He threatened me, punched me, bit me, and literally beat me in the street. There were times were people were watching. They would stand by and watch these things happen. Never intervening. Never stepping in. I begged for help. I asked for protection, but I was asking for help from the wrong place. I looked for humans to help me. I looked for help in people who didn’t know how to help. From people who barely knew how to help themselves. The question is now, how did I get away? How did I finally let go?
The answer: I found God. I went away to college and met my bestfriends. There in that place is where I learned about God and his love for me. How he valued me and saw me as his child. I learned about the depths that he went to save me and give me a life worth living. It was in that moment that I learned my TRUE worth. I learned that my worth came from God and the only thing that mattered was how HE saw me. What HE believed about me and what HE said was true. I learned that love wasn’t supposed to hurt. Love doesn’t control. Love doesn’t manipulate. Love doesn’t hold on when it is time to let go. It was in that moment that I knew I deserved better. I knew that I wanted better.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this understanding took some time. I still continued to see Patrick for another two years after the first incident. Even after finding God and exploring a relationship with him, I still was committed and even dedicated to my relationship with Patrick. I was committed to changing him into a man after God’s own heart. I felt like I could do it. I felt like he loved me enough to want to do it. However, love had nothing to do with it. First things first, you cannot change ANYONE. Only God can do that. Once I was able to understand this (and it took me a while) things became a lot easier for me. I also had to understand that Patrick needed more than just a change. He needed help. Help that I could not give him. Patrick had deep rooted issues within himself that needed to be dealt with before he would ever be capable of being in a healthy relationship with anyone. Those issues that he had led to a lot of fear within him. When we deal with fear, we tend to want to control things and even people around us. Until Patrick let go of his own fears, he was never going to be able to love me without controlling me.
I honestly feel like the biggest lesson I learned going through this experience was that LOVE SHOULDN’T HURT. Will it be tough loving someone? Yes. Will it be a challenge to agree and learn to agree to disagree? Yes. But loving someone should NEVER require you to put yourself in harm’s way. It should never require you to belittle yourself to make someone else feel strong. It should never require you having to lie to those around you when you are in danger.
If you are going through a similar situation of abuse, no matter if it’s physical, emotional, or mental, I encourage you to LEAVE. WALK AWAY. REACH OUT FOR HELP. Do not allow this skewed idea of “love” to keep you in a dangerous situation. Do not allow someone to belittle you. Do not allow someone to control how you see the world, how you do things, how you treat others, and how you treat yourself. I know it seems impossible. It seems like you can never let go. You have loved this person with all of your heart and it’s not bad all the time. I get it. Trust me. But why settle? Is it because you don’t want to start over with someone else? Is it because you feel like you will never love someone the way you love them? I’ve been there too and let me tell you that almost six years later I am engaged to the LOVE OF MY LIFE. I never have to worry about him getting angry and hurting me. I never have to hide any scars or bruises from my family. I don’t need to lie to my friends about why I can’t go out. I don’t have to experience pain when I should be experiencing love.
What I am trying to say is that, you can do this. You were made to love and be loved. Not hurt by someone who doesn’t even love themselves. I know what it feels like and I also know that it takes time. It takes time to come to these understandings and getting to that point of being tired. So please be gentle with yourself, but don’t wait until it’s too late. And don’t allow anyone to speak down on you. I was always the girl who said that she would NEVER let a man put his hands on her. And I honestly meant it, but when that man is someone you love it’s a different story. When you don’t understand your worth and value, it’s hard to walk away. So I get that too. Just please know that you are not alone and that YOU CAN DO THIS!
This week’s prompt: Are you or anyone you know in an abusive situation? If yes, what is one thing you can do or say to help them understand their worth and value? What is one thing you can do or say to help them understand that they can leave? If no, what is one thing that you have learned about abusive situations that you may not have known before? What do you plan on doing with that information?
This week’s SoulQUEST: This week I challenge you to SHARE YOUR STORY. If you have ever been in an abusive situation, share that story with someone! Someone needs to hear it! If you are currently in an abusive situation, reach out to someone you feel comfortable with and let them in on what has been going on. Ask for help. Make a plan and stick with it! If you have never personally experienced an abusive situation, reach out to your loved ones and check in on them. Just make sure that everything is what they say it is!
Feel free to reach out to me with any questions, stories, or just conversation. I would love to speak with you more about this issue! Remember, every person that has a smile on their face isn’t happy. Be sure to check in on your loved ones. If you would like to share your answer to this week’s prompt, feel free to submit it here. As always, remember to flourish!