“I’m so OCD”… no seriously

The definition of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is the presence of unwanted thoughts leading to excessive compulsions and it is pure hell!  I was diagnosed when I was 10 years with Anxiety/OCD.  I never understood why until probably just this year. I knew I was easily upset and that things would make me nervous and angry, but did not really realize that it was not typical.  That is 17 years of not understanding why my brain was torturing me.  I always thought having OCD meant you had to have everything neat and tidy.  I knew that wasn’t me because most of the time I feel like everything is a disaster. Growing up I never kept my room cleaned up perfectly. I think a lot of people have this misconception. Someone with true OCD does may want their things in a particular way, but not jut because it looks nice or fits nice there, they take it to another level. It tortures them until whatever needs to be changed, is changed. The behavior they demonstrate is a result of whatever they are obesessing about.
Mental illnesses are not well understood in our society and they often carry sigma.  People often fear sharing that they have a mental illness because of judgement and shame.  I like to see it more as a “quirk”, it is something I struggle with at times, but it does not define me.  What defines me is that, I am a Daughter, Sister, fiancée, Teacher, Friend and so much more. I am not OCD.

Here is some background information about when this all started for me:

On day in the summer of 1998, my sister and I were watching TV downstairs. I remember hearing thunder and running upstairs in a panic. My parents were getting used to my storm freak outs so they were trying to help me through it.  We turned on the TV to check the weather, the power went off.  Then we opened the blinds to look outside to prove it was just a regular storm-the tree in our front yard was bent so hard that it was touching the ground. That is when we realized this wasn’t your typical storm and went downstairs.  Later we found out it was a tornado. I think the tornado may have registered at a F1.  The damage was minor and mostly consisted of down trees and derby thrown around.  We were without power for several days.  It completely rattled me.  I started to not want to go outside anymore.  Anytime there was a storm I was a complete wreck.  I remember my Mom buying me those fuzzy posters to color during storms because it kept my mind busy and at ease, at least a little bit. One of my Dad’s co-workers had an old book about the weather and they gave it to me to read.  I read it and I learned about storms, it helped me significantly.

I also developed a terrible fear of dogs, to the point that leaving my parents front porch was not an option because a stray dog might get me.  I had grown up with a large German Shepard/Lab mix.  She was sweet and gentle.  I wasn’t afraid of her but she passed soon after my anxiety had ramped up.  I remember not wanting to go to family members and friend’s houses because their dog might “eat” me.  Then, my parents bought Amy (my Sister) and I a puppy for Christmas.  A puppy wasn’t scary to me because they were so small and helpless.  We raised her and I swear to
this day that a lot of fear was taken away by her.  If a storm was coming she would lay with me until it passed.  She helped me over my fear of dogs by showing me how gentle they really can be.  Immersion therapy at its best.

In 1998 I lost my Grandmother.  She was in her early 70’s and she was the only Grandparent I had left.  My Mom’s parents passed away by the time she was 5.  My Dad’s father passed when I was 2 years old.  My sister and I were her only Granddaughters at the time.  My Grandma came to our Ballet recitals,stayed with me when my sister was born, came to school to volunteer and read to my class.  She was an amazing woman and I wish I had more time with her.  My Grandma fought Pulmonary Fibrous.  Her lungs were hardening everyday. She found out she had the disease the day that her husband, my Grandpa, died.  She lived 8 years with it, which is longer than most people do.  The doctors said that had my Grandpa not died when he did, she would have died sooner.  My Grandpa smoked in the house and it impacted her health greatly.  The night before my Grandma died we went to visit her at my Aunt’s house.  She was in a medically induced coma.   She was just laying there in a hospital bed in a room in their house.  I remember sitting in the room with my family, my Dad talking to her, and be given some jewelry that she apparently said she wanted my sister and I to have, and I remember getting slippers for some reason.  When we were leaving my Aunt’s house I remember sitting in the car crying hysterically.  I knew that was it, I was only 10, but I knew.  The next morning we were supposed to go to school.  When I woke up I noticed it was late and my alarm hadn’t gone off.  I knew she had passed.  My parents had turned off our alarms to let us sleep… a few more minutes of some normality.  We packed up our stuff and headed to Pittsburgh, where we planned and attended her funeral. In about a week we were home and back to “normal”.  My Grandma was an amazing person who I love very much.  Although she had passed by the time I was 18, she had set aside a piece of jewelry for my Aunt to give me on my 18th birthday.  Nothing as ever meant so much to me.

I cannot remember the exact timing of everything else but around this time my Mom got very sick.   The doctors could not figure out what was wrong for what felt like eternity.  She was in horrible pain all of the time and was just very sick.  I remember one night in particular that I thought I was going to lose my Mom because it seemed like her body was failing her.  I thought I was going to have to experience what she did with losing your parents at a young age.  It was terrifying. I specifically remember the terror, my sister was not much older than my mom was when my Mom’s parents died.  I was convinced in a way that it was our “fate”, and it was going to happen to us too.  Needless to say, the doctors eventually pin pointed the problem and were able to help.  During the time that she was sick, my Dad obviously was the one enforcing rules.  My Mom was always against us watching The Simpsons, but since she was sick and Dad was in charge so we got to watch it.  It ended up being something we watched as a family after she got better!  Thanks Dad! haha!

My worst fears have changed from storms and dogs to losing someone I love.   I worry at probably 10-15 times a day that something bad will happen to a loved one, each and everyday.  I imagine that I was probably born with anxiety.  However, the obsessive behaviors started around the same time as those events.   My life experiences have shaped my anxiety into what it has become.  Now, don’t get me wrong…I had an amazing childhood.  I was raised by two of the most loving parents. This just goes to show that no matter where you come from you do not get to escape mental illnesses.

My obsessions are always linked to fear of someone getting hurt.  My compulsions are always linked to an attempt to make sure nothing happens to that person.  It is like my mind is playing with me, trying to make me feel that I can control keeping them alive if I just do whatever is in my brain.  My compulsions are typically a random bunch of things.  I HATE odd numbers.  If I turn my radio volume up and it lands on an odd number I have to change it.  If I do not change it a family member may die in a car accident.  Sometimes it is that I must have the stupid dial on the dryer exactly lined up or I am screwed.  My compulsions sometimes consist of me seeing something on a fridge but not really reading it, but then I am forced to go back and read it in its entirety or someone has a heart attack today.   It is so frustrating, heart-breaking, and a waste of my time..  I don’t want to read what is on the fridge, I don’t care if the dial is lined up perfectly on the dryer, and numbers are just numbers.  However, my brain won’t let it go.  I know it is not rational to believe that I can keep someone alive by performing these dumb rituals, but I am terrified of what would happen if just by chance they did get in a car accident.  I would never be able to function again because I would always think, well maybe I should have done that, even though sensible me knows that it is completely irrational.  I’ve told my family over and over again that it is really exhausting to keep them alive all the time!  I can laugh about the thoughts that come in my head afterwards, because I know they are irrational and no where in the realm of possible, however in the moment I cannot laugh because all I feel is fear.  Who in the world wants to think about people they love getting hurt?  I know I don’t!  I wish I could just cross that bridge if it comes instead of obsessing about it all of the time, but I do not get that luxury.  One time my counselor said that I should focus on being with them and happy memories… so much easier said that done.  Instead I think, what if this is the last time I see them, what if, what if…

Fear tries to run my life, but I always try to fight back.  If you could hear inside of my head at an airport you would wonder how in the world I ever get on an airplane. I do because I can’t let it win, I fight like crazy.  I think airplanes are fascinating machines.  However, I am terrified of dying, not because I don’t want to die (which I don’t, life is pretty awesome and the unknown of death is scary) but I am afraid of what would happen to the people I love if I did.  Would my sister be able to function?  Who would call my Mom everyday at 4?  Would someone else love Kevin like he deserves?  And the thought of my Dad crying makes me want to cry typing this.  I don’t ever want them to feel pain.  I felt like a selfish jerk when I finally decided to reach out and get help for this because I felt like I saying I was putting myself before them. It felt like I had stopped their cancer treatment to keep them alive.  It is that crazy talk again going on in my head… I wasn’t controlling keeping them alive or safe by doing the things I was, I was just falling victim to the anxiety.

When I was diagnosed at age 10, I was placed on medication. I saw a counselor and a psychologist.  As I got older and with little understand of what was going on in my head I stopped the medication and therapy.  I managed for a long time.  I had the obsessive thoughts of people getting hurt and I tried to control it and sometimes I could.  I basically just gave into the compulsions because they didn’t completely interfere with my life, they were just annoying and confusing.  Then I got married.  I was under “fight or flight” all of the time. I had stomach ulcers and bleeding and all kinds of issues.  I ended up on anxiety medications during this time.  When I left my ex-husband I stopped the medication and I was doing pretty well for about a year.  Then anxiety let me know that it never left, I just suppressed some of it, but it showed it’s stupid ugly face again.  I was crying a lot at night because I was so frustrated with myself for feeling anxious all of the time. I experienced many more funerals and watched people grieve loved ones.  I have a very bad habit of putting myself in someone else shoes and then I get in extreme distress.  If someone loses their Mom then I think of how hard it must be for them and then I think what if I lose my Mom?  Then it spirals out of control. I started to get angry with myself because I am very aware of how irrational my anxiety can be.  I was tired of feeling “crazy” for being worried all of the time.

I still struggle but I am aware of now. Sometimes I do not respond to people talking the first time they say something because my anxiety in my head was all I could focus on, it consumes me.  I sometimes get frustrated if someone talks to me while I was stressing out about something because it is interrupting my obsession/anxiety and I was trying to work through it.  I’ve snapped at people I love when this happens.  I struggle with noise, I hate anything loud, it just makes me feel nervous.  I hide from people in my room or in the bathroom sometimes, just because I need quiet for just a few minutes.  I have found my own ways to cope with the anxiety at times.  Sometimes I give myself a “timeout” if I feel like I am going over the top.  I research things that make me anxious such as airplanes, weather, etc.  This has helped me tremendously.  The more I understand something, the less I am afraid of it.  I have not conquered my fear of losing people I love, it still haunts me everyday but that is okay… I win more than I lose to anxiety! I 1,2,3 things when I am scared (read 1,2,3 go blog to understand this).  However, I think the biggest thing that has helped me is talking about it and accepting it.  I hid from this for a long time… 17 years! I was shameful, embarrassed, mad, frustrated, and basically any other emotion you could think of.  It is not fair that I have to take medication to keep my anxiety levels lower.  However, it is not fair for me to live in a state of panic 24/7 so I thank God for science to give me this relief so I can enjoy this beautiful life.  No one has a perfect brain and we all fight our own demons.  Be honest about them, most importantly to yourself, because with that comes the opportunity to live the life you deserve.

My Grandma & I

My Grandma & I

My List of Things That Make Me Happy!

A fellow blogger recommended that I asked myself, “what makes you happy”, when I am stressed out during this process.  I loved the idea so much, I decided to make a list of things that bring out joy in my life.  Just writing this list gave me some peace, realizing just how much the little things really do matter.

1. The first warm day after winter

2. Fresh baked cookies

3. My crazy dog greeting me at the door

4. Spending time with my family

5. Pedicures

6. When I have time and energy to do my hair the way I want

7. Lilacs blooming and wild flowers

8. Thursday Nights – Grey’s Night with my sister! Although, I am thoroughly ticked off at Grey’s right now! 🙂

9. Sunday Nights – Walking Dead night!

10. Hugs from my fiancée

11.  Long talks with my best friends

12. Listening to music with the windows down!

13. How I feel after I leave the gym (I hate how I feel before I go!)

14. Pens that write perfectly

15. Fresh sheets on the bed

16. A clean house

17.  New clothes and makeup!

18. Flip Flops

19.  Laying in bed and talking about anything with the one I love

20. Writing

21. Massages!

22. Making something new for dinner and having my family be innocent victims that get to taste test!

23. Camp fires and camping!

24.  The waves crashing on the beach

25. That “light bulb” moment when a student finally gets the concept you’ve been teaching! Ah, that is the very best!

26. Surprising someone you care about with something you know will make them happy

27. Buying a new decoration for my home

28. Uncontrollable laughter, the kind where you are not even sure what you are laughing about anymore.  The best is when you have someone laughing along with you!

29.  When the night is winding down, it is calm and peaceful inside and out, candles are lit, and listening to calm music while relaxing in the recliner.

30. When someone waves as you drive by, makes me feel like I live in a small town where everyone likes each other.

The Happiest Two Years and a Challenge for You!

My FIANCEE AND I HAVE BEEN TOGETHER FOR 2 YEARS TODAY!!  It is strange because two years sounds like both a short and long time when you think about it.  Sure, I sound like a young teenager wildly in love with their first boyfriend, but that is okay because for TWO straight years I have experienced real love.  For two straight years someone has accepted me just the way I am!  For two straight years I have felt like someone really knows and understands me!  That is huge!  I thought I had experienced this before but I was dead wrong, I merely experienced lust.

Kevin and I have been through a lot in our first two years together.  We’ve experienced so many amazing and stressful things together.   Here is a list of just a few of the memories I have of us in our first two years together:

  • Several surgeries
  • Hospital stays
  • Walking
  • Not Walking
  • Running
  • The External Fixator (AH!)
  • Amazing trip to Vail
  • That time the airplane bounced so much that I thought for sure we were dying and he distracted and made me laugh
  • Walking 5Ks in New York
  • Watching him complete the Army 10 Miler
  • Him learning to drive again and driving me for the first time!
  • Trip to Boston to learn that Homes For Our Troops will be building us a modified home
  • Moving him into our home when he left Walter Reed
  • Spending time and getting to know each other’s families
  • Deciding on forever… getting engaged and planning our wedding

I’ve heard over and over again how cliche it is to celebrate anniversaries like this or even Valentine’s Day. Yeah sure, we are not married so what is the point in celebrating a dating anniversary… the point is that for two years we’ve loved each unconditionally and that is worth celebrating.   We’ve often heard, “well if you love someone you should be showing them every day”.  This is VERY true, and we should all strive to do that.  But let’s be very honest here, with the hustle and bustle of life sometimes we just forget.  It is not that we don’t love the person even more than the day we first say it to them, it is just that we’ve become distracted by the million other things going on in our worlds.  This person is our constant in a world full of changes; this often leads us to just assume they know.  They probably do know, but the fire that can be lit when we actually show it is amazing.   It is so easy (and fun) to do something for someone you love, it could be a quick handwritten note, a text, a single hand-picked flower, just something to let them know that at some point in that day you were thinking about them.

Today I decided to share just a few things that I love my fiancée.  This is the rare type of the love that I am so thankful to experience:

  • He loves our families and friends and even my psycho dog
  • If he is upset with me, he handles it in a respectful way. He never raises his voice at me.
  • His laugh – it is contagious
  • His smile can light up the darkest room
  • He takes care of things when I forget to do them
  • I never feel pressured, he knows when I’ve had enough and need to cool down and he just lets me
  • He puts me before him and genuinely cares about my well-being
  • He genuinely wants to make a difference in this world
  • He fought to be the person he is today, he’s never given up
  • His family is amazing, the most thoughtful people you could meet
  • He is always willing to help with anything
  • He gets along with my sister, which means the world to me
  • I feel the perfect mixture of independence and allowing someone to help in our relationship. I’ve never been treated like I am helpless or broken and I would never treat him that way either.
  • He listens when I am struggling and helps me through anything
  • He is always honest about his feelings
  • Randomly dancing with me in the house whenever a random song is on or just to no music at all
  • Letting me act like a complete fool and joins in on the fun!

Now, I am going to challenge you.  To celebrate the two amazing years we have had together, I would like for everyone to do something for someone they love and share it with us!  Send us a picture or a message of what you did to make someone you love know that you were thinking about them! When you find actual true love, you are the luckiest of them all!  Not everyone ever gets to experience this so embrace it, cherish it, and share it!  Be a positive model in a world full of people looking for love, maybe your story can show someone else that they deserve better or to love stronger!  Don’t consider this bragging about doing nice things, consider it inspiring the world to love a little stronger.

Please share what you did in the comments section on my blog so it can inspire others to do the same!

One of the first pictures of Kevin and I (2013).

One of the first pictures of Kevin and I (2013).

What would I say to you?

My post, 1,2,3,go, has received quite a bit of feedback which makes me so incredibly happy!  If I can share my story to help someone else not make the same mistakes, it makes what happened to me, worth it .  So here is my letter to someone living with emotional abuse.  It could be anyone:  your friend, sister, brother or even you,  This happens to people of all classes, education levels, ages, and genders.  The letter I have written below is not to anyone specifically.  It is just to someone who is being emotionally abused, whether they realize it or not.  Hopefully, if you don’t know it, this letter will open your eyes.  Many of us have been in situations where we watch a loved one in an abusive relationship but we are terrified to say anything.   I’ve written down everything that I would say, if I could, in that situation. Maybe if there is a person you are concerned about you can share this.  Hopefully, that person will read it and recognize themselves.

Dear You,

         I know you don’t think this is true but, you deserve better. You don’t think this is true because who are you to stay who deserves your love and who doesn’t?  Who would want to make that call?  After all, they need you.  They have said it a thousand times, they couldn’t imagine life with you.  You don’t want them to be sad or hurt, right? I understand.

      I have to ask you though… WHAT ABOUT YOU?  Aren’t you sad and hurt?  Don’t you deserve to be loved? Can’t you imagine your life feeling loved and relaxed?  Oh wait! You think you change him right?  If he loves you enough, he will change his ways.  That’s what you want to believe.  And that’s what he needs you to believe.

        Have you ever tried changing yourself?  Even changing something as simple as your diet, stop biting your nails, no cussing, etc?  IT IS REALLY HARD right?  Therefore, you must realize it is a million times harder to change another person.  It is actually impossible. Bottom line is, you cannot control their thoughts, actions, and you definitely cannot make decisions for them.  You cannot change this person.  They must want to change themselves.  Even if they want to change themselves, it takes time.  Just because they were nice to you for a day, week, or month, it does not mean that they changed.  What will happen when the finances are tight, or the baby cries late at night and you are both exhausted  Or what will happen when they just get tired of being nice?  Do you really want to live like this? Don’t fall for the tricks.  Sometimes they pretend to be nice to you, buy you things, and do other things to make you feel loved.  It won’t last long.  They are just doing these things to keep you hanging on.  Once they know they have you back, the abuse typically comes back. It is an endless cycle.  You don’t have to put up with this.  You can choose something better for yourself.

      I hate to tell you this because it hurts: this person cannot love you.  They may think they do, but they can’t.  They cannot love you because they do not treat you with respect.  You cannot love someone and not respect them. Love is not controlling someone.  Love is not being jealous.  None of these things are love.  Sure, you might think that if he is jealous it might mean that he just wants you to himself because he loves you.  But, the overwhelming odds are that he wants to control you.  You are considered property and he is protecting his property.  Jealously is not attractive or healthy. Have you heard the song, “Jealous” by Nick Jonas?  It has a catchy beat, it brings you in and gets stuck in your head.  When you listen to the lyrics you realize it is about control. No one should enjoy being jealous or want their partner to be jealous. I know exactly what it feels like when you worry about someone looking at you because your significant other might go after them or accuse you of something, it is not fun, exciting, or loving.   That song is the exact opposite of what a healthy relationship consists of.  Don’t choose that life for yourself, choose a life filled with love. 

     So, if that is not love, what is?  Love is accepting an imperfect person, perfectly.  No one is perfect, people make mistakes on a daily basis.  Those mistakes should not hurt you day after day.  Of course, your spouse might say something that will hurt your feelings; unfortunately we do treat the people we love the worst at times.  However, your significant other should never directly attack you for things that are beyond your control.  You shouldn’t live in fear of upsetting them by living your life.   No one should walk on egg shells and never be allowed to express themselves.  Love is letting someone be themselves.  If you are like me, you might think, well, he isn’t perfect but I am supposed to love him anyway, right? You are supposed to love an imperfect person,  Not true.  These things are beyond just an imperfect person: belittling someone, isolating them, screaming at them, lying, controlling, physical aggression, drug use, stealing, and abandoning them emotionally or physically. Someone who does these things to someone is not loving them.  If you are having an argument with your spouse about the finances and you both say something that maybe you shouldn’t have, that doesn’t mean that you should run and leave.  You both care about the finances because you want your family to be stable, you are arguing about it out of love.  Couples disagree; that is completely normal.  The line is when it starts making the other person feel unsafe, unwanted, and unloved. 

     Maybe you have thought about leaving but the ultimate line was thrown at you, “I will kill myself if you leave me.”  This is the cruelest line that someone who says they love you could possibly throw at you.  It unfair.  They know that they will get you to stay because you fear that they will actually do it.  Then if they did kill themselves, how would you live with that?  The overwhelming odds are that they will not injury themselves in the least bit.  All you have to do is type in “signs of emotional abuse” in Google and you will find list after list of signs.  Pretty much every list has “threats to kill themselves” on the list.  Abusers do this because it is the ultimate control.  You have to remember that someone who says they love you and means would NEVER do this to you.  Why would someone who truly loves you ever want you to feel the pain of their death?  That is just cruel.  The likelihood of the person actually killing themselves is basically zero.  They are just using it as a method of control, they value their own life far too much to end it.  However, they do not care how you feel.  They do not care that you are dying inside.  They just want that control.  You deserve better, so leave.  Let the pleas and threats come.  Call the police, if it would make you feel better and let them know that the person has threatened to kill themselves.  They will do visits to see if the person is mentally stable.  More than likely, they will be just fine.  You will see on Facebook in a week or so that they have moved on.  It will hurt seeing that.  You will be confused as to how they could move on so quickly if they loved you.  The painful truth is, they didn’t love you because they are not capable.  It isn’t your fault.  You couldn’t have seen it coming. It was just one of those “wrong place at the wrong time” situations.  But you can get out of it.  You can live the life you deserve.  

  If you think you are being emotionally abused, try Googling  signs of abuse.  Use it as a check-list.  If you are checking off multiple points you are in a situation that probably is not healthy.  A healthy relationship has its ups and downs.  However, the signs of abuse on most of these lists are beyond what most people experience in a healthy relationship. Write down how you are feeling at times.  Go back and look at your writings a week or so later.  Pretend what you are reading is someone else writing about their life. Are you happy for that person?  Is this the life you would want for your son or daughter?  If the answer is no, then well… you know what you should do.

    So, if you find that you are in fact being emotionally abused and you’ve had enough… and you’re ready to leave but you are just not sure how, listen up.  This will be the hardest day of your life but you are going to have to 1,2,3, GO it.  This is how I got through it.  I made it almost like a game.  I gave my ex a warning, that if I left, I would not be coming back.  He continued screaming at me.  I said in my head, 1,2,3, GO.  On the three, I literally forced myself to leave.  I almost had to make it like when you count to your kid and they don’t want to know what is going to happen after three.  I didn’t want to know what was going to happen after 3, so I escaped.  So do it.  Drive to a friend or family member’s house.  If you do not have anyone near by to count on, call CASA.  They will help you.  Just get out of there!  One thing I had to do when I left was to make sure I never saw his face again.  I knew he would still have some control of me.  I knew that if I saw his face, I would want to go back to him because I genuinely loved him.  I would highly recommend doing the same.  If you see them, you will feel things towards them and you would be more likely to go back whether you really want to or not.  You’ll find an excuse for them and a reason to give them another chance. They don’t deserve it. 

    Once you get out, you are going to be saying 1,2,3 go, A LOT. If you were married to him, you will deal with similar things to me since you have to file for divorce.  It’ll look like this… Get out of bed: 1,2,3 GO. Work: 1,2,3,GO.  Lawyers office: 1,2,3,GO.  Calling CASA for support: 1,2,3, GO.  Setting up counseling appointments: 1,2,3,GO, canceling life insurance and health insurance: 1,2,3,GO. Changing beneficiaries: 1,2,3,GO.  Telling friends and co-workers: 1,2,3,GO. Finding a home or going back to your home once they leave: 1,2,3, GO. Starting over: 1,2,3 GO. 

     You feel like you will be living off 1,2,3 Go’s for a long time.  But it is worth it.  You’ll survive and you will be better off. Take your time and enjoy your found freedom.  You can do whatever you want and answer to no one.  It is an amazing feeling.  No more worries, no more stress, no more feeling like nothing.  You are in control of your life from the day you left. You get to choose happiness.  You’ll find true love eventually and you will appreciate it so much more because of what you have been through.  For now, rely on your family and friends for support.  You might think you are but you’re not a burden to them.  They are not going to get tired of you talking about things as you work them out in your head.  It is harder than you could ever imagine for them to watch in you a bad situation.  They love and care about you more than you know.  They love you so much that they don’t say anything to you because sometimes that can cause an argument which causes people to not talk. They want you to have someone to be there for you if you do leave.  They are scared and sad for you, they know you deserve better. So rely on them to help you if you leave, they will be your biggest support system.  If you do not have local friends and family. I highly recommend contacting CASA, they will get you a support system and you will not feel alone! 

     Choose a life you would be proud of.

 I know 15-year-old me, would have hated the person I was when I was married.  I would have been so disappointed in myself for letting someone control me.  I know that my heart would have been broken if my daughter or son was living the life I lived.  I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.  Please choose the life that you deserve, would be proud of, and would want for your own children one day. 1,2,3 GO!

 With all my love and support,

ME 

How did I determine that I was being emotionally abused?  This didn’t just come to me one day.  It took counseling, talking with friends and family to realize what I was really dealing with.  It didn’t seem like abuse while I was living it, until I looked at it from the outside.

  • Going out with friends without him was not an option.
  • I was very nervous when I noticed I missed his call.
  • I freaked out when my phone was on silent and I didn’t realize it, I could have missed his call.
  • I was yelled at for things that were beyond my control.
  • I felt isolated.
  • I felt guilty all of the time and I didn’t even know why.
  • He threatened to kill himself if I left.
  • He started arguments with my family, ensuring that I stayed away from them, so it would keep the peace.
  • He checked my Facebook and questioned me about people.
  • He checked my text messages and questioned everything.
  • I could never mention another man whether it be a co-worker, friend, etc.
  • I was nervous when a man commented on my Facebook page.
  • I had to leave work right on time.  If I wasn’t home, when he expected, I was always questioned.
  • He would drive recklessly when he was mad at me, no care in the world for our safety.
  • I was left places when he was angry.
  • I felt nervous.ALL.THE.TIME!
  • Fear that the police would show up because the screaming was so loud (if the police are ever called, please take that as your sign to leave.  This doesn’t happen in healthy relationships).
  • I could never let him know that I was mad at him or that he hurt me.  Otherwise I was yelled at more.
  • He knew everything I was doing, throughout the day.  I couldn’t stop at a store on the way home from somewhere without him knowing.  I was always rushed to get home.
  • If we went out to dinner, bar, etc, I had to watch how dressed up I got, even if we were going together.  He always made me feel bad if I dressed up to go out.  I wasn’t able to dress up to make myself feel good.  Instead he always made me feel like I had other reasons for dressing up.
  • He followed me around the house.  I couldn’t even go upstairs without him asking what I was doing.  If I didn’t answer (because I got tired of always having to), he would follow me.
  • He hid his phone, if I came near, it he instantly took it.
Choose a life filled with happiness and love!

Choose a life filled with happiness and love!

The Story of Us

Ten years ago, in 2005, I met a man named Kevin.  We met when we were going to Community College. I was going to school for teaching and he was going for computers. We had a chance to be together at that time but we were always just friends.  It wasn’t because we didn’t enjoy being around each other or a lack of compatibility.  It was simply just what worked for us at the time.  We enjoyed being friends and we talked all the time through AIM or text , although I had to limit those since we had to pay for each one back then! Our conversations were always interesting and were compiled of the most random topics.  He really understood my sense of humor.  I could be myself from the beginning of our friendship. I was always considered the “quiet” (which I absolutely HATE being called, whether it is true or not) girl.  With Kevin it was different, I could say or do anything and he just rolled with it, no judgement, ever.  Although, I am sure some days he would love to see my quiet side!

One of the last times I remember seeing Kevin, was when he met me for dinner after work one night.  Kevin was working in Fairfax, so I did not see him much after he moved.  We stayed in touch through social media and text messages but those became far and few between as time went by.  Eventually, we both started dating other people.  Kevin and I checked in once in a while to see how the other was doing.

Kevin joined the Army after his job in Fairfax and I became a Teacher.  He was engaged to someone and I was getting ready to get married in a few months.  In 2012, Kevin deployed to Afghanistan.  On June 24, 2012 Kevin an IED forever impacted his life and all those who love him.  Kevin lost his right leg below the knee, pinky, and among other injuries, he suffered tremendous damage to his left leg..  On June 30, 2012 I got married.

After returning to the states and only a couple of days after my wedding, Kevin sent me a message on Facebook congradulating me on my marriage.  I remember thinking, he is absolutely insane for even caring that I got married after what he is going through! We stayed in touch once in a while through Facebook because he was posting regular updates about his recovery.  I was proud to know such a courageous person after watching the beginning of his recovery through his Facebook post.  He stood true to be the man I had met many years ago.

After just a few short months of marriage, I left my husband on November 10, 2012.  I suffered through months of emotional abuse and determined that the marriage was not able to be saved (more on that on a later blog).  I didn’t post much about it on Facebook so Kevin didn’t find out until Christmas when I wished him a Happy Birthday/Merry Christmas and checked in on his recovery. Yes, he is a Christmas baby!

We stayed in touch through Facebook and text messages for a while after Christmas. It was like no time had passed since the last time we talked.  We were always able to find something new to talk about.  At the end of January, I went to visit Kevin at Walter Reed.  I’ll never forget the first time I saw him again.  I was lost on the base (they way the number buildings does not make sense and I’m sticking to it!) and he was trying to help me find my way through the phone.  Eventually I made it into the correct building. As I was walking down a long hallway I came across an intersection.  As soon as I turned into the next hallway he was standing there.  The same Kevin I knew from many years ago.  Yeah sure, he was missing some body parts but he was the same fun loving guy who could give you the strongest hug in the world.  While I was visiting, Kevin was determined to get me hooked on the Walking Dead. We spent most of the time catching up and watching Walking Dead.  Needless to say, I got hooked..  I went home and binge watched the Walking Dead until I got caught up!  I also got my sister addicted to the show!

On March 23, 2013 I went to visit Kevin at Walter Reed again.  This time we went shopping for upcoming family birthday’s, lunch at Chili’s and then a movie. I still cannot remember of the name of the movie to this day!  Actually, let me tell you what I remember about the movies that day… there appeared to be a lack of oxygen in the theater and the heat was cranked up because my palms were sweaty!  Okay, maybe it was because I was so incredibly nervous that I couldn’t breathe!  Do you know that feeling you get when you just know something is about to happen and it is going to change your life? You know that one in the bottom of your gut that is just screaming for you to please listen? That was the feeling and it was overwhelming in the most beautiful way.  From the moment we sat down in the theater something was different.  I remember Kevin was messing around and kept grabbing at my hand (it was the best move he had… have to give him credit though, it worked).  Then one time he grabbed my hand and he didn’t let go.  I sat for the rest of the movie trying to breath quietly!  All I could hear was my own breathing and I thought for sure he could hear me breathing like a cow. After the movie was over, he kissed me.

Everything changed.

When I got into my car to leave Walter Reed the song “Begin Again” by Taylor Swift was on the radio.  This song could not possibly describe my situation more.  It was like I needed to hear it to confirm that I am where I need to be.  As soon as I could I sent a text to a few of my closest friends.  Their reply was… they knew this was going to happen!

I started visiting Kevin at Walter Reed as much as I could.  Over the summer he had surgeries so I was able to stay some of the time since I was off school.  Kevin was at Walter Reed for the first year and a half of dating.  Eventually he was able to come home to visit more. When he couldn’t I went down almost every weekend.  On January 27, 2015 he officially medically retired from the Army.  Now we live in a home that I had purchased before we were dating.  It is a two-story home that is not easily accessible for Kevin.  It is a nightmare of steps! We recently received amazing news from Homes For Our Troops.  They will be building us a home that will be modified to meet Kevin’s needs!  We are so excited to have that extra stress taken off our plate!  Kevin will have the amazing opportunity to live more independently again!

Kevin and I both hit some rough patches from the time we met until the time we reconnected.  Without a doubt we were brought back together for a reason.  I can honestly say I am marrying my best friend.  He knows me at my worst and at my best.  Kevin does not hold my flaws against me, instead he loves me through them all (and when I say “all” I mean millions!).  He knows my past and accepts it all, he just focuses on our future, that is what really matters. We are looking forward to new adventures with getting married (August 1, 2015), having a home built by Homes For Our Troops, and starting our own family.

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1,2,3 go

In honor of International Woman’s Day (which I’m embarrassed to say, never knew existed until now), I thought I would share the story of my previous marriage.  It is not an easy story to tell.  I spent a lot of time, after leaving my ex-husband, worrying and wondering what people would think of me.  I was married for a little more than four months before I left.  A lot of people have opinions about divorce, especially if you were only married for that short amount of time.  However, I have come to find that those opinions do not matter.  What matters is:  I survived and I moved on.  So, here is my story.

I met my ex, B, at a picnic with some friends, at a mutual friend’s home.  I do not remember a lot about that picnic.  I remember playing Guitar Hero with him and then he invited me to come see his friend’s band play the next night at Green Turtle.   My friends and I went to Green Turtle the next night and watched the band play.  We had a great time dancing the night away.

My friends and I became somewhat groupies to his friend’s band.  We went to several bars to watch them play over the next couple of months.  B and I started dating the summer of 2009.  The first 6 months were great.  However, he would do things like say “let’s go out on Friday for dinner and a movie”.  Friday would come and he would say, “let’s just stay in and watch a movie at one of our parents’ house.”  I didn’t really catch on then but realize now that he was consistently running out of money.

My first birthday with him was when I was turning 22.  We went to a bar and got a hotel room with some friends.  We all had a great time dancing and drinking.  When the night came to an end, we were going to walk back to the hotel room. Something happened that night, I never found out really what, that caused him to leave me at the bar alone.  He apparently walked back to the hotel room alone.  Abandoned, I was forced to walk back to the hotel room alone, Because I  had several drinks, I wasn’t in the best shape.  So I walked on Dual Highway (a main road going through our town) to the hotel, praying the police would not see me.   When I made it to the hotel, he was walking out of the hotel with his car keys.  He was going to leave.  I had no idea why; everything that night had been great,  I didn’t understand why he would want to leave me.  He got into his car while I begged him not to leave.  I remember him punching his steering wheel over and over again.  I had no idea what was going on.  Eventually he came into the hotel again.  Later, he told me he had found out a friend had died and he was very upset.  Funny thing was,  I never heard about that friend again.  I remember feeling bad for him because I thought his friend really had died.  Looking back, I don’t think that was really the case.

I didn’t know at the time but this was just the beginning of these episodes.

Things stayed pretty calm for a while. We got engaged in 2010 at the beach.  I was a very excited new bride to be.   We had some great times together.  They were often followed by times of extreme heartbreak for me.  Something would change in him.  He would yell and scream at me and I was always left confused as to why.  He would always have an excuse afterwards about a friend dying, his aunt being sick, thinking about the car accident and his friend, etc.  I always felt bad.

He got me to feel bad for him so he was able to do whatever he wanted to me, until the time I finally left.

From what I was told (by him)  his family didn’t care about him.  He also said he was a mess because of a car accident he had been in with friends, when he was just a young teen.  He had been severely injured  and spent a lot of time recovering.  That same accident left his friend a completely different person.  I had no other sources to tell me anything different, so I thought I could help him.

There was my biggest mistake.  I thought I could help.

After we were engaged, he would often start a fight with me.  Those who know me, know that I do not yell and scream and I never did to him either.  I just sat back and took it.  It usually resulted in me crying and trying to make things right even though I didn’t really understand what I was doing wrong.

One time we went on a family vacation with my family.  My sister and I were engaged and we thought it would be nice to take some pictures of us and our fiancée’s on the beach.  I remember B being unbearably upset with me because the shorts he wanted to wear were still damp even though they had been in the dryer.  No other shorts would do.  I took my hair dryer and dried the shorts he insisted upon having.  When we went to take pictures on the beach, he refused to smile in any pictures.  I begged him to just smile.  Instead, he left.  He went back to the house and packed all of his bags.  He sat in front of the house (in OBX) waiting for someone to pick him up.  I remember my sister trying to figure out what was going on.  He yelled at her and it broke my heart but I wasn’t strong enough to deal with it.   I felt like a horrible person, how could I be with someone who would be yelling at my sister?  Needless to say, he calmed down, came up with excuses.  We moved on like nothing happened.   But, I still felt bad.

The next layer.

“You’re better off without me; the world is better off without me.”   The threats to kill himself started.  He would often start a fight with me and then leave just make it hurt me a little more .  He called and told me he was going to drive his car into a tree as fast as he could.  I was terrified.  I begged and begged for him to stop.  I said whatever I thought I needed to say to make him stop.  I threatened to call the police and his Mom.  I didn’t know what to do.  Eventually he calmed down, came up with excuses, and we moved on like nothing happened.  I still felt bad.

We continued on our path through good and bad times.  On June 30, 2012, we got married.  The night before and during our wedding, we were happy and excited.  That feeling didn’t last.  I was left embarrassed during most of the reception because any time we needed him for something he was outside.  I remember standing in the middle of the dance floor alone while people went to look for him for our first dance.  I wanted to run and hide, but I couldn’t.  I let it go because saying anything to him would have ruined the night for everyone.  Much later, I found out that he had taken gift cards and actual gifts from the wedding and sold them, most likely for drugs.

After our wedding, we went home to the house I bought a month before.  We had a great week together before we left on our honeymoon.

Our honeymoon was in the Smokey Mountains.  It was awful.  It appeared to be the last place in the world he wanted to be.  I had to make all the meals, clean all the dishes, all with a smile on face to keep the peace. One day, I sent him to the grocery store for dyer sheets because we forgot them.  When he got back, I checked the credit card balance for the week and saw a purchase of $46.00 at the grocery store.  He only came back with dryer sheets so that should not cost that much!  I asked if he bought something else or got cash back.  He said no, but then said the cashier hit the buttons on the credit card machine so he didn’t know what happened.  I called my credit card company and they recommended that I go to the grocery store to ask.  So the both of us drove to the grocery store and explained the situation.  They pulled up the video and it showed him hitting the buttons on the credit card machine and getting $40.00 cash back.  He said that he must have forgotten he got that.  Then he proceed to walk around the parking lot, looking for the money he thought he dropped.  I said nothing because I knew what would happen if I questioned him and I was stuck 10 hours away from home.  I was so embarrassed at the store, I wanted to disappear.

On our last day there, we found a puppy that we really wanted ,so we got her.  We named her Dixie.  After we purchased her, we went to Walmart so I could get some things for her.  He stayed in the car with her.  I later found out through an old friend, that several time he bragged to, that he walked around the parking lot begging for money, pot, and drugs,  while I was in Walmart. I had no idea.  When I came out of Walmart, he was sitting in the car with Dixie.  However, something was very wrong when I got in the car, he said he wanted to go home.   We were going home the next day and I really didn’t want to leave early.  I wanted to enjoy our last night there, in the cabin.  He screamed at me as we drove back to the cabin saying that I was horrible person because he wanted to go home and I didn’t.  I just cried and held Dixie and tried to protect her ears from the screaming the whole way back to the cabin. He drove recklessly to scare me even more.  When we got back to the cabin I packed everything.  We left and drove the 10 hours home starting at 4PM.  It was exhausting.  We couldn’t stop at a hotel, because he wanted to go home, so we drove through the night.

We came home and lived the “married” life for a while.  From the time we got married, to the time I left, I can remember probably 6 times that he packed his bags to leave.  Sometimes, it was just over me wanting to go to a friend’s birthday party; other times, it was when I confronted him about missing money. Then there were the times, that to this day I still have no idea why he packed his bags and left.  He hated when I did anything with my friends.  I was often accused of cheating on him.  When I was out with my friends, I always kept my phone close.  If I noticed he called and I missed it, it was instant panic.  I knew I would be accused of something and I didn’t want to feel like a bad person when I knew I wasn’t doing anything wrong.  The craziest part of it all was, I started believing that I was a bad person. In my heart I knew I wasn’t doing the things I was accused of but the mind games were in full play.  If someone looked at me for a second, I was terrified that they would get decked in the face by him. I got in between many arguments he had with others.  It was terrifying and humiliating all at the same time.   I eventually stopped wanting to go anywhere or do anything.  It was just easier that way.

One time my parents came over to confront him because money had been going missing from their bedroom.  Even worse, in my parents’ view, he went into my parents’ 80 year old neighbors’ house and when he left money was missing from them too. I was humiliated.  Not only was he obviously stealing from my parents, he was stealing from an 80 year old woman who was basically my 2nd Grandmother growing up.  It was this thief that drove my parents to confront him.  When my parents told him why they were there, he packed his bags and left.  He said he was going to live in his car or maybe not live at all.  I begged and begged for him to come work it out.  Eventually he came home but he was angry with me for days.  I started avoiding going to my parents house because I was mortified. I didn’t know what to do. I knew I didn’t want not be with someone who would do these things but I married him; what do I do?

I never understood why, but I could tell he hated me.  When he was angry, he was nowhere near the person I thought I fell in love with.  The time between our happy times and bad times were becoming closer and closer until there appeared to be very little things to be happy about.  He would often fall asleep on the couch.  I would try to wake him up and ask him to come to bed but he would never wake up.  I would talk to him, shake him, and nothing.  I always thought he was faking because he didn’t want to be near me. I started to get scared.  It seemed like everything I did was bothering him and causing him tremendous anger.  If he did wake up on the couch, he would be a completely different person, a scary person.  I remember often laying in bed facing the door and trying to stay awake because I was afraid he would come in the room, see me sleeping and breathing, and want to end my life, since my presence made his life difficult.  I was terrified that would wake up with a pillow over my face and that would be it.  I was exhausted.  My doctor had put me on a high dose of anxiety medication; my blood pressure was up, and I had stomach ulcers.  It was taking its toll.

I remember thinking I was insane.  HE NEVER HIT ME, why would I think he would kill me?  I remember just wishing he would punch me in the face, push me down the stairs, anything to tell me that I was right to leave.  I thought I wasn’t justified to leave.  I didn’t understand emotional abuse, I didn’t have bruises, so I must be okay.  I wasn’t okay, my body was physically falling apart, I was losing myself.

The big bang.

The house I had purchased before I got married was built in the 1950’s.  I don’t think it had been updated since then.  His Dad helped us do a lot of updates around the house.  One night, we were at his parents garage painting the cabinet doors.  Everything was fine, we were listening to music and working.  He was sanding and I was painting.  Randomly, he decided that the doors did not need sanded and we could just paint them instead.  I spoke up and said that I thought we should still sand them so that we did not have to repaint these for a long time.  I offered to do both jobs if he needed break.

Hell broke loose.

The screaming started.  I was belittled into nothing because I wanted to do the job the correct way.  He threw some of the stuff in the garage and then he got in his car and drove away, again.  I called him probably 100 times.  He wouldn’t answer.  I remember running into his parents house and cutting off his credit card because I had a very bad feeling about what he was going to do.  Several times, he wrote checks out of my personal bank account, foraging my name.  These checks were for hundreds of dollars that we could not afford, He would take out cash advances on our credit cards, which made it harder than ever to stay afloat.

I went back to the garage to sand and paint the rest of the cabinets.  I figured he would be back; he’d have an excuse, and we would pretend that nothing happened.  Hours went by before I ever heard from him again.  I went back to the house and asked his brother to take me home.  His brother contacted him and he answered.  He came back and I was stupid enough to get in the car again.  I thought it would be like any other time; he would have his excuse and we would pretend it never happened.  This time he stayed even angrier, even longer.

When we got home, he said he was going to stay up.  I was exhausted; so I went to bed.  I got up in the middle of the night and I tried to wake him up to get him to come to bed.  He wouldn’t get up.  So I went back to bed, alone.  That morning when I woke up I was going to help one of my best friends with her daughter’s birthday.   I got up and got ready to go.  He was supposed to go pick a refrigerator for our house.  I asked if he was still going to pick up the fridge.  He wouldn’t answer me.  I was trying not to ask him several times but I needed to know because someone was supposed to meet him there to get it.  Finally, he stood up off the couch, screamed at me and said he wasn’t going to do anything.  I walked away for a minute.  I came back with the money for the fridge and he continued yelling that he wouldn’t do anything for me, etc.  I put the money by the couch.  The yelling got louder, the insults were stronger, and I got tired of it.

I yelled back.

I don’t yell!  I do not participate in arguments like this.  This was not me.  His yelling increase and he went to our room to pack his bags.  I told him, “come talk to me like human or I am leaving.”  He refused to come down and talk to me.  Instead he continued packing his bags and screaming at me.

On Saturday November 10, 2012, I left.

I grabbed Dixie and I got in my car.  I had absolutely nothing with me other than Dixie.  I knew I needed to go home to my parents, I was terrified.  I didn’t want them to worry about me.   I also knew if I was going to admit what was going on that I wouldn’t be able to go back to him.  It was over if I left.

I drove to my parents.  I grabbed Dixie out of the car and ran into my parents house.  I had assumed he would be following me.  I will never forget the look on my parents face when they saw my face.  I remember simply stating, “I cannot do this anymore” and then I broke down.  My heart broke even more knowing that I was breaking theirs.  I told my parents some of what was happening, but not everything, I wasn’t ready for that yet.

I needed to be at my friend’s house to help her get ready for her daughter’s birthday party.  I got myself together as much as I could and I went to her house.  I told her what was going on but I wasn’t admitting that it was over.  I still wanted to give him a chance, you know the chance to apologize, give me an excuse, and move on like nothing happened.  My phone rang all day that day.  He left voicemail after voicemail threatening and screaming at me.  I refused to talk to him until he stopped talking to me like that.  I sent him a message that I would talk to him when he calmed down but not any sooner.

After I helped my friend get things ready for the party, I went back to my parents house.  B was still leaving voicemails of him screaming at me.  I decided it would be best to stay at my parents house.  I stayed with my sister in her room.  It was rough.  At some point I must have fallen asleep because I remember waking up very early in morning to my phone ringing.  As my phone was ringing I heard a car flying down my parents road.  then it stopped and pointed its headlights directly into my sisters bedroom (you’d have to position your car just right for this to even happen).  That was probably one of the most terrifying moments in my life.   I knew he knew what room I was in and my sister was with me.  Did I just put my family at risk by being there?  He drove away after screaming new voicemails for me.

Another night went by and he continued with the awful messages.  On Monday I went to work.  I had to tell my boss what had happened because I was afraid he was going to show up there.  I had to give a picture of him so they knew if it was him. Talk about humiliating…

One night he came to my parents house and told me to come outside and get in the car to talk to him.  I told him I would talk to him but it had to be on my parents front porch.  He refused.  I’ll never forget it.  I was sitting on my sister’s bed trying to decide if I wanted to give in.  My family was doing a great job a letting me make my own decisions about whether to go back to him or not.  I sat there on my hands begging myself in my head to not go back to him.  I begged myself over and over.  But my stupid heart, it was broken and it wanted to give him a chance again.  However, something held me down.  It would not even let me stand up.  I just sat there in the worst possible pain you could imagine.  But I stayed in the bed, I didn’t go outside, I didn’t give in.

The next day I started sharing more and more with my best friends and family.  By the time I left work that day I determined that I did not want to back to him, I wanted a divorce.  I told him it was over, he needed to pack his bags and leave the house.  Again, I was told what a horrible person was but I stood my ground.  The things he had done to me were brought to light and I had a new-found strength.

I stayed at my parents house for about 2 weeks.  Every morning I got up for work by saying in my head, 1,2,3, go.  I had to literally make myself get up on the 3.  Otherwise, I knew I would stop functioning.  I still had a job to do and I needed to rebuild my life.

B continued to call at times, send Facebook messages, etc.  He even sent me flowers to work one time, which he had never done before.  I was so angry at him for that.  Work was my safe haven at the time and tried to take that from me by making me break down at work.  His messages were sometimes begging me to come back to him.  Sometimes the messages were him asking for money, pillows, and all kinds of crazy things.  I continued with my motto of 1,2,3 go.  It got me through a lot.

After 2 weeks I went home.  My family helped me redo my house so it felt more like a fresh start.  My now brother-in-law moved in with me so I felt somewhat safe.  I slept with a knife under my bed for a long time.  I was always worried that he would come back.  My door had the hotel latch on it to help me feel a little more safe.  He took that from me.  I did not get to feel safe anymore.  It took very long time to feel any sort of safety again.

November 19th, my birthday, I met with a lawyer to discuss my rights and filing for divorce.

Since I had not had the crap beat out of me to the point of being near death I had to wait a year until I could file for divorce.  I was told that even women who were beaten to the point of death sometimes still have to wait a full year in Maryland.  This did not help me feel any better since I was already struggling with the title of emotionally abused,  I still wasn’t sure if I was considered “abused”. I called CASA to get some information about lawyers.  They were very friendly and helpful.  They offered free lawyer services after my one year wait was up.  I decided to hire my own lawyer since I had the means to do so and save the money for someone else who needed it.  I highly recommend calling them whether dealing with physical or emotional abuse.  I remember dialing their number and thinking, ” I cannot believe this is my life” but I am thankful I did.  I started seeing a counselor who helped work through everything and determine that I was emotionally abused and that it was in no way my fault.

As time went by I found out more and more about him.  I could not believe I was married to someone who was living a completely different life behind the scenes.   He has been with other woman and some of them asked me to make him leave them alone now.  I didn’t get those messages until after I left him because they were in a different folder.

I was stuck for a year with his last name and dealing with him.  He would randomly contact me with some sad story but I never answered.  I only contacted him through e-mail or text messages so everything was in writing and it was always related to the divorce.  He refused to sign separation papers for several months.  Our divorce was put off by almost 8 months because he refused to sign those too.   I could not find him to serve papers to him because he was constantly moving all over the place.   It took 1 year and 8 months to get divorced.  I was forced to be married to a man who caused me extreme distress for 1 year and 8 months more than I should have been.  It was emotionally draining.

I was finally divorced and I immediately changed my name.  I was finally free.  I should have never married him, I know that.  I wish I wouldn’t have.  I don’t think I would be where I am now without going through difficult times.  I’m happy to share my story with people to give them hope that you can recover from the most difficult and heart-breaking situations.  It gives me a reason for going through everything that I have.  I hope no one ever thinks they are alone in these fights.  I know without my support system I probably would have ended up back with him.  If you ever find yourself in similar situations reach out to CASA, your friends, and family.  They will help you find the strength you never knew you had.Never worry about what other people might think about you.  Those people should be more concerned with judging the person causing the abuse.

If you ever are left with the option of losing someone you love or losing yourself, never choose to lose yourself!  Whenever you find yourself struggling remember to 1,2,3 go.  Don’t ever give in.

Songs that helped me find some strength:

The Last Time – Taylor Swift

Almost Do – Taylor Swift

Roar – Katy Perry

It is a beautiful world, don't waste your time here on people who treat you poorly!

It is a beautiful world, don’t waste your time here on people who treat you poorly!

The beginnings of Turbulent Sunshine

I cannot even begin to tell  you how many weeks it took me to choose the blog name, Turbulent Sunshine.  I knew what I wanted to write about for a long time, but I could not think of a name that would encompass everything.  After several list of ideas, hours of looking at different word combinations online, and consulting with family members I chose Turbulent Sunshine.  The definition of Turbulent is characterized by conflict, disorder, or confusion; not controlled or calm.  This is my life.  There is always some type of conflict, whether with myself fighting Anxiety or other stresses in life.  Just because there is chaos, it does not mean that life is necessarily negative, which is why I chose Sunshine as my second word. The definition of sunshine (other than obvious sun shine) is cheerful or happiness.  Everything that I have been through has challenged me and made me grow.  With every heart breaking moment, I have found happiness in times to follow.  In an airplane you feel turbulence, and if you are like me you are convinced you are going to die, but you don’t.  You survive, you move on with your life when you get off the plane, and usually you find happiness, whether it be in the arms of a loved one or an amazing vacation.   This is the story of my life.  Just when I think I cannot take another second, I find a reason, a purpose, and there has always been happiness after each storm.

Please understand that this is my first time writing a blog.   I plan to write about my experiences, recipes, and anything else that comes to mind. My hope is that by sharing my stories I can give someone else hope despite life’s turbulent storms, there will be sunshine; there will be happiness.

I hope you enjoy!

There is sunshine with every storm.

There is sunshine with every storm.