Posted by: JennyRain | March 19, 2010

Meet with Me: Surviving an Abusive Marriage: Part 3

Today continues the three-part series on Surviving an Abusive marriage…

(part 1part 2, and part 3, epilogue)

Slurp

I glanced down at my wet palm just in time to see the lab-like dog target my appendage for a second go-round and jerk me back into the present.

Dog.

It must be the leftover salt from the combos I ate on the bus ride that made my skin so appealing to the pup.

Slurp…round three.

In between licks he watched me with his doughy eyes and wagged his body. His frenetic tail seemed to have a rippling effect that traveled through his entire body in joyous convulsions. Pepe the dog seemed only to take to me during the trip, or perhaps it was the hope of leftover combos to be discovered between my fingers.


Alex!

Thoughts of the yellow lab that came with the husband  flooded my memory. I had spent more time yelling at that dog than at him.

Alex, named surprisingly after a beer commercial was perpetually into something.

God I hated that dog.

My first married Christmas was particularly memorable as my piercing shriek of horror awoke the entire neighborhood. I had just discovered our Christmas tree toppled and our precious childhood ornaments strewn from one end of the living room to the corners of the hallway. The gingerbread man I had made in kindergarten had been chewed in two and the guilty party was soon confirmed as Alex was discovered still munching in the corner with the missing boot and scarf caught on the edge of his back tooth.

Though the holiday season started off rocky, it was the last Christmas I could remember being happy in a long time.

He liked to begin the festivities as close to Thanksgiving as possible, and insisted on decorating everything from the stair rails to the dog. His enthusiasm for the season was infectious and almost made me forget the years of simply enduring the holidays as a single woman with my forever-coupled family.

Slurp!

Pepe the dog struck again, just in time to draw my attention to the team organizing for a meeting.

“So to recap, four mornings at the building site, with our afternoons doing outreach in the community, and then we’ll leave for our R&R in Quito on Friday. Sound like a plan team?” Guy asked.

Was that a rhetorical question?

For two days we worked beside the nationals on Pedro and Rosa’s facility. Building tasks were completed, not with speed because of the scarcity of modern tools to be found, but with great care and precision.

“It’s not about efficiency,” my teammate Daryl reminded her as I impatiently waited for an Ecuadorian national to wheel the load of dirt he carried up the narrow, 2×4 makeshift incline the team had created to make dirt-loading easier. I was waiting behind him, straining impatiently under the weight of the wheelbarrow’s load. Daryl’s comment derailed my efforts and I set the wheelbarrow gently down to survey the scene.

It was not readily apparent who was ministering to whom and I soon became confused at the purpose of my journey.

I found myself unable to take photos of the worksite, suddenly ashamed that I was bleeding with more need than the people we came to serve.

My camera remained buried at the bottom of my knapsack for most of the trip, mocking me.

Healing tears

“I feel like crying,” I told Daryl and Kari in the truck on the way home from the work site one day.

It would be the first time I would cry since he left.

Almost a full-year and still no water-works. Was something wrong with me?

“Then cry,” Daryl said gently, so I did.

I cried over the choices that the women in Ecuador had made, and I cried over the fact that many of them had no choices. I cried over the fact that they were trapped in loveless, alcoholic, and often unfaithful marriages. I cried because that was my story too.

I cried because years later, I remained buried in the emotional wreckage of a series of bad decisions.

If I was not educated, if I had been of lower-class status, if I had no support system maybe my situation would have been more tenable.

But I had been blessed with education, opportunity, wealth, and yet my life had written the exact same story as my Ecuadorian sisters.

We were the same. We were all the same.

Photo Memories

“I’m ready to throw that wedding album out mom,” I said one day. Angry at the fact that two-and-a-half years later, I still could not shake the perpetual memories from my existence.

“Don’t you want to save it? It is an important season in your life. You may want to show it to your kids one day,” my mom said, “To share with them who you are.”

I sat gaped-mouth staring at my mom.

I knew she meant well, but save an entire photo album representing the biggest failure in my life? Mooo-oommm

Maybe I could save it as a demonstration when I was teaching young women, “Ladies, look here,” I could say, “This here is a LOUSE. L-O-U-S-E, louse. A louse looks like this. Don’t marry one.”

Yep. A teaching demonstration.

Early 2005 I chucked the photo-album in a garbage bin and never looked back. Gave my $3,500 wedding dress and my $500 veil to my downstairs neighbor. I loved her. She was always cooking Vietnamese food for me and reaching out when I tried to isolate myself from everyone.

“Ohhhh,” she said as I handed her the dress and veil, “You give to me? To me? Ohhhh. I know just person who need dress. I give to dem. Dey love it. Ooooo. So pretty. Tankyou. Ooooohhhh….”

It was liberating.

Mom eventually understood too I think when she noticed former wedding things started disappearing from their attic – never to be seen again.

Yet even with the physical memories gone, the stains still remained in my heart.

Sometimes I still wonder … are there stains we carry that even heaven cannot scrub out?

The memory of the women of Ecuador still lingers in my mind.

I wonder if I was sent to help them, or if God planted me there so I could see that I was the one who needed help.

Our similarities were not a coincidence.

God was not suprised by them either. I am so grateful for that trip.

The women of Ecuador stand as a remembrance to me that the fight is not yet over, in my heart, and in the world, against abuse and injustice.

I could not close this story without offering resources to those of you who are, or who may know someone suffering from the pain of Domestic Violence.

The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence: http://www.nrcdv.org

National Coalition against Domestic Violence: http://www.ncadv.org/

Help for Victims of Domestic Violence/ Office of Crime and Prevention: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/help/dv.htm

National Hotlines:

If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) available 24 hours a day/7 days a week.

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) available 24/7 for the nearest rape crisis center.

National Stalking Resource Center: 1-800-FYI-CALL (1-800-394-2255) M-F 8:30 AM – 8:30 PM EST or email gethelp@ncvc.org.

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474 (1-866-331-8453 TTY) available 24/7 or connect with a trained Peer Advocate online at www.loveisrespect.org from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily (CST).

Thank you for taking this journey with me this week. For those of you who have come alongside of me to encourage and inspire as I shared my story…

They overcame him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony (Rev 12:11)

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Responses

  1. An amazing story, you are an inspiration to many people with your testimony. Keep doing His work. God Bless
    Jim
    http://blesseddad.wordpress.com/

  2. Thank you again for sharing your story.

    • thanks for reading 🙂 and encouraging too 🙂 makes sharing our stories easier, yes?

  3. […] Many of you have been reading my saga of surviving an abusive marriage (part 1, part 2, and part 3). […]

  4. […] with Me: Surviving an Abusive Marriage: Part 2 Click here to read (part 1, part 2, part 3, […]

  5. […] Meet with Me: Surviving an Abusive Marriage: Part 3 « Rainmakers and Stormchasers on March 19, 2010 at 11:33 […]

  6. […] Story: part 1, part 2, part 3, […]

  7. I came to your blog through Melanie’s blog today. And although I am not married, I find that reading about what a God-ordained marriage should be is preparing me for the husband God has for me! Thank you for your very candid “story” and just like those that inspired you to tell your story, you inspire me to tell mine, which I will do in full one day. Thank you and may God bless you beyond your comprehension!

    • Tonya,

      Yay God and Yay you!! So excited that these posts resonated, and so thankful God is using them to encourage your heart. Do tell your story… it is not only liberating, but it honors and blesses He whom all stories flow from. As we women come together and share… others find the courage to share… who give others the courage… and others… and on and on… and GOD gets the glory… may God speak into and through your heart as you discern the time and way to share your story!

  8. i wonder what i will do with all that stuff when i get back to africa. i know returning to my home will unearth all new layers of grief and processing. for lots of reasons. (my friend, the other woman, worked for us. she lived on our base. so there will be reminders of both of them everywhere.) on top of all that, is the wedding ring (pawn shop?), gown, album, etc. right now, i don’t let myself think about it long enough to make a decision. i know i’ll need to someday. but not yet.

    i can’t believe you didn’t shed a tear for so long. when the tears finally came, was it like a dam broke?

    i see such strength and vitality in you. i really do.

    (and i gotta say: i LOVE that picture of the dog. makes me all chuckles.)

    • that is part of why i left DC and moved to GA for 5 years… i just needed a location change because i had lock-jawed onto past reminders like a pit bull. by the time i moved back up here – i started seeing the same places, the same things, but i had been transformed so radically in those 5 years in GA, they didn’t have an impact. i saw them with new eyes.

      when i cried, it was not much, which was even sadder. little bits here and there.

      years later, when i got into my “near miss” relationship… when we broke up, THAT is when the real water-works happened… i found myself sucking air on the floor, snot-nose crying saying “why didn’t i get out, why didn’t i get out,” and i caught myself… “wait… this was not a marriage, it was only a 9 month relationship… what is happening?”

      so i stopped to pray… God used THAT relationship to push me through the final stages of the grief process. i cried for two days (almost 7 years later) and never looked back. my dad thinks i got stuck at one stage of the grief process for a few years and couldn’t get unstuck….i think he was right. hence… no tears…

      now when i find myself grieving over anything i ask God “please allow me to FULLY grieve this loss so that i don’t get stuck…” it has helped tremendously.

      i don’t know if any of that helps … i found that once i started dating again… it helped me move through some emotions… it was hard… but it was important…

      🙂 you will make it. and you will find the Grace you need for just the step you are on… and one day, when you are sharing your story with young African women… God will remind you how far you have come… and how much your story is now helping others… i hope, even now, you can start to see some of that 🙂

      🙂 **hugs**

      • i’m with you! i don’t want to get stuck either! lately i keep wondering why i haven’t gotten angry over any of this… i don’t know if that means i skipped that phase entirely or what? hmmm….


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