Not abnormal in most families, but a year ago, I rarely heard those words slip out of my daughters’ mouth. In this moment,, though my mind was racing with the stress of the other responsibilities I had, I pushed them out of my mind, blinked back the bitter sweet tears, kissed her cheek and turned on another cartoon to watch as she snuggled in my lap.
See I am going through a divorce, my second, to be accurate. This time I am getting out of a very abusive four year relationship. A year ago I was a broken person. I moved to Fort Wayne Indiana with my parents when my husband went to prison for soliciting drugs. In Missouri we were living in a homeless shelter, and I was just a hollow shell of what looked like a woman. I laughed and smiled at the appropriate times, but they were just empty movements, just what I knew was acceptable. Most nights I cried myself to sleep. I thought this was because I missed my husband, because I had no idea how long he would be gone, but looking back now I cried because I missed myself.
For a few months I focused solely on getting him out of prison. I spent hours on the phone with disrespectful lawyers and rude secretaries, all of them telling me the same thing, “Get out!”. It wasn’t until I was belittled on the phone, first by a prosecuting attorney, then my husband, that I realized I was fighting a losing battle. You see from behind bars the only way he could hurt me was by cutting me down. For weeks I had been “amazing”, “the best wife anyone could ask for”, but sudeenly, because one court refused to work with his prison stint, I was unable to do anything right. “How could you think anyone could ever want you but me” was his response when I told him I was leaving two days later. His exact wording, I believe was, “fat nasty whore”, before I hung the phone up on him for the last time.
Again I cried myself to sleep. When I woke up the next morning, my dad dragged me into the bathroom and forced me to look at myself. There I stood, staring at my reflection, not recognizing the person looking back. I wasn’t sure how long I had gone without a shower, the last time I had applied my make-up or the last time I had even brushed my hair. I hated who I had become, I hated him for making me this robot, doing only what was necessary to make sure my kids were fed and taken care of, but most of all, I hated myself for allowing him to bring me down so much.
Flash forward to a year later. I have found myself again. I look in the mirror and I am slowly loving who I see. I smile because I’m happy, I laugh because I find it funny, and the woman staring back at me is human again. For four years I let a man tell me I was nothing, that I could be nothing, and I believed it. But that is not true. I am a mother, I am a friend, I am a daughter, and I am a woman. I have learned to never to depend on someone to make you who you are, not to allow someone to have control of your self-worth. As women we are, by nature beautiful and strong, smart and ambitious. I’m seeing my life with fresh eyes and I am seeing all the beautiful things I have missed, or pushed away all because I thought I needed something that was bad for me. I’m not saying that every day is easy, I have days where I want to do nothing but cry, nights where I DO nothing but cry, but each day I wake up I am thankful I got myself away from what was bringing me down , from something that would have ended up killing me. I look at my girls and I never want to see them as hurt as I was and I try everyday to make sure they have more than what I was giving them in the past and I am loving every minute of it. I do not need a man to make my life complete and worth living. I will never again allow another person to make me feel like they are my reason for living, because my value comes from who I actual am, not from who someone says I have to be.