My refusal to go into extreme detail about the abuse I endured is intentional. For starters, I do not want to trigger any reader that may not be healed, that may suffer as I do with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but does not have coping skills in place. Next, I am writing a book, a story about my life, which will one day be a Lifetime movie. Aren’t most of the Lifetime movies filmed or set in Washington State, anyway? And you know that’s where I am from, right? And, last but not least, I want to highlight my growth and healing process since leaving my marriage. I want to spread hope and encouragement, and help others along their journey to wholeness.
I will, however, share with you the straw that broke the camel’s back, if you will. If you are not familiar with that saying, I will break it down for you. It means that the camel, in this situation the camel is me, carried weight for a long time and a lot of it. But then, one day, it wasn’t the 200 pound load that broke the camel, , it wasn’t the trip to the Emergency room to get stitches in my head that broke me from him, , it wasn’t the dessert heat and exhaustion for the camel, or isolation and manipulation for me. It was a threat of more violence on a Sunday morning that did it. I was working for a network marketing company at the time, and really focused hard on building my business. That particular morning I had gotten up extra early to work. I wanted to get in two hours of work before church. Judge yourself, not me. And I had my notebooks, folders, and other materials spread out on the bed. I got up to go to the restroom and when I came back, my ex-husband had cleared my things off the bed and made our bed up. Let me give you a little back story here. I suffered verbal, emotional, and physical abuse at the hands of that man for not making the bed up on his time, more times than I can remember. On top of any other petty things he chose to talk down to me about, he was militant in his bed making. Yes, I married a man in the Navy, but the bed making obsessiveness and using that as a form of abuse, was not normal. Sometimes, if I did not make the bed up before I showered, I heard about it all day. If I made the bed up too soon and he was not done laying under the covers, I heard about it all day. It was as if he changed every day, so what he said he wanted one day, if done the next, was blasphemy.
So, this Sunday morning, after coming back form the restroom and noticing all my work things gone and the bed made, I asked him where he put my things. He said he did not know what I was talking about. After asking him again and mentioning the fact that they were there before I went to the restroom and now are suddenly gone, he says to me that I am calling him a liar and he will,…” throw this coffee in your face.” I paused for what seemed like a whole minute, but was probably only a few seconds, proceeded to put a pair of shoes on, grabbed my phone, my car keys, and my purse, and I left. My sons were still asleep at this time and I had no idea where I was going or what I was going to do, I just felt the strongest need to leave right then and there, so I did.. Would I leave him for a few hours or days, and then go back, like all the times before? Would I find a way to fly back home to Washington state, for however long, and then eventually go back to him, like several times before? I had no clue. But, I got in my car and started driving down the few familiar streets I knew at this time, having only lived in Washington DC for a few months. As I was driving down a somewhat busy street in my neighborhood, crying and trying to figure out what I was going to do, I remembered a lady, Miss Kim, that I had met in church and had become quite close with. She had witnessed my ex-husband’s abuse at church many times. Lots of people had, and some of the deacons and ladies began praying for my ex-husband all the time. It got to a point where they just started encouraging me to leave him. I called Miss Kim, told her what just happened. She told me where she was and to come pick her up. She took me to several shelters and when we found one with room for my sons and I, we went back to my house, got my son’s and left. That was the broken camel’s back. The threat of the hot coffee being thrown in my face for questioning the obvious. Another sick twisted way he would start an argument and keep it going LITERALLY all day and night, until it was time to lie down.
I never in my life imagined living in a shelter. I also never in my life imagined my husband threatening to throw hot coffee in my face amongst other things. I picked the safest of the two. For the next 24 hours I filled out a ton of paperwork, answered a thousand questions, and decided within myself that this was it. It took 12 days for me to do all the necessary requirements in this temporary shelter, Freddie’s House. I am extremely grateful for the lady that worked there. I cannot remember her name, but I remember she was short, extremely bow-legged, from New York, kind, helpful, caring, welcoming, and the exact kind of person you want to greet and assist you during a time like mine. After twelve days, we were placed in an apartment style transitional housing program for female domestic violence survivors and their children. The next 18 months of my life were a roller coaster. Although I am grateful that the shelter was in place and had room for my sons and I, I honestly believe a lot of women would be more successful in their healing and transition, with different staff than the ones that were there during my time. I can only hope that there has been a change there. It was obvious that they not only did not care about the residents, but they did not put effort into the care of themselves. That housing program, did however, link me with one outstanding resource that I have to give credit to.
City First Bank is a black owned bank in Washington DC. They partnered with the Purple Purse foundation, Allstate, and a few other companies, and brought financial education courses to the shelter. A beautiful, kind, intelligent, and educated black woman by the name of Charlene, helped us set up savings and checking accounts, taught us about housing resources in the community, informed us about investing, and shared other financial planning tools with us. To this day, five years later, I still bank there. I opened up another account for my kids, a money market account for their future, and I visit the branch twice a month. I still implement some of the strategies I learned through City First bank and the Purple Purse foundation. A big shout out to them.
I also learned a lot about myself during that time. Of course, being fresh out of a crazy and terrible relationship, I wanted to be free and just love on me. I also wanted to, needed to, be validated and seen. I changed the way I dressed. I changed my attitude towards people and I became more sociable. I thought it was a good idea because I had been isolated and unhappy for so long, I wanted to connect with people, laugh, have friends, and make better memories. But, I was not ready. I ended up in one bad situation after another. What I had to realize is that my brokenness was not for anyone to repair but me. My healing was going to cost me, but the prize is invaluable. And, so, I began a journey of transformation, a journey of healing, and a journey of restoration.
This journey is lifelong. My healing is life-long. But I plan to show up fully, unapologetically, and own every step. Stay tuned for the final part, part four, where I tell you where I am, what has happened over the last three years, and where I am going.