My mother always instilled in me to be independent. She wanted to make sure I would never have to rely on a man. This philosophy was my way of life while growing up. In college I joined a sorority. There I found out the true meaning of public service. There we would mentor pregnant teens and during the Christmas holidays, my sorority sisters and I would make care packages for abuse women living in shelters. Who would know over 20 years later, I would be the one needing the mentoring.
Fast forward my life to January 2009. I was called to our conference room at my work. Across the table from me, I saw my supervisor crying. My senior manager was delivering the bad news that my job for nearly 10 years was being eliminated due to budget cuts. My heart sank. That’s when the fear set in. The first call I remember making was to my mother. She started praying for me. And the second call was to charming and charismatic boyfriend who I had been seeing for almost a year. I recall him saying very confidently saying, “Babe, don’t worry. I got it”. At that very moment, my life would change.
Feeling desperate and panicked with fear of losing my home of 7 years, I allowed him to move in. Things were going all right for minute. I was able to continue working my evening part-time job where both he and I met 3 years prior. Bills were getting paid. And we were surviving. I eventually landed a full-time job after 9 months of being unemployed. With that being said, I was able to quit my physically demanding intensive part-time job. Shortly there after, I became pregnant. That when the mental abuse began.
During my pregnancy, he started becoming very distant and withdrawn emotionally and physically. He started making excuses to not be at home. He would say one thing and then do another. He was happy one minute. And mad the next. He began to pick fights and became verbally abusive. Soon after, I discovered he was being unfaithful. A good friend/former co-worker had told me. I already had my suspicions and knew it was true. Needless to say, I kicked him out without hesitating.
I was 7 months pregnant at the time. As he was moving out, loading his belongings in this car, realized he was taking pieces of me in those bags too. One bag had Self Esteem. One had Shame. One had Fear. And other bag contained Abandonment Issues from my past. Not only did he take pieces of me with him, he took along his family too. They disappeared in the process. We were left with no help. Not only did his infidelity impact me mentally, it impacted me financially. I was left helpless and broken. I would succumb to 60% of my salary due to short term disability.
I ended up going on maternity leave two months early due to the stress. Not only I am not working, I’ll be out additional 6-8 more weeks due to caring for my daughter. He refused to pay any past due bills and eventually later would stop paying for the daycare. He would constantly remind me that I put him out. Apparently, he got satisfaction making me and his child suffer. The more I needed him, then more he would go out of his way to sabotage my requests. He would play these mental games with me for months. I began to second guess myself if I had made the right decision on putting him out. The repressed abandonment issues from my father started setting in.
For the first 6 months of my daughter’s life, I literally was just numb. The depression grew on a daily basis. I eventually would have to take a leave of absence from my job or risk getting fired. Eventually, I had to seek handouts from friends, family, organizations and had to even go on public assistance while taking him to court for custody and support. My mother was so concerned; she offered to come get my daughter. That’s when I made it a point to not being a “Victim”. I started going back to the counselor where he and I had gone to visit twice after the break up. I remember the counselor telling me he was Passive Aggressive. I read as much as I could on this disorder. Everything started to make sense. I actually felt empathy. I joined a bible based church and a joined a small group. There I would meet my new sorority sisters. All of the women had similar stories if not worst. Some of them had suffered mental abuse and some physical . Some wore the visible scars and some still had emotional problems.
What I learned from my small group, abuse may have different faces and ages, but the stories are the same. I was being mentored by women half my age. These women could have been my daughter. The abuser is someone who we loved and trusted. As I worked on my mental healing, I also had to work on my spiritual healing as well. With God’s grace, I would have to forgive him. I did win sole legal custody and court ordered child support. It’s not much, but we manage. I remember getting a call from an unknown number one day about a month after the court case had ended. I answered. And it was him. He first wanted to say he had changed. He was in church now and he was doing well. He apologized for the pain he had caused. He said he loved his daughter. He asked me for forgiveness. And I apologized for my role too. And I had to forgive him and his family year of pain they caused my to me and my daughter. I had to forgive I could live in peace. I did not want to carry this negative energy into any more relationships. Nor, did I want that for my daughter.
And I had to close this chapter out of my life. By continued my counseling sessions for over a year. I was able to combat my insecurities and abandonment issues head on. Due to mounting legal fees, I did eventually lose my home. But I realized that, A house is just a house. But a home to where and whom you make it. I’m at peace with that. It’s just material. My daughter is been my biggest inspiration. She gave me will to fight back and not became a victim. One day, I’ll have to tell her this story. I would instill her the same values my mother taught me. To be independent so she will never that to rely on a man.
I would sincerely like to thank WADT for giving me this opportunity to give hope for my Sorority Sisters who suffers abuse of any kind at someone else’s hand.