June 3, 2015

Flipping the Switch

He told me that if he hadn’t deployed that he would have put me in the hospital.  Even if I had tried to ignore the severity of what had happened before – there it was in my face – truth.  I had been running from it for months and months.  Alcohol, partying, loving someone different for the night just to walk away without an emotion.  It all started so simply.  I fell in love.

I was 17, he was 18.  He was sweet, quiet, a bit shy. I could always pick out the pain in a person and I saw his.  The problem is that he never realized that he could see mine too.  He just didn’t know how to look for it in others because his sadness consumed him.  We started dating, fell in love, and I was pregnant within just a couple of months.  The smile that he had on his face when I told him was beautiful.  And for that time we were a wonderful couple.

Things changed – we married, moved far away from everything that we once knew.  We were old enough to be in love but too young to know HOW to love.  I’d like to say the “switch” was a quick flip…that it just happened and I was so stunned that I just had to get my head together.  Nope…this was more like a dimmer switch.  Hints of things to come, not able to communicate what was happening – silly fights that should have ended but turned into much more.  Slowly degrading me, poking fun, a lack of empathy, a lack of understanding and all I wanted to do was turn the lights on.  You see we switched the lights off slowly and in the dark there would be a push, a punch in the stomach, then a slap to the face and then a quick “choke”.  With the lights off it is so much easier to hide things even from yourselves.  Then when you close your eyes you can dream about those times that you saw love and kindness and pretend that it never left.

Right before he deployed I was standing in the bathroom, looking at myself in the mirror and he came in.  I wanted to talk about the night before – the punches I had taken.  Never knocked me down – I was never bruised but I knew it would be coming.  So as I tried to “fix everything” before he was deployed he choked me just to shut me up. It wasn’t one of those that would have knocked me out…but it was just a teaser of what was to come…and luckily for me…never did.

He left – gone for a year – and for 2 weeks I cried and missed him.  Then realized how nice it was not to be made fun of, not to be laughed at as I cried, not to try and try to get him to see and feel what I felt.  By the time he came back I was a different person.  Hard, a bit cold, so cold that he at one point laid in the floor and cried and I just didn’t care.  I had escaped – one night at a time, one mistake at a time – I never thought I would be the same…and I wasn’t.

Over the years I worked on me and I worked on forgiving him.  That forgiveness was so that I wouldn’t be burdened with hatred for the rest of my life.  I still have a hope that he will change.  However even though I believe a person can change – it isn’t our responsibility to wait on that change and be their punching bag until they decide its time.  You see, switching the light on is a lot harder than switching it off for both the abused and the abuser.  Your eyes have to adjust, everything looks different than before – reality is in your face and even the covers won’t shield you from the light.  

My biggest regret is that I didn’t get out sooner and that my daughter ever had to feel like she needed to protect me.  It was and is my job to protect her.  It is our job as parents to put the well being of our child – not just physically but mentally and spiritually – first.  I also believe that we can choose our own destinies that we never have to repeat those horrible things from our past.  There is always hope and love somewhere.  This isn’t a story for you to feel sorry for anyone, to hate anyone, but one that I hope you can understand.   Abuse is never love and is never ok – ever.

I was the leading actress “Fatherless”.  I never got the abuse as bad as she did – but it could have been me.  I had to feel those old feelings again just to play the part.  I want everyone to watch this not because it is in a contest but because it is a damn good depiction of where this type of life can lead, or not, lead to. Watch as the little boy witnessed this insane abuse – and then watch him grow into a man that makes the choice of who he wants to be – a loving father.  When it comes down to it…we all have the choice to flip the switch.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vk3F6yY9EZo&w=640&h=375]

To go and vote for this movie click this link “Fatherless”.

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