One year ago this week I got my life back. It wasn't an easy task—but I have my life back. So here I am to tell some of my story: I am an "abuse" survivor. You know when people say "abuse," it always makes me think of some terribly sappy Lifetime movie. There is always some kind of context, script, some kind of happy take-home message, and a purpose. That's not my experience; that's not my life.
By this time last year, I had finally come to terms with a lot of things in my life: I'm a gay mormon (and that's OK!), I am a sexual abuse victim and a sufferer of depression, PTSD, toxic childhood stress, and anxiety. It was at this moment that I met someone, and I thought he was a really great guy. He was so sweet, caring, attentive, sympathetic, and comforting: everything I wanted. But really, I was wrong. I was so wrong.
I thought that I really had found the guy for me. For our first date he took me to Lagoon. I should have seen the red flags on that first date, but I was blind. We grew closer and closer and he asserted himself more and more into my life. I was falling in love and you know what they say about love . . . it's blind. Well, ain't that the freakin' truth.
He was fluent in the language of abuse: "You could never do better than me"; "You're lucky I'm with you"; "You're an abuser! Its not me!"; "You sure have an imagination, I would never do that"; "Your mother is a f*ing Mormon c*t"; "If you try and leave I'm just gonna kill myself"; "You're so stupid, its your fault I get mad"; "Don't you have any common sense? You're such an idiot"; "Can't you talk without st . . . st . . . st . . . stuttering you f*ing screwup," etc., etc., etc. Any time I would try to defend myself, all hell would break loose. I would endure a verbal onslaught that would make Lewis Black blush.
As the verbal abuse got worse and worse, my will began to die. I couldn't stand up for myself anymore. I couldn't do anything but take it and then cry. That's when the abuse turned physical. One night we got in an argument about my scraping a fork against my teeth while we were eating out. He was so vicious I couldn't do anything but cry. Finally I barricaded myself in the walk-in closet. I laid up against the door and just cried. He pushed his way in, sat me up, and began shaking me while yelling in my ears. He was so heartless, and there was no salvation. Afterward he said that it was my own fault and that his actions were the only way to get through to me.
After that moment everything in my life began to break down. The abusive relationship progressed from verbal and emotional to physical. I became the classic battered spouse: hiding black eyes, hiding bruises, making excuses for marks on my body, making excuses for not being able to see friends and family. I hated everything about me. I was convinced that he was the only one that would ever care about me as a human being. I was convinced that ever were I to die, no one would care . . . no one would even notice.
Then came Maurie. Maurie was always such a great friend. She was one of the first people that I came out to, and we spent countless nights walking through Provo and discussing our lives. She was always there to talk to and comfort me. She tried to help me leave. The first time was right after Christmas: I was sick and just got back to Provo, my now-ex picked me up from the airport. He was furious that I hadn't texted him one day while I was gone (I was catering my sister's wedding and was crazy busy . . . then my phone died). He yelled at me in the airport. He made me apologize on my knees at the airport in front of my little sister before he would agree to take us home. Then after he dropped my sister off at her place, he yelled and yelled and yelled. Then he kicked me out of the car and made me walk home in the snow with nothing. Maurie saved me that day. She took me back to his place and had me gather my stuff. She helped me tell him I was leaving. He was devastated and did everything he could to get me to stay. It was when he proposed and said that it would never happen again that I acquiesced. I stupidly stayed with him, and Maurie left. I paid a dear price that night.
Months later the two of us were driving to meet his grandmother. He wanted a scone. We Googled a place to get one and were trying to find it. I missed the turn while driving and just turned on the next street to double back. He said I was a f*ing idiot with no common sense, called me an ass, and several other choice words. Then he smacked me upside the head and said he didn't want to drive with me again. So, in tears, I drove us home. I decided to go on a walk, and whilst out I begged Maurie to skip church and come see me. She came and we sat and talked for a couple hours. She convinced me it was time to leave him, and I agreed. She drove me back to his place to get my stuff. This time, she refused to leave with out me (bless her). He cried a lot. He said I was supposed to be "the one" and that I couldn't just leave. I cried too. I felt like I was losing the only one who would ever love me. The only one who would ever accept me.
I was wrong.
One year ago this week I got my life back. It wasn't an easy task and I couldn't have done it alone. I had Maurie. I had my family, friends, and roommates who put up with me for the next several months as I pulled myself together. I had a great bishop who was so supportive. I had a wonderful therapist who talked me through so many bad days.
The healing process is long and hard. To this day I still see remanence of the pain I suffered at the hands of that man: I cringe at someone touch, I panic at a disagreement, I cry and shake at a friendly tickle, and I have bad dreams on a regular basis. But every day it gets better; every day I suffer less; every day I feel my old self coming back. I have my life back.
Domestic violence can strike anyone. I never thought something like that would happen to me. I mean...honestly. So many people suffer in silence; not knowing where to go for help; not knowing where to turn. They all need a Maurie they can turn to. I thought I would leave you with a few recourses for any of you who may be in need.