Sharing this story leaves me with so many emotions. It's a story of honesty, transparency, and hurt. It's a story that you wouldn't wish upon anyone. It's a story that I wish my cousin, Kelsey, never had to write. But, it is also a story of hope. Kelsey reached out and asked if I would be willing to share her story in my space and I was honored to do so. Kelsey is an inspiration. The courage and strength that she reveals in this story is tremendous and I hope that if anyone finds themselves in a similar situation this story gives them the courage and hope to move on.
Thank you Kelsey for sharing your story with all of us today. I am honored.
"The final stage of healing is using what happens to you to help other people."
- Gloria Steinem
I debated on writing this for a long, long time. Lately, after many dreams of screaming warnings at “you” I decided that was my sign and that it’s time to finally release this into the ether. No more reasons to keep this hidden in the dark corners of my mind and damaged corners of my heart. If it saves someone from the extraordinary hurt and life experience that will scar them for the rest of their life, it’s worth it for me to share. Here is my story.
I thought I had met the man of my dreams, times were overall wonderful, dating and getting engaged, dreaming of our life together- buying a home and making it ours. Throughout the relationship there was the perfect mix of red and green flags, but I didn’t trust my instincts enough to act on the red ones and the green ones were strong enough to keep me hanging on. He was also an absolute expert at apologizing and sweeping me back off my feet after any huge fight.
Then all of a sudden it was the night before my wedding and I couldn’t sleep a wink. I should have known. I should have known...those four words only deepen the wounds and I'm trying to use them less and less every time I think of what happened. The wedding came and went and about three months into the marriage, after a long night of drinking, an argument ensued and before I could realize what was going on I was being held underneath my bathroom sink against my will. I couldn’t believe that the person that I just signed up for forever with, just did that. When I looked in his face, he wasn’t there. What replaced it was a vacant, blank stare. How could he not realize that he was hurting me the most I’d ever been hurt before by anyone in my life? Or did he know? I grabbed my car keys with two choices sitting in front of me. The first being to go home, back to the safety of my parents and potentially a divorce after just three months of marriage, or do I stick it out, in hopes this was a one-time incident. In my extreme hopefulness at the time, I chose the latter option. With the desperate and quiet hope that this was a one-time occurrence and nothing similar would ever happen again…..I was wrong.
Through the years, incidents continued to happen. A pizza crust was thrown in my direction, a harsh stomp on the car breaks to see my head go towards the dash, a phone charger thrown very hard at the floor in a room I was sitting in, not to mention the verbal and emotional abuse. I had to lock myself in the bathroom too many times in hopes that tempers would cool down. They didn't. Things only got worse until I finally had enough and filed for divorce. Two years later and therapy sessions for every week of those two years, there have been so many lessons and steps taken towards healing.
One question that still haunts me is: where is the justice? Why is it fair for someone that is capable of all these terrible acts able to continue on with their lives….leaving others in their wake to deal with the aftermath? To the outside world, they appear to even be…happy? They even have the audacity to show off their new relationship. It's a very hard pill to swallow. I don’t believe that people can truly change unless they are willing to put in the work to change. The effort that it truly takes to change those behaviors are extremely hard. I have been in therapy for years trying to heal the damage that was done to me in efforts to be the best partner that I can be to someone going forward. People who hurt others seem to move onto the next victim, waiting for them to slowly peel back the layers until they see the true person hiding there. A hurtful, damaging, manipulative and narcissistic soul whose past hurts are still haunting their present. I pray there are more people that are willing to stop their behavior and put in the work.
I am not writing this to destroy the person’s life, or sing a redemption song. I’m writing this in hopes that if someone reading this is in a similar situation, that they-unlike me- grab their car keys and get out. Get out now, and don’t waste any more time in a toxic and dangerous relationship. If you're not able to get out right away, please don't stay silent. Please tell someone that is trusted and know that you are never alone even though you may feel that way.
You are worth speaking up for instead of hiding what is going on in efforts to protect that person. That isn’t your job, don't lay on the sword for them anymore. Your job is to protect yourself and anyone else with you in that situation. Take no more excuses, none whatsoever. Dig deep inside yourself and know that on the other side of this is a long, but beautiful road and it's worth the fight. Just like you.
All my love, light, and hope.