The following was an email from Debra Estep a reader of this blog. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing so much. When we share like this we always help another reader heal.
I was web searching on poetry and came to your site. Since you have asked for admissions, I thought I would send along something that I wrote back in 1994. It was right around the time that I decided to file for divorce. You have my permission as the author to use this in ANY way and to also use my name as the author. I married back in 1978. I was 20 years old. The verbal abuse started on the second day of our honeymoon while we were in the Virgin Islands. I was in absolute shock. I had never ever seen this side of him during the 2 years prior that we were dating and engaged. The pattern of verbal abuse continued nearly daily through the years. WHY STAY ???? For the first 4 years we had no children. It would have been easier to leave, but my parents had taken out a loan to pay for this huge wedding reception. My thinking was, ‘How could I even tell them or share what was going on, they were still paying on the reception’. The other thought that kept me there was my Catholic religion and the WHOLE until death do us part.
What drew me to know that I needed to end the marriage was my contemplation of not only my own death, but taking my 2 children with me, as I would never have left them alone with him.
It was the Spring of 1994 that the light bulb went off. I was teaching my 12 year old daughter that no matter what a man does, you stay. My then 10 year old son was actually becoming his Dad. He was starting to treat me in the very same manor as his father. The very good thing that came of ending the marriage was removing my children and breaking the cycle. I went on to marry in later 1995 and have been happily married. I went through therapy, as did my children. My ex went on to group therapy for abusive men, and also was in private therapy. He is not the person today that he was back then. The choice to end the marriage still was not easy. The children begged me not to break up the family, and my own father said to me….
“Debra, everyone deserves a second chance.” I remained VERY STRONG and said to my father……..’This is the first time in MY LIFE that I am choosing for myself, and HE had 16 years of second chances’. “The abuse chipped away parts of my heart and I have nothing left. I am DONE with him and I am choosing ME.” My father and mother quickly came around and were supportive.
It took me quite a long time to stop hearing his damaging voice in my head. It played over and over like a broken record. But eventually that old record was shattered as I became more and more aware of my own worth. I replaced the mean and hurtful things I heard from him with uplifting and encouraging messages to myself. I would even put index cards around the house, in my car, and at my place of work. It was like retraining my mind that I was okay, and that I was a worthwhile person and that I was loveable. If one person can see the hope in removing themselves and their children from an abusive environment than I have done the right thing in finding your site and sharing my thoughts and words.
Bath Time It was like all these years I brought in this huge tub, filled it with water, warmed just right.
I lit candles all around the dark room and I bathed and washed him. I cared for him, but his anger raged on and on. I became the object of his rage.
The limitations he found within his own being and the uselessness he felt towards himself intensified. He then directed his hostility towards me.
I in turn just kept heating more water to make sure the temperature was just right. Once I tried adding bubbles…. he did not want the bubbles, so I emptied the whole tub and started over.
Sometimes, but not very often, the bath was just right and he was satisfied.
All those years there was one thing I wanted….just once it would have been wonderful for him to have drawn one bath for me. It was the dream of a young woman. That dream was crushed early on.
But still I drew his bath. Until one day when all my life was about drained away,
I realized I no longer wanted to bathe him.
My mind cleared…. I became conscious of my own worth.
I choose not to identify me…… with him.