My oldest son graduated from high school in 2002. Which was the same year I got my real estate license, and the same year things started to change for me.
Recovering from divorce takes time, and money. I had spent the time healing from it, taking care not to drink or do anything destructive. That is except date a guy who was destructive.
How I missed the signs of emotional abuse from the beginning is beyond me.
He was an angry controlling man who lashed out at me and his daughter. What a complete mess I was in. I wrote before that it would take three events for me to finally break free of him.
The first was my son’s graduation.
We lived in a small town in Central Oregon and the county fair grounds, where his graduation took place, was about 15 miles from us. We were warned to get there early, as the traffic would be a nightmare.
But I made two mistakes that day. One was inviting my boyfriend to go, and the other was allowing him to drive my car. As we were racing to get there on time, he decided it was a perfect time to pick another fight.
Halfway there, he turned around to head back home. I pleaded with him to please take me and drop me off. He refused. I begged him to just stop the car and let me out. There were plenty of people heading there and I would hitch a ride. He ignored my plea.
By the time we were at his house, I was in tears. I was such a mess I knew I needed to go home and clean myself up. But I was also afraid I would miss my son’s graduation.
After pulling myself together I raced back to get there just in the nick of time. Every time I see the photos from that evening, I feel a pit in my stomach that I allowed some ass to do that to me.
A few months later my best friend’s husband came over to my house, to speak to me.
He had never come over by himself before, so I knew something was up. I was organizing my garage that day, and he stood there telling me that I needed to stop seeing the saddle maker.
He told me I was like a sister to him, and he was worried that things would get worse. He also said everyone else saw the same thing, including my sons. That one hurt.
I listened to him and thanked him, but it would take one more thing to give me the courage I needed.
As a realtor I had pretty flexible hours, and I liked it when I could to be home at 4:00 in the afternoon. I’d like to say it was because I wanted to be there when my youngest got home from school, but the real reason was because I could catch the Oprah show while I was cleaning or preparing dinner.
I rarely sat down to watch the show, but my house had an open floor plan that allowed me to be busy doing other things, while listening in to the show. That particular day Oprah was discussing emotional abuse.
Her crew actually put cameras in a house of a family with an emotionally abusive husband. The family knew the cameras were there, and for the first few days, the man was on his best behavior. And then he wasn’t.
I stopped frozen in my tracks when I heard words from the television that matched words that had been said to me.
Almost exactly. I put the broom down and stared at the TV.
The hairs on the back of my neck rose as I listened to this man spewing expletives at his wife, while she tried to either ignore him or appease him. And if that wasn’t enough to get my attention, Oprah then interviewed another woman, whose name was Loretta.
I stood there with tears streaming down my face and listened intently to every single word. It was as if Oprah was speaking to me. She was understanding and kind, but brought to light the horror of it all.
I knew in that moment that I not only had the courage, but also had no choice but to end the abusive relationship I was in.