“I want to kill you. Your existence disgusts me.” These were the words spoken to me by the man I was madly in love with. The man that I had given my all to, that I dreamed of marrying one day. The words struck me hard; feeling the coldness of the barrel to his Smith and Wesson against the back of my head. I knew which gun he had chosen clearly, because this is the exact handgun I had purchased for him. I’d paid for what would ultimately be used to murder me. All of my future dreams with him came to a screeching halt. I felt that everything I’d ever wanted was crashing down around me. I stood there, not stopping him. At that moment, I’d given up. I knew that if he took my life, I wouldn’t have to deal with the pain and suffering that he caused me for so long. In the split second that I’d come to terms with what was going to happen, the gun fell from his hand and hit the floor. He slammed the door open, causing the handle to go through the wall and left. Trying to process what had happened and what could’ve been, all I could do was sob uncontrollably on the bathroom floor. Where did I go wrong? Why had it come to this? I questioned it, but deep down I knew. I knew that I had allowed the abuse. I allowed another person to treat me this way because it’s how negatively I felt about myself.
He had so much control over me that I didn’t know how to live without him. I struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts for as long as I could remember. All it took was him screaming that I’m crazy over and over to finally reach out for help. While reaching out to a psychiatrist, I was only seeking help for how I felt, not what I was going through. I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder, which was a relief that there was an answer, but to him he “knew I was crazy.” I’d like to say that after he told me he wanted to kill me that I left the relationship and found my self-worth, but this wasn’t the case. I continued to stay in this relationship, battling not only him physically and emotionally, but myself and my mental illness.
During the summer of 2017, he decided he was no longer happy and ended our relationship. I had put on such a façade for everyone in my life that I lost who I was as a person. I didn’t know how to act or even how to get through the day. He had controlled all aspects of my life—where I could work, if I could attend classes, how I could dress—and he even gave me a time limit for my drive home from work. I was no longer the same person, and I didn’t care. I just wanted to be with him, and although I knew I’d lost myself, I didn’t care enough about me to turn around. The next year was an absolute blur. I was just trying to survive. One day, I decided that I was absolutely tired of feeling this way. I no longer wanted to lie awake at night wondering why I wasn’t good enough or what I did to deserve such hatred from someone I loved so deeply. I decided to get help again, but this time, it would be from a trauma therapist.
I went through months and spent tens of thousands of dollars on EMDR and talk therapy. This would be the first time I opened up about the abuse. For so long, no one knew what I was going through. We would pretend that we were happy in public, that to the naked eye we were perfect. I hid my bruises with oversized sweaters and didn’t tell a soul. How freeing it was to finally say out loud what I had gone through. It wasn’t an easy road by any means. Reliving your memories in EMDR therapy is exhausting and life-altering, but it truly changed who I was. I was able to emotionally detach from the memories, still aware that they had happened.
During this healing process, I was diagnosed with PTSD and a heart condition that was developed through my anxiety attacks that I endured for years. I would (and sometimes still do) have “nightmares” that are flashbacks from that night that could’ve ended my life. I used to come home and check every room in my house to make sure he wasn’t there. I felt like I was a victim to the situation because I would suffer from these conditions for the rest of my life at the hands of someone else.
But that wasn’t the case. I realized I had these mental illnesses, but I didn’t have to “suffer” from them. I had to re-learn who I was and where I wanted to be. It’s a daily effort reminding myself about my own dreams and aspirations and how to get there. I’ve learned that life will go on, even when it doesn’t feel like it will, because the earth doesn’t stop spinning for anyone. It takes you to make a choice every single day to be happy. For some, happiness isn’t such a chore, but for others, it truly is a conscience decision every day. It’s okay to not be okay, as long as you don’t stay there. Even though I went through domestic abuse, I chose to not let this situation define me. I chose to be a survivor, not a victim.
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