So let’s go back to when I was 16 almost 17, because this is what I’m going to call the beginning when I first got on that roller-coaster I was talking about.
I lived at home with my parents and my three siblings, I was in year 10 at school and I hated it! School was just not for me! I was a gymnast my whole childhood. Through my eyes gymnastics was my world and nothing else mattered – including my education. I’d had a little interest in boys but nothing serious for a teenager. That was until I met the man who is now my ex-husband. From now on I will refer to him as ex. Ex was a confident “mystery boy”, he was exciting and kept me intrigued. I was a typical 16 year old that thought I was older then I was and that I knew everything. I was always a mother hen, and to desperate for independence, to grow up and have a family of my own. Ex swept me off his feet with his witty sense of humour, sweet sensitive side, loud confidence and streak of bad boy. Ex had his fair shares of trouble, quite a difficult upbringing and quickly moved in with me and my family. We were inseparable and couldn’t get enough of each other.
The reminiscing is overwhelming as I am writing this, but surprisingly refreshing. Too think that once this man was pure and real? Before he grew and changed. Man did he make me laugh. I was happy and I felt safe around him, protected! Like I knew that as long as he was around me, no one could hurt me. Little did I know at the time that it was him that was the one that was going to hurt me and deceive me the most of all. That it would be him that would break my mind, spirit and take my identity piece by piece.
This is my 30th year. Looking at my life, my 20’s were his. I look back on my life and my late teen years and my early 20’s. All through this he was there. We grew up together. He was my best friend, my boyfriend, my soul mate and I was his world. Soon enough ex went from being a shy little scared boy to coming into my house and my life and being a massive part of my family.
It was 2006 and we become pregnant with our oldest daughter. This was such a scary and anxious time for the both of us. We were blessed and had incredible support from my family. Ex was so devoted to being a Dad. He was working two jobs at the time. I remember him telling me how he wanted to provide and give his baby girl everything. The things life he always wanted but never had… Again I find myself stopping and reminiscing, where did this guy go…?
I find myself often sitting and asking when did it all go so wrong. What was my first warning sign, when did we go so far off the path, which bit along my time line. It’s like I need a map, that I can pin point the exact time. But the problem is, I don’t remember. See what we do, in our relationships is we makes excuses for the ones we love. It starts with a small fight, disagreement, we throw hurtful words around in the moment, then time passes we calm down and we forgive and forget until the next time. When I say “we”, I mean every one, in every relationship. We do this instantly, because we love and forgive the person, because no one is perfect, right? But the problem is when these fights, disagreements and problems become the normal, the everyday. They become your life. Your partner’s unacceptable behaviour continuously becomes a cycle of letting it slide that first time then the second and the third. Soon it’s all we know. We are taught that if someone says sorry they must mean it. We are taught that arguments and fights are “healthy” in a relationship and part of being an adult. We taught that it is okay. We are taught that if they promise not to do it again, then we should believe them. We need to stop that. We need to stop the cycle and teach that it is never okay. Teach victims that it is okay to stand up for themselves, that they deserve better and they don’t have to put up with it. Just because someone loves you doesn’t make it okay. Just because someone may be a good person in other aspects of life, be it a good father, a good worker, a good team mate – doesn’t make it okay. Remember, there is nothing good about a person who abuses their partner.
So you have me sitting here thinking, when was the point that I should have put my foot down and said NO? Stood up for myself and not accepted it. This thought scares me, because this point was so long ago. We are talking about 8 years ago. This thought I just cannot grasp.
Now I don’t want you to think that I was a weak little kitten that just accepted being talked to like dirt. I am far from perfect and trust me; I did my fair share of ugly behaviour. I also stuck up for myself a lot, well a lot in the beginning and a little in the middle. The end is another story. But to me now when I think about it, it’s not the fighting back that’s the point. This would not have fixed it. It’s not about winning the fight. It was the continually forgiving him that was the problem. It was the continuous disrespect and unacceptable behaviour and me making it okay that’s the problem. How many people can relate to these words? “I’m sorry, I was mad, I didn’t mean it”, “please forgive me, I’ll do anything to make it right”, “I didn’t mean it I was tired”, “I love you, I need you, I can’t survive without you”. Yep, that’s the moment, that’s the moment that made his behaviour okay. Every time I forgave him, was me putting him before me. Even to this day (and believe me when I say I am working on it) ex, him as a person, his feelings are more important than mine in every way. And we call this learnt behaviour.
So there was one time 8 years ago when I almost did this thing. The standing up for myself, making boundaries, putting myself first, demanding respect. I left for three months; we had space, counselling, a lot of ups and downs. At the time I thought we were both just young and immature. I mean we were kids in an adult world and had to grow up so quick. We had a baby, full time jobs, a mortgage and we were watching our friends at uni, having the party life celebrating their youth. It was bound to take a toll. So he made that promise again, but this time it was sincere. It was real… wasn’t it? The “You and our daughter are my life” “I’ll do anything, to get you back” “I blame my friggen ***, she messed me up” “I’ll try harder” etc. And the thing is, He was good for a long time. I was happy.
I was so happy and that fills me with pain now. I was so happy that those good times made all the bad worth it. I was so happy that I can’t live with regrets. I mean how can I? Because I was happy and I took him back. I went to Uni and become a nurse. I was so happy that we had our second child, our baby boy. I was so happy that we got married (and this remains to be one of the best days of my life) I was so happy that we worked hard and bought another house and I was so happy that we adopted our nephews and become a family of 7. I don’t regret any of it… all I can do is reminisce and believe in my heart that this life I mad with him, Ex, that it was all real once.
Understand though this platform I am on, this place of no regrets, it’s not recommend for those watching from home folks. It’s not rainbows and flowers. It’s full of heartache, sleepless nights, guilt, stress, loneliness and pain. Pain like a thousand knives cutting deep, deep within and moving around slowly. Like you’ve been wounded and the air has been knocked out of your lungs and you can’t breathe. Like you’re downing and you give, your last bit of energy, your fight and your everything is holding on for just one more breath and to keep going another day.
So now it’s about healing, moving forward day by day, finding my soul my true identity and my place. I want to be strong and independent. I want to be a positive female with strong values. I want to respect myself and have solid boundaries. Most of all I want others to learn from my mistakes and weaknesses. I want to be your voice, or better yet I want you to find your voice. I want to teach my daughter self-worth, respect and how to love yourself more than anything else. I want to teach my sons about loyalty, trust and respect. I want you to understand how it can go so wrong when you think you are doing everything right. Because here is there lesson. We deserve respect, love, rainbows and flowers and nothing less. We should not bow our head and buckle down for anyone, because we are worth more than that. Find strength within, because the little heartbreak now can save you from a lot of pain in the future.
KNOW THE FACTS.
- On average, at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner in Australia.
- 1 in 3 Australian women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15.
- 1 in 5 Australian women have experience sexual violence.
- 1 in 4 Australian women have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner.