With all this hype on social media about showing photos of yourself 10 years apart, it got me feeling nostalgic. My life has changed dramatically in the past 10 years.
November 2018 would have made it 10 years since I packed all my and my 2 year old son’s shit into two suitcases and left my (then) husband. I met him when I was 15, gave birth to our son when I was 24, married him when I was 25 and left him when I was 26. Eleven years of history, starting when I was just a kid, I managed to turn my back on and although it was the toughest most mentally challenging thing I have ever done, I have not regretted it for one minute!
Our relationship was always intense. Intensely good and intensely bad. He was a jealous and insecure teenager who grew into a jealous and insecure narcissistic adult. Me , as a 15 year old girl with enough empathy to share with the world, did not recognise signs of an unhealthy relationship. I mistook jealousy for devotion and insecurity for love. He made me believe I was the only person who could make him happy, that it was almost my job and I was too young to know that was unhealthy. Bit by bit he isolated me from my friends until he was the only friend I had. We moved to England when I was 20 where the isolation became easier. He demanded to know the passwords to my emails, my phone and eventually my social media (in those days it was, ICQ, msn messenger, hi5 and then eventually Facebook). He would question me to thy kingdom come about any male I said hi to or appeared as a friend on my Facebook profile. He would ask ridiculous questions like if we ever had any sexual history as if he forgot we met when I was just 15! We argued constantly over everything. I eventually realised he would deliberately pick fights with me but I always fell for it.
The mental and emotional abuse started from the beginning but got more regular and sophisticated as time went on. My earliest memory of this was shortly after we met. He came to my house but was soaked in the rain so he went to my bedroom to get changed. He emerged with a photo album I treasured – it contained photos of a trip to Greece I made with my aunt and cousins a couple years prior to that day where I met a group of wonderful people including a boy called David who was my little holiday fling. At 13 a holiday fling meant we liked each other, we held hands, we kissed, he told me he loved me, I cried when he left the resort and the a week later I was over the heartache but I will forever treasure the memory of him. My ex asked me a million questions about David, wondering why there were so many pictures of him in particular. I told him all about him, not thinking it was a big deal. He became enraged, asking me why on earth I have photos of a guy I had a thing with when we are together. I was shocked and confused and started to wonder if it was in fact wrong for me to have these photos. He told me to get rid of them. I could not bring myself to so I removed them from the album and hid them in one of my school text books. About a month later (I cannot remember how), he found them. He ripped them to pieces, called me a dirty, lying, slut and left. I was traumatised. I adored him, it was a sick, irrational kind of love. I begged and pleaded for forgiveness like a complete idiot! There would countless more incidences like this that should have raised alarm bells in my head and although at times these bells were ringing loud an clear as I got older and wiser, I ignored them as I could not imagine life without him.
He would constantly tell me he is more attractive than I am and he could have any woman he wants hence concluding that I am so lucky to have him. He would tell me I’m too fat to wear shorts (I had a 6 pack in those days but I believed him anyway!). He would tell me he didn’t invite me to his black tie work do because I’m not classy enough to know which fork to use at the right time. He even called me the N word fairly regularly. Some nights while I was crying myself to sleep yet again, he would shout at me to cry softer because I was disturbing his sleep. When our son was born I became invisable. He would come home from work and not even say hello to me, going straight to my son. When I brought it up he accused me of being jealous of my own son and labelled me a terrible mother. He would always make me believe our fall-outs were my fault and I often ended up apologising, sometimes purely to keep the peace. When I tried to explain why something he did had upset me, he would deny he ever did any such thing, telling me I am crazy or psychotic. I would later discover there is a term for this – gaslighting, but at the the time I actually did question whether I was just being a paranoid drama queen. But in-between him being a complete and utter cunt he was really sweet, loving, emotional and incredibly attentive. So much so that I forgave him over and over for what I knew was highly inappropriate and unhealthy mistreatment. I would later learn, through years of therapy that that’s just what abusive cunts do – all part of the manipulation and mind fucking activities they are masters at.
He grew up with an abusive prick of a father and their relationship was always rocky. Years would go by and they won’t say a word to each other. When he was 18 he came to live at my parents’ house for a while because his dad chased him out the house with a machete. He was a lot like his dad and sometimes when he got me angry I would remind him of this. It never went down well as you can imagine but usually he would just not speak to me for days on end. One night in October of 2008 he saw an American number in the call log on my phone (he checked this regularly). I had a male friend who lived in America who he had banned me from speaking to – he assumed this number was his. It wasn’t. He refused to believe me. I told him to believe what the fuck he wants. I had a bag of my son’s old shoes on our bed ready to give to charity, he picked it up and threw it at my head. I was too quick to move out the way and he missed. I retaliated in my usual way by calling him by his dad’s name. He flew into a fit of rage, ran towards me and punched me in my tummy. The impact sent me flying out the bedroom door and onto the landing. I landed hard, bruising my hip and elbow and I started throwing up. I will never ever forget the look of pure evil and hatred in his face as he looked down on me in a heap of tears and vomit and said “Good, now fucking sleep there tonight!”. He shut our bedroom door, locked it and went to bed. I should have called the police but I didn’t. I was still concerned about protecting him by any means necessary and I didn’t want my son to see the police come to our front door.
The next morning (it was a Sunday), he got up really early and left the house. Later that day my Dad rings me to ask what is going on between my husband and me because he has seen on Facebook that our marriage has ended. Yes that’s right. He announced on Facebook that we were no longer married!! I was so ashamed I lied to my dad, said we had an argument and he’s just overreacting because he thinks I’m cheating on him. In the days that followed, I had countless amounts of phone calls from friends and relatives asking what the fuck was going on. A few friends asked if he had left for that woman they had seen in with in some Caribbean parties in London. I didn’t for a second think another woman was involved but I asked him about her anyway. I had heard him mention her name a few times but never thought anything of it. He showed me a photo of her and asked if I think he would ever be with a woman who looks like that. I didn’t think about it again until two years later when they officially started dating and it became clear that his behaviour had become worse because he had been seeing someone else. To be honest, he had been so awful to me in every single way that cheating was the least of my worries – I felt she was welcome to him and wished her good luck.
We argued incessantly that week. He eventually calmed down and began to ask for forgiveness but I had had enough. Enough of feeling painfully unhappy, enough of having no privacy, enough of not being able to see my friends, enough of not being myself but most of all I had enough of being worried sick that my son would grow up to be just like him. I had to leave, for my son’s sake. I rang my dad and said I wanted to come home. He bought me a plane ticket without questioning me, I was so grateful that I didn’t have to explain any of it.
He could not believe I was leaving. His family could not believe it. The only people in the world who knew just how terrible his behaviour was, was his family as they were the only people I confided in and reached out to for help over the years. They were the first people to turn on me. I never told anyone how awful our relationship really was. I loved him and wanted to protect him from judgement. I made excuses for him in my mind – that he was abused by his father and needed help, that I was the only one who could help him, that he needed me, that he would change as he promised so many times! I felt the people who care about me would not see that it isn’t his fault so I kept it to myself. Our life looked great in pictures and my friends and family thought I was happy. It was a great shock to everyone when I left and it all came out. He was really good at public impressions and would pretend to be whispering sweet nothings in my ear but while smiling and looking smitten with me he would be whispering things like “Shut the fuck up, your loud laugh is embarrassing” or “Why are you laughing so much at his jokes, you attracted to him?” along those lines.
The period of separation and eventually divorce was painful and draining. I was mentally unstable for 3 years but it got increasingly better with lots and lots of therapy. I needed to undo years of mental damage. I believed so many things that just were so false. I thought I was ugly. I thought I wasn’t worthy. I thought I was a selfish bitch, a psycho, that I made people unhappy, that I didn’t know how to love and that I was a bad mother because I was told these things over and over and over again. I healed pretty quickly from the physical abuse but the mental scars took YEARS to go away!
Our divorce was pretty nasty and emotionally distressing, as you can imagine. He essentially blamed it all on me, swore in a affidavit that I had affairs and was leaving him for another man and denied my allegations of abuse, naturally. He even included in his affidavit that he should have full custody of my son because I allow my 10 year old niece to sexually abuse him.
If I really go into detail about my experiences with him from dating to marriage to divorce, I would be writing this blog for years. So I shall fast forward. In 2010 I met Jamie, my absolutely amazing husband!
By the time 2010 came around I was drained. I felt I had no more love to give anyone else but my son. I wasn’t sure I even loved myself and well men? Ha! I hated men. I dated one of my closest and longest friends for a brief period and I inevitably ended up smashing his heart in ways my current mental state would never have thought I could be capable of. I felt if I could not give myself to him, there was just about no-one in existence I could love.
February 2010 came around and my prodigal cousin turned up from the UK to stay at my parents’ house (I was also living with them at the time). This time he brought a friend with him. A young, hot, man friend. Funnily enough, as I was at my peak of man-hating, I didn’t take much notice of this guy. Of course I noticed his abs and I also noticed he had cute feet (I have a thing for feet ok?), but it went no further than that. He was on strict instructions to stay away from me from my over protective cousin anyway so any chance of him showing even mild interest in me was cock blocked even before he landed in Trinidad!
Anyway, this guy and my cousin spent their days drinking beer and talking about women, and their nights drinking beer and looking for women. My son wasn’t well that carnival and was in and out of hospital which is essentially how I spent my time. A few times I shuttled them to and from a party.
We didn’t really click until the night before he left and then the next day he was gone. I had told him about the fact that the last thing I want is a man and he had told me as a 22 year old RAF guy, he was enjoying his single status. So we said good bye and returned to our separate lives. But he could not get this ‘Trini girl who got away’ off his mind. He returned to England and cancelled all the dates he had arranged and added me to Skype. And hence began a Skype friendship. He was witty, laid back, loved banter and effortlessly made me feel like myself for the first time in years. We talked for hours on end everyday. We talked about everything except about what was going on between us. We were developing a friendship, not a romantic relationship with labels like boyfriend and girlfriend. He put no pressure on me to define what we were or what I was to him and I needed that. I realised I had been holding my breath for years. I finally felt like I was exhaling. I looked forward to our Skype dates. I wasn’t able to touch him, all I had was his mind and it shocked me how much that was enough.
6 months later he resigned from the RAF and a year later he moved to Trinidad. A 23 year old man with all the options in the world, taking a chance on a 28 year old single mother. Lord knows people probably thought he had lost his fucking mind. I dred to think what his mother thought about her baby giving up his secure career in the military for some Caribbean romance! My parents didn’t approve, they didn’t know him as anything more than the very young friend of my cousin who was more or less drunk the whole time he stayed at their house. I didn’t blame them but I knew when they got to know him, their minds would change, and so they did. I had no doubt in my mind that I had found the one. He took me completely by surprise and was the last thing I was looking for. He not only turned my world around but he stepped up to be my son’s Daddy. My son will go on to proudly call this guy his Dad less than a year later in a Christmas card he made for him on his own. He changed everything for us.
2 years later he asked me to be his wife and two weeks after that we spontaneously decided to get married.
We just could not wait. We didn’t need a big wedding, we just wanted to be married, now! Our parents were there to witness the happiest day of my life and that was all we needed. What a beautiful, warm and sunny day it was in Kent as well!
Jamie respects me the way I have always craved. The love we share is healthy and pure and real. We hardly ever argue and if we do it is short and quickly resolved. We are great friends and I am completely myself with him. We share a beautiful family life and I hope my sons grow up to be exactly the kind of man he is and my daughter marries a man like him. He was the last thing I was looking for but the best thing I found. But having a healthy relationship after a traumatic, abusive one doesn’t happen easily and isn’t a result purely because of the person you share it with. You first have to heal. You need to love yourself again. You need to respect yourself and you need to forgive yourself and the person who hurt you. You have to be strong, a warrior for self love. You cannot carry your baggage into a new relationship (this is the hardest part!). You have to be able to trust again.
Ten years from the day I walked out my first marriage and boarded a plane with my first born – broken, empty, lacking confidence, unable to hold up the tears, lost and terrified to now – happy (even though I’m much chubbier!), confident, three gorgeous babies, the most wonderful husband, a home full of life, love and laughter but most importantly I’ve found myself again!
Divorce is never the end of the world but raising your kids in unhealthy environments and exposing them to terrible examples to replicate can certainly well be!