Sometimes the past comes creeping back

I haven’t been blogging much recently because I have a lot on my mind and it’s not the sort of stuff I usually talk about in this space. I have come to the realization that the internal struggle I have had over the past few weeks has a direct impact on my children and therefore, it does belong here.

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I grew up knowing that my parents supported me unconditionally – they may not have always agreed with my decisions but I always had their support and they never said I told you so when things didn’t work out the way I planned.

I grew up in a house where we were held accountable for our actions.

I grew up in a house where telling someone to shut-up or calling them stupid or a baby was unacceptable and I plan to raise my children the same way. There is no reason to ever tell someone to shut-up, it is incredibly disrespectful. In this house we listen to each other – and really listen, not simply wait for them to stop talking so we can have our say.

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14 years ago today I entered the 2 darkest years of my life when I married my ex-husband. Every decision I made, every penny I spent, every phone call I made – it was all watched. Everything I said was debated and I finally got to the point where I stopped expressing my opinion because I would be ignored, told I was wrong or screamed at for an hour. I started to believe that I wasn’t smart, that I didn’t matter, and I didn’t recognize myself anymore. I believed that marriage was forever and divorce would make me a failure – if the abuse would have ever turned physical I would have been out the door in a heartbeat. It took me a while to realize that the verbal abuse was still abuse.

A very good friend of mine was getting married (Hi Jim!) and when I told my husband about the wedding he said we couldn’t go because he had plans for that day. I quietly sent the RSVP for myself, I wasn’t going to miss the wedding. When the day rolled around he flipped out and was shocked that I was going without him. That is the day that the light bulb went off, we separated for good a few weeks later.

I filed for divorce, volunteered for every extra work assignment to advance my career and went back to school. I am a very different person today because of that time period. In recent years December 6th usually passes without much thought, I have a husband who loves me and thinks I am pretty smart too. We listen to each other’s opinions and above all respect each other.

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No one has ever spoken to me that way my ex-husband did until a few weeks ago. There was some drama in Scott’s family and someone felt that they were entitled to be really mad and take it out on me. I put up with the screaming and cursing on the phone watching my every word in an effort not to make the situation worse. I was shaking for hours after that call and the subsequent e-mails (when you come from a family where shut-up is a bad word, being told to F*%# off from someone who is supposed to be family is a bit jolting). The saddest thing about all of this was that Scott wasn’t surprised by the events.

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Now I am in  mama bear mode and I want to protect everyone from the ugliness. I feel like I saw the true personalities of a few people that weekend and now I need to decide how that affects our household. The reality is that my children may grow-up not knowing their only cousins and that makes me sad. (Note: This is not an isolated event, there is obviously a long history that I am not discussing here out of respect for Scott – those are not my stories to tell).

 Photo credit: My amazing friend Michelle.

8 comments to Sometimes the past comes creeping back

  • That sucks to be dragged into that crap. But good for you for not getting drawn into it. I know the feeling – I have some volatile relatives, plus some friends that recently lost their damned minds & started harassing us. It was rough. HUGS!

  • Ugh. I’m sorry that you are having to deal with this. Especially right during the holidays. Good for you for being the better person in all of this.

    LOVE the picture of you and the kids!

  • I credit myself with your divorce. That, and Magnet-O.

    I think as a dad, one of the things I want most for my girls is to find a spouse who respects and values them. I hope that showing them I respect and value Leslie teaches them to expect that in a future spouse.

  • Trude Witham

    I have a huge amount of respect for you for walking away from your first, and abusive, marriage. Good for you! Also, glad that you are a stronger person for it. Happy holidays, my friend, and always take good care of yourself!

  • i was involved for entirely too long with an extremely mentally abusive man. at the time i had no clue that his behavior was considered abuse, but thankfully i realized that i didn’t want to live the rest of my life the way i was living it with him, so i declined marriage and went on my way. a direct result of years with him helped me realize what i will refuse to accept…from a partner or anyone. it fills my heart with joy to know that you also are stronger from your similar experience, that you know how wonderful and worthy of love you are. i have no doubt that you will handle this current situation well. go, you!

    phenomenal photo of you and the kids. truly special.