I feel I need to state this fact: the stories I am sharing are from my own perspective. What I mean is, I cannot share any other view point than my own. I don’t know what the other parties involved may have been thinking or feeling at the time.
And truthfully, I am not perfect. There have been plenty of times in my life where I have lost my temper, as well. There are a ton of choices I wish I would not have made, and mistakes I wish I could correct. I’m sure to some degree, those involved in my stories feel the same way.
I do not hold any anger or malice towards those that have caused me harm. I only seek to educate from an insider’sperspective.
I am almost certain my second husband suffered from PTSD. After being deployed twice in a short span of time, it definitely took a toll on him. I witnessed one event for myself just days after we were married while he was home on R&R mid-tour.
I was driving us to my apartment from Nashville. (I had not yet moved into his house.) It was raining, and as I drove down the interstate we came upon some trash bags and litter on the side of the road. He mentioned to me about slowing down and getting over in the next lane away from it, but I could see it was far enough off the side of the road that there was no need to worry about me hitting it, so I stayed in the lane we were in.
All of a sudden he grabbed the wheel, turned towards the left, and yelled, “I said you need to get over!” It obviously caught me by surprise as he started berating me, calling me every name in the book, demanding that I listen to him when he tells me to do something. We weren’t far from my apartment by then, but we drove the rest of the way in silence. When we got there, I pulled into a parking space, got out of the car, and went upstairs without another word to him.
I didn’t know how else to react. I knew how he behaved wasn’t normal, and I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Several minutes later, he came upstairs. He apologized, said he was embarrassed at his behavior. He told me about how they had to constantly stay on high alert, surveying the surroundings for IEDs that could possibly be hidden in things like the trash we just saw on the side of the road. He said he knew he was still in that war mindset and couldn’t switch it off yet, because he had to go back in a few days. I accepted the apology, even understood it, and I apologized too for not understanding his request. He reassured me things would be different once he was home for good.
The problem was it didn’t get better. For me it got worse, because it became way more personal. The attacks were no longer about situations we encountered; they were about me, and who I was to him.
My first husband was raised in an abusive home. His father was an alcoholic and was cruel to him and his mother. She eventually left, but my husband inherited his father’s love of alcohol and his habit of losing his temper.
Our relationship began with jealousy, him trying to control me, and needing to know where I was 100% of the time. I thought this obsession with me was his expression of how much he loved me. (I was a teenager who was clueless about love and relationships.) As time went on, especially after we were married, the abuse got worse. I never knew where it would come from, but I also wasn’t very careful. I was extremely mouthy back then—stubborn, fearless, and angry.
When he would pounce on me, I would always fight back. The fighting would end, because of course, he got the best of me; I was 100 pounds soaking wet. He would either leave me in a crumpled mess on the floor, or somehow I would get away and run for my life. The physical abuse ended a little before we moved to Trenton, Tennessee, where my parents had moved. But the jealousy, control, and verbal abuse never stopped. Around our three year anniversary, I finally realized this was how it would always be, and I didn’t want to live like that the rest of my life. I moved back home with my parents, and filed for divorce.
I say all this, because I want you the reader to see the reasons behind the behaviors of these men. But as my Nana would say: “This may EXPLAIN your behavior, but it doesn’t EXCUSE it.”
Everyone has their reasons as to why they are the way they are, and why they do what they do. But that doesn’t make it okay to treat someone else poorly. You are responsible for your own actions and your own decisions. At some point, you have to do the hard work of getting to the core of the problem, to understand your loss of self-control, find a better way to express yourself, and accept that how you react to situations isn’t anyone else’s fault, but your own. I’m talking to myself here, too.
As we progress with these stories, I will also share some things I am not proud of—things I have done that are embarrassing and even heartbreaking. Like I said, I’m not perfect either. And while all of the things I have been through may have affected my emotional and mental health, they don’t excuse the bad behavior or the pain I also inflicted on others. Those are things I am still dealing with, but I am working through them. And I suppose that is the difference: that you can make the choice to get better.
So, I share these stories from my perspective, because it is the only perspective that am 100% privy to. While I can sympathize and empathize with others, I have not lived through situations they have, in the way that they have, and I cannot know their inner most thoughts and feelings. I can truly only give you my point of view.
The bottom line is, I write these things to educate and to reach out to those who feel hopeless. I write for those who are lost in the dark and can find no light to lead them out. I share my stories to bring awareness to the fact there is a better way.
The captive can be free.
The hurting can be healed.
The storm within can be calmed.
The journey may be long, and it will take work. But there is help available, people cheering you on, and peace is waiting on the other side. It won’t be easy, but it is so flippin’ worth it.