“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire” – Jennifer Lee
Such powerful words! Focusing on these words gave me the inspiration and courage to escape an abusive marriage and fight for a second chance to life for me and my 5 boys.
The fire that sets my soul on fire is now sharing my life story of the last 20 years in the hope that it can inspire other women to believe in their worth and say NO to emotional and physical abuse.
It all started 20 years ago when I met a man that captivated me with his attention and charm and enamoured me with his love for life. I married him within a year of meeting him as he was the love of my life, my soul mate, my best friend and I imagined life would be bliss.
I come from a privileged South African family, I attended the best private schools and went on to University. We travelled a great deal as a family and enjoyed a life style many can only imagine and yet I was so unprepared for some of the realities of life.
I was innocent and naive and thought that psychopaths and narcissists were people found only in movies like the Silence of the Lambs. When I was about 10 years old the book Not without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody was the latest craze and I remember saying to my best friend on the way to school ‘I will never end up in that situation.’ Well, life taught me a lesson as they say, Never say Never! Not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that my soul mate, the one person in my life that made me feel so special and on top of the world was in fact a narcissist borderline psychopath.
For over 17 years I lived in silence experiencing emotional and physical abuse, gas-lighting, projections and triangulation within the cycle of abuse. I would hang on to false promises, believe all his lies and hoped and prayed things would get better. I tried everything I could to be a better wife, mother, organiser and juggled life with 5 children. This way of life became my norm. Despite my efforts my marriage was good for a week at a time and then his mood would change, everything I did and said was wrong and dealt with by his needlessly sharp tongue that would slice through my heart bringing tears prickling into my eyes. If this did not bring the reaction he wished for he would go into a fit of rage. This traumatic existence resulted in me suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. At the time I didn’t even know what Stockholm Syndrome was. All I knew, was that I loved my husband and the father of my 5 children but he was so different to the man that I had married. My soul mate seemed to be just out of my grasp and I thought that if I changed myself or tried to be different the situation would improve.
I became an insecure reactionary person who focused my whole existence on serving my husbands every wish and fancy jumping through every hooler hoop he would toss at me. My health started to deteriorate and my brain became foggy as I tried to reconcile and make excuses for my husband’s behaviour. It took my 15 year old son to tell me that I had to stop making excuses for his dad’s behaviour and to accept that he was a narcissist. As I said, I was not sure what that meant exactly, so I headed to the good and faithful internet and started to research and the more I read I realised that my son was in fact correct. My husband seemed to fit all the characteristics that were listed on the internet and spoken about on Youtube. With this knowledge I started to see the patterns of the abuse cycle and identify the gas-lighting strategies and understood the methods of insidious control that my husband used in order for him to dominate and rule our home with fear. With knowledge comes acceptance.
With knowledge and acceptance comes power. I had 2 choices, the first being to stay in my marriage and endure the daily torture knowing that it would never change and the 2nd was to plan my exit, escape and rebuild my life and that of my children. Not a difficult decision right?
Wrong! The decision to leave my marriage was traumatic to say the least. I loved my husband, his good traits were still good. I had invested time, energy and love into our marriage and family. Loving the person that hurts you leads to such confusion. Your thoughts start to swirl with cognitive dissonance resulting from being treated like a queen one day and like the enemy within the next or being told you are loved but they always find fault with you. Your mind begins to spiral out of control reeling in circles with thoughts but with no decision and no action taken. The tormenting hell of loving someone that hurts you begins to eat away at your soul and the time comes when one day you wake up and just know that if you don't take action you will not survive.
That day came for me and I chose to survive, I knew I had to escape the torment. With much praying and planning my stars aligned and I grabbed at a second chance at a life of peace and happiness that allows me now to grow and be true to myself. I am filled with gratitude for all those people who where there to support and encourage me and yes even carry me when the pressures of life seemed too heavy.
My journey has been long and painful. Leaving him and going no contact has been the most difficult thing I have ever had to do. I used to read sayings like “Time heals everything” and think to myself what a lot of rubbish because I missed him, well the good parts of him ... but its true, if you hold out and push through the pain of the the breakup, time does heal. I have learnt many things about myself, about my lifes' purpose and how I view the world. The healing was slow but as each week passed the heartache seemed to dull and now its been so worth it.
From my experience and knowledge I am now passionate about helping other women who feel afraid, confused and isolated in abusive relationships or marriages.
If you are in a similar situation or know someone who is and feel that you need support from someone who understands how you feel send me an email and we can set up a support session.
Remember, knowledge gives you acceptance, and knowledge and acceptance gives you power!