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..but why did you STAY?

As I went back and forth between the decision of whether I should talk about this or not, I ultimately thought to myself that there is someone out there who is battling some internal demons similar to the ones I have fought and she deserves to know that she has no reason to feel ashamed, embarrassed, or less than a woman for making the decision to talk to someone and to GET OUT. Since beginning this blog, I have briefly mentioned moments of physical, mental, and emotional abuse that I experienced at the hands of someone that I initially trusted with my life, and ironically this is the same person who several times, threatened to end it. I was searching for artwork for today's post and when I came upon this one, it stopped me in my tracks and I caught myself staring at this piece for so long that there was no way I could go past it without making mention of a truth of my own that is all too familiar. Before even continuing I would like to apologize to my family, friends, and those whom I love most for not speaking up and making my truth known when I was going through this. This may in fact be hard for loved ones to read because there are may be things that they may not know until reading this very post...

Coming out of a relationship and still feeling broken and vulnerable, when you meet someone who seems to be nothing like what you you're used to, but in a good way, and who promised to only try his best to heal your hurt by saying all of the right things, you end up falling fast and hard and not caring what anyone else has to say. We met, and dated for about 3 months before he "popped the question" and I happily said "yes". Knowing that my family members and friends weren't really feeling him; I said "yes". Knowing we hadn't been dating long at all; I said "yes". I was in love and I wanted everyone to know it. A year long engagement was planned and throughout that year, the person whom I had grown to love, began turning into someone whom I really didn't know. Looking back now, I can say that he didn't change, it was only his true colors seeping through, exposing a reality that was beginning to be the norm for me, unbeknownst to me . I couldn't go and visit my family alone without being accused of cheating, I was forced to share a cell phone so that every text message, call, and every move was made known to him. This was "my norm" and I convinced myself that this was okay. Those issues later turned into senseless arguments about what I wore and then quickly turned into me being shoved by him for the first time. Before long I would find myself getting fussed at like a child and the back of my head being pushed against a brick wall. My family heard that this had happened and when I was asked, I lied. He promised me that he would never do it again and I believed him. This was the person that God sent to me right? Everyone makes mistakes right? This man loved me and would never do this again. These are the things that I so foolishly convinced myself of in order to fill a lonely void. A year after getting engaged, we got married. Some may ask, "if all of this was going on beforehand, why did you marry him?". In my own little world of hopeful happy endings, I told myself that marriage would change things for the better and I also felt that I was too far gone in the whole situation to turn back, so I would suck it up, put on a smile and marry this man whom I still felt was my soulmate. God was sending me signs left and right and I ignored every single one of them; one of the biggest ones was a miscarriage on my wedding day. I was hurting, I was sad, and I hid it from everyone, including my husband until the wedding night.

Two months passed by and we found out that we were expecting again and I tried my best to be as careful and take it as easy as possible. Time went on, and I learned to eventually just expect him to spontaneously have times where he would put his hands on me and I would just mentally prepare and try to protect my face when it happened. Looking back and realizing that the only thing that I was concerned about protecting was MY FACE; not my self-esteem, not my confidence, not even my happiness or peace; it was MY FACE. I didn't know what he may do to me if I tried to get out, so in order to hide it all from family and friends, I just learned to PROTECT MY FACE. I knew that I could easily cover any other scar, bruise, and pain, but my face would be a little harder to hide. From having scissors thrown at my face, having my jaw almost dislocated and being chased with knives; I learned to hide it all from everyone. I hid it from my pastor during a mandatory prerequisite marriage counseling before we got married and I hid it from my family by not coming around as often. I had almost reached a breaking point when I left home about 4 months pregnant in nothing but a night gown because he had all of a sudden woke up out of his sleep and decided to push me out of the bed. We argued and tussled and I grabbed the keys and left. I told myself that I was done and that I was about to drive to my job to finally tell someone about what had been going on. I screamed, I cried, and I talked to God while I drove about 10 minutes up the road until I got to a stop sign at an intersection and asked myself "what will my coworkers think of me?" "what will my family think of me?" and against my better judgement, I turned the car around and nervously went back home. When I arrived there, he was standing in the front door and I didn't know what fate I was coming back to. To my surprise, he hugged me, kissed me, and told me that he didn't mean to do it and of course I believed him.

I got pregnant with my twins 5 weeks after giving birth to Marley and things were worse than ever between he and I. I ended up having the twins early and they stayed in the NICU for a month. I was raising Marley practically by myself already and I was faced with the reality of getting ready to bring home twins any day now and I did not want any of my kids to ever see or know any of the abuse that I had been faced with so when I was thrown down on the bed and had the phone taken away from me two weeks postpartum and healing from a c-section, I knew in my heart that that would be the very last time that I would allow this man to do this to me. He cared nothing about my health and didn't even care enough to stop putting his hands on me while I was healing. Marley was at daycare and I was home alone and after our fight, it was almost like something or someone got him off of me and made him leave on his own. He left and I locked the door behind him. It was time for a new start for myself and for my kids and although I knew this wouldn't be easy, I knew it was necessary. I looked forward from that day on and haven't looked back since. All of this was 3 years ago and here I am stronger than I ever dreamed I would be and I have absolutely no regrets. I have three beautiful babies and they are my reason to keep going EVERY SINGLE DAY. So when I say I look at that piece of artwork and see myself in her, I mean it. The scars may not have been visible to anyone but internally they were there. So if you're in an abusive situation please know that THAT ISN'T LOVE. Love is not supposed to hurt and there is greater out there for you; you just have to make the necessary steps to find it. But don't ever leave the responsibility of finding your happy in someone else's hands; that responsibility is all yours.

**Artwork by @penciledcelebrities on IG **