“Welcome to my world!” I said to my mom, as I sobbed by the lake.
I was standing before my mother like a six-year-old, wishing she could take away the pain; hoping she would have the advice to help me through this desperate time.
Eight years of hiding the abuse were finally over.
My husband had spent the last few hours in a rage. The rage he usually reserved for me was exposed.
It was Labor Day Weekend. My husband, parents and I had left early that Friday on a four-hour drive to a campground my parents had taken my sister and I every summer throughout my childhood. When we arrived, the campsite we had reserved had not been vacated. The campers had left their belongings and their site remained set-up. They were nowhere to be found.
This was not a big deal to my parents and me. As a child, we never took the first site we were assigned. Family tradition was to drive around, find the best site available, and request it. To my husband, it was a big deal. He was determined to make everyone miserable until he got the site he reserved. He screamed and yelled while I shrunk in embarrassment and shame as well as relief.
The burden of hiding the abuse was lifted.
This behavior – the screaming, belittling of others, and spitting rage – was usually done in private. In front of family and friends, he was calm and jovial. We were the perfect couple when we had an audience. When it was just the two of us, I couldn’t do anything right.
For eight years I hid the abuse. I was exhausted from walking on eggshells; always waiting for the explosion of his wrath that I had learned would surely come. I was tired of keeping up the false image.
That weekend, I finally showed my mom my truth, my pain, and the ugliness of a relationship that was slowly breaking my spirit. Mom stuck close by that weekend, mediating and stepping in to rationalize with a man who was not rational. She defended me, supported me, and at the end of the weekend, alone in the bathroom, my eyes were swollen from crying all night, my mom said the most empowering words I needed to hear, “You don’t have to stay.”
Until that moment, I could not give myself permission to leave.
In an instant, she gave me her blessing and the freedom to walk away from something that wasn’t working, that wasn’t serving me, and that was in fact, suppressing me.
My mom hugged me. She cried with me. And as the healing began, I knew everything was going to be all right. The combining of our tears was powerful. As we wept, we connected like only a mother and daughter can. She showed me compassion, she shared my sorrow, and she helped me release my pain. I knew I was no longer alone in carrying this burden.
Months later I finally left that abusive situation and sought comfort from my parents at my childhood home. I walked into the living room, sat down on the couch and said, “I left him.” My mom’s eyes began to tear as she calmly and simply replied, “You just couldn’t take it anymore, could you?”
Four years after I left that abusive relationship, I remarried. Jim and I met at the gym and quickly built a strong friendship. He encouraged me to revisit my childhood passion, the bike!
We fell in love while cycling, and shared additional passions for health and fitness. We love to laugh and do so easily, and often. To honor this great love, we decided to celebrate a combined “100 years” birthday party, which turned into a surprise engagement and a wedding (for our guests) all in one!
As we made plans for the wedding, I shared our intentions with my mom right away. She was quick to lend her support. And on my wedding day, she said the most beautiful words that I needed to hear,
“I’m proud of you. I’m happy for you. I love you.”