My dad was the most brilliant man I ever knew. He was strong, the smartest man I ever knew, he was stern, but so loving. I miss him every single day of my life, and I miss him most when I lack direction. He truly was my north star.
I’m 41, have had two failed marriages, and the men were not worthy of me, I’ve been beaten, sexually assaulted, half crippled, been sexually abused, raped, I’m a recovering opiate addict, but I’m also a survivor, a fighter, optimist, stubborn, and a person who loves so deeply I can drown in it.
What would dad say to me to me now I ask as I work through picking up pieces of my daughter’s and my own life with as much dignity as I can muster…
He use to say these amazing things to me and for a long time I guess I forgot some of those things, but at this hour…late or early depending on your perspective I remember him telling me that there would be one day that I would meet a man that would occupy my mind and heart and that the man would make me want to be a better woman not for myself alone but for him…and in that he would lift me up because I would be the woman that would make him want to be a better man not for himself but also for me. Dad said that would be real love…but in order to receive that love I had to be a woman of honor, I had to be just, forgiving, loyal to myself first.
I believe he would say this to me in this moment, “Rachel, you have had some hard lessons and the hardest lesson is to love yourself the right way so people know how to love you by the example you give them…the terrible things in your life were things that had to happen so that you would finally learn this lesson so that you can finally experience love in all the ways it was meant to be from the beginning in all your relationships starting with the relationship with yourself and spreading out to friends, family & eventually a true love partner like wildfire. It is ok to reflect because reflection allows us to learn and heal with understanding that we learn to have after each event, but you need to remember you’re the diamond…shaped and transformed from dirty, black coal that once was overlooked as a useless stone, but ended up being realized as not only a valuable resource in our world, but a precious stone that people pay so much for. You are my diamond and eventually you will understand what I meant all those times I have told you that you were my diamond…the diamond is unbreakable as well…remember that most of all.”
I understand now…in this moment of clarity. My dad was the greatest man I ever knew. He was instilling things in me to use later in life because he knew he would die one day…
The divorce was finalized September 7, 2018 and I can honestly say I felt no sadness, no pain, no sorrow except for our children. Inside I felt free. I felt free like a bird that had been caged for over a decade. I didn’t think that I would cry at all actually…but here I am at your beckon call again…I’m sure you get some pleasure out of this…as you did when I cried all those 19 years…
Packing up the townhome & stumbling over many things this past month has opened me up to some feelings that were buried deep in your wreckage.
The feelings are not for you though…no, I can honestly say I am happy to be done with you & on my own path of discovering myself again because I lost her in you…
I find myself crying over the fact that I loved you more than you loved me…and I was foolish enough to accept that. I cry because conversations replay in my head that showed me how selfish, unloving, & how cruel you really were, but fear kept me with you. I find myself crying because I gave you 19 years of my life! 19 years….I cry because I do not think I could be with another man long term after you…I walked away from one I fell madly in love with…because of you…will I walk away from every man simply because I’m TERRIFIED they will end up being LIKE YOU. Probably because I walked away from Russ, who I loved so deeply that I never thought I could love anyone in such a deep way…I loved him more than I loved you, but I walked away…I knew from your lesson that it was a disaster waiting to happen regardless of how much I loved him, regardless of his fame and fortune…I walked away because of what you brutally taught me. Will there ever be another man? That is really hard to answer yes too after you…
Of course you’re clueless to the damage you have left behind…you’re too egotistical to care that others have feelings & you never take responsibility for what harm you do to others….especially me…
I don’t hate you, but I want too…I can’t because you’re the father of my two beautiful daughter’s…
Through tears I know you have taught me some valuable lessons, but you have made it damn near impossible for a good man to catch me after your charade…
I should have never came back to you in 2003…the best thing about that decision was I was blessed with Kylie.
The worst thing about that decision was 14 years of the same shit over and over…and I do know now without a doubt I deserved NONE OF IT! I was a good woman to you, and I was a good mother to your children, I listened to your past troubles & family problems & I loved you from the depths of my soul. I was loyal to you because I was a loving, a loyal, strong, good woman…then you slowly changed me into a woman who was full of fear about your reactions to me being myself…I ended up being a woman who was afraid to keep friends because of what YOU thought or how YOU would react. I gave up things I loved doing because they didn’t suit you or you were jealous it took small amounts of my time, but you only gave me crumbs…I gave up so much for you even though these things were apart of who I was….politics, friends, painting, writing, singing, writing music, visiting family back home, goals for myself…I still do not understand how I became that woman except that I loved you more than I loved myself…and that almost killed me Armin…and you didn’t give a shit about that. You flourished with my help…and I became a shell with your help….
I cry for Rachel and for the 19 years she sacrificed to make sure you felt loved as I felt conditional love. You loved me when it suited you or when I did what you wanted or what you needed. You have any idea how damaging that is? Go read some real books about what damage you have done and left Armin…maybe then, maybe you may have a sleepless night, or two too…if you have a conscious…maybe apologize and recognize how fucked up you have made me…for the 19 years I gave to you…
You were my prison Armin…and now in freedom I’m afraid to love or be vulnerable enough to attempt to love…
I just want to thank you through my tears…not tears from missing you, but tears from missing me & not finding her completely yet…I say yet because I know I will find her fully one day despite your negative names, verbal lashings, conditional love, & your lack of human empathy for me.I want to thank you for teaching me the most important lesson of my life…
To always love myself first, and at any cost.
I have a lot to say to you and I need to do it in the way I do best, words on paper. This is not for you, but this is for me and for our kids. Writing this to you may bring you some sense of closure and reflection too, and if it does that is great, but that is not my main intention. I’m not writing this to anger you. I’m not writing this to reminisce on our time together though it may feel like that at times while reading this. I need to release all the resentment I have towards you and that may feel like hate at times, and perhaps right now it is a bit of hate. I hope writing this will close off all this and I can finally put you to rest like I finally put my dad to rest. This might not make any sense to you and it doesn’t need too. Perhaps you will not read this all the way through and that is perfectly fine too. All I know is, I need to say these things, and I am going to say them.
When we decided to get together we were young. I came to you partly broken. I had been abused as a child, and I had been abused from a previous marriage. I thought I had scrutinized your personality so well that I would be safe with giving you my heart and giving you my bullets. For some time, I guess I was safe. You were a funny, charming, military man who seemed to have goals and dreams to have a good life in the future, and I was a funny, futuristic, creative girl who also aspired of turning her life around and building something for her future. I saw my dad in you, and my dad was the best man I had ever known, and how could I go wrong with that I had thought? I never thought you would damage me in the ways that you did over the decades that I had invested in you. In those first few years I never envisioned that I would have put my dreams on hold to build you up while I grew older not attaining any of my aspirations. I never thought in those first years that I would have given up complete control over my life to raise our children while you lived a bachelor life drinking with your friends leaving me home alone over and over. I know you view things differently and you have excuses about babysitters, and you want to use excuses about money. Those do not matter now. You invalidated my feelings for decades. When I tried to explain to you how those many nights made me feel jealous, insecure, lonely, and unimportant to you, you invalidated me over and over. Years of this emotional abuse made me into someone I didn’t recognize Armin.
Then I ended up sick with my back tumor and still you continued to invalidate my feelings and you continued your behavior of drinking and going out with your friends. You may never admit to emotionally abusing me, and you may never admit publicly to the control you took over my life for the 19 years we spent together but we both know the truth. We both know I rolled over for you to go on your fishing trips, drinking escapades, and weekend camping trips while you complained about me buying $5 coffee or buying desserts at the grocery stores, or complaining if I bought an outfit once in a while for myself. We both know that you never put me seeing my family on the priority list, but we were sure seeing your family once a year or once every two years. We both know when I finally stood up and wanted to put my goals on the table you didn’t even want to discuss them. Those words still echo in my ears like a siren going off through town warning us for a tornado. “You can’t even clean my house the way I like what makes you think you can go back to school?”
I still wonder to myself, what kind of person says that to his wife, when she tells him she is contemplating suicide and needs more in life? Have you even reflected on that?
I have also reflected on the day you and I sat in the Pasat at my mum’s, in her driveway, when you told me you wanted to marry me and take care of me. Remember that day? You had drove over from Chicago to visit Courtney while we were separated. Remember why we separated? You were out all the time drinking with your friends and we were fighting over YOU invalidating my feelings. I was standing up for myself and you didn’t think I had a justification for that. I did have justification for fighting you then. I’m not saying I handled that time in the proper way. I’m not perfect. I shouldn’t have thrown things. I shouldn’t have shouted the way I shouted, but you brought that crazy out. That is what YOU need to see. Your narcissistic abuse brought that crazy out in me. Make no mistake about it Armin, that is exactly WHAT IT WAS! NARCISSISTIC ABUSE! The projection, the invalidation, the gas lighting, and the stonewalling was narcissistic abuse. I left though, like any normal person should have done in that situation. The mistake was believing you when you came to Ohio. The mistake was taking you back and believing that you would have kept up your end of the bargain the second time.
You showed up in Ohio and you used your charm in the driveway at my mums telling me that you wanted to marry me and take care of me. It was a load of bullshit that I bought into. You never kept your end of the bargain Armin. It was that same year while I was planning out wedding you were laid out night after night drinking, leaving me home alone again, wondering who you were with and what you were doing. Again, when I questioned you, you would invalidate my feelings and tell me that I was crazy. Then, long behold you come home with another woman’s pants on! I still married your dumbass. I was the dumbass, and we had a second child. The two things I do not regret with you are our children, but they have paid a high price. I will get to them later in this revolution I’m having. Regarding Erica’s pants, you again invalidated my feelings again for months as I walked around paranoid about you cheating. The most hilarious thing as I reflect on our time together is that you ACCUSED ME OF CHEATING and TALKING TO MEN ONLINE the entire time you were pulling this bullshit ON ME!
I built you up. I supported ANY decision you ever fucking made. I was LOYAL TO YOU with all your fucking bullshit. I tolerated your womanizing, flirtatious friends and I’m a great fucking mum IN SPITE of the fucking life I have had from being sexually abused, sexually assaulted, and live with a physical disability…and when I made the decision to finally leave your emotionally abusive ass…
You wanted to kick me out of the town home when I told you I wanted to divorce you knowing I had spent the last 19 years building your credit up while mine went nowhere, and you fought over paying me minimum child support and I’m on limited income with disability. I wasn’t even asking for alimony. You knew I couldn’t rent anywhere due to my credit, but you were willing to push me out of the town home if I had let you. What kind of person does this to someone they claimed to love for 19 years? What kind of person does this to the mother of their children? Have you reflected on this at all? I have. I have reflected a lot over these past few months. I am not trying to keep your kids from you. I’m trying to stay civil IN SPITE OF ALL this anger I have inside for your fucking ass…I honestly wish I didn’t need child support from your ass. I don’t want anything from you to be quite honest but unfortunately, I need it for the kids. I wish I didn’t have to look at your face ever again. Life doesn’t work that way, and well I’m stuck with you until Kylie is 18.
You have NO IDEA Armin…you have no fucking idea!
I am trying to be whole. I am trying to heal. I am trying to be an example for my two beautiful daughters’. I will be whole, and I will heal. I am an example for our daughters to be. I have shown them not to tolerate abuse, and I’ve been an example that even when things are difficult in life to not give up. I have also been an example that as a woman, when they are grown, they can work hard to be who they want, and no man can break them completely. Our children have paid a high price in many ways though from you as well. Our children, who, by the way need to heal from damage with your bullshit too. Let’s discuss them now…
You were not only a tyrant towards me with your verbal abuse, but you were a tyrant towards them. Not only did you feel the need to try to control every aspect of my life through emotional manipulation, but you used the same tactics on them. You still attempt to use these tactics now but thank God you only get to attempt to use these tactics part time now instead of being in our home using them nonstop. Again, you will not readily admit to any of this and you will make excuses about your behavior and that doesn’t even matter to me anymore. Everyone can think you are this charming and fantastic father in the outside world, but I KNOW the truth. Our kids know the truth about who you really are under pressure. We know how you are when you do not get your way.
The kids and I will always remember the times you called them idiots, yelled curse words at them simply because you didn’t get your way. I know right now you want to go defensive and try to turn something around on me and try to bring up a time I would have cursed at Courtney in my anger. The difference between you and I is I used curse words in anger at the situation. I never used curse words aimed at her and the one time I did I addressed it immediately and corrected my parenting. Let’s take a trip back to 7th avenue when you were downstairs with Courtney yelling at her, “Are you fucking stupid or something?” I was upstairs, and I yelled downstairs and said, “This isn’t your mum and dads house and you will NOT speak to her like that. Your dad may talk to Eric like that, but YOU WILL NOT SPEAK TO HER LIKE THAT!” You never even apologized to her for that. Those moments happened over and over for her, and she was only 8 years old then. I could write out so many moments for her it is pathetic, but I won’t. I’m happy she will never have to live through that shit ever again. I’m sorry it took me so long to leave your ass. I’m glad Kylie only received a limited amount of abuse. I should have done better as a mum and left when she was a baby actually.
You told me once before you moved out of the town home that I would never find someone who would do what you do for me…you said I would never find another you…I have reflected on that over these past few months too…
You were right Armin. I will not find another like you who will do what you did for me. I will not be with another man who verbally beats me down, who invalidates my feelings, who doesn’t support me going to school to better my life financially. I will not be with a man who controls me. I will not be with a man who verbally abuses my children. I will not be with a man who lays out all night with friends while I’m home lonely and depressed wondering what is wrong with me. I will not be with a man who doesn’t lift me up. I will not be with a man who doesn’t see my potential. I will not be with a man who doesn’t allow me to express my creative side. I will not be with a man who doesn’t work with me as a partner in the goals I have for my life and the life I see with him by my side. I will not be with a man who doesn’t bring peace to my life. You were right. I will not find another man like you. I will find a man who loves me for who I am and I will love him the way I tried to love you and when I do it will crush you seeing me and our children loving him and him loving us in peace and harmony because the fact of the matter is you are broken, and you have been broken since age 4. I hope you find a way to repair your damage. It isn’t my place to do that. It isn’t our children’s’ place to do that. Stop expecting us to. We’re moving on.
It was July 2004 when we got married in Ohio. Our daughter was 4 years old. I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do. I was doing this huge thing for all the wrong reasons. I was keeping up some sort of promise I made because of this code I held deep inside of me that was tied to my religious upbringing, I went through with it because the bills were paid for all the wedding items, the dress was bought and paid for, the invitations were sent, the cake was made and paid for, my family was all set for the day, I was sick and needed insurance, and I thought it was the best thing for my daughter. It ended up being a long abusive marriage that should not have taken place.
Early 2005 my leg and back problem had progressed to the point where I couldn’t walk anymore. I got out of bed one morning and couldn’t walk. I went into the clinic immediately. It was at that time when I found out that there was a tumor that had been growing on a nerve next to my spine, and a tarlov cyst also growing next to that tumor that would require surgery. In September 2005 I went in for surgery with the belief that the tumor would be removed, and my problem would be fixed, and life would return to normal.
Nothing ever goes as planned, especially in my life! The tumor was not surgically removable; in fact, the surgeon did something he wasn’t supposed to do, and he left me with permanent nerve damage in my right leg. He also drained the tarlov cyst and wasn’t supposed to do that, so it grew back larger. I was permanently disabled, and when he came into my room to inform me of the news after surgery I thought for sure I was going to have a nervous breakdown. I was devastated. The next few years I tried to adjust to this new lifestyle.
He was out drinking A LOT. I was alone taking care of my daughter. He pushed the few friends I had away. I became a babysitter while he went and partied, a maid for him, a cook, and I had no life outside my home or my daughter. When physical therapy finally helped me to walk and drive some he became possessive, jealous, and made me feel guilty, or bad for wanting to join him in his life, or for wanting to start having my own life outside the house. I had decided to join politics. I was passionate about that, so I dived right in. I joined a chat room to help me have some sort of social life. He made that dirty. He accused me of chatting with men and made me feel bad for having that too. I eventually gave that up too. Year by year I allowed him to isolate me a little more.
2007 came and I ended up pregnant with our second daughter. We bought our first home. I worried this was a huge mistake too. I knew deep in my gut that we were doomed. I had been thinking about leaving him for years and contemplating how to formulate a plan on leaving him. I went and got my GED because I knew whatever I was going to do, if I was going to do it, I knew I would need that GED. When would be a good time? How would I financially be able to do it? I calculated numbers all the time. I could never see the way out. The only family I had was a brother. Two years turned into four. Four years turned into five.
2012 I had finally hit rock bottom. I was abusing opiates for years. I was contemplating suicide. I knew I was wasting potential and I knew that there was more to my life than sitting at home raising kids. Over the years I had gave up painting, drawing, writing, music, dance, and the goals I had for myself were kept on a shelf, so I could please him. I wanted something more, so I shared what I was feeling and thinking with him. He was in the basement, he called it the “man cave,” and I went down to him and said, “We need to talk.” I was crying in my fluffy pink housecoat. My hair was long then and it hung down over my face. It soaked up some of my tears as I sat looking at him in the corner at the computer desk. “I’m depressed. I’m contemplating driving my car into the local Caribou. There has to be something more to life than what I’m doing. There has to be something I can do. There are people who have no arms, no legs, and they do spectacular things with their lives…I think I want to go back to work or school. I was a great student…” he cut me off and his reply to me was, “You can’t even clean my house the way I like. What makes you think you can go back to school?” Those words still cut into me like a razor blade down the side of my throat.
A week later I had a job driving school bus. I set a goal that if I could drive bus and physically be capable of doing that for two years I would apply to the local community college. Over those passing years the verbal abuse and mind-fuck I lived with was constant. He continued to stay out drinking often. I had to tolerate his drunk friends being at my house and his best friend disrespected me often when he was over drunk, and sometimes he would try to advance on me. My life was turmoil. I was working the bus driving job, I was basically taking care of my kids on my own, doing the house stuff on my own, I did the remodeling needed in the house, I repaired the car when it needed it. I really began to think why did I need a man? He only showed me affection when he wanted laid, and our relationship felt more like a roommate type set up. When you’re not getting affection you’re not going to want to have sex with your man. He often accused me of cheating, or chatting online with men, and this led me to wonder what he was doing while he was out. As I started to wonder about what he was doing, and his past bullshit of coming home with another woman’s jeans on, I began asking him the same questions. The entire fucking relationship was fucking chaotic bullshit now that I reflect back. There wasn’t anything healthy about it at all.
Two years and a summer passed, and I met my goal. I applied to the local community college and I was accepted. He wasn’t supportive. He claims today he was, but that is a complete fucking joke. He likes to rewrite history and make shit up about the way things have been. That is the way it is when your dealing with a narcissistic abuser though. My kids are old enough now that they have been able to notice and see the way he is, so he can try to say whatever the fuck he wants. His friends can think whatever the fuck they want. I know the facts. My kids know the facts.
Fast forward to November 2017. I filed for divorce. Things were bad. He was throwing things at me. He was verbally abusing my kids more often. He came home raging around the house every single day. I never knew what was going to set him off. He was more volatile. I knew the next step was physical violence. He had been gas-lighting me for over a decade, invalidating my feelings, projecting on me, and he made me want to kill myself. Unfortunately, my fear about my youngest daughter and his manipulation talked me out of divorce at this time. He made me promises about going to therapy and that he would really work on his issues of control etc. It would be another five months before I would finally file the divorce fee and start the process of getting out of this nightmare. It took a push from someone special to help me do this too. That someone special had to tell me to take a leap of faith and just do it that things would be OK.
The best thing I’ve done was to leave his ass. I’m still working on my main goal, and I will achieve that goal. He might have done some temporary damage, but he didn’t break me. He may have done some minor, temporary damage to my children, but he didn’t break them. We are moving on. We are going to be OK. This chapter is closing and a new one is opening. It feels good not being verbally abused every day, and it feels good not being gas-lighted, emotionally manipulated, controlled, and it feels good that my girls are not being verbally abused every day, and they aren’t being gas-lighted every day, and they are not being emotionally manipulated every day. This new chapter is going to be spectacular.
The pregnancy did not start out great. I was almost certain that I wasn’t going to carry it to term due to complications I was having from the very beginning, so I was not going to get my hopes up this time. I was also having troubles walking, standing, and I was having major pain down my right leg that had been progressively getting worse over the previous two years that doctors were just medicating. They opted to medicate me instead of doing an MRI because I didn’t have insurance to pay for a scan. His mum actually made me an appointment with a place that specialized in abortions and I went to the appointment under the impression that it was a regular OB/GYN, so you can imagine how that made me feel. I thought she was doing something nice since I wasn’t familiar with Wisconsin doctors.
I worked a crap job during my pregnancy and he went to college for business part time while he worked a crap job. We lived in a crap apartment in a nice college town. I decided to put my goals of going back to school on delay, so he could finish school, and when he went into what he wanted to do for a career then I could focus on my goal. He drank a lot during the pregnancy, and he only went to a couple of the appointments with me over the entire pregnancy. New Year’s came, and he decided to leave me home alone while he loaded up into a car with a bunch of girls he worked with. He thought it was OK to go out and drink with them while I was stuck home alone pregnant. These types of things happened over and over again. We started to argue more and more because I stood up for myself. He would get jealous and upset if I spoke to the guys I worked with. He would get upset if I went back home to visit my family. He became more controlling over time and as I reflect back I see it clearly but, in the moments, back then I didn’t realize that slowly I quit sticking up for myself, and I just started bending to his will because I was exhausted.
Fast forward two years…
My daughter was two years old, and I still had my goals put on hold. I was even more exhausted, and my health issue was still not getting resolved; in fact, it was still progressing. I was buckling at the knees at times walking. It was becoming more difficult to drive. Doctors still refusing to believe me that something terrible was wrong, or they were refusing to do an MRI to find the cause of what was going on. I was at my breaking point in the relationship, so I packed my shit, my daughters’ shit, and I left him. I went back home to Ohio. I moved in with my mom because that was the only place I had to go. I got a crap job right away because that was all I could get since I never went back to get my GED. I put all that on hold to take care of my daughter when she was born, and to support him in his endeavors. Months passed, and he dropped out of college, so he could move from Wisconsin to Chicago. He started driving over to visit our daughter on the weekend and hanging out when he got word that I was starting to move on. He made promises to me, and he asked me to come back to him. He told me he wanted to marry me and that he wanted to take care of me. My initial response was, “No, you can’t even be my friend, so what makes you think that you can be my husband?” He said, “OK, I will prove to you I can be your friend.” I didn’t have high hopes for him to be honest. Six months passed, and he continued to drive back and forth from Chicago, and he convinced me that maybe things would be different. I knew it would be better for our daughter if we were together than if we were apart, so I decided to move to Chicago with him. Hindsight is always 20/20.
We lived in Chicago for six months before the business he worked with went out of business and we were forced to move back to Wisconsin. Moving close to my family was never an option or even a conversation. Reflecting on those years now there is so much clarity but back then I did what suited him. It all revolved around him and his family. Not that moving to Ohio would have been this great financial break thru, but it sure would have been nice to have mattered enough that my connection to my roots would have at least been discussed in a partnership. It wasn’t a partnership though you see…it was never a partnership.
We stayed with his parents in Wisconsin for a few months and my brother who had lived in Minnesota had offered him an opportunity to enter the casino industry. I still had not been able to do anything towards my goals and I was getting older, and I was getting sicker by the year. We moved to Minnesota and stayed with my brother for 3 months. I got a job right away, and he started training for the casino job and started work there. I was barely getting to work and I was barely able to drive. The back pain and leg pain was out of hand. I started self-medicating to just make it through the days. He was staying out drinking. I was pretty much raising my daughter by myself doing the school stuff on my own. Nothing had changed from our earlier Wisconsin days except time had passed, I was older, sicker, our daughter was older now, and I was planning a wedding I knew I shouldn’t had been planning. About a month before the wedding he actually stayed out all night drinking and ended up coming home with another woman’s jeans on. I had already sent out the invitations, everything was paid for, and things were set up in Ohio for the big day! I still married him like a fucking idiot…that was 2004….
(more to come…)