I grew up with alcoholism in my family. My father has been recovering now for the past 27 years. I have many uncles and my grandfather on my dad’s side of the family that are still drinking or are recovering from alcohol and drug abuse. I always searched for my dad’s love and approval growing up. Dad just wasn’t around much. Mom was always the disciplinarian, etc. In high school, I never felt like I fit in, so when I started dating my now ex-husband, I was in a hurry to get out of the house and start my own family.
So 3 months after graduating high school, I married. I never felt like I had his approval either. I was verbally and mentally abused the entire 10 1/2 year marriage. I had by that time alienated ALL my friends, except the 2 that were friends of ours in the marriage. Whom I found out at the end of my marriage were not really my friends. I even limited my time with my sister. I lived with guilt trips and the silent treatment for being with friends, or doing something that he did not approve of. At one point in our marriage, stupid was his word of choice for me. Eventually, I started feeling like I was. By the time I had had enough, I had pretty much no self-esteem.
I even had affairs to try to feel like I had some self worth, because I didn’t get it at home. It wasn’t even the sex that I was craving, it was the love and affection and attention from a man who I thought appreciated me.
I finally left and went directly into another relationship with a man I had met through work.
I moved to Molalla to live with my sister and be closer to this man. BIG MISTAKE!!!!
I should have seen the signs, but didn’t. I thought this man was my BEST FRIEND. We did everything together…….hunting, fishing, boating, etc. I had caught him with marijuana in the beginning of our relationship and he said he would quit using it and threw it away………so I thought. I wanted so much to believe him. He was also very controlling, verbal and mentally abusive and ended up being physically abusive. He alienated me from my friends, but not my family because they had money to offer. By the end of the 3rd year I felt like there was something wrong in the relationship. He was working long hours and he just didn’t seem the same. We had broken up for about 2 weeks, as he had found out about an affair I was having. I was tired of living that way, so I finally confessed to it. I broke things off with the other guy and I decided after 2 weeks that I wanted to work things out. Little did I know…………he had started using Meth. The next year was HELL!!!! We were living on a boat docked at a moorage on the Columbia River for the next year. I thought I needed to try everything possible to make things work before I “gave up”. In that last year the abuse got worse. Besides the mental and verbal abuse, he also started getting physically abusive. He had pushed me a couple times, telling me that if I wouldn’t get in his face that he wouldn’t push me. My family was afraid that they would end up finding me on the bottom of the Columbia River. I finally had the proof I needed that he was using Meth and cheating on me, so I left him.
I ended up getting a restraining order on him due to the drugs and physical violence. He chose to fight the order and we had to appear in court on August 3, 2003. He showed up at the Multnomah County Courthouse with a loaded handgun in his briefcase. That was the must vulnerable and insecure feeling I have ever felt in my life. I then had to appear in court a couple more times to make sure he sat in jail for what he had done.
That was my breaking point. I started going to the bar a lot to drink and dance. It was every weekend and at least 2 or 3 times during the work week. On June 15, 2006, my best friend invited me to go to church with her and her kids. After inquiring about her church I decided to go……………I have been going ever since. I am still working on my life and it is a daily struggle to do the right thing and keep my self-esteem up, but I know that I deserve to be treated with respect. I know that the way I reacted to the abuse was not the right thing either. Affairs are not a solution, they only made things worse. I needed to look within. I have since totally evaluated my life and am working daily on being the person I know that God wants me to be.
I have become a volunteer with Clackamas Women’s Services doing youth presentations at middle- and high schools teaching kids about domestic violence. What domestic violence is (the 5 types), how to get out of and recognize a domestic violent relationship. I hope that if I can help just one child, then I have done my job.