You were 5 years older than I am today and this was 10 years ago…
10 years ago I was in such a delicate place in my mental state. I started college the day I turned 18 and up until that point I had never kissed anyone or gone on a single date. My first boyfriend ever assaulted me and I did not feel safe on campus so I left…
Another factor that went into me leaving my 1st college was the fact that at 16 I sang with a local opera company, but someone spread bronchitis and I sang through it like a stubborn teenager (even though my teacher and laryngologist warned me not to.) A year later at 17 when I was submitting audition tapes and going in for my auditions the colleges could not tell that I had vocal damage so I was offered music scholarships to many of the universities that I applied to. I chose this first university because it was the closest to home and I thought it would support my spiritual life because back then I was fairly religious. My heart was not into music the way that it used to be because my Grandpa had passed away and he was the one who inspired me to study music. After the fall quarter I had to go on vocal rest because I had damaged my vocal chords. I made up for the funds by joining the Gonzaga crew team and they granted me a scholarship and tutoring that helped me get through stats class.
My tutor from highschool who also happened to be my confirmation sponsor in church strongly encouraged me and my parents to withdraw from the college even though there were only a few weeks left. This was because the guy who hurt me was still going to school there. So we listened and I left… Looking back, I kind of wish that I would have stayed…
That same tutor encouraged me to go to this brand new conservative Catholic College in Wyoming. It was the very 1st year of the college and it was not yet accredited. They also had a very strict dress code and no technology rule where phones and ipods were banned on campus. We literally had to turn in our phones the entire school year and we were not allowed to have personal internet in our rooms. I got in trouble and called into the Dean’s office because I had figured out who to get connected to wifi in my dorm. Our orientation was a month long NOLS course in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming and I had never gone camping before, but I got to celebrate my 19th birthday at an elevation of 12,000. We studied the great books, theology, Euclidean geometry, art history, and Latin as a spoken language. There was also an equestrian program. We spent days in the classroom learning about the anatomy and ailments of a horse and 3 days a week in the arena. Attending this school was definitely an adventure. I often felt out of place because I was one out of 2 minorities and I was not a virgin at that point which made me even more of a minority and a sinner…
At the beginning of 2008 we had a winter NOLS course which was a week long. We carried backpacks, pulled sleds, and crosscountry skiied. We also melted ice for water and built quinzes out of the snow. It was an extreme cold and I cold not get warm. A bunch of people caught and spread bronchitis and I caught it from my roommate. Then in the 3rd week of January we were riding in the arena and my horse got spooked by a loud banging sound and took off across the arena. I stayed on as long as I could, but when he turned I got thrown off and landed on my neck. I was blessed that I did not get paralyzed, but I was so sick with the worst migraines, dizziness, nausea, excruciating pain in my neck and back, and sensitive to light and sound. I even blacked out a couple of times. This was such a dark time in my life. I could not function, but I did the best that I could.
Before spring break I got a call from the Dean’s office. They told me that if I could stay in Wyoming during spring break, study, write two papers, pass my exams, and have perfect attendance for the rest of the year (2 more months) then they would allow me to stay in the college. They said that it was a Herculean task and they were not sure I could accomplish it. I told them I would try my darnest. And guess what?!?! I DID THE DAMN THING!
Sadly, with only a week left I had a relapse of bronchitis and was still very sick. I communicated with my professors and my roommate brought my homework and turned it in, but they called me in and told me that since I had missed some class I would have to leave the college because they did not want to give me an incomplete. I was absolutely crushed. I had worked so hard for nothing and my health was still suffering. I still live with chronic pain to this very day…
I came home and my parents said that I had failed because I did not try hard enough. I should have limped to school and let them see me throw up and fall apart. This was extremely depressing to me, but I did not give up. I got a full time job and paid for community college where I started taking my pre-requisites for nursing school. It was challenging to go to classes and work full-time, but I was doing it, but my home life was not supportive and I became deeply depressed and felt like an absolute failure.
I call this next phase in my life: NOT MY BRIGHTEST MOMENT…
My parents were extremely hard on me and I felt like I could barely breathe. They told me that I had lost all of my chances and it was all my fault my life would be hard and I would have to go to community college and even then my life would still be a struggle.
In 2008 I took a train down to California and landed in Oakland. I was going to go to school and I had several job interviews lined up. I had a heart full of hope and was ready to chase my dreams relentlessly. This is where you came in…
You saw me in my broken state and you told me what any good friend would have told me. “No you are not a failure. You are beautiful and can do so many amazing things with your life.” We talked about traveling the world, writing books, and making a difference in the world together.
I moved in with you at 20 and that was when my life became a living hell. I will not go into all of the bloody details because I know that you know them well. You were there for it all. You were so physically and mentally abusive. I would look in the mirror and could not recognize myself because I had 2 black eyes and cuts and bruises everywhere.
You isolated me from my family and basically held me hostage and I stayed because “I loved you” and you had convinced me that I was causing all of the problems. I believed that if I could just “FIX MYSELF” then maybe our problems would go away. Now I can see that the problem was not me. It was you. You were an alcoholic jerk who gave me concussions and tried to convince me that I was retarded and ugly. You told me so many times that I was retarded and you would have to hire a nurse to take care of me and even she would beat me because I was so retarded.
I started to believe that I was retarded because when someone tells you something every single day you start to believe it… I chose to believe in the dream and hoped that things would change, but they didn’t they only got worse.
I was walking on eggshells and constantly living in fear. You always talked about wanting to marry me, but I said I could not marry you until you met my Grandma. And thank goodness you didn’t. I wrote letters to my sister, my grandma, and my friend Maria playing it off like everything was wonderful and nothing was wrong. These letters gave me so much hope and carried me through the heavy darkness that was the epitome of my life.
It got so bad that you would break bottles over my head and my blood would be smeared on the walls. I would cry for help and try to escape, but you would always bring me back and beat me for weeks. Some days I thought that I would not make it.
You tried hard to get me addicted to food, alcohol, and forced me to drink way too much motrin. Thank God I never became a raging alcoholic like you were. This went on for 2 years. I had put on a ton of weight and I was a mess losing all my hair and forgetting who I was…
For my 21st birthday my little sister sent me a tea mug for my birthday that she had painted. It was a beautiful cobalt blue and she painted the words “I love you sis” on it. I absolutely cherished this tea cup.
I also asked my Mom, Dad, Sister, and grandma what they thought my strengths and weaknesses were because I wanted to capitalize on my strengths and strengthen my weaknesses.
An entire year later, around my 22nd birthday my mom sent me an email. She said something like “He must be a really good person because you are so happy and if you love him then we can accept him. Remember that it is important to spend time with the people who love you because you only live once.” I know that a year a go I would have been thrilled to receive this message because I wanted so badly to be with him and for my family to accept him. But this time, my heart sank because this was the furthest from the truth. I was suffering, battered, and broken and often not sure if I could survive another day.
Then he snapped. It was my 22nd birthday we were having a good time. I was making lumpia and we were listening to music and laughing and all of a sudden he lost it. You tried to strangle me and beat me with flowers that my mom had sent me for my birthday. The last straw was when you took my beloved cup that my sister had painted turned on the bathtub to mask the sound and shattered it to pieces with a glenlivet bottle. You told me that you did not love me anymore because you don’t do that to someone that you love. I knew that I had to get out of there.
You also told me “You could have left, but now you can’t you have to stay here and clean after me and I am going to invite other bitches in here and you will be lucky if I give you dog food to eat.” That was when I planned my escape.
A few hours later, I was running for my life and you were chasing me. I made it out and I survived, but I lived in fear for 5 more years and felt like I had to always look over my shoulder. There was even a point where I had to move out of my house and was going to change my name because you showed up at my house. I even had to defend myself against a defense attorney that you hired because I needed a protection order to feel safe.
After I left I struggled with severe PTSD. I had flashbacks, body memory, and terrible nightmares that I still have to this day. My victim’s advocate and counselor said that I was a super severe case and most people who have been through nearly as much as I have would have gotten hooked on drugs or alcohol. Thankfully I didn’t and I am pressing forward with my life.
There is more to this story. I left out many details of my suffering, struggles, and the long road to recovery, but I am at a point where I am actively moving forward with my life.
I just had to tell this story again to get it out of my system so that I can let go, move forward, and live my life to the fullest. You robbed me of my early twenties and caused me more pain than I have ever felt. I learned that I am stronger than I ever knew I was and I built character through these experiences.
You may have broken me for a little while, but I survived and am ready to thrive.
Peace and Blessings to you,