January 13, 2019
By Rachel O.S. Edmund
I got married at the tender age of eighteen and to date when I tell people this they say “hmm yuh marrid real young!” Be that as it may, most people say that to mean that the marriage was hell bound from the get go because of my age. However, I maintain that had it not been for my ex-husband’s lack of care and his need for total control over my life I would have still been married today clocking twenty-three years.
I remember dates very well and November 3rd, 1996 is one of those dates. It was the date that every girl dreams about. It was the day that I got married to the man that I considered to be “the one”. My mother didn’t want me to get married but what could she do about it since she was the impetus for the marriage anyway? When I got married on that day I had no family members there for support. I did however meet my older brother (my father’s son) at the church for the first time in my life. I’ve probably seen him twice since that day.
The wedding day was over and married life began. I thought to myself that I was in fact a woman since I’d gotten married and the respect that I craved from my mother would be something that would come but it didn’t because she thought that I had gone against her wishes. We became estranged and when I had my daughter three years later she didn’t want to have anything to do with me. It was a harsh reality that I didn’t know how to face. This was a lesson that I would have to learn on my own: How to deal with loved ones who turn their backs on you because they don’t agree with your choices.
During the three-year marriage I became a shell of the bright, bubbly eighteen-year-old that I was. There were many things that I didn’t understand because those were not lessons that were taught to me by my mother, school or church. It wasn’t even something that was seen on television.
The verbal abuse began almost the second we got married but I was oblivious to it because of the newness of the marriage. I thought that was the way husbands spoke to their wives. I didn’t have any model of such but it was foolishly what I thought. I had just gotten out of secondary school and didn’t have a job or anything for that matter and so I depended on my husband’s income for support.
I tried to be a good wife the best way that I knew how based on the models I had seen at church. I tried to cater to all of my husband’s needs and because I was unemployed for a bit I thought that I had to in order for him to be happy. He would however use words like “useless”, “fool”, “dumb” to describe me to me. At that point even though my self-esteem was not very high I didn’t think that I was any of those things. Those words however made me reconsider how I really felt about who I was and even why I was alive.
Soon enough words penetrated my psyche and caused me to become hateful toward him and toward myself. I thought I was the worst wife ever for how could I hate someone that I vowed to love unconditionally? For him I could do nothing right! His words pierced my heart and cut deep into my soul even more than his fists would pound my body but what could I do but try to be better? I wasn’t getting better at being a good wife mentally but financially I got to do better. I found a job and was doing really well at it but his narcissistic behavior caught up with me yet again.
Words would soon turn into violent attacks which left me broken and physically scarred. I never spoke of the incidents of abuse because I thought that no one would believe me. I thought that no one cared enough anyway and by that time he had already managed to isolate me from everyone that I loved and was close to. I kept myself hidden and stopped going to church as often. I remember having to abort my first child because he thought that we were still too young and unprepared for parenthood. He was my husband and I had little say in such matters. To date I remain numb to this cold hard fact.
I started working and becoming less dependent on him but the abuse became unbearable. His infidelity he thought was hidden from me but that was only for a time. I always inadvertently found things out but kept them to myself. He came to my workplace one day like a raving lunatic because he thought that I was being unfaithful to him; needless to say I was unemployed at the end of my probation. Unemployed once again I was broken to the point where I just had enough. I wanted more out of life than to be an abused and unloved wife.
I counted the days that I was alive and thought how good it would be to be dead. My days were filled with terror as I waited for him to come home to rape and beat me just because he could. My opposition to his treatment only rewarded me with crueler and unusual treatment. I didn’t think about getting out then because I thought that I was at fault and that I needed to love him more than I did; I needed to be the saving grace for my marriage. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel in August 1999 when my daughter was born. I dreamt of the new life that would save me and save us.
I was sadly mistaken and I was heartbroken when things didn’t change. Quickly suicidal thought became my dearest friend but I could never bring myself to complete the act. Silent whispers I would hear somewhere in the distance and I would fold under the mounting pressure into a smoldering heap of distress on my kitchen floor. I couldn’t even get that right! There was no one to talk to and what would a police report do for me? I couldn’t even bring myself to face my reality and I never made any reports to the police because I was so ashamed of what I thought was my own doing.
Two days short of my daughter’s fourth month of life, I held her in my arms on a rainy December night fighting to stay alive as he bashed my head in punching my life out of me. I screamed in pain as she cried not understanding what was happening. I became a single mother that night as I could no longer bear the weight of it all. I chose to endure no more abuse at the hands of someone that was supposed to be my protector.
The wounds of torment have never fully healed but I have come to that place of forgiveness nineteen years later. I rarely ever spoke of the torment and the pain that I endured mostly because I couldn’t and partly because I felt that people would say that I made it all up. The fact is that I didn’t make it all up and it was never a figment of my imagination. It is my story; it is my pain. Thankfully I was able to move on with my life but it has been a journey. I have found solace in the arms of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ whom I thought couldn’t save me then. Truthfully, I was so far away from Him that I never even asked for His help because I simply didn’t know how to.
I moved on from being a married woman to a single mother in the space of three long years. I have grown so much since and I have learnt many lessons from my children. I have been single for so many years that I really don’t have a clue as to what marriage looks like anymore. I tried at relationships but soon tired of them when I realized that some of the men that took interest in me possessed similar if not the same character flaws as my ex-husband.
We do not always get to choose how a story would end but we can choose the roles that we may play in that story. I chose to love my children no matter the cost to me. I chose to be responsible for them in every way that I could. I have no regrets about being a single mother because at least it is the one thing that brought me joy and peace and knowing that they get to have the best of me brings me hope for a better tomorrow. It is the one thing that to me that I have gotten right!
I am no longer haunted by fear or guilt and I am not angry that I chose an individual to marry who would not or could not love me the way that I deserved. Without him I would not have experienced what I did, I would not have had my daughter and I would not be here reaching out to help someone else. I hope that for some this article would bring a level of understanding that was never had before. I pray to God that it will bring light to the soul that continues to live in the darkness thinking that they are unworthy because they made a mistake or had a lapse in judgment.
Single motherhood is difficult especially when there is a lack of support from close family or relatives but the fruit of success as a parent lies in the work that you choose to do today and the mindset that you choose to adopt. It is not easy and things do get rough but there is always a light to guide you on your way if we only CHOOSE to see it.
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