From Bad to Worse
In the summer of 1986, I began my active duty adventure in the Air Force. I served as a nurse in Dover, Delaware. I enjoyed my military family very much. It was a great time of learning and growing although I had a lot of anxiety about new things, especially patients dying. I think it’s ironic I ended up in a field in which one has no choice but to face death.
My marriage continued to deteriorate. The verbal abuse never seemed to stop. I purposely worked the middle shift so I wouldn’t have to see or deal with my ex-husband. I didn’t like him at all anymore and I was really quite afraid of him. My fear was not unfounded either. After more than a year of no physical abuse, I came home from work one night and could tell something was wrong. He had this strange look in his eyes. He looked as if he was in some kind of trance. He hurt me that night more than he had ever hurt me before or since. We lived in base housing and I actually screamed, but nobody heard me. Then he threatened to kill me if I didn’t shut up. So I shut up. He was a different person. I didn’t know this person at all.
The next day, he was very remorseful, something he had never been before. Unbelievably, I gave him one more chance. I told him in no uncertain terms if he ever laid a hand on me again our marriage was over and he would go to jail as well. He agreed. The mental health community talks about a cycle of abuse and ours certainly fit the pattern. Thank God for my education.
We did okay for about 3 months, but then I could see the signs of escalating anger and rage. Having the military on my side, I knew it was time to make him leave. I got ready for work, left a note on the TV telling him our marriage was over, to get his stuff and leave. I told him if he was there when I got home, I would have the military police come and escort him off the base. So that was it. It was over. We were together for 7 years, 2 of them married.
One would imagine things being better from then on, but they weren’t. I was as lonely as ever and all I wanted was for somebody to love me. This began a period of looking for love in all the wrong places. I would go out to bars and hook up with different guys which led to one night stands. I equated a man wanting me with love. This practice helped me for a small fraction of time because it made me feel like I wasn’t a total loser.
The consequence of all those one night stands was an unwanted pregnancy. I remember praying to God, who I wanted nothing to do with, bargaining with Him, promising Him if He would just get me out of these jams, I wouldn’t keep doing what I was doing. He knew I wasn’t sincere. I had an abortion. I could see no other solution. I didn’t think about what I was doing or hesitate. I didn’t feel bad about my choice. I had no remorse. I just knew I couldn’t have another child. I could barely take care of the child I had. My life was such a mess.
In the meantime, my ex-husband harassed me day and night, begging me to take him back, telling me he couldn’t live without me and my son. I was living under such constant stress. I was becoming more and more dysfunctional. I resented having my son because he was a tie to my ex. I was a terrible mother to him. I neglected him and didn’t love him the way I should have. Between the age of 2 and 2 1/2, I would send him out to play all by himself and forget about him. I would find him way down the street playing all by himself at the playground. I know now it is only by the grace of God nothing bad ever happened to him. He took care of him because I sure didn’t.
After my divorce was final, the harassment finally stopped. I could breathe again. Until early one summer morning when I awoke to find my ex-husband standing over me in my room. He was naked and he had the look of a madman in his eyes . I thought to myself, “I’m going to die now.” I screamed at the top of my lungs for him to get out, but he just got on top of me. I kept screaming until my son woke up and started crying. When he heard my son cry, he snapped back into reality and got up and went into the bathroom. I ran out of the bedroom, out of the house to my neighbor across the street who was packing his van for a trip. My ex-husband ran away. I went back inside and gave my son a bottle to calm him down and then I went back to bed because I literally didn’t know what to do. When I woke up, I called the police and went in to file charges against my ex-
husband. He was arrested later that day. That is how I got my transfer to Spain.
When we went to Spain, I really lost my mind. I couldn’t take care of myself or my son. I was afraid I would hurt him so I sent him home to live with my mom for a year. Thank God for my mom. After he was gone, I was so lonely all I could do was get drunk. I got drunk every single day for 6 months. I couldn’t be happy without alcohol. I became friends with some pretty colorful characters and we did some outrageous things for fun. My friends at that point were mostly men, which is ironic considering I had a general dislike of men.
Then I took care of a man who was an alcoholic. He was emaciated, had a huge liver, and was only 40 years old. Seeing him was like someone slapping me. I stopped drinking after that and I decided to bring my son back to live with me. I realized how much I loved him and couldn’t live without him. Six months later he was back with me and I was happy for a brief moment. After he was back in my life, I gave up my friends and all the partying. It wasn’t long before I fell back into depression.
Six more months passed and things were finally settled. I should have been happy. Everything was going my way for a change. But I just continued in a cycle of despair. when I went to work one day and couldn’t stop crying, I finally sought help from the base psychiatrist. I couldn’t keep dumping my problems on other people. I was becoming more isolated. I was having terrible nightmares. I was losing my grip on reality. I had suicidal thoughts all the time. He put me on medication and one month later, for the first time in 10 years, I came up from the bottom of the lake I was living in . That medicine gave me a whole new existence.