The Why

Why did you stay? It’s just such a difficult question to answer.  First, I want to reiterate that mental illness is no excuse to abuse people, especially those you love.  I can’t speak about other people’s feelings or situations or even their reasons for staying or going.  I can only try to explain my own.  Try for a moment to imagine a world far away from everyone you know, your family isn’t there, your friends aren’t there, people you have known your whole life suddenly aren’t there.You’re young, just a baby in fact at eighteen..  I think in my case it started with isolation.  I had no one. I left everything behind.  Everyone I knew, including my family, was over a thousand miles away. Being the only girl with three brothers, I was very sheltered and protected from the world.  I love my parents so much, but they never really prepared me for living on my own, or even in the real world, and certainly not for being married.  My aunt came from a very physically violent abusive marriage and my mom told me “don’t ever let a man hit you.”  That was my preparation for dating and marriage.  Moving a great distance from everything I ever knew I just assumed my situation was normal to a degree. Men have tempers, they get mad sometimes.  He always apologized, therefore, it wouldn’t happen again.  I didn’t have anyone to talk to  or to tell me different.  I also didn’t want to worry my parents.  There would be nothing they could do.  I was a grown-up and had to figure my life out on my own.  Also if I was on the phone, he listened to every word. I had no privacy at all.  I really couldn’t say anything. I would be punished later if I talked about him, so I just kept it to i love you, i miss you, life is great.  That kept everyone happy.  He also systematically isolated me from my family and friends old and new.  It’s kind of like him having a puppy. He was the master and I was  dependent on him for food, shelter, and happiness. I learned fast if I displeased him, I suffered, and tried harder. It was my duty as a wife.  I believed his apologies.  I doubted myself because he would laugh at me and put me down. I have always been a nurturer and a giver.  It’s  my nature to forgive completely and move forward. The takers always find the givers in the world. Takers couldn’t take without the givers.  It’s a dichotomy as old as time  and my fatal flaw.  I gave everything. He took everything.  I don’t blame him entirely.  I feel guilt and I accept blame too. I can only learn from my past, I can’t change it.  I have to just let life warm me and spread within me like sitting in the sun on a hot day.  I have a freedom now I never felt before. I’m figuring out life.  And yes, I’m making bad choices, but I have a lot of living to do just starting out at fifty. I’m learning from every bad decision as much as from the good ones.  I am good enough.  I can do anything I want, but it will be what I want for me, not what someone else thinks.  Everyone thinks they know what is best for you based of course on their own life experiences.  I didn’t live their life and they didn’t live mine.  So I will be who I am and I won’t be judged for it. I am the decider of my own fate.

So in a nutshell some of the answers to why I stayed are; young, naive, sheltered, isolated, no privacy,low level of education, brainwashed, dependent, unprepared, fear, trapped, nowhere to go,no skills, the children, threats, low self esteem, sense of duty, self doubt,discouraged, laughed at, made fun of and more that I can’t even verbalize.

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