Brokenness Aside

Hindsight is 20/20… It always is. 
After the destruction of the horrific night, within a year I found myself falling into the arms of a con. A fake…
I fell into the arms of a sociopath. And here is how it happened…

I walked into church one morning with my family, as I had done every week, and in walks what appeared to be this nice looking gentleman who ended up sitting a few rows in front of us. I had sworn off dating at this phase of my life in order to sort out everything that had happened to me emotionally. I figured I needed to take a step back, and any distraction was just that... a distraction. Yet somehow this character intrigued me. From a few rows behind him I could see tattoos on his hands, yet he seemed so put together. As the service progressed I realized that this "gentleman" would end up being a "pastor" who would soon become my boyfriend within a few weeks. He was a "pastor" with what at the time seemed to be an amazing testimony. He had an extensive criminal background and had rediscovered God during that time of his life. His childhood was focused on God, and he strayed in his early adulthood. He proclaimed that God had done an amazing work in his life and that he had completely changed his life around. He had started his own ministry and wanted to do missions work across the world, or at least that's what he told me. And the naive 19 year old that I was believed every word. I was captivated at the thought of traveling the world and sharing my story. I was eager to use my pain to help others. I had dreams of teaching children across borders about the Lord through dance. It seemed as if I would finally be valuable to someone, and I would finally be able to live a life full of meaning. Yet in reality I had fallen victim to a grand scam, and I wouldn’t be able to get out. Things started falling apart early on. We met, started dating, and were engaged all within 3 months time. He said God had blessed him with me and that he couldn't wait any longer to make me his wife. It all seemed like some magical fairy tale. As if everything was just so perfect. We would get into intense fights, fights that no one should have so early on in a relationship, and he would simply tell me that the more difficult things were the more we were meant to be together because it would make us stronger in the long run.

During our engagement, I made a decision that I would regret for years to come. We had gotten into a heated argument one evening, he explained that I was too immature to be with him and that I hadn't lived enough life. He proceeded to tell me that he wouldn't marry anyone who still lived at home with their parents because that meant I had never learned to be self sufficient. I was 19 years old. He gave me two options: continue living with my parents and call off the engagement, or move in with HIS parents and continue pursuing this "fairy tale" that seemed so perfect. My gut told me to run, that it didn't make sense to live with his parents… but somehow I managed to ignore that creeping uneasiness in my gut. I ignored it all, and became his puppet. I was his tool, and from that moment on I believed everything that came out of his mouth. I packed a suitcase and moved out of my parents house less than a week before Christmas and moved in with his parents. I remember walking out that day, and knowing that I was leaving everything that meant something to me behind. As I got in my car that day, I felt the tears stream down my face. Embedded in my memory was my sisters face as I walked out the door with only a laundry basket, and I remember thinking to myself what I had become that I could walk out so easily for someone I had only known a few months. Deep down I knew I was making a mistake, a huge mistake, a life-altering mistake… But I managed to push those emotions out of my mind and view this as how much I was willing to do for love. This was tangible proof of how much he meant to me. I'd leave it all behind for him. How romantic? No, how repulsive. Love isn't some controlling manipulation turning you into a puppet, love is being willing to give everything up but knowing you will never have to. Apparently I ignored the last part of that.

3 months after that we were married. I went to the cake tasting with just his mom. I remember sitting there and seeing other couple's tasting cakes and they seemed so in love. And there I sat with my future mother in law, and no husband in sight. So I made excuses. He was too busy with the ministry to go to the cake tasting with me, he bailed on all the meetings at various locations because he had bible studies, he couldn't help pay for anything because the ministry was having financial problems. The truth was that he was drinking excessively so he never wanted to leave his house, and the ministry was in financial ruin because the money the ministry was earning had turned into beer money. I preferred to be delusional and believe the excuses I made up for him instead of realize the truth. Love is blind, right? No, love is wise. I would cry nearly every night because this wasn’t what I had always dreamed of. Yet I convinced myself that love equaled control.

I remember going dress shopping with my best friend and his mother, crying the night before knowing that my mom and my sister wouldn’t share those moments with me. I woke up that morning, and tried to tell myself it would be a wonderful day. His mother had bought me a specific outfit that I was told I needed to wear because my “usual attire” wouldn’t work in such high end establishments. She told me how to do my hair and even told me what perfume to wear, to this day the scent of that perfume disgusts me. Every second of my life was dictated to me, whether it have been by her or by him. Before walking into every store she would tell me what our story was, about how she was my adoptive mother or my real mother. It hurt, she wasn’t my real mother and I didn’t want to live a lie. I wanted my mother there, I wanted her to help me get ready. I remember having a moment in the dressing room, completely alone, trying to get into a dress. In that moment I realized that I was alone, and that I had chosen a life of being alone. Trapped doesn’t begin to describe how I felt, and I didn’t see a way out. So I pulled the dress on and walked out knowing it was what I had chosen to do, and I was too stubborn to back out now. His mother worked so hard to convince me to get the dress she wanted me to get, ignoring the fact that I was set on a different one. She would try to pull me aside and tell me that the one I wanted didn’t flatter me and that I would look “more sophisticated” or thinner in the one she wanted me to get. Yet I didn't budge, and I ended up spending every last penny in my savings account to pay for it.

His mother would go with me to every fitting, and by the last fitting she seemed to have no filter. As the dress was being zipped up she looked at me and goes "too many late night bowls of ice cream… you're never going to fit into that dress!" Ignoring the fact that there were no problems getting the dress to zip up. But the emotional scar was deep, and in that moment she ripped it right open. I didn’t say a word, and I bottled that anger right up and pretended she was right. I worked my hardest to limit my intake of calories until the day of the wedding. I wanted to prove to her that she was wrong. I wanted to show everyone that I was in control, I didn’t need their help or their input. But who was I kidding, I held no control... I was merely the leading puppet in their game of life.

March 7, 2009 arrived. It was finally here. All the stress I had experienced would finally end, or so I thought. We had gone through great difficulty trying to find a location to get married because of our short engagement, so we ended up getting married at his parents house. It was yet another way they would be able to control what should’ve been the greatest day of my life up until that point. They forbade my family from coming to the wedding and had two large men stand at the door until the ceremony began in order to ensure that my family would not try to come in.

There were bodyguards at my own wedding to keep my own family out. Suddenly I was being told that the family I loved was somehow a threat, and I believed their lies. I will never forgive myself for believing all of those lies.

I had some friends there, but his entire family was there. All of his lifelong friends were there. And I had never felt so alone. My dad wasn't there to walk me down the aisle, his dad walked me down the aisle. I remember getting ready to start my walk and the photographer captured a photo of me starting to cry. Only I knew was the real reason I was crying in that moment, it was in that moment that I realized just how big of a mistake I was making. That I needed to run, but I couldn't. That no aspect of what I was getting ready to do was okay. But I was stuck, I had come this far and I couldn't run away now. In that moment I knew exactly how a caged animal felt, I knew what it was like to be a prisoner to your own life. And there was nothing worse than realizing that the moment you’re supposed to walk down the aisle. In my stubbornness, I had no choice but to walk. And to pretend, and to be a part of this false reality that I had forced myself into. I had built this mess, and now I had to lay in it.

So begins a tumultuous 3.5 years of control, manipulation, and abuse. It was my life. It was my reality.

Within one week of being married, I realized nothing was going to change. A ring on your finger, and some legalities will never change anyone. On our honeymoon, he spent a total of $500 over a 5 day period on liquor and beer. Nearly all the money we had received as wedding gifts was blown away due to his drinking problem. But I never said a word. It wasn’t my place, I had no voice. Upon our return home from our honeymoon, I thought maybe things would change. I justified his drinking on our honeymoon by telling myself that it was only bad because we were on vacation, that it would get better when we arrived home and got into a routine. But once again I was wrong.

I was very wrong.

I was caught in a prison of a marriage, and I had no choice but to do everything in my power to make it work. Divorce wasn't an option in my mind. I became his puppet, his tool, his enabler, and most importantly his victim…