Twelve years ago today My husband and I stood in the little chapel of the west in Las Vegas and swore to love and honor each other for the rest of our lives.
Have we loved and honored each other for the last twelve years? Sometimes and sometimes not. Its been a wild ride at times and we have been through several storms together. We both have done very damaging things to our relationship. Somewhere in the middle of it all we totally came undone and almost got divorced. We found our way back to each other and since then our marriage has been better and stronger than ever.
After I escaped my forced child marriage I married someone my own age. We then had two children. The first two years of our marriage were “ok”, probably because he was in the military and gone for most of it. Once he got out and was home all the time we fought constantly. This is not the part where I am going to place blame and bash my children’s father. I will say this, we fought so much that I had nothing left to give my children. It was not an environment that I felt was good for the children to be in. After marriage counseling had failed, I packed up my children and left. I have never regretted this move and things continued to be very ugly for years after. I cannot control my ex-husband or make him be what I feel he should be to our children. I also at times can’t seem to control my response to him. What I can do is create the best environment possible in my home for my children and get them additional help when they need it. My husband Nick has helped me provide this for the last 12 years.
Nick has given me several “gifts” over the course of the last 12 years.
The first gift Nick gave me was a feeling of being safe. I still remember like it was yesterday looking at him and feeling like if I just stick with him somehow this man will keep me and my little ducks safe. My husband is quiet, kind, very fair and often very funny. But you don’t want to mess with his family he will put you in your place.
The second was for the first time in my life ” felt” loved. I have been the center of his world from day 1. Until this point, I never felt loved by anyone. I had people say they loved me and I would often match their actions and behavior to their words. I figured that I was too broken to ” feel” loved by anyone.
The third is how much he loves my children. I forget sometimes that he is not the biological father of 3 of them. No one can tell the difference. He is “the dad” to all of them, end of story. Nick has filled in many of the gaps in parenting for me. Since I did not have a normal teenage experience of know first hand what being a high schooler is we lean on Nicks knowledge. sometimes when I am not sure if I should let the kids do something I let him have the final say in a ” go ask your dad”. If he thinks it’s safe and Ok, then I don’t worry about it. This has never gone bad. This helps keep my abuse survivor paranoia in check.
Many people find Nick scary and intimidating. Good! He has been loving and tender to all of us and made us all feel safe and cared for I love him so much for this.
Both of us have a share of baggage and shit that we needed to work out. There have been times when I wanted to give up and he didn’t give up on me. There have been times when I drug him back up on his feet as well. We keep going, we keep trying.
I would like to say that we all came together and it was wonderful and easy from the start but that’s not true.
Some issues that I had to work through
- My value. During the first few years of our marriage, I still felt like the only thing I had to offer in a relationship was what I could provide sexually. I also was very used to having someone else tell me how I felt about things how I should think, who I should be and all the ways I wasn’t good enough. Nick wasn’t like this at all, he was just like “do what makes you happy, let me know if you need my help”. What?? how do I figure out my own life? After a lifetime of yelling and chaos and striving to finally be good enough how do I just sit here all peaceful? I know this probably sounds crazy to you dear reader but this was how it was. I felt like I was emotionally drowning and he stood on the shore with one of those doughnut things and wouldn’t throw it to me. I would ask him, what do you want from me? And he was like. “I don’t know wanna watch a movie?” I knew he was unhappy with me and just waiting to point out all the ways I was failing as a human being. I would try to drag it out of him until he became so frustrated that he would point out that the only I was doing to upset him was accusing him of doing things he wasn’t doing. I would crawl into bed and ask him ” do you still love me?” He found this super annoying until I explained that my who life it has been my experience that everyone who “cared” about me had an expiration date attached to it. I needed to hear it over and over again until I believed it. So he answered my annoying question as much as I needed for years. Many trauma survivors fall into this self-sabotaging trap. It would take me 2 years of therapy and many more of practice to realize my value and to accept that I could trust that Nick loved me and will continue to do so.
- Thankfully he never brings any of this up, there is not one thing that I have done in our relationship that he has thrown back in my face EVER. I wish I was this kind of a person.
- My husband never gave up on me even when I gave up on myself. My husband has so much faith in me, much more so than I have in myself. I don’t know for sure at what point I found some self-esteem or if it’s just the mirror that my husband holds up for me.
- My husband has never made me feel damaged or too broken or ashamed or asked me not to talk about the unpleasant parts of my past. I can talk to him about anything and I feel totally safe in that space. I am accepted by him for who I am cracks and all. He listens to me, no matter how many times I need to talk about it. On the flip side of this, he rarely offers an unsolicited opinion. I always have to ask for his thoughts. And sometimes it’s like trying to pull the sword from the stone.
- His patience with me is unbelievable, Many sexual assault survivors struggle with intimacy for a time afterward and some struggle forever. I am not going into detail here but I will say that Nick has always been patient with me. I believe has helped me reach a place of comfort and healing that I would not have been able to get to otherwise. If I am ever triggered suddenly, he backs off no questions no repercussions. He has followed my lead and we have always been able to talk about what needs to be talked about. Nick gives the best hugs so that is helpful too. There have been seasons of constant nightmares where he has tried to soothe me. Long talks about things he probably never wanted to hear about helping me process my crap. When I feel like I have hit a wall I can’t climb he has picked me up and carried me to the other side.
- He feels my story needs to be shared too. Nick supports me telling my story 110%. He feels that people need to know about child marriage and how harmful it is. He finds my strength and ability to be open about what I’ve been through and how I got to where I am now inspiring. He feels that I should share and inspire others. He feels that I am brave and courageous and is very proud of me.
The kids are older now and are starting to leave the nest and have lives of there own. I am so grateful that we didn’t give up on each other. We have more time for each other and enjoy each others company. We have so much fun together. Heres to many more years, new experiences and growth.