Hearing the recent news of former NFL player Ray Rice, his wife Janay Rice and the video that has caused a sensation throughout social media and newsrooms has left me with such a mix of emotions thinking of my own experience.
Only my close friends would know what I would be referring to but it would be great to break the silence and share from experience why even when I was in a battle for what felt like my life I still stayed.
She was charming, she said all of the right things and I thought she was all I would ever need. My idea of love was very dim in comparison to what I know is true now. Love should never hurt, it should never be mean, it should never be jealous or vengeful — to name a few I’ve learned.
Thinking about this brings back so many flashbacks. The moments where I ran down the streets at 3:00 a.m. to run away from her. The moments where I would want to clear my head and get away only to have myself pinned against a wall or a door being told I couldn’t leave. The moment where I ran down the streets of downtown only to be pinned to a chain link fence where I screamed at the top of my lungs to have someone save me. The moment where she put her hands around my throat. The moments where nothing I did was never right. When I was criticized for everything that I did — even the way I breathed. When every attempt to make her happy almost always resulted in some sort of putdown. When I jumped out of moving cars just to get away from her.
Why did I stay? I’m a strong woman but I felt like I needed to be there for her — like I was her only saving grace in this world. I felt like my life was a whirlwind and I was trying to gain steady ground in order to sort out the issues I was facing. Yeah, when you’re in a situation like the one I was in there is no steady ground.
I stayed because I experienced mental, emotional and physical abuse as a child and I thought that love was supposed to be tumultuous. That they’ll always be someone running amok in your life and you have to make yourself small in order to make them happy. It’s hard to break a habit that you’ve known for 26 years. To leave the security of what you know (even if it’s bad) for fear that the unknown may be worse.
I left on May 31, 2014 and have never looked back. I have to thank Iyanla Vanzant’s book, Peace from Broken Pieces. It had been years since I had read a full book and it just so happened that the first one gave me the inspiration to leave. I’ll never forget this Iyanla quote, “you’ll never get what you really want unless you let go of what you don’t want.” I had had enough and I made the courageous decision to move all of my things out of her apartment while she was at work. My parents would later make the 400-mile drive and show up with my friends on a Saturday to pick up the rest of my things in a U-haul while I sat nervously a couple of blocks away for fear that if I was present she would react hastily. I really was afraid of her.
Even weeks after leaving I still had so much fear. Her words haunted me. And I even felt bad for her and felt I left her in a bad place and was heartless for it. It wasn’t until I called Dr. Laura weeks later during her live streaming radio show that it was really put into perspective for me. She said, “you have two options — you can either go to school, study psychology and be her counselor or you can move on and make a better life for yourself.”
I chose the latter. I now live in south Florida with my parents, have a great job and have made some amazing friends. I have been working out, got a haircut, eat healthier and have a great deal more balance in my life. My insides finally match my outsides (I had gained 15-20 lbs. in that relationship).
I hope for nothing in this world than to love people, love life and to help those who need it. I want to inspire the younger generations to really take a step back and look at their life and make sure they’re happy and making the right decisions for them not for anyone else. Thank you.