My name is Amy.
Content warning: Domestic Violence
Ten years ago if I was asked to write a blog post about my life, I would have quickly turned it down. Scared of the judgement and criticism, I was hesitant to share my story with anyone. I did not consider myself to be a survivor. Or to be resilient. Or happy. I hadn’t accepted my story as a journey to be proud of. It was just a story. So, today I am not going to share with you my story, I am going to share my journey to finding my resilient heart.
When I was fresh out of high school, barely 18, I started dating a coworker. I fell fast and hard. We went from dating, moving in together and expecting a baby within three months of meeting. I saw red flags from the first date, but I was always quick to brush off his jealousy or anger. I told myself he just loved me so much he couldn’t control himself. As soon as we moved in together things got violent. He controlled my life, what I wore, who I saw, and where I went. If he felt “disrespected” or unloved he would get physical. Oftentimes, he would grab me, push me and hit me when he felt I wasn’t doing what he expected of me. I hid my bruises and unhappiness from my family. I did not want anyone to know how bad I was failing my life. I found out I was pregnant two months after we moved into our own apartment. I did not know what to do, but to confess to my mother what had been going on to keep my baby safe.
My family quickly jumped in to save me. I moved back in with my mom and aunt thinking that would be the end of it, but I could not break the spell that I was under. I went back several more times before realizing that this is not the life I wanted for my daughter. I met with a lawyer and on his advice I got a restraining order. I went to the courthouse, alone, at almost 8 months pregnant and filed the paperwork. Walking into that courtroom alone was hard enough, but the process was even harder. I had a judge who made me feel stupid, inferior, and not a victim of domestic violence at all. I felt defeated and alone. But I was doing everything I needed to protect myself and my daughter.
My pregnancy was hard and filled with complications; I was in and out of the hospital and put on bedrest early on. At 36 weeks I had pre-eclampsia so I was induced. My stress and trauma had spilled over into my pregnancy and caused some distress to my daughter. After an emergency c-section on Mother’s Day 2002, not even one year after I graduated high school, I was holding my tiny, beautiful baby girl in my arms. I spent just under ten months with my ex, but I had been damaged beyond my understanding. PTSD set in fast after she was born. I was juggling college classes, while being a young single mom and trying to navigate all the emotions that came with what I had been through. I didn’t sleep. I kept my daughter in my bed next to me at all times while I would lay awake at night imagining ways to escape my house if he came to find us. I was afraid to be alone and several times, at the age of 19 I ended up in bed with my mom because the fear was paralyzing.
My focus was always on being the best mom I could be to my daughter, so I would push past the “what-if’s” and kept marching on. I never sought any type of counseling to address my PTSD, I just took prescribed antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications to keep myself going. My daughter started exhibiting health issues from birth so I felt I did not have time to address my mental health properly. She required multiple appointments a week and was diagnosed with Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome at 18 months. I dropped out of college, got a job and focused on her.
I tried my best to move on throughout the years. I had my second child at 23, with another man who would leave me to be a single mom again and with more emotional baggage than I could handle. My health declined, I went through multiple surgeries, I had chronic pain and moved us around a lot, never really feeling satisfied. I mimicked the motions of everyday life, secretly crippled by my anxiety and depression. It took me years to finally accept my life and be as happy as I could be.
When my life finally felt like it was as good as it ever was going to be I
reconnected with an old friend. We had known each other since we were kids and it just felt right to start dating again. Within 9 months of reconnecting we got married. We had a son in 2012 and my other two children had taken to him as their father figure. This June will be our ten year anniversary as husband and wife. As a couple we’ve been through a lot, but always come back stronger. He is without a doubt my rock and my best friend. I’ve since learned how to share my story with people, especially my husband. I learned the only way for me to be happy is to accept my past as a journey to becoming the person I am today, not the damaged person I thought I was. I’ve taught my kids to feel their feelings and to be open about our mental health. Most importantly, I’ve shown them that I am resilient and they are too.
Today I am a strong person. A wife, a mother of three, an aunt, daughter, niece, and survivor. I share my journey happily, without being ashamed to anyone who will listen, hoping to help just one person. Tell your story, tell your journey and never be ashamed of who you are! You never know who may need to hear it. Be you, love yourself, you are resilient!
If you or a loved one is experiencing domestic violence in any form, please reach out to someone, help is available. Please see some resources below: