BETHESDA, Maryland, October 3, 2014 — Cara* is a survivor of domestic violence who lives, works and is training to be a yoga teacher in the United States.
I was just getting out of a marriage when Michael* entered my life. He was giving…giving…giving gifts: sweatshirts, concert tickets, inviting me and my daughter on vacations, giving me money and paying off my car. It seemed, at the time, that he was my knight in shining armor. I loved being showered with what I thought was love.
When I found out I was pregnant, he was not very accepting. He seemed to distance himself. Yet, we married in December, and soon after, our son was born in January.
He definitely dragged his feet about being together. He was a workaholic and did not spend much time with me or our son. He was not much help at all. I felt alone; there was not much of a connection. I felt trapped, because he did not want me to work as he provided well for me and our son.
During one of our separations, he was diagnosed as a sociopath and pathological liar. I still felt I wanted to help him. I was angry, yet still thought there was hope for him. A lot of anger still exists, as well as feeling sorry for him. I also blame myself for being so stupid and getting mixed up with him. It is hard for me to trust people.
We went to concerts; he bought me things. He paid my car off, and we bought a house. He did not want me to work and made a lot of promises that we would move away and go on trips and travel every summer and have a great life together. We had a son. He had a good job. I thought we were living good, even though he was not very close to me. I felt a lot of distance. Questionable things arose from the beginning like I always had doubts, as did my mom. There was just something “odd” about Michael.
He would constantly tell people how I was mean to him. He would always say I was laughing at him and making fun. His famous words were, “Go ahead make fun. You’re sick!”
He was in charge of the money–check book and everything–and would tell me to go ahead and go shopping. He liked to say that he paid my bills all the time, but then I realized the bills were all a mess, and he had our finances a mess, too. Yet, he would continue telling me to shop and buy stuff for myself and our son.
I separated from him two times late in the marriage after catching him in so many lies. Once, he took money from my son’s wallet and hid the wallet. He even lied to the counselor, to me and to my son about being in Vietnam. He would hide things: money, cards, mail and checks. He was borrowing money from neighbors and friends; and despite having things such a mess, I was still willing to go with him to seek help. But he just lied to the psychiatrist and would not take his pills.
He moved into the basement of our ranch home and would not speak to me or my son. He had a cell phone, but we did not have the number. He would leave in the morning and come back at night and go right to the basement. He showered at the YMCA and refused to eat my cooking. He would not give us money for food or gas. My son and I left and got spousal and child support.
After leaving him, my husband finally said that he would divorce me. I was thrilled, but it never happened. He was lying. Even during separations, I tried being civil to him, but he would never answer calls or texts. My son was ashamed that he had such a crazy dad. I still prayed and thought he would get help and get better and that things would someday be normal.
On our own, my son and I healed. We laughed; we went on vacations; we became so close. My son became my soulmate.
Still feeling sorry for my husband but glad to be away from him, I took NAMI classes to better understand mental illness. I thought he would miss me and his son, who was now a teenager and a wonderful young man. But he never did.
We did a marriage counseling class; it did him no good. I was always willing to get him help, but he never agreed to anything.
Food and exercise became my friends. My son and I both found yoga, which helped us heal and enjoy life. We spent a lot of time on our own, being at the beach together and traveling. Although we never wished my husband harm, often my son and I wished him out of our lives…disappeared… just gone.
In September 2012, my son was killed in an accident. He was 16. My sociopathic husband served me with divorce papers a month after the accident and filed for exclusive possessions of the house, the same house my son and I had made a home. The house my son and I painted and landscaped and did all kinds of work to. But my husband pretty much kicked me out and is still in control of my life during the divorce which has yet to be finalized.
I wish he would have divorced me years ago when he said he had a lawyer, but it was all lies. Now that I don’t have my son as my witness, Michael tells all kinds of stories. He even goes to my family and tells stories. They let him in their homes and lives. I cut ties and set boundaries. I have moved on and live with my son’s memories. We were a team. No child should ever have to go through all the stuff he/we went through.
My advice to someone who is struggling with leaving is to just do it, don’t go back, seek counseling, find hobbies, make new friends and live your life. Don’t let them drag you down.
Today, I enjoy being with people and want to help people in abusive relationships.
My biggest challenge was realizing that my husband will never change and that I should have cut ties, moved away with my son and started a career way sooner.
My son always wanted me to find him a real dad. He was my life. We went through hell and back together, and only my son knew all the things that his father put us through. Anger played a big part in both my son and myself. I cussed at my husband; I did not know what else to do.
I would like to find a partner someday, but I am fine on my own and have a lot of friends and yoga plays a big part in my life…and prayer.
Each day during the month of October, column author Paula Carrasquillo will feature a story written by a survivor of domestic violence. At the end of October, a compilation of all stories will be available for free as an e-book.
*All names have been changed to protect the survivor and the survivor’s family and friends.