I had never pictured myself here, but then I guess no one really does. I couldn’t really blame anyone besides myself. My friends and family tried to warn me, they told me that he was trouble, but I saw a different side of him. And at the time I really thought that love would pull us through.
I think I started to know something was wrong when we were still dating. He had been secretly seeing this girl on the side, but he said they were just friends. When he talked about her I would get this sick feeling in my stomach. He told me there was nothing to worry about, and I really wanted to believe him.
For a while things had calmed down between us. I felt like I could trust him, even though in the past I knew he hadn’t been faithful. I had convinced myself that my efforts would pay off, and in the end it would be worth it. People just couldn’t walk away from each other at the first sight of something going wrong.
When I turned 18 we moved in together. Once again I was warned by family to stay clear of guys like him. My mom described him as a tornado. She said that you can only get so close before you get sucked in, and after that it’s almost impossible to get out. I was stupid and wanted to prove her wrong. “Mom I’ll be fine, I love him”.
I took a job working the morning shift at McDonalds. I usually worked the drive thru window and then the front counter. I’d be home by 2 pm and had the afternoon to do what I wanted. He worked a few shifts at one of the restaurants, but nothing steady. It didn’t really matter because I made enough to cover the bills.
I guess I never noticed if he was an alcoholic because I usually joined in when we went out to parties. He was just like other people I knew, so I didn’t consider it a problem. One night we out to a friends house and there was a bunch of people there that I didn’t know. We decided to stay the night because we were having so much fun. In hind sight that was either the biggest mistake I have ever made or it possibly saved my life.
I had been drinking and someone handed me a pill. They said that it would relax me but it wouldn’t make me sick. The alcohol had clearly impaired my judgment because I took the pill. The last thing that I remembered was someone getting ready to push a lit cigarette into my hand.
When I woke up the next day my hand was swollen. I had six deep cigarette burns on top side of my left hand. I could see the bone. I was terrified and didn’t know what to do. I went back to my apartment, packed my things and we headed to furthest place I could think of, Alabama.
Life didn’t get much better from there. I had scared myself straight, but boyfriend didn’t miss a beat. He continued drinking, go out to bars and still couldn’t hold down a job. I am pretty sure that it was Valentines Day and I was home alone. He had gone out drinking with some of his friends. I had fallen asleep in the living room with tv on. I woke up terrified and heard someone at the door.
I can remember seeing their feet under the crack in the door. The handle was jiggling, someone was trying to get in. I didn’t make a sound and lay motionless on the floor. I knew it wasn’t my boyfriend. After a few minutes the would be robber left, unable to get in the door. I lay awake until early morning when he finally came home.
The lows in our relationship were bad. He drank, did drugs and couldn’t hold down a job. But the highs always made up for it. He was funny, charming and had a way with words. He could always talk his way back into my life. Plus I think once you have been with someone for so long it just seems easier to keep on going. Plus I was still convinced that I could change him.
We did the next logical things to make any relationship better. We decided to have a baby. Looking back now I know that was the dumbest thing we could have done, but we didn’t. He vowed that he would be different. He would stop drinking get his act together and grow up. We ended up getting married to make it official, and moved back to New England.
He got a job working with his step father washing windows. He worked pretty steady there for a while, and even cut out most of his drinking, but that didn’t stop him from getting a DWI. He lost his license and had to take courses, all the while I told myself it would get better.
About a year had gone by, and I think I was starting to give up hope. His drinking had returned and on the occasion I stayed the night at a friends house. Then came the tipping point, he had cheated again. When I confronted him he denied it to the end, but I knew the truth. I had also found out that he had been leaving the baby home alone at night while he went out the bar drinking. At the time I was working nights and had no clue.
I was devastated and once again packed my bags to give it time to cool off. I clearly remember calling him telling him that I was coming back to apartment to pick up more things. He said okay, and that he would see me when I got there. When I walked in the door he was sitting on the couch, but the apartment was not how I left it.
The walls had been smeared with blood, everyone of them. From the kitchen, the living room even the bedrooms. There was glass all over the floor because my art work had be shattered. His arms were wrapped in gauze. He had tried to kill himself. His response surprised me more than I what I had just seem. He calmly said, “If I had know you were coming back I would have cleaned up,”.
I found myself in the eye of the storm. All around was still and calm, but all I could see was chaos and destruction. I couldn’t live my life this way, and certainly didn’t want my son living this way either. I didn’t love the man he had become, and it was time for me to move on.
At the time I was only 20 years old. I didn’t have a job anymore and I was going to lose my apartment. I did the hardest thing I had ever done in my life and gave my son up for adoption. He was already over a year old, but I couldn’t see raising him this way. I wanted him to have the best life possible and I knew that I couldn’t give that to him.
I cried for longest time, especially on his birthday and mothers day. I missed him so much, but in my heart I knew I did what was right. Since so many years have passed since then, I have come to terms with the choices that I made. None of them were easy, but I did what I felt was right.
Looking back on it all, I think I was so wrapped up in young love. Everyone wants that fairy tale story of meeting your sweetheart and falling in love. I also believed so strongly that love would see us through and that if he really loved me he would change. I didn’t know how serious it was to be an alcoholic. It’s a disease that poisons you. Nobody can make you change but yourself.
Our past doesn’t define us, but it does make us who we are today. Those choices that I made eight years ago have helped fuel my desire to better myself and help others. It took a long time to move past that before I felt that I was ready to create a family of my own. There is certain level of guilt that still lingers, but I know in my heart I did the right thing.
When we are stuck in the middle of a raging storm it can be hard to see the light. I made choices that forever changed my life, but it was those tough choices that save me. I have been there when I thought that there was no way out but I am living proof that it is possible to survive a tornado.