“Do you ever wake up and wish that the most nightmarish parts of your life were just that, a nightmare? Some of us could only get so lucky. Here’s my story…
I was a single woman at the age of 26. I worked full time in a busy office and I absolutely loved my job, most of all the people I worked with. I wanted to get married and have children. I felt that my clock was ticking (it’s really a thing!) and I didn’t want to wait too much longer. I was on dating websites and met 1 or 2 guys, but nothing ever worked out. I didn’t want to keep wasting time hoping to be matched with the right person.
In walks Noah (whose name I’ve changed for privacy reasons). He was several years younger than I was, but he was fun. He liked going out and having a few drinks, bowling, and mostly, spending time with me. We worked together in the same local store and he would always walk by my department and make eyes at me. At first, I wasn’t interested. The age difference wasn’t something I was down for, and he was immature. He wouldn’t take no for an answer, and eventually, the more that I talked to him at work, the more interested I became. We began going out outside of work. I looked past the immaturity, but looking back now, I wish I would have just run away as fast as I could. It’s true that love is blind. I still hate myself for allowing Noah into my life.
I met his parents and right away, I knew I would have issues with his mother. I’d read stories about women whose mothers-in-law were just awful, and I knew it’s what I was in for. Lucy (whose name I’ve also changed for privacy reasons) made sure to immediately start voicing her opinions to me. ‘You don’t need nice furniture in your apartment. I never had nice things. Why are you living together before you’re married?’ Mind you, this is coming from the same woman who had a child at the age of 15 and wasn’t married. This type of criticism was common, and I grew accustomed to expecting to hear these kinds of things every time I saw her. I dreaded the next family dinner or cookout where I knew I’d have to be around her. Love was blind, though.
Despite the unwelcome reception I received, we were engaged within a few months and married before we had been together for even a year. Shortly after our wedding, we learned that I was pregnant. I was over the moon. Here I was, 27 by this time, married and expecting a baby. It was everything that I’d always wanted, but nothing I ever imagined would rock me to my core and change my life. I wanted to keep it to ourselves but Noah couldn’t keep quiet, and everyone knew right away. His mother was less than thrilled, probably even jealous. That’s when her real criticism started. The attention was no longer on her, and the control was no longer in her power. I started putting my foot down because I was tired of the constant scrutiny and no one standing up for me (i.e. my husband). I couldn’t have imagined that those things I put up with from her was nothing in comparison to what was to come.
It was literally the day my son came home from the hospital after his birth when the verbal and emotional abuse from my husband began. All I wanted was some help taking care of him, help with the every 2 hour feedings and constant diaper changes, and was met with, ‘No, that’s what maternity leave is for. It’s to take care of the baby. You don’t deserve a break. I’m not helping you. You’re a terrible mother. You’re still fat. Shouldn’t you have lost the baby weight by now?’ He threatened to kill me several times. On top of this, I began to receive even more criticism from Lucy. ‘You’re fat and you’re going to die. That’s not how you take care of a baby. You need to let Noah have time with the baby.’ WTF, seriously lady? You can’t force someone to have a part in their child’s upbringing if they aren’t interested, which he didn’t seem to be at all. Everything that I had ever done for my child would be held against me in the years to come, sadly enough.
Not even a year later is when the cheating started. I’m not sure how I figured it out, but a woman’s intuition is usually pretty spot on. I knew something was off when he was working a night shift and should have been sleeping during the days but was texting me during the day at work asking me what time I’d be getting home. A little detective work and boom, I had my proof. When I confronted Noah, he said, ‘It’s your fault I cheated because you didn’t pay me enough attention.’ I was working full time and the other part of my time was taking care of our child. What a piss poor reason to cheat on your wife. I should have left, but I didn’t. For the next 3 years I stayed in this vicious cycle of him cheating, then apologizing, then me learning to deal with it. By this time, my son was 3 years old and could pick up that something was wrong. I knew it was time to leave.
Not long before his 4th birthday, I packed us up and moved home. By the grace of God, I was able to find someone to rent our condo for the remainder of our lease. I never looked back. I made the absolute healthiest choice for my son and for myself. I neglected myself for such a long time. I forgot who I was. It was time for me to learn who I was again and learn to live.
I filed for custody of my child, given the circumstances surrounding the divorce, and the case ultimately went through the court system. After I moved out, Noah relocated to a friend’s house and had absolutely nothing to do with our child for at least 3 weeks. On the day we went to court, Noah and Lucy painted the most horrible picture of me as a parent and wife, blaming me for things I didn’t even know about, telling the judge that I didn’t take care of my child when I was his only provider, listing lie after lie and reason after reason that I shouldn’t have custody of my son. In the months leading up to the court date, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I was just going through the motions. I knew what I was up against. I knew the kind of people they were, the kind that would manipulate anyone and anything to get what they wanted.
I lost 70 pounds. I was at a healthy weight, and physically I felt well, but the hell of the life I was living was taking its toll. Thankfully the judge didn’t rule in their favor, and today we share custody. I swore off relationships after this, thankful that my son and I survived the nightmare we were both put through. My divorce affected him in ways that I wouldn’t have thought of. I wanted nothing to do with men. I focused on my son and myself and did what I needed to do to take care of us. That’s when love found me.
I reconnected with someone I first met over 20 years ago, who I’ll call Will. The polar opposite of my ex-husband, Will is the most loving, patient person I have ever known. He accepted my son with no hesitation, which was great, because we were a package deal. He gently slid into the role of dad. I wholeheartedly believe there’s a difference in a father and a dad. My child had a father. He needed a dad. He needed someone to teach him things, to be there to spend time with him and teach him to play sports, answer those questions that Mom couldn’t answer. Will did this and much more than he ever needed to do.
Within a year of our first date, with my son by our side, he asked me to marry him. 6 months later, we married. Today, we have been married for almost 4 years. We now have a child together, and Will is just as amazing with him as he is with my son.
Will was the dad who woke up in the middle of the night with our youngest, the one who didn’t ever hesitate to change a diaper or make a bottle and let me sleep. He never talks down to me. He makes me feel beautiful every single day, whether I feel that way or not. His parents are the most amazing, wonderful people I could ever know. I am beyond blessed to have them as my in-laws. They don’t try to control me, control us or tell me how to parent my children. If everyone could be lucky enough to have in-laws like mine, man, they would be so lucky!
I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. I know that if I had not started a relationship and married Noah, I wouldn’t have my precious child. I am thankful for the boy who made me a mom but regret who I chose to marry. I will always regret it. It’s taken me so much time, counseling, support, etc. to move past the abuse I endured during those 4 tumultuous years. I have learned to stand up for myself and no longer let people control me or influence the decisions I make. I am so beyond grateful for the support of family and friends I had going through the hell of separation, divorce and court. I never let my friendships go to the wayside when I got married, and I am so thankful I didn’t. Always cherish those relationships you have with your family, because no matter what, they WILL always be there for you. And never give up on love, no matter how bad you’ve been burned. If it’s meant to happen, it’ll find you. And when it does, it’ll be so damn worth it.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Crystal A. of Richmond VA. You can hear more from her on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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