‘You knew who he was when you married him.’ I just have to be a good housewife. I have no other option.’: Woman escapes abusive marriage, ‘My son can finally be a normal kid’

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Disclaimer: This story describes domestic violence and abuse.

“‘Euphoric.’ Defined as a feeling of intense excitement and happiness. That was the word he used to describe our late night conversations, our first kiss, our dates, our second-first kiss…

This is the word he used to describe his feelings when he asked me to marry him. This is the word he used to describe our wedding day. ‘Euphoric’ is how it felt the day we realized I was finally pregnant, after two years of fertility struggles and being told I wasn’t healthy enough to get pregnant. This is how he felt the day our son was born, and he delivered our son, himself.

The love and excitement in my husband’s eyes was very real, and I had never felt more connected to him than I did in that moment. The way he held gaze with me and emotionally coached me through giving birth, and just took absolute control over the entire situation, showed me a side of him I had never seen.

This was it. This was the time he would change, and that he would do better.

Not when he proposed, and Euphoria levels were high. Not when he said “‘I do’, and I was all dressed up in my wedding dress, when the day we had waited for had finally come and Euphoria was high again.

And not the day when we found out I was pregnant, and there had surprisingly been no Euphoria on his end at all…

For almost three years, we had struggled to have a baby and talked about it non-stop. But the day it finally came to reality, I look back and think that he possibly realized something that I hadn’t yet. He didn’t even get out of bed when I ran to him with the positive pregnancy test, but he held me tightly while I cried tears of joy. No tears on his end. No smiles or screams of happiness. Just… empty eyes. Clearly, he was happy for me. And he allowed me to enjoy my Euphoria. But for him, there was none. And maybe it’s because he knew that it would never be different. No matter how often Euphoria found us.

Courtesy of K’lee Apple Seifried

Throughout my pregnancy, he was the same abusive person and his demons only seemed to escalate as time went on. But when our son was delivered into his hands and they both began to cry, and he had immediately taken charge and gotten us all through it, from broken water to the drive home from the hospital, my hopes for a happily ever after sky rocketed. I just knew it. This was what would change him to be a better person.

But he knew better than I did, I guess. Because the moment we were back at home, he was bored with us and returned to his old ways. The Euphoria was gone all over again.

Euphoria is the word I have tattooed on my knees for him, and a reminder of every step of our journey together.

But in his eyes, the real feeling of euphoria came with having his hands around my throat. Feeling my face beneath his fists.

The same eyes I found myself lost in while making love had become the same eyes staring back at me as my body began to no longer feel like my own.

And it’s the truth. ‘Euphoric’ is exactly how it feels to fall in love with a psychopath.

From something as extravagant as finding a trail of love notes scattered across the floor to lead me to a bath of bubbles and rose petals, to writing beautiful songs about me, all the way to something as simple as just being the one that was there for me to talk and open up to; he did it all, and he did it all perfectly.

How could someone this romantic, and someone that loves me this much, ever be bad?

Courtesy of K’lee Apple Seifried

All of this mind-blowing romance was enough to distract me from what was really going on, I suppose. I’m not completely sure where I lost track of reality and at what point I had lost myself. The water came to a boil so quickly, and yet so slowly. I was nothing more than a clueless frog enjoying my rose pedaled bath.

It’s amazing the things I would forgive him for, or the things that I wouldn’t allow myself to see because I didn’t want to lose that feeling.

‘Euphoric.’

Saying it begins to feel strange, and maybe even hurt my mouth a little.

Sometimes I am hard on myself, and allow myself to feel as though I just became cocky and let this happen to myself. I’ve been surrounded by victim shaming and normalizing abusive behaviors for as long as I can remember. It became easy to allow him to make it feel as if I were the problem.

‘How could I turn someone so wonderful into such a monster?’

The fact of the matter was, he was always the monster. These are things that most, if not all, victims of abuse can relate to and we truly aren’t as alone as we think or feel we are.

There had already been so much damage to my self esteem and my faith in my own intuition. Somewhere along the line, he had trained me to believe I knew nothing and that he knew it all. So, to repay him for all of his guidance and care, I should cook his dinner every night.

Good wives cook dinner for their husbands, right? There was a conditioning in our ‘deep conversations’ somewhere he planted this seed. He wouldn’t be so stressed out and hard on me if I made his life easier, and part of that was making sure I fed him.
But the food I made was never good enough. He was ‘the chef of the family,’ and anything I made, he could have done better. So it didn’t count. The food had to be good for it to work. Eventually, I gave up because it was never good enough.

He did this to me in almost all aspects of my life; from the way I would dress, to the way I would speak, to the hobbies I enjoyed, the shows I watched, and the way I did or didn’t dedicate everything I did to ‘better myself for him.’ Somehow, I had to be perfect in order for him to treat me with respect. And I had to be perfect to stop him from abusing me.

This is when I would eventually reach my breaking point, and lash out. He would push me to the point of emotional eruption, and I would scream insults or throw fits. When he would successfully trigger me to react, he sat back and relaxed as he pointed a finger to me as the on display for ‘being crazy.’

Realizing how wrong all of this was truly saved my life.

‘You aren’t really in love with me. You are just in love with the idea of me,’ he would say. He was right. I didn’t realize that when he said that, it was really one of the only times he was actually being honest with me.

I do think that part of him somehow managed to feel guilty for what he was doing to me. I’m not going to pretend like there weren’t times the misery in his eyes was completely real. No amount of ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I’ll do better’ ever actually made anything that was happening okay. And yet, with every disgusting name he would call me when he was angry, every skin cell he left on my person without my consent, every time he left me questioning my worth in continuing to live, or every bruise and scar he left on my body; I forgave him.

He says I’m the only thing that keeps him holding on.

But when do the excuses stop and when does my existence finally become enough to end his chaos?

It didn’t. It never did.

Courtesy of K’lee Apple Seifried

If I just be a good enough housewife, he will start to feel at peace. If I just give him what he wants, he will one day return the favor. He once put me on a pedestal and conditioned me to fall used to a life of spoiling and fairytale.

One day I woke up, and he deemed me suddenly unworthy of that life. It somehow became my fault, and I was the one slipping up. But the harder I tried to be the light of perfection he used to see me as, the worse things seemed to get.

I don’t remember having to try this hard.

How did we go from the definition of true love, to excusing his not coming home until seven in the morning and blacking my cheekbones just because he came home to dirty dishes two weeks prior?

What could I do? Every friend and family member I ever had seemed to vanish before my eyes, and it was all because of him. Calling 911 only got me so far, and it was as if no one cared at all. He just kept getting away with everything, and always had someone to pay his way out of his mess. Jail never lasted long, and no punishment was ever powerful enough to change him.

‘I don’t want to do this anymore,’ I would cry, ‘I don’t want to be with you anymore.’

I remember being curled into a ball on the bathroom floor, my sleeping newborn wrapped as tightly in my arms as possible, and the sound of his fists slamming into the door over and over.

His fists continued to slam into the door. My hand was trembling as I dialed 911 on our cordless home phone that I had managed to escape with.

‘911, what’s your emergency?’

‘My husband is busting down the door. I have a newborn. Please help me.’

These were the words I meant to say, and these are the words I think I said. Why does this operator sound so emotionless? Why don’t they sound like they care? Didn’t they hear me? I give them my address, and they say someone is on the way. I’m horrified at the clicking sound that follows. The 911 operator really just hung up the phone? I’m alone?

‘I called the police! They are on their way!’ I shouted. And the slamming on the door suddenly stopped. The chaos and the noise closed, and my plan had worked. I opened my eyes to look down at my tightly cradled newborn, who had somehow managed to safely sleep through the entire eruption.

‘Baby, it’s me, you’re okay, let me in!’ The sound of my mother’s voice on the other side of the door brought me more peace than I had ever experienced in my entire life. Without having to stand, one of the two police officers that had arrived with her broke the door open to let her in. She ran to me, helped me stand, and took me to help me change clothes. I remember being in shock and petrified, and I was hesitant to hand my newborn to her. In a swift instant, it seemed, however, my son was safe in his car seat and I had things packed to stay at the safety of my mother’s.

Courtesy of K’lee Apple Seifried

My husband, however, had not been arrested and only asked to leave the property. He left our home that night labeled a victim, and I began a spiral downwards that required four months of insomnia, loss of my mental stability, and eventually letting the monster that I had fallen in love with coming back home.

The judge literally said he didn’t care about what my husband had done, and his family all accused me of all the wrong. With the very rock of morality I had grown up to know being smashed right out from underneath my feet, I was left with no other option but to believe I was the problem. Everything he did to me from that point forward, I believed I deserved.

To say I fell on autopilot is an understatement.

‘No one else is going to love me the same.’

It becomes a never-ending battle and obsession to gain their approval back, and I was unable to see that the person he was, in the beginning, was never even real.

‘You love an idea of me.’

There finally came a day when I was able to wake up. I eventually realized living in hell for this long wasn’t worth getting the man I fell in love with back. I eventually realized  the man sleeping next to me at night wasn’t the man I loved at all.

I had a two-year-old son that needed me, and something quaked within my soul to say that I needed to get out in order to stay alive. It was now, or never…

Courtesy of K’lee Apple Seifried

I took a look around, to realize I was sleeping in the floor of a closet. The windows surrounding me were busted or cracked, and the rest of the house outside of this closet had no safe flooring to no floor at all. The ‘laundry room’ beside me had no wall. Neither did the kitchen. I had the baby gate up to protect my son from wandering too far, and neither of us had eaten a proper meal in nearly three months.

‘Why didn’t you just leave?’

‘I’ve seen you act crazy towards him, too.’

‘But he’s my friend/brother/son/cousin.’

‘You should want him to get better, if you really love him.’

‘You have to forgive him if you want to be happy.’

‘You’re just making it up.’

‘You knew who he was and married him anyway.’

‘He’s your son’s daddy.’

‘He just wants to see his son. Don’t be a bitter baby mama.’

No matter what I had done, the world was on his side. No matter what he did to us, no one cared.

To survive in the world today as a victim of domestic violence is nearly impossible, as so many women and children lose their lives to their husbands and fathers every single day…

Trying to force them to understand and just allowing them to trigger me in to defense mode never did anything positive for my growth or healing.

My heart racing as I packed what few things I had left, and my headlights of his car illuminating my path as I pulled out of that driveway. The feeling of my hands on the wheel, in control, and knowing he was far away in that moment and couldn’t get to me for the first time in years. That increasingly powerful thumping in my heart and throat, as well as my skull, as I screamed through tears of happiness and thrilling adventure; instead of tears of heartbreak and fear. The powerful lyrics exploding through the speakers as my spirit finally felt the first true taste of freedom.

These things were true Euphoria. There is no creature on this planet that understands Euphoria more than a caged animal finally making their escape.

Courtesy of K’lee Apple Seifried

I had to take back everything I had ever said about my ‘perfect’ marriage to my ‘perfect’ husband, and humiliatingly admit that it had all been a lie. I had to endure; all of it was worth staying alive to protect my son and manage to build the life I’ve built for myself today.

I no longer looked into his eyes and saw the man that delivered our child. I no longer saw the man that lifted me up at the altar. I no longer saw the man that swept my soul from my body and showered it with unconditional love and romance.

And in no longer seeing him, I no longer wanted to risk my life trying to get him back.

‘This isn’t my husband. My husband died a long time ago. I don’t know this man.’

I no longer have to fear his pulling into the driveway at the end of each day, and I’ve learned how to laugh and be myself again without the nightmare of his control.

I speak my mind and feel my own feelings, think my own thoughts, and have my own opinions without waking up the next day with bruises or busted teeth. And I can rest peacefully and comfortably in my own king-sized bed at night, with all the space I could want, and not be afraid of being touched against my wishes.

I feel whole. I feel myself again. I feel strong. I feel successful.

I feel completely Euphoric.

We escaped him, and I managed to store and hide enough money during my days living in turmoil to begin building something new. It took a lot of clawing and digging, but we now get to live a normal and happy life.

Where I was once surrounded by homelessness, starvation, and fear; I am not surrounded by love, nourishment, and everything I could have ever dreamed of. The brilliance of how it feels just to make and spend my own money on something as minimal as a doughnut, without having to hear his anger and distaste for something that brings me joy, is a gift that I can’t even begin to describe.

I no longer live in fear, and my son now laughs and plays in safety. He gets to be a normal kid, with a normal life. I pay my own bills, buy us whatever foods we wish to eat, live in a safe and clean home, surrounded myself with newer and stronger friendships, and heal beyond everything my ex-husband put me through more and more each and every day.

I am thankful for the chance to tell my story, and I hope that my story can help others.

We are beautiful. We are powerful. We are intuitive. We are intelligent. We are survivors.”

Courtesy of K’lee Apple Seifried

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by K’lee Apple Seifried. If you need help, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE, or their website. You can follow her journey 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.

Read more amazing stories of escaping abusive relationships here:

‘On my daughter’s birthday, I woke up in a garage to him trying to douse me with gasoline.’: Domestic violence survivor says ‘if you need a sign to leave, this is it’

‘His scheme to butter me up to lose his virginity worked. ‘Wow, he really cares about me.’: Domestic violence survivor reveals she’s been ‘scared to speak my truth’ for years, but finally realizes ‘I’m stronger for what I’ve been through’

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