Please bear with me...

For the first time, I’m gathering the courage to share my story... I have been able to share some of the episodes with a few friends, but most of my family doesn’t even know what I went through 16 years ago. 
I met this nice guy while attending night classes for English as second language. He was charming and sweet and we headed off.  Due to my living situation at the time, I ended up moving in with him and his mom. It was right there that the worst nightmare of my life began. 
He started showing signs of jealousy, asked me to let him check my phone to make sure I wasn’t contacting any other guys. He had been cheated on in his previous relationship so I thought nothing of it, as I say to myself “I had nothing to hide.” He then asked for my email password, and checked regularly that there was nothing fishy in there. Things started to escalate if I didn’t pick up the phone when he would call me at work, he would park by my job and watch and wait. I had to explain every move. I realized I was in a prison after I walked to the supermarket alone and he found out. He banged my head against a book case in anger. Lots of scenarios like this followed, he would have a suspicion and wouldn’t believe me and he would scream, hit me, and break my stuff. 
I became very familiar with using makeup to hide the bruises every morning. I called the cops a few times, and finally, the last time, he beat me, he kicked me while on the floor, while I cried and screamed. The police office said he couldn’t help me because “I had bruises but no broken skin.” I waited until he went to work, I got a container moving company to come and help me grab my stuff while he was away, and contacted the cops to make sure he wouldn’t come in and find me there. I put all my stuff in a storage place, and left him. I crashed on someone’s couch for a few months, I had some money but not enough for a rent on my own. I lived out of a suitcase, I was making minimum wage and it was going to be tough finding an affordable place in a safe area. 
He called me day and night and asked me to reveal my location, he stalked me at work, so I tried to not get caught getting in or out. I lived in panic for months, as a homeless runaway, afraid of his threats, alone, his family turned on me, and disagree with me leaving him, because he was becoming a burden on them. 
I had some friends, but no family, I was 23. I was hurt, abused, physically and emotionally, unable to trust, thinking “I must deserve this, this will pass, he will trust me one day.” 
I realize soon after I never loved him. He was broken, and I thought I could fix him, but he was a bad person and his family enabled his behavior, his family was ok with me taking the beatings, because he needed time...So when I left, I stumbled for a while. I was lonely, I tried to find myself, I had not been strong but couldn’t give up. I had done what I could in the circumstances, with little guidance, with zero support, with too much pride to share with everyone how bad the situation was. 
And I did: I reinvented myself, I become me again, I didn’t let this define me, I didn’t let this crushing of my soul change me. I focused on my goals, I focused on my ambition, on working hard and getting back on my feet. 
Slowly I was able to get a room, then an apartment, got my stuff out of storage, stopped living out of a suitcase and sleeping on someone’s couch. I got an apartment, then a bicycle, a couch. Then I got a job promotion, then another one, and started to move up in life, I became more driven than I ever imagined possible, I become strong, positive, but still took time to get to trust anyone...
In December 2004, I met a guy, we dated a few weeks and then I thought I was still too broken to get into a serious relationship so I let him go. We were falling for each other, and I was so scared!  During the break, the feeling of never seeing him again was too much, so I invited him to a camping trip with friends some weeks later. He jumped right on it, confirming we were both hopeful that this would work out. 
We got engaged in 2006, married in 2008 and just celebrated our 11th anniversary with a trip to Mexico. He has been amazing since day one, he has healed my soul and he doesn’t even know it. He’s gentle, he’s loving, he’s generous, he’s my biggest fan and has been by my side while I pursued a career in the restaurant industry. I went back to college while working full time a few years back. He never let me skip a meal, and he still doesn't: “Baby, what time will you be home? What do you want to eat?”  
Together we have built an amazing life, bought our dream house 6 years ago, you name it, it’s my special place in the world, my piece of paradise on earth, and we have 4 amazing rescue dogs, and 2 cats.  He takes me as I am, I feel like I can let myself just be, he doesn’t expect me to fit, he embraces all my being as is. He jumps on the wagon for all my crazy ideas, trips, projects... and he supports me 1000% on every endeavor. There’s nothing this man wouldn’t do for me, or I wouldn’t do for him, I am who I am today because he lets me be, he loves me all the way, and he supports me. I never had that before, I didn’t know what it was to have a support system, to have an endorsement, to have someone that can say to you "It’s ok, this too shall pass” “Baby, you’re amazing, I love you so much.” Not only him but his whole family has accepted me and treats me as one of their own since day one, I’m beyond blessed to have all of them. Of course I have my own family, far away. But such bond was never there, I moved away when I was 21 and we keep a friendly relationship but never to the depths of a “normal family.” 
Life has taught to not trust easily, to follow your gut feelings, to do good in the world no matter what, to follow your dreams no matter what, to help someone in need, to give back and be thankful for all you have...
Life has taught me that we all deserve another chance, and even today people may see me as a successful career individual with a great life, my life isn't perfect but it’s pretty frigging amazing!  I was once very BROKEN and ALONE, and scared.  And today I want to share my story with other women because I want them to know that “this too shall pass” and that when you think you have nothing left, you have to keep going, when you’re in pain, think of tomorrow, you can change your future no matter how painful your present and your past are right now. Not everyone out there is a bad person, it’s tough to trust, but you owe it to yourself to try. When you least expect it, love will find you, and it’ll be magical. 
Beautiful disaster reminded me that we all have a story. I’m not so proud of mine, but I’m proud that I got out alive and I allowed myself to heal without even noticing, just by being too stubborn to give up and by pushing one day at a time.
Monica Stagg

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August 07, 2020