Sue's Story: How A Broken Girl Became An Unbreakable Woman
You Don't Know My Story: It’s the story of how a broken girl became an unbreakable woman. I am a Beautiful Disaster because I am a survivor. I identify with the Beautiful Disaster brand because it tells the beginning, middle and ending of my story.
It started 45 years ago, in 1976, when I was 16 years old. I met a boy and fell in love. We married 2 years later. And that’s when it started.
I’ll never forget the first time - the first time he laid hands on me in anger. It’s forever etched in my mind; imprinted there. He took a fly-swatter and slapped me on my bare arms and bare legs with it. I had raised red welts all over my body and my body stung all over. Did I see the signs before we married? No, no I didn’t and honestly, even if I did, I wouldn’t have recognized it for what it was – domestic abuse. Back in the 70s, we didn’t learn about domestic abuse or narcissists, and I was so damn young.
Narcissists are very charming people – to outsiders, to those that don’t know. I didn’t even know what a narcissist was; not until I was in my early 50s and started to understand that there was nothing wrong with ME, but everything wrong with HIM. Narcissists lack empathy and compassion. They look at themselves as being superior. The world revolves around them and NOTHING is ever their fault. They refuse to take responsibility for their actions.
He broke me down at a very young age; broke my spirit, took advantage of my forgiving nature, my sensitive nature. I believed him when he told me I wasn’t good enough, that I did everything wrong, whether it was cooking, cleaning, my weight, my hair, my personality, my role as a wife, and later on, being a mom.
I bought into it all - I was crazy, I needed help, there was something wrong with ME and he always bad-mouthed my family. I didn’t have any friends for a long time, and the ones I eventually made I couldn’t allow myself to become close to – I put up walls. I couldn’t let them know what my life was like. I couldn’t let my family know what my life was like. I had no support system. I was isolated and alone.
I took it. I took everything bad he said about me, about my family. I took the physical abuse. I knew if I spoke up, if I challenged him, there would be consequences, so I learned to not say anything. I learned that HIS opinions were MY opinions. I also learned to shut down. It was a defense mechanism because that was the only way I could cope with my life.
Yet, despite it all, I still loved him. I still forgave him. Time and time again. He cheated on me? I forgave. He physically abused me? I forgave. He verbally, mentally, and emotionally abused me? I forgave. Countless times; more times than I can even fathom.
For the first 10 years of our marriage, he physically abused me. And like the first time he physically abused me, I will never forget the last time he physically abused me. We were in our living room. He had me down on our couch, choking the life out of me. I remember flailing my arms, trying to push him off, and losing the battle. All of a sudden he released my throat and I gasped for breath, breathing in that precious air. He never physically abused me again. I guess it scared him that he almost killed me. But the verbal, mental and emotional abuse continued.
Why did I stay with him? Because despite it all, I still loved him. And because I bought into it. I bought into everything he said about me - that I was the one at fault - that I was the one causing problems in our marriage. That I was crazy. That I needed help - that I was the one who was lacking, wasn’t good enough, wasn’t this or wasn’t that. That’s what narcissists do. They twist everything around on YOU. They don’t take responsibility for anything. They make you believe that you’re the crazy one. It’s like being in a cult – you are brainwashed.
Then Christmas day, 2009, came and he ruined Christmas. He yelled at me over a gift I had bought our son, and made our son cry and it was the day that changed the way I thought. The day that I realized that really, truly, there was nothing wrong with me, that I WASN’T crazy - that HE was the one that was dark and twisted and needed help and that was the beginning of the end for me.
That was the day I started to realize just how strong I was, it was the day my courage took hold and the day that I started fighting back. It was the day I started to find my way back to ME. It was a game-changer.
It took another 5 years of misery, of silence, of existing in the shell that I had become and then, I finally broke free, broke the chains, and left. I left the horrible life I had been living for almost 40 years. I moved out – left everything but my 19 year old son, my pets, and my clothes. I didn’t want anything from him; didn’t want any connections to him. I left the house to him, didn’t ask for my half of his military pay, didn’t ask for alimony. I walked out of that house and never looked back.
My new home was my sanctuary, my safe place. Where I curled up in a ball every day for 3 years once I got home from work. I had so much healing to do. I had so many triggers.
Six years later, I am healing, and happier than I’ve ever been. I still have triggers but they lessen with each passing day; I still have moments of self-doubt; I still have moments where I beat myself up, but they are decreasing as time goes by. I’m excited about my future, what lies ahead. The girl that I had lost so long ago, has been found. She’s been there all along, just suppressed and repressed. But she was frozen in time and is in the process of learning about life, about people. I’m learning how to have healthy relationships. I’ve learned to love who I am, and where I’m at in life. I just turned 61 in Feb. I’ve never felt stronger or more confident. I am limitless. I am strong. I am ME.
It’s hard to pick a favorite piece from the Beautiful Disaster line because I have so many, and they all tell my story from beginning to end. But if I have to choose, I choose the “You Don’t Know My Story” collection because that is the very first piece I bought when I started my healing journey and every time I read what it says, and every time I wear it, it reminds me of where I came from and where I’m going. I also like the Phoenix collection, as I consider myself a Phoenix, rising from the ashes of my life. I also have a tattoo of a Phoenix on my back – just one of many tattoos I have. I just got my 12th and 13th tattoos a couple weeks ago representing my spiritual journey. I’m using body art to tell my story. Each piece representing a piece of my life, my journey. Your clothing also represents my journey and reminds me how strong I really am, what a badass I am, what a Beautiful Disaster I am.