Trigger Warning: This post deals with issues of domestic violence and may be triggering for survivors of abuse.
By Eden Strong for YourTango.com.
Rationally, I should be happy that he’s gone, but it’s not that straightforward.
I was 21 years old when I walked down the aisle to him; he was 29 and promised the world to me. Standing at the altar, looking into the eyes of my new husband, I kissed him and whispered into his ear, “forever and ever”.
I walked out of the chapel that day with his hand in mine, not totally sure what the future held for us, but certainly optimistic about it.
Later that night, after the ceremony had died down and we found ourselves alone, he raped me.
I know what you’re thinking: all couples have sex on their wedding night. But this wasn’t sex; this was a full-out fight that ended with him satisfied and me bruised, bleeding, and screaming for help.
And just like that, I knew the future I was expecting - the one that had been promised to me and, in turn, had pledged my life to - wasn't the future I was going to get.
Why I stayed with him after that is a long story that's familiar to nearly every domestic violence survivor on the planet, but the short version of it, which involves shame, financial dependence, lack of a support system, and fear for my life, is that I simply wasn't able to "just leave him".
Eight years later, after the birth of two children, my husband left the family without warning for a new future - a future that didn't include me or our children. His final departure took with him the remaining promises that had been made to me.
I didn't even know that a heart could withstand so much pain and still manage to beat, especially one that had already suffered years of unthinkable damage. My abusive rapist husband was gone - and I was grieving in a way that no one understood.