I’m laying in our bed in the fetal position. I wanted to die. I wanted the pain to end. I just did not understand how one human being could treat another human being this way. I didn’t understand how he could be so loving one minute and so cruel the next. I was crying my eyes out, sobbing uncontrollably. Unable to breathe.  Feeling way too much. All of my nerve endings screaming.  I felt as if my heart was  being ripped out of my chest. I’ve never been treated like this before and I don’t understand it. The nasty name-calling. The I hate you.  I grew up around men who treated me well. Yeah, they teased me because they were like brothers to me or uncles or my father  but they never were so unbelievably mean.  I had never had somebody who everyday beat down who I was, how I looked, how I talked, how I dressed, the way I wore my hair.  I was used to the men in my life treating me very much as their equal. I was used to the men in my life  delighting in my accomplishments and being proud of me. This would be one of many times I cried so hard I could not breathe.  One of many I thought of not being in this pain anymore.  I had never experienced a man who was so mean-spirited. This is a man, when I received flowers on stage for doing volunteer work at my son’s school, slumped down in his chair.  He was embarrassed that I was receiving recognition. Not only did he not say “that’s wonderful. you did a great job. thank you for being a part of our kids lives like that.” but he literally ignored me the rest of the night. He did everything he could to suck the joy out of any little bit of self-worth I had that night.

I got used to him sucking the joy out of everything. He managed to suck the joy out of the birth of our children, holidays, my important birthdays, completely ignored Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Anything he could do to keep me in my place and let me know that I was not worthy of being recognized in any way by him.  Do you know what saved me? All the men in my life who did recognize those days. My father who would give me a Mother’s Day card. My best friend who would send me a birthday card. Those men who loved me like that saved my life. They kept me going when I didn’t think I could go on anymore.

One year I worked really hard and won the presidential Physical Fitness Award. I thought he would be really proud of me because he was always picking on my appearance. But instead when I hung it on the refrigerator for my kids to see so that they could learn healthy habits and take some pride in their mother, he made a huge deal out of the fact that I hung it on the refrigerator. Told me it had no meaning. Told me anybody could get the presidential Physical Fitness Award. I refused to move it until about a month later when he got angry and ripped it to shreds.” You think this is so important? You think you’re all that because you won a Presidential Physical Fitness Award? This is nothing.”  I still had my patch to sew on a jacket if I like. It would be a few months later that I would find it in the garbage because he had thrown it out.

Thing is, I never stopped trying to make myself better or trying different things. It drove him crazy. But I refused to let him snuff out that part of me. There were many things I bit my tongue about and there were many times I didn’t start a fight or I kept the peace. But I was NOT going to allow him to steal my thunder. He didn’t have to recognize me and I didn’t need him to! But what I did care about is how I felt about myself after I had achieved it

You have nothing to prove to anyone else but yourself. Be happy with who you are, be happy with what you’ve  accomplished, be at peace, find Joy, be happy. Do not let anyone steal your thunder!

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