Loosening the Grip

Loosening the Grip

By Anonymous

I met my ex-husband when I was 19 years old. Since I had a good relationship with my family, I didn’t think I was vulnerable in any way. He loved me and wanted to care for me. I thought I was so lucky.  

Fast forward 16 years.  

By then, I had accumulated over 14 years of emotional and psychological abuse, financial difficulties, mental health issues, and three wonderful children. I found myself having what I now know were flashbacks. I was once again paralyzed with fear, unable to speak or move.  

They wouldn’t come in times of stress but often when I was simply having a conversation with someone or when I was relaxing with a coffee at home. I couldn’t understand what was happening, I had left my husband and kept my business going despite his attempt to financially ruin me, and I was in a relationship with a good man.  

My family noticed me going back into my depression and shutting down again.  

With the support of my mom, I reached out to an outreach worker. Our first meeting I sat on the end of the seat unable to look her in the eyes as I thought she would judge me…. because that’s what I had been doing for years. Imagine this well to do, well put together woman sitting in front of a stranger with no self-respect but plenty of self-doubt and sadness.  

I think the first thing I said was “I don’t know why I am here; I left my husband years ago and I have a new wonderful partner”. She simply said “That is ok and if this is the only time we chat I am so happy to have met you”. I met with her once a week for three months and I remember having what she called a lightbulb moment.  

I was at home opening a jar of something and it was tight, but I did it. I started to have a flashback to my marriage. I could never open anything in our home no matter how easy you would think it would be. I would always have to go to my ex and ask him to open it, to which he would say “Oh you are so weak you would never survive without me” and other demeaning things like that.

I went all over my house that night opening everything that I could. I suddenly realized he had been tightening things to mess with my mind and break me down.  

I almost ran into my next session and was so excited to share this realization with my outreach worker. She smiled and said she was so proud of me. I started to understand, and I started to really hear her words: “This was never your fault, it is all about control and there was nothing you could have done to change it, but now you are in control and now you do get to change it”.

I’m on a new journey and it is still difficult, but it is also possible.

Below is some artwork by two local artists who took inspiration from this story and interpreted it in their unique ways.

Artist Kate Brown with her art piece that was inspired by this story mentioning the jars.

"Rising from the Ashes" by Artist Monica Mason
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two ladies talking, one looking sad