Written by LeeAnne Chan
Sometimes it is so hard to decide where to start with my story. Do I want to go back to the beginning of my childhood? Do I want to relive the physical, emotional or sexual abuse? Probably not, only because I still, to this day, have not even begun to deal with that. I am starting to learn, however, that all my past experiences have groomed me for the crap that came next.
Most teenage and early adult years are filled with fun experiences and opportunities for growth and development. I felt mine was a time of hell. Instead of making friends, I learned to live by myself (and children) in silence. Instead of learning how to make very big financial decision about life such as what school to go to or how to buy my first home, I was blowing through every penny before my husband did. Instead of traveling the country and seeing new sights, I was stuck as 23-year old taking care of my 3 children while their part-time father was running away from his responsibilities for the upteenth time.
From the time of 14 until I was 27, I put my life on hold for a manipulative, bipolar and self-proclaimed sociopath. It wasn’t always like that though, he started out so nice and kind. I never saw the bad that everyone else saw. Until, of course, I became “stuck”. By the time I had my son, my boyfriend started to get manic and just leave us on a whim. Sometimes he would leave for a day, sometimes it would be 6 months. I never knew. At that time, I was about 19 and had a 2-year old and of course very naïve. I felt like I could still help him. Boy was I wrong.
As the years went on, his manic episodes got worse. Not only that, he was very insecure so eventually the only time I was allowed to leave the house was to go to work and then come straight home. He would tell his family, friends and church how bad I treated him and how I was the reason he had so many problems. He even had a couple psychologist initially convinced that I was the problem. They learned very quickly, however, that that was not the case. As the years went on, the emotional abuse, social isolation and manipulation took its toll on me. I became depressed. I started getting sick. I no longer could function as a human being. I couldn’t even take care of my children the way I wanted to and the way they deserved. I became the parent that never interacted with the kids, instead I opted for the couch, zoning out watching whatever mindless TV show was on while the kids did whatever they wanted to do. Little did I know that the worst was yet to come.
By the time I was 24, I was emotionally drained. There was nothing left for him to take so he left again. This time he refused to come back until I bought a house (only in my name, he couldn’t get it because he didn’t have steady income) and of course I did because he convinced me that I couldn’t live without him. He also convinced me to get a jointed checking account with him. He started to drain what little money I had and it wasn’t long before I was getting behind on all the bills. At one point, I had all my utilities turned off and the car repossessed. For a person that was making $50k a year, this was such an embarrassment that I could not keep my kids safe and warm. He always made sure he was well fed though. I felt so useless.
He stole my youth, my joy, my love, my dignity, now he was trying for my life. One day I decided to do something for myself. I cut my hair and was losing weight. I was really loving my new style. He came home and saw what I did and called me a “fat pig with a dyke haircut” and left me. Two days later, he came back to the house and threw two empty bottles of pills at me. One was Percocet and the other Ambien. All 60 pills he took in front of my children. This episode finally had him committed to a psychiatric facility for a 72-hour hold. In the meantime, I was just dying inside. I couldn’t even think for myself. When he finally came home he started addressing me as cunt. To our friends and even our children, I was no longer LeeAnne or Mom. I didn’t even care. Then, he forced me to quit my well-paying job of 7 years. I wasn’t too upset because I did hate that place and I was no longer able to keep up with the charade of keeping it together. Two months later, he left, stating “you are a fat lazy pig that doesn’t want to work so I am moving to Kentucky.” I did not (nor did his kids) see him for over two months. During that time, we had all hit rock bottom, there was nowhere else for me and the kids to go. That is when I had an awakening.
After he came back from his trip, he started his typical name calling. Suddenly, I woke up! I had the veil removed from my eyes. I looked at him and told him I hated everything about who he was as a human being. I told him I was not those awful names he was calling me. I was not going to allow anyone to call me that again. I told him that I didn’t want my daughters thinking it was ok to be called that and I didn’t want my son to think it was ok to call any women that. Then I had the police remove him from my home. I still wasn’t out of the woods yet though, I had a bad feeling when he asked me to take him to the mental health hospital, so I called the sheriff instead. I later found out he was going to try to kill us on the way there. On top of all that, I lost my home and I couldn’t find work because that was the beginning of the great recession. He also tried to get me in trouble for welfare fraud which was dismissed because the accusations were unfounded. Heck, to this day I am still worried I am going to get into trouble for something that I didn’t do! I still don’t think I am completely out of the woods but everyday is getting better and better.
My story may not sound so bad to some, but it was certainly bad enough for the kids & I. Because of my life, I know what my purpose is meant to be. After leaving him, I re-enrolled into school and finally graduated with a Degree in Economics and I am currently enrolled in a Masters program for personal financial planning and financial therapy. While I work my Masters, I have opened a retail boutique that sells happy, fun and colorful socks to adults called The Laughing Sock. I also started a monthly blog feature that showcases individuals who are passionate about their lives & communities. I also write about my insights journey to becoming an adult for the first time at 35 years old. I decided to do this to allow people into my life to see my struggle and triumphs. To allow them into my human side before I embark on the financial therapy journey. My goal is to open a non-profit to help women or men with resources and education to empower them to leave their abusive relationships in the past. I want to help people to get their lives back.
I could have chosen to stay where I was, but honestly, I was woken for a reason. I am meant to share my journey. I could think of my past as a curse, but instead, I choose to think of it as a gift. Had I not lived through this hell, I wouldn’t be able to help others. I have learned to embrace my past and use my story to empower others to do the same.
Today I am happily married to a loving, supportive man. We, and our 6 children are healing, growing and nurturing each other towards a much brighter future!
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