I'm Stronger Than I Use To Be And I Have You To Thank
By: Ashley Heath
12 years ago I was a confident, strong-willed, sassy, tell-it-like-it-is young woman. I had a bright fire that burned deep in my soul, and everyone who knew me could see it. It was so bright I really could light up any room that I walked into.
Then I met you. I was young and naive then. A lot more than I believed myself to be. You were controlling and manipulative from the very start. But I couldn't see it; I was infatuated. I also had absolutely no clue that it was even possible for someone to be that way. Just like so many other young women are not aware.
Our romance was backwards from the traditional "godly" romance. We had a child, found out we were pregnant with our second before deciding to get married. During this pregnancy is when I received my first major red flag but I ignored it. I didn't think anything of it. Your dad and step-mom scolded me one day for allowing you to disrespect me. I had absolutely no clue what they were talking about because you hadn't done anything out of the norm.
The following year is when the abuse really started to flourish. We had been together 4years, married for 1, and had 3 beautiful children between the two of us. You began to have health issues due to smoking. So, we both went to the doctor and quit smoking together.
i began to gain weight. I wasn't happy at all with my body but could not find the motivation within me to do anything about it, so I turned to you. This is the beginning of when I truly lost myself.
When I turned to you for help you were a first rate asshole. You didn't encourage, motivate, and support me. Instead, you belittledme, insulted me and beat me down at every turn. I went from being an outspoken, outgoing, happy-go-lucky optimist to being a meek, timid, quiet pessimist who hardly ever cracked a smile. The more you put me down about my weight the more that was added on.
Then 8 years into our relationship, a month before our 5th wedding anniversary, you left me. You abandoned me when I needed you most. I spiraled into the worst depression of my life. And I stayed there for 6 months. All you had to say for yourself was that I drove you to it. It was all my fault.
But your sister-in-law refused to let me stay down. She prayed for me. She prayed with me. She directed me towards the path to find my inner strength. And this is where I found my new beginning. She had pointed me where I needed to go to find myself...but she didn't give me the ammunition I needed to build my strength.
No, that was you! My first battle was refusing to be defined by you anymore. Finally, breaking through that barrier and winning that battle was the greatest feeling in the world. And so I moved on to the next one. When I first started, I had a huge list that I needed to conquer, and over time it eventually dwindled away.
At the beginning of year 10 it was brought to my attention that I was the victim of emotional and verbal abuse defined by control. I had no idea that even existed. So, I began to do research and eventually try marriage counseling again, by myself, again. During my 3rd visit, my counselor looked at me and said, "Your husband has a classic case of NPD."
NPD? Narcissism? Are you kidding me? So, again I dug my heels in to do more research! I was bound and determined to stop the seesaw of emotions you inflicted on me! I didn't realize how strong I was becoming. How much stronger I had become than I had ever dreamed of being before.
And I have you to thank for that! Because every time you tried to control me you would play on my fears. In order to take the control back I had to conquer that fear. With each conquered fear my strength grew. And each time I grew the more fear I could see in you!
Sure there are days when I'm more vulnerable to your tactics than others still. Yet, those days are dwindling away more and more. The length of time you have me in your grasp becomes more fleeting. I've never felt stronger and more free in my life, and I have you to thank for that.