I’ve sat here a few times now wanting to write this. The fear of being judged has stopped me every time because I know you come here to see pretty projects. Unfortunately, life isn’t always pretty and sometimes we need to know we aren’t alone in the hardest of times. I hope you can all forgive me for using this post to find some peace, heal my thoughts and possibly help someone who may be dealing with the very same struggle.
On February 12th I was told my first husband was missing from a boating accident in Alaska. There was a storm and he was in an open skiff with a friend. The U.S. Coast Guard found the boat wreckage but was never able to locate either of the men. He is considered lost at sea……….
He is gone. The first serious relationship in my life. The father of my three children. The visitor in my nightmares. The reason for my fears. The cause of physical pain for 12 years. The maker of emotional scars for 25 years. My abuser is gone.
I’m not going to go into details of the abuse because I would never want to put my children through reading all of it. They lived in the same house and are fully aware of what went on. I would also never want to remind them of things they may have forgotten. I will tell you that 16 years after leaving him I was still receiving emails from The Alaska Attorney General’s Office updating me on his whereabouts due to the violent history. After years of counseling I learned how to live after the abuse. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional struggle that came with his death.
We all know someone one who has died. We fully expect to feel sadness and loss. We naturally want to speak kindly and share stories of love about the person. But what do we do when it’s a family member who caused us pain? What are the proper emotions? ARE there any proper emotions?? I was feeling so conflicted and lost I even searched online to find ANYTHING to help me sort through it all. There were less than a handful of posts or articles about coping with this type of loss……less than 5. If I search the word shiplap I will get pages of articles to reference, but with something as life interrupting as the death of an abuser I was left with unanswered questions. This is partly why I wanted to share all of this here. My post can be one more out there for anyone who thinks they are alone in a situation like this. If knowing my healing process will make them feel O.K. about their own emotions then it will be worth it to me.
DISBELIEF- When I was told he was missing I was calm. I immediately decided he was wasn’t dead and would turn up somewhere. When we were together he would leave me alone for days at a time not knowing where he was. I had no reason to think this was any different.
PANIC- I knew it was a race against social media to be able to break the news to my children myself. I wanted them to hear it from me and not a stranger on Facebook.
SADNESS- Explaining to my three children that the person who was supposed to be their farther was now gone and so were their hopes of him making things right with them.
ANGER- How could he be so irresponsible? How dare he cause my children anymore heartache?
CONFUSION – Did I want him to be found? Would our lives be better if he was really gone?
ANXIETY- Talking about him and thinking about him opened a door to the dark parts of my mind. I was forced to re-live the abuse all over again.
RELIEF- Knowing it was finally over. He couldn’t hurt any of us ever again.
GUILT- I am a good person. I felt terrible guilt for feeling relief.
FEAR- Fear that he would be found alive. Fear that his body won’t be found and my children will never be given closure.
SHAME- Every time a kind person would tell me they were praying for us and hoped he would be found alive. How do you tell someone you don’t hope the same and not sound like a monster?
HELPLESSNESS- Not being able to protect my children from the pain they were feeling or the questions so many people were going to want to ask them about his death.
FREEDOM- Knowing there will be no more emails to warn me to be safe. I can now go visit my hometown and childhood friends. I also know when I am gone my children won’t have to deal with him on their own.
FRUSTRATION- I had always hoped he would apologize to me for all the pain he caused. That he would thank me for raising three amazing people in spite of who he was.
THANKFULNESS- I have my beautiful children from knowing him and they are the reason for every breath I will ever take.
FORGIVENESS- I HAVE to forgive to let go.
PEACE- I can finally allow my mind to rest and not worry about how our happiness will be interrupted. It’s been a very long time.
Obviously people deal with trauma in their own way. Each situation is different and we all have our own path of healing to follow. Some of you may be surprised I even wrote this or gave him a spot on my blog for that matter. This wasn’t about him at all. It was about me.
This post is my way of creating a new home for all the pain and haunting memories.
I am leaving it here. This is my good-bye to all of it.