There was not a living soul who knew the details of the emotional and mental abuse I suffered, during nearly all of the 19 years I was married. Pride, shame and fear prevented me from uttering a word about the mistreatment I had been subjected to — that would ultimately result in me suffering a brain hemorrhage on July 21, 2009.
No one knew — not my mother or even my best friend, Sabrina. I didn’t dare expose that darkness. Since I was a relatively healthy 41-year-old at the time, the treating physician, who just happened to be one of the top neurosurgeons in the world, knew that an absurd amount of stress had to be the underlying culprit. I denied it for a long, long time. But one day, during recovery, I began to unload.
After I was released from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital’s intensive care unit, and after my family’s visit, my friends began to come by. The first to come was my friend Debbie, and I wanted so desperately to tell her about the things I had been going through — but I didn’t. The next one to come over was Tamela and somehow, she knew.
She kept saying, “Trease, you’re too young to be going through this.”
Still, I didn’t say a word.
I didn’t break down until the man my ex-husband wanted me to sleep with came to check on me. I had had enough. I shouldn’t have even opened the door, but I had been expecting another friend to stop by and just opened it when the doorbell rang. All my life, my mom had told me that I didn’t have enough sense to be scared of anything, but that day I was terrified. I had known that man for many years, but since I was incapacitated to a degree, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to defend myself if need be. He only stayed 10 minutes, but that was the longest 10 minutes of my life. Once he left, I picked up the phone and called a friend in Denver. I didn’t divulge a lot of details, but I started letting things out. It would take several more years before I finally spilled everything, but I knew I had to start.
“I don’t know how you do it”
I decided to assume a transparent nature during the 2012 Thanksgiving season. I had survived an incredible amount of abuse and knew I had no right to sit on the details of my survival. It was my responsibility to tell. By the time I began working on my settlement demands in the divorce, we had also found out that Mia would be arriving before year-end. I was carrying an oversized load.
As a paralegal, I knew what I needed to do, and while my ex-husband had hired one of the best family law attorneys in the area, I didn’t need representation. I did, however, need a little help polishing up the details. I went to a friend who had recently gone through a divorce and after we finished, she looked at me and said, “I don’t know how you’re handling all this.”
I responded by saying, “What are my options? I can have another hemorrhage. I can shut down and let him have his way. Or, I can handle up on this and take care of myself and my child.” Clearly, I chose the latter.
Life can suck. Any number of things can and will happen to you, gradually or suddenly. You have no choice but to handle up on your business and fix what you can. It’s perfectly fine to “feel” your troubles, but there is life after the struggle. Don’t become your struggle. You’re supposed to live your life to the fullest. Choose not to allow situations, circumstances or people to set your path.