On the morning of December 14, 2012, I thought my life was over. I thought what time I had left was going to be filled with pain, struggle, and loneliness and devoid of love, comfort, and security. I was damaged goods. He ran out with my paycheck just the day before and ran my account dry, so I was broke. I had no transportation, because the insurance lapsed on the car, the registration was suspended, and so were my driving privileges. I was homeless, because I had to leave behind my shelter to get away from him and did not really think my family would take me in after the wedges, walls, and blockades he erected. I had not even any clothing besides what was on my back. I was tired, run down, as cracked as you can be without actually breaking, wore out, in pain, and scared, fearful – no, absolutely terrified, petrified – for my life. No one was going to invite this into their life. This is what my logic, then severely damaged, bent, and bruised by his devilish manipulation, screamed at me as I took a deep breath and walked in the door at work. No one would want me there if they knew. No one would want me for a partner in life if they even suspected that I was less than. But it ain’t even like that, though.
On the morning of December 14, 2012, I thought the best thing I could do was just work as though things were normal, and in a way they were. He was always turning my life upside down. There was always chaos, but I was always able to hide it. No one at work suspected anything was amiss save that one day I hesitantly walked into work having been verbally and physically accosted for not being able to cover up that hideous blight around my right eye. But they had accepted my explanation, because unlike so many others, there was no other evidence of abuse. According to them, even though there were a mountain of signs even I could not cover over in darkness. But I never missed work, no matter how many bruises, how much swelling, or how many chokes marks were on my neck. No matter how many nights – be it two, five, or eight – he forcibly kept me up, depriving me of sleep. I never functioned less than my best. I never failed to get my work done on time, if not early. I took on additional responsibility, laughed and joked with them, and never once let on the torture I was enduring. So this morning, like the rest, I carried on as though it was just a normal day. But it ain’t even like that, though.
On the morning of December 14, 2012, the stress and trauma won. I snapped, and everyone saw something entirely foreign to them: me in panic. Public panic, and despite the number of people around, it could not be helped. The emails, the phone constantly ringing, voicemails building up, and I snapped. I was in a corner with no one to talk to, nowhere to go without explaining why, and so tired I felt like I could just drop on the floor and never stand again. I used to describe that moment as me breaking. Not being human, not being in a desperate panic over something that should have really brought me to this point so much sooner, not having real, justifiable fears being burdened with too much. I used to say that I broke that morning, that I was destroyed and devastated to a debased state without the hope for repair, but it ain’t even like that, though.
On the morning of December 14, 2012, I felt ashamed, like I was a failure. Like it was my fault and I was alone. I was so humiliated to show the first woman the bruise on my forearm, I couldn’t even look at her. When she spoke to me, all I could do was stare at the floor and either nod in agreement or shake my head to disagree. I did a lot of nodding. It took two people to coax it out of me. Locked in an office. Out of view. Behind closed doors. Exactly where my shame always was and should have stayed. Right up until the night all this last beating took place, I always believed it must have been something I had done that caused it. I didn’t want them to know what I had done. What I made him do, but it ain’t even like that, though.
What it is like is this. Sixteen months later, I know that this one moment was probably the most together I had been in a long time. There were cracks, yes, and this was entirely unavoidable. But somehow, when I look back now, I cannot comprehend how I ever endured one hour of him, much less 51 months of his insanity. A broken person cannot get through that. A broken person has no strength, and enduring takes inhuman amounts in that situation just to make it through one day. My brain cannot comprehend that I endured 1,551 days of cruelty, anger, emotional assaults, physical pummeling. Sheer torture by anyone’s standards. And still I did not break. I may have become bent, warped, and twisted, but I did not shatter.
When I look back on all the things he did that could have – and in several cases, should have – resulted in my death, it was clear that even in my complete isolation from the outside world, I was never really alone. There were days Kevin was so brutal and relentless that I spent about 95% of that day praying. More than fervently, urgently. It was desperate, as if sometimes I felt if I stopped I would die. The strength it took for me to endure some of the worst things Kevin did to me was not my own. An empty shell, there was no way I would have been able to muster up even a fraction of what I blessed with. Jehovah did not cause my suffering, He did not really even allow it. He did, however, see that I was trapped, and he made a way for me to endure in this life and find my way out with my heart and my faith in tact. He has shown me all I will ever need to see that I can rely on Him without question, without second guessing, without fail, for when things were at my worst, when I was at my worst He carried me until I was ready to stand.
He wasn’t done with me after I started to walk under my own power again. I wasn’t left to my own devices. Gifts and blessings, an overflow that I still am not so sure I deserve, were presented to me with my family taking me in, finding my congregation whom I absolutely adore, people giving me things when I was without and in dire need, an army of women who went through what I have, and one more very important person. My Kerwyn, a man who himself has had to exercise copious amounts of patience and mercy when I get crazy and act like I can’t remember where I am. I wish that he didn’t have to see this, but there is no one better on this earth to show it to, and I never feel like I have to hide anything or be ashamed of where I was then, where I have been, or where I am now. Jehovah is my ultimate Refuge, but Kerwyn has more than earned his place in my heart, and this is why I call him my rock on this earth. He has been strong for me when I have not been able to do it for myself. He has shown me mercy, kindness, love, and patience for me and my struggles when I have refused to do it for myself. And the best part about it is that this is just who Kerwyn is.
On that morning, December 14, 2012, I thought my life was over. But it ain’t even like that, though. Thank you, Kerwyn, for bringing me back.