You can never know someone’s story by looking at them from the outside. To most I am a pageant girl, I am Miss New Hampshire USA. I am an NFL cheerleader for the New England Patriots. I am a non-college graduate who has created a very successful career as an area manager for a national food distribution company. But how did I get here? I was able to walk away from a four year, mentally and psychologically abusive relationship with someone whom I had thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with.
Although my situation was not nearly as heart wrenching as many you have heard, I use my story to remind others to not EVER let anyone or anything stand in the way of your dreams. My story started as a young 19 year old. I had just moved back home from my first year of college in Florida. Knowing that I was not returning back to school in the fall and unsure of the future ahead I started waitressing. I thought it was love at first sight when my ex-fiancé walked into the restaurant where I was working for an interview. He got the job and before we knew it we were head over heels in love. We spent almost every day and night together. When he was offered a job in Rhode Island we jumped on the opportunity to take our relationship to the next level and move in together.
Things were great! His job was going well and I was back in school and waitressing part time. Then, over time, I noticed the amount he was drinking increased and our relationship started to get bumpy. There were numerous screaming matches. I even remember taking his keys one night and sitting outside in his car to make sure he wouldn’t leave and do something detrimental.
According to him I could not do anything right. He was always degrading me, telling me how stupid my thoughts were. I had started to feel like less of a person.
Finally after another big blow out, I packed my bags that night and drove down to my parents’ home. I remember going to see my girlfriend and confiding in her about how he treated me. I told her how confused I was, that when things were good they were good, but when things were bad, they were very, very bad. According to him I could not do anything right. He was always degrading me, telling me how stupid my thoughts were. I had started to feel like less of a person. She told me she always had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right. I decided to head back home the next day because his mother was coming for a visit. Still uneasy about the night before, I tried my best to enjoy the day. We decided to take a drive and stumbled upon a house for sale. I thought it was a sign, a green house, on St. Paddy’s day. Maybe this was going to change things, a step in the right direction. When I told my girlfriend she was speechless. She couldn’t believe that after all I had told her, I was going to be buying a house with this man who had been degrading, unsupportive, and verbally abusing me. Our friendship was never the same.
None of what I did was ever praised or appreciated and was only met with criticism and snide remarks...I still berate myself for not seeing the writing on the wall at this point. Instead, I tried harder to make him happy in hopes that things would get better.
Fast forward…we are now living in a home together. I was working two jobs, going to school, and doing most of the decorating, painting, and yard work to make this new house a home. However, none of what I did was ever praised or appreciated and was only met with criticism and snide remarks. This was especially painful when I continued to take care of all the household duties and hold down two jobs while my ex, now living off of unemployment from being fired from his job, spent his evenings at the bar. When I would get home from a 15 hour day, he would yell at me for not wanting to stay up and drink with him. I would try my hardest to stay awake and spend time with him but exhausted, I couldn't help but fall asleep. He would shove me so I would wake up, yell my name, and say “Really Jessie?” because I couldn’t keep my eyes open.
I tried to bury the effects his constant derogatory comments were having on me and live what would appear to outsiders as a normal life.
I still berate myself for not seeing the writing on the wall at this point. Instead, I tried harder to make him happy in hopes that things would get better. Despite my efforts his verbal abuse worsened. I was told to grow up and act my age whenever I was being goofy, dancing around the house, or just trying to be silly and fun.
I tried to bury the effects his constant derogatory comments were having on me and live what would appear to outsiders as a normal life. I needed to do something that would make me feel better about myself, because living in this atmosphere where I was being berated daily was taking a toll on me emotionally and physically. I had always dreamed of becoming a New England Patriots Cheerleader and decided trying out for the team would be something positive I could focus on. But, as soon as I shared the news with him he made me feel cheap because I would be in a swimsuit calendar. When I wanted to compete for a state Miss USA title he made me feel even worse. When you are in an abusive relationship, you start to believe that the put downs and the feelings of worthlessness are normal.