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Domestic Violence was my Lemon. Running marathons I was never allowed to do, making friends I never thought I could, and living each day with a renewed sense of love from God, now that is my Lemonade.
I was 20-years-old and I was in a violent relationship. I was in love. I was head over heels, if only he just would not hit me. I kept saying it would get better. I kept saying next time will be different. You know what 6 years of abuse, black eyes, nights full of terror, friends and family I lost, and my college years gone taught me if you stay in the relationship? It does not get better.
And so, I spent my days and nights afraid of disappointing him, afraid of telling anyone the truth, terrified to venture out on my own, and truly feeling abandoned by all, including God. I lay awake at night wishing to die, wishing it would end, and wishing he could love me like he said he did. I look back on those days and cannot even recognize that young woman. It was a shadow self, it was a phantom girl, a robot girl, a puppet, a doll, but no human was left in that body. How else could I have survived?
The last night of fighting, I was screaming for help from our roommates, football players on his college team. They came to the door, and pounded on it. It stopped him dead in his tracks. The door was locked and they yelled through the door, checking if everything was okay. He stopped. He threatened to kill me. He threatened to kill my family. I was shaking in terror. He began taking all my stuff out of the closet. All of it lay in a heaping pile on the floor. He then took scissors out and began shredding my clothes. I sat on the edge of the bed. Still. Watching those scissors, wondering what, or rather, who he was planning on shredding next?
And then he stopped. He sat down next to me. I looked at him and he looked at me. He lowered his voice and told me to stay where I am, all night, that I am not allowed to sleep or move. After hours of me sitting there, he told me to lie down. Our dog crawled between us and I fearfully drifted to sleep. I woke up at 11 am, I had work at 12pm and I needed to hurry. I got up to shower and he said to me, “Where the hell do you think you are going?” I told him that I needed to go to work and he wanted me to call out sick. I knew better. I said, “Don’t you want me to be successful? How can I be a rich and powerful attorney if you don’t let me go to work? It will look really unprofessional.” He agreed. So I began getting ready and thinking about leaving. So I just started grabbing a bunch of stuff and throwing it in the back seat. I came in the room to say good bye and he notices I do not have make up on. “Why don’t you have makeup on? You never go to work like that?” I convinced him I would get ready at work because I was running late.
I turned to leave and he grabbed my face. “Kiss me goodbye.” I lean in to kiss him. “If you upset me one more time, I swear I will kill you and I will gladly go to jail, knowing that you are dead.” And that is how we said good bye. I rushed to work. I was shaking. I had not eaten and I was scared. I resolved to leave and I went to my manager in tears and told her. She told me to call the cops and get the hell out of there. I was in Colorado, my family and friends were in California. I had no money and nowhere to go, but I did not care anymore. Any place was better than this. The cops met me at the liquor store and followed me home. I had 15 minutes to get whatever I could get and that was it.
You should have seen the looks on everyone’s faces when I walked through the door, the blizzard wind blowing my red pea coat and a cop in uniform standing forcefully behind me. Shock. Pure shock. I shouted, “I am leaving him, right now, help me get my stuff, COME ON!” I walked upstairs and opened the bedroom door and there he was, doing drugs. I told him to put that stuff away, the cops were here. He jumps up thinking he was being arrested, but don’t worry, the kind woman I am, I simply said, “I am leaving you.”
And leave I did. I left him and our dog and much of my possessions behind, as I climbed into my car stuffed full of whatever my roommates could grab. They kissed me goodbye, told me I deserved the best, and off I went. I drove through a blizzard in Colorado and a torrential rain storm in Arizona, but when I arrived in California, I started to cry. The pure sunshine pierced my car and I knew I was home safe.
This was two years ago now, and in that time I have been baptized at my church, God saved me from all the pain, he caught me when I thought I would plummet, and I could not be any happier. I have also run in 6 half marathons, a full marathon, a 5k and I have a Ragnar relay race in April, a race in May and a race in August. I have made amends with all the people I have pushed away, I have made new friends, I have had crazy fun WITHOUT a man, and it has been a blessing. I rescued a new doggy from a shelter, and she has been my life, and I got my own place, on my own.
I am so thankful for the strength I have found from those super sour lemons. I squeezed them to death and came out with the sweetest lemonade of all: Freedom.