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My own story

          My childhood was just any normal child has. During my elemementary and early high school years, i had been actively involved with different activities in the school, may it be academics or either extra activities such as Girl Scouting as well as sports wherein i played volleyball, kickball, softball and lawn tennis. I had been sent to other Notre Dame schools for competetions of such and Science camps and the like. I was a typical Achiever.
           At fourteen, i had a serious clandestine relationship with a guy. Being into it made me gave up my usual activities and somehow laid low in school which my parents eventually discovered and as understandably expected, were contrary to it, as i was still too young for such relationship. But i did not yield to their restriction. Despite the knowledge that my then boyfriend (who is now ex-husband), was known drug addict, drunkard, womanizer, and an easy-go-lucky man, i stubbornly held on to the relationship. Admittedly, i defied my family, dissociated myself from my friends, for all i knew then was to build my world around him.
           He went back to Cebu to continue his studies while i was left in Kidapawan. After being involved in brawl, he went back to Kidapawan, never returned to Cebu and subsequently stopped schooling. 
           In the course of our relationship, infidelities, verbal and actually physical abuses were already present, even right from the beginning of the relationship. Yet, i remained loyal amd faithful as i can be. I tolerated, i persevered. I kept myself stuck on him. Eventually, i finished secondary studies while still having that discrete relationship. 
            As consequence of insisting on the relationship, i got pregnant at 18, though i was able to finish the entire semester before my parents found out that i was indeed five months pregnant on the family way. When they knew it, my mother and i went to Manila, initially to have a short vacation, but my aunt, who had a nun-friend, introduced Heart of Mary Villa (HMV). It is run by Good Shepherd Sisters, located in Malabon, which advocacy is for women with unwanted pregnancies. Therefore, i was "checked-in" in a rehab.
           Heart of Mary Villa was my abode for four months. Life there was totally different for me. It was prayer-centered. There were constant counselling sessions with our respective nun-counselors. They had strict policies to abide: no communication from the outside - no phone calls, no cellphones, no monetary allowances. Our food intake was strictly monitored - no sweets, only lukewarm water, no preserved foods, no condiments. My convent assignment (equivalent to household chore) for one week was to clean the classroom, the dining area, the garden. I then volunteered to be a cook for the rest of my stay in HMV. All of us pregnant women there were kept busy with complex activities such as cooking, baking, sewing, flower arranging, arts and crafts and even bathing a baby.
            When it was time for me to give birth, a resident midwife just brought me to lying-in in Bulacan and she just left me there, and had a taste of motherhood, all by myself. I had no company, just me and my newborn son. The day after my deliver, the midwife fetched me, rode on a tricycle and went back to the convent and went to my aunt's house. I stayed there for another 2-3 months, alone with my baby, though my cousins and my aunt would come from time to time to help me out. Motherhood had finally sunk in when i was already 19. My life inside the convent had taught me how to be independent and how to rely on my own self and it gave me strength that i could go thru all these. 
            I went back to Kidapawan. I got my son baptized, but for a year i never had communication with my son's father not until a common friend became the link. Eventually, there was reconciliation. I moved out from our house and lived with him. 
            At first, it was like a dream-come-true to me. Then, it turned out to be a nightmare already. His vices and abuses lingered on. I became a battered live-in partner at first, then a battered wife. When these exploitations happen, i could only cry helplessly and he never heard any complaint from me. I was exactly like a punching bag which as sometimes witnessed by my toddler. It was such a gross stigma for my son, that he got traumatized, thus i submitted him to a therapy as well. 
            I resumed schooling, pursued my nursing course. I then assumed three roles: of a partner, a mother and a student.
            Subsequently, i got pregnant again and had my second son. At 21, we got married and i officially became a wife: an ideal wife who was a diligent homemaker and a submissive and patient partner. Confrontations would often end up with me claiming all blames. His vices and abuses persisted, while i persevered to finish my studies.
            One of the most "bottom-rock" incident was during my psychiatric exposure (2005) when i had to be away for a month. He, being left at home, supposedly looking after the kids, was blatantly engaged with his "extra-curricular activities" - got involved in a drug syndicate and then got intimately involved with a former flame who was also like him. I was in turmoil then, that i almost had a nervous breakdown, being bombarded with such dilemma during my duty in psychiatry. I had no one to turn to for my family were all away, for they were at the U.S. then. So, i went back home, ahead of my classmates, without completing my psychiatry exposure. We talked and tried to resolve the problem. He then promised to change, to be good. I succumbed too. But unfortunately, the promise never happened. His old self was never changed, not even masked for the least and for a while. And that had been the cycle for the rest of our relationship.
             I came to know then, that i was already in a "battered wife syndrome". But then i still opted to hold on to the relationship, trying to salvage it for the sanctity of marriage, to keep my family. I tried to endure the different pains that it brought me because i believed it was for the good of the family. 
            At some juncture, i conceded. It was prompted by an incident wherein he smashed me on the floor, literally got me a black, swollen, and almost blinded right eye, seemingly beaten up Manny Pacquiao. I reported it to the police and had him blottered. I also had a medical check-up with our family physician. Everything about the incident was documented. I had myself photographed with my feebled face and that was when i declared, " That's it. I've had enough". The day after it happened, i packed my and my children's things, finally moved out and went back home to my parents. After a few days, he followed us and begged to go back to our place, but i decided i won't be going back there anymore. Despite what happened, he never heard a single scold from my parents, neither did my parents react. When after all that had transpired, i still took him back, AGAIN, this time, staying at my parents' house. Yet, even if we were already living with my family, the abuses did not stop. Although there came a point that i noticed him withdrawing from drug abuse, which he never really honestly admitted the addiction, his being drunkard and his womanizing went uncontrolled. And for me, emotional and verbal abuses were much excruciating than the physical ones. It was even the worst. I was so forgiving and enduring because it was my notion that a wife is supposed to be that submissive to the husband and to not deprive my children of the family that they ought to have. 
              Only mid-2011 when i finally realized that i really had to make a decision. A decision to DEFINITELY get out of this very abusive relationship. It did not come overnight, for it was tough to stand firm in that decision. Before i ultimately decided to end the rope, i went thru a lot of processes. I submitted myself discreetly to a professional help. I even went back to my spiritual adviser for a very personal and deep retreat. My goal was to achieve PEACE, not just on my rational thinking but peace down in my heart -- that i had forgiven myself, forgiven the person who caused me too much pain and to be able to let go. I had to let go of all the attachments -- the anger, the hatred, the pain of betrayal, and all else negative that i had kept all thru these years. 
             When i already had my peace and had aligned myself with our God, when i had finally learned to let go, it impelled my decision to break up with him and put it to an end. I had to let go of the relationship where i have been so 101% faithful. I have to let go of my husband. However, i did not spare myself from flaws. Yet, if i had some shortcomings, they were all because of what i went thru, that somehow eventually made me cold, seemingly like a robot, numb and indifferent. I did exhaust every means to salvage the marriage, but to no avail. Efforts are supposed to be shared by both of us, but it just did not work out simply because he never did his part.
             TRUST was completely ruined and it was irreversible, despite my endeavors to believe in it again. There were attempts of him trying to win me back, begging to start over, but this time, after gazillion years, i irrevocably declined. My NO was certainly absolute. There is turning back now. 
             I had started picking up pieces of my sheltered self. After everything that happened, i learned too that i am stronger than i thought. It changed me, in the sense that i became more focused on the things i wanted in life versus what society expected of me. Moving on was not easy but it unexpectedly came so soon. God has been so kind and gracious that during my coping times, i was given some things that kept me motivated: i had my family and children whom i drew strength, so i still stood up strong and secured. I had been prodigiously busy with my career and certainly enjoyed the challenges that came along that enhanced my professional growth. I had come to acknowledge some opportunities that went unnoticed because of my pre-occupations then.  New acquaintance/s are heaven-sent whom i regained myself worth, giving me the assurance that i can still live a life that i truly deserve. 
                I am back at last. I am at peace now. I've learned from my mistakes and i know who and what i am after all that life has shown me to be able to look at the future with very clear vision and a lot of optimism. My children fill my life with so much love and appreciation that there's very little time to feel lonely and unwanted. 
               I know, i still have so much challenges to await as i journey on to the next crossroads of my life. Nevertheless, i am confident that i can overcome those, because this experience had geared me up with lessons learned and wisdom gained. These made me a much better person, even the BEST that i can be. 
               That is why, this is my next season -- it is not a new story, it's much more than a next chapter. It is a chance to create something new, to live my life to the fullest, a life that i truly deserve and hopefully it is magical. 

This story was written for World Pulse’s Ending Violence Against Women Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring an end to gender-based violence. The EVAW Campaign elicits powerful content from women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as vocal grassroots leaders, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Comments

Sharontina's picture

It's my story too

Dear friend,

We are on the same boat. Its my story too, but with a difference. My husband is no more. Rest all is just like yours. But then getting into this at a very early age like yours is very traumatizing.i can feel that even now.

We are together. Lets start the new chapter together. shall we?

With hugs,
Sis Merlin Austin

Merlin Sharontina

Kadeen's picture

Truly amazing

Dear elian,

Your strength is truly amazing! I am sorry you had to go through this with your husband, however your strength and spirituality made you stand up for yourself. After reading your story I feel greatly that to survive and what you did-continuing your education through all of this took great strength. Your quote "I am back at last. I am at peace now" is quite a great outlook on your future.

Thank you for sharing your story. I am hoping it will help other women in your situation to find their strength.

Please continue to be strong.

Kadeen

Kadeen Dennie
Listener
Pulsewire Magazine
kadeenphd@gmail.com

RachelinBrazil's picture

Such strength

Dear Elian,

Thank you for sharing your story. I am so glad you found the strength to stand up for yourself and your children. By getting out of an abusive relationship, and continuing your education throughout, I am sure you are a great example to your children of what they can achieve. So many women do not have the strength you had - you are inspiration to many.

Thanks again, as I know it can be hard to share such heartfelt emotion, but I am so glad you did so!

Wishing you only the best in the future.

Rachel
Listener
Pulsewire Magazine

Rachel Lovejoy
Sao Paulo, Brazil

LauraB's picture

Rachel, When you said, "I am

Rachel,

When you said, "I am back.", I felt your presence. And of course "It did not come overnight, for it was tough to stand firm in that decision." It seems making big decisions are often with firmly planted feet that falter a bit. A step back, two forward, another back and then an explosive leap. Finally, there you are - in this new season as you say.

And you speak of the wisdom gained which is the amazing thing about hardship - if open to it, wisdom is one of the rewards. I love it when you say, "this is my next season" What a perfect metaphor. It's really true that we live in seasons. They come and go and clearly you have come into spring with flowering colors and clearing skies.

May you relish in this new season with its challenges, joys, and wonders.

Best,

Laura
Listener
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