Updated: Jun 15, 2020
I hear many clients, friends and family members say they are unhappy in their relationships, however, they stay in it for the children.
PLEASE DON'T STAY SOLELY FOR YOUR KIDS.
They don't really care as much as it bothers you.
In fact, as an adult they will be appreciative that you were strong enough to remove them from an unhealthy, unhappy environment.
I know what you're thinking, "Natasha, how can you give your opinion regarding kids when you do not have any?"
That's a valid point, you're right, I don’t have kids.
BUT I once was a kid.
We've all been kids right?
We all have memories and feelings from our childhoods.
I can tell you that what you see, hear and deal with as a kid, carries with you into adolescences and young adulthood. I think that warrants enough experience to have an opinion on the matter. I can't possibly say what I would do in relationships if I had children, I can only say what I'd hope to do.
And what I'd hope not to do is subject them to any type of abuse or mistreatment.
Whether it's them being witnesses, or being victims themselves.
With that said, my childhood directly impacted who I became.
It aided and assisted in my anxiety and unhealthy behaviors as adolescent.
Do I blame all of my choices and behaviors on my childhood?
My environment definitely helped shaped my decisions and the way I viewed people and the world though.
I've heard many people say "My kids will always come first."
Which sounds great and all but I always use the airplane safety analogy as a rebuttal. When you're a passenger on a plane, the flight attendant always instructs you to place your oxygen mask on FIRST!
Before anyone else's. The idea behind this is the same in your life.
You can't properly help someone else if you aren't taking care of yourself first.
I can remember being as young as 5 or 6 years old, in my room every Friday and Saturday night laying in bed, hoping my father wouldn't come home from a night of drinking.
I knew when I heard that garage open and the door shut, I would never get any sleep. There would be yelling, screaming, thuds, pounces and every other unimaginable noise of domestic abuse you could think of.
Growing up, my mother worked, my father was the "stay-at-home" dad. I missed precious moments with my mother because she was always working. My father felt as though he didn't need to work for whatever reason. I'm still unsure of what he accomplished while I was at school and my mother was at work. I could speculate but why bother?!
During weekdays, there was always tension in our home. My father was a man who was easily irritated. I mostly stayed in my room and played with dolls and watching the "Golden Girls", after school on my black 'n' white box television.
Weekends though, those were different. My pops loved his Budweiser and Marlboro lights. He'd either sit at home and drink a case or be at family's until completely inebriated. Usually the latter. I'd either be with him or with a family member while my mother was at the job busting butt.
My mom would get off work, he'd drop us off and go hang with friends or whatever he did. I always knew it consisted of alcohol and when he drank the devil came out. The reason for which I'd lay in bed and pray he'd just pass out where ever he was and not come home.
I was rarely that lucky and neither was my mom.
I'll spare you the details on what I've seen and heard, but I can tell you that it consisted of physical mental and emotional abuse. My dad wasn't usually violent towards me, only my mother.
I didn't want my parents to divorce but I did want the violence to stop. I didn't understand why daddy hurt mommy.
I felt like I had no control because I'd hear and witness things but would be too afraid to call the police.
I loved my father and didn't want him to go to jail. (These are insights I figured out as an adult through therapy).I had a lot of anxiety and sleepless nights back then, it carried on as an adult and still suffer from both. I didn't understand what I was feeling or what anxiety and insomnia were at the time. I just knew I didn't want my mom hurt and didn't understand why she would allow dad to do such awful things to her.
Finally, after several years of abuse, my father had gotten another woman pregnant. Yes, on top of the abuse, he was an adulterer. That was a blessing in disguise for my mother, as it gave her an out. He wasn't focused on her as much anymore. He had someone else to put his burdens on.
You may be asking "Why didn't she call the police?" Back then, domestic abuse laws were not as strict as they are today. There was no such thing as a GPS tracking monitor yet. Only a piece of paper served to the abuser, ordering him/her to stay away from the victim(s).
Let's face it, if a person wants to hurt you, a piece of paper isn't going to stop them.
I'm thankful for my mother because I know she did the best she could with the cards she was dealt. I don't hold any resent me toward her. As an adult, I too have understood how hard it is to leave an abusive relationship. (We'll discuss this soon).
My mother is only 16 years older than I am. So yes, as a teenager and a young mother, you don't make the same choices as a mature adult would. I wish she would've left sooner but it can't be changed so I don't dwell.
I was around the age of 14, when my father was sent to prison for abusing another woman in a public place. I was by his side during the judicial proceedings and even got to hug him at his court sentencing.
Once in prison, I tried to visit him and he didn't have me on his visitor's list. The only time I spoke to my father during his at least 5 year bid was when I was allowed to call him regarding my paternal grandfather's passing. (My dad wasn't allowed to attend the funeral).
Keep in mind my father was the one who I spent the most of my waking hours with.
When I wasn't in school I was usually with him. So when I went to the prison that day and the guard told me I was not on his visiting list, I felt hurt, lost and ABANDONED.
I'd learn later this incident would be the reason I'd hold onto unhealthy men as long as I did, in fear of being abandoned again.
I always wanted control of my relationships because I never had control anything of my life as a kid. There was more adult issues as memories than fun kid ones like falling off my bike or getting dirty in a creek.
I had never felt like a true kid. I always had the burden of adult problems at home. I'm a fan of music to this day because during hostile times in my home I'd play a tape cassette player with single cassette tapes and flip them over and listen repeatedly to drown out the pain and the background.
Even as a child, I indulged in escapism. Pretending to be Jade (Don't Walk Away) and Kris Kross' (their whole first album) made me forget about the abuse happening.
So how does any of this have to do with my life as an adult? Why does this any of this matter?
As a teenager, I dated someone who was also physically abusive and a cheater.
Around the age of 16 years old, I started dating a popular, older guy in my town. I liked him because he was funny, adventurous and had some money for his age.
We'd go on trips, he'd buy me outfits, have my hair and nails done, I was driving a fancy car. Being a grown adult as a teenager. (See, told ya I never felt like a kid). However, all that shines are not diamonds.
The abuse started with him punching holes in the walls. Then pushing, and shoving me.
One night, he tried to break in my home as he thought I was cheating on him(I was not, he was the cheater not me but the guilty always blames the not guilty). He punched through double paned glass window and attempted to kick in my patio doors.
I escaped out a window to my neighbors house. He must've seen the front door open and figured out where i want as he started banging on the neighbors front door. My neighbor threatened to call the police so finally he left. he then started leaving voicemails on my phone saying "Tomorrow isn't promised for you."
I went to a women's shelter as I feared for my life.
To this day, I donate clothes and supplies to that women's shelter. That shelter helped me at different times in my life as my mother and I also stayed there in fear of my dad.
This was the first night I had ever experienced a full-blown panic attack (a serious form of anxiety).
After the shelter stay, guess what?
I took him back.
A product of my environment?
Maybe. I saw my mom get treated like she was nothing, so maybe this is how relationships are supposed to go.
At the time, cell phones were new. Technology wasn't as advanced so I didn't have to deal with social media.
However, I still received calls and texts regarding him sleeping with other women. Yep, I had calls from women saying they were pregnant by him too. That they knew about me but thought he was going to dump me.
Just a bunch of toxic mess that a teenager or any one, for that matter, should have to deal with.
That's not love! I know that now.
I accepted these behaviors as a part of a relationship.
He went on to terrorize me once again.
I had to lock myself in a bathroom at a friend's house to escape his rage.
I was a still a teenager. We had decided to hit the highway for his birthday. We ended up at our mutual friend's house about 5 hours from my hometown.
It was an ordinary night. We drank, went to a few bars then ended the night back at our friend's house.
He was more inebriated than normal. I often wonder if he had been under the influence of drugs without me knowing.
Out of nowhere, he started yelling at me. Saying I had been flirting with a guy at the bar.
This of course was a delusion. I would never disrespect him. I "loved" him and feared him all the same.
All of a sudden, he lunged for my neck.
I screamed and was able to make a run to the bathroom. A female friend, who was dating our mutual friend's brother at the time, had witnessed it and ran after me in the bathroom.
He began kicking and shoving the door with his shoulder. Trying his best to get to me. He was yelling things like "I'm going to kill you" and other vulgarities. It was like he had transformed into a different person.
The bathroom we had taken refuge in had no windows. No way out. So my friend and I, held the door shut as much as we could. We used all of our weight to hold the door closed as his kicks and shoulder shoves had eventually broken the locks.
The only thing keeping me from him was the door, my strength and my friend's strength.
There were two other males in the home but even they couldn't hold him back or calm him down.
For at least 45 minutes if not longer, he was in a rage, banging on the door and making threats.
I thought that was the night I was going to die. The only thing that saved me was a neighbor calling the police.
They arrested him for peace disturbance and intoxication and he slept in jail for the night.
I was able to escape the bathroom and make the ride home the next morning.
I recently reached out to the friend who was in the bathroom with me that night.
I never got the chance to thank her back then. She gladly accepted my thanks and said she'd do it all over again if she had to.
But wait, there's more...I took him back again! *face palm*
I accepted the abuse because he always "made it up to me." Apologies, gifts, empty promises...
I was accepting until later, he cheated on me with someone close to me. That sent me over the edge. Not the death threats or the shoving, but the cheating with someone I knew.
Years after, he went on to abuse other women, including the same women he cheated on me with.
I still hear rumors from time to time, that he continues to engage in this type of behavior and has actually succeeded at being physical with other victims.
Luckily, I didn't have children during any of this.
I was the only one suffering from this abuse.
I'm telling this story, so that you understand the correlation of what I saw as a kid and how it affected the relationships I chose as I got older.
In another blog, I told you how I was a "secret girlfriend".
I feel that too was apart of learned behavior from my childhood.
I remember my dad taking me to a park to play basketball and hang with another woman (not the same woman he later got pregnant).
This put me in a difficult spot. I felt loyal to my father but knew my mother needed to know.
I kept it to myself.
Maybe mom knows?
Maybe this was acceptable to have a wife AND a girlfriend?
I was a child. What did I really know?
Not so funny, how later I'd become a mistress or as the millennial's call it "side chick." If dad can have a family AND a secretive girlfriend, I guess it's okay if I keep another secret and be a secret girlfriend too?!
I can't blame everything on my childhood though. I still know right from wrong.
Did it warrant abuse?
I wasn’t without fault, yet I do recognize that some thoughts and behaviors are subconscious. No matter how consciously we aware of our morals, our subconscious can override it at any given time.
It's a part of your brain that controls the inner-thoughts, deep down, that has the power to override our right or wrong barometer.
With these experiences, being self-aware and being able to connect the pieces of why I behaved the way I did, is truly helpful.
To be able to know the root causes of my anxiety and insomnia are helpful. It makes panic attacks less scary.
Sharing my stories with others validates that I'm not alone. Other people have been in similar situations and can relate.
The more open we are, the more we communicate about our experiences the more insightful younger adults will be.
Domestic abuse being silenced does nothing for anyone!
Your kids would rather have two healthy homes, with two happy co-parents versus one toxic, abusive, unhealthy home and two unhappy parents.
Don’t let your daughters see mommy be treated like a doormat. Don't let your son's think it's okay to be abusive and an adulterer.
AND vice versa.
Women can be abusers and adulterers as well, statistically it's men who are more often the abusers though.
You never want your kids to think toxic behavior is okay or to think that's what a relationship and home should be like.
It can be a learned behavior. It can carry on.
Why would you want that type of stress and pain for you children?
You wouldn’t want them to watch that type of movie, right?!
Why let them see it in real life, at home.
Home should be safe, not a chaotic mess.
Besides, a relationship is between you and your partner, NOT you, your partner and your kids.
If you are unhappy with your relationship/marriage, it's time to re-evaluate your situation.
You can't show your kids true happiness if you, yourself, isn't truly happy.
If you can't leave for you, leave for your babies!
Speaking to my mother as an adult, she wishes she would've left sooner and had done more.
I don't blame her for my upbringing. I don't blame my dad either.
I was lucky enough to discover tools to help me escape my unhealthy relationships and to recognise signs of abuse.
I understand what a healthy relationship should look like. It's nothing as I described in any of the above stories.
In fact, it's safe to say it'd be the complete opposite.
Whether it's verbal, mental, physical abuse, and/or cheating, please don't accept it.
Don't force your kids to accept that environment either.
If you want to do something for your babies and put them first, LEAVE!!
Certified Life Coach
"Because you the sh*!
Strong. Honorable. Independent. True."