The Night I Saved The Girl With Steel Blue Eyes:
I looked deeply into her vaguely familiar steel blue eyes. There was a warmth about them, but also something so broken, sad and lacking sparkle. We stood there and stared each other down for a long time. That’s when I heard it – his words. His words had become my voice. His cold, loveless, self-righteous words sent chills down my spine. In an instant whatever little warmth I had detected in her eyes was gone.
Perhaps I WAS ugly! Why DID I even bother to wear makeup?! It DID make me look like a clown! Who, just who was I trying to impress?! Did I really think anyone else would find me attractive?!
The image of his smirk was etched in my memory and would remain there for many years to come. Now, twenty years later I am proud to look into her sparkling steel blue eyes and see nothing but happiness and a love for life. But back in 1995, when I faced the mirror, I saw the reflection of a sad, lonely and very scared young girl. His words had over the past two years slapped me in the face, crushed my spirit, worn down my self-esteem and kicked me into submission, until this day…
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I was raised to believe in myself. I had moved to Florida three years prior to live the American dream, not to be stuck in a nightmare. “You are better than this. His words are empty. Pick yourself up. You have to take the first step, everything will fall into place. Follow your heart!” After a few tries, my own words of encouragement took over and kicked his degrading callous voice to the curb.
Planning for the future:
I had to be smart. I had to out-smart the man who spent most of his waking hours trying to convince me of his superiority. I had to plan every step and make sure the decisions were mine – and only mine. Times were going to be tough, hard and lonely – I intuitively knew it – but my courage and strength came from a place not many people ever need to reach. I was truly in survival mode.
I started saving my money, not enough to be missed out of our joint budget, but enough to grow every week. My grocery bill now included $20, sometimes even $40 cash back. The stash was kept safely in my desk at work. I confided in no one. I barely even trusted the girl with the steel blue eyes.
After a few months of increased insults, explosive mood swings – his, never mine – and constant verbal assaults, I finally had enough cash to bravely pick up a newspaper. There, on the left side, mid-way down was an ad for a room-mate. I called the number, met the girl, gave vague details, saw the home – relief flooded over me. THIS was the right time, the right place, the right everything – it was time to right countless wrongs.
He had spent two years telling me that THIS was as far as I would go, as high as I would reach, he tried – he really did.
The night her eyes sparkled:
He went out of town for Christmas. Some thought that was cold of him – I was thankful for the opportunity. When you travel light, your entire life fits perfectly in the backseat of a beige 1981 Dodge Diplomat. Even the ironing board with the burnt cover and wobbly legs came with me.
The evening he returned went like this: “Welcome home. I am leaving!”
I felt braver and more empowered than I had in years. Not his words, his cold eyes or dry hands would ever hurt me – never again. After years of living with a low-life, you thankfully develop street smarts and survival skills. I confidently grabbed my keys and purse and headed towards the front door.
There were two cars parked down the street. The drivers and passengers were on the alert, ready to jump into action if I didn’t walk out of the door within a few minutes. I didn’t know how it had happened, but when good-hearted people heard of a young woman trying to leave an abusive relationship they rallied around me in support. The husbands of several coworkers showed up, to protect and empower me to take the hardest and the bravest steps towards a new beginning.
I had almost reached the front door, when I looked one last time at the fist-sized hole in the wall. It had been there for a few months now, a testament to his escalating rage. I thought “better you, wall, than my face!”… and with that parting thought my steel blue eyes sparkled with hope for a better future – my American dream.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story of domestic violence and how I broke free after several years. Today is the 20th anniversary of the night I left. The words “Follow Your Heart” were my mantra through the time that I prepared to leave. It is my hope that my story will empower other women to “follow their heart!” (although I know that leaving is much more complicated than just having a fancy mantra!)